Dorset has become a familiar sight on television and in the cinema, its startling beauty providing the perfect location to film over the years. Dorset’s rural villages, stunning coastline and unspoilt countryside has become a popular choice with television producers and film directors.
Broadchurch was a crime drama in 2013 that gripped the nation. Dorset’s dramatic coastline played a starring role in the TV drama, alongside David Tennant and Olivia Coleman. The landscape informed the drama; the cliffs, the sea, the beach were all key elements of the story with West Bay providing the memorable backdrop for the picturesque coastal town of Broadchurch. Highlands End Holiday Park is just a short walk from West Bay and has views over the town as well as the hut on the cliff at Eype, made famous in the drama.
A Place by the Sea – Channel 4 chose our Larkfield Holiday Park as a filming location. This was for a new programme called ‘A Place By The Sea’ which is a spin off from ‘A Place In The Sun’. A couple were shown around a Holiday Lodge which was picked to be amongst the contenders for their new holiday home.
The culinary delights of local Dorset produce inspired the chef, Hugh Fearnly-Whittingstall to choose the county for his successful ‘River Cottage’ television series. An enthusiastic exponent of Dorset’s countryside, Fearnly-Whittingstall perfectly captured Dorset’s charm, and episodes were shot all around the county, ranging from cooking sea bass on the beach with local fisherman to selling produce at the thriving farmer’s markets.
The BBC drama series ‘Harbour Lights’ was set in a fictitious seaside tourist town called Bridehaven (otherwise known as West Bay one mile south of the town which is the harbour for Bridport). The drama followed the lives of the main characters, harbour master Mike Nicholls (Nick Berry), police officer Melanie Rush (Tina Hobley) and the money grabbing villain Tony Simpson (Gerard Horan). The harbour village is as busy and colourful as it has been portrayed in the series, with characteristic kiosks, fishing boats, pubs and restaurants serving delicious sea-fresh, sea food suppers.
The 1972 thriller, ‘Sleuth’, starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine, was filmed at Athelhampton House, near Dorchester. Also filmed in Athelhampton was the 1999 drama-documentary ‘Elizabeth’, which tells of the life and reign of Elizabeth I. Athelhampton House is also the setting of Dame Maggie Smith’s latest production, ‘From time to time’, written by Dorset’s very own Julian Fellows.
The adventures of an 18th century foundling are told in ‘The History of Tom Jones: A Foundling’, which was filmed at locations including Golden Cap and Powerstock, near Bridport. The classic children’s tale ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ (1995) also features Golden Cap and Bridport. The Cobb at Lyme Regis provided the stunning backdrop for the storm-swept Meryl Streep waiting for Jeremy Irons in ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ (1981).
Milton Abbey and School was the setting for ‘The Browning Version’ (1994) starring Albert Finney and Greta Scacchi. The Tutankhamen Exhibition is an internationally renowned unique exhibition capturing and recreating a moment in time in 1922 when the tomb was discovered filled with some of history’s greatest treasures. It has been featured in numerous television documentaries for both national and international television, most notably “The Face of Tutankhamen” with Christopher Frayling.
Dorset has also been the backdrop to many other major films like ‘Emma’ (1996) and ‘Restoration’ (1995), starring some of the world’s most famous actors, including Gywneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Robert Downey Jr, Hugh Grant, Sam Neill, Alan Rickman and Toni Collette.