PASSERS-by were stunned when two of the world's most recognisable actors were spotted on the River Ouse in York.

Sean Bean and Sam Neill are in town as the filming gets underway for the TV series Robinson Crusoe.

The pair, who starred in blockbuster movies Lord of the Rings and Jurassic Park respectively, were filming scenes in a boat on the Ouse and then later shot footage in the Guildhall.

A spokeswoman for the production company, Power Studios International, said the actors will be filming in York and the surrounding area for the next two weeks.

She said: "The basic premise for the series is that we start we with Robinson Crusoe a number of years into his stay on the island and then we begin flashbacks into his life in the UK. All the scenes shot in York are flashbacks to his life when he was a child, his love affair, how he built his empire and how it all went wrong.

"The location team wanted somewhere that looked beautiful, traditional and in keeping with the time period they are in. All the actors are having a good time up there and it sounds like they are doing very well.

"Sean Bean plays Robinson Crusoe's father in the series and Sam Neill is a friend of the family."

The starring role in the series goes to Philip Winchester, who recently starred in the Thunderbirds movie, while up-and-coming British actress Ann Walton has been cast in the lead female role.

Meanwhile, tourists and shoppers will be told to stay away from York's most famous cobbled street due to the filming.

Shops and restaurants in Shambles will be forced to close on Friday as film crews move in to shoot scenes for Robinson Crusoe.

City of York Council has warned that Shambles and St Andrewgate could be closed from 4am to 7pm, although Power Studios Inter-national said it was confident businesses would be able to reopen at about 11am.

Shops in College Street, near York Minster, are also set to be hit by the filming, with owners being told to keep their shops shut throughout trading hours on Saturday.

The president of the York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, Peter Kay, said: "It is always exciting when York gets to feature in a film or television programme, and I hope that the programme makers will make clear in the credits the location of this beautiful city.

"However, there is a price to pay on occasions such as this when streets are closed to enable filming to take place.

"I hope that the local traders have been properly consulted and are to be compensated for the inevitable effect on their trade."

In other areas of York, Castlegate will be closed to traffic today and Thursday during filming inside Fairfax House, which will be closed to the public until Friday.

Meanwhile, there will be fewer parking bays available today in Marygate, and the Black Swan pub, in Peasholme Green, will be closed all day on Bank Holiday Monday.

The £17 million series, described by the production team as "a swashbuckling family show in the vein of Robin Hood" is being made by American production company NBC and will include 13 episodes.