How Father Christmas Is Back featuring Liz Hurley, John Cleese and Kelsey Grammer came to be shot at Birdsall House

In March last year, the Willoughby family were looking forward to their busiest summer since opening Birdsall House as a wedding and events venue in 2018.

Nathalie Cox and Kelsey Grammer at Birdsall House (Pic: MSR Media)
Nathalie Cox and Kelsey Grammer at Birdsall House (Pic: MSR Media)

Nestled on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds, the Grade II* listed stately home has been in the same family since it was built in 1540, but only opened to the public three years ago as a way of driving revenue to the estate.

Lady Cara Willoughby said: “There were a few weeks when we thought everything was going to be OK, but then everything shut down. We are lucky in many ways in that the estate also generates an income from farming, but even so having to postpone every event we had booked in was a major blow.

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“However, around that time I was speaking to a friend of ours who is a film location scout. They were looking for somewhere to shoot a new British comedy and the fact that we were closed to the public worked in our favour.”

John Cleese at Birsdall House in Father Christmas is Back (Pic: MSR Media)

Birdsall House has now provided the backdrop for Father Christmas is Back, starring Liz Hurley, John Cleese and Kelsey Grammer, as well as two other productions whose details are currently under wraps.

Lady Willoughby added: “The last 12 months has been very tough, not just for us and the couples who hoped to get married here, but all our suppliers, some of whom have sadly gone out of business.

“We have always tried to have eggs in different baskets and the pandemic has proved just how key diversification is. Having a film crew here was a new experience for us, but it’s definitely one we would do again.

“While we would never want to repeat this year, there has been the odd upside - the fact we weren’t welcoming any guests meant we were able to erect scaffolding around the front of the house to repaint all 256 windows. The house and grounds are now looking fabulous, and we can’t wait to welcome our first bride and groom here in June.”