Film & TV Production - Feature Pages South Central MediaScene Index Page
These pages aim to help promote the south-central region as a film and TV setting.  


Productions Shot In The South-Central Region, 1910-
Chronological listing of local-interest 'shoots', with basic details. [Last update 18-03-19.]
[View Listings page]

Production History
A narrative outline version of the above listing, summarising the main developments and trends up to 2000. [View]

Dorset As A Film-TV Location: A Report For The British Film Centenary
A report done for the 1996 Film Centenary on the lack of recognition of the area's longstanding role as a locations 'backlot.'
[read report]


Below is a listing of our full-page features in this section, each on a particular local-interest film, filmmaker, subject, genre, or locations type.

Our Locations Section
This latest themed section of our website illustrates locations of interest in the region, by type - beaches, prehistoric sites etc. This may be as a screen location, but even if you are not looking for film or tv locations, you may find the various web-pages being added below of interest.

Latest Locations Feature Page: Fortifications
The region has castles and forts from all eras, which have been appearing onscreen since the 1930s.

Locations Feature Page #4: Marine Facilities
Local facilities for marine vessels range from docks for large ships to quays, piers and jetties for smaller vessels, private boatyards, marinas, ferry terminals, and even sunken wrecks for divers. Film and tv companies have been using these location assets for decades.

Locations Feature Page #3: Beaches
TripAdvisorís annual Travellerís Choice awards for the top ten UK beaches this year included 3 local beaches. This would be no surprise to local residents, for there is a variety of beach locations all along the Jurassic Coast between Bournemouth and Lyme Regis some 70 miles west. Filmmakers have also been coming down here since at least the early silent era to shoot on beach locations, not only for locally-set stories but those set in other countries, from California to Scandinavia to North Africa.

Locations Feature Page #2 - Prehistoric Sites
Stonehenge is the most popular with filmmakers, as seen below, but is only one such type of site - the region is rich in prehistoric-site locations.

Locations Feature Page #1 - Towers

Our latest locations feature page has a gallery of towers of various types around the region.

On The Trail Of The Bloomsbury Group In Wessex
According to press reports, BBC2’s 3-part 2015 drama Life In Squares [pictured] prompted ‘a tourist rush on the trail of the Bloomsbury Group’. Though this pursuit focused on the Sussex farm where some of the group were based, and the serial was mainly filmed, it is less well-known that the group also frequented our area. This also led to one of the Group, E.M. Forster, basing part of his novel Howards End - currently on tv as 4-part BBC drama - here. Read our feature On The Trail Of The Bloomsbury Group In Wessex


Setting The Scene In Wessex: The Crime Novel & Drama

Broadchurch - ITV's answer to the hit Danish series The Killing.
Our 2-part guide includes a number of local-interest film and tv adaptations as well as novels, from Hitchcock and Fritz Lang on through recent tv adaptations. This is the region's most popular genre and for page-length reasons the guide had to be split into two parts. Part One is here (a link to Part Two is also provided at the end of the Part One page).

A screengrab from Joseph Losey's 1963 The Damned, with Oliver Reed as the teddy-boy leader of a biker gang, in the opening scene shot on Weymouth Esplanade.)

SavageMessiah-PortlandKen Russell: British Film's Wild Man In The Woods
Britain’s veteran film-maker Ken Russell, “the wild man of British cinema,” who worked for over 50 years right up to his death in November 2011 at Lymington, had lifelong local connections. For three decades, he lived in the New Forest and for budgetary reasons shot many scenes here and in the surrounding area, for both his arts documentary bio-pics and his feature films as well as his own final DIY indie productions, where his New Forest home also became his studio. [view feature page]

Dorset In Film: A Cinematic Journey Through The County
This new coffee-table style book, by the late Dorset-based film journalist Anwar Brett, from Halsgrove Publishing/Dorset Books, is the first devoted to Britain's long-standing film-tv "backlot" or favoured repertory location. Films covered go back to Hepworth's Lulworth visits pre-WWI and the book includes interview-based reminiscences from dozens of production personnel. The main cover photo opposite is an on-set production still from the 1967 Far From The Madding Crowd, with Shaftesbury portraying Hardy's "Casterbridge". It shows Alan Bates as Gabriel Oak striding up Shaftesbury's famous Gold Hill, while Terence Stamp as Sgt Troy leads his dragoons down it.


Above right: The deserted and ruined hamlet of Tyneham in the Purbecks, dressed with fibreglass facades to portray 1830s Tolpuddle for Bill Douglas's realist drama about the Tolpuddle Martyrs, Comrades (1986).

Wessex At War - On Screen

This is a page on local-interest film and TV dramas, compiled for the 70th anniversary of WWII. These are mainly set in WW2, but Wessex has been a key military centre since before the beginnings of cinema, and continued to play a key role after WW2, during the Cold War, so some titles are set in these eras. And as with our companionate guide to novels set in wartime ( part of our “Setting The Scene In Wessex" series), The WWII Era In Local-Interest Literature, the focus is not just on combat, but on the overall experience of life in wartime. The annotations are in a ‘Notes & Queries’ style in the hope readers will be able to supply more particulars of these screen dramas, which date from recently-made productions back to those made in WWI.
Go to “Wessex At War - On Screen” page

The Bournemouth Bomber Blackmail Plot - A Real-Life Local 'CSI' Case
Bournemouth Square, palms, CSI logoUpdate:
This feature page was a 2007 follow-on to a blog item I did in response to a CSI producer's on-air suggestion they'd love to do a "CSI Bournemouth" [2007 blog item "Would You Believe 'CSI Bournemouth'?" here]. The feature page has now been updated since an ITV documentary re-enactment was commissioned in 2008 on the case of the Bournemouth Tesco Bomber/Blackmailer, which I devoted a large part of the page to on the premise it had all the right story ingredients for a possible pilot script for a local CSI (or similar) series.
View feature 'The Bournemouth Bomber Blackmail Plot - A Real-Life Local 'CSI' Case' .

Julie Graham thumbnailBonekickers And Beyond: The Wessex Archaeo-Mystery Drama
A slightly different type of feature, looking at the development of a niche subgenre with potentially many regional opportunities, despite the failures of BBC's now-cancelled archaeo-mystery series Bonekickers ... [read feature]

"Long-Lost" Comedy Classic Resurfaces

Group 3’s rarely-seen 1951 smuggling comedy Brandy For The Parson, filmed mainly in Dorset, was finally released on DVD in the UK in 2008 under the "Long-Lost Comedy Classics" banner. It was the closest the region would get to having an Ealing-style comedy filmed here. John Grierson's Group 3 Films was a state-backed production company set up that year by the National Film Finance Corporation to supply low-budget feature films that would be a training ground for a new postwar generation of British filmmakers ... Read more

Dorset countryside is showcased in the film.
This was perhaps the first sound film to showcase Dorset's countryside. (Mouse over screengrab picture to see 2nd image.) (Web-page updated with more info and screengrabs October 2012.)

Ciarin Hinds in Persuasion, 1995 Further to previous MediaScene entries regarding  recent film-TV adaptations ("Jane Austen 2006"), the first screen biography of the author ("England's Jane Takes Centre Stage""), and an item on the press controversy after the recent hoax regarding Austen novels ('Publishing, The Jane Austen Way'), I've also compiled a local-interest guide to Austen screen adaptations, as a separate feature. [Go to feature page]

The Isle of Purbeck On Screen
Purbeck coast
Purbeck’s variety of landscape within a small area has made it a popular district with England’s film directors since the days of silent films, whenever the Home Counties around London do not offer the requisite variety of country locations. Historical, contemporary and futuristic dramas have all been filmed here, with the district doubling for story locales from the tropics to the Baltic.
Click here for our illustrated guide to the locality and its major film-TV appearances.

Hamlet at Lulworth, 1913Came The Dawn: Cecil Hepworth And Lulworth
The first known filmmaker to use the area as a repertory location was pioneer Cecil Hepworth (1874-1953), who was able to take hs cameras on location after his 1905 hit Rescued By Rover made him a major player in early British cinema.
[read feature]


Spitfire -US posterThe First Of The Few (US title Spitfire)
1942 British Aviation Pictures
" ... brilliantly conceived, superbly produced and directed"
—BFI Monthly Film Bulletin, Sept 1942

 This year has seen various events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Spitfire's first flight in 1936. The First Of The Few, made in wartime with official backing as a morale booster (with location work shot on a local RAF airfield), tells the story of what led up to that flight, of how the fighter that saved Britain in 1940 came to be developed between the wars.
Updated [15-10-13]
[read feature]

Far From The Madding Crowd DVD coverFar From The Madding Crowd (1967). John Schlesinger's production, scripted by Frederic Raphael from Hardy's 1874 novel, was shot almost entirely on location, at over twenty sites in Dorset and Wiltshire.

" ... the pleasures and pains of rural England .... there has never been a better film about the British countryside."
--David Shipman, The Story Of Cinema

[read feature]


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