The stunning beaches, dramatic coastlines, rugged moorlands and unique history of Cornwall doesn’t just draw starry-eyed holidaymakers each year. TV crews and big-screen directors are also regular visitors to the county as they often come to the Duchy to film their next blockbuster movie or TV show.
There are some TV programmes and films set in Cornwall that are well-known, but there are others which may take you by surprise. Here we take you through some popular ones and tell you where they were filmed so you can go and visit them during your next stay at our Falmouth hotel.
Popular TV series and films set in Cornwall
• About Time
• Doc Martin
• James Bond - Die Another Day
• World War Z
• Ladies in Lavender
• The Eagle Has Landed
BBC Drama - Poldark
Filming locations for Poldark: Charlestown, Bodmin Moor, St Agnes, Chapel North, Holywell Bay, Perranporth, Porthcurno, Kynance Cove, Gunwalloe, Botallack.
The hugely popular BBC drama television series Poldark shows off Cornwall in all its glory. The series is based on the novels written by Winston Graham and it is set between 1781 and 1801 and follows the lead character of Poldark, who is played by Aidan Turner, as he returns to Cornwall after the American War of Independence.
During your holiday you can go behind the scenes and discover the glistening blue waters, craggy cliffs and lush countryside that we think look even better in real life.
Thoughts On Poldark, a blog with essays and commentary on the topical issues from the Poldark Saga, told us about some of the locations where the TV series was filmed.
“Across both adaptions and the various seasons, the Poldark production team had the benefit of so many wonderful locations to film in across Cornwall. The Georgian port of Charlestown was used specifically for the harbour scenes and many of the Truro/Falmouth scenes. Bodmin Moor featured a lot to depict outdoor scenes in the vicinity of Nampara whilst St Agnes and Chapel North often provided the backdrop for dramatic cliff edge scenes. The stunning Holywell Bay together with Perranporth and Porthcurno were beach locations that often featured scenes of the characters walking or galloping on horseback. Locations such as Kynance Cove and Gunwalloe hosted many of the fishing boat and shipwreck scenes while the mining scenes were mainly filmed at Botallack and locations nearby as it is there that the iconic Cornish engine houses are placed. However, there is an abundance of lesser-used locations scattered across Cornwall that were nevertheless used for memorable and key scenes from the hit show.”
So why has Poldark attracted so many people to Cornwall on holiday? Thoughts On Poldark believe it is the beautiful Cornish scenery that is shown in every episode.
“Apart from the compelling story as adapted from the books written by Winston Graham and its brilliant cast of actors across both series, another major draw that makes Poldark so very appealing to viewers to watch and to rewatch is the stunning and awe-inspiring scenery it beholds. Poldark essentially serves as an enticing showcase of the many beautiful locations that Cornwall has to offer. Leaving most viewers totally captivated by the plethora of picturesque and enchanting backdrops it is understandable they would want to immerse themselves in such surroundings in the only real way possible, by visiting Cornwall.”
Filming locations for About Time: Porthpean House near St. Austell.
About Time is a British romantic comedy-drama that was written and directed by Richard Curtis and stars popular actors Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Lydia Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Richard Cordery, Margot Robbie, and Bill Nighy.
The film is about a young man who can travel in time and who tries to change his past in the hope of improving his future. The movie was predominantly filmed in Cornwall and London with Porthpean House near St Austell being used as the characters family home.
Karen Woodham from the award-winning entertainment blog Blazing Minds told us about why she loves About Time and why Cornwall is a popular filming destination.
“Favourite Film: About Time, I've always been a fan of the time travel genre and this superb romantic film with a sci-fi time travel twist is a joy to watch, not only for the great story but also for the superb cast that is featured in the film.
“It's obvious to see why Cornwall is used for many locations for films and TV, from the architecture of some of the buildings to the natural beauty that it has on offer for those scenes with wonderful rolling landscapes.”
Filming locations for Doc Martin: Port Isaac, Bodmin Moor.
Since 2004, the quaint fishing village of Port Isaac and its picturesque, white-washed cottages were used as the fictionally dubbed seaside resort of Portwenn in Doc Martin.
The ITV series stars Martin Clunes and now Port Isaac attracts fans from all over the world, but why was this small fishing village on the north coast of Cornwall used? The makers of the series were keen to capture a simple way of life and a sense of nostalgia in a close-knit community where everyone knows what everyone else is doing. The directors thought that Port Isaac ticked all the boxes with its natural beauty an added bonus.
Some of the locations where Doc Martin was filmed in Port Isaac are:
• Fern Cottage – One of the most recognisable locations in Doc Martin as it is used at Doctor Ellingham’s surgery. The cottage is 100 metres away from the harbour and up the hill towards the coast path of Port Quin.
• Golden Lion Pub – You can step into Martin Clunes’ shoes by enjoying a pint as it has been used for filming and was used sociably by the crew.
• The Liberal Club – This has been used as the village shop in the series.
• Doydens Castle, Port Quin – This was used when the character Mrs Tishell revealed her long-standing crush on Dr Ellingham in the final episode of series five.
• St Nonna’s Church, Altarnun – The church was used for filming when Dr Ellingham married Louisa.
When you visit Port Isaac you will find a working fishing village that is full of art galleries, little craft shops, bakeries and restaurants. The village is also home to one of the narrowest streets in the country and is aptly named the Squeezy Belly Alley!
READ MORE: What is the best Cornish scones recipe?
James Bond - Die Another Day
Filming locations for James Bond - Die Another Day: The Eden Project, Holywell Bay.
James Bond’s No Time To Die may have been the latest blockbuster film released by the franchise, but back in 2002 when James Bond - Die Another Day was released it featured many scenes that were filmed in Cornwall.
Back then it wasn’t Daniel Craig who was playing the iconic role of 007, it was Irish actor Pierce Brosnan, who starred in four Bond films.
His swansong was Die Another Day and two locations in Cornwall were used for filming – Holywell Bay and The Eden Project. Holywell Bay near Newquay was used for the opening sequence when Bond arrives in North Korea, but the golden sand of the beach was transformed into a beach that is filled with defences.
The biomes of the Eden Project doubled up as Gustav Graves' ice palace and the majority of the movie was filmed inside the attraction, including the iconic scene when Halle Berry’s stunt double climbed down one of the biomes.
World War Z
Filming locations for World War Z: Falmouth.
The zombie thriller World War Z, starring Brad Pitt, was filmed on board a boat that was moored in Falmouth docks.
Speaking to the BBC back in 2011, Richard Gates, who is the Falmouth Town Manager, said: “The whole turnaround has only been a few weeks, it's really been that quick.
“It's brilliant for the town, brilliant for the economy, everything.”
The horror movie follows the journey of former United Nations employee Gerry Lane as he travels the world in a race against time to stop a zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatens to destroy humanity itself.
If you are staying with us at St Michaels Resort you can walk around Falmouth and see Falmouth Docks to get a glimpse of where the movie was filmed. You can also visit Falmouth’s other attractions such as Gyllyngvase beach or the National Maritime Museum.
Filming locations for Delicious: Saltash, Launceston, Pentillie Castle
At the opposite end of the county to Falmouth, the TV series Delicious was partly filmed in Saltash. The residents got a shock when they woke up to film crews lining the streets of the town back in October 2017.
Part of the series was also filmed in Launceston town centre, but Pentillie Castle which is close to the town was where much of the filming took place. The castle was used as Leo’s Penrose Hotel in the series, which was featured regularly throughout the three seasons.
The TV series, starring Dawn French, Iain Glen and Emilia Fox, premiered on Sky 1 from December 2016 to January 2017 and it has since released another two seasons.
Ladies in Lavender
Filming locations for Ladies in Lavender: Mount’s Bay, Lizard, St Ives and Kenneggy
Ladies in Lavender aired back in 2003 and it stars huge names such as Judi Dench, who has played roles in James Bond movies, Pride and Prejudice and Cats, and Maggie Smith, who is famed for her roles in the Harry Potter films and Downton Abbey.
The British drama film is set in the 1930s in Cornwall and it is about two sisters who befriend a mysterious foreigner who washes up on the beach near their home.
The cottage that the sisters live in was filmed at Prussia Cove, on Mount’s Bay between Helston and Penzance, but other locations which were filmed in the county include Cadgwith Cove on the Lizard, St Ives and Kenneggy Cove.
READ MORE: The best hidden gardens in Cornwall
The Eagle Has Landed
Filming locations for The Eagle Has Landed: Charlestown, St Mawgan, Rock.
The Eagle Has Landed is an iconic war movie and it is set during World War II. A Nazi officer called Max Radl plans to kidnap or kill the British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and after approval from his seniors, the plan moves forward.
The cast for this 1976 war film was full of stars with Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland and Robert Duvall just some of the famous actors who played roles in the movie.
Many scenes from the movie were filmed in Cornwall including the classic scene where Michael Caine and his fellow soldiers are being forced to suicidally ride torpedoes. Although in the film this is supposed to take place in the Nazi-occupied Channel Islands, it was in fact filmed in Charlestown.
There were other scenes that were filmed in Cornwall including on a runway at RAF St Mawgan and on sand dunes near Rock, which is located close to Padstow.
There have been lots of films set in Cornwall and we are sure that the county’s stunning natural beauty will continue to attract many more movie directors and actors. For articles like this, check out the blog section of our website.