6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Surrey Life today CLICK HERE

Surrey TV locations: Top Gear, Cranford, The Good Life etc

12:41 23 March 2011

Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May are often at Dunsfold filming Top Gear (Photo: Todd Antony/BBC)

Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May are often at Dunsfold filming Top Gear (Photo: Todd Antony/BBC)

Visiting the location of your favourite television programme can be a real thrill - and, as it happens, Surrey has been beamed into living rooms across the nation many times. Inspired by a new book, The British Television Location Guide, MATTHEW WILLIAMS discovers a few surprises as he delves through the county's on-screen history

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine January 2009
 

***

Explore Surrey's film locations
If you spot any filming taking place in Surrey, please contact matthew.williams@surreylife.co.uk

***

CRANFORD
Many of the garden scenes for BBC One's award-winning 2007 drama Cranford were shot at the National Trust's stunning Winkworth Arboretum near Godalming. Starring Outwood resident Dame Judi Dench, parts of Elizabeth Gaskell's five-part period drama, which follows the small absurdities and major tragedies in the lives of the people of Cranford, were also filmed at Shepperton Studios.

DOCTOR WHO
A short trip back in time takes us to Doctor Who of days gone by. Buckland Sand and Silica quarry is better known to Tom Baker-era fans as where the classic episode The Seeds of Doom was filmed in 1976 - the site was transformed to resemble Antarctica. Just down the road, Betchworth quarry, which has since been landfilled, featured in a scene from 1975's Genesis of the Daleks, which also featured Tom Baker, this time alongside an army of Daleks.

THE GOOD LIFE
Sadly, while The Good Life is considered something of a Surrey institution, and was indeed based on Surbiton, the actual filming took place in Northwood, Middlesex, because it was easier for the cast and crew to travel there from the BBC Television Centre. In the show, Tom and Barbara Good's self-sufficient empire of vegetables would lead to the odd scuffle with upmarket neighbours Margot and Jerry Leadbetter. Margot was, of course, played by former High Sheriff of Surrey and patron of the Surrey Hills, Penelope Keith.

HOLBY BLUE
A former Ministry of Defence complex near Chertsey doubles as Holby Blue Station in this spin-off of Casualty and Holby City. Some of the cast spent time at nearby Woking police station shadowing uniformed officers and it was Woking's cell block that the fictional version was based on. The towns of Chertsey, Woking and Egham are all used for exterior scenes such as car chases and gun battles. 'Holby' is loosely modelled on Bristol and so camera men obviously had to put a little extra effort into avoiding catching Surrey's surrounding hills in shot.

IT AIN'T HALF HOT MUM
Rather than a sticky Burmese climate, the furthest location It Ain't Half Hot Mum actually travelled to were the tropical woods of Farnham. The series about the exploits of a Royal Artillery concert party during the Second World War was created by David Croft and Jimmy Perry and a natural follow-up to the pair's previous smash hit Dad's Army. Clever make-up, rubber plants and fake sweat made a convincing and slightly doolally British army camp, drawing on both writers' wartime experience in India.

MIDSOMER MURDERS
Midsomer Murders is a popular British television series broadcast on ITV about the fictional English county of Midsomer. In January 2007, the production team behind the show transformed Loseley Park, near Guildford, into the fictional Magna Manor. Based on a series of crime novels by the author Caroline Graham, the detective drama focuses on the main character of Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby, played by actor John Nettles, who in this particular episode, They Seek Him Here, investigates a murder on the film set at the manor. Albury Park near Guildford and Royal Holloway College in Egham have also provided filming locations in the past.

MARPLE
Fans of ITV's adaptation of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple may have spotted that much of At Bertram's Hotel was filmed at the National Trust's Polesden Lacey. A team of 70 film crew and 18 actors and actresses descended upon the Regency house over a four-week period, from mid-November to mid-December 2006, as Polesden Lacey was transformed into an opulent 1950s London hotel for the filming. With the original lift in the house proving to be too small for filming, an exact replica - large enough to accommodate actors, film crew and lights - was built in an out-building on the 1,400 acre estate. Loseley Park has also made appearances on the show.

PRIMEVAL
Don't be too concerned if Surrey has seemed a little out of this world in recent years. Whether it's dinosaurs roaming round Kingston's Bentall Centre, monsters invading Merstham, or just high-adrenaline chases at Thorpe Park and Go Ape at Alice Holt, near Farnham, ITV's Primeval has made quite a home for itself in Surrey since its introduction to our screens in 2007. The sci-fi adventure even took over the University of Surrey's ship-shaped Duke of Kent building for a time.

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
In the television mini-series of this adaptation of Jane Austen's novel of the same name, the BBC used Loseley Park's impressive library as Colonel Brandon's own. The front entrance was also used for the scenes in which Brandon and his guests, including the Dashwoods, gather in preparation for his picnic. Meanwhile, the main house featured as the exterior of Sir John Middleton's home, which in the story was set in Devon, and its impressive Oak Room was used in the series to nurse a sick Marianne after her walk in the rain. Ham House in Richmond also doubled as Cleveland in the series.

SPOOKS
A former Ministry of Defence complex near Chertsey was used as an American air force base in BBC drama Spooks, which follows the work of a group of MI5 intelligence officers at Thames House. Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), Ros Myers (Hermione Norris) and Lucas North (Richard Armitage) spend their days dodging foreign agents and near-death experiences weekly. This was the same location at which a stuntman died during filming of the last Batman film The Dark Knight.

TOP GEAR
When not gallivanting around the world winding up environmental focus groups, the motley trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May are likely to be found filming Top Gear from their Dunsfold Park base. Keen-eyed fans of the show visiting Dunsfold can also spot some of the programme's previous creations discreetly tucked away. Until 2002, Dunsfold aerodrome had been used by British Aerospace to flight test aircraft such as the Harrier Jump Jet. Now you're more likely to see the Stig and a whole host of celebs powering round the test track, which sits just next door to Surrey Air Ambulance's base, in supercars and, er, a Chevrolet Lacetti. Plans are still afoot to turn the park into a sustainable new village settlement, which would leave Top Gear seeking a new home.
 

  •  From Doctor Who to Spooks and from Cranford to Midsomer Murders, The British Television Location Guide includes details of where all major British TV shows are filmed and was the inspiration behind us looking further into Surrey's contribution. It is available for £9.99 by calling 0845 625 3045 or by visiting www.splendidbooks.co.uk and includes locations from across the nation.

1 comment

  • I think Krypton Factor was recently filmed at Priory Farm.

    Add your comment |

    TheGrumpyMole2

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 17:03
The eyes of the world will be on the Magna Carta Memorial (Photo Ian Poole)

As Surrey prepares to welcome the world to Runnymede for the 800th anniversary celebrations of Magna Carta, historian Stephen Roberts takes us on a stroll around this fascinating site before the crowds arrive...

Read more
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Albury Organic Vineyard, Albury

Every May, our nation celebrates English Wine Week. These days, everyone knows that Surrey wine is on the march, but here’s a few things that you probably didn’t know about our increasingly successful vineyards...

Read more
Makes sure to explore the estate's parkland (Photo: Susan Streeter)

One of the largest country estates in Surrey, Hatchlands Park is found just outside Guildford. This circular walk follows woodland and open parkland, with spectacular views of the historic National Trust house, as well as vibrant bluebells in the spring

Read more
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Glam up with Jenny Seagrove and friends at Wentworth

Actress Jenny Seagrove’s Mane Chance horse sanctuary will be holding its first ever charity ball in the beautiful ballroom at Wentworth Golf Club on Saturday June 27.

Read more
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Surrey Life magazine June 2015

Pick up June’s Surrey Life magazine to relax in the best summer pubs, celebrate 800 years of democracy at Runnymede, head down the rabbit hole with Alice, bloom at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show – and meet Peter Andre and his chickens in Lingfield…

Read more
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Macmillan Cycletta

Strictly one for the ladies, and a perfect way to spend a day with your friends exploring the British countryside on two wheels, Macmillan Cycletta is the UK’s leading women-only cycling sportive series, with a range of distances from 20km to 150km rides. Even if you haven’t ridden a bike in years, the distances are challenging but very achievable.

Read more
Monday, May 18, 2015
The iconic Leith Hill tower is celebrating its 250th birthday

As celebrations get under way to mark the 250th anniversary of Leith Hill Tower, the chairman of the Surrey Hills Society, Chris Howard, brings us the story of this fascinating building – which, at its summit, is higher than the London Shard…

Read more
Monday, May 18, 2015
Head to Surrey County Show this May

Britain’s biggest one-day agricultural event, Surrey County Show packs in a Countryfile series worth of entertainment into Guildford’s Stoke Park every May. Rebecca Jones picks out the sights not to be missed

Read more
Monday, May 18, 2015
The quirky pot man and Gulliver's chair

The gardens at The Old Croft brim with a series of picturesque scenes as you wander the diverse areas of natural and enhanced beauty

Read more
Godalming, Surrey

One of our most picturesque towns, Godalming is overflowing with fascinating history, great shops and nice places to eat. Here are our highlights…

Read more
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Pat Hailstone (left) and Rhoda Nevins (right) with Carolynn Stephens under the embroidery

A magnificent tapestry has been commissioned by Runnymede Borough Council to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

Read more
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
The Sculpture Garden 2015 at Birtley House, Bramley

Each year since 2009, Birtley House in Bramley has presented the very best of 3D art from Surrey and further afield in its annual sculpture garden.

Read more
Monday, May 11, 2015
Spring reflections at Coverwood Lakes

Take a stroll through the enchanting landscape of Coverwood Lakes, open on selected days in the spring and the autumn, where you might even spot the likes of Madonna doing a spot of filming…

Read more
Sunday, May 10, 2015
Surrey Wildlife Trust events diary 2012 - conservation, walks and discovery

Surrey Wildlife Trust reveal what to keep an eye out for this month and where you can join them for nature related events in Surrey...

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP



subscription ad

subscription ad

Surrey's trusted business finder