Explore TV filming locations
Have you ever sat watching one of your favourite shows and felt the urge to go and visit the location where it was filmed? Well, in most cases, you can do just that! Many outdoor filming locations for well-known TV shows are towns, villages or landmarks that you can go to and admire or even pretend you're on the telly too!
Here are six of our favourites:
1. Lacock, Wiltshire
With its medieval inns and collection of quaint cottages, it's no surprise that Lacock has been a favourite location of a number of period dramas, both on the small and silver screens. In the final series of Downton Abbey (2010-15), Church Street became the home of a livestock market visited by the Crawley family and their staff. The 'extras' even included a one-tonne long-horned bull! The cast and crew returned to Lacock for the filming of the 2019 Downton Abbey film. Julian Fellowes, writer and creator of Downton Abbey, also wrote the screenplay for the mini-series adaptation of Dr Thorne (2016), which used Lacock for a scene set in the fictional market town of Barchester.
The TV show that featured the town most prominently was Cranford (2007-10), which had a star-studded cast including Dame Judi Dench and Imelda Staunton. The village was home to Miss Matty Jenkyns' house (on West Street), the bakery (at Lacock Bakery), the cobblers (at the National Trust shop), Johnson's Universal Stores (at the Red Lion pub), the High Street and the lock-up. One place that it didn't visit, though, was Lacock Abbey, although it's definitely seen its fair share of filming. The grand building was used as the backdrop for TV adaptations of Pride and Prejudice (1995), Wolf Hall (2015) and The Hollow Crown (2012-16), as well as (possibly most famously) in the Harry Potter films.
Get up close...
Lacock village, abbey and Fox Talbot Museum are all owned by the National Trust and are well worth a visit. Access to the village is free, with an admission fee only for Lacock Abbey and the museum, unless you're a National Trust member. Be sure to take a stroll down the High Street, which was covered in artificial snow for the Cranford 2009 Christmas special and was the site of a royal parade in the Downton Abbey movie.
Want to stand in as many filming spots as possible? The National Trust has created this handy map to help you find some key locations, and the Lacock spy mission Treasure Trail will take you past all the must-see landmarks and stunning historic cottages as you track down the code needed to complete your adventure.
2. Charlestown (Porthmeur), Cornwall
If you've watched a TV show or film featuring tall ships docked in a harbour, there's a very good chance it was filmed in Charlestown. The harbour dates back to the 1700s and is the last 18th-century Georgian harbour open in the UK, making it the perfect spot for period dramas. It is most recently recognisable from the 2015-19 adaptation of Poldark, starring Aiden Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson. It can be spotted multiple times across the seasons, with the harbour standing in for Truro Port, and other spots nearby becoming Falmouth and the Isles of Scilly. Charlestown also featured prominently in the 1975-79 adaptation of Poldark.
It's not the only popular show in recent years to use the backdrop of the pretty Cornish village. Scenes from Taboo (2017), starring Tom Hardy, made the most of the Georgian harbour for some dockside scenes. A 2011 episode of Doctor Who - The Curse of the Black Spot - was filmed on board a docked ship here too. You probably won't recognise the location in this one, though - the scenes were all shot at night, with smoke machines used to mimic fog. Filming in Charlestown was quite fitting, though, as the writer was inspired by the Mermaid of Zennor legend for the storyline, which sees the Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) stranded on a pirate ship with a 'siren' picking off members of the crew.
Get up close...
You can get all the way down to Charlestown's harbour for free (so long as no filming is happening, of course!), and you may be able to sit out on a deckchair with a cuppa or cold drink during nicer weather. There are plenty of information boards dotted around explaining the history of the harbour too. If you're really lucky, you might even get to stand on the deck of a tall ship, with movie nights and music sessions taking place on board some of the inner harbour's permanent vessels - check out the Charlestown Harbour website for more information.
Make sure you see the rest of the area, too - the Charlestown treasure hunt Trail takes you around all of the hidden gems, with plenty of sneaky clues to discover. You'll pass the Shipwreck Treasure Museum, which is worth a visit, and along the pier, where you'll be walking in the footsteps of Aiden Turner's Ross Poldark.
3. Caerphilly (Caerffili), South Wales
Speaking of Doctor Who, most people associate Cardiff (Caerdydd), especially Cardiff Bay, with the reboot of the classic sci-fi show. But it's not the only Welsh location that features heavily in scenes throughout the last 17 years. Just a stone's throw away, Caerphilly, with its castle and moat, has featured in a number of episodes of Doctor Who during David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi's eras, as well as the spin-off CBBC series Sarah Jane Adventures (2007-11).
These aren't the only fantasy shows to have called Caerphilly a home, with the castle more recently featured in A Discovery of Witches (2018-22). Of course, such an ancient castle is the perfect spot for a period drama, and it has definitely been shown in its full glory on a few. You'll spot Caerphilly Castle in the adaptation of Wolf Hall (2015), and it was used for the Tower of London in The Spanish Princess (2019-20), a show all about the reign of Catherine of Aragon.
Get up close...
Caerphilly Castle is managed by Cadw and is open to visitors for a self-guided tour around the fortress, where you can unlock the fascinating history of the enormous castle. Make sure you visit the Gatehouse, where The Master (John Simm) was resurrected during the 2009 Doctor Who Christmas Special - The End of Time.
Caerphilly town has plenty more to discover, with hidden gems and twisting tales around every corner. Take on the Caerphilly spy mission Treasure Trail to venture beyond the castle, winding through the streets and around the Morgan Jones and Dafydd Williams parks as you hunt for the sneaky clues.
4. Newtonmore (Baile Ùr an t-Sléibh), Highlands
Welcome to Monarch Country, where the British drama Monarch of the Glen was filmed between 2000 and 2005. The series was loosely based on Sir Compton Mackenzie's Highland Novels, although set in the present day rather than the 1930s. Across the seven seasons, we followed the lives of those linked to the Glenbogle Estate. Ardverikie House beside Loch Laggan, approx. 25 minutes up the road, was used for the manor house (and for Balmoral in seasons one, two and four of The Crown), but quite a lot of filming was done in Newtonmore itself. The Clan Macpherson Museum stood in as the Glenbogle Tearooms and Post Office, the back bar of the Balavil Hotel became Glenbogle Pub, and The Highlander Hotel was turned into a nursing home during the third season, plus plenty of scenes were shot across the village.
Newtonmore is also home to The Highland Folk Museum, Britain's first open-air museum. Founded in 1935, the site is home to over 35 replica historical buildings dating from the 1950s all the way back to the 1700s, making it the perfect site for a historical TV show. The adaptation of an ongoing book series, Outlander (2014-present), tells the tale of Claire Randall (Caitríona Balfe), who visits Inverness after WWII with her husband Frank (Tobias Menzies) but suddenly finds herself transported back in time to 1743, where she meets Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). While the storyline across the current six seasons takes the characters from Scotland to France and then over to early-colonial America, the majority of the filming was completed in Scotland. In the first season, the Baile Gean Township - a collection of 1730s turf and thatch buildings - was used as the Mackenzie village and was seen in the scene where Dougal MacKenzie (Graham McTavish) heads out to collect the rent. This is also where Claire was taught waulking (part of the traditional woollen clothmaking process) by village women.
Get up close...
The brilliant Highland Folk Museum is free to enter and open from the start of April until the end of October. While the Baile Gean Township is a must-see, especially for Outlander fans, every single replica building is well worth exploring, as you'll uncover fantastic facts about life in the Highlands throughout the century. It's definitely worth checking their events page out, too - you may be lucky enough to time your visit with their annual Outlander Day, which features talks and traditional craft demonstrations to celebrate Scottish life in the 18th century.
Don't forget to visit the village too! The Newtonmore detective mystery Treasure Trail will take you past all the key Monarch of the Glen filming locations within the village and gives you some brilliant views of the Cairngorms National Park as you search for evidence.
5. Goathland, North Yorkshire
Let's take a trip back in time and visit Aidensfield or, rather, Goathland. This pretty village has long been a tourist hotspot with its scenic views, nearby waterfalls and historic North Yorkshire Moors steam railway. But, its popularity shot up when it was featured as Aidensfield in Heartbeat (1992-2010), a period drama set in the 1960s and based on the Constable book series by Nicholas Rhea. The key characters of the show were mainly medical staff (Heart) and police officers (Beat), and the popular drama ran for a whopping 18 seasons, plus had a spin-off and some specials. While the TV show is no longer on air, its legacy is still clear in the village. The Aidensfield Garage, which was featured regularly, especially from season five onward, is now a Heartbeat memorabilia and gift shop and still has some of the old cars on display!
But more well-known than Gothland village is its railway station. While it was occasionally shown as Aidensfield Station in Heartbeat, it was also featured a few times as Mannerton in All Creatures Great and Small (1978-80 and 1988-90), set in the 1930s. The drama is based on the books written by vet Alf Wight under the pseudonym James Herriot. It stars Herriot (Christopher Timothy), his partner/boss Siegfried Farnon (Robert Hardy) and those linked to them and their veterinary surgery. A remake of the series began airing in 2020, but (so far) Goathland station hasn't been used as a location. It can, however, be seen as the backdrop in a number of films (including as Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter series) and even in a Simply Red music video!
Get up close...
Step back in time with a steam train trip along the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which travels from Pickering to Whitby. Be sure to alight at Goathland to take a good look around the station and follow the footsteps of so many famous stars.
You'll also get to see the station and the village on the Goathland - Legend of the Gytrash treasure hunt Trail. Venture past several Heartbeat filming locations, including Aidenfield Arms pub at the Goathland Hotel, and keep your eyes peeled for the old cars - if you're lucky, you might even see the old police car outside the village shop!
6. Belfast (Bilfawst/Béal Feirste), Northern Ireland
That's a lot of period dramas - let's bring it back to the present day with a trip across the water to Northern Ireland. We're big fans of detective shows here at TTHQ, but two crime dramas filmed in the city definitely aren't for young detectives to watch. A number of Belfast locations can be spotted in The Fall (2013-16), which starred Gillian Anderson as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson and Jamie Dornan as serial killer Paul Spector. In the first series, you can clearly see the Botanic Gardens' Palm House behind Spector as he's out and about with his daughter, and the Tropical ravine is used in the second season. In fact, the majority of filming took place in and around the city, using locations such as Belfast International Airport, Victoria Square, the Metropolitan College and Cityside Retail Park.
The crime drama that's taken the city by storm, though, is Line of Duty (2012-present). It's been filming in Belfast since 2014 and, since then, has used so many locations that it would take the rest of this article to list them all! Luckily, one fan has patiently mapped out every location so far. There are a couple of well-known, frequently used spots, though. The Invest Northern Ireland building on Bedford Street stands as the exterior of AC-12's headquarters, while the BT Riverside tower on Lanyon Place is used for interior scenes. Then, of course, there's the graffiti-covered subway where Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) met for covert conversations - this underpass runs between the Albert Memorial Clock and High Street.
Of course, we can't visit Northern Ireland without mentioning one more epic TV show - Game of Thrones. Although the series didn't film in Belfast city centre itself, it did feature a number of nearby locations that are well worth a visit for any fan.
Get up close...
If you're a fan of The Fall, you can visit the Botanic Gardens, including the Palm House and Tropical Ravine, for free - be sure to check the opening times to avoid disappointment. If you'd like to visit some of the key locations in Line of Duty, there are plenty of tours - walking or via transport - that take you past some of the must-see spots, including the infamous graffiti tunnel.
You'll pass some of these locations and get the chance to explore some of Belfast's best landmarks on the Belfast City Centre detective mystery Trail. Slip into the shoes of the on-screen detectives as you crack the case around the city and beside the river.
Be the star of your own show
With a Treasure Trail, you can walk in the footsteps of your favourite actors and actresses AND star in your own-real life adventure! Whether you choose to play the part of a fearsome pirate or brave adventurer on a treasure hunt, a super sleuth on a detective mystery or a top-secret agent on a spy mission, you'll have heaps of fun exploring, solving clues and unearthing fascinating facts.
Plus, if you tackle a Trail adventure with strong links to TV shows, you might even be lucky enough to unlock the TV special badge in your account. Just make sure that you submit your answer once you've revealed whodunnit, cracked the code or tracked down the loot, then check your badges to see what you've unlocked!
You can find out more about our Trail Blazer Badges and Footsteps Rewards here.
Only five locations will earn you the TV special badge, and we've listed them below for you. If you'd rather it be a surprise, look away now!
Trails that'll unlock the TV special badge
- Grantchester spy mission - filming location for the detective mystery show, also called Grantchester.
- Tobermory treasure hunt - filming location for the '00s children's show, Balamory.
- Wallingford detective mystery - filming location for Midsomer Murders, used as part of the fictional town of Causton.
- Goathland - Legend of the Gytrash treasure hunt - see above!
- Holmfirth - Summer Wine Country detective mystery - the setting and filming location for Last of the Summer Wine.
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