New BBC thriller Bodyguard features sections filmed in Norfolk: what other TV shows have been filmed here?
PUBLISHED: 11:44 10 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:21 10 August 2018
The BBC's soon-to-be-aired thriller Bodyguard is the latest in a long line of TV shows to be filmed in Norfolk. We take a look at 10 others, from reality shows to comedies, dramas to thrillers, to feature the county, including Swaffham-on-Sea.
Arriving soon on BBC1, Bodyguard – from Jed Mercurio, the brains behind the brilliance that is Line of Duty – could well prove to be our newest obsession.
Starring Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty, The Missing, The Durrells) and Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden, the thriller tells the story of David Budd – played by Madden – a heroic but volatile war veteran now working as a Specialist Protection Officer for the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch of London’s Metropolitan Police Service.
Budd is assigned to protect the ambitious and powerful Home Secretary, Julia Montague (Hawes). However, rather than become best buds (awful pun intended), David finds himself torn between his duty and his beliefs. He’s responsible for her safety, but could he yet become her biggest threat?
He probably could, I’m guessing. It’s set to air in six parts and while the official line is it will arrive “soon” a rummage through the interweb has informed me “soon” is August.
So, I’m sure by now you’re thinking “he’s about to preview 10 top TV shows coming to our screens” but I’m not (although Luther, Killing Eve and Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor Who debut are among those coming, FYI) instead, as part of Bodyguard was filmed in Dereham at the heritage railway station, we are going to embark on a journey of discovery and arm you with some potential pub quiz trivia by looking at 10 other television shows that were filmed around these parts.
10 TV shows filmed in Norfolk
1) Dad’s Army: The beloved BBC sitcom that was Dad’s Army (1968-1977), chronicling the adventures of the Home Guard during World War II, kicks this list off with Thetford a particular stomping ground for the series. The Home Guard – for the purposes of a quick history lesson – were local volunteers who couldn’t sign up for military service for one reason or another. Their role, instead, was to act as a secondary defence force back home should the Nazis and their allies invade. The series racked up audiences of 18 million plus and continues to be repeated worldwide, having ran for a mammoth 80 episodes and nine series. Along with Thetford, the cameras also took up residence at Weybourne railway station.
2) Partners in Crime: From a beloved sitcom to a beloved author, our next Norfolk filmed series takes us to the 2015 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence detective novels - Partners in Crime. Starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) as Tommy and Tuppence, the series stopped off in Muckleburgh and Cromer for some filming but was not renewed for a second series.
3) Unforgotten: ITV’s crime drama is another to set up camp on these shores – I know we’re not our own separate island for the record, I just like that turn of phrase. The crime series exploring investigations into cold cases, starring Nicola Walker (Spooks, Last Tango in Halifax) and Sanjeev Bhaskar (Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars at No. 42) is in its third run – which is currently airing on ITV right now. If we rewind back to March, then this third series was being filmed in our very own King’s Lynn. Neil Morrisey – forever Bob the Builder to me – was pictured shooting scenes outside the Maid’s Head and King’s Lynn police station. According to Morrisey, King’s Lynn was a “really pretty town” and one he was a big fan of.
4) Bad Habits: Channel 5’s Bad Habits, if you don’t know, was a four-part documentary that tasked five party girls with becoming novice nuns. This involved rising for 7am prayers and being in their bedrooms at 10pm with no home comforts, no mobiles and no alcohol, while giving up their time to help the sisters with their outreach work in the community.It was also filmed in Swaffham at the Sacred Heart Convent.
5) Kingdom: We’re still in Swaffham for this next entry as we revisit the ITV series, Kingdom, starring the treasure that is Stephen Fry as solicitor Peter Kingdom in the fictional Market Shipborough as he deals with family, colleagues and strange locals in need of assistance. Market Shipborough was played by Swaffham, with Oakleigh House used as Peter’s office and the Greyhound Pub also used for a spot of filming. As well as Swaffham, the cameras also visited Hunstanton, Holkham, Thetford, Dereham and Wells. Indeed, the series went on a veritable tour of Norfolk though learned little about local accents with Kingdom being criticised for the way it depicted that famous old Norfolk twang. Throughout the comedy drama’s three series run, Swaffham benefitted from a so-called “kingdom effect” with local businesses cashing in on the series’ popularity by offering guided tours and tourist merchandise - visitors did, however, feel slightly cheated when they realised just how far away from Swaffham the nearest beach was.
6) The Chief: Starring the late Tim Pigott-Smith and Martin Shaw of George Gently and more, The Chief was a crime series airing on ITV from 1990 until 1995, following the work of the fictional Eastland Constabulary. The east is a giveaway, with the series mostly filmed and indeed, set in East Anglia. Locations in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston among others were used, with the show seeking to provide an accurate representation of Anglian Police processes.
7) Lord of the Fries: Ah, Cromer Pier – it played host to Partridge’s big screen finale, it also had Walliams and Raine pay a visit for the aforementioned, Partners in Crime while former England cricketeer turned TV star, Freddie Flintoff, was another to rock up in August 2015 when shooting for his Sky 1 series, “Lord of the Fries”. The show saw Flintoff tour Britain and Ireland in a chip van. The trip to Cromer saw Flintoff stopping off for a spot of crabbing off the pier.
8) The UnInvited: This science-fiction miniseries was broadcast in 1997 on ITV and was created by Eastenders’ Dirty Den, the late Leslie Grantham – who also starred. It saw a former journalist turned photographer, Steve Blake witnessing a fatal car crash only for the victim to remain alive the next day. After investigating, Blake unravels a raft of similar cases that track back to the village of Sweethorpe which had fallen into the sea five years earlier with no loss of life. Scenes were filmed in and around Norwich – including at the UEA, Norwich Magistrate’s Court and the offices of the finest regional newspaper ever (I was not paid to say this), the Eastern Daily Press
9) Top Gear: Top Gear flew a caravan over Norwich airport, like you do. It led to a police helicopter being deployed and James May later seen crashing to the ground shouting “mayday, mayday”. The stunt was later exposed to be not all it seemed with it revealed James May hadn’t been alone and a professional pilot had undertaken some of the more difficult manoeuvres while airport clearance had been received.
10) Alan Partridge: Obviously, OBVIOUSLY we’ve got to get ol’ Alan on the list, haven’t we? He was born in King’s Lynn and grew up in Norwich, after all. The feature film, Alpha Papa was filmed around these parts – most notably in my favourite place in Norfolk, Cromer, but some of the different TV shows also stopped off here for some filming. In “I’m Alan Partridge” – following Alan’s attempts to relaunch his television career while living in a roadside hotel and presenting a graveyard slot on local Norwich radio – the cameras came to Blickling Hall and Norwich Railway Station. Meanwhile, the more recent Sky Atlantic special, “Alan Partridge: Welcome to the Places of My Life” saw plenty of Norwich – including Mousehold Heath and City Hall – as Alan went on a “very emotional journey”. Will Norfolk feature in Alan’s television return later this year? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.