In 1814, during The War of 1812, a flotilla of British War Ships sailed into the harbor of the island city of Eastport and captured the town. British officers required inhabitants of Eastport and other towns to take an oath of loyalty to King George III and formally incorporated the easternmost settlements into the British Empire. They occupied Eastport and Moose Island for the next 4 years and claimed it for the King of England.
Over the past week the British invaded once again… not for Her Majesty, but for The BBC and its viewers. This time they arrived not by the thousands on 11 War Ships, but in a real authentic London Cab. In place of thousands of British Troops it was a crew of a dozen BBC photographers, cameramen, sound people, producers and directors. This second invasion is lead by British television and film star Stephen Fry… best known here in America for his roles in the BBC comedy series Black Adder, Wooster & Jeeves, and the movie A Fish Called Wanda. Fry has starred in over 40 films, a score of television series and documentaries, numerous radio shows, a cornucopia of voice-overs and written a half-dozen books. Stephen Fry is “A True National Treasure” in the UK, according to most Brits… and to many Eastporters as well.
The BBC crew was in Eastport to begin shooting a five hour travel documentary on all fifty states. The series hosted and produced by Fry, will air next year on the BBC. The BBC is in negotiations with PBS for the series to air here in the USA.
Stephen Fry chose Eastport and The Passamaquoddy to represent the best of Maine. “The people of Eastport are so real… very hard working and honest,” says Fry. “The beauty of each day on this island is breathtaking…I’m an early riser and it has been incredible to get up for my morning walk and watch the sun come up from behind Campobello Island and have all of the village people that are up at that hour greet me with a nod, a wave or most sincere Good Morning.”
The BBC crew spent five days shooting in and around Eastport and Moose Island. From land, sea and by air in a helicopter they captured the beauty, the history, humanity and commerce of America’s most eastern city.
Fry and his crew also went into the woods with members of the Passamaquoody Tribe… they had hoped to see a moose. Unfortunately, they did not. They did however have an opportunity to get an introduction into what it means to be Passamaquoddy and the entire BBC entourage was deeply moved.
A prop in the series is a real London Cab. “I actually own one and drive it around London where I live,” says Fry. “We will use it for the opening and closing shots for each State…. I will drive in and then drive off.”
Many of the local island residents will appear in the series including fellow Brits and now Eastport business owners Jeff and Leslie Starling, restaurant owner Bob Del Papa, Lobsterman Angus McPhail, and John Miller, a former television news anchor and producer that lives in Eastport.
“Stephen Fry and his crew really shared in life on Moose Island for the past week,” says Bob Del Papa. They were absolutely gracious and became quite smitten with our little island community… and our island community became quite smitten with them. It’s a great honor and it speaks so highly for Eastport that Stephen Fry and the BBC chose Eastport to represent the best of Maine… they all want to return and I am sure they will.”
“Considering the amount of time they devoted to Eastport and the Passamaquoody, compared to time allotted for other states, I would guess that the opening show will dedicate a great deal of time to our island community,” says John Miller. “With the British Pound and the Euro so strong it could bring a third British Invasion to Eastport… this time tourists. ”
They are off to Nantucket Island for a day, Providence for a day, New York and Washington, DC, then New Hampshire. In all, they will do all fifty states and The District of Columbia between now and April of next year. “