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Standing Sets in Great Britain

There are a vast range of buildings in Britain which have been used as filming locations for movies, quite a few of which are reused by different productions. But what about standing sets? Buildings which are built specifically for filming, and are not actually real buildings at all?

The American film studios all have semi-permanent buildings on their backlots so that they have access to streets and buildings which they can film on with complete control. Some, such as Universal Studios, can even be visited by the public. These are the places they film things like the Back To The Future town square, or The Desperate Housewives houses.

In Britain, we don't really make enough films for this to be commercially viable, but we do have long-running drama serials which often have their own standing sets, and there are the occasional movie sets as well.

This is a guide to some of these sets. Some of this information comes from Alan Turnbull's Emmerdale Site.

Coronation Street set

Coronation Street

The longest-running British soap opera is filmed in Manchester, in the north of England. For many years, the street itself was a standing set at Granada Studios on Quay Street. You used to be able to take a tour of the set, but when the number of episodes per week increased this was no longer possible. The opening titles used computer graphics to extend the sets for wide shots.

To see the old set, click here

Granada Studios built a new set in Salford Quays and moved production there at the end of 2013. It stands here.

Eastenders set


The whole of Albert Square, and other locations, sit on the back-lot of the BBC Elstree Studios, on ground which used to be the German building site in early episodes of "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet".

To see the set, click here

Emmerdale set


Emmerdale has filmed in several villages over the years, but the hassle of increased numbers of episodes being filmed in public areas where people live and work forced the production company to build their own village, just for filming.

The set is built on the grounds of Harewood House - a stately home just north of Leeds in the north of England. The estate is private, so you can't visit the set, but there is a public footpath which runs to the west of the set, from where you can see it.

To see the set, click here

Shameless set


This series used to be filmed in quite a run-down area of Manchester, but problems with filming meant that when the series took off, replicas of the existing locations were erected in a business park about 8 miles away, along with the interior sets in the nearby warehouse.

To see the set, click here

The pub set is at the opposite corner of the warehouse from the houses.

There's also a 360° tour of the sets (contains strong language) here.

New Casualty set


Holby hospital exteriors used to be filmed at the City of Bristol College, but since 2002 they were filmed at a hospital facade built at Lawrence Hill Industrial Park in Bristol. In 2011, production of Casualty moved to the new BBC Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff, Wales.

To see where the old set was, click here

To see the current set, click here.

The Bill set

The Bill

The Bill was filmed at Talkback Thames Television's studios in Merton Abbey, south-west London. The exterior of Sun Hill Police Station was actually the front of the studio building.

At the rear of the studio, you can see the still-standing Stanley Street set from the no-longer-broadcast Family Affairs.

To see The Bill set, click here

To see the Family Affairs set, click here

Hollyoaks set


Hollyoaks is made at studios near Liverpool. Various parts of the studio have been modified to resemble a hospital, a police station, a college, and other locations. There are bits of fake building all over the site. There's even the front of Grange Hill School (Grange Hill is made by the same production company).

I actually went here for an IT job interview with one of the on-site companies, not realising it was a TV studio - otherwise I'd have taken a camera!

To see the set, click here

Harry Potter set

Harry Potter

In the first Harry Potter film, the Dursleys' home was an actual house in Surrey. Because of the plan to use the house as a recurring location, and due to complex action involving the car in the second film, it was decided to recreate Privet Drive as a set on the backlot of Leavesden Studios, outside London.

The set had now been dismantled, and part of it appears in the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Exhibition.

To see the set, click here

New York street set

New York Street

Because of the difficulties of making a film based around a well known London location, but set in the 1970's, the makers of "The Bank Job" decided to build a replica of part of Baker Street in the Orchard Lot at Pinewood Studios.

After filming was finished, the set was extended and modified to look like New York for the film "Me and Orson Welles". Since then, it's also been used for "Kick-Ass (2010)", and "Gulliver's Travels (2010)", and a few TV shows.

To see the set, click here

Information about the set has been removed from the Pinewood Studios website, so I can only assume the set has sadly been demolished.

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