Staying in? Here are some of the best films shot in Bedfordshire

Many of us are going to be at home more in the next few months – but there’s no reason to be bored. Here’s our guide to some of the best films shot in Bedfordshire to stream or view on DVD or Blu-ray

By Peter Ormerod
Thursday, 26th March 2020, 8:45 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 10:00 am

1 Eyes Wide Shut

Dir: Stanley Kubrick, 1999, cert 18

The great director's final film remains divisive more than 20 years since its release. Dr Bill Harford is shocked that his wife, Alice, had considered having an affair. So he embarks on a rather notable adventure, involving infiltrating a secret society's masked orgy. What Kubrick - whose films included 2001: A Space Oddity, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket - made of the film is still open to question: some of his confidantes insist he was very proud of the work, while he reportedly dismissed it entirely to another of his friends. The film stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and despite being set in New York, it was mostly shot in the UK, with one of the party interiors being filmed at Luton Hoo.

Luton stars in Blinded by the Light

2 Blinded by the Light

Dir. Gurinder Chadha, 2019, cert 12A

Luton is not only the setting but also one of stars of Blinded by the Light, inspired by the life of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor, who grew up in the town. Set in 1987, it tells the story of Javed, a British-Pakistani Muslim teenager whose life is changed after he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, whose songs feature prominently in the film. The Mall features in its former guise as the Arndale Centre.

3 Four Weddings and a Funeral

Dir. Mike Newell, 1994, cert 15

One the great British rom-coms, Four Weddings and a Funeral follows the comic, romantic and heartbreaking adventures of Charles and his friends through the titular ceremonies. With a script by Richard Curtis and starring High Grant, Andie MacDowell, Kristin Scott Thomas, Simon Callow, Corin Redgrave Rowan Atkinson and plenty more notable actors, it set a template for a particular kind of British film. The second reception is filmed at Luton Hoo.

4 The Jigsaw Man

Dir. Terence Young, 1983, cert 15

With a cast including Michael Caine, Laurence Olivier, Susan George and Robert Powell - along with cameo appearances from Sir John Mills, Arthur Negus and, er, Max Bygraves - it is perhaps surprising that The Jigsaw Man is not better known. The spy thriller was inspired by the notorious Kim Philby, a British intelligence officer who was secretly working for the KGB. The production was marred by Olivier falling ill and collapsing on the set, as well as disputes over payments. Adding to the sense of eccentricity, Dame Eileen Atkins was supposed to have leapt out of a wedding cake - but, according to the 1992 book Hidden Actors the scene was cut as it was felt her "cardboard and cellophane leotard was too obviously ill-fitting". Woburn Abbey makes an appearance.

5 War Horse

Dir. Steven Spielberg, 2011, cert 12

Based in Michael Morpurgo's much-loved story, the war epic stars Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch. It tells the story of Joey as he is bought by the British Army, leading to him experiencing the tragedies of war. Luton Hoo is Bedfordshire's contribution.

6 The Mummy Returns

Dir. Stephen Sommers, 2001, cert 12

It may seem a long way from ancient Egypt to modern-day Bedfordshire, but the box-office smash would have looked different were it not for a particular corner of the county. Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and Dwayne Johnson star in the bandaged-undead-fulled action romp, which received an unlikely burst of publicity when it was mentioned by Margaret Thatcher in her last major speech. The archaeological dig at Hamunaptra, City of the Dead was actually built at Bryant’s Lane Quarry, Heath and Reach.

7 Never Say Never Again

Dir. Irvin Kershner, 1983, cert PG

Sean Connery returns in this non-canonical yet still hugely popular Bond film, as an ageing 007 is brought back into action to investigate the theft of two nuclear weapons. At one point, M sends Bond to a health club called Shrublands; the club is played by Luton Hoo.

8 Sexy Beast

Dir. Jonathan Glazer, 2000, cert 18

Ray Winstone, Ben Kingsley, Ian McShane and Amanda Redman star in this acclaimed story of a British ex-convict who is happily retired in Spain before being lured back into London's criminal underworld. A superior kind of Brit-gangster film, it won a slew of awards, with debutant Glazer going on to direct Under the Skin, one of the most lauded films of the past decade. A rather lively party, set in Highgate, London, is actually held at Luton Hoo.

9 A Shot in the Dark

Dir. Blake Edwards, 1964, cert PG

The sequel to The Pink Panther finds Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau investigating a murder at a French chateau. Except it's not actually in France - because, once again, Luton Hoo does the honours. Enjoy the antics of the blundering Frenchman and his gratuitously exaggerated accent.

10 Wilde

Dir. Brian Gilbert, 1997, cert 15

In which Stephen Fry plays the role he was born to play: Oscar Wilde. It charts the great writer and wit's life as he comes to terms with his homosexuality, having to deal with the bigotry he encountered. Jude Law, Vanessa Redgrave, Jennifer Ehle, Michael Sheen and Zoë Wanamaker also star. At one point, Wilde and his lover Lord Alfred Douglas have something of a row in a hotel; the hotel is Luton Hoo.

11 The World Is Not Enough

Dir. Michael Apted, 1999, cert 12

The 19th official Bond film has Pierce Brosnan's 007 attempting to thwart a nefarious scheme involving using a nuclear meltdown to increase petrol prices. The interior of a palace in Azerbaijan is Luton Hoo, which also doubles as a casino bar.

...and not forgetting:

Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One - all shot in the huge aircraft hangars in Cardington near Bedford.

* Information from various sources, with particularly helpful