With most of us avoiding large crowds and spending more time at home, that means a lot more hours clocked on Netflix. It’s no wonder then that American period drama Bridgerton – released on 25 December 2020 – reached a record number of more than 82 million households worldwide within its first 28 days online, making it one of the streaming service’s most successful shows yet. Beyond getting lost in fictional worlds, we can now cautiously make travel plans in the real world as news of the gradual roll-out of vaccines raise people’s hopes of international borders re-opening.
If you’re planning to visit the locations of your favourite TV shows, here’s where to start.
The many twists and turns in the love story between the Duke of Hastings (played by Regé-Jean Page) and Lady Daphne Bridgerton (played by Phoebe Dynevor) had us glued to our screens in the last week of 2020. Dubbed “Downton Abbey meets Gossip Girl“, this Regency-era series offers a salacious – if slightly exaggerated – peek into London’s infamous social season. While many viewers oohed and aahed over the gorgeous period costumes and set pieces, our wanderlust was ignited by the many lush locations featured in the show, such as the spectacular Royal Crescent in Bath. The sprawling Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, in particular, captured our hearts with its perfectly manicured gardens and immaculately preserved Jacobean-style architecture. Apart from serving as the set for the interiors of the Featherington family home, Hatfield House was also used to film scenes from the Bridgertons’ garden and the White’s Gentlemen’s Club.
The Queen’s Gambit
Credited as the TV series that made chess cool again, this period drama is based on a book of the same title by Walter Tevis. It follows the life of fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon, from her troubled childhood in an orphanage to her meteoric rise to the top of the chess world even while battling drug and alcohol addictions. Although the story was mostly set in midwestern America, the show was filmed in a variety of locations, including Ontario, Canada, and Berlin, Germany. The orphanage Harmon attends was actually a German Jewish-built castle, Schloss Schulzendorf. And the climatic scene where Harmon took on a Russian world champion was filmed in Berlin’s Old City Hall, in the Baerensaal, or Bear Chamber. With a history that dates back to 1911, this marble-clad room sprawls out over 370m² and has ceilings that are almost 19m high.
When this Spanish TV series first released in May 2017, it quickly became one of the streaming giant’s most popular series and was the single most-watched show in countries such as France, Italy, Brazil and Argentina. Money Heist also clinched the award for Best Drama Series at the 46th International Emmy Awards in 2018. Set in Madrid, this adrenaline-pumping show follows a mysterious man – only known as “The Professor” – who recruits a motley crew of eight to rob the Royal Mint of Spain. Most of the filming was done on-site in the Spanish capital, including the stately Spanish National Research Council (which served as the Royal Mint) and the centrally-located Plaza de Callao, where in the third season, 140 million euros worth of banknotes were dispersed from a floating blimp and into the grasping hands of a thronging crowd.
The King: Eternal Monarch
Starring the eternally popular Lee Min-ho and the equally charismatic Kim Go-eun, this South Korean fantasy drama sees a modern-day Emperor of the Kingdom of Corea who discovers a pathway into a parallel world, the Republic of Korea. The emperor soon discovers that his nemesis has been transferring people from one world to another and making them kill their doppelgangers. In between fighting off enemies to avenge his father’s assassination, the emperor Lee Gon falls in love with detective Jung Tae-eul (played by Kim). While the complicated storyline might leave some viewers scratching their heads, the scenic film locations more than make up for the twisty plot. In the first episode, the emperor is seen riding his majestic steed along rows of golden-hued gingko trees. This scene was filmed at Mungwang Reservoir, located about two hours from downtown Seoul and is especially famous for its mesmerising autumn foliage.
Alice in Borderland
Based on a Japanese manga of the same name by Haro Aso, this Japanese TV series brings together several genres – science fiction, suspense-thriller and horror – into one tightly-paced show. Much like a survival horror video game, this TV series follows Arisu, a young video game-obsessed slacker who finds himself in a parallel Tokyo that is mostly deserted. The few inhabitants are forced to battle for their lives in increasingly lethal games. Fun fact: the first episode, which featured the Tokyo’s famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing, wasn’t actually shot in the city’s bustling commercial and financial centre. Instead, the scene was filmed at a replica of the famous crossing – created solely for filming purposes – in the city of Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture.
Season Four of The Crown was highly anticipated because it marked the first time the character of Princess Diana (played by Emma Corrin) makes an appearance. The fourth season also took a closer look at historical events, such as Margaret Thatcher’s controversial premiership and even the security breach at Buckingham Palace in 1982 when a civilian, Michael Fagan, broke into the Queen’s private chambers. While the episodes covered a wide breadth of locations – from Australia to Scotland – a lot of the drama took place in the United Kingdom itself. Buckingham Palace for instance, was doubled by Lancaster House, a mansion that long served as the backdrop for high-level summits, conferences and meetings attended by the leading political figures of the day; as well as Wilton House, whose Double Cube Room features prominently in the show. Highgrove, Gloucestershire, where the Prince of Wales still lives today with wife Camilla, was filmed at Somerley House in Hampshire; while Belvoir Castle and Burghley House were both locations for Windsor Castle.
Emily in Paris
Produced by Sex and the City creator Darren Star and with long-time collaborator Patricia Field styling the costumes, it’s no wonder this romantic comedy was practically dripping with fabulous fashion. Lily Collins, who plays the titular star, is hardly seen in the same outfit twice throughout the series, wearing everything from Chanel and Kenzo to Off-White and Christian Louboutin. While her eye-catching outfits and Parisian exploits were the highlight of the series, credit also goes to the show’s location scouts who managed to pick out iconic places in the City of Love for poignant scenes. Examples include the opulent Palais Garnier, a 19th-century opera house where Emily had plans to watch the Swan Lake performance, and the Neoclassical-style Panthéon where Emily tearfully breaks up with her boyfriend back in America.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours as well as booking and seating requirements before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.