Manchester still a top destination for TV and film production despite a tough year

Shows filmed in Manchester have kept us gripped during lockdown, from The Stranger and Brassic to The Crown - and there's much more to come

It’s been a challenging year for the film and TV industry, but Manchester has featured prominently on screen in a host of shows which have kept viewers gripped during lockdown.

These include Netflix hit The Stranger, Sky’s Little Birds, BBC One’s Life and Netflix’s ever-popular The Crown.

Looking ahead to the new year, currently in pre-production and ready to shoot from early 2021 are the new series of global hit, Peaky Blinders (BBC) and Stay Close (Netflix).

Other new series filmed in Manchester set to transmit in 2021 include Intergalactic (Sky), The Boys (Channel 4), The Irregulars (Netflix) and The Barking Murders (BBC), as well as Sony Pictures’ blockbuster Morbius, starring Jared Leto, which filmed in The Northern Quarter.

Matt Smith Morbius
Matt Smith films Morbius NQ / Credit: Adam Pester

It’s an impressive line-up given the issues faced by the industry over the past few months.

“Earlier this year it was very difficult to predict where the lockdown would lead,” says Bobby Cochrane of Screen Manchester, the city’s film office.  

“The industry has proven itself to be extremely resilient and has responded well to new national protocols introduced which allowed business to resume. 

“We welcomed our first projects back to the streets of Manchester in late June, which was extremely encouraging all things considered, and we have been working hard to keep production going in line with guidelines ever since.”

Bobby, who has played a key role in making the connection between government and industry at a local level, says the British Film Commission were responsive in producing clear guidance for film and high end TV drama and doing so in a timely manner. 

“Film and TV has been in the fortunate position of being able to continue, following strict safety procedures, and it has been great to be in a position to keep a key industry working safely at such a difficult time.” 

Bobby and his team also worked along with regional location managers, line producers and producers on a day to day basis overcoming various challenges from new ways of working. 

As a result Screen Manchester has, since the first lockdown ended, facilitated permit applications across the city for new police drama Viewpoint (ITV) and 1960s set Ridley Road (BBC) as well as the return of Brassic (Sky) and Cobra (Sky).

Viewpoint was the first drama back on camera in Manchester.

“Being from Manchester I am extremely proud of the positive reception we received from the city,” said assistant location manager Ian Macdonald.

“Especially the hugely encouraging response when we resumed our filming in August during such challenging times for everyone.

“The enormous efforts the production made to ensure a COVID-safe and compliant workplace were only matched by the support from Screen Manchester and the city in general.

“I would not hesitate to promote Manchester as a filming destination.”


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