Yorkshire locations on famous films and TV shows

PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 June 2020

Jenna Coleman starred as Queen Victoria in the series filmed across Yorkshire (c) Justin Slee

Jenna Coleman starred as Queen Victoria in the series filmed across Yorkshire (c) Justin Slee

©Justin_Slee 2018

At the time of writing, the coronavirus lockdown is still in place, we can’t go far, and we all have cabin fever. Driving to, say, the Dales, the coast or the Moors is frowned upon. So we thought that if we can’t physically go to some gorgeous Yorkshire locations, then we’ll get some gorgeous Yorkshire locations to come to us, courtesy of various films and TV shows.

For example, we can’t, at present, walk around the grounds of Harewood House, near Leeds. But if we press ‘play’ on the recent Downton Abbey movie, we can see the grounds of Harewood House in our living rooms in fabulous hi-def, which is the next best thing. Sort of.

Of course, by the time you read this, the lockdown might have been lifted and you’ll be able to physically go to each of the places listed below. But that’s unlikely so, in social isolation, be sensible, stick the DVD on, or stream it to your TV, and enjoy a virtual visit. By the way, many of these productions were made with the help of Screen Yorkshire, the Leeds-based agency which offers financial support, develops workforce talent and generally fosters Yorkshire’s global reputation as an outstanding location for creatives and creativity.

The Trip (2010)

Stepping stones ner Bolton Abbey by Martyn GraceStepping stones ner Bolton Abbey by Martyn Grace

This was the first time that Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (playing exaggerated versions of themselves) did Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Ronnie Corbett and Al Pacino impressions in various fine dining establishments. It was entertaining television that spawned a mini franchise: after this outing set in the north of England, Brydon and Coogan returned with The Trip to Italy (2014), The Trip to Spain (2017) and, this year, The Trip to Greece.

The first series of The Trip takes place in the North – Cumbria and Lancashire, and in the last two episodes the boys visit The Yorke Arms in Ramsgill, Nidderdale, and The Angel at Hetton (near Skipton). In the former, Coogan is visibly bored by a know-it-all hiker at the spectacular Malham limestone pavement. In the latter, he plans Brydon’s funeral eulogy at Bolton Abbey before attempting, and failing, to run over the stepping stones across the scenic River Wharfe. In the event, he gets very wet indeed. Oops.

Downton Abbey (2019)

Sunset at Wentworth Woodhouse by Caroline BerrySunset at Wentworth Woodhouse by Caroline Berry

How about this for a bit of television trivia? The global phenomenon that is Downton Abbey is supposed to set in Yorkshire, somewhere between Easingwold, Ripon and Thirsk, fact fans, but the TV series never filmed here. Not once in 52 episodes. (We know!)

However, the movie version, which was released last year, rectified that glaring error by filming at Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham, Harewood House, Little Germany in Bradford, Dalton Mills in Keighley, Pickering train station, and Duncombe Park near Helmsley.

Testament of Youth (2015)

Fountain Garden at Brodsworth Hall by Gordon RatcliffeFountain Garden at Brodsworth Hall by Gordon Ratcliffe

Alicia Vikander, aka Mrs Michael Fassbender, starred in this adaptation of Vera Brittain’s memoir before her career went stratospheric with movies such as The Man from UNCLE, The Danish Girl and Tomb Raider.

Scenes were filmed close to the village of Egton in the North York Moors National Park; at Brodsworth Hall near Doncaster; and at Robin Hood’s Bay on the coast, where Vera’s doomed lover, Roland (Kit Harrington), flies a kite.

Dark River (2017)

Janet's Foss by Rob McewenJanet's Foss by Rob Mcewen

The obscenely talented Ruth Wilson (from Luther and The Affair) stars in this bleak-as-bleak can be drama about a sheep-shearer who returns to the family farm after the death of her abusive father. It doesn’t go well.

Shot in and around Skipton, one scene features Wilson swimming at the lovely Janet’s Foss waterfall, near Malham. Because the movie is set in Yorkshire, Sean Bean is contractually obliged to appear in it. We imagine.

God’s Own Country (2017)

God's Own CountryGod's Own Country

A sort of Brokeback Mountain (or ‘males in the Dales’, as one reviewer put it) set on a Yorkshire farm, where an emotionally stunted young man (Josh O’Connor from The Durrells and Peaky Blinders) and an immigrant worker (Alec Secareanu) have an intense sexual relationship. Emmerdale it ain’t.

Filming took place in lush countryside at a farm between Braithwaite and Laycock, west of Keighley and, rather less evocatively, Keighley Bus Station.

Dad’s Army (2016)

Flamborough Head by Paula O'HaraFlamborough Head by Paula O'Hara

One of Yorkshire’s biggest PR coups of recent years was featuring front and centre in a big screen remake of the classic Arthur Lowe sitcom (which is is supposed to be set on the south coast of England in the fictional Walmington-on-Sea. But, honestly, you shouldn’t concern yourself with that).

Michael Gambon, Tom Courtney, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Toby Jones, among others, wander around Flamborough Head and the Old Town in Bridlington sporting their best Forties fashions. Other bits of the movie were filmed in Pickering and Leeds. Sadly, it wasn’t a financial or critical hit, so these Yorkshire locations shouldn’t be holding their breath for a return visit.

Brideshead Revisited (1981 & 2008)

Castle Howard by Lukas NalazekCastle Howard by Lukas Nalazek

This is possibly the most famous Yorkshire film location of all, because Castle Howard, near York, has doubled for Brideshead – the ancestral home of the Flyte family – not once, but twice. First of all it played host to the acclaimed 1981 TV series starring Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews and Diana Quick; then, in 2008, director Julian Jarrold chose it as the base for his (not quite so acclaimed) big screen version starring Matthew Goode, Ben Whishaw, Hayley Atwell and Emma Thompson. At one point, Goode and Whishaw skinny dip in the Atlas Fountain by the main house; and Goode, Whishaw and Atwell spend an evening drinking wine at the Temple of the Four Winds, the Vanbrugh-designed Pavilion in the grounds.

‘Being (at Castle Howard) really helped as an actor,’ remembered Ben Whishaw at the time. ‘You step into that place and imagine that this is where you live – and it immediately does something to you. It feeds you as an actor.’ Castle Howard has also featured prominently in Lady L (1965) starring Sophia Loren; Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975); the BBC’s Death Comes To Pemberley (2013); ITV’s Victoria and, er, Garfield 2 (2006) starring Billy Connolly.

The ABC Murders (2018)

The New Mill,Saltair by Karol GajewskiThe New Mill,Saltair by Karol Gajewski

The strangest thing about this BBC version of the Agatha Christie novel is watching great American character actor John Malkovich doin’ eez Bel-chern akzent as zer great detect-eeve, Hercule Poirot. It’s all a bit ‘Allo, Allo’. Never mind, though, because a roll-call of Yorkshire locations swim before your eyes.

These include (deep breath) Leeds City Varieties, Leeds Town Hall, Bradford City Hall, Ripon Spa Baths, Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Embsay Historic Railway, St John’s Square Wakefield, Little Germany in Bradford, Saltaire Village, North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Newby Hall and Allerton Castle. The production also filmed its studio-based scenes at Prime Studios in Leeds.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

Goathland Station by Martyn WrightGoathland Station by Martyn Wright

Harry Potter fans: you know that bit at the end of the first film where your favourite boy wizard leaves Hogsmeade Station on board the Hogwarts Express? Well, sit down because we have some bad news for you. Hogsmeade Station doesn’t actually exist. It’s actually Goathland Station, part of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, with a matte painting of Hogwarts castle (which doesn’t exist either) in the background. Such is the topsy turvy way of movie-making, the film’s last scenes at Goathland were the first ones that were shot.

Other bits of Yorkshire used in the HP series include the Malham limestone pavement (which Harry and Hermione visit while on the run from snatchers in the Deathly Hallows Part 1); and York station, which features very briefly in The Philosopher’s Stone.

The Bee Gees: You Win Again (1987)

Brimham Rocks by Lynne NaylorBrimham Rocks by Lynne Naylor

OK, so we admit this is a bizarre one and we only mention it in passing. But in the mid-Eighties the brothers Gibb had a post-disco renaissance of sorts, thanks to their industrial-sounding pop tune, You Win Again.

The video that goes with the song shows all three Bee Gees in a studio miming to a backing track and wearing hideous clothes (Robin has a particularly shameful curly blond mullet, big shoulder pads and a beret). But we’re including it here because it also features some arty shots of Brimham Rocks, those weirdly fascinating balancing rock formations on Brimham Moor in North Yorkshire. No, we’re not sure why. It’s available on YouTube.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2015)

The Shambles by Jane CannonThe Shambles by Jane Cannon

Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan feature in the title roles of this quirky drama set in England during the Napoleonic Wars.

Locations include (in York) St William’s College, The Shambles and York Minster; Temple Newsam and Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds; and Fountains Abbey and Wentworth Woodhouse.

Victoria (2016–)

Beverley Minster by John HotlbyBeverley Minster by John Hotlby

Jenna Coleman stars as Queen Victoria in this ITV period piece.

Look out for Castle Howard (again) doubling as Kensington Palace, Harewood House doubling as Buckingham Palace and Beverley Minster doing a turn as Westminster Abbey.

Gentleman Jack (2019)

Shibden Hall by Gordon RatcliffeShibden Hall by Gordon Ratcliffe

Sally Wainwright’s latest TV tour-de-force is a historical drama starring Suranne Jones as industrialist Anne Lister.

Filming took place at Shibden Hall near Halifax, where Anne lived.

Phantom Thread (2017)

Robin Hood's Bay by Sarah CouzensRobin Hood's Bay by Sarah Couzens

Daniel Day-Lewis’s (rumoured) last ever movie is an Oscar-winning production set in the world of highfalutin fashion. Whitby and Staithes feature in the film, and there’s also a scene where DDL (playing an emotionally constipated clothes designer) orders breakfast at The Victoria Hotel in Robin Hood’s Bay, while flirting outrageously with waitress Vicky Krieps. 

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