Bristol is a fantastic place to film, so it’s no surprise that Bristol has attracted numerous production crews over the years with its siren calls of sun, cider, and showbiz. Our city has been a fantastic backdrop for a variety of shows and films; some productions becoming part of our city’s fabric, others passing through the city like Bristol ships in the night. And unsurprisingly, the lovely Clifton Suspension Bridge has got is fair share of screen time- but did you know that Totterdown and Lockleaze School also have a showbiz claim to fame? Here’s 11 great moments of Bristol filming, featuring recent shows we all know and love, as well as old classics. Bristolwood is calling, so let’s crack open the scrumpy.
© Copyright Steve Daniels
House of Eliott
House of Elliott, an elegant 90s BBC drama follows the loves and lives of two sisters, Evangeline and Beatrice, who become dressmakers and fashion designers at the turn of the 20th century. The sparky sisters defy the gender conventions of their time, creating a buzz with their daring designs. Hugely popular, the show was filmed in numerous locations around Bristol, including the historic Victorian King’s Head Pub on Victoria Street (pictured above). The Elliott fashion house was actually 24 Berkeley Square in Clifton, and Goldney Hall on University of Bristol campus was also used for filming on many occasions.
This hilarious BAFTA-nominated Channel 4 show follows the turbulent, and slightly naughty, lives of secondary school teachers. Set in Bristol in the fictional Summerwood School, Teachers aired for four much-loved series. The first three series were filmed at Merrywood Grammar School in Knowle, with production moving to Lockleaze School for the final and fourth series. If you watch the show closely enough, you will spy plenty of shots from and in and around Clifton.
A true Bristol classic, CASUAL+Y is one of the longest running medical drama series in the world. The show was filmed in Bristol for ages, with cast members also living in the city. Many a Bristolian has fond memories of spotting the cast and crew filming around town. Sadly, after 25 happy years of shooting in Bristol, filming was moved to Cardiff in 2012 (where the show is still being shot today). As well as getting out and about for day shoots, interior filming took place at the Ashley Down Centre.
© Copyright Jaggery
Being Human documents the colourful flat-share between a young ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire. This BBC Three show amassed a cult following thanks to its unique supernatural twist on TV drama. The show’s first two series were set in beautiful Totterdown, renowned for its artsy street scene and steep hills. You can still spot ‘the haunted house’ on a Totterdown backstreet, and locals will proudly point it out to you on a Totterdown tour. Sadly for Totterdown, and for Bristol, the show relocated to Barry Island for series three, eventually ending in 2013.
This classic show needs no introductions. Doctor Who has come to Bristol on many occasions to use the city as a backdrop for the Doctor’s many adventures. The 2012 Christmas special was filmed here, creating a huge amount of excitement and Bristol buzz. Corn Street was magically transformed into a snowy 1890s wonderland in an epic day of filming. The filming caused quite a stir with local residents and retailers, with endless notes and messages passing from door to door about the whole operation. The series has also filmed at the University of Bristol’s School of Physics, a magnificent stone colossus tucked away at the heart of the historic University campus.
© Copyright Virginia Knight
BBC’s Sherlock has taken Britain by storm, reigniting our love for the tricky sleuth and his lovable sidekick, Watson. Throughout the series Bristol has been the backdrop for many Sherlock milestones, including John Watson’s wedding which was filmed in the Orangery at Goldney Hall (pictured above). The 2015 Christmas special (airing on 1 January 2016) was filmed in a variety of central Bristol locations including Queen Square, Colston Street, and King Street. In fact, Bristolians remember seeing a horse-drawn carriage sat in Queen Square one morning as they ambled through to work. As you do. This cool map allows you to visit all the Sherlock locations- get your fill whilst you wait for the next series.
Truly Madly Deeply
Not one that surfaces often, Truly Madly Deeply is a lesser-known Bristol production. Starring the late (brilliant) Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson, this 90s drama film was filmed in Bristol over a period of only six weeks. Combining elements of drama, fantasy, and musicals, the film was a critical success. (And it also featured ghosts). Filming locations included the popular Goldney Hall and Birdcage Walk in Clifton.
A show that defined a (Bristol) generation, Skins put Bristol on the map as a hedonistic party town, throbbing with teenage angst and gritty urban realism. This cult Bristol series showcased numerous classic Bristol scenes during its lifetime. Following the lives of bright young things in the city, Skins was full of risky partying and riverside antics. Iconic Bristol institutions like the boat-club Thekla, College Green, Brandon Hill, and Millenium Square loomed large, with many key moments happening on Bristol’s streets. Check out this cool Skins/Bristol Flickr account which features all the locations from the show- perfect for a nostalgic ramble.
Only Fools and Horses
Only Fools and Horses defined comedy for a generation with its unique brand of British humour. The long-running BBC sitcom aired from 1981 to 2003, amassing loyal fans and a huge following. But it’s not commonly known that a few of the show’s most iconic scenes were actually filmed in Bristol. An Ashton garage doubled as Boyce’s garage, the ‘Nelson Mandela House’ was actually in Bedminster, and the iconic Batman and Robin scene from the epic ‘Heroes and Villains’ episode was filmed here, with Del and Rodney running down Broadmead.
Starter for 10
Starter for 10 is a Bristol story through and through. Based on a novel written by Bristol University alumnus, David Nicholl, the 2006 film starring James McAvoy documents the rise and fall of a young student at Bristol University. Brian is obsessed with the classic quiz show University Challenge and will do anything to prove that he has what it takes to win the quiz. The film was largely shot on location in and around Bristol University, but other notable Bristol locations include Royal York Crescent, the Christmas Steps, and the Floating Harbour.
© Copyright Rob Brewer
Hollywood comes to King Street. This beautiful film starring Keira Knightley, documented the life of the infamous 18th century Duchess, Georgiana Speer. A sumptuous costume drama, the film featured some stunning scenes filmed inside the Bristol Old Vic. Our city’s very own 18th century theatre acted as an apt body-double for the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Dating from 1766, the Bristol Old Vic was funded by Bristol merchants and is now the oldest working theatre in the country. The gorgeously refurbished interior gives us a taste of glamourous Georgian theatregoing.
This guest post was written by Kayleigh Töyrä from GWS Media.