Famous TV shows filmed in Cheshire and Wirral
- Credit: Brian Sweeney
Tread in the footsteps of the stars with these Cheshire locations featured in some of the biggest TV shows in recent years - and some yet to be shown.
Cheshire has always been a favourite location for feature films, but in recent years it has also become a TV favourite too, with some of the biggest shows on the box choosing the county for its brilliant and diverse range of architecture and landscapes. Here are just a few of the locations used for the small screen.
Known to millions as Tommy Shelby’s grand country house, Arley Hall was a regular filming location long before it became home to lead character in Peaky Blinders.
Some of the show’s biggest scenes have been filmed at the hall, the showdown with Tommy’s nemesis Alfie Solomons, played by Tom Hardy - and the season finale where the Shelby family were arrested.
Just before lockdown, it was also used for The Irregulars, a Netflix drama based around the Sherlock Holmes stories.
The show, about a group of misfits living in 19th-century London who work to solve supernatural crimes, featured Inbetweeners actor Henry Lloyd-Hughes as Sherlock.
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The hall has also played host to The Antiques Road Show and Coronation Street, as well as Cold Feet, The Voice, Hollyoaks, Tonight with Trevor McDonald, Evermore and Cobra.
New BBC drama Rules of the Game has been spotted filming in Frodsham’s Main Street, including Next Door restaurant, inside Brew + tucker, The Bears Paw and Frodsham Community Church.
The upcoming four-part thriller examines sexual politics in the modern workplace, stars Maxine Peake as Sam, a hard-headed manager at a family-run business in the North West. However, when Sam arrives at work one day to find a dead body in the office reception she is forced to reckon with not only murky behaviour in the present, but murderous secrets from the past as well.
Also spotted filming were Rakhee Thakrar, Alison Steadman, Susan Wokoma, Kieran Bew, Ben Batt, Callie Cooke, Katherine Pearce and Zoë Tapper.
Maxine Peake said of the show: 'What a glorious cast. Working alongside my fellow sisters each day, with their commitment and understanding towards Ruth Fowler’s script about sexual politics in the workplace, with Jennifer Sheridan directing, has reminded me once again why we need to keep fighting for more women to have a voice in the filmmaking process.'
The village was also used as a main location for six-part television ITV war drama Homefront.
The Cheshire estate was made famous for preschoolers and their parents when CBeebies series Graces Amazing Machines used the location for its high-octane filming. Now in its second series, the popular TV production sees motorbike rider Grace Webb introduce young viewers to some of the biggest, fastest and most amazing machines in the world. The first series began airing in October 2018 and has quickly attracted the eager attention of kids and parents alike.
With a private road network of more than a kilometre, the estate was a natural choice for the CBeebies production crew.
Charlie Greenstein, head of TV & Film, said: 'We were delighted to accommodate the BBC again at Bolesworth. TV and Film Productions are always on the hunt for private roads as their use can bypass the tortuous processes that seem to hinder gaining approvals from local authorities.'
The estate was also used to film Channel 4 reality show The Bridge, in which 12 strangers were brought together and build a bridge - and by doing so to win £100,000. Narrated by Scottish actor James McAvoy, the contestants had 20 days to build an 850ft bridge by hand.
The Wirral coast
Fans of Sherlock and the Office were surprised when they spotted Martin Freeman in a policeman’s uniform in Meols, Wirral, this summer. The actor was filming scenes for The Responder, a new police show written by ex-police officer Tony Schumacher.
It stars Freeman as Chris, a struggling maverick urgent response officer tackling a series of night shifts on the beat in Liverpool.
Like all the best police shows, it has a central, flawed character who is battling demons in his personal and professional life. Of course, none of this is helped when he’s asked to take on a new rookie partner Rachel (Adelayo Adedayo).
Freeman said: 'Tony Schumacher’s scripts were so unique and honest that I knew very quickly that I wanted to be a part of The Responder and take on the role of Chris. No-one writes like Tony and it has been exhilarating inhabiting the world he has created.'
Also spotted out filming have been Ian Hart, Kerrie Hayes and Warren Brown.
Tony Schumacher said: 'I'm so incredibly fortunate to be writing for a cast as amazing as the one we've assembled for The Responder. From legends at the top of their game, to young talents who are legends in waiting, it's a writer's dream come true.'
Five hour-long shows are expected to be shown on BBC One and BBC iPlayer next year.
Parts of Hoylake prom, just down the coast, were closed in the spring as ITV filed its new drama The Tower, a crime drama based on Kate London's novels. It stars Game of Thrones actress Gemma Whelan, who played fiery Yara Greyjoy.
Scouse acting royalty Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham have been spotted filming new state-of-the-nation drama Help in sites across Wirral this year.
Set in a fictional Merseyside care home, the one-off drama tells the moving story of the relationship between a young care home worker and her patient, as their lives are changed by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. It also stars northwest actors Sue Johnston, Ian Hart, Drew Schofield and Angela Griffin.
The pair previously worked together on Liverpool-based series, BBC’s Good Cop, which again filmed scenes in Wirral.
Jodie said: 'For us to be able to explore such a relevant and emotive story through the eyes of such beautifully real characters, and in our home city of Liverpool, is a real honour. We’re determined to do justice to so many of the untold stories and heroes that have been affected as a result of this crisis and to handle them with care.'
Stephen added: 'I’ve wanted to work with Jodie for ages, and together we’re hugely passionate about shining a light on one of the biggest tragedies of our time and the people at the heart of it.'
For Stephen and Jodie, it was a welcome return home after filming around the world.
'I don't often get to use my own accent,' laughs Jodie. 'I felt so close to the character because I was able to use my Scouse accent, and it got so much stronger while I was working with Stephen.'
Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton and the steps of Wallasey Town Hall, overlooking the River Mersey were both locations used for Cilla, the three-part ITV drama about Liverpool-born pop-star-turned TV presenter Sheridan Smith, who played the Scouse songbird, said of her time filming: 'Wirral is just so beautiful, and we had the warmest welcome from the people there. The views are just spectacular. I always try to make time for a ferry across the Mersey when I’m in Liverpool, and I loved spending time in New Brighton.'
Peaky Blinders also filmed in the pretty Wirral model village, where it doubled for 20s Sutton Coldfield. Cillian Murphy was filming walking in its wide boulevards lined with charming cottages, all built in an intriguing range of architectural styles.
Originally built for workers at the nearby Lever Brothers Factory, it has been a regular spot for feature film locations, and documentaries, including Michael Portillo's Great British Railway Journeys. But it’s best known as the home of Aunt Polly, played by the late great Helen McCrory, who filmed her scenes in and around one of the pretty mock Tudor terraces in the Grade II listed village.
Early episodes of Hollyoaks were often filmed in and around Chester’s walls. While the show is still set in the city, visits are less common these days as more is filmed on set.
But, it still acts as a location for plenty of TV shows, including Foyle's War, which filmed in Tattenhall and the nearby village of Church Bank, plus Albion Street and Steele Street in Chester. Production teams took the areas back to the 1940s.
Our Zoo, the BBC One series telling the story of Chester Zoo and its founder George Mottershead also filmed in the city, with other locations including Walton Hall in Warrington, and Arley Hall.
Peter Harness' adaptation of H.G. Wells's classic sci-fi novel The War of the Worlds saw the Cheshire village overtaken by an alien invasion back in 2019. The cast, including Eleanor Tomlinson, Rafe Spall, Robert Carlyle and Rupert Graves, battle to save Earth from a Martian invasion.
The drama also filmed in Delamere Forest, where Rafe Spall was spotted.