Working on global blockbusters is all part of day job for Bassingbourn location service company

Sex and the City 2

Sex and the City 2 - Credit: Archant

Tucked away behind a country road in Bassingbourn lies an unassuming fleet of vehicles which might not look like anything special to a passer-by.

Nigel Howard is managing director of On Set.

Nigel Howard is managing director of On Set. - Credit: Archant

But these trucks and trailers – decked out as artist rooms, costume emporiums and production offices – have been on the sets of some of the biggest blockbusters in the world, from Gladiator to The Imitation Game and Downton Abbey.

The village is the home to location vehicle specialist On-Set, and at the steering wheel is managing director Nigel Howard.

Nigel Howard in one of the production offices.

Nigel Howard in one of the production offices. - Credit: Archant

The 58-year-old started working in Norfolk for Anglia TV 26 years ago.

But after the regional TV franchise drew a line under location dramas, Nigel brought the business down to Bassingbourn, as it is closer to London, but far enough outside the M25 to make the space he needs to store 135 separate pieces of equipment an economic option.

The trailers on location in Morocco for SATC 2

The trailers on location in Morocco for SATC 2 - Credit: Archant

The business provides everything a production might need in the field, from generators to toilets, costume trucks, to laundry rooms.

Nigel, who worked in the mobile phone industry before moving into the business, said: “I was helping a friend out at Anglia TV, and I never thought it would turn into this.

Highclere castle, the home of Downton Abbey.

Highclere castle, the home of Downton Abbey. - Credit: Archant

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“He sold me part of his equipment. Now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I will probably pass it down to sons, Gavin and Greg, who also work in the company, along with my wife Cheryl.”

The equipment, which is decked out by the company, has travelled far and wide to support movie sets – including South Africa to the set of Blood Diamond, and Morocco for Sex and The City 2.


Downton - Credit: Archant

He said: “It’s often a big logistical operation. We’ve got the best stuff in the industry.

“The guys who go on location all become one big family, especially on productions like Downton, as they have been working on them for six years.

“We have built up a relationship of trust with our clients, which is why they hire us again.”

The company has just finished working on the latest Bourne film, Bridget Jones’ Baby and Ab Fab.

As well as running the business, Nigel joint-owns The Belle pub in the village and is on the Bassingbourn Charities committee – which puts on a summer ball each year in The Field of Dreams.

This year the event will be held on Saturday, May 28. He said: “We try to keep some money for the village. I know most people here and there is a great community in Bassingbourn – everyone supports it.

“This year we are raising money for a leukaemia charity and a children’s play area for the rec ground.”