Dramatic increase in TV production boosts Bristol’s role as filmmakers’ location of choice

April 23, 2021

Four major new TV dramas have started filming in Bristol this month as the city continues to act as a magnet for production companies eager to bounce back from last year’s Covid-linked restrictions.

Showtrial, The Girl Before and Chloe, which are being made for the BBC, and The Long Call for ITV are the latest in consistent flow of productions using city’s locations, studio space and filming support services. 

They have joined a string of productions currently filming in Bristol, giving the city its busiest ever schedule and underpinning its reputation as one of the UK’s most successful TV and film hubs outside of London.

Already underway in Bristol are Stephen Merchant’s new BBC/Amazon Prime series The Offenders starring Christopher Walken; season two of Amazon Prime teen spy thriller Alex Rider starring Otto Farrant and Vicky McClure; Sky Original thriller Extinction starring Paapa Essiedu; and Starz Original Series Becoming Elizabeth starring Alicia von Rittenberg.

Bristol City Council senior film manager Laura Aviles, who is responsible for the city’s Bottle Yard Studios and Film Office, said: “Four major dramas beginning their shoots in Bristol in the space of just a few weeks is a clear indication of the city’s appeal to producers right now.

“With Showtrial, Chloe, The Girl Before and The Long Call joining other titles already actively filming in the city, Bristol is continuing the exceptionally strong levels of high-end TV production we saw in the first quarter of this year well into the second quarter, bringing welcome benefits to local crew, facilities and service companies, and creating numerous other knock-on benefits to the city’s economy.”

Showtrial, being made by World Productions (Line of Duty, Bodyguard, The Pembrokeshire Murders), is a new drama for BBC One and BBC iPlayer from writer Ben Richards (The Tunnel, Strike, Cobra).

Described as “a timely legal drama full of dark humour,” it is filmed and set around Bristol and explores how prejudice, politics and the media distort the legal process. The five-part series’ production team is based at The Bottle Yard Studios and filming is taking place on location in Bristol with assistance from Bristol Film Office.

Its cast includes Tracy Ifeachor (Quantico, Treadstone, The Originals), James Frain (Star Trek: Discovery, True Detective, Gotham) and Sharon D Clarke (Rocks, Doctor Who, Kiri) alongside Sinéad Keenan (Little Boy Blue, Care, Three Families) Celine Buckens (Warrior, Bridgerton); Kerr Logan (Strike, Alias Grace, Game of Thrones) and Lolita Chakrabarti (Vigil, Criminal: UK).

The Girl Before is a four-part psychological thriller produced by 42 for BBC One and HBO Max, filming on purpose-built sets at The Bottle Yard Studios and on location in Bristol, again with assistance from Bristol Film Office. 

It tells the story of Jane, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (The Morning Show, Misbehaviour), who gets the chance to move into a beautiful, ultra-minimalist house designed by an enigmatic architect Edward Monkford, played by Golden Globe, BAFTA and Emmy nominee David Oyelowo (Selma, Les Miserables). 

Produced by Mam Tor Productions for BBC One and Amazon Studios, Chloe is a six-part original psychological thriller from creator and writer Alice Seabright (director, Sex Education), filming on purpose-built sets at The Bottle Yard Studios and on location in Bristol.

A mystery about obsession, deceit, identity and grief, Chloe stars some of the UK’s hottest young acting talent including Erin Doherty (The Crown), Billy Howle (The Serpent), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Gangs of London) and Jack Farthing (Poldark), Poppy Gilbert (Stay Close), Akshay Khanna (Grace), Brandon Micheal Hall (Search Party) and newcomer Alexander Eliot.

The Long Call is a four-part crime drama produced for ITV by Silverprint Pictures and BritBox North America, filming on location in Bristol with assistance from Bristol Film Office and along the North Devon coast. It is inspired by the best-selling novel of the same name from award-winning writer Ann Cleeves (Vera, Shetland) and adapted by screenwriter Kelly Jones (Des, Baptiste).

Earlier this year Bristol provided a number of locations for the return of contemporary detective series McDonald & Dodds  while a new series of CBeebies award-winning Andy’s Aquatic Adventures produced by BBC Studios Natural History Unit got underway at The Bottle Yard. It was the first title to restart filming at the studios after the UK’s first lockdown forced filming to pause last year.

More than 60 titles have been produced at the studios since they opened 10 years ago in disused wine warehouses on a seven-acre site owned by the city council.

Productions have ranged from high-end TV dramas Poldark, Broadchurch, Fortitude, Wolf Hall, The Trial of Christine Keeler, The Spanish Princess (pictured below right) and The Pale Horse (pictured below left) and films such as Hellboy and The Festival to light entertainment programmes The Crystal Maze and Tipping Point.

Pictured top: Pearl Mackie as DC Rafferty & Ben Irving as DI Venn in The Long Call. Image courtesy of ITV.

Bottom: The cast of Chloe. From left, Poppy Gilbert, Billy Howle, Erin Doherty, Pippa Bennett-Warner and Jack Farthing. Image courtesy of BBC/York Tillyer


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