The Widow producer reveals how that shocking plane crash was filmed

Kate Beckinsale's ITV thriller features a dramatic explosion mid-flight

The Widow (screenshot)

In the third episode of The Widow, it is finally revealed how the plane crash at the centre of the ITV mystery thriller came about.

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***Spoilers ahead for The Widow episode three***

Ariel (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) has a flashback to the day of the flight and just before he sees Georgia’s (Kate Beckinsale) missing husband Will (Matthew Le Nevez) in the airport lounge, he passes an army general giving Emmanuel’s wife (Luiana Bonfim) a bag with a laptop in it to smuggle onto the plane.

When the laptop starts making strange noises during the flight, she opens it and the computer explodes, tearing a hole through the side of the plane and causing the aircraft to plummet to the ground.

The Widow (ITV)
An army general gives Emmanuel’s wife a bag to smuggle onto the plane in The Widow (ITV)

The scene is very convincing (and distressing), and co-writer Jack Williams, a self-proclaimed “terrible flyer”, said that when he finally felt ready to watch the crash, he “had nightmares about it” and that’s how he “knew it was good”.

We spoke to The Widow’s producer, Eliza Mellor, to find out how the sequence was filmed…

What research was done before filming the crash?

We talked to aviation and bomb experts. A lot of the research was about what would happen inside if there was an explosion, as opposed to another cause. In this case, it was an exploding laptop which causes a hole, which in turn causes the plane to decompress very quickly and hit the ground.

Ariel during the plane crash in The Widow (ITV screenshot)
Ariel during the plane crash in The Widow (ITV)

Was a real plane used for the scene?

We found a decommissioned Boeing plane in Johannesburg, cut the wings off it and transported it down to Cape Town. It looked amazing when it arrived. We put it in a park on the outskirts of Cape Town, took out the interiors and built it as our own set, using all the real plane parts. Then we used the exterior parts to cut and mangle it up. It’s quite scary when you get very close up to those planes, a real plane that’s been mangled, and you see how thin the structure is.

How was the plane crash scene shot?

We did all the internal movement of the plane with camera movement and with the actors moving as well – we didn’t move the plane at all. We shot the objects moving through the air separately, so all our actors and cast weren’t in there – we did a separate shoot with special effects where we had all that stuff flying around. There was a wind machine, too.

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The Widow airs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9pm on ITV