This observational documentary takes viewers inside Britain’s oldest and most exclusive Gypsy gathering, the world-famous Appleby Horse Fair. More than 10,000 Gypsies and Travellers, thousands of caravans, several hundred horse-drawn vehicles and more than 30,000 visitors descend upon the sleepy town of Appleby in Cumbria every year.
Exploring this hidden and compelling world, this documentary delves deep into the inner workings of the Gypsy and Traveller communities as they attend this unique festival steeped in ancient traditions. But this year, trouble is on the horizon. New police restrictions have fuelled anger from some within the Gypsy and Traveller communities, who feel that the festival is being too monitored and is losing its identity.
Things take a turn for the worse when torrential rain leads water levels in the river to rise to dangerous heights, and the police are left with no choice but to close it. Tensions rise as the Gypsies and Travellers aren’t allowed to enter the river to wash their horses, a staple activity of Appleby Horse Fair. But until the RSPCA give the green light, all the fairgoers can do is wait behind the police barriers.
For some local businesses, the sheer size of the fair can be overwhelming; some people leave town for the duration of the event while boarding up their store-fronts. But the fair also generates a lot of money, and for some pub and restaurant owners, business is booming. They are cashing in on their visitors, who are all too keen to spend their hard-earned money. But at what price?
Told from the point of view of visitors, locals and police, ‘The Town the Gypsies Took Over’ meets larger-than-life characters and offers a fascinating insight into this historic centuries-old event.
The Town the Gypsies Took Over airs tomorrow, Tuesday, 9:00pm on Channel 5 HD and 10:00pm on Channel 5+1.
Series Producers Carolyn Banks, Annie Conlon
Producers / Directors Craig Ellis, Andrew Ferguson, David MacCormack
Executive Producers Federico Ruiz and Jes Wilkins
Production Company Firecracker Films