10 group travel ideas: behind the scenes

Date Posted: 09/07/2014

On the sofa in the One Show studio at the BBC.

Pictured: Sitting on the sofa in The One Show BBC studio.

From treading the boards with the Bard to the former home of Edward Heath, here are ten guided tour ideas for groups wanting to go behind the scenes.

1. The BBC Studios

Take a peek behind-the-scenes of television and radio production with a tour of one of the BBC studios.

The British institution recently relocated its HQ up to Manchester, and there’s the option to look round its brand new London centre, Broadcasting House, as well as MediaCityUK in Salford and a number of other UK locations.

All visits are led by guides and include interactive elements, often with the opportunity to have a go at being a news or weather presenter or taking part in making a radio play. Groups are classified as 15 or more people.

2. Royal Shakespeare Theatre

From screen to stage, and we next head to Warwickshire for the home of the bard and the behind-the-scenes tours of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theatre (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Groups visiting the theatre will be taken through both the public and private areas of the theatre. You will learn about origins of the RSC and its theatres in Stratford, as well as exploring a production in more depth to learn about the theatre making process

3. Invitation to View

The Invitation to View scheme takes groups behind the closed doors of houses and other places which the general public cannot usually see.

Invitation to View includes 88 properties, from Cornwall to Merseyside, which welcome group tours.

There is a varied range of properties to choose from. In Essex, for example, a new addition to the books is Sworders auction rooms at Stansted Mountfitchet, and the Warner Textile Archive, where visitors can take a special background tour.

The Beatles tour with Paul Beesley

Pictured: Tour guide Paul Beesley on one of his Beatles tours in Liverpool.

4. Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle in Kent offers a selection of guided tours, taking your group behind-the-scenes both upstairs and downstairs at the historic property.

The Below Stairs Tour takes you into the secret world of the servants who lived and worked at the castle in the 1920s and 30s.

The Upstairs Tour in contrast takes groups up into the state and battlement bedrooms of the castle, not normally on show to the public. Hear about the guests of the roaring 1920s, see the bedroom where Edward Duke of Windsor and Mrs Simpson stayed and where Pavarotti was accommodated during his visit here.

5. A Regency Theatre backstage tour 

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk purports to be the only Regency theatre in the country and the only working theatre on the National Trust’s books.

During the summer months, groups can explore the auditorium as well as backstage and onstage with the help of the theatre tour guides.

The venue also offers actor-led tours in which characters from the theatre’s colourful history lead visitors through the history of the theatre, and there’s even the opportunity to try on a costume.

6. The Beatles Tour

Professional tour guide Paul Beesley offers groups a very special Beatles Tour in Liverpool for fans of the band, young and old alike.

Accompanied throughout by the music of the Fab Four, the tour takes you to one of each of their homes; the schools and colleges where they studied; and Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and Woolton Village, where John and Paul met for the first time.

At the end of the tour you return to the city centre and to the famous Cavern Club.

7. Arundells

In Salisbury, Wiltshire, take a guided tour of Arundells, the residence of former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, which has been left much as it was when Sir Edward still lived there.

London street art tour.

Pictured: A London Street Art/Graffiti walking tour.

The house contains memorabilia reflecting the politics of the second half of the 20th century and Sir Edward’s period in public life, including his role in international affairs.

Groups can now also see his upstairs study for the first time, including his desk which used to belong to another former Prime Minister, David Lloyd George.

8. Walking tours of Oxford

Visit Oxfordshire’s programme of daily and themed walking tours of Oxford are led by qualified Blue and Green Badge Guides.

The University and City tour leads groups through Oxford city centre, and a selection of themed tours are available too, with subjects ranging from CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien to Gargoyles and Grotesques.

9. London Street Art

Join graffiti and street art expert Steam156 on one of his London Street Art/Graffiti walking tours.

Groups can go off the beaten track to see street work from the likes of Ben Eine, C215, Citizen Kane, Pure Evil, the world-famous Banksy and more.

Tours start from Old Street Underground Station, Liverpool Street Station and Stockwell Station.

10. The world of Harry Potter

The Hertfordshire attraction Warner Bros. Studio Tour London takes groups on a journey through the sets, characters and props of the Harry Potter films.

Tickets for the Studio Tour must be pre-booked in advance and discounts are available for groups of ten or more.

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