Entertainment

BBC’s show Vigil’s submarine set pictures that have never been seen before


Shiver me timbers! On the eve of the finale of BBC hit drama Vigil, the submarine as you’ve never seen it before… in all its plywood set-design glory

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Viewers have been gripped by TV drama Vigil, with its clever plot twists and unexplained death, all set on a nuclear submarine.

But there is also another mystery at the heart of the BBC show – namely, what exactly a nuclear submarine is even supposed to look like.

With very little information to go off due to the Royal Navy’s strict security protocols, the programme’s production designer Tom Sayer had his work cut out creating an authentic set for the drama.

But as these exclusive pictures show, lots of wooden boards and extensive paint work can go a long way. Basic components of the set – based at the BBC’s Dumbarton studios in Scotland – were created using marine-grade MDF or plywood.

The series, concluding tomorrow night, sees DCI Silva (Suranne Jones) investigate a death on HMS Vigil. However, the case turns out to be more complex than it first appeared

With very little information to go off due to the Royal Navy's strict security protocols, the programme's production designer Tom Sayer had his work cut out creating an authentic set for the drama

With very little information to go off due to the Royal Navy’s strict security protocols, the programme’s production designer Tom Sayer had his work cut out creating an authentic set for the drama

Mr Sayer had begun by studying the design of former submariners to learn about their inner workings. His sketches were then turned into a convincing 310ft-long set in three-and-a-half months

Mr Sayer had begun by studying the design of former submariners to learn about their inner workings. His sketches were then turned into a convincing 310ft-long set in three-and-a-half months

There is another mystery at the heart of the BBC show ¿ namely, what exactly a nuclear submarine is even supposed to look like

There is another mystery at the heart of the BBC show – namely, what exactly a nuclear submarine is even supposed to look like

It was then coated in paint or clad with laminate sheets before being trimmed with aluminium strip to make it look as realistic as possible.

Mr Sayer had begun by studying the design of former submariners to learn about their inner workings. His sketches were then turned into a convincing 310ft-long set in three-and-a-half months. 

‘We got advice on the layout and detailing from ex-submariners,’ he told Radio Times.

‘We’d say to one, ‘Imagine if a guy left the missile deck, where does he walk to? What’s through that door?’ ‘Then we’d ask another one about where the bomb shop was in relation to the control room, so we could jigsaw it together.’

The series, concluding tomorrow night, sees DCI Silva (Suranne Jones) investigate a death on HMS Vigil. However, the case turns out to be more complex than it first appeared.

Basic components of the set ¿ based at the BBC's Dumbarton studios in Scotland ¿ were created using marine-grade MDF or plywood

Basic components of the set – based at the BBC’s Dumbarton studios in Scotland – were created using marine-grade MDF or plywood

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