Houdini and Doyle filmed in the UK and Toronto
Houdini and Doyle offers a mix of the real world, crime and the supernatural, and is a truly international co-production made with the involvement of Big Talk Productions, ITV Studios, Shaftesbury and Shaw Media.
Filmed in both Ontario, Canada, and the UK, Houdini and Doyle used an array of contemporary locations and modern studios.
Using Manchester and Liverpool in northern England as locations, the series utilises the Edwardian architecture of both cities. One of the locations used for the nunnery in episode one was indeed the Manchester Town Hall with all its period features. Filming also took place at The Space Project production facility in Manchester.
Toronto was also used as a filming location, despite being a fairly new city that doesn’t offer quite the same historical visuals. The Ontario city is, however, known for its flexible and welcoming approach to film and television productions, and indeed is one of the top production centres in North America partly because of its generous filming incentive support.
As this series was aired by three international broadcasters it is worth noting that the programme was not created to cater for just one clearly defined local audience.
There are many areas of the show that highlight the need for broader appeal, which may explain actor Stephen Mangan playing Doyle – who was a Scot in real life – as a thoroughly English gent. There’s no Scottish accent on offer, which may be a concession to the international market.
One way of really catering to the international audiences is the difference in the musical score per territory. In the original – or first aired – version for ITV Encore the music is unusually modern for a period piece, but it does fit with the overall eerie and mysterious quality of the show. In contrast, the version of Houdini and Doyle that will be broadcast in the USA will take it up a level and feature popular music – around one or two pop songs per episode.
From the production stage onwards Houdini and Doyle has worked hard to grab international audiences. It is in part ITV’s response to the spectacular international success of the BBC’s Sherlock. Bringing together not one but two of the most renowned figures from the Edwardian period, the series is sure to be intriguing for a large market.