In MediaExplore

Manchester has provided a backdrop and writing base for countless artistic endeavours across film, television, books and podcasts. This guide to Manchester in the media will enable you to get up close and personal with this incredible city while in the comfort of your own front room, whetting your appetite for a visit to see it for yourself when the time is right.


Television

Cold Feet

The 2016 TV comeback for Cold Feet felt like an old friend turning up at the door with a bottle of wine and warm smile. Mike Bullen’s comedy drama first burst onto the small screen back in the late 90s, providing an insight into the lives of a group of trendy-ish 20-somethings coming to terms with love, life and loss. While those characters are older but not necessarily wiser, Manchester itself has blossomed into maturity. Arguably a star of the show on a par with all the others, the city provides an absolutely stunning backdrop, with landmarks including the Midland Hotel. Available via Britbox and Amazon.

Coronation Street

Sixty years old in 2020, Coronation Street is the world’s longest running soap opera. With brilliantly acerbic wit and decades of incredible storylines, it depicts a cobbles and kerbstones vision of Manchester at odds with the reality or the modern city. However, the real Manchester does pop up regularly for cameo appearances, so keep your eyes peeled. Available via ITV Hub and Britbox.

Queer As Folk

Epoch-defining TV from the pen of ridiculously talented writer Russell T. Davies, Queer As Folk introduced Manchester’s Gay Village to a mainstream audience for the very first time when it aired in 1999. Attitudes have evolved as much as the village since then, all built on the foundations of tolerance and diversity that Manchester is famous for. If you want to step back in time where it all began, then Queer As Folk is available on All 4.

The Stranger

Jennifer Saunders is among the famous faces contending with The Stranger, a hit miniseries set in contemporary Manchester. It was written by local lad Danny Brocklehurst – who cut his writing teeth on Shameless – and is an adaptation of the Harlan Coben novel of the same names. Locations across Greater Manchester provide a stunning backdrop to the unfolding mystery, with scenes set in St Peter’s Square, the Café At The Cathedral and Monton Sports and Social Club, which doubles as the Cedarfield Sports Club. Other locations include the disused Moor Lane Bus Station in Bolton, the Plaza theatre and cinema in Stockport, and White Peak Alpacas in Mobberley, Cheshire. Available on Netflix.

Shameless

Yet another successful Mancunian export, the US adaptation of Northern writer Paul Abbott’s Shameless features Frank Gallagher as the head of a working-class family in Chicago. Rewind to where it all began, however, and feckless Frank was a working class anti-hero living on the fictional Chatsworth estate in Manchester.  Abbott wrote Shameless as a semi-autobiographical portrait of a Manchester which visitors are unlikely to become familiar with. However, many of the people who played leading characters in this hit TV comedy have become household names in their own right, including the incredibly talented Bolton-born actor Maxine Peake and James McAvoy, the Scot who played a Londoner in the early era of Shameless, and is now a star of Hollywood blockbusters including  Shameless UK is available on All 4, while the US version of Shameless on Netflix.

Years and Years

Also from the pen of Russell T. Davies, Years and Years was the brilliant dystopian vision of an alternative present day. It followed the fictional Lyons family over 15 tumultuous years of unstable political, economic and technological advances. Years and Years was shot at 87 locations across Greater Manchester. Available on BBC iPlayer.

World On Fire

Set in the Second World War and filmed extensively in Manchester, World On Fire starred Helen Hunt and Leslie Manville. Available on Amazon Prime Video.

The Royle Family

If it wasn’t for the puerile wit, warmth and poignancy, you’d be hard to place The Royle Family, which mainly happens in the front room of a family brought to life by a stellar cast of comic actors from Manchester and beyond. Local lights include the late and great Caroline Aherne alongside Craig Cash and Ralph Little. They appear alongside Ricky Tomlinson and Sue Johnston. Available on BritBox.

For more of Manchester as seen on TV, see also: Age Before Beauty; Cucumber, Scott & Bailey (ITV Hub/BritBox; Fresh Meat (All 4); Life on Mars (BBC iPlayer/BritBox).


Films Made in Manchester

Image credit: Simon Mein

Darkest Hour

Set in the London of the Second World War and following Winston Churchill’s fight for victory, much of the action in Darkest Hour was actually filmed in Manchester locations including the John Rylands Library. (Netflix)

24 Hour Party People

The story of Manchester’s legendary Madchester music era, including Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson. (Amazon Prime Video).

Animals

Based on the book by Emma Jane Unsworth, Animals was filmed in Ireland but inspired by the writer’s life, work and leisure time in Manchester. (Amazon Prime Video)

Control

Director Anton Corbijn’s atmospheric and sad life story of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis reveals a seminal period in the history of Manchester music, setting the scene for New Order, the Hacienda and pretty much everything else that followed. (Amazon Prime Video).

Peterloo

A landmark moment in the political history of the modern world presented by Salford-born filmmaker Mike Leigh. Go to https://www.visitmanchester.com/ideas-and-inspiration/peterloo to find out more. (Amazon Prime Video).

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