Date: 1 Nov 2021
Categories: Cornwall in the spotlight

Cornwall's 10 best film and TV locations to visit

With Cornwall's dramatic coastline, rugged heathland and picturesque cobbled streets, it's no surprise the Duchy has been chosen time and time again as filming locations. While you'll never struggle to find Poldark memorabilia or Doc Marten merchandise in a local gift shop, our filming credentials actually go way beyond that, with many A list actors and big time directors praising Cornwall for its stunning backdrops.

Here, we round up 10 of our favourites to scrawl on your to-visit list.

Charlestown

BBC’s British historical drama television Poldark was aired between 2015 to 2019, and during those four years they used many Cornish locations to film. Most notably though, has to be The Grade II listed Georgian port of Charlestown, posing as the harbour at Truro.

However, that’s not Charlestown’s only claim to fame. Before Poldark, in 2011, Dr Who – played by Matt Smith at the time – and his big blue Tardis landed in Cornwall. And just the year before, parts of the 2010 adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland saw Charlestown Harbour in the limelight.

Rewind to 1976, and even Sir Michael Cain graced Charlestown with his presence, filming
war film The Eagle Has Landed.

St Ives

Cornwall has a long-standing relationship with pirates, and this was demonstrated on the big screen in 2011 when the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film was released, titled On Stranger Tides.

Port Isaac

TV series Doc Marten first put hidden gem Port Isaac on the map back in 2004. The fishing village was fictitiously called Portwenn, and the show attracted as high as 10 million viewers per episode. Quite astonishing given that the village’s population is around 700 people.

In 2019, the film Fisherman’s Friends saw lights, camera and action come to the village yet again. The film is based on a true story about Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends, a group of Cornish fisherman from the village who were signed by Universal Records.

Mount’s Bay

The Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, which is set to be released in 2022, was spotted filming scenes at the iconic St Michael’s Mount in Mount’s Bay. Perhaps the production company were inspired by the very brief shot of St Michael’s Mount in Johnny English, where it’s masqueraded as John Malkovich’s character Pascal Sauvage’s castle?

In 2004, the two sisters played by none other than Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith in Ladies in Lavender. The sisters’ cottage was filmed at pretty Prussia Cove, on Mount’s Bay between Helston and Penzance.

Newquay

Rewind 30 years ago to 1990 when the film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches was released. Large parts of the film, took place at The Headland hotel in Newquay, set upon a clifftop overlooking Cornwall’s stunning Fistral Beach.

Popular soap opera Hollyoaks also fled to the area in 1997, when some of the main characters went to Newquay for a holiday.

Portloe

Director Richard Curtis’ time travelling romantic drama About Time starring Domhnal Gleeson and Rachel McAdams, opted for Portloe for many of its filming locations.
Situated on the Roseland Peninsula even the nearby church at St Michael Penkivel can be seen in the film.

Bude

Beautiful Bude in north Cornwall was heavily featured in the second series of the BBC Three programme Nighty Night, starring Julia Davis. Amazon also selected Bude and the surrounding areas for its new TV show Mammals, which is rumoured to air in the spring or summer of 2022. A six-episode series set to feature James Corden, of Gavin & Stacey and The Late Show fame, and Sir Tom Jones.

Carlyon Bay

The beach and shipwreck scene in the 1979 version of Dracula was filmed at Carlyon Bay near St Austell. And while there isn’t a single nod to Cornwall in Mel Gibson’s directed 2006 film Apocalypto, it is in fact filmed at Polygaver beach in Carlyon Bay.

Falmouth

The popular harbour town of Falmouth welcomed Hollywood’s Brad Pitt for the filming of the multimillion pound blockbuster World War Z, back in 2011.

Falmouth Docks has a history as a film location, or a base for filming at sea, including Scott of the Antarctic and Hornblower.

Tintagel

Tintagel has a connection to the Arthurian legend as it’s said to be the place where the English king was conceived. We’re sure it’s not a coincidence that areas in and around Tintagel were transformed to film The Kid Who Would Be King in 2019. Scenes take place in Tintagel Castle which dates back to the 13th century, as well as the town.

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