Wales is a goldmine for location scouts the world over. There aren’t many other countries which can offer film backdrops as varied – soaring peaks and waterfalls make authentic ancient landscapes, a glut of historic buildings from medieval castle ruins, to perfectly preserved stately homes offer a setting for all eras and our sweeping, wild beaches comfortably host epic adventure shoots.
There’s no shortage of city scenery either, with Wales’ capital regularly upstaging London as its smaller, more manageable understudy.
Fancy following in the footsteps of the stars and going on location yourself? These are some of the special Welsh spots that have staged some of the best of recent film and TV.
Jez Butterworth’s nine-part series for Sky Atlantic and Amazon Prime follows the Roman conquest of Britain, or Britannia, a ‘mysterious land ruled by warrior women and powerful druids who can channel the powerful forces of the underworld’. Wales’ ancient landscape offered the obvious setting for this epic depiction of Britannia with Cwm Porth in Ystradfellte and Llyn Fan Fach in Llanddeusant providing the backdrop for meadow and waterfall settings, and coastal scenes shot at the iconic Rhossili Bay on the Gower peninsular. Nash Point in Marcross and Henrhyd Falls in Coelbren were also used as locations throughout the series.
Set over four days during WWI, this feature-length version of the play by RC Sheriff stars Paul Bettany and Sam Clafin and uses a litany of Welsh locations as evocative wartime backdrops.
National Trust property, Tredegar House in Newport was transformed into a military base for the film. With 90 acres of parkland surrounding the grand 17th-century house, the expanse of green proved the ideal choice for the garrison scenes. Pinewood Studios, Cardiff, Old Beaupre Castle, Cowbridge and Neath Abbey also stand in for northern France throughout the film.
The filming for this live-action canine comedy saw Hollywood stars Will Arnett and Natasha Lyonne descend on Cardiff Bay, where the city’s historic Bute Street doubled up as a setting for a New York police station for some exterior scenes.
A Discovery of Witches
Produced by Cardiff-based production company Bad Wolf and filmed at Wolf Studios Wales, Sky’s supernatural TV series is an adaption of Deborah Harkness’ historical fantasy trilogy. Hacksaw Ridge leading lady Teresa Palmer stars as Diana, a historian descended from witches. Location filming took place at the atmospheric Carew Castle in Pembrokeshire, with Australian Palmer describing the Norman fortress site as ‘crazy beautiful’.
BBC and Netflix joint psychological thriller Requiem sees a woman investigating the disappearance of a child in the fictional Welsh village of Penllynith, and much of filming took place in real-life Welsh locations of Newport, Pembrokeshire and Dolgellau in Snowdonia. Requiem creator and writer Kris Mrksa felt Wales offered the perfect dramatic setting, saying: “When I visited Wales, I fell in love with the place. It has a mystical feel, and the history there is very palpable. There is a druidic vibe there, too. (Characters) Matilda and Hal are quickly drawn into that world and enmeshed in it. The Welsh town becomes a character in its own right.”