29 Sep The Use of Essex as a Filming Location for TV and Films
Essex might not be the first place that springs to mind when we think of famous filming locations especially the professionals filming locations and is frequently in the news. Yet, this part of the UK has been the scene of some incredibly popular TV shows and movies over the years. When have you seen Essex on the screen without even realising it?
Some of the TV Shows Filmed Here
In Hi-de-Hi, the action took place in a holiday camp in Crimpton-on-Sea in Essex but you won’t find it if you look for it on a map of England, as it doesn’t exist. Instead, the massively popular BBC sitcom was filmed in Dovercourt. It turned out to be one of the nation’s favourite shows during the period from 1980 to 1988 and won as BAFTA in 1984 as the Best Comedy Series of the year. The action was set in the 1950s and was based on the experience that writer Jimmy Perry had of working as a redcoat in Butlins. Outside of that, there are plenty of reality shows in Essex, most obviously The Only Way is Essex.
White House Farm is a more recent example of a popular TV series filmed in Essex. In this case, it is a crime drama based on the murders that took place at the farm of this name, near the village of Tolleshunt D’Arcy, in 1985. The show was created by New Pictures for ITV and was first shown at the start of 2020, before being distributed to networks across the world. Stephen Graham and Freddie Fox led the cast on the six dramatic episodes. The real White House Farm wasn’t used, as they found a suitable stand-in in a rural Essex location, but the trial was filmed in the same place as the real case, which was Chelmsford Crown Court.
Action Movies Set in Essex
You might be surprised to see that Essex has also seen its fair share of action movies filmed here. For example, it is the unlikely setting for some of 2005’s dark and exciting Batman Begins movie. In this Christopher Nolan movie, places in the UK are used to replicate parts of Gotham. Among the key scenes, we see Bruce Wayne stuck in a prison that is apparently in Bhutan but is actually in Essex. These scenes took place in Coalhouse Fort in East Tilbury. This reboot of the Batman series grossed over $370 million worldwide and set the caped crusader’s movie image off in a new direction.
Mission Impossible: Fallout was released in 2018 as the sixth instalment in the series, and once again it gave Essex the chance to shine as the unlikely setting for an action movie. Filming took place in New Zealand and Norway, as well as a sequence that was shot in Thorndon Country Park in Brentwood, with the Essex backdrop adding some greenery to the action featuring Tom Cruise.
Essex might not seem like the most obvious choice for action movies like these, but it has been used by directors in other films like 1964’s Goldfinger and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, You might also have glimpsed some familiar places in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or Wonder Woman from 2017, among others.
Action in Unexpected Places in Essex
All of this shows that it’s possible to find action and entertainment shows in unexpected places. We can also see how this work with unexpected treats like escape rooms, which can be found in spots like Chelmsford and Southend in Essex. Another example is murder mystery events, which can be enjoyed in places such as Waltham Abbey Marriott Hotel and De Rougement Manor, or on a virtual basis anywhere in Essex. Another perhaps unexpected facet to entertainment in Essex is the way that games like blackjack can be played at home.
Of course, technology has changed enormously since the first James Bond movie showed Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce getting transported from Southend Airport. The great stunt capabilities and CGI opportunities mean that Essex can be transformed into pretty much whatever the film-makes want it to be. This is why you might not recognise places you know well when you see them on the screen, as they have been transformed so well. This same type of progress can also be seen in other types of entertainment in Essex. Immersive blackjack games in the Betway casino feature live dealers and varied themes like Vegas Strip, Atlantic City and European rules. The basic aim of the game is still to try and reach 21 without going over it, but the different versions each add their own flavour to the game.
Some of the other types of entertainment that we looked at earlier have also been transformed thanks to the latest technology. You can carry out a virtual murder mystery by Zoom or a virtual escape room experience in Essex that makes you feel as though you are anywhere in the world. Online games with specific themes or locations can make us forget where we are when we get caught up in the action taking place on the screen.
As for the future, Essex seems certain to carry on being a popular destination for filmmakers and TV producers. New movies that were shot here include Familiars, which was filmed in Halstead and has recently been released on Amazon Prime. In addition, Southend was the backdrop for part of the filming of Rise of the Footsoldier: Origins last year.
Keep looking out Essex in your favourite movies and you might see more of its sights than you expected to.