Over the last decade, the British film industry has been enjoying something of a renaissance – from British made films winning Academy Awards in the form of Slumdog Millionaire to UK actors like Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne making big waves in Hollywood. However, the film and TV industry is also on the up in a more local way.
During 2015, South Oxfordshire hosted a huge number of major big and small screen productions. It seems that when there’s a need for quintessentially British settings (or even Danish ones, but more of that later), directors and location scouts head straight to our very own neck of the woods.
The list for major films shot partially in the area in 2015 includes Me Before You, with location filming at Wytham Abbey, and Into the Woods, which was shot on location in Hambleden. A BBC drama film called The Go-Between was also filmed at Warborough. But perhaps the biggest coup was the major Hollywood smash, The Danish Girl, starring the aforementioned Eddie Redmayne, which filmed scenes at the Didcot railway centre. It seems that thanks to blue screens, a location in South Oxfordshire is a dead ringer for early 20th century Copenhagen and Paris too.
When you add to this the filming from the last few years, which included Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables, Brad Pitt’s war epic Fury, Keira Knighley’s Anna Karenina, Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbach’s The Imitation Game and Johnny Depp’s Sleepy Hollow back in 1999 – you start to see the region in a different light.
Of course, it’s not all Hollywood glamour and Oscars in Southern Oxfordshire. It’s also the location for a number of top UK TV shows. Along with our own Midsomer Murders, which has filmed parts of more than 100 episodes in and around the region, Downton Abbey has filmed on location at Bagpuize House. New Tricks filmed scenes at Joyce Grove in Nettlebed (which also has connections to James Bond’s Ian Flemming) and Partners in Crime (based on a novel by one time Wallingford resident Agatha Christie) filmed on location also at the Didcot railway centre.
Then there were factual programmes like The Great British Railway Journey and Richard Wilson on the Road, as well as stalwart of Sunday night viewing Songs of Praise, that filmed in the area.
All in all, it has been yet another great year for South Oxfordshire on screen, and it looks like 2016 will continue the trend with Genius starring Colin First and Jude Law (also filmed at Didcot Railway Centre, this time doubling as New York’s Grand Central Station) due for it’s worldwide premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in March.