The Living and the Dead: the BBC’s Supernatural West Country Drama

Have you already binge watched the BBC’s eerie new series The Living and the Dead or will you be tuning in weekly? Our spoiler-free guide will satisfy your curiosity about the show’s creepy locations and keep all the surprises under wraps.

Charlotte Spencer plays the modern thinking Charlotte Appleby, who sticks out when the London couple move to a traditionally-minded rural village. Colin Morgan’s Nathan is a psychologist who doesn’t agree with the Victorian obsession with all things gothic. When they move to Nathan’s ancestral home in Somerset they can’t escape the supernatural though.

The Living and the Dead star Colin Morgan is a favourite here at Find That Location thanks to his years as Merlin, but this new series also links up with another much-loved show. Alice Troughton, who also directs this supernatural six-parter, directed the Doctor Who episode Midnight which Morgan guest stars in, as well as many episodes of Merlin. The series is also related to another addictive drama, Life on Mars – both were penned by writer Ashley Pharoah.

Horton Court

Marion Dutcher [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

As you can see onscreen, the series makes use of filming locations with long histories of their own. The National Trust’s Horton Court was cast as Shepzoy House, the Applebys’ labyrinthine home. Horton Court was fully opened to the public in 2011 after years as a tenanted property, and it is currently closed for extensive renovation work. Watch out for its reopening when you’ll be able to discover the 800-year-old Norman Hall, Tudor connections and shadowy rooms built within the courtyard.

Night filming helps add to the atmosphere, as do all the flickering lamps and flaming torches. In fact, the production attracted more supernatural ambience than they intended when they set out to record background noises overnight. The audio picked up sounds that couldn’t be explained, so perhaps the house’s own mysteries wanted their presence to be felt. Why not find out for yourself whether it’s as eerie as it seems?

St James the Elder church is local to Horton Court in real life as well as onscreen, but it presumably boasts fewer strange occurrences. Bristol’s Redcliffe Caves are weird and wonderful of their own accord, being old mine workings which snake beneath the city. If you want to take a look for yourself, you are in luck because Axbridge Caving Group organise visits to this unique place.

The Living and the Dead’s other scenes were shot on a 20,000 sq ft set at Bristol’s own Bottle Yard Studios, also home to Sherlock, Poldark and Wolf Hall.

If you’re in the area, Bristol’s Goldney Hall plays host to John and Mary’s wedding reception in Sherlock. Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies were filmed at several nearby stately homes, including the ever-popular Lacock Abbey as Greenwich Palace and Montacute House near Yeovil as Wolf Hall. Further west, Poldark makes use of numerous places across Cornwall but you might want to start with St Breward which doubles as Ross and Demelza’s home, Nampara.