‘It had everything we wanted’ - How Norwich ended up starring in Netflix’s Jingle Jangle
- Credit: Gareth Gatrell/NETFLIX
With its cobbled streets and historic buildings, the creative team behind hit Netflix musical Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey couldn’t believe their luck when they stumbled upon Norwich’s Elm Hill.
The street was given a Victorian winter makeover in June 2019 and was transformed into the fantasy town of Cobbleton, the home of Jangle and Things toy shop.
Owned by toymaker Jeronicus Jangle, played by award-winning actor Forest Whitaker, he finally finishes a ground-breaking invention, but it is stolen by his apprentice Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key).
Decades later, the shop has fallen into disrepair with Jeronicus down on his luck and it is up to his granddaughter Journey (Madalen Mills) to help him get his spark back as they rediscover a long-lost invention.
Steve Mortimore was the supervising location manager for the film, whose previous projects include Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) and All the Money in the World (2017), and was put in charge of bringing director David E. Talbert’s vision to life.
He began researching historical streets to become Cobbleton and in the end shortlisted locations in York, Edinburgh, Lincoln and Norwich and eventually whittled it down to the latter two.
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Mr Talbert then flew from America to England to see both places, but once he saw Elm Hill he immediately made his mind up and cancelled the trip to Lincoln.
Mr Mortimore said: “I had seen Elm Hill in Stardust [the 2007 film] but you didn’t see that much of the exterior and didn’t get to see the whole length of the street.
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“I did a lot of research and whittled it down to Lincoln and Norwich, but when David came over from the states as soon as he saw Norwich it was a winner.
“It had everything we wanted and felt like it was built as a movie set and was the perfect length and shape with a slight incline.”
Once Elm Hill was chosen, Mr Mortimore liaised with Norwich City Council to gain filming permission and contacted every business owner on the street and they were all happy to be involved.
The art department then let him know what each business would be transformed into, which included Elm Hill Brides as a butchers’ shop and jewellery shop Stoned and Hammered as Mitchell Packing and Supplies.
The production crew were there for three weeks last June, including preparation, filming and dismantling, with 80 local extras and the artificial snow was a mix of water and biodegradable chemicals.
Mr Mortimore added: “The majority of filming in the UK takes place in London, so the opportunity to go to another city for this project was a breath of fresh air and it is a beautiful place steeped in history.
“The Americans in the cast and crew were blown away at how many churches there were and thought it was wonderful.”
Graham Loton, who runs Elm Hill Brides with wife Joanna, said: “It sounded magical and wonderful from the start and we were delighted to be involved.
“As we were concerned about our stock in the shop during filming I cheekily asked Steve if we could be extras and he fast-tracked us through the auditions and we were humble townsfolk.
“We are in a couple of scenes, including the snowball fight, and it was four days of magical filming and I got to shake Forest’s hand.
“To have Norwich showcased in this way is so positive and we are hoping Jingle Jangle’s success will bring tourists and a boost to the area.”
Where else in the UK was Jingle Jangle filmed?
Filming for Jingle Jangle, produced by singer John Legend, took place across the UK and the Jangle and Things toy shop interior and exterior with the town square was shot at Arborfield Studios in Berkshire.
The library scenes, where actress Phylicia Rashad reads the story of Jeronicus Jangle, are also filmed in Berkshire at Englefield House.
The location for Journey’s home, where she lives with mother Jessica, was the village of Nether Winchendon in Buckinghamshire and Crossness Pumping Station in London was the interior of apprentice Gustafson’s factory.
Read our review of Jingle Jangle here.