Spotlight on Norfolk: Royal and political dramas descend on the county

As scripted productions abound once more, the UK regions are growing in popularity as filming locations, particularly Norfolk

By Nia Daniels 7 Jul 2021

Spotlight on Norfolk: Royal and political dramas descend on the county
Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana

As scripted production booms around the UK, the role of the regional film office is becoming more important as demand grows for varied and accessible locations. 

In November last year, Clare Chapman and Craig Higgins co-founded Norfolk Screen, a not-for-profit dedicated screen support organisation, aiming to raise the county’s profile as a film-friendly destination.

Here we take a look at a few of the high-profile projects that have shot in Norfolk in recent months. 

International co-production Spencer, above, about one weekend in the life of the late Princess Diana, used Shropham and Hunstanton when production moved to the UK from Germany in March this year. 

Kristen Stewart stars as Diana in the film, which is directed by Pablo Larrain from a screenplay by Steven Knight. Producer Paul Webster said of the location choices: “We also had excellent access to world-class, unspoilt locations – from winding country roads to the stunning North Norfolk coast. Watching the sun rise on the sands of Hunstanton beach made the early starts that much easier. I am already looking out for an excuse to return.”

This Sceptred Isle 
This Sceptred Isle

Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson. Credit: Sky

Sky’s five-part political drama, This Sceptred Isle, sees Kenneth Branagh playing Boris Johnson as it explores the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic in Britain.

Made by Fremantle, Passenger and Revolution Films, the series is dramatised from testimonies of many of those involved, from government staff and SAGE to people working in care homes and hospitals. 

Among the Norfolk locations used by the production team were Aylsham and Raynham Hangar Studios, Fakenham. The facility also previously housed Joanna Hogg’s features, The Souvenir and the Souvenir 2.  
Branagh said of the experience: “Norfolk is a stunning film location. A vast range of spectacular visuals and a wonderfully welcoming population. I had a truly memorable experience working in this part of the world and can’t wait to return.” 

Good Luck To You, Leo Grande
Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack star in Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, which filmed for around five weeks in the spring. The feature is directed by Sophie Hyde from a screenplay by Katy Brand and centres on Nancy Stokes (Thompson), a 55-year-old widow yearning for adventure who hires 20-something sex worker Leo Grande for a night of bliss. 

The feature shot in various locations around Norwich and also used the city’s Epic Studios facility. 

The Girl on the Train 
Indian Hindi-language murder mystery The Girl on the Train is based on Paula Hawkins’ best-selling novel of the same name, and stars Parineeti Chopra. Although it filmed largely in London, the production team also used The Mid-Norfolk Railway at Dereham station for some scenes. 

Other projects to have shot in Norfolk in recent years include: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, The Personal Life of David Copperfield and Yesterday. 

Image on homepage: Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in Spencer. Credit: Linda Hall.

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