5 great British film locations

Lights, camera, substitute – Jo Price explores the UK’s film sets that aren’t quite what they appear

Team Wanderlust
06 April 2012

Daniel Craig has recently swapped the exotic beaches of Thailand and glamorous bars of Monaco for the British seaside destination of Bognor Regis. Movie bosses have chosen to film sequences for the 23rd Bond installment, Skyfall, in this West Sussex fishing town to cut filming costs.

Jo Price – armed with a bucket of popcorn – investigates Hollywood’s chosen British cities and sites of natural beauty that sacrificed the limelight in the name of the big screen.

1. Liverpool stood in for Moscow in The Hunt for Red October

Voted European capital of culture in 2008, Liverpool is home to diverse architecture, making it the ideal alternative filming location. The city’s courthouse Sessions House doubled up for an embassy in Moscow in Tom Clancy’s novel adaptation about a Russian submarine.

Beyond its buildings, Liverpool has much more to offer. It has a glorious maritime history and an abundance of museums and galleries. This destination is famous for boasting two football teams and let’s not forget­ – the home of world-famous music heritage in The Beatles.

2. Penbryn Beach, west Wales, stood in for North Korea in Die Another Day

The mile-long Penbryn Beach lies between Llangrannog and Tresaith on the Cardigan Bay coastline. Owned by the National Trust, it provides a quiet haven free of beach huts and ice-cream vendors. This beautiful setting was used for the filming of the 20th James Bond film in the final love scene between Bond and Jinx.

The romantic Ceredigion Coastal Heritage Path passes through Penbryn and links a treasure-trove of sights. Visit the home of famous author, Dylan Thomas at Cei Bach; experience the River Teifi Special Area of Conservation; or spot bottlenose dolphins, seals and porpoises in the surf.

3. London stood in for Manhattan in Sleepy Hollow

Tim Burton chose to use St Petersburg’s Square and Somerset House in London to pose as turn of the century Manhattan in his horror tale of a headless horseman. Somerset House is a spectacular neo-classical building in the heart of London, sitting between the Strand and the River Thames.

During summer months, fountains dance in the courtyard. In winter you can skate on the city’s popular ice rink. The iconic building also hosts open-air concerts, contemporary art and design exhibitions and family workshops. Free guided tours are available on Thursdays and Saturdays.

4. Isle of Man stood in for Ireland in Waking Ned

The Isle of Man’s landscape has starred in a number of movie genres, from sci-fi thrillers, romantic comedies, action-packed adventures and period dramas. Its sweeping coastlines, pretty seaside towns and rustic countryside provide filmmakers with an eclectic mix of settings to choose from.

Cregneash is the oldest village on the Isle of Man and is the site of the fictional Irish village of Tullymore in Waking Ned. After the production company failed to find a village in Ireland that was ‘Irish enough’ they opted for Cregneash’s 19th century crofter’s cottages instead.

5. Oxford stood in for China in Spy Game

The film depicts the US and Chinese Governments on the verge of a major trade agreement. Oxford Prison was used as the Chinese prison set in Su Chou (Suzhou). Shots of the ambulance approaching the prison were also filmed in Queen’s Lane in Oxford.

For over 800 years this academic city has been home to scholars and even royalty. The City of Spires may be world famous for its university but its surrounding countryside also has much to offer. Visit Blenheim Palace or go walking in the nearby Cotswolds. If you fancy embracing one of the city’s traditions, try your hand at rowing or punting along the Isis.

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