From rural serenity in the heart of Cheshire to Brooklynite superheroes laying waste to Oldham Street, Manchester’s richly diverse period architecture and gentle, pastoral surroundings have earned the city a reputation as a big-budget filming utopia.

Here are some movies and TV shows you may not know were filmed around the region.

The Crown (2022) | Northern Quarter

Earlier this year, Stevenson Square spent a day or so as a steamy, powersuit-studded Manhattan in the latest season of The Crown, as Princess Diana took her first official trip without Prince Charles to New York in 1989.

Peaky Blinders (2022) | Northern Quarter, Stockport

Despite its West Midlands setting and unapologetic Brummie identity, the sixth season of the bleak-yet-sleek Peaky Blinders series was partly shot in Castlefield, while five-star Hotel Gotham’s achingly gorgeous art deco facade doubled as the show’s Midland Hotel. In previous seasons, firefights have raged on the Northern Quarter’s Mangle Street while Cheshire’s Arley Hall was used as Tommy Shelby’s imposing country pile.

Darkest Hour (2017) | Manchester Town Hall

Set largely in the heart of Westminster as Hitler’s forces marbled insidiously across Western Europe after the fall of France in 1940, 2017’s Darkest Hour features eventual Oscar-winner Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, who delivers an array of pivotally rousing speeches in the Houses of Parliament. As they are, tragically, almost always occupied, the neo-Gothic chambers of Manchester Town Hall were used as a convincing replacement, as they had been for numerous political dramas before, including Russell T. Davies’ A Very English Scandal.

Morbius (2022) | Northern Quarter

A brutally memed masterclass in baffling, relentless cinematic ineptitude, 2022’s doomed Sony venture Morbius features a mercifully brief sequence in which the Northern Quarter appears as a downtown New York while a rabid Jared Leto employs new, confusing vampiric superpowers to echolocate his agent.

Sherlock Holmes (2009) | Northern Quarter, Manchester Town Hall

Fun yet unfairly forgotten in the pop culture pantheon – overshadowed by Benedict Cumberbatch’s quirky, modern iteration – Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes features Robert Downey Jr. racing between the mechanical emporiums and murky streets of Victorian London – perfectly replicated by the narrow, half-cobbled alleyways around Ancoats and Back Piccadilly.

Alfie (2004) | Northern Quarter

Several years before, Jude Law – Sherlock Holmes’ Dr. Watson – starred as a sunny, selfish, irresistible bachelor in Manhattan who, after breezily seducing every woman in his city-wide field of vision, gradually discovers a desperate, grasping sense of empty unfulfilment and creeping solitude. While only a few frames long, a blue-hued early-noughties Thomas Street makes for prescient pathetic fallacy as Alfie whizzes by on a Vespa.

Stay Close (2021) | Didsbury, Heaton Moor, City Centre

Based on Harlan Coben’s intensely readable thriller, recent Netflix phenomenon Stay Close utilised half the North West as filming locations throughout the series, with a stag do filmed in The Edwardian, a hen party filmed in The Refuge and, sadly, nobody filmed sobbing outside Popworld in a tangled pink sash five hours later.

Pride & Prejudice (1995) | Lyme Park

Several miles south, Disley’s Lyme Park doubles as the fictional Pemberley estate in 1995’s BBC adaptation of the Jane Austen classic, and in so doing provided the only adequate backdrop for an iconically sodden Colin Firth emerging from the lake.

The Stranger (2020) | Salford, Ancoats, Didsbury, City Centre

Another breakneck Harlan Coben adaptation, filming locations for Netflix’s The Stranger include an archetypal Didsbury mansion, the unmistakeable arched walkway on St. Peter’s Square, The French restaurant at The Midland Hotel and even Monton Sports Club.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2010) | Northern Quarter

Perhaps the most noteworthy entry in the Northern Quarter’s storied cinematographical history as a Big Apple period stand-in, Captain America: The First Avenger sees a freshly serum-charged Steve Rogers sprint down Dale Street barefoot and double the speed limit, while fake storefronts and Manchester apartments pass by in a blur.

Wolf McFarlane
Published on:
Wed 5 Apr 2023