13 Best Shows to Watch Before Your England Trip
By Franki Hanke
We all have pre-trip rituals, but one way to get excited for your trip is to queue up shows set in England before your trip. You might spot some filming locations to visit and can practice spotting soon-to-be familiar landmarks.
What feels more quintessential to British film than Hugh Grant in a rom-com?
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Released in 1994, Four Weddings and a Funeral was the first Richard Curtis film to star Hugh Grant. It takes place across a series of social events that bring characters back together through mutual connections.
Stream with SHOWTIME or rent on Amazon’s Prime Video.
Starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, Notting Hill is an iconic rom-com love story. It tells the story of a British bookseller and a famous American actress once they meet in his Notting Hill bookshop.
Notting Hill was shot on the streets of Notting Hill, not in a studio, which often created delays, but means that you can see real-life scenery ahead of your visit. In order to convince everyone in the area to allow filming, the film’s team wrote thousands of letters and pledged donations to over 200 charities selected by their recipients.
Bridget Jone’s Diary
My personal favorite film from this entire list, Bridget Jones’s Diary follows Bridget’s hectic life in singledom in Borough featuring Hugh Grant and Colin Firth as two men vying for her affection.
Filming locations are dotted around London including Shad Thames and Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire.
If you’re flying in Heathrow Airport, I think you’re legally required to watch Love, Actually beforehand so the Arrivals gate feels a lil romantic while you’re there. The film follows an ensemble cast with ten separate stories in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Filming locations throughout London include Trafalgar Square, Selfridges department store (on Oxford Street), and Lambeth Bridge.
A Fish Called Wanda
Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, and John Cleese in a comedy-heist, A Fish Called Wanda follows the gang’s attempts to locate and steal some diamonds.
Shaun of the Dead
Following a morose London salesman (played by Simon Pegg), Shaun of the Dead is a comedic version of a zombie apocalypse.
Filming was a mix of on-location in London and in-studio at Ealing Studios. Exterior shots in London showcase the Crouch End, Highgate, Finsbury Park, and East Finchley areas. Shaun job is at a real shop in North Finchley!
There’s more iconic media set in Britain than rom-coms. If you need something gripping, watch something psychological.
28 Days Later
Following a mass contagion, the sci-fi-horror film 28 Days Later creates a post-apocalyptic version of the United Kingdom following a survivor who awoke from a coma after society has fallen apart.
Filming locations include numerous iconic visages in South-East London including Westminster Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, Horse Guards Parade, and Oxford Street.
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Skyfall: James Bond Franchise
While any James Bond film will showcase a bit of London scenery, Skyfall is one of the best. Scenes were shot in numerous locations including the London Underground Station, Parliament Square, and Tower Hill. Though the film frames Bond’s family home as Scotland, it was constructed in Surrey for production.
While any depiction of Sherlock Hilmes will showcase London life, he lives on Baker’s Street after all! If you’re not sure which film to watch, the 2009 re-tilling starring Robert Downey Jr. is what I recommend. Filming was done in Manchester, London, Liverpool, Chatham, and even Brooklyn (New York). Most recognizable would likely be St Batholomew the Great Church (in London) and Historic Dockyard (in Chatham).
If you want more Sherlock Holmes, watch the tv series Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. You can buy each season on Prime Video.
Harry Potter Franchise
Pick whichever chapter you’d like, each of the Harry Potter films has some iconic landmarks from King’s Cross station where Platform 9 and ¾ was filmed (actually between platforms four and five) London Zoo’s Reptile House where Potter sets a python free.
If you’re a big fan, you’re in good company. Many fans have already hunted down all of the spots included in the films.
The King’s Speech
Want to see more Colin Firth without watching another rom-com, well you are in luck. Starring Firth as future King George VI, The King’s Speech, tells the story of the future king coping with a stammer ahead of his first radio broadcast.
The story has some truthful history as George VI did have a speech therapist to work with a real stammer. If you missed this film when it was winning four Oscars and major Hollywood acclaim, now is the time to catch up.
While it wasn’t filmed in Buckingham Palace, though it depicts it, The Crown is a tv show with plenty of scenery to spot. Many of the spots they filmed are representing other royal homes that the crew didn’t have access to.
If you want to compare the screen to real life, visit Coliseum Theatre in London’s West End which was the Dominion Theatre in the show.
If you’re a big fan, read more about their filming locations.
Despite being a children’s film, Paddington and its sequel wormed its way into many adults’ hearts too. The film is a live-action comedy following an anthropomorphic bear.
Filming locations include Alice’s Antiques on Portobello Road in Notting Hill, though in the film they changed the name. Of course, the interior station scenes are from London Paddington Station though they shot the exterior of Marylebone Station instead for the outside.
Paddington is available to rent on YouTube.
If you’re not traveling to England, we’ve also rounded up the best movies and television in Sicily.
Now, put on a London movie on the big screen and get packed for your trip!
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