When retired engineer Ralph Dixon picked up a note that had been pushed through his letterbox asking if he was interested in his home being used in a television drama, he was rightly suspicious.
‘The message and a telephone number were written in pencil and on a page ripped from a reporter’s notebook. I thought it was a wind-up,’ recalls the 71-year-old.
Not surprisingly, Ralph and his wife Marilyn, 68, a retired NHS nurse, carried out thorough background checks before agreeing to allow their Grade II listed property, Oakleigh House, in the Norfolk market town of Swaffham, to feature in the ITV drama Kingdom.
Oakleigh House (pictured) has a facade that is thought to have been built in about 1755, but there is an older part of the building – probably dating from Elizabethan times – that has a legend associated to it
Grade II listed property in the Norfolk market town of Swaffham featured in the ITV drama Kingdom, starring Stephen Fry (pictured)
The programme starred Stephen Fry as lawyer Peter Kingdom, whose work brings him into contact with a number of eccentrics.
The Dixons’ dining room was judged to be perfect for Peter Kingdom’s office, so Ralph sectioned off the front part of the house for the actors and crew, while he and Marilyn confined themselves to the back during filming.
‘The situation worked very well for both parties, says Marilyn.
‘However, I did feel a bit of apprehension when I saw a script and it said there was going to be a scene with squirrels.
'I said, “Are you going to let them loose in the house?” But they said they were going to be on leashes, so it was fine. Squirrels can be very destructive.’
Oakleigh House, which has nine bedrooms, is now on the market for £700,000 with estate agents Fine & Country, as the couple are downsizing.
‘The family will miss it,’ Marilyn admits. ‘Our grandchildren are that age when they love playing hide-and-seek in the house.’
The couple bought the house in 1994 for £120,000.
‘I’ve always had an interest in old buildings and this was affordable because it was