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BBC Holiday Show in Beaufort

Dexter Fletcher traces the footsteps of the earliest English settlers to America with a tour of South Carolina's oldest locations: Charleston and Beaufort.

Beaufort County, is 64 islands surrounded by marshland and the Atlantic Ocean, rich in all aspects of American culture dating back to the 1700's.

Slow the pace down
Dexter found it strange coming to terms with the pace of life in the Deep South, think slow, and then think slower still. In Beaufort town, a taxi can take an hour to arrive, there is not even a chemist in the high street. The fastest things in South Carolina are movie productions: The Big Chill, Prince of Tides, White Squall, Sleeping With the Enemy, The Patriot and Forrest Gump were all filmed in Beaufort County.

Beaufort has a sleepy charm, especially around the Old Point where you can take tours to gaze at the fancy historic houses. The Rhett House Inn was built in 1820 for a wealthy Southern family. It has kept that homely atmosphere but with all the mod cons. Barbra Streisand, Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts have all stayed at Rhett House.

Beaufort takes pride in its African-American heritage. Penn Centre was the first school built for former slaves and is now a museum. The Hallelujah Singers perform all over the region, even appearing in Forrest Gump, and one of the choir, Marlene Smalls, played Bubba's mum.

There are hundreds of beaches in Beaufort county, and when the weather is good, the sea is warm and inviting. Dexter took along a thermometer just to prove that the temperature in that particular part of the Atlantic Ocean was 80 degrees!

Hunting Island State Park covers 5,000 acres, it is 17 miles out of town, visitors to the park can camp, go on trails, and of course go 'shrimping'. You can hire the equipment on site and cast for what Bubba called "the fruit of the sea". Shrimp can be barbecued, boiled, broiled, sautéed - then there's shrimp kebabs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried... The Shrimp Shack is the place to get your shrimp burger - it's on Highway 21.

Learn the South Carolina Shag
But if you eat too much food you won't get much 'shagging' done - the 'Shag' is a popular local dance that has been confusing tourists for over 50 years, you can 'Shag' all along the South Carolina Coast.

Sixty four miles north of Beaufort is the oldest City in the South, once the wealthiest in the entire country. Charleston has more churches than chain stores, more museums than shopping malls, and distinctive architecture...

The Vendue Inn is right in the city centre. It was built in the 1960s before being renovated in 1982. The rooms are quaint and it's only one of two hotels in town with a rooftop bar.

If Dexter had to choose one place to visit in the State of South Carolina it would be the Magnolia Plantation. Magnolia has been in the same family for 600 years, and is a preserved swamp garden with abundant wildlife. It's open every day. With ten miles of bike track to explore it can be a tiring prospect, but Magnolia Gardens is the perfect place to reflect back on a visit to South Carolina.

Source: BBC

BBC film crew tours Lowcountry

BEAUFORT: Short segment will air on popular 'Holiday' travel show in late 2002.

Dexter Fletcher struck his best "Forrest Gump" pose -- straight, awkward, uncomfortable -- and stared into the camera: "So you're probably wondering, where is the bench from 'Forrest Gump'? Well, this isn't it. The real bench was a prop, and the square was in Savannah."

But benches like the one the popular British actor was sitting on Wednesday abound in the Lowcountry. And so do world-famous actors, he told the BBC audience back home.

"We've been told Tom Hanks (who played Forrest Gump) jogs by every day at 4:30, so he should be along soon," he said, grinning as he looked over his shoulder. "Tom! Hey Tom!"

Hanks, obviously, was a no-show. He doesn't live in Beaufort and it was actually 3 p.m. Still, saying Hanks might live in Beaufort made his point: The Lowcountry is a nice place to visit, even if it is on the other side of the Atlantic.

Fletcher and a crew from BBC1's popular "Holiday" travel show spent Wednesday touring Beaufort and St. Helena Island, filming enough to fill a 10-minute section of an episode due out next fall. It will air first on BBC1, then later on BBC America and BBC World, producer Sally Norris said.

Fletcher sat on a bench in Cannon Park, imitating Forrest Gump and looking for non-existent superstar joggers. He walked around the old homes in the Point, trying to pretend the show's cameraman wasn't in an idling van alongside him.

Earlier, he visited the ruined Chapel of Ease on St. Helena and the Gay Shrimp Co. He also interviewed the Hallelujah Singers' Marlena Smalls.

Other stops today will include the dock Forrest Gump's shrimp boat scenes were filmed on, and the crew will eat real Frogmore stew tonight. They wrap up filming in Charleston on Friday and head back to England on Saturday.

"This is like Beverly Hills, only without the hills," Norris told tour guide and driver Rand Romaine, the South Carolina Department Parks, Recreation and Tourism's director of United Kingdom sales.

"Our largest international market is the UK," Romaine said. Thousands of people visit South Carolina from Great Britain each year.

Soundman Dudley Houlden, in fact, met a woman he knew from England in a supermarket in Beaufort on Wednesday morning as they stood in the checkout aisle. The woman, he said, was vacationing -- or "on holiday," to use his words -- at her parents' home in Beaufort.

"It was extraordinary," Houlden said.

The Lowcountry doesn't really have a reputation in England, Houlden said, meaning anything the group shows on the air -- including scenes from the 6-year-old "Forrest Gump" -- should find an interested audience. The movie was as popular there as it was here.

The area's reputation, what there is of it, "is all the cliches that go around -- 'Gone With the Wind' and all that. It's not a well-known area, to be honest with you ... but I guess you could say the same thing about parts of Britain."

Norris said the show is seen each week by about 10 million people in the United Kingdom, and by millions more in worldwide syndication. Each episode of "Holiday" consists of three 10-minute segments describing affordable vacations somewhere in the world, from Spain to Switzerland to South Carolina.

Norris spent the night Tuesday in Beaufort's Rhett House Inn, and placed it squarely atop her list of recommendations for her friends back home.

"Beaufort is lovely (but) I think you should only come if you get to stay in one of those beautiful houses," she said. "It's very quiet, which is unusual."

Fletcher said the same thing: The town's simple silence makes it easy to recommend.

"It's quiet and small and everybody probably knows everybody, which is a little like a small English town," he said. "Absolutely, I would recommend (Beaufort). The kind of people I know would like it here. In most cities in the world, you have two speeds, fast and very fast. Here, it's quiet. It's nice."

Fletcher has a starring role -- he "looks after Sergeant Martin" -- in the upcoming HBO mini-series "Band of Brothers." He was General Cornwallis' valet in "The Patriot," which was filmed partly in Charleston.