In celebration of today’s announcement that Bristol has been successful in its bid to become UNESCO City of Film, we take a look at Bristol: the movie star.

Many film productions have beamed Bristol onto the big screen and as well as being a featured location, the city has often played film double and production base for many movies.

We’ve put together a roundup of Bristol locations used in major titles (the city has also been used as a location for tons of famous TV productions too, but that’s another blog…).

Sherlock King Street Bristol

Image - Sherlock being filmed on King Street, Bristol

  • Stan & Ollie (2018)

Bristol locations: Princes Wharf - Harbourside, M Shed, MV Balmoral

Starring: Steve Coogan, John C. Reilly

Comedian Steve Coogan and Guardians of the Galaxy star, John C. Reilly were spotted on Bristol Harbourside earlier this year filming a new BBC film, Stan & Ollie. Set to be one of the biggest BBC films of 2018, the movie will pay homage to Hollywood royalty, Laurel and Hardy. During filming, the production company transformed the area outside the M Shed into an Irish dockyard for the moment when the duo arrive in Ireland. The MV Balmoral, a vintage pleasure cruiser normally moored in the Floating Harbour was also used as part of the set.

  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Bristol locations: Princes Wharf – Bristol Harbourside, M Shed

Starring: Lily James, Penelope Wilton and Matthew Goode.

Set on Guernsey Island in the aftermath of World War II, this movie, based on the book of the same name, stars free-spirited journalist Juliet Ashton, played by Lily James alongside some of her former Downton co-stars. Attracted to Bristol by its well-preserved harbour, the Guernsey filmmakers recreated 1940s Weymouth Docks along the very same stretch of Bristol Harbourside that hosted filming for Stan & Ollie earlier in the same month (March 2017) - Princes Wharf outside M Shed and the MV Balmoral. The film is due for release in April 2018.

M Shed

Image - the MV Balmoral (far right) moored outside the M Shed, Bristol Harbourside, credit Quintin Lake

  • The Sense of an Ending (2017)

Bristol locations: Clifton Suspension Bridge

Starring: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Michelle Dockery, Emily Mortimer

Shot in part on location in Bristol, Julian Barnes‘s Booker Prize-winning 2011 novel comes to the screen. Look out for one of Bristol’s biggest celebs in the trailer - the Clifton Suspension Bridge!

  • Golden Years (2016)

Bristol locations: Bottle Yard Studios, bank buildings near St Nicholas Market, Broad Street, Clare Street, Corn Street, The Ardagh Sports Club at Horfield Common, Arnos Manor Hotel, Tyntesfield

Starring: Bernard Hill, Virginia McKenna, Phillip Davis, Simon Callow, Brad Moore, Una Stubbs

Bristol is known for its ‘B’ words – Banksy, Bridges, Brunel, Balloons, Blue glass…this British heist comedy, filmed on location in Bristol and the Cotswolds, adds a few more to the list – Banks, Bowls and Bingo! Pensioners Arthur and Martha Goode (played by Bernard Hill and Virginia McKenna) turn to a life of crime when they discover their pension pot is practically worthless. In the trailer alone, you’ll see glorious sunny shots of Bristol’s Harbourside, a glowing Clifton Suspension Bridge at night, and bowls at The Ardagh Sports Club at Horfield Common. Watch the trailer here


Image - Tyntesfield, credit Andrew

  • We Can Be Heroes (2017)

Bristol locations: Bottle Yard Studios, Kings Head Park

Starring: Phil Davis, Alison Steadman

The production for We Can Be Heroes, an adaptation of the best-selling book, used Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios for studio filming and production offices. Other Bristol filming locations included Kings Head Park, Bishopsworth.

Bottle Yard Studios

Image - Bottle Yard Studios

  • Another Mother’s Son (2015)

Bristol locations: Princes Wharf - Bristol Harbourside, M Shed, MV Balmoral

Starring: Jenny Seagrove, John Hannah, Amanda Abbington, Ronan Keating

Another Mother’s Son tells a little-known true story from Nazi-occupied Jersey in WWII. In December 2015, Princes Wharf (yep that old chestnut again!) was transformed into wartime St Helier for a sequence in the film. The quayside by the MV Balmoral became the backdrop for a scene in which Jersey deportees are boarded onto a 1940s steam ship. The production also set up a unit base for the shoot at the Lloyds Amphitheatre on Bristol Harbourside.


Image - Lloyds Amphitheatre, Bristol, credit Colin Smith

  • Inbetweeners 2 (2014)

Bristol locations: Clifton Suspension Bridge and Clifton Observatory

Starring: James Buckley, Blake Harrison, Joe Thomas and Simon Bird

In the movie, Will (Simon Bird) has just started at the University of Bristol and the film opens with one of the city’s most famous sights, the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The world-famous landmark spans the stunning Avon Gorge and has some blockbuster views. Eagle eyes will also be to spot Clifton Observatory during the scene. 

Clifton suspension bridge

Image - Clifton Suspension Bridge, credit Chris Hartley

  • The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013)

Bristol locations: The Victoria Rooms, Bottle Yard Studios, Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel/ College Green, University of Bristol, Wills Memorial Building

Starring: Sam Neill, Michael Sheen, Ioan Gruffudd and Lena Headey

A fantasy adventure adaptation of the G.P. Taylor novel 'Mariah Mundi: The Midas Box', used Bristol’s The Bottle Yard Studios (the largest dedicated film and TV studio facility in the West of England) as its studio base and filmed on location across Bristol and Bath. In the film, The Victoria Rooms - the University of Bristol’s Department of Music - are featured as the exterior of the 'London Museum' where we first meet Mariah (Aneurin Barnard) and Will (Michael Sheen). In another shot, Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel and College Green can be seen when Charles (Ioan Gruffudd) and Catherine (Keeley Hawes) are intercepted leaving the ‘London Museum’. Yet another University of Bristol building is used to portray the inside of the museum – this time it’s the impressive, towering Wills Memorial Building - book a tour to see it for yourself.  The beautiful Blaise Castle Estate Stable Yard made the cut as the 'Gateshead Reformatory' when Barnard (Mariah) and Felix (Xavier Atkins) try to escape and Sheen (Will) comes to the rescue. The production crew also built incredible sets at The Bottle Yard Studios, including a humongous hotel lobby, an underground cave and an indoor re-creation of North Somerset’s Brean Down.

  • These Foolish Things (2005)

Bristol locations: Bristol Hippodrome Theatre, King Street

Starring: Angelica Houston, Lauren Bacall, Andrew Lincoln

Hollywood legends Angelica Houston and Lauren Bacall star in this England-based melodrama. During filming, the crew transformed Bristol’s King Street and Bristol Hippodrome into 1930s theatre-land. Andrew Lincoln, (who plays lead actor in Bristol productions, Afterlife and Teachers as well as international hit TV series, The Walking Dead) also stars. 

Bristol hippodrome

Image - Bristol Hippodrome

  • The Truth About Love (2005)

Bristol locations: Clifton Suspension Bridge, St Mary Redcliffe, The Grove, Park Place in Clifton, Merchants Quay and Redcliffe Wharf, Severnshed and The Paragon in Clifton.

Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Dougray Scott and Jimi Mistry

While this film doesn’t get great reviews, it does contain lots of lovely Bristol shots! Clifton Suspension Bridge stars, Jennifer Love Hewitt dines at Severnshed and Bristol Temple Meads, Redcliffe Wharf and Christmas Steps all get some screen time. There’s lots more too, so keep your eyes peeled!

  • The Duchess (2008)

Bristol locations: Bristol Old Vic Theatre

Starring: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes

This Oscar and BAFTA-winning period drama stars Keira Knightley as 18th Century aristocrat, Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, and Ralph Fiennes as her unfaithful husband. Bristol is used here as a film double for Bath and London and the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane - seen when The Duke and Duchess visit the theatre with Lady Bess Foster - is actually Bristol Old Vic.

Bristol Old Vic

Image - Bristol Old Vic

  • Starter for Ten (2006)

Bristol locations: Royal York Crescent, Christmas Steps, University of Bristol, Floating Harbour at Welsh Back and Redcliffe Wharf

Starring: James McAvoy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Gatiss

A young James McAvoy stars as Brian, a Bristol University student determined to win a place on University Challenge. In the film, McAvoy arrives at his student flat in Bristol – seen here on Royal York Crescent in Clifton. This long, sweeping Georgian crescent is known for its incredible architecture, jaw-dropping views over the city and is actually longer than the world-renowned Royal Crescent in nearby Bath. An extremely nice spot for student digs, if you ask us!

McAvoy can also be seen climbing the historic Christmas Steps on his way to his flat. Christmas Steps is based in the Old City and dates back to medieval times, nowadays the area is part of a characterful hub of creative traders.

In another scene, McAvoy and Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) take one of Bristol Ferry Boat Company’s boats down a part of the river known as Welsh Back and Redcliffe Wharf. And you can do the same -  the waterbus service ferries passengers around the Harbourside 364 days of the year – hop on and off at 17 stops – it’s a great way to see the city.

Starter for Ten

Image - Starter for Ten

  • Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)

Bristol locations: Aardman

Starring: Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes

Aardman Animations, based in Bristol, has a total of ten Oscars nominations and has won four thanks to animated features such as Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and The Wrong Trousers.

Aardman animations

Image - Aardman animations

  • Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990)

Bristol locations: Birdcage Walk, Clifton and Goldney Hall

Starring: Juliet Stevenson, Alan Rickman

Anthony Minghella's highly-acclaimed BAFTA-winning tale of love and loss filmed various scenes in Bristol as a stand in for parts of London. Goldney Hall – part of Bristol University - was used as the café where Nina (Juliet Stevenson) meets Mark (Michael Maloney). Birdcage Walk, an arched walkway through a graveyard in Clifton, was also featured. The site is all that remains of St. Andrews Church – built in the 12th century but destroyed in the Bristol Blitz.

Birdcage walk

Image - Birdcage walk, Clifton, credit Morgane Bigault

  • Medusa touch (1978)

Bristol locations: Bristol Cathedral, City Hall, Park Street

Starring: Richard Burton

In this supernatural thriller, Richard Burton plays a man with psychokinetic powers. Bristol Cathedral is used to dramatic effect as the fictional ‘Minster’ and viewers can also spy City Hall and Park Street in the background.

  • Some People (1962)

Bristol locations: Clifton Down, Clifton Suspension Bridge

Starring: Kenneth More, Harry Corbett, Ray Brooks, Angela Douglas

This film was shot entirely on location in Bristol and provides a snapshot of 1960’s Bristolian teenage life. Clifton Down and the Clifton Suspension Bridge are both visible in the film.

Clifton Downs

Image - The Downs


M Shed
M Shed Museum Bristol

M Shed is an exciting and innovative flagship museum for Bristol with gallery space and a packed events schedule.

National Trust - Tyntesfield
Historic House/Palace
National Trust - Tyntesfield

At its heart Tyntesfield is a Victorian country house and estate, which serves as a backdrop to the remarkable story of four generations of the Gibbs family. Their tale charts the accumulation of wealth from the guano trade, transformation of a Georgian house to a Victorian Gothic masterpiece and the collection of over 50,000 objects.

Clifton Suspension Bridge
Historic Site
Clouds over Clifton Suspension Bridge Bristol - CREDIT GARY NEWMAN

The world famous bridge and the iconic symbol of Bristol, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1831 and completed in 1864 after his death

Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel
Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel exterior

Explore vibrant Bristol city and harbour by staying at Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel.

Wills Memorial Building Tour
Walking Tour
Wills Memorial

Officially opened in 1925, the Wills Memorial Building houses the University’s School of Law and the School of Earth Sciences, in addition to hosting graduation ceremonies twice a year and a whole host of public events.

Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate
Blaise Castle House Museum and Estate Bristol

Unique mansion that houses some stunning period costumes and everyday Victorian objects, including model trains, dolls and toys

The Bristol Hippodrome
The Bristol Hippodrome

The Bristol Hippodrome is one of the country's top, family-friendly provincial theatres, which proudly continues to stage major West End and Broadway productions.

Bristol Ferry Boats
Bristol Ferry Boats

Explore Bristol's Harbourside by ferry, go on a trip with friends or colleagues, or simply get from A to B without worrying about traffic

Clifton Village
Shopping in Clifton Village Bristol

Georgian shopping Quarter full of upmarket, independent shops which is a delight to explore.

Christmas Steps arts quarter
Christmas Steps Bristol

Ancient and picturesque stepped hill flanked by unique shops, galleries and cafes.

Bristol Cathedral
Bristol Cathedral

Much more than a fascinating building, being a fine example of a hall church, it is a centre of Bristol's history, civic life and culture.

Park Street
Park Street Bristol

A great selection of trendy clothes boutiques, music and records stores, bars and restaurants, furniture and art galleries.

The Downs
Municipal Park
The Downs Bristol

Consisting of Clifton Down and Durdham Down, this is a huge area of protected parkland on the edge of the city