Bristol is a regular on the small screen, picked by production teams for its historic streets, picturesque green spaces and grand buildings. This makes tuning into TV shows filmed here one of the best ways to virtually visit the city

Perfect for lockdown binge-watch viewing, here are some of the best shows made in our UNESCO City of Film and where you can stream them right now. 

Poldark

Think of Poldark and remote Cornish landscapes probably spring to mind. So, you might be surprised to find out that production for the BBC series, based on Winston Graham’s novels and starring Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson, was actually based in Bristol. Before you tune in to the brooding historical drama, prepare yourself for Bristol location spotting by reading our guide to where Poldark was filmed

Where to watch: Series 1 to 3 available on Netflix. 

Poldark series 5 promo image - Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson)

Image - Poldark, credit BBC and Mammoth Screen

Sanditon

Fans of Jane Austen will want to see what direction screenwriter Andrew Davies, known for his adaptations of period dramas, took her unfinished novel in for the small screen. Like Love Island in the Regency era, according to Davies, it follows spirited heroine Charlotte Heywood navigating the interests of potential suitors in the seaside town of Sanditon. See which Georgian buildings in Bristol and coastal scenery on the North Somerset coast appears in the series in our blog post on Sanditon filming locations

Where to watch: You can buy episodes or the whole box set on Amazon.

Rose Williams as Charlotte Heywood in Sanditon

Image - Rose Williams as Charlotte Heywood in Sanditon, credit ITV and Red Planet Pictures

Skins

This groundbreaking series about a group of sixth-formers living in Bristol was famed for its controversial storylines, from mental illness and death to outrageous house parties and teenage relationship woes. Whether you’re watching for the first time or revisiting for a nostalgia hit, enjoy seeing fresh-faced stars of today (the show launched the careers of actors like Nicholas Hoult and Dev Patel) alongside a stellar cast of notable British actors. 

Filmed in all corners of the city, Bristol Film Office put together a handy Skins Bristol Movie Map, which shows you the many recurring and one-off filming locations in one place.

Where to watch: Netflix UK and All 4

War of the Worlds 

With the first episode (one of eight) having only aired on the 5 March, you can quickly catch up on this brand-new adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi novel about an alien invasion. Set in present day Europe, the series was filmed across the UK and France, with Bristol styled as an apocalyptic London during the three-week shoot in the city. 

Look out for College Street and St George’s Street area in large-scale stunt sequences as well as City Hall masquerading as the exterior of an underground station. Filming also took place around Orchard Street, Queen Square, the Create Centre on Spike Island, Armada House on Dove Street and Stapleton Road.

Where to watch: The series is being shown on Sky Channel 124, Virgin Media Channel 157, Now TV, Talk Talk Channel 316 and BT TV Channel 349.

War of the World filming locations: City Hall in Bristol as a London Underground station

Image - London Underground sign on City Hall, credit Bristol Film Office

His Dark Materials 

Philip Pullman’s acclaimed trilogy was adapted for the BBC’s most expensive series to date by award-winning screenwriter Jack Thorne, who happens to hail from Bristol. While the action-packed fantasy adventures of protagonist Lyra take place in a multi-world reality, key scenes were filmed right here in Bristol, including a chase sequence through city centre streets. The grade II listed Blaise Orangery at the Blaise Estate also makes an appearance.  

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

Sherlock

Many of the mysteries Benedict Cumberbatch’s modern-day Sherlock Holmes solves across the four series of Sherlock are filmed in Bristol. Set in 21st century London, places such as Colston Hall, Tyntesfield, Arnos Vale Cemetery, Goldney Hall, King Street and Portland Square were used as a backdrop to Holmes and Watson’s (played by Martin Freeman) adventures. 

Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studio was also used as the base for the 2016 New Year special, which took Sherlock back to the Victorian era. Get clued up on more specific details about Bristol places in particular episodes with the Bristol Film Office’s Sherlock Locations Trail

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer and Netflix

Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock

Image - Martin Freeman & Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock, courtesy of Hartswood Films for the BBC

The Trial of Christine Keeler

This six-part drama goes behind the headlines of the Profumo Affair - one of the most infamous scandals in 20th century British history - and tells the story of the young woman at the centre of its tangled web, Christine Keeler. 

Locations around Bristol were transformed into 1960s London for the series. Central Library doubles for Marylebone Police Station, offices above St Nicholas’ Market became the War Office and MI5, the Wills Memorial Building stands in for the House of Commons and Lord Mayor’s Mansion House is seen as a Mayfair restaurant and hotel room. St Paul’s also doubled for Notting Hill and other locations included Goldney Hall, City Hall, Caledonia Place, Berkeley Square and Corn Street.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

Sophie Cookson in The Trial of Christine Keeler

Image - Sophie Cookson in The Trial of Christine Keeler, credit Mammoth Screen and BBC

The Pale Horse

Bristol also stars as 1960s London in The Pale Horse, a two-part series that aired earlier this year. Based on the Agatha Christie novel, the mystery thriller follows an antiques dealer played by Rufus Sewell as he tries to uncover why his name appears on the list of names found in the shoe of a dead shopkeeper. Also featuring Kaya Scodelario of Skins fame, find out which Bristol locations to keep your eyes peeled for as you watch in our blog post.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer 

Rufus Sewell and Henry Lloyd in The Pale Horse

Image - The Pale Horse, credit Mammoth Screen, Agatha Christie Ltd & BBC

Thirteen

Before she shot to international fame as a psychopathic assassin in Killing Eve, one of Jodie Comer’s roles was in Thirteen, a miniseries in which her character escapes the kidnapper who held her captive for 13 years. Major parts of the series, which first aired back in 2016, were filmed in both Redland and Redcliffe.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

Three Girls

Three Girls is a hard-hitting drama which tells the true story of victims in the 2012 grooming and sex trafficking case in Rochdale. A harrowing but important watch, filming took place across Bristol. Council offices on Temple Street doubled as Liverpool Crown Court, while Bristol Register Office was used for interior community meeting scenes. Victoria Park, Eastville Park and streets in Hartcliffe, Knowle, Easton, Bedminster and Redcliffe also feature.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies

Another drama based on a true story is The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies. This BAFTA award-winning series is about the retired schoolteacher, played by Jason Watkins, wrongfully accused of murdering 25 year-old landscape architect Joanna Yeates - a case extremely close to Bristol's heart.

Filming took place on location around the city, including in Clifton Village (Boyce’s Avenue, Princess Victoria Street, Gloucester Row, Royal York Crescent, Victoria Square, Clifton Down/Observatory Hill), Clifton Triangle and the Broad Quay area.

Where to watch: Available to buy on Amazon Prime and YouTube Movies

Crazyhead

If you’re a fan of supernatural shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Misfits, chances are you’ll love Crazyhead. The comedy horror series follows two twenty-something women who make an unlikely pair of demon hunters. 

Crazyhead was cancelled after just one season, despite being a hit with both fans and critics. They managed to squeeze plenty of Bristol filming locations into the six episodes though, including M Shed, Millennium Promenade, Ashton Court Estate, O2 Academy, We The Curious, Avonmeads Retail Park and Imperial Park.

Where to watch: All 4 and Netflix 

Kiri

Crime drama miniseries Kiri first aired back in 2018. It stars Sarah Lancashire as a social worker involved in the case of a young black girl who is abducted, just before she’s about to be adopted by a white middle class family. What follows is a tangle of lies, blame, guilt and notoriety. Filmed around recognisable spots like Gloucester Road and The Downs, have our guide to Kiri filming locations at the ready while you watch.

Where to watch: All 4

Sarah Lancashire in Kiri, Cumberland Basin, credit Nick Wall/Channel 4

Image - Sarah Lancashire in Kiri, Cumberland Basin, credit Nick Wall/Channel 4

Only Fools and Horses

Rodney and Del Boy might have lived and tried to make their millions in Peckham, but none of the classic sitcom series was ever filmed there. Many Bristol locations stood in for their regular haunts like Nelson Mandela's House, the tower block they lived in, and local pub The Nag's Head. One of the most iconic Only Fools moments, when the duo break down on the way to a fancy dress party and emerge from the fog dressed as Batman and Robin, was filmed in Broadmead and Stokes Croft. 

Where to watch: Find all episodes on Now TV or three seasons plus specials on Netflix.  

Being Human

Another Bristol-made series to feature Aidan Turner, Being Human is about three housemates struggling to come to terms with their paranormal alter egos. Production relocated to Cardiff for season three onwards, but in the first two you'll see Windsor Terrace in Totterdown feature heavily (that's where the main characters live) and also get glimpses of places like Clifton Suspension Bridge, Clifton Village and UWE's Glenside Campus in Fishponds. 

Where to watch: Netflix

What else was filmed in Bristol?

Although you won't see any of the city during these, Wallace and Gromit, The Crystal Maze and Trollied are among the many other TV shows made in Bristol that you can watch now. And if you're looking for a film instead, heist comedy Golden Years and the third Hellboy movie were both filmed here, as was the brand-new comedy flick I Am the Prize. Watch that for free in its online premiere on Friday 10 April.

After even more at-home entertainment?

Experience a virtual visit to Bristol from your sofa, colour in the city with our collection of colouring sheets, or give these games and activities a go. You should find the Bristol film and TV crossword a doddle after delving into the shows in this post!

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The best TV shows filmed in Bristol you can watch now

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