Tweed suits, fire alarms & the breaststroke…

This is the behind the scenes story of our Great British Railway Journeys journey…


It’s mid-August and Michael Portillo, along with five of the GBRJ crew, is due to arrive at Crieff Hydro any minute.

Waiting to greet him at Reception, dressed in his signature tweed suit, is Stephen Leckie – CEO of Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels.

After a quick meet and greet, it’s straight to business as Stephen escorts everyone up to the top of The Knock to begin filming. It’s a beautiful, clear day and the stunning surrounds of the Crieff Hydro estate and beyond make the perfect back drop for the first interview between Michael and Stephen.


Interview over it’s back down to the hotel to film some exterior shots before moving inside and up to the Signature Room where Michael will spend the night. After capturing some more footage, the GBRJ crew decide they’d like to get down to our Victorian Spa and film a short segment of Michael enjoying the pool facilities before we lose daylight. It’s at this point that the Crieff Hydro GBRJ train, which had been running so smoothly, starts to derail…

Michael changed into his swimming costume and emerged from his room wearing a dressing gown and walking boots ready to be escorted down to the Spa in comfort (and sensible footwear). Then, out of nowhere, the fire alarm goes off! So, Michael Portillo is now being escorted out of the building in the company of hundreds of guests… in his dressing gown!

Ever the professional however, Michael takes it all in his stride smiling and chatting to guests. Luckily before making it outside we’re informed by one of the Crieff Hydro Duty Host team that there is no fire and that the alarm was triggered by an accident involving a break glass unit.


Eventually, a somewhat relieved Michael reaches the Victorian Spa and begins shooting his final scene of the day, proudly displaying a wide array of swimming strokes – front crawl, backstroke and, of course, the breaststroke!

And that’s a wrap!

If you want to see our appearance on Great British Railway Journeys (or even if you just want to critique Michael Portillo’s breaststroke) then you can catch us on the iPlayer here.


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