The new thriller Stay Close has captivated viewers on Netflix where it has quickly become the UK’s most-watched drama since its launch on December 31.
And while secrets, lies and murder are at the heart of the drama starring Cush Jumbo, Richard Armitage, Sarah Parish, James Nesbitt and Jo Joyner, the show’s dramatic North West locations made almost as much noise. .
From the first moments of the Netflix drama, a massive bald-headed sculpture has forced itself into view – and it remains at the heart of the action throughout the series as the site of secret meetings as well as serious misdeeds.
READ MORE: Where was Stay Close filmed on Netflix? All Manchester and North West locations
And the sculpture is a real landmark that people can visit all year round at its prominent site just off the M62 between Liverpool and Manchester.
The Dream statue was unveiled in 2009, the brainchild of artist Jaume Plensa, located atop the former Sutton Manor colliery in St Helen’s.
The statue was commissioned by former miners and the Council of St Helens to reflect the aspirations of the community, with the white finish of the head created as a complete contrast to the black coal still found in the ground below, and to symbolize St Helens post-industrial transformation.
Stay Close is based on thriller author Harlan Coben’s bestselling novel – but the original book is set in Atlantic City in the United States.
And in the book, the mysterious meeting point is a sculpture known as Lucy the Elephant, a huge fairground figure, which can be visited in New Jersey.
This meant that the bosses of the places had to consider whether to recreate this sculpture in the northwest for the purposes of the drama, or find a new location instead – which they ultimately did by choosing the head statue dream.
Mark O’Hanlon, site manager of Stay Close, explained: “When Harlan talked about this big disused fairground in New Jersey, we looked at a few old fairgrounds, but they didn’t quite work.
“Then we tried Blackpool Pleasure Beach to see if there were any psychedelic rides that might be slightly different but were surrounded by too many other buildings.
“I used to come across The Dream Head on the M62 between Manchester and Liverpool when I worked a lot in Liverpool.
“So I looked and found it was a mine that had been shut down in the 90s.
“It sat bare for years and was basically back to nature with a nature reserve and walks. The council of Saint Helena then commissioned this piece.
“It looks awesome when you’re out there, totally alien, so it fit the book’s elephant vibe perfectly.
“At one point, decorator Luana Hanson was very excited because we were going to build the elephant. Then we talked about an octopus, but that dreamy head just worked.
How to get there
The Dream sculpture is open to the public 365 days a year at Sutton Manor Woods, Jubits Lane, St Helen’s Merseyside, close to J7 of the M62 motorway.
To get there by car using sat nav, use postcode WA9 4BB; follow the signs to park in the King George V car park.
Sutton Manor Woodland is open to the public year-round, but visitors should be aware that the trails to Dream have reasonably steep inclines and are not easily accessible for wheelchair users.
To visit via public transport, the nearest train station is Lea Green, approximately 1 mile north of Sutton Manor.
From here take the 33a bus (every half hour and hourly) which drops down on Jubits Lane near the Smithy Manor pub, or the 33 bus (every 10 minutes) which drops off at Forest Road near the old gates of Colliery.
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