Leeds TV company's documentary Alton Towers: A Rollercoaster Year to air on Channel 4

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Leeds-based Daisybeck Studios gained access to Britain’s biggest theme park to film a documentary.

The show Alton Towers: A Rollercoaster Year was filmed, produced and directed by Kate Siney from Wakefield and will air on Channel 4 tonight.

The Staffordshire resort, which attracts millions of visitors a year, was due to celebrate its 40th birthday and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit - so all the plans were put on hold and furloughed all but 90 of its 2,000-strong workforce.

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The documentary for Leeds-based Channel 4 follows the resort’s team as they have just a week to get ready for the reopening on July 4 after being closed for 13 weeks.

Will and Jenny Bentley.Will and Jenny Bentley.
Will and Jenny Bentley.

Five hundred acres of gardens had to be cut back as the rides had stopped running for so long birds and wasps had nested among them, and staff had to be trained in how to give guests a fun day out in a strange new world and 4,000 people turned out for the first day.

It was a big day for 11-year-old Will Bentley, who has autism and visits the park every week.

He and mum Jenny, 41, have been going to the theme park since his mum realised spending time at the resort really helped her son get rid of any frustrations he has and enjoy himself.

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The pair first visited Alton Towers in May 2019 and have been going weekly ever since, until the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the park was shut.

Director Kate Siney, from Wakefield.Director Kate Siney, from Wakefield.
Director Kate Siney, from Wakefield.

They have visited the park around 50 times in that period - having been back every week since it reopened until they were locked down again at their North Wales home.

Jenny said: “Will can get stressed so coming here is a release at the end of each week - you feel like nothing else exists.

"The excitement and pleasure Will gets from coming here is just so great and really helps him. During lockdown he really missed it but he built his own Alton Towers on RoadBlox."

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Another story in the documentary is that of 26-year-old Alton Towers show captain.

She said: "I came straight from drama school loved it and now Alton Towers is my life. When I was furloughed I took a temporary job as a porter in The Royal Stoke Hospital, as I live alone and I couldn’t face being on my own in my flat for weeks on end.

“I put my uniform on at 9am on my first day as a porter and by 9.10am I was in the mortuary. It was a massive shock.

“I met a lot of scared people in hospital as visitors weren’t allowed and I had a lot of responsibility. Most days I would go home and cry, it felt like such a lot of pressure.

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“When it was time to come back to Alton Towers I was so happy. This is my normality and it’s nice to give people an escape from the misery and fear of what is going on now, to put a smile on their faces and just for a couple of hours allow them to forget their troubles.”

Matt Pritchard was executive producer on the show.

Alton Towers: A Rollercoaster Year is on tonight at 10.15pm on Channel 4.