“Mayberry” will find itself back in the national television spotlight Thursday night when a new episode of a reality show will be shown.
Mount Airy is to be featured on a segment of “Bringing Up Bates,” which surrounds the adventures of Gil and Kelly Jo Bates, a couple from Tennessee, and their 19 children. The episode, titled “Bike Racks, Barbers & Big Duets!” will premiere at 9 p.m. on the Up TV network in a 30-minute time slot.
It stems from a visit to Mount Airy in December by the cast and crew of “Bringing Up Bates,” which in turn was spawned by the show’s executive producer, Matthew Hightower, coming here to film aerial footage for another project, “The Real Mayberry.”
“The Real Mayberry” is a documentary by local native Bill Hayes, whose company, Figure 8 Films, produces the “Bringing Up Bates” series. Hayes and Hightower thought shooting an episode here would tie in well with the reality show.
While in town, two of the 19 children, Lawson Bates and his brother Nathan, visited iconic locations including radio station WPAQ, Floyd’s City Barber Shop and Wally’s Service Station, before joining the rest of the family for lunch at Barney’s Cafe.
Local resident Allen Burton also drove Lawson and Nathan Bates around in a Mayberry squad car during the visit, which was highlighted by a nighttime concert at the Earle Theatre by a band that includes Lawson Bates. That performance was staged in conjunction with a tour by the band to promote a new album.
‘Excited’ about episode
One of the local residents who played a role in the December visit by the “Bringing Up Bates” contingent was Jennie Lowry, who works at WPAQ, owns Olde Mill Music and is a member of the Downtown Business Association.
Lowry helped coordinate a tour of the radio station for the two Bates brothers and their six-member production entourage, which included WPAQ owner Kelly Epperson showing them around and announcer Tim Frye conducting an interview focusing on their visit.
“So I’m just excited to see that and see the station on TV as well as all the downtown sights and the Earle Theatre,” Lowry said Tuesday.
She has already taken a sneak peek at a preview for Thursday night’s episode on the Up TV website.
“I saw a few faces,” Lowry said of familiar folks in Mount Airy appearing in the preview segment, “and it shows them (the visitors) getting a haircut.”
That whetted Lowry’s appetite for watching the entire episode.
“I’m really excited to see how they enjoyed coming to Mount Airy — they are big Andy Griffith fans,” she added of the Bates family, whose children have been brought up in a home-schooled environment that included restrictions on TV viewing.
But they were allowed to watch “Andy Griffith Show” reruns due to the small-town family values it promotes.
Among the ways to access the Up TV network is through the DIRECTV satellite system, and it also is available to some subscribers of Time Warner Cable.
In addition, information on the Up TV website indicates that full episodes can be watched there after debuting.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.