Experience our wonderful city in a whole new way with Secret Manchester’s ultimate guide to films and TV shows that were filmed right here in Manchester. Who knows, you might even notice your favourite local spots!
Avid Mancunians can spot a glimpse of Dale Street, Finlay’s Warehouse and Tariff & Dale early on in Marvel blockbuster, Captain America. The film is one of the early instalments in the huge Disney franchise, following Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he becomes the Captain America fans know and love today. After Steve Rogers’ transformation into a buff super-soldier, he finds himself in an action-packed chase scene which sees him running through New York… Except, it’s actually the Northern Quarter transformed into a 1940s film set. The production in Manchester was the first time Marvel had filmed outside of the US, however, the scene is pretty short, lasting only a couple of minutes. Blink and you might miss it!
Life on Mars
Although a short and sweet series, Life on Mars remains a classic love letter to Manchester. Starring John Simm and Philip Glenister as a somewhat dynamic duo, the show sees Simm’s Sam Tyler in a car accident under the Mancunian Way which plunges him back into the 1970s. Obviously no one in the 70s believes Sam has essentially time-traveled, making for a gripping but truly unique police drama. Locations include Stockport for the Police Station exteriors, and Turner Street in the Northern Quarter for a record shop visit. Now a cult classic, Life on Mars shows us the incredible similarities between Manchester then and now, with great heart but real grit.
Netflix’s latest big hit, The Stranger, featured a tonne of locations right here in Manchester. From Stockport, Manchester city centre and even as far as Bolton, fans are sure to spot a location they recognise while watching. Not only that, but it’s also seriously gripping with a whole lot of twists and turns throughout the keep you entertained during these bleak days. The Netflix original follows a man whose life is turned completely upside down when a stranger shakes up his family life. Read our full guide of the filming locations here.
Starring Cillian Murphy, popular BBC show Peaky Blinders regularly makes use of the Northern Quarter’s old, industrial feel. Some of the most prominent filming locations have been the NQ’s Dale Street, Mangle Street and Back Piccadilly – which can be spotted during some of the most pivotal moments throughout the series. Other locations (sort of) nearby include Stockport Plaza, Rochdale Town Hall, Victoria Baths, and Christ Church in Macclesfield. If you haven’t binge-watched it all already, the show follows a criminal gang based in Birmingham as the police try to stop their antics.
The film biography of Stretford-born Ian Curtis, it’s hardly a surprise Control features scenes filmed across Manchester. A large portion of the film was shot in Macclesfield where Curtis lived for many years, however, and even includes his gravestone which can be found at Macclesfield Cemetery. The movie is based on the book Touching From A Distance written by Curtis’s wife Deborah and documents their life together, as well as the formation of Joy Division. Exact locations haven’t been revealed, however true Mancs may be able to spot out areas of our beloved city.
In 2017, Gary Oldman wowed as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, bagging him a best actor Oscar, but there was another winner amongst the background: Manchester’s town hall. Perhaps obviously, much of the film takes place in Westminster and Manchester town hall proved the perfect replica of the Houses of Parliament, boasting gothic architecture on a grand scale fit for Churchill’s famous speeches. Utilising this jewel in Manchester’s crown encouraged the shadowy cinematography seen throughout Darkest Hour, casting yet more darkness onto a dark patch of history, perhaps even more so than if the filming had taken place in the real Houses of Parliament.
While currently unreleased, Netflix’s next season of The Crown features scenes with Princess Diana (played by Emma Corrin) which were filmed in the Northern Quarter. Stevenson Square and Dale Street were both transformed into NYC, all decked out with yellow cabs, Subway entrances and a whole lot of extras wearing outfits reminiscent of Diana’s time. The series is available in all its glory on Netflix, so you might be able to spy some remnants of Manchester when you’re watching. See photos from the set here.
Everything I Know About Love
After the huge success of Dolly Alderton’s book of the same name, Everything I Know About Love graced our screens in 2022, following Maggie as she figures out her path. The story is a whirlwind of romance, heartbreak, self love and loathing, friendship, jealousy and so much more, often making it difficult to decipher exactly where we are. It’s clear that the show, and book, is set in Camden given the repeated mentions and excitement of the young girls in the show about living there, but a fair few scenes were actually filmed in Manchester. The opening scene sees Maggie disembark a train in London, but hang on… that’s Manchester Piccadilly! Deansgate is also the setting for a comical sequence of events involving Maggie and her best friend Birdy dressing up as pigs and handing out leaflets to earn them some money, which is on the more memorable side of things from the show, thanks in part to the Manchester backdrop.
Currently slated for release this spring, Morbius is the latest Sony movie in the Spider-Man universe, starring Jared Leto as the titular character. Leto was in town for a couple of days, with Sony transforming the Northern Quarter into their very own New York set. Oldham Street and Stevenson Square were closed off for the occasion. Extras swarmed the streets and new shop fronts and details such as Subway stations were dotted here there and everywhere. The movie will follow Biochemist Michael Morbius as he tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, however, when it all goes wrong, he finds himself infected with vampirism.
So popular it ran for seven whole seasons, Shameless is not only filmed in Manchester but based here too. The series follows unemployed alcoholic Frank, who lives on the fictional Chatsworth Estate. Wenlock Way in West Gorton provided the backdrop for the series, with other filming locations including Miles Platting, where Shiela lived, and in-studio filming took place at The Pie Factory in Salford. The Jockey was set at real-life pub The Wellington Inn, which was demolished by the council a few years back as part of the West Gorton area’s regeneration.
Fresh Meat was a light-hearted comedy with a very recognisable cast, including Joe Thomas, Jack Whitehall and Zawe Ashton. The series is based around a group of students who attended the fictional Manchester Medlock University (loosely based on the University of Manchester) and was even filmed here too. The students lived in Rusholme in the series, however, most scenes were filmed at The Sharp Project. Some scenes were filmed on campus at Manchester Metropolitan University and its student’s union, while the exterior of the university was shot at the University of Manchester. Other locations include the King’s Arms in Salford, with the student house exterior being shot in Whalley Range.
Anatomy of a Scandal
2022 saw Netflix release its raunchy British political drama Anatomy of a Scandal, featuring a great performance from Sienna Miller as a politician’s cheated-on wife who sticks around, often not happily. Once again Manchester’s architectural gems were used to portray parts of Westminster, somewhere the story focuses on heavily. John Rylands Library on Deansgate was used to film scenes set in the House of Commons, with its long, characterful corridors serving as a runway for the high drama throughout Anatomy of a Scandal. In this instance, Manchester’s inclusion is not subtle as there are so many shots within this setting, so it’s pretty easy to see in most episodes – get watching!
Teen hit Skins took the UK by storm during its six seasons on air, so much so, E4 commissioned an additional seventh season which followed three of the most popular characters from the previous seasons. Officially titled Skins Redux, the episodes that revisit Jack O’Connell’s Cook were shot in Manchester. The episodes followed Cook on the run in Manchester, with filming locations such as the Arndale, roads in Salford and Dale Street in the Northern Quarter.
24 Hour Party People
But of course, Steve Coogan returned to the North West for 24 Hour Party People. Famous for his role as Alan Partridge, the Middleton-born actor filmed scenes at Whitworth Street West, Albion Street and the Ritz for the Factory Records biopic. The locations remain pretty faithful to The Hacienda club, showing viewers actual locations from the time. Other locations include Jubilee Street in Salford, Longsight, Birchin Warehouse in the NQ, Beehive Mill, Ancoats, Albion Works and Oxford Street. So yeah, lots of Manchester scenes to spot!
A comedy about a group of musicians who want to attend Spike Island to see their favourite band (The Stone Roses), Spike Island was filmed across Greater Manchester and Cheshire. During one scene, the cast can be spotted doing a bit of shopping in Afflecks (which was transformed back to its 90s look), with other scenes featuring streets of Bolton and Widnes in Cheshire. Some scenes were reportedly filmed in Salford, too. The movie stars Elliott Tittensor and Emilia Clarke.
New Netflix smash hit Stay Close used Manchester as the backdrop to a number of scenes, with Didsbury, in particular, providing the home to the series’ main protagonist, Megan. In addition to Didsbury, Heaton Moor can be spotted in a number of scenes, as well as popular city centre venues such as Impossible, The Refuge and The Edwardian.
It’s a Sin
Smash hit It’s a Sin spans the entire spectrum of emotions, and spans quite a lot of Manchester too. Set in the 80s, the show details how the AIDS epidemic affects one group of friends and those they meet on their journey. We recommend this show for many reasons, but the endless list of Manchester filming locations brings the excitement up a notch, especially since the story is set in London. See if you can spot the Star and Garter pub near Mayfield Depot, Victoria Baths, or the exterior of Clampdown Records in the Northern Quarter whilst you’re bopping about to the Pet Shop Boys score!
[Featured image: Marvel Studios]