It must be really difficult and expensive to film in New York, what with all the taxis and the people shouting "I'm walking here!", so they come to Manchester instead, set up a bit of scaffolding and endure a week of nosy Mancs poking around and trying to get a glimpse of a major Hollywood star.
Here’s a pick of some of the biggest things that have been filmed in and around Manchester. I’ve not included Cold Feet because I hate it more than I hate stubbing my toe on the bed frame.
The newest season of Peaky Blinders was certainly action packed, with one of the biggest and most exciting set-pieces coming with Tommy Shelby shooting the shit out of Adrian Brody’s Italian-American mob geezers in the back streets of Birmingham. Eventually broken up by some coppers, the scene was actually filmed on the back streets of the NQ; that manky bit between Dale Street and Spar on Piccadilly. Loads of the series gets filmed at Victoria Baths too. Word on the street is that they’ll be back in Manchester to film the 5th season, so get working on your chat up lines for when Cillian Murphy gets here with his eyes.
Captain America: The First Avenger
The bit in the first Captain America when he goes to Brooklyn as a weedy little sod and comes back as a superhero is really exciting, involving a fast-paced chase through the streets featuring explosions, screaming and lots of big bulging muscles. There’s one big distraction though – the Brooklyn depicted in the background of many of the shots is in fact Dale Street in the Northern Quarter, complete with fake shop fronts, the exterior of Boo Hoo and some Manchester street sludge.
Life On Mars
John Simm managed to travel back in time while in a coma and ended up in the 70’s where bad leather jackets, white dog poo and casual sexism were all the rage. Being set in Manchester there’s loads of the city on show, including the police station – a huge monolith of concrete and bad design – actually located in Stockport. There was also a fair whack of filming going on in Ancoats, as well as Victoria Baths – which doubled up as a morgue and Irish Community Centre.
A big favourite of students, the old and the unemployed, Jeremy Kyle films his shows every Thursday and Friday down in MediaCity and can be watched by anyone with some free time and at least one hand in which to clap. You’ll probably be guaranteed the chance to sneer and laugh at some of the mental people on it, who are most likely having sex with their mother’s dog or stealing from their grandma to pay for tins of Skol. Tickets are free and can be applied for here.
This war movie has only just come out at the pictures and stars absolute legend Gary Oldman as fat-boy Winston Churchill, during our ‘darkest hour’ – basically when the Nazis had just defeated France and we were the only buggers left in Europe to give ’em a kicking. I’ve not seen it yet but big parts of the movie were filmed in the Town Hall – doubling up as the Houses of Parliament because the real ones are full of those idiot MPs.
The Hit Man and Her
Anyone under the age of 37 will probably never have heard of Hit Man and Her and that is a massive tragedy. The concept was genius – basically each week Pete Waterman left his train set at home and visited a club somewhere in the UK, played some records while Michaela Strachan messed about and played games with a variety of pissed up blokes with terrible hair and massive silk shirts. They came to visit Manchester in 1990 and they went to Royale (which later became MTwo and Coliseum). You can watch some of this right here. There’s also a brilliant one at The Hacienda in 1989 which features some of the best dancing known to man.
Robert Downey Jnr played Sherlock Holmes in Guy Richie’s adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation, and loads of the movie was filmed in and around the Northern Quarter and the Town Hall. I don’t know what Robert thought of Manchester when he came to visit though, I can only expect that he got a few pasties from Greggs, did some karaoke down The Millstone and enjoyed a big, juicy donner kebab down Rusholme.
A Monster Calls
I’m absolutely fuming that Sigourney Weaver was filming so close to my house and I didn’t go and try and chat her up. She was filming A Monster Calls in Didsbury a few years back, and although she probably knew that I lived close by – she was likely too shy to pop round for a glass of cold Vimto and a KitKat. Ah well. I’ve not seen the film but it’s based on a book by Patrick Ness, who has written some pretty good books so maybe give it a try.
I remember heading down to the NQ when I was at college to see Jude Law and his widows peak, pretending to be a handsome, womanising playboy on the streets of New York. He really struggled though, standing on the corner of Thomas Street and High Street on a cold Manchester afternoon, because he was a right miserable git and wouldn’t come over to me so I could take a picture on my Sony Ericsson T60. I’ve not seen the film in absolutely ages but the scene is a bit of a blink and you’ll miss it kinda thing.
24 Hour Party People
For a film revolving around Anthony Wilson, Factory Records, New Order and the Hacienda, there’s obviously loads of Manchester in there for everyone to see. Most of the city gets filmed at some point including Whitworth Street and The Ritz, that canal bit down the side of Oxford Road, Dry Bar and even vast stretches of Oxford Road. What’s really annoying though is that when you know the city, the editing makes it really distracting – seeing the Happy Mondays walking the wrong way down the street or driving down the wrong road.
Anyone who is old enough to remember Cracker will also remember that it features many areas of the city centre in its pre-IRA bomb glory. If you can manage to see past Fitz’s massive belly, you can catch a glimpse of the city before it was completely renovated, and my word – it was depressing. The place you’re going to see the most of is the police station where Fitz lends a hand and shags around – which is that building behind The Printworks – Federation House on Federation Street. As a little extra bonus, Christopher Eccleston was stabbed by Robert Carlyle on the most South Manchester street imaginable.