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TV shows and films that have used beautiful Cornwall as their backdrop

Take a tour of some of the most beautiful, natural film sets around Cornwall with these popular picks.

By LLM Reporters  |  July 26, 2022
St Michael's Mount Cornwall
Image Credit: ValeryEgorov/Bigstock.com

It’s no secret that we Brits love a period drama, a witty comedy or a crime thriller, especially when they’re set within the UK, and filming locations are accessible to the masses – when filming has wrapped of course.

There’s one part of the UK that’s popular with production companies, Cornwall. Known for its idyllic and picturesque landscape, Cornwall has been the backdrop to many much-loved shows and films over the years, and it’s not hard to see why when you visit.

With many flocking to the southwest coast to grab a glimpse of their favourite TV and film’s production locations, finding the perfect place to stay doesn’t have to be stressful. In fact, we’ve done the hard work for you, by finding a reputable company with locations dotted all over Cornwall, close to some of the locations on this list. Simply visit www.awayresorts.co.uk/parks/cornwall, to find your home away from home whilst holidaying in Cornwall.

Cornwall coastline
Cornwall provides a stunning backdrop for some notable films and TV shows

Now, let’s explore just a few of the many locations we’ve seen on our screens.

Doc Martin

Set in the heart of a small town in Cornwall, Doc Martin showcases the life of a grumpy doctor who has a fear of blood, whilst adjusting from city to village life. Since the show first aired in September 2004, the town in which the programme is set, Port Isaac, known as Portwenn in the show, has gained immense popularity and been put firmly on the map.

Within Doc Martin, we’re shown the natural beauty of the beach, port, town and countryside that Cornwall has to offer, proving that a small town can offer big experiences.

Hornblower

In the late 90s, a late 18th-century naval hero named Horatio Hornblower sailed onto our screens in a series of television movies, where we didn’t just see one Cornish location playing the backdrop to the onscreen action, but four! The most used location was Charlestown, Cornwall. It’s here they used the harbour to convey an 18th-century-looking port, where characters are seen boarding and exiting ships. Other locations used within the show include St Mawes, Rame Head and Pendennis Castle in Falmouth.

port isaac
Port Isaac has been firmly put on the map thanks to TV show Doc Martin

Poldark

The hit television series, both old and new, has always showcased the breath-taking scenery in Cornwall, and in a way, used the locations to define the show.

In the latest adaptation, starring Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson, many Cornish locations were used, including the harbour at Charlestown, which acted as the harbour for Truro in the show. This was due to the fact the harbour in Truro now lies beneath the paving of Lemon Quay, which has been covered since the 1920s.

Other filming locations include: the mines at Botallack and Levant, Bodmin Moor and Bodmin Jail, Porthgwarra, Padstow, St Agnes Head, Gunwalloe, Porthcothan, Holywell Bay, Porthcurno, Predannack Moor and the Lizard’s Kynance Cove.

Charlestown Harbour Cornwall
Charlestown Harbour has featured in Poldark and Hornblower

About Time

When Richard Curtis launched his time travelling romantic drama, there was of course a big fanfare and a premiere in Cornwall. It starred a British lawyer played by Domhnall Gleeson, who was attempting to win the hand of an American girl, played by Rachel McAdams.

Much of the film was filmed at Portloe on the Roseland peninsula, and the church nearby St Michael Penkivel. Another main location that you may have spotted, is Porthpean House overlooking St Austell Bay.

Johnny English

If you blink, you might miss the Cornish location found within Johnny English. The castle of power-hungry bad guy Pascal Sauvage, played by John Malkovich, is not a French castle, but Cornwall’s very own St Michael’s Mount (pictured in the image at the very top). It may look hard to break into, but it wasn’t too big of a task for special agent Johnny English, played by Rowan Atkinson.

These are just a handful of the many shows and films that have featured Cornwall as a backdrop to the drama and action happening onscreen. Will you be visiting any iconic locations on your next trip to the Cornish coast?