Hugh Bonneville locked out of the BBC – while filming a BBC show

The Downton Abbey star reveals that life imitated art recently when a doorman refused him entry to BBC Broadcasting House while he was filming upcoming satire W1A

Not even the man who plays Lord Grantham, it seems, carries much clout with the BBC doormen these days.


Hugh Bonneville, who plays Downton’s patriarch, has just been filming the BBC’s navel-gazing satire W1A and tells about a run-in with the legendary gatekeepers of the BBC’s various premises (this time New Broadcasting House) where the forthcoming comedy is filmed.

Bonneville reveals: “We were filming in New Broadcasting House when the chap on the door – a lovely guy in fact – was watching us troop down from upstairs where were getting ready, to the foyer with 20 crew and cast. We filmed in the reception area for a few hours or so and he was chuckling away, whilst continuing to let people in and out of the building as part of his daily duties. When we finished filming we headed in to go upstairs and he wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have the right sort of pass.”

“No matter how much I tried to explain that I was part of this team that had been filming in his reception for three hours he wasn’t having any of it! I had to go and get a visitors pass…”

Apparently his Lordship was let in. Eventually.

But the incident is not the only moment of colour to have occurred during filming of the BBC2 comedy which begins on 19 March.

“We have had quite a few BBC employees coming up to us when we have been filming in New Broadcasting House telling us ‘your stories won’t touch the sides of real life’,” reveals Bonneville.

“But the BBC doormen are legendary. Ever since I first walked into the BBC the difficulties of getting into the building have been there since year dot – in fact ever since Lord Reith probably walked in himself.”