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Blog : Posts tagged with 'location'


Being A Human City

In which we track down a TV location

Bristol often pops up on the telly. Famously in Casualty, Teachers and The Young Ones; slightly less famously in Only Fools And Horses.* Just lately, though, I’ve noticed a lot of trailers for a new BBC3 series, Being Human. Not only is it obviously filmed in Bristol – and south Bristol at that – but the city is practically the most distinctive character in it. Lots of shots of typical Totterdown terraces; with steeply-sloping streets, and brightly painted houses with rooftop parapets. I suppose that, as you arrive in the city, Totterdown is a rather prominent and visible area, what with the way it looms over Temple Meads like a pastel-coloured precipice.

After I’d seen it a few times, in fact, I wondered if I could recognise locations on the trailer. The pet shop window near the start, for example:

Pet shop window from Being Human trailer

That’s an easy one, to be honest, because you can just about make out the shop name in the window. It’s “Ollys Pollys Pet Shop”, on St John’s Lane. Here’s a photo I took the other day, also with the lamp post in the way:

Pet shop on St Johns Lane

Spotting the location of the house that the characters are sharing is a bit trickier, but not much. At the end of the trailer the camera pans upwards to show the skyline behind their house.

Being Human trailer

Over there in the background, underneath the darkening sky, you can see some greenery, and a building that looks rather like a mosque. If we assume that we’re right that this is Totterdown, then that must be the Green St mosque, and the greenery behind it definitely is the right shape to be Victoria Park.** So that means we must be somewhere between St Lukes Road and Wells Road. We’re looking for a very typical Bristolian corner terrace, as you can see from this shot:

Being Human trailer

And a little bit of map-research and field-walking will take us right to it:

Corner of Windsor Terrace and Henry St, Totterdown

It’s on the corner of Windsor Terrace and Henry St, and looks rather dilapidated on the outside – peeling paint on the lintels, as you can see, both in my picture and on the trailer if you look carefully. Intriguingly, some of the downstairs windows are former pub window glass, etched, with words like “Wines & Spirits” on them. Being new to the area, I have no idea if the building was a pub at one time or not. Don’t worry: I’m not going to do this with every single scene in the show. But it was fun to discover the location: somewhere that looks very, very typically Bristolian, without being what you’d say was a real landmark.

* The outside shots of Nelson Mandela House were actually of a tower block in Bedminster, about ten minutes walk from here.

** Which I thought was called Windmill Hill park, because, well, that’s where it is. It’s rather interesting in its own right, because it contains a Troy Town maze built out of brick, built to commemorate the city’s clean water supplies. I keep meaning to write something about Troy Towns.

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In which we discuss “Halting State” by Charles Stross

This month I have mostly been reading: Halting State by Charles Stross, a near-future techno-thriller set in an independent Scotland, ten years or so from now. It’s a very good book; I recommend it; full of where-tech-might-be-going extrapolations. When reading it, though, I couldn’t help thinking: I have a bit of an advantage on the average reader.

It’s set in Edinburgh, you see, where Stross lives and where I used to live; and just about all the locations in the book are real locations. There’s the city mortuary, for example; an inconspicuous 1970s flat-roofed building built of dark shiny engineering brick, at one end of the Cowgate. I can picture it exactly in my head, because I spent four years in the university buildings which overlook it. The characters retreat to the pub over the road from the mortuary: when I was a first year, we’d go in there every Friday afternoon.* A few years later, on my way to work, I used to walk past a flat that gets raided by the police near the start of the book; and I always wanted one of the little houses in the Colonies where one of Stross’s protagonists lives.

I’m sure it’s a very good book even if you don’t know all this; but if you don’t, you probably won’t realise just how well-researched it is. Every location is realistic, because every location is real; and the science fiction becomes real too.

* all Edinburgh residents will have noticed a small geographical mistake in that section, actually: he gets one of the street names wrong.

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Spot The Non-Difference

In which we spot France being invaded amid seaside amusements

Today’s blog is like one of those spot-the-difference puzzles where you have to spot hard-to-find differences between two apparently identical pictures. To make it a little bit different, though: here’s a carefully-prepared Spot The Non-Difference puzzle, where (for a change) you have to spot the hard-to-find connection between two apparently little-related pictures.

Firstly, we have a photo I first spotted in today’s Guardian. It’s a publicity still from the award-winning film Atonement, and shows James McAvoy hard at work apparently invading war-torn France:

James McAvoy in Atonement

Secondly, this photo, taken by Dimitra, some years ago now:

Cleethorpes beach, December 2001

Yes, I’m pretty sure they were taken at almost the same location, although, to be quite honest, if I didn’t already know that Atonement was filmed in the Symbolic Forest area, I’m not sure I would have spotted the link between them.

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