Keith and Candice-Marie contemplate the days schedule

Go Nuts In Dorset

Keith and Candice-Marie Pratt, stars of Mike Leigh’s legendary BBC film Nuts In May, have gone down in the annuls of all-time great British characters.

Up there with Fawlty and Partridge in this writer’s eyes, the Pratts left indelible footprints in the Isle of Purbeck area of Dorset during their ill-fated camping trip in 1976.

Film Tourism

Statistics released by tourism bodies such as VisitBritain tell us settings for film and TV productions are enjoying huge boosts as film fans seek to retrace the steps of their heroes. In fact, many national tourist boards are now capitalising on this growing market – known as set-jetting - by actively advertising film locations.

Locations set at stately homes, historic and religious sites, and rural or village landscapes tend to be the most magnetic for ‘set-jetters’. Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, used in the Harry Potter films, saw a 120% rise in visitors, with an estimated £10m worth of added tourism to the region. Film tourism is an increasingly lucrative market.

I Want To Get Away, She Said, I Want To Get Away

While Nuts In May isn’t the greatest advert for camping, it’s shot entirely on location in The Purbecks – renowned as a camping holiday area as well as for its stone quarries, two aspects well-covered by Keith and Candice-Marie. Many local features are discussed as the Pratts hike around, or drive around in their little Morris Minor coupe convertible.

Their campsite is Corfe Castle Club Site, located just outside Corfe and still in use today, and the local pub featured is the award-winning Greyhound Inn at Corfe.

The Sandbanks Ferry features in the opening shots as the Pratts sing ‘I want to get away’, and later they gleefully explore Corfe Castle – arguably England’s most famous ruin.

This one-time medieval fortress also features in Disney’s Bedknobs & Broomsticks and is steeped in history. Today the castle is protected by the National Trust and is open all year round. Admission fees are more than reasonable at around a fiver for adults and £15 for a family ticket.

Isn't It Lovely, Keith?

The Pratts also visit a Jurassic Coast quarry, complete with dinosaur footprints, and tramp the famous South West Coast Path near both Old Harry Rocks and St Aldhelm's Head.

We see the army barracks and tank range at Bovington (now incorporating a tank museum which features the world’s largest collection of tanks and armoured fighting vehicles) as the Pratts – sticking rigidly, of course, to Keith’s strict itinerary - drive down to Stair Hole at Lulworth Cove. Candice-Marie can be seen standing on the sedimentary limestone cliff-top, deafened by the howling wind, while Keith maniacally waves his arms around beneath on the beach, enthusing wildly about the stunning natural arches.

But it’s not all about Nuts In May. Dorset is primarily known, in fiction terms at least, as ‘Thomas Hardy country’ and as such has been used for numerous Hardy film adaptations. Perhaps most notable is the 1967 version of Far From The Madding Crowd starring Julie Christie and Terence Stamp, shot in over 20 regional locations.

Once little-known, under-exposed and cultish, Nuts In May is becoming an increasingly influential and revered piece of work – embraced by younger generations brought up on characters like David Brent and Alan Partridge, both characters who should forever be indebted to Keith Pratt.

With film tourism also on the up and up, Dorset can expect a new generation of campers and holidaymakers following in the footsteps of the Pratts, visiting the sights and recreating those hilarious scenes.

And one thing is for certain – you’ll have a better time than Keith and Candice-Marie did.

Sean Cummins

July 2010

Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015