The UK’s best TV filming locations

ted village

Ted on set of ‘The Village’

With so many great dramas, comedies and adaptations hitting our screens over the last few years, the UK is now awash with interesting and beautiful TV filming locations for us all to visit. Although not all of them are available to tour directly, they still make great holiday locations where you can soak in the atmosphere, feel and aesthetics of your favourite TV programmes. But with so many to choose from, and each with their own visitation limitations and restriction, how will you ever decide on which ones to visit? Well don’t worry, we’ve picked out some of the most famous, beautiful and interesting TV filming location in the UK to help you make up your mind. So here you are, five of the best TV filming locations to visit in the UK:

Downton Abbey – Highclere Castle

First on the list is probably the most famous. Downton Abbey has been a revelation not only in the UK, but also in America where its popularity has exceeded expectations. The show is revered for its accurate historical costume and setting, and critically acclaimed for its realistic representation of social relations in the Edwardian era, and now you can visit the abbey itself. Whilst many of the indoor scenes are filmed in specially constructed studio sets, the outdoor shots of the Abbey are filmed at Highclere Castle in Berkshire, the seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. You can visit the castle most days of the year, and since the show has attracted considerable tourist attention.

If Highclere Castle isn’t enough for you, you can also visit the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire, which is the setting for Downton Village. There is a scheduled tour of the village, or if you prefer you can walk around at your leisure and experience the setting for some of the major plot developments in the show. You can also get access to some of the closed off filming locations and see the Crawley House, Downton Hospital and St Mary’s Church.

Sherlock: The Hound of the Baskervilles – Hound Tor and Dewer’s Hollow

Hound Tor is the site of a deserted Medieval village on Bodmin Moor, and was the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s story The Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s fitting, then, that when the BBC came to adapt the story for the new series of Sherlock that they decided to film some of it there. The location has a history of being used as a TV location, being featured in Doctor Who in the 1970s and The Sontaran Experiment. This historical and archaeological landmark lies within the rugged woodland of Bodmin Moor, and offers beautiful views across its expanse.

Scenes for this episode were also filmed in Three Bears Cave in Forest Fawr Country Park near Cardiff, which was used to represent Dewer’s Hollow. Again a rugged and traditionally British woodland, this provided the dark eerie backdrop for the sighting of the hound, and has also been used in various other BBC TV programmes, such as Torchwood and Merlin. The woodland expanse of the country park is a beautiful walking holiday destination, which also allows you to take in some TV history whilst you’re at it!

Jamaica Inn – Cornwall

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The BBC remake of Jamaica Inn divided opinion, but whatever you think of the shows recent foray onto our screens, Jamaica Inn remains one of the defining novels in history. Although the TV programme itself was filmed on a number of locations, including Cornwall and Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria, fans of the show, book or film adaptations can still visit the famous Jamaica Inn itself, from Daphne Du Maurier took the name of her novel – in fact, the Inn is now so famous it has been given Grade II listing status by English Heritage. Located in the middle of Bodmin Moor, the inn has been on the site since the 18th century, when it was used a resting house for smugglers and pirates in the area. Because of this interesting history, it has also been named one of the most haunted places in the UK.

Regardless of this connection with the novel and various TV and film adaptations, the Inn as a beautiful and historic site in its own right, and the nearby village of Bolventor and the surrounding moorland are typical of the rugged and sublime north Cornish landscape.

Doc Martin – Port Isaac

Nestled on the north coast of Cornwall, the small fishing village of Port Isaac has found fame in the last ten years as the filming location of Doc Martin. Called Port Wenn in the show, all the exterior scenes are filmed in the village, and can be visited all year round. Many of the interior scenes were also shot in the village, but in a converted barn on a local farm, which you can also visit. The village has a history as a TV filming location, having previously been the location of Poldark in 1970s, which is due to make a comeback on our screens next year. As well as a must for fans of the show, this picturesque fishing village is a great holiday spot regardless of its TV associations.

Broadchurch – Dorset

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Slightly less cheerful coastal comings and goings took place in ITV’s drama series Broadchurch. The serial made good use of Dorset’s stunning coastline to tell a gripping tale of the dark secrets underlying a seemingly idyllic community. Thankfully, while the script (and the titular location) was a work of fiction, the beautiful landscape on England’s south coast is far from, with breath-taking landscapes, stunning scenic vistas and warm welcomes aplenty.

The success of Broadchurch has already prompted an increase in screen tourism to the area, but thanks to the abundance of tranquil beauty in Dorset we’re fairly sure that you won’t notice the increased numbers. Of course that may chance when they screen series 2!

Doctor Who – Cardiff

Doctor Who is known for inspiring serious levels of fandom, and its filming locations around Cardiff have become the stuff of legend. Although you can’t get access to any of the sets, you can take an unofficial tour or use the tour app to discover and visit the filming locations of the show. Cardiff is a great city, with fantastic scenery, architecture and museums, and is a great holiday destination even if you’re not a fan of the Doctor.

Aside from the location featured here, there are a whole host other beautiful, history and rugged TV filming locations which make great holiday destinations. It’s the perfect way to fulfil your TV fandom whilst having a great holiday at the same time. With cottages4You you can do both, staying in self-catering accommodation whilst visiting the famous locations of your favourite TV shows.

Britain 2013 on the Big Screen

Cinema goers have been treated to a stunning array of epic battle scenes, sweeping vistas and ancient forests in this year’s big movie releases. Hollywood movie directors have the technology to sweep us away from the banality of our modern day existence to other worlds or places in time, but look a little closer and you may notice that your movie hero is nearer to home than you realise. Britain is a favourite choice for many major movies, and this year’s blockbusters show how filming has moved out of the Hollywood backlot, and into some real locations around Britain. Spend a few days in these areas and it’s easy to see why the diversity, history and beauty of the British landscape makes for such a popular choice with filmmakers and tourists alike.

Sunrise at Pendennis Head

Pendennis Head, Falmouth

Falmouth, Cornwall

No one would have imagined that a popular British holiday resort would be the chosen destination for a big budget blockbuster, until a film crew turned up for the filming of Brad Pitt’s apocalyptic zombie movie World War Z. Falmouth in Cornwall was chosen by the film’s producers as one of the film’s major filming locations around the world. In particular, the film makers came to Falmouth for the helicopter ship, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Argus which served as the American aircraft carrier, USS Harry S Truman in the movie. Much of Falmouth’s maritime history is still in evidence today, as the town is the biggest port in Cornwall. Although Falmouth is now primarily a seaside resort, tourists can learn much about the maritime heritage of Cornwall by visiting the National Maritime Museum at Falmouth Harbour.

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Cromer Pier, Norfolk

The distinctive, unspoilt landscape of the Norfolk countryside led film producers to choose the seaside town of Cromer, in Norfolk, as the location for some of the most dramatic scenes in the film Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. Locals witnessed gunfire and a large fictional police presence on Cromer Pier whilst filming took place. The pier was pivotal to the film’s action sequences, chosen for its distinctive architecture and history. In fact, it is a particularly popular filming location, having been used in a number of films and television series. Tourists can visit the famous pier, enjoy the beautiful beaches and explore some of the medieval and Victorian architecture around the town, which still stands today.

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Portloe, Cornwall

The sleepy fishing village of Portloe in Cornwall is not only popular for its walks, scenery and history, but surprisingly for its filming potential. The village has featured in various television series, and this year, cinema goers will see it as the main village setting in the Richard Curtis film, About Time. Nestled in a tiny cove, this Cornish fishing village is a timeless beauty, filled with a jumble of houses and streets, and surrounded by wonderful coastal walks and gorgeous views of the harbour. Portloe also makes a great base for visiting many other attractions in the area, such as the Eden Project and The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

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Norwich Cathedral: a fairytale location

Norwich Cathedral, Norfolk

Norwich Cathedral in Norfolk became the centre of attention, when it was transformed into a fairy tale castle for the movie, Jack the Giant Slayer. The producers needed a beautiful, large building that could accommodate the movie’s giants, and Norwich Cathedral had the space and grandeur to deliver this. The film, starring Ewan McGregor, involved transforming the interior of the cathedral with fake stone before film crews began filming sequences in between the cathedral’s programme of daily worship. Norwich Cathedral Quarter had already been a popular choice for filmmakers, having been featured in several other films and television series, including Stardust and Alan Partridge. The historic architecture and heritage of Norwich is only one of the many reasons why tourists flock here every year. Tourists can explore the wealth of medieval architecture here, visit Norwich Cathedral, or making a trip to the Norman Castle. The Cathedral Quarter in particular, features many interesting heritage sites worth visiting, including Tombland, an ancient Saxon marketplace, and Elm Hill, the city’s most famous medieval street.

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Box Hill, Surrey

Filming of The World’s End, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, caught the attention of local residents, when Box Hill in Surrey began to glow orange. Despite the initial alarm, locals discovered that film crews were in the process of filming a scene here that involved setting a car on fire. However, Surrey residents are not unused to the sight of a film crew in their midst. Surrey has been a favourite filming location for many big blockbusters. Box Hill, on the North Downs, is itself a popular attraction for thousands of visitors every year, who come to enjoy the superb panoramic views and natural wildlife. Its footpaths also make it a great place for long distance walking. Box Hill was made famous in 2012 for the Olympic Road Races that took place here.

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Bourne Wood, Surrey

Fire and explosions could be seen on location in Bourne Wood in Surrey, during the filming of epic superhero movie, Thor 2: The Dark World. Film crews, horses and hundreds of extras took over the site of this woodland to film a great battle scene between two fictional kingdoms. Bourne Wood is situated near Farnham and has been frequently used as a filming location over the last decade, for films such as Gladiator, and also for television series and commercials. Farnham itself is a beautiful historic town, which also deserves special attention for its history, which dates back tens of thousands of years. The town features in the Domesday Book and throughout its long history has suffered plague and civil war. Tourists can visit Farnham Castle, a Norman castle which dates back over a thousand years, or stroll through the narrow streets to explore the town’s beautiful Georgian architecture. The local area also offers many places of interest, including Waverley Abbey, the first Cisterian abbey in England, which was founded in 1128, and Moor Park House, which dates to 1630.

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The 007 Greatest Bond Locations in Europe

For 50 years the cinematic adventures of James Bond have been a gateway to an exotic world filled with equal parts beauty and danger. And on those thrilling adventures, Bond films have showcased some of the world’s most stunning locales – along with the usual array of automobiles, glamorous ladies and a not inconsiderable amount of product placement. So for this feature we’ve decided to focus on 007 of the best Bond locations to visit in Europe.

If you’d like to join us as we follow in the footsteps of Britain’s favourite spy, we’ve also added a quick link to search results from cottages4you near each location. It may be a slightly less technically advanced travel option than a jet-pack in a suitcase, but we’re sure it offers a far more relaxing experience.

Don’t forget to enter our Bond Locations comp on Facebook. There’s a different prize up for grabs each week!

001: Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland – The World is Not Enough

During this Pierce Brosnan Bond adventure, the villains destroyed MI6 headquarters on the South bank of the Thames. However, as luck would have it the world’s most secret spy agency had a standby office in what is inarguably one of Scotland’s most beautiful locations:  the iconic Eilean Donan Castle. So stunning is this location that we can quite understand why MI6 didn’t just decide to up-sticks from the Capital and use this office instead – aside from the opportunity to showcase the Millennium Dome and a number of London’s iconic attractions in the explosive opening sequence.

Eilean Donan Castle stands on a small island looking over the tranquil waters of Loch Duich and is reached by a beautiful stone walkway from the village of Dornie. It’s no stranger to attention from James Bond, either, having also featured in Highlander and Entrapment – both of which starred Sir Sean Connery.

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002: Lake Como, Italy – Casino Royale

There were several memorable moments in 2006’s re-tooling of Bond that were uncomfortable for male members of the audience. For starters, there was the awkward moment when James Bond appeared from Caribbean waters wearing the world’s skimpiest pair of swimming trunks, immediately making most men in the audience mourn the passing of their midriffs. Then there was THAT sequence towards the end where the villainous Le Chifre helped scratch Bond’s itch in a distinctly unsubtle fashion.

While most of us can’t – and wouldn’t want to – emulate Bond in these situations, we can at least share the place he used to recuperate afterwards. These scenes were filmed in the gardens of the Villa del Balbianello on the western shore of the southwest part of Como. Now owned by the FAI (Italy’s National Trust) the villa and its gardens are open to the public from March until November.

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003: Canale Grande, Venice – Various

Our customers generally fall into two different categories: some like to sample somewhere new each holiday while others return to their favourite properties each year. It seems Mr. Bond falls somewhere in between. While he’s probably been chased through every beautiful location in and around Earth, it seems there’s something about being chased through the historic canals of Venice that he can’t resist. And who can blame him? Not only do the tranquil waterways and historic backdrop of the ‘City of Water’ make for fantastic eye-candy but they also provide the opportunity for plenty of memorable action sequences, offering jet powered gondolas, floating houses and more.

As far as we’re aware, James Bond first visited as Sean Connery in From Russia with Love. He later returned after several years as Roger Moore in Moonraker before finally returning as Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. But whatever changed between his visits, the beautiful waterways, ornate architecture and romantic ambience of Venice remained reassuringly consistent.

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004: The Eiffel Tower – A View to a Kill

We can’t think of anyone but James Bond who could get away with tarnishing one of France’s most beloved cultural icons by chasing someone off the top and getting tangled up in a fishing rod en-route. Roger Moore’s 007 swansong may have been one of the lesser Bond films, but the sequence involving him chasing a parachuting Grace Jones was incredibly memorable – as only an incident involving Grace Jones, Roger Moore, the Eiffel Tower and a parachute could be.

As millions of tourists will surely attest, most visits to the Eiffel Tower involve far less danger – though far more queuing – than Bond’s appearance in the mid 1980s. Still, it’s not a bad trade off to admire the best views of beautiful Paris.

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005: Stonor House, Oxfordshire – Licence to Kill

James Bond and stately homes: both resolutely British but they tend to go together like chalk and cheese. Traditional homes may be the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon, but they’re not the sorts of places that get the pulse pounding. So it’s no wonder that it took the makers of the Bond films so long to destroy one (with exploding milk bottles, no less). As with Eilean Donan Castle, Stonor House and Gardens in Oxfordshire acted as another of MI6’s safe-houses that was attacked by villains, proving that not only are MI6’s safe locations not actually that safe, but also that cinema’s most secretive spy agency is probably slightly over-funded.

One of Britain’s oldest manor houses, Stonor House has remained in the same family’s possession for over 850 years. A visit allows you the opportunity to appreciate a host of treasures including old Master Drawings, European Bronzes, an early 19th century wallpaper of Paris and contemporary ceramics from around the world.

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006: Siena, Italy – Quantum of Solace

History is all but inescapable in Siena; it’s deeply ingrained in the very ground you walk on. As you admire the ornamental architecture of the cathedral, or stroll round the wonderful Palazzo Comunale, you can’t help but feel that in some way you’re experiencing a semblance of what life was like hundreds of years ago. History is evidenced in one of Siena’s biggest attractions too: the bi-annual Palio horse race. Familiar to viewers of Quantum of Solace, it was during this event that Bond took part in a foot chase over the slate roofs of the town before descending for a showdown at street level.

The Palio is such an impressive display of Tuscan heritage that no special effects are required to convey the scale, drama and sheer majesty of this historic event. It only take place twice a year but there’s enough to stunning sights to see and things to enjoy in Siena to make a visit worthwhile at any time of year.

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007: Romazzino Beach, Sardinia – The Spy Who Loved Me

At cottages4you, we can never agree on Bond’s greatest gadget, but we’d have to say a sports car that turns into a submarine must be pretty high up on the list. It’s certainly one of the most memorable. During The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond gets chased along the coast of Sardinia by a helicopter. After diving/driving into the water, he emerges shaken but not stirred onto the golden sands of the beautiful Romazzino Beach, prompting much bemusement and, of course, a double-take from someone enjoying a bottle of beer.

Like the best Bond locations, Romazzino Beach – and Sardinia itself – requires little work to convey the exotic beauty for which 007’s adventures are famed. With long white coastlines, sparkling emerald green waters, that famed Mediterranean climate and an abundance of heritage, it’s also one of the finest European holiday destinations you could wish to enjoy – even without a Lotus submarine.

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What’s your favourite Bond film and location? Let us know in the comments below.