Inspector Vignoles - short film!


VIGNOLES FILM – Taster Film press release 24 July 2018       

THE first firm steps to turn the popular Inspector Vignoles railway detective novels by Stephen Done into a television drama series has begun with location hunting on the Great Central heritage steam railway.

A short film will be shot in autumn as a taster for television commissioning editors and production companies to stimulate interest in creating a full-length network drama series, with the Great Central Railway’s enthusiastic support.

The stories are set in post-war Britain around the life and crimes facing Detective Inspector Charles Vignoles and his (fictional) railway detective department, in a period still deeply embedded in the steam train age.

The project to bring Inspector Vignoles and his railway world to the small screen has been several years in planning by the novelist Stephen Done, producers Philip and Robert Ettinger, and publicist Peter Elson.

Writer David Griffiths, brought onboard by the Ettinger brothers, has written this original, initial 10-minute screenplay using Stephen Done’s characters, based on the short story ‘One Way Ticket’, from the collection ‘The Mountsorrel Mystery & Other Stories’ published in 2017.

As the Inspector Vignoles novels are based in the East Midlands, on the former Great Central Railway trunk route (axed in 1969), the restored heritage steam railway with its recreated 1940-60s period ambience is the perfect location for filming this short film and subsequent programmes.

At more than eight miles long, with authentic rolling stock, stations of all types and sizes in urban and rural scenery, the GCR, based around Loughborough, in Leicestershire, is entirely convincing as a premier double-track mainline railway of yesteryear.


Stephen Done said: “We had a really productive initial visit. I was delighted (but not surprised) by the helpfulness of the chief executive Richard Patching and everyone else we met at the GCR. It really is the most welcoming place and just about everyone I spoke to has read all the books!

“This lovely railway is literally a film set just waiting for the cameras to roll and animate Vignoles. In this first trip we accomplished a lot of good work. It is very exciting indeed to think that before long we will see the character on film after he has lived in my mind’s eye or print on paper for years.

“David Griffiths has written a terrific taster screenplay and he was also delighted with the GCR locations.”


Philip & Robert Ettinger said: “Everyone at the GCR was extremely welcoming and we were blessed with magnificent weather on our visit. We were treated to a series of magical sights, sounds and experiences that indicate we have a very evocative set which will we hope lead to an excellent taster film when we return in October.”


David Griffiths said: "I want to thank the Great Central Railway for their hospitality and overwhelming support. The passion shown by each member of staff and volunteer was so clear and truly inspiring. We hope to produce a film that shows the same passion and commitment to the railway, and we hope that this is the start of a ‘new age of steam’ on television!"


Richard Patching, GCR chairman, said: “As an avid reader of the Inspector Vignoles novels, to say the prospect of their being brought to the screen is exciting, would be an understatement. Having travelled over the Great Central to Leicester before it was closed in 1969 and being a train spotter at Nottingham Victoria back in the sixties, there’s little doubt in my mind that Stephen has exactly the right ingredients here for television success.”

Note to editors:


The Inspector Vignoles novels: Over the course of eight novels and short stories, following Detective Inspector Vignoles’ career chronologically year-by-year from 1946, Stephen Done skilfully conjures up these tough times, in which the close-knit railway community at last can bask in peace, but inevitably is battered by the real austerity trailing in the war’s wake.      

The series started with Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and the ninth novel, Cold Steel Rail, set in 1954, is about to be published by The Vignoles Press. Stephen Done has created a vast Dickensian-style cast of characters who, like the smoke of countless steam trains, swirl around the imperturbable Detective Inspector Vignoles, as he and the reader try to make sense of the sometimes darker and more intriguing sides of human nature in this deeply atmospheric railway setting.

The Ettinger Brothers TV Productions: Ettinger Brothers has produced feature documentaries for worldwide broadcast television, film and DVD markets for more than 25 years. These range across contemporary documentaries, feature programmes and factual entertainment, with each one portraying important subjects and significant material.

Ettinger Brothers’ greatest success was a series of 12 documentaries for global mainstream networks following the unique lives of the Walton sextuplet sisters, achieving record UK audience ratings averaging 10 million viewers.

Ettinger Brothers has also had more than 20 years’ experience in making sports documentaries, including authorised features on Europe’s leading goal scorers Alan Shearer and Ian Rush. In its first year the Ian Rush film was the UK’s biggest selling sports film documentary.

The Great Central Railway (GCR) is one of the UK’s leading UK heritage railways. Based in Leicestershire, it is named after the company that originally built this stretch of railway, which opened in 1897 and was controversially closed in 1969 in the aftermath of the Beeching Report.

The preservationists started reopening part of the original line from 1970. The GCR is currently the only double track mainline heritage railway in the world, with 5.25 miles (8.45 km) of working double track, period signalling, vintage steam and diesel locomotives and rolling stock. It runs for 8.25 miles (13.28 km) in total from the large market town of Loughborough to a new terminus just north of Leicester.

Four stations are each restored to a period in the railway's commercial history: Loughborough Central (1950s), Quorn & Woodhouse (Second World War and 1940s), Rothley (Edwardian era), and Leicester North (1960s).