Famous film and TV locations that might be on your doorstep

Thursday, 21 April 2022
Days Out

Discover famous film and TV backdrops you can visit that may be right on your doorstep.

With sweeping hills, charming towns, and modern metropolises, there's no wonder producers and directors of the world flock over to Great British shores when looking for the perfect location. Having provided the backdrop for many iconic TV and film productions over the years, there is plenty to see.

Put simply, we have it all. We’re an island, so we’ve got coastline – and it’s great, with spectacular cliffs dropping off into the sea. There are mountains and valleys, towns, cities and the quaintest little villages, too. We’ve got talented, hard-working people, and great transport links for moving people and equipment, that are at the forefront of some of the most state-of-the-art filmmaking technologies. And this is all amidst a wealth of history and culture – we really do tick all the boxes.

To celebrate our rich drama-filled heritage and the amazing locations around the country that have hosted the rich and famous, we’ve compiled a handy guide of ideas for places to visit if you’re a bit of a movie and TV buff (or just like sightseeing).

map of the UK with famous film locations

London

Let’s start with London, a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times and sitting proudly on the banks of the River Thames, it’s brimming with iconic buildings and landmarks all with many tales to tell. From Big Ben to Buckingham Palace and the Shard to Shoreditch, there’s never a dull moment for visitors to this favourite capital.

Book tickets to London

St. Luke’s Mews

Calling all Instagrammers! If you’re looking for the perfect spot to snap your #designgoals post or your latest #travelpics, head to St Luke’s Mews which is one of the prettiest streets in London. Nestled in Notting Hill, not far from the Portobello Road, you’ll find THAT house (number 27) from THAT scene in Love Actually where hopeless romantic Mark declares his love for Juliet via the cardboard signs.

A beautiful, cobbled street, full of houses painted wonderful colours, this is one location in London you don’t want to miss.

Leadenhall Market

Deep in the City of London, you’ll find the wonderful Victorian, Leadenhall Market. With its amazing glass roof and steel structure, the market is now full of modern retail shops and cafes.

There’s no wonder it has almost 12,000 followers on Instagram as photo ops are available in abundance. This place is an Instagrammer’s paradise. It also plays a few parts in Harry Potter.

In the first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the scene where Harry Potter and Hagrid go shopping for wands happened outside Leadenhall Market, while the market was used as Diagon Alley in the same film. The entrance to the wizard's pub, the Leaky Cauldron, is in real life an optician in Bull's Head Passage in the market.

South Bank

South Bank is a bustling area along the Embankment, full of shops, theatres, and restaurants. It’s also where a key part of the British classic film, Four Weddings and a Funeral, was shot.

Charles (Hugh Grant) uses the words of David Cassidy to tell Carrie (Andie MacDowell) he loves her as she walks along the embankment, but sadly it's too late…

But it’s not too late to put a date in your diary and visit this wonderful area though – it’s also home to the London Eye and County Hall and is centrally placed for easy walks to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

Broadway Fruiterers

Broadway Fruiterers and Deli in Crouch End doubles as the flower shop in Shaun of the Dead (2004) where Shaun (Simon Pegg) goes to buy his mum some flowers following a scolding from his stepdad.

Found, as its name suggests, on The Broadway, this traditional greengrocer is jam-packed with fruit and veg and is also renowned for its fresh smoothies. Well worth a visit to top up on your five-a-day!

West Midlands

Think of the West Midlands and numerous football teams may come to mind – Aston Villa, Birmingham City, West Brom and Wolves to name a few. Next, you might think of car manufacturing plants such as Rover or Jaguar and then maybe a famous chocolate company, but did you know that this central area has also played host to an array of TV and movies too?

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Black Country Museum

With 43,000 followers on Instagram, this Dudley treasure is a popular destination for those interested in the 300-year history of the Black Country. It also provided the backdrop for the TV series, Peaky Blinders. The show, which debuted in 2013, follows the exploits of a Birmingham-based gang, and now you can make like a Shelby and head to where it all started – plus with the 2 for 1 offer available when you travel by train, you can save money too.

Birmingham Town Hall

Most famous as a concert hall, this beautiful building in Victoria Square opened in 1834. In 1996, it provided the backdrop for the British comedy-drama, Brassed Off, starring Pete Postlethwaite and Ewan McGregor. A colliery brand head to the Royal Albert Hall for the finals of a brass band championship – but actually the whole indoor scene is filmed at Birmingham Town Hall.

A favourite spot for sightseers in Birmingham, the hall is modelled on the Temple of Castor and Pollux in Rome and has hosted world leaders, royalty and a multitude of musicians over the years.

King Edward's School, University of Birmingham, and Menzies High School

Fittingly, the 1996 film Clockwise, starring John Cleese, about a headmaster who sets out to give a speech at a headmaster’s conference, was filmed in several educational establishments around Birmingham. Menzies High School in West Bromwich was used to portray the fictional school within the film, while the actual headmaster’s conference in the film was shot at Kind Edward’s School.

The fictitious ‘University of Norwich’ was actually the University of Birmingham. With almost 88,000 followers on Instagram and 127,000 on Twitter, the university boasts some truly stunning buildings which are firm favourites with budding and professional photographers alike. If you pay it a visit, look out for the famous clock tower.

Station Street

The iconic Electric Cinema in Station Street features in the 1999 Bob Hoskins film, Felicia's Journey. This stunning retro cinema is the UK’s oldest working cinema in the country, predating its namesake the Electric Cinema located in Notting Hill, London, by around two months. It is, however, well worth a visit, and is also centrally placed – ideal for a day of shopping and sightseeing. If you want to commemorate the moment, you’ll find a plaque outside highlighting the spot – the perfect place for a quick pic!

Industrial Black Country

The 1986 film Knights and Emeralds is about the rivalry between high school marching bands in an English town is filmed in the industrial Black Country around Dudley. An extremely popular place to visit, boasting a massive 139,000 hashtag posts on Instagram, this area is steeped in history. From the industrial revolution, coal mines, churches, National Trust properties and museums to nature trails and recreated streets – this area has it all!

Snow Hill and Aston Expressway

Being described as “one of the worst films of all time”[1] isn’t great, but the scenery and backdrops in Sex Lives of The Potato Men (2000) are if you’re a fan of Birmingham! The film is about the sexual antics of a group of potato delivery men in Birmingham and stars Johnny Vegas and Mackenzie Crook.

Visit Snow Hill station and Livery Street that feature in the film and also look out for the Aston Expressway – although be careful if you decide to take pictures for Instagram like hundreds of others have (there can be a lot of traffic!)

Birmingham City Centre

Take Me High (1973) is a musical comedy set in Birmingham featuring Sir Cliff Richard.

A merchant banker (Cliff Richard), excited to hear he's to go to New York, is sent to Birmingham instead to pressure a small, struggling restaurant. The film is jam-packed with iconic Birmingham buildings and roads – from Spaghetti Junction to Alpha Tower on Queensway.

Recreate the routes strolled along by Sir Cliff – Victoria Square, New Street, Broad Street, Gas Street and Temple Row all feature in the film. Visit the beautiful St. Philips Cathedral and take a walk down the Birmingham canals, just make sure you have a lot of time, there are loads to see.

Northampton

Once famous for its leather and shoe-making industry, Northampton, is an important retail and market centre serving Northamptonshire and North Buckinghamshire and has the biggest market square in England, dating back to 1189. It is also home to the world-famous Silverstone circuit track which hosts the British Grand Prix and houses Mercedes’ engine manufacturing factory. It is also an area of beautiful countryside, castles, and stately homes.

Book tickets to Northampton

The Alms House, Weekley

Located just 2.5 miles from Kettering the Alms House in Weekley village, is ‘Hunsford’, the parsonage of Mr Collins (Tom Hollander) in the film "Pride and Prejudice" (2005). Built in 1611, the building was originally two almshouses that were meant to house seven poor men and two widows.

Weekley is also home to Weekley Hall Woods, a surviving part of the ancient Rockingham Forest and site of lots of walks and wildflowers.

Althorp House

The Althorp Estate has been owned by the Spencer family for over 500 years and is currently held by the brother of Princess Diana, Earl Charles Spencer. Whilst there is much of historic interest to be seen at Althorp, including the grave of Princess Diana which is located on an island in the middle of an ornamental lake on the estate, it is often visited by movie buffs who want to see where Another Country (1984) was filmed.

The romantic drama tells the story of classmates and fellow outcasts Guy Bennett (Rupert Everett) and Tommy Judd (Colin Firth) who find comfort in friendship during the 1930s, at an elite British public school where conformity is the norm. The setting is the public school, modelled on Eton and Winchester, but many of the interior locations were filmed at Althorp.

With 33,000 Instagram followers and 3.3K posts recently, there’s lots worth seeing (and photographing) at the estate so add it to your list of day trips.

Silverstone

With an interactive museum showcasing seven decades of motorsport history and a brand-new hotel opening in 2022, the iconic Silverstone racetrack is definitely somewhere you’re going to want to visit – and you don’t need to wait for the Grand Prix. Don’t forget your camera, as this celebrity circuit racks up hundreds of thousands of hashtags on Instagram regularly.

The famous Silverstone Racetrack, between Towcester and Brackley, also played a very important role in the James Bond classic, Thunderball, starring Sean Connery, as the location for the incineration of evil Count Lippe, who was blown up in his car on the track!

Earls Barton and Wellingborough Station

Earls Barton village was the inspiration for the 2005 film Kinky Boots, and part of the film was shot there. Not only is it the location of the factory, but Wellingborough Station stands in for Northampton Station in the film. Based on a true story, the film tells the story of a struggling British shoe factory's young, strait-laced owner, Charlie, who forms an unlikely partnership with Lola, a drag queen, to save the business. Charlie develops a plan to produce custom footwear for drag queens, rather than the men's dress shoes that his firm is known for.

Steve Pateman, Earls Barton resident and real-life Charlie, was the man who saved his family's traditional shoe factory, WJ Brookes, by branching out into footwear for men who like to dress as women.

Another claim to fame for Earls Barton and something to add to your sightseeing list is the village's small market square where there is a pharmacy run by a member of the Jeyes chemist's family, which invented and manufactured Jeyes Fluid.

Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park is another location to add to your film locations bucket list after starring in none other than the Imitation Game. The secluded Victorian mansion near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire was featured in the movie’s bar scenes, where filming took place in the Ballroom.

In real life, Bletchley Park was where Alan Turing and other agents of the Ultra intelligence project deciphered secret German codes. The building was due to be demolished in 1991, but after its role in World War Two was finally revealed, it was thankfully preserved – and is now a museum you can visit. Plus, when you travel by train you can bag yourself a 2 for 1 ticket offer – saving you a pretty penny too!

Manchester

Manchester is a city of so much more than two massive football teams! With amazing architecture, culture, universities, and transport links, it’s also got a world-renowned music scene. So, there’s lots going on.

Of course, there are the famous cobbles of Coronation Street, but it’s also not surprising that TV producers and film directors from near and far have flocked to Manchester to find the perfect sets for their blockbusters.

Hilton Street

Second World War drama starring Sean Bean and Helen Hunt, World on Fire was shot in and around Hilton Street in Manchester in 2019. The 7-part series, which tells the intertwined stories of families and individuals across Europe at the outbreak of the Second World War, was shot next to the Met-Apartment building.

Work up an appetite walking around and recognising locations from the show, the recharge your batteries in one of the trendy bars and restaurants in this central area.

Dale Street and Piccadilly

Despite being the story of a gang from Birmingham, many of the most dramatic scenes in the hit drama, Peaky Blinders, were filmed in Manchester. Dale Street and Piccadilly in the Northern Quarter are particularly well represented in series 5 when Tommy Shelby has become a politician. The grand funeral procession for the character Peter was also filmed here among the cobbled streets and warehouses.

While in this area don’t forget to post a few pictures – #piccadillymanchester is a favourite on Instagram. Better still, visit the Peaky Blinders Bar on Peters Street, with 11,000 IG followers and some amazing picture posts, it’s well worth a trip!

Manchester City Council

With all the Victorian architecture in Manchester, it is no surprise that it has hosted some iconic British films. Manchester Town Hall (1868-77) in Albert Square is one of the most famous landmarks in the city and it played a starring role as the houses of parliament in the 2017 Oscar-winning film, Darkest Hour.

The war drama film, directed by Joe Wright and written by Anthony McCarten, is an account of Winston Churchill's early days as Prime Minister during the Second World War and the May 1940 War Cabinet Crisis. Gary Oldman won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Churchill and much of the movie is filmed in Manchester.

Some of the scenes in Sherlock Holmes (2018) were filmed in Manchester Town Hall, too. The Houses of Parliament and Lord Coward’s office are actually the Town Hall and the staircase and corridor outside the building’s Great Hall are also used as MPs in the film walk into the House of Commons.

And if you visit the cafe in the Town Hall, take a look out of the window – this is where Sherlock jumped from into the river below!

The Town Hall is a Grade I listed building – meaning that it is considered to be of exceptional architectural interest and national importance (only 2.5 per cent of England's listed buildings are classified as Grade I). The building is open for visitors every day, but check times if you want a tour guide!

Liverpool

Visit Liverpool is a site with a million and one ideas of things to do including ferry trips, restaurants, hotels, and museums. With so many attractions, there’s no surprise then that the city has built a strong legacy famous for The Beatles, Cilla Black, Paul Hollywood, and Jodie Comer.

Book tickets to Liverpool

Stanley Dock

Stanley Dock, a World Heritage UNESCO site, is on the River Mersey and forms part of the Port of Liverpool. It sits proudly at the heart of Liverpool's docks – the largest and most complete system of historic docks anywhere in the world.

Established in 1848, Stanley Dock features enormous historical quay warehouses, including Tobacco Warehouse, which when it was built in 1901, was the largest brick building in the world.

Many scenes from Sherlock Holmes (2009) starring Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law and Rachel McAdams were filmed at Stanley Dock including carriage rides and some iconic derelict warehouse scenes.

Crosby Beach

Famous for the iron men dotted along the coastline, Crosby beach is now the permanent home to ‘Another Place’, the not-to-be-missed sculpture installation by internationally acclaimed artist, Antony Gormley. A massive favourite for locals and tourists alike, #crosbybeach racks up 68,000 Insta posts!

The beach has also proved immensely popular with film producers. In 2004, Jude Law was in the area to film the remake of the film Alfie, made famous by Sir Michael Caine. Alfie is a limousine driver who doesn’t think twice before indulging in one-night stands with all the pretty ladies he drives around.

No need for you to drive around here, at 2.5 miles in length, Crosby beach is a perfect place for a stroll and there is even a cafe at the marina for when you’re finished.

Liverpool Town Hall

The architecture of Liverpool’s neoclassical town hall has provided the perfect backdrop for several noteworthy film productions. Nestled between the business district and the city centre, it has played host to two cinematic masterpieces – Chariots of Fire and The Hunt for Red October.

The multi-Oscar winning Chariots of Fire is based on the true of two British athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Liverpool Town Hall was the setting for the scenes depicting the British Embassy in Paris.

In the Hunt for Red October, Sean Connery stars, and Liverpool City and the Town Hall doubles for a snowy Russia.

Monthly tours and open days of the Town Hall are run throughout the year.

The Birkenhead Tunnel

The Queensway tunnel is a road tunnel under the River Mersey, between Liverpool and Birkenhead. Locally, it is often referred to as the Birkenhead tunnel or old tunnel. The tunnel, which cost a total of £8 million, was opened on 18 July 1934 by King George V and the opening ceremony was watched by 200,000 people. At the time, it was known as the eighth wonder of the world and was the longest road tunnel in the world.

Somewhat surprisingly, it was used for a car chase in Fast and Furious 6, and the tunnel was closed for three days causing traffic disruption throughout the city.

While we don’t encourage speeding through the tunnel, we do hope you will visit and admire the first tunnel ever built under the mighty Mersey River.

The Batman, released in March 2022, was also shot in the city. We might not know what’s going on in the scenes, but we do know that areas of the city centre, as well as north Liverpool, were turned into parts of Gotham City, with an epic scene filmed atop of the iconic Liver Building between Batman, Catwoman and The Penguin!

Edinburgh

Edinburgh, the beautiful capital of Scotland, is a hilly city overlooked by the famous castle. With a medieval Old Town and a Georgian New Town, it is packed with grandiose gardens, parks, and stunning architecture. With cobbled streets, fantastic shopping and world-class dining options (and lots of whisky tasting experiences) – this place has something for everyone.

Princes Street

Famous for its shops, Princes Street is one of the main thoroughfares of the city. It also features in the 1985 Scottish film, Restless Natives.

The story follows the adventures of two Scottish youths from Edinburgh, who, in rebellion to their drab lives in urban Scotland in the mid-1980s, become modern highwaymen. Dressing up and holding up tourists with toy guns, they inadvertently collect loads of money and end up doling it out to the poor of their city by scattering it on bike rides through its streets, attracting national media attention and pursuit by the police.

If you’re visiting Princes Street, be sure to take some photos and add them to the 67,000 Instagram posts that have the hashtag #princesstreet.

Edinburgh Academy

The Edinburgh Academy is an independent day school that was opened in 1824 and was once attended by Robert Louis Stevenson. The main building, with its Greek Doric frontage, was designed by architect William Burn and provides the entrance to the Marcia Blaine School in the film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie starring Maggie Smith.

The famous gates at 54 Henderson Row, are walked through by Miss Brodies and her girls throughout the film as are many other Edinburgh backdrops including the Vennel, the flight of steps leading down to Grassmarket, with its view across to Edinburgh Castle where she marches them before strolling through Greyfriars Churchyard.

Whilst doing some Miss Brodie sightseeing, why not look for her home in the film as well which is in nearby Admiral Terrace?

Moray Place and Forres Street

Moray Place is a grand Georgian circus, owned originally by the Earl of Moray, which, along with Forres Street, was built during the second phase of the New Town development, from the late 1700s until the mid-1800s. A beautiful arc of Georgian residences with a pretty green park, it is a tranquil spot in the city, perfect for a picnic or coffee break.

It has played host to a number of films including One Day, the 2011 romantic drama based on the book by David Nicholls and starring Anne Hathaway. The film which is set in Edinburgh and begins with Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Dex (Jim Sturgess) graduating from Edinburgh University, features scenes shot in Arthurs Seat, Warriston Close, Moray Place/Forres St, Parliament Square, Calton Hill and Victoria Street/Terrace.

Pompadour Rooms at Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel

The Angel’s Share, a comedy-drama by Ken Loach about a group of friends from Glasgow who try to turn their lives around, has the group visiting Edinburgh for a whisky meeting in the Pompadour Rooms at this wonderful hotel. It is a pivotal point of the film, where everything changes for the protagonist, Robbie.

The Caledonian Waldorf Astoria is one of Edinburgh’s finest hotels. The hotel, on Princes Street, was opened in 1903 having started life as a Victorian railway station. The Royal Mile and Edinburgh Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are within a mile from the hotel making this is a great spot to start or end a day of sightseeing.

Speaking of the Pompadour Rooms, restaurant critic, Jay Raynor, says: “There may be prettier dining rooms than the Pompadour at Edinburgh’s Caledonian Hotel, but not bloody many. It’s a wedding cake of a room, all crisp ceiling rose and cornice and detail.”

Following a short period of closure, The Pompadour Rooms reopened in October with chef, Dean Banks, at the helm.

Travelling to the locations

So, there you have it, some of the most famous (and quirky) films and TV shows that have been famously filmed a lot closer than you may have thought.

If you want to pay some of them a visit, why not travel by train? See our routes and book tickets here.

map of famous TV and film locations

References

[1] https://www.westmidlandsrailway.co.uk/destinations/travel-inspiration/fa...