10 must-see places for TV and film buffs
- Credit: Adam Lawrence
Miles of sandy beaches, rolling hills and verdant green countryside make Somerset one of the most picturesque counties in the UK, providing the perfect backdrop for some breathtaking walks.
So it’s no wonder producers regularly choose the area for TV and film location shoots. And when you’re visiting parts of the region and think it looks familiar, chances are you have been walking through a big screen location without realising.
We have compiled a list of the top 10 for you to seek out during your visit.
1. Sandylands (2019 and 2021), Weston
Production company King Bert set up base on the Beach Lawns in September 2019 to film a new comedy for UKTV at various locations throughout the town, including the seafront, Knightstone Island, Marine Lake, the train station and Club Tabu on the Boulevard.
The show stars David Walliams, Sophie Thompson, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Simon Bird and Natalie Dew. The latter takes on the lead role of Emily Verma, who is living the high life in London after escaping the clutches of Sandylands – her seaside hometown. But she returns when her semi-estranged father Les Vegas (Bhaskar), a local celebrity and arcade owner, goes missing in mysterious circumstances.
The crew was back filming in the bay for the second series earlier this year and in the same spots throughout Weston, with Bhaskar spotted outside Club Tabu as was and David Walliams snapped with locals dining in a popular seafront restaurant.
- 1 Changes to bus services in Weston
- 2 Home Bargains store opens after £1million investment
- 3 People encouraged to have Covid booster to protect them from virus
- 4 Family-run business opens new tile and paving showroom
- 5 Luxurious three-bedroom house overlooking Weston seafront
- 6 Weston mum thanks community after Afghan refugee donation
- 7 Pet store to relocate to new unit
- 8 Pupil awarded new bike for attending every lesson
- 9 Weston gymnasts impress on Great Britain duty at European Championships
- 10 Plan to build £30million second school site approved
Walliams said filming in Weston was ‘great’ and the cast were all ‘lovely’.
The first series, which was shown in three-parts, aired on Gold in March 2020 and it’s believed the second series will air later this year.
2. Sanditon (2019 and 2021), Weston’s Marine Lake, Sand Point and Uphill, Brean and Clevedon
One of the country’s greatest ever authors, Jane Austen, could have been describing Weston while setting the scene for her final, unfinished novel. One of the main characters is transforming a small, unpretentious fishing village into a fashionable seaside resort, complete with the installation of bathing machines.
So, it comes as no surprise to locals that Weston, Brean and Clevedon were chosen by ITV to recreate coastal scenes for the eight-part adaption.
Production company Red Planet said: “We are happy to be using many locations in North Somerset during filming of Sanditon. Many of these are seaside locations with stunning views, and some of the coastal cliffside locations have not been featured on screen before so add a visual freshness to the production.”
The eight-part programme aired in August 2019 but by December, ITV announced it would not be commissioning a second series due to disappointing viewing figures. Since then however, there have been various social media campaigns calling for a second series and finally the production company announced in the spring that there will be a second and third series, with filming taking place in the town right now.
3. The Cafe (2011-2012), Weston
The Sky One sitcom was written by Weston-born actor and writer Michelle Terry, along with actor friend Ralf Little, and two series were filmed entirely on location in the town, with a pretty timber café temporarily constructed near Knightstone Island, to make the most of beautiful views of the seafront and promenade on screen.
A little-known fact is the comedy also starred Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who also appeared in Broadchurch (see number 5), went on to write the award-winning show Fleabag and was executive producer for the first series of the hugely-popular thriller series Killing Eve.
4. The Trial of Christine Keeler (2019), Weston
Keeler Productions took over Locking Road Car Park and The Regent Restaurant, in Regent Street, both in Weston, to film a BBC period series The Trial of Christine Keeler, based on the Profumo Affair in the 1960s.
The political scandal originated from a brief relationship between Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, and 19-year-old would-be model Christine Keeler. It starred Sophie Cookson, James Norton, Ellie Bamber, Ben Miles, Emilia Fox and Nathan Stewart-Jarrett.
The series aired on BBC One in December 2019.
5. Salisbury (2019), Weston and Clevedon
A BBC film crew working on a three-part factual drama examining the impact of the novichok poisonings in Salisbury was spotted shooting in and around Weston seafront and in Brookfield Walk, in Clevedon.
Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter were targeted with the nerve agent in March 2018. And later, Amesbury resident Dawn Sturgess died after being exposed to high levels of it.
The drama, starring Anne-Marie Duff, Rafe Spall and MyAnna Buring, focussed on the public sector workers who displayed great heroism during the unprecedented national emergency in March 2018.
6. Broadchurch (2013-2017), Clevedon
British acting royalty David Tennant and Olivia Colman starred in the Bafta-award winning three-series ITV crime drama Broadchurch, which follows a seaside community as they come to terms with the murder of an 11-year-old boy.
Most of the outside scenes were filmed in Clevedon, with St Andrew’s Church used as the Broadchurch parish church and graveyard and Hill Road was used for the High Street. The Latimer's home is Lavington Close in the Victorian resort and nearby green areas were filmed in Marshall's Field.
Fans of the show can follow a trail to find all the locations used in the filming by downloading it from broadchurchns.wordpress.com
7. Never Let Me Go (2010), Clevedon Pier and Weston
The British dystopian film saw Hollywood stars Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield tucking into sausage, egg and chips at the Regent Restaurant, just off Weston seafront, which then featured in the trailer and in promotional screenshots of the film. Crew also used Salisbury Terrace, near the entrance to the Grand Pier.
And again, the popular Hill Road area of Clevedon was used for some scenes where a shop was converted into a travel agency. Crews also filmed on the beach there and the pier. The pier is featured on the film poster and the cover of the re-released book.
8. Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), Brean Down and Wells Cathedral
The elaborate costumes in this historical British film gained designer Alexandra Byrne a Best Costumes Oscar. Scenes were shot around mid-Somerset, featuring many locals as extras wearing armour and period dress.
Starring Cate Blanchett, Rhys Ifans, Eddie Redmayne and Clive Owen, the movie is about Queen Elizabeth I facing the Spanish Armada during the 16th Century, and uses Brean Down as a breath-taking backdrop to one of the most famous stories in British history. The scenes of Cate Blanchett on the cliffs, looking out to the ocean are some of the most stunning in the film.
9. Jack The Giant Slayer (2013), Cheddar Gorge
The adventure story is loosely based on the children’s tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, and its producers needed somewhere which could give the impression it was on a huge scale. So where better than Cheddar Gorge?
The cavernous nature of the stunning gorge provided the perfect place to create a menacing giant lair for the film. Gargoyles were imposed on screen spewing out water. There was no need for much in the way of CGI effects though to make the scenery look like something straight out of a fantasy novel.
10. You & I, One Direction Music Video (2013), Clevedon Pier
At the time, One Direction were the most famous band in the world and the filming of their video for You & I garnered much attention, despite the crew trying to shoot it in secret.
Band members morph into each other while walking up and down the boards as they trade lead vocals, showing the Grade 1 listed structure in all its glory and a shot was used in the track’s publicity material.
11. Sherlock - The Abominable Bride (2015), Wraxall
OK, so it's only supposed to be 10, but as it's my favourite TV programme ever , I couldn't conclude without mentioning it! The successful BBC1 drama, Sherlock, included an episode which was screened at Christmas 2015 and watched by 11.6 million viewers, making it by far the most popular show that festive period.
The action unfolded in the beautiful setting of the National Trust estate of Tyntesfield, in North Somerset. BBC bosses felt the Victorian Grade-I listed house’s backdrop was perfect for filming, with Hollywood darling Benedict Cumberbatch dubbing the location ‘a delight’.
Tyntesfield previously featured as a location for an episode of Doctor Who, filmed in 2013 and Dr Thorne, Julian Fellowes’ adaptation of the Anthony Trollope novel, broadcast on ITV in 2016.