March 30, 2023

By Chloe Roden

The English regions are no strangers to Charles Dickens adaptations. The iconic musical feature Oliver! (1968) filmed entirely in Shepperton Studios in Surrey, Nicholas Nickleby (2002) used Cambridge as a backdrop, and most recently, The Personal History of David Copperfield (2020) shot in West Yorkshire and East Anglia.  

In the latest on-screen dive into Dickens world, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight brings us a six-part BBC/FX adaptation of Great Expectations. Written by Knight and executive produced by the likes Tom Hardy and Ridley Scott as well as Knight himself, the series sees Olivia Colman step into the shoes of the foreboding Miss Havisham, alongside Fionn Whitehead as Pip and Shalom Brune-Franklin as Estella.  

© BBC/FX Networks/Miya Mizuno

Set against the streets of Victorian London, Great Expectations bursts with atmosphere. Hence, the Locations Department searched far and wide to find the period locations which would ooze this dark, gloomy ambiance on screen. The Locations Department contacted the Filming in England team in 2022, who were on hand to support with location briefs, crew calls and connecting the dots with Local Authorities contacts. The series then filmed in some magnificent areas of the country – from the South to the West Midlands. Hayley Armstrong, Head of Production Services at Creative England’s Filming in England team, comments on its significance: 

“The Filming in England team are proud to have worked on Great Expectations, a production which has made full use of what England has to offer to high-end TV, from our stunning period architecture to outstanding crews. Our Production Services team worked on a number of enquiries for Great Expectations, supporting the Locations Department by putting them in touch with the right local and regional partners.

Its fantastic to see these spectacular locations across the East, South East and West Midlands taken back in time on screen, making striking doubles for the streets of 19th century London that Charles Dickens and his characters existed in.”

Join us as we shine a spotlight on some locations which stars in Great Expectations and hear from some of the people who helped shape this adaptation of a classic tale! 

Shropshire, West Midlands  

The production filmed multiple scenes in Shrewsbury, a town in Shropshire which still maintains a phenomenal array of Georgian and Tudor architecture. The newly formed Film Shropshire facilitate filming across the county, and we spoke to Mark Hooper, Director of Film Shropshire, about their experiences housing such a large and exciting production:  

“Welcoming Great Expectations was a brilliant experience, with Shrewsbury being a perfect location for a period drama. Film Shropshire was created only two months before the process of bringing Great Expectations to Shropshire and it allowed the organisation to hit the ground running! Working with the production team Film Shropshire provided support pre, during and post-production along with supplying accommodation, unit bases, transport and building for storage / offices.” 

With three locations in Shrewsbury being stripped of modern life and taken back in time to double both Victorian London and Pip’s lodgings, Mark expands on the impact the large production has on the town: 

“Filming was carried out over a three-day process and with minimal disruption to the town’s residents and businesses, who were all extremely excited and supportive of such a large production coming to the town. The 1970’s Shrewsbury was home to George C Scott’s A Christmas Carol so is no stranger to Dickens novels, with many locals mentioning that they are surprised the town is not used for more filming. The hope is that this will change in the future and with the launch of Film Shropshire providing production support we hope this may be just around the corner!” 

Salisbury Cathedral © Filming in England

Salisbury, South West  

The 800-year-old Salisbury Cathedral sits in the city of Salisbury in Wiltshire. A famous piece of early English Gothic architecture, the cathedral has a rich history and is famed for its claim to the tallest church spire in the UK and the world’s oldest working clock. In March 2022, Great Expectations filmed in the interiors of the cathedral, with the cast and crew attraction a lot of attention as they filmed inside the dramatic walls of the historic building.

© BBC/FX Networks/Miya Mizuno

South East  

Being a busy region for high-end TV production, England’s South East homes multiple spots which appear in Great Expectations, with the production visiting locations in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Surrey. Firstly, the production filmed at Marlow Suspension Bridge – a magnificent bridge which stretches across the River Thames between Marlow in Buckinghamshire and Bisham in Berkshire.  

Buckinghamshire Film Office are another newly established film office and Filming in England Partnership members, doing brilliant work to support productions in their area. We spoke to Film Officer Ruth Bryant about their experience with Great Expectations

“Great Expectations was one of the first productions we worked with after opening the Buckinghamshire Film Office and what a great project to start with. Their shoot on Marlow Bridge gave us an opportunity to work with Berkshire Film Office and the Highways team at Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to facilitate their requirements. Having the support from Filming in England and other Film Office partners makes this process easy both for us and ensures productions a ‘film-friendly’ approach when handling enquires that cross borders.” 

Surrey was another fantastic county that helped bring the Dickens classic to the screen once more. As the county film office, Surrey Film Office are so strangers to large, exciting productions, having welcomed the likes of The Witcher: Blood Origin (2022), The King’s Man (2021) and Black Widow (2021) in recent years. We spoke to Vicki Brown, Film Officer at Surrey Film Office, about hosting another large and exciting production:  

“We were delighted to welcome Great Expectations to Surrey, working closely with the locations team throughout their time in the county. Surrey is often chosen for its abundance of woodland, so it was great to see some of our more urban locations being featured during this production, which we can’t wait to see on screen. Working in partnership with Creative England, Filming in England helps us to support productions like Great Expectations and to continue promoting future filming across Surrey.”  

Terraced houses in Bucker’s Hard © Mark Bridger /

Our last location spotlight comes from the beautiful New Forest in Hampshire. Here, the Great Expectations team filmed in Buckler’s Hard, a stunning hamlet which boasts 18th century cottages lining a wide street down to the towards Beaulieu River. Film:New Forest were pleased to have the crew in the district and Economic Development Project Officer, Natasha Davies, elaborates on its positive impact: 

“Film:New Forest were delighted to learn that Great Expectations was going to film at Buckler’s Hard in the New Forest. 

This production is an example of the significant financial investment which filming can bring to the district. The Film:New Forest project has to date delivered more than £3.5m of spend on local goods and services. This production alone generated £72k for the local economy and we are keen to support more productions to use the New Forest’s wonderful locations. 

© BBC/FX Networks/Miya Mizuno

The six-part limited series premiered on March 26th on the BBC. 

Across the English regions, Creative England’s Filming in England team are on hand to facilitate high-end TV and feature film productions, working with local and regional partners.  For more information on the support we offer, please visit