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.
Surrey has starred countless times on the big and small screen and the county has played a wide variety of roles. With Shepperton Studios in the heart of Surrey, it’s hardly surprising that the county is a favourite for TV and film locations.
Landmarks, villages and woods are recognisable in many big and small screen productions from the use of Guildford Cathedral in the first Omen film in 1977 to various sites appearing in the Harry Potter blockbusters in recent years.
Among those locations is Bourne Woods near Farnham which can claim to be a star in its own right, having welcomed the cast and crew of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as well as the Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood in 2010. The Australian actor is no stranger to Bourne Woods as the epic Gladiator was also filmed there, as was fantasy adventure The Golden Compass starring fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman.
Farnham itself seems a popular choice for movie makers, especially Frensham Ponds which boasts Surrey’s only beach, used in many Carry On films in the 1960s and ’70s when it doubled as both Spanish and American coastlines. When the series enjoyed a brief revival in 1992 with Carry On Columbus, the ponds again became the shoreline.
The Harry Potter show came to the county again when the team behind The Goblet of Fire chose to film scenes between the boy wizard and the Hippogriff at Virginia Water’s lake.
The county’s churches are regular features, aside from the cathedral. St Michael’s in Betchworth doubled as the church used for one of the weddings in the 1990s hit Four Weddings & A Funeral.
Another Hugh Grant-related film, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, was filmed in the small village of Shere at the Norman church of St James. The small village also had a starring role in the Cameron Diaz/Kate Winslet rom com The Holiday which was also filmed on location in Wonersh and Godalming.
On the small screen, one of the most familiar locations to TV viewers is sure to be Dunsfold Aerodrome which many will recognise as the spot where Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May tested cars around the track in Top Gear. Another fast-paced show filmed in the county was spy drama Spooks which set up home in a former MoD base at Longcross, near Chertsey.
But Surrey is probably better known for welcoming the cast and crew of period dramas with Winkworth Arboretum near Godalming starring as the gardens for award-winning BBC show Cranford which was also filmed at nearby Shepperton Studios. Jane Austen classic Sense & Sensibility (2008) used Loseley Park for many scenes the author set in Devon. The house near Guildford has also appeared in ITV’s Agatha Christie as has National Trust site Polesden Lacey which welcomed 18 actors and more than 70 crew when it became a 1950s London hotel for the murder mystery At Bertram’s Hotel.
National Trust properties are often given starring roles and none more so than Clandon Park which was used for period dramas The Duchess and The Scandalous Lady W both telling the stories of notorious women from history. Hatchlands Park attracted Richard Burton in the 1971 film The Villain and older readers may remember children’s show Catweazle which was shot in the parkland there.
Back to Loseley Park which has also served time for Midsomer Murders, while most of the popular TV show was filmed in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, it became Magna Manor. Albury Park near Guildford and Royal Holloway College in Egham have also starred in episodes.
Perhaps one of the most unlikely locations though is that used for 1970s comedy classic It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. You may wonder how leafy Surrey could double for the jungle of Burma but clever make up, rubber plants and fake sweat all combined to make the woods of Farnham seem miles away.
In more recent years, the hit Netflix show The Crown was also filmed at Loseley Park which provided the setting for a dinner party with the hill which overlooks the house in the background. Another Netflix favourite, the satirical Black Mirror chose the historic grounds of Painshill in which to shoot an episode in season 4, Hang the DJ.
And it seems Hugh Grant just can’t stay away from Surrey – he played the former leader of the Liberal party, Jeremy Thorpe who in 1979 was accused of murdering his ex-lover in A Very English Scandal. Much of the filming for the BBC drama took place at Surrey County Hall, which includes the courtroom and cells with other scenes being filmed in Esher and Englefield Green.
Another great recent BBC success also made its home in the county with Suranne Jones’s Dr Foster getting revenge on her cheating husband. Huf Haus in St George’s Hill plays a key role while many other scenes were also filmed in Weybridge. It’s rumoured the property’s owners were paid £5,000 a day while the house was used for filming and location companies are always on the look out for properties of all descriptions. If you think your house could be a star why not get in touch with www.viewpointlocations.com