West Norfolk Film History

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West Norfolk is very film and photography friendly, with picturesque small towns, sprawling country estates, superb architecture, castles, beaches, woodland, windmills, gardens, cliffs and parkland sites across the area.

The Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk can assist production teams, location scouts, photographers, TV researchers, advertising agencies and other crews in finding the perfect location for almost any given project. Please check out our West Norfolk Film Scout clip below for just some working examples of location ideas available for your film projects.

How to apply to film, drone film and photograph in west Norfolk

In order to film and photograph on Borough Council-owned land you need to head over to the Filming in west Norfolk page to start the simple process.

‘West Norfolk Film Scout #1: King’s Lynn’
(Our showcase of selected town locations for film production crews and creatives)

From Hollywood epics to folk horror, crime drama, sci-fi and thrillers – in no particular order, here’s a flavour of just some of the major international film and TV projects shot in west Norfolk over the past few decades:

King’s Lynn: ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’ (2019)

Probably the biggest film production in west Norfolk in recent times, the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk ably assisted Armando Iannucci’s wildy entertaining period adaption of the Dickens classic, ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’, shot during the summer of 2018 within our historic maritime town of King’s Lynn, amongst other areas of Norfolk.

What many people may not realise is that King’s Lynn has been the home of David Copperfield before! The 1999 TV mini-series simply titled “David Copperfield” (starring Bob Hoskins) was partially filmed in the town’s Clifton House on Queen Street – and on King Street too.

(The above scene of the movie filmed here exactly
– and nearby historic streets of King’s Lynn were also featured)

King’s Lynn: ‘Revolution’ (1985)

On of the greatest Hollywood stars of all time, Al Pacino, arrived in King’s Lynn and took over the town for this sprawling American War of Independence movie by director Hugh Hudson (‘Chariots of Fire’). Filmed mostly in our historic town centre from March-July 1985, King’s Lynn represented 1776 New York in ‘Revolution‘, which also starred Donald Sutherland, Nastassja Kinski and Annie Lennox. The epic story revolved around a trapper and his young son who get pulled into the American revolution as unwilling participants. The film was re-released in recent years as an acclaimed director’s ‘Revisited’ cut with new voiceover work by Al Pacino.

It is reported that, during filming in King’s Lynn, Al Pacino took Donald Sutherland to one side – walking down an historic cobbled street of the town – and proceeded to block the thoroughfare during their lengthy conversation about each other’s filmography. As the street conversation went on and on, the two legendary actors held up both crew and townsfolk as they blocked the narrow King’s Lynn lane. The Hollywood stars finally drew their lengthy meeting to a close – but only at the behest of the huge number of angry film crew members trying to get past them.

Holkham Beach: ‘Shakespeare In Love’ (1998)

Many people may not know this, but Holkham’s epic sandy beach marks the boundary line between west Norfolk and North Norfolk – and notably appears in the closing minutes of the Oscar-winning romantic comedy ‘Shakespeare in Love‘. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Viola has been shipwrecked on a foreign shore and, as she reads the film’s epilogue over the final images, we see her character walking across the vast expanse of Holkham’s breathtaking beach. Norfolk can indeed double for an exotic island!

Holkham Beach:  ‘Annihilation’ (2018)

This famous Netflix film, based on Alex Garland’s best-seller, stars Natalie Portman as a biologist embarking on a dangerous expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply. The vast expanse of Holkham beach is utilised in the film – with a little help from a CGI lighthouse.

Castle Rising: ‘Out of Africa’  (1985)

1985 was a great year for filming in west Norfolk: as well as Al Pacino’s epic ‘Revolution’ being shot in King’s Lynn at the time, this highly regarded film – featuring none other than Robert Redford and Meryl Streep – actually used our beautiful village of Castle Rising to represent 1910s rural Denmark (despite some contemporary reports stating that these scenes were shot in Surrey, in South East England). The story is mostly set in early 20th-century colonial Kenya, where a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter.

Walpole St Andrew / Denver: ‘Atonement’ (2007)

The wide open landscapes of Walpole St Andrew and Denver were used to represent rural French war scenes set in 1939 in this acclaimed adaption of Ian McEwan’s novel.

(The above scene with Al Pacino was filmed here exactly –
the epic film was shot all around historic King’s Lynn too)

Houghton Hall / Castle Acre Priory: ‘Glorious 39’ (2009)
Acclaimed director Stephen Poliakoff crafted a tense psychological thriller, ‘Glorious 39’, set against the idyllic west Norfolk countryside during the summer of 1939, just before the outbreak of the Second World War. The film starred Romola Garai, Bill Nighy, Julie Christie, David Tennant and Christopher Lee.

Burnham Deepdale / Marham: ‘Die Another Day’ (2002)
The farmland in the west Norfolk village of Burnham Deepdale was transformed into a North Korean paddy field for an action scene in this James Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan. Sections of the RAF Marham airbase were also used during filming.

Sandringham / Burnham Deepdale: ‘All the King’s Men’ (1999)
Starring David Jason and Dame Maggie Smith, this film tells the story of a group of world war one volunteers, many from the Sandringham estate, led by Captain Frank Beck the estate manager, who joined the Norfolk Regiment and disappeared in Gallipoli in 1915. Some scenes of the TV drama were also shot at Burnham Deepdale.

Outwell: ‘The Goob’ (2014)
Filmed in the Fenlands by director Guy Myhill and described by The Guardian as “Norfolk noir”, ‘The Goob’ belongs to the rich genre of British social-realist films and perfectly captures the sense of summer days in west Norfolk stretching long into the evening (and of parties at dusk when west Norfolk’s vast rural landscape stretches endlessly into the night). The areas around the west Norfolk village of Outwell provided some of the locations.

Castle Acre: ‘The Tomb of Ligeia’ (1964)
Witchfinder General’ was not the first filmed opportunity of seeing Vincent Price at large in the East Anglian countryside. One of the highlights of Roger Corman’s Poe series, 1964’s ‘The Tomb of Ligeia’, was shot at the amazing priory of Castle Acre in west Norfolk.

(Several scenes filmed around Outwell village outskirts – and around the whole fenland area too)

TV series filmed in west Norfolk

East Walton and other west Norfolk villages: ‘Kingdom’ (2007-09)
This lighthearted rural drama centres around solicitor Peter Kingdom and his daily endeavours to aid the eccentric population of fictional Market Shipborough. Played by Norfolk actor Stephen Fry, Kingdom’s hometown is actually that of real-life Swaffham (just outside of west Norfolk), but several rural scenes were shot in the fields of west Norfolk (such as those seen in the entertaining “UFO” episode of series 3) – and our coastal resort of Hunstanton has also featured in the series! It was reported that, thanks to the programme, an economic boost (“the Kingdom affect”) was felt by the local economy, with businesses capitalising on the success of the show by offering guided tours of ‘Kingdom’ locations, as well as selling merchandise like ‘Kingdom rock’.

King’s Lynn and Hunstanton: ‘Unforgotten’ (2018)
A slick British crime drama with interwoven narratives, the gripping third series of the critically acclaimed ‘Unforgotten‘ (on air during summer 2018) utilised several locations around King’s Lynn town centre and west Norfolk’s seaside resort of Hunstanton (17 miles north of the town), assisted by the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk.

Oxburgh Hall and other rural locations: ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ (1979-88)
Filmed almost entirely in East Anglia, this dramatisation of Roald Dahl’s ‘Tales of the Unexpected‘ short stories has become a highly regarded cult gem over the years. Countless west Norfolk locations appear throughout all seasons of the show, notably including Oxburgh Hall (in series 6’s ‘The Vorpal Blade‘ with the legendary Peter Cushing).

Find out more…

Norfolk Coast

The Wash

The Fens

The Brecks

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