Sometimes the locations are as big as the stars in many of our favourite TV shows and films, how many do you recognise? Karen Neville goes undercover
How many times have you seen something on television and thought “that looks like that road in…”? Well, the chances are that it is indeed.
The Thames Valley has starred countless times on the big and small screen. And, if you didn’t know the area you’d think it was theworld’s crime capital!
When it comes to Oxfordshire, we couldn’t possibly start the locations guide any other way than with Inspector Morse and its spin-offs Lewis and Endeavour. Oxford’s very own Colin Dexter penned the books upon which the popular TV shows were based and visitors can follow in the footsteps of John Thaw and Kevin Whately et al on one of numerous walking tours; check out www.oxfordofficialwalkingtours.org for details. No tour of Morse country would be complete without a stop off at one of the city’s many watering holes.
While the dreaming spires of Oxford University have often been the focal point for Morse and his colleagues over the years, countryside villages seem to be murder hotspots for Inspectors Tom and John Barnaby and their sidekicks. Midsomer Murders, which first aired in 1997, has killed off about 250 characters, some meeting their maker in very bizarre ways, including via a drinks cabinet and vintage claret. You can’t throw a stone in Oxfordshire and our neighbouring county Buckinghamshire without coming across a village where the doctor, pub landlord or vicar has been murdered and many will have recognised Wallingford as the fictional town of Causton.
Henley (did you spot Greys Court which has featured more than once?), Dorchester, Watlington and Thame have also made regular appearances – in Thame alone there are more than 20 locations in the town centre that have been used. Have a look at www.visitmidsomer.com for your complete guide to the area and details of some of the tours you can enjoy there.
Away from crime and many of the area’s landmarks and historical sites have also featured on screen with several colleges, hosting the magical scenes from the Harry Potter movies and one of Oxford’s most famous author’s Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was filmed in its native setting. Fans can enjoy a tour of both of these taking in many of the iconic buildings; visit www.experienceoxfordshire.org
One of the most popular TV shows of all time may have its home over the border in Berkshire, but Downton Abbey was also filmed in the Cotswold village of Bampton, doubling as the setting for the cottage hospital as well as being home to St Mary the Virgin church where Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley were married. Cogges Manor Farm in Witney also has a claim to fame as Yew Tree Farm.
On the big screen both Blenheim Palace – Spectre, Cinderella and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – and Broughton Castle in Banbury – Shakespeare in Love – have taken leading roles.
Just as Oxfordshire is synonymous with Morse, Berkshire has become known as the home to period drama Downton Abbey, and not just through the use of Highclere Castle, near Newbury as the family seat. Basildon Park was transformed into the Crawley’s London home, Grantham House. Basildon Park also starred in the Keira Knightley version of 2003’s Pride and Prejudice, one of the biggest shoots the National Trust has ever taken part in.
Not all filming locations are as glamorous as a stately home, case in point being The Office of Ricky Gervais’s company Wernham Hogg in Slough – the real-life office at Crossbow House has since been demolished. Gervais was born in nearby Reading and as well as being his home town two of its well-known features have appeared on screen – the popular Munchees café in Butter Market was used in the second series of the huge hit drama Broadchurch, the same episode also featured Jennett’s Park in Bracknell.
Fans of the classic Carry On films from the 1960s and 1970s should definitely spend some time in Berkshire – you can’t utter a double entendre without coming across a location used. Maidenhead’s Town Hall entrance doubles as the entrance of the hospital in Carry On Doctor and Carrry On Doctor Again. The town also features in Carry On Camping at what was Courts in the High Street. Carry On Matron takes fans to Ascot’s Heatherwood Hospital which becomes Finisham Maternity Hospital and when matron Hattie Jacques finally manages to get Kenneth Williams down the aisle she does so at St Mary’s Church in Denham.
A jewel in Buckinghamshire’s crown, Cliveden in Taplow near Maidenhead has been used as a location for several films including Sherlock Holmes (2009), A Little Chaos (2014), Cinderella (2015), Thunderbirds (2004), The Beatles film Help!, Mrs Henderson Presents (2005), The Ruling Class (1972) and Carrington (1995). If you’d like to stay in this star-studded, historic setting, visit www.clivedenhouse.co.uk
Further around Berkshire and Picket Post Close in Bracknell took on the guise of the Dursley’s Privet Drive home where boy wizard Harry Potter lived with his uncle and aunt in the cupboard under the stairs. More Midsomer Murders, New Tricks and Rosemary & Thyme have also used Berkshire for scenes on screen.
Who’d have thought the rural splendour of Gloucestershire could become the setting for the very Cornish scenery of Poldark? But that’s exactly what happened with Elizabethan manor house Chavenage House in Tetbury which became the Poldark family home of Trenwith House. The chapel here also doubled as the church in Sawle.
Chavenage House is no stranger to fame – it has also appeared alongside David Suchet in Poirot when the Belgian sleuth solved The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Poirot also visited the village of Castle Combe for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. And adaptations of several literary classics have also chosen to set their filming here with Lark Rise to Candleford, Tess of the d’Ubervilles and Cider with Rosie choosing to use the manor house.
Gloucester Cathedral has a string of credits – Harry Potter, Wolf Hall, Sherlock and The Spanish Princess. Snowshill was appropriately enough covered in snow for Bridget Jones’s Diary when the hapless spinster visits her parents in the Cotswold village.
A popular choice for makers of period drama and the makers of Poldark, who chose to bring the brooding good looks of heartthrob Aidan Turner to the county, this time using Corsham High Street as Truro. The National Trust village of Lacock has made numerous appearances with its cottages and inns dating from the 15th century and stunning Lacock Abbey from which many may well recognise the vaulted cloisters in the Harry Potter movies. Lacock has also hosted the stars of Pride and Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl, Wolf Hall, Dr Thorne and The White Princess.
Wiltshire’s most famous landmark – Stonehenge – has seen its famous stones appear in Tess of the d’Ubervilles, Dr Who and on the big screen in Thor and Transformers.
Think your home has what it takes to be a star of the big or small screen? Location agency JJ Media Group has all manner of properties on its books, from cottages and barns to a brewery and a theatre. If you think your home could be a star visit www.jjmedia.com/connect