TV and film locations
From the silver screen to much-loved TV dramas, the North York Moors plays a starring role. If it’s not the stunning coastline or panoramic moorland, then it’s the charming villages, heritage steam trains, ancient castles and abbeys that have film and TV companies knocking on our door.
Ones to watch out for...
The Secret Garden
Colin Firth and Julie Walters lead a new film adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic children's novel The Secret Garden. Much of the filming took place in the North York Moors including Helmsley Walled Garden (the secret garden), Helmsley Castle and Duncombe Park in Helmsley, North Yorkshire Moors Railway, plus moorland shots in Farndale, Goathland (Wheeldale Roman Road) and Rievaulx Moor. The film is available to view in the UK from 23 October 2020 at cinemas and via Sky Home Cinema Services.
The North York Moors took centre stage in this classic children’s adventure film, ‘The Runaways’, starring Yorkshire legend Mark Addy.
When misguided father of three, Reith (Mark Addy) passes away, his children, Angie (Molly Windsor), Polly (Macy Shackleton) and Ben (Rhys Connah), are left to cope alone; Angie acting as surrogate mother. Their Uncle Blythe (Lee Boardman) suddenly returns from prison, harbouring a grudge over a long-standing family debt. With no option the three siblings and their two donkeys leave their home in Whitby and embark on a journey across the North York Moors, in a search of their estranged mother (Tara Fitzgerald).
It's an uplifting film about childhood love and loss, taking in a scenic journey from Osmotherley, towards Robin Hood’s Bay, through Sutton Bank and Levisham Estate , including Skelton Tower. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway stations at Goathland and Grosmont also feature as the children climb aboard the train, with donkeys in tow! Through the many lessons learnt along the way, Angie, and her siblings discover for better or worse, what it truly means to be a family.
Set almost entirely in the National Park, the film is available on DVD & Digital. Check their website for details.
Miss Willoughby and the Haunted Bookshop
Due for release later this year, Miss Willoughby stars Kelsey Grammer of Cheers fame, Caroline Quentin and Nathalie Cox. The plot is based around orphan Elizabeth Willoughby who inherits an impressive estate and is brought up by a retired US marine who also runs the family business. Elizabeth becomes an Ancient Civilisation professor and is approached by friends to investigate paranormal happenings in their antique bookshop. Film locations included Ampleforth Abbey and Castle Howard, as well as York and Birdsall House near Malton.
North York Moors - in the spotlight
We take a closer look at some other locations you can visit for film-inspired days out.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
With stunning views and stylish carriages, the heritage railway is hard to beat for a scenic backdrop. It’s played a starring role in TV favourites such as ITV’s ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Downton Abbey’ and films including ‘Dad’s Army’, and Official Secrets, a spy thriller starring Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes and Matt Smith.
The film adaptation of Downton Abbey: The Movie used Pickering station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in the film's opening scenes, and you can also catch views of the train steaming through Newton Dale, along with Castle Howard, Hovingham Hall and Ampleforth College.
The railway also featured in ‘Testament of Youth’, the BBC Films/Heyday Films adaptation of Vera Brittain’s World War One memoirs, which was shot in several locations including Goathland, Egton Moor, Fylingdales and along the coast.
Not forgetting the wizarding world’s most famous train station, Hogsmeade in the Harry Potter films, is in fact the North York Moors very own Goathland station!
Helmsley’s stately home masquerades as the German HQ in the 2016 'Dad's Army' film, alongside cameos in the 2012 BBC drama ‘Parade’s End’ and the 2013 BBC film 'The Thirteenth Tale’.
Robin Hood's Bay and Staithes
The National Park’s dramatic coast played a starring role in Daniel Day-Lewis’s much anticipated final film ‘Phantom Thread’ about 1950s dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock. To capture the atmospheric beauty of the film, locations such as the stunning fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay, the cobbled streets of Staithes, St Oswald's Church in Lythe and the classic interior of the Victoria Hotel formed the backdrop. It's possible to walk in Day-Lewis’ footsteps along the clifftops above Robin Hood’s Bay, by venturing north on a short stretch of the Cleveland Way National Trail towards Whitby.
Sit down with your pre-schooler and see Staithes in CBeebies ‘Old Jack’s Boat’, which features Bernard Cribbins as 'Old Jack', a retired fisherman who tells stories from inside his fishing boat, ‘The Rainbow’.
Well-known as the location for both the hugely popular 1980s ITV series and film versions of ‘Brideshead Revisited’, majestic Castle Howard also turns up in the BBC’s ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’ and ‘Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties’. Most recently it appears in the second series of the hugely popular ITV drama ‘Victoria’, when the house doubled as Kensington Palace.
The stunning ruins of Rievaulx Abbey forms the impressive backdrop for King Arthur and his metallic knights for the 2017 Transformers movie, ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’.
Channel 5 TV’s popular animal doctors in ‘The Yorkshire Vet’ hail from Skeldale Veterinary Centre in Thirsk, the original James Herriot practice, and often features Sutton Bank on visits out across the North York Moors.
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