A BBC One drama about the early days of Chester Zoo is being shot at Walton Hall.

The Guardian can reveal that film crews from Big Talk Productions have been on site for the new series ‘Our Zoo’ which will air in the autumn.

Visitors have also seen a prop wall that has been built outside the hall as part of the 1930s set.

The all-star cast will see Inspector George Gently’s Lee Ingleby play ex-serviceman George Mottershead, Chester Zoo’s founder.

Legend has it that George visited Belle Vue Zoo as a child and became so upset at seeing large animals in cages he told his father he would one day create a zoo without bars.

Life on Mars’ Liz White will play George’s wife Lizzie Mottershead while The Royle Family’s Ralf Little stars as Lizzie's mischievous brother Billy Atkinson.

Also central to the plot is BAFTA-nominated Anne Reid as Lucy Mottershead, whose world is turned upside down when her husband, Albert (Peter Wight) decides to sells their shop to help fund George's plans at great personal cost.

Underworld’s Sophia Myles will take the role of Lady Katherine, the mysterious aristocrat who lives next door and Stephen Campbell-Moore, from The History Boys, will play Reverend Aaron Webb.

Meanwhile, upcoming actors Amelia Clarkson and Honor Kneafsey will portray George and Lizzie’s children, Mew and June.

Our Zoo is Big Talk’s first drama commission for BBC One and is being supported by George Mottershead’s daughter June Williams and Chester Zoo.

It is written by award-winning playwright Matt Charman and produced by Marcus Wilson, who has worked on Doctor Who.

A spokesman for Warrington Borough Council said: “There’s currently some filming taking place at Walton Hall.

“It’s for a BBC period drama to be screened in the autumn.

“We can’t say any more at the moment, but announcements will be made in due course, and the project will be very good news for Walton Hall and for Warrington.”