We all know Essex has, and continues to be, the backdrop for TV shows don’t we?
Ever heard of a little thing called The Only Way Is Essex? Or how about The Force: Essex?
Of course you have. However, there have been quite a few TV programmes and films shot in Essex that don’t have the county in their titles.
And some of them might just surprise you. We’ve put together a list of 21 TV shows and movies where Essex makes a cameo in some form. It’s a tough job we know.
ALSO READ: Latest TV news in Essex
Stansted Airport – GoldenEye
The name’s Airport… Stansted Airport. That’s right, 007 himself Pierce Brosnan filmed scenes for GoldenEye at our local international airport.
Stansted Airport again – Bridget Jones’s Diary
When Mark Darcy goes off to America leaving Bridget heartbroken we see him arriving at John F, Kennedy Airport in New York City… or do we? Look a little closer and we think you’ll find Colin Firth is just at Stansted (not quite as glamorous, Bridget needn’t have worried).
Epping Forest and Upminster – Full Metal Jacket
Apparently, some of the training scenes from Full Metal Jacket where the US marines are preparing to go to Vietnam were shot in Epping Forest.
Basildon town centre – White Gold
For a TV show set in Essex, it’s +fitting that a lot of it was shot in the county The BBC Three sitcom starring Inbetweeners stars Joe Thomas and James Buckley follows window salesman in the 1980s.
Although most of the show is set in Corringham, some of the show is filmed in Basildon town centre, specifically the section of the town known as East Walk. One vacant unit was even used as the outdoor set for the fictional Cachet Windows storefront.
The show finished in 2019, and parts of East Walk – including the Cachet Windows set – have since been demolished to make way for the East Square cinema development. So it looks like we won’t see anymore White Gold filming in Basildon.
The State Cinema in Grays – Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
As one of the country’s most-iconic cinemas, the State Cinema in Grays was sought after by filmmakers because of its well-kept art-deco interior.
Although the cinema closed in the 1980s and fell into disrepair – until recent works to turn the cinema into a Wetherspoon pub began – there was a period where it was often used for film and TV work.
The iconic animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? filmed all of their cinema-scenes in The State Cinema.
In addition to this, Jamiroquai filmed a music video in the picture-house, and minor parts of Gremlins, Star Wars and Ghostbusters all used The State Cinema as a place to film.
Tilbury Docks – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Harrison Ford and Sean Connery are no strangers to Essex. When they head to Venice for the waterfront boat chase sequence, they soon end up in Essex. Ever seen a Gondola at Tilbury Docks?
Hanningfield Reservoir – World War Z
Brad Pitt in Essex? Seems too good to be true. But back in 2011, that was exactly the case.
When he was filming zombie-thriller World War Z, a scene inside what was supposed to be a South Korean prison was filmed in Essex. But it wasn’t filmed in a prison.
In fact, this scene was filmed in a disused part of Essex and Suffolk Water’s water treatment plant on the Hanningfield Reservoir.
Southend Pier – Jamie & Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast
For seven series now, Essex boy and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver – joined by Jimmy Doherty – has been running Jamie’s cafe on the end of Southend pier.
The ‘cafe’ isn’t actually open when they’re not filming – it’s only open two weeks a year when they’re filming.
But, it plays a heavy part in the show, as the location of a mini-restaurant where the celebrity chef and special guests cook hearty plates of food.
The show is shot at the end of Southend’s own pier, famous for its length. So on filming days, you may spot Jamie Oliver – as well as his famous guests – around the seaside town.
Tollesbury – Liar
The intense ITV drama Liar encapsulated watchers for two seasons between 2017 and 2020.
And vast amounts of the show were filmed in the picturesque coastal village of Tollesbury.
Crews filmed in the east-Essex marina village to produce the hit-show, and local residents said that the having the crews nearby was ultimately a positive experience.
Local resident Carol Anson-Higgs told EssexLive earlier this year: “I think it’s nice for Tollesbury and I don’t know why anyone would want to make a fuss about it.
“I found it fascinating and I watched some of the last series and personally it was nice to see the actors interacting with their colleagues down here because that’s something you don’t usually get to see.
“I work from home, sit down with my laptop and watch it. You won’t hear any complaints from me.”
Southend and Colchester – Murder 24/7
BBC real-crime documentary Murder 24/7 followed three murder investigations – all of which happened in Essex.
The first few episodes followed the investigation behind the murder of Courtney Valentine Brown – which happened on Roots Hall Drive near Southend United’s football stadium.
The second murder documented was the sad case of Robert Knight – who dropped his mother off of a balcony in Westcliff-on-Sea.
The final case covered was the murder of homeless man Carl Hopkins in Colchester.
All episodes followed the investigation from start to finish, and provided an amazing insight into both Essex Police and how murders are investigated – not to mention plenty of familiar locations for us to recognise.
The 2017 remake of Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot has a scene shot in Southend. If you were wondering why the bit where Diana, Charlie and Steve cross over the bridge… well, that’s why.
Chelmsford High Street – Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares
Jamie Oliver isn’t the only chef to make a show in Essex. In the original run of UK episodes, Gordon Ramsay visited what was then called D-Place in Chelmsford high street.
In this Kitchen Nightmares episode from 2004, Gordon Ramsay scuffled with the head chef of D-Place, and forced the then-owner to change the restaurant’s name to Saracens Cafe Bar.
But by the end of the episode, the restaurant was seized by the brewery who owned the building, and it later became the Saracens Head Hotel.
However, last year the Saracens Head also closed. Works are now underway to turn the building into a Peaky Blinders-themed bar.
Montreal Road in Tilbury – Grimsby
Although the name would suggest otherwise, sections of the Sasha Baron Cohen film Grimsby were filmed in Tilbury, Essex.
In one particular scene, where the protagonist is queuing for a Job Centre, the shops can be identified as a parade along Montreal Road in Tilbury.
A fake Job Centre sign was placed on one of the shops, and crews started filming. Cohen and the gang also filmed elsewhere in Essex, including at the North Weald railway station and in Epping Forest.
Partners Barbers in Basildon – His House
Tucked in the corner of Freedom House in Basildon town centre was Partners Barbers, where they filmed part of the film His House; it was a thriller which starred former Doctor Who actor Matt Smith.
One scene required a retro-styled barbers, and Partners Barbers in Basildon was chosen. Filming took place in 2018, and the film was released in cinemas in January 2020 to rave reviews.
Sadly, Freedom House was demolished in the first half of 2019 – along with the barbershop – and Partners Barbers were forced to move into Cocos Hair and Beauty elsewhere in the town.
Basildon – New Town Utopia
Documentary filmmaker Christopher Ian Smith made New Town Utopia all about Basildon, and the artists and residents who live in it.
The independent film documents the history of the town as well as the present, and as such shows off many areas across the borough.
It’s also one of the last large-scale video footage collections of what the town looked like before it’s dramatic regeneration, which began the year after shooting. Therefore, the images captured in the film are already a relic of the past.
Thorndon Country Park, Brentwood – Mission Impossible: Fallout
In October 2017, excited fans were able to spot Tom Cruise filming for the newest Mission Impossible film in Brentwood.
Only some select photographers were able to snap picks of ones of Hollywood’s biggest names, but there was still an incredible buzz.
Crews making Mission Impossible: Fallout used Thorndon Country Park as a filming location for the action film.
This meant that Essex’s picturesque woods have appeared in one of the biggest blockbusters of the past ten years.
Mission Impossible: Fallout came out in 2018 and made more than £620 million at the box office.
Coalhouse Fort in Tilbury – Batman Begins
In the first film where Christian Bale portrayed the caped-crusader Batman, Bruce Wayne found himself in a Bhutan prison. Except the prison wasn’t in Bhutan. It wasn’t even a prison.
These scenes, which make up a decent portion of the start of the film were actually filmed in Coalhouse Fort in East Tilbury.
A majority of the film – mostly set in the fictional American city of Gotham – was filmed in the UK.
Hyland’s House – The Crown, Mission Impossible and Batman Begins
Hylands House, on the Hylands Estate, is a Grade II, 574-hectare neo-classical villa located within Hylands Park in Chelmsford.
Hylands Park, which surrounds the mansion, is probably best known for playing host to huge festivals V Fest and RiZE within its 232-hectares but The Crown’s producers chose the stunning mansion thanks to its resemblance to The White House in the US.
In series three of the popular Netflix show, Princess Margaret, played by Helena Bonham Carter and husband at the time Lord Snowdon, played by Ben Daniels, arrive at the ‘White House’…but they’re actually just arriving in Chelmsford.
The faux-White House has also appeared as the presidential building in Mission Impossible and Batman Begins.
St Clements Church, West Thurrock – Four Weddings and a Funeral
As the name implies, the rom-com sensation that was Four Weddings and Funeral shot lots of scenes in churches. One of these churches was St Clements Church in West Thurrock.
It was the scene for one of the more iconic scenes from the film, where characters attended an outdoor funeral for Simon Callow.
The church itself is hidden away behind the looming Proctor and Gamble buildings
In every direction, the small church is dwarfed by industrial factories, including the P&G cube.
The church is only open on the first weekend of the month between April and September 11am to 3pm, but the churchyard is open all year round if you wanted a little look at the iconic movie location.
Osea Island – The Woman In Black
Daniel Radcliffe’s first big film after hanging up his glasses as Harry Potter was in creepy horror film The Woman In Black.
In this 2012 film, Radcliffe’s character Arthur Kipps had to visit the fictional Nine Lives Causeway. This area was shot on Osea Island, an island in the Blackwater Estaury near Maldon.
In fact, the same location was used to shoot the original 1982 version of The Woman In Black.
The island is often rented for filming due to its isolated location, as it is owned by music producer Nigel Frieda. This isolation also led pop-star Rihanna to rent the island last year to record an album.
Chelmsford Prison – Porridge
In the 1970s, the British sitcom was king on TV. And one of the more iconic ones was Porridge – led by Two Ronnies star Ronnie Barker – and set in the fictional HMP Slade.
Although the show is best known for it’s run on telly, a feature film was made of the same name in 1979.
In the film, all interior shots in HMP Slade were actually filmed in Chelmsford own HMP Chelmsford.
For the TV show, scenes were filmed within prisons in neighbouring Kent, London and Hertfordshire.
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