TV shows for anglophiles and their filming locations

If you, like me, are in love with all things British, and like TV shows, you may want to watch /rewatch some of these shows as a summer guilty pleasure. If you also happen to be travelling to the UK, why not visit some of the locations for the shows as well? You can find below a selection of my own British favourites, arranged by chronological order. You may find some others in this older blog post. [These shows are suitable for adult audiences]. 

Upstairs Downstairs (LWT 1971-1975): 

The show follows the lives of both the affluent Bellamy family and their servants. And there are times when you really don’t know who the protagonists are, as downstairs inhabitants are frequently shown in a more interesting light. Some of the first episodes were written by Fay Weldon.

The show does certainly provide an insight into home life for the rich and migthy at the turn of the 20th century. Ever since I first watched it, If I’m ever staying in one of these stucco-fronted, turned-into-accommodation houses, I can’t help but think of Upstairs Downstairs, and wonder whether I’m sleeping in a former kitchen, or, if I’m on the top floor, in a servants’ room.

The  Bellamy’s Belgravia home was 165 Eaton Place. The actual house used for exterior shots still stands at 65 Eaton Place (see photos below), and it has become a sort of tradition for me to drop by whenever I’m around (as well as nearby 54 Eaton Square, Vivien Leigh’s apartment). For more information on the location read this:

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Brideshead Revisited (Granada, 1981) 

TV adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s novel by the same title, it is set in the period between 1923 and 1945. It is part of a string of so-called ‘heritage’ films and TV shows made during the 1980s, in Thatcherite times, apparently aimed at romanticising the past, promoting a sort of nostalgia, and making viewers forget about the social situation at the time. Be that as it may, I confess I binge-watched the show at the Faculty’s film library in my day, and probably cried a few times while doing it. I was mesmerised by Jeremy Irons’ soothing voice and accent.  

However, one of the protagonists of the fiction is Brideshead itself, the location for which was Castle Howard, in York. It has also served as a film location for Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975). If you want to visit it, you can find more information here

The scenes in the first episodes when the two protagonists first met at University were filmed on location in Oxford- more about it here

Downton Abbey (ITV, 2010-2015):

A sort of Upstairs-Downstairs for the 21st century. Ideologically objectionable if you think about it for a second: the text seems somehow to support the patronising attitudes of the Crawleys regarding their servants; and in times of crisis, when the English Establishment seems to be crumbling down, the text is forcing you to really want the aristocrats to remain the ruling class. However, if you willingly suspend your disbelief, and turn off your critical thought for a while, it does make for a very lavish soap opera.

Lady Grantham’s (Maggie Smith) quips very frequently steal the show:

Highclere Castle stands in for Downton Abbey. It also stood in as Totleigh Towers in Jeeves & Wooster (Granada 1990-1993), starring Stephen Fry & Hugh Laurie. If you want to visit Highclere Castle you can take a train from London Waterloo or Paddington.

 Sherlock (BBC, 2010-)

Reasons to watch 21st century BBC Sherlock:

  • London at its best. You’ll be smitten with London (or fall in love with it all over again).
  • Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman- top performances. And lovely British English.
  • Really gripping plots, based on the original Conan Doyle stories, but with the right twists.

Four seasons have been broadcast so far. It is uncertain whether there will be any more seasons. 

The exterior used for 221b Baker Street is actually 187 North Gower Street, just next to Euston Square tube.  Again, a must for me if I’m around. Unfortunately, the inside of Sherlock’s flat is filmed in a studio in Cardiff.

187 North Gower Street

St. Bart’s hospital (City of London)

No spoilers, but a key scene in the show takes place here.

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The British Academy (Carlton Terrace, St. James’s), standing in as the Diogenes club (Mycroft Holmes’s club):

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Finally, here are some pictures of 23-24 Leinster gardens, a key spot in episode 3-03 (‘His Last Vow’). This stuccoed terrace holds a big secret- metaphorically in the show, and literally, in the building itself: it’s an absolute fake. It’s only got the front, but there’s no actual house behind it. Full explanation here.

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All of Sherlock’s locations:

Twenty Twelve (BBC, 2011-2012):

A BBC fly-on-the-wall mockumentary about the leading team in charge of setting up the 2012 London Olympic Games, starring Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey). 

The very roots of the Establishment are made fun of all through the show, with lots of inside jokes and cameos:

This Olympic committee is based in a clearly recognisable Canary Wharf office. Obviously, Stratford and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (now, West Ham united stadium) are mentioned, and feature at some points in the show. 

If you would like to visit Stratford with a local guide, who can show you their area for free, you can contact London greeters. More about voluntary greeters here

W1A  (BBC, 2014-):

A spin-off of Twenty Twelve, showing the inner workings of the BBC. Funny meta-fiction about the corporation, poking fun at itself. Ian Fletcher (Head of deliverance) has to find work after the end of the Olympics, and he lands another senior position at the BBC. 

Portland Place, New Broadcasting house (Regent Street), features prominently. If you want to be inside the BBC, you can be part of the audience of a show

BBC new broadcasting house- radio theatre

The Crown (Netflix, 2016-):

I’m not sure how interesting the Royals are in real life, but Netflix’s Elizabeth and Margaret provide us with really gripping scenes. The show starts with Elizabeth Windsor’s marriage to Philip Mountbatten, and follows their lives as they become Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, and the political and personal challenges they have to face.

The show provides plenty of opportunities to see London, Windsor, Balmoral, Sandringham…However, not all locations may be as real as they look. Never mind, they are still very pleasant to watch.  

A Very English Scandal (BBC, 2018):

Based on a true story that hit the headlines in the 1970s, about Jeremy Thorpe, a liberal, closet gay MP, who, in order to avoid being blackmailed by a former lover, hired a gunman to kill him. However, the whole plan was a shambles, and it came to light. The show balances the elements of a crime plot, political shenanigans, and dark comedy. Written by Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, The Queen…).

Hugh Grant at his very finest (some reviews say it’s the role of a lifetime for him). 

If you would be interested to visit the palace of Westminster, click here. You can go on a tour (£), or watch a debate at the House of Commons (free). 

Cunk on Britain (2018):

Philomena Cunk is a spoof comedy character created by Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror), played by comedian Diane Morgan. The show is a tongue-in-cheek parody of BBC documentaries, this time, discussing the history of Britain. And definitely, with the least likely BBC-RP accent you may come across. 

You can also find Philomena Cunk on Cunk on Christmas and Cunk on Shakespeare.

Mis recomendaciones para mejorar tu inglés viajando

Uno de los mitos en el aprendizaje de lenguas extranjeras es que no se puede aprender si no viajas a un país donde se hable esa lengua extranjera de manera “nativa”. Yo no estoy completamente de acuerdo (creo que hay muchas otras formas de aprender además de esta). De lo que sí estoy convencida es de que puedes ir a Francia, Reino Unido, Estados Unidos, y hablar, o incluso oír, muy poco inglés / francés. Por eso, hay que buscar fórmulas para crear situaciones de comunicación si se viaja:

Buscadores de cursos (Reino Unido):

En mi opinión, hacer un curso en el extranjero es algo muy válido, si realmente aporta un valor añadido: si realmente vas a hacer un curso que te aporta algo que no tendrías en cualquier academia de tu barrio o ciudad. Si no, no tengo muy claro que el esfuerzo económico que supone merezca la pena.


Otra forma de pasar las vacaciones, que sí permite la comunicación con gente de muy distintas procedencias.

Global Greeter Network:

Los Greeters son voluntarios que enseñan partes de su ciudad gratis. Suelen enseñar zonas que tienen un significado especial para ellos (el barrio donde viven, el barrio de su infancia…). El turista / grupo solicita a través de la página web de la asociación fecha y hora en la que le gustaría realizar la visita a pie con el greeter. La visita es exclusiva para el grupo de personas que lo solicite. También se le puede solicitar visitar puntos turísticos concretos, arquitectura…Pero el encanto reside en poder hablar y preguntar al voluntario sobre la vida real de los habitantes de esa ciudad, los secretos que no cuentan en las visitas turísticas típicas…Listening & Speaking for free.

Yo he hecho estas visitas en dos zonas de Londres, Canterbury, París, Marsella, Niza…siempre con muy buenos resultados. Muchos de los greeters son docentes jubilados, bibliotecarios…gente con alto nivel cultural.

Free walking tours: 

Muchas ciudades ofrecen tours “gratuitos”, bien a través de empresas o autónomos que se dedican a ello (y luego piden propina voluntaria, por eso no son totalmente gratuitos), o a través de los propios ayuntamientos, con voluntarios que realmente sí ofrecen el tour de manera gratuita. Una buena ocasión para listening (menos para speaking, porque el grupo suele ser más numeroso). Algunos ejemplos:


Muchos museos ofrecen tours gratuitos a ciertas horas, como por ejemplo:

Os recomiendo museos relacionados con la infancia, la educación, o la literatura. Algunos de mis favoritos:

Eventos puntuales: 

  • Eventbrite:  web de gestión de eventos. Se pueden conseguir tickets gratuitos para eventos que se organicen donde estemos de vacaciones. Por ejemplo, hace un par de años me apunté a un evento organizado por una librería para el lanzamiento del último libro de Harry Potter.

Be in the audience (programas de radio / televisión): 

Se puede solicitar de manera gratuita acudir a la grabación de programas de televisión o radio. Interesante como experiencia cultural, y también se hace oído. Hay que solicitarlo con tiempo.


ORDEN ECD/823/2018, de 18 de mayo, por la que se regula el Modelo BRIT- Aragón para el desarrollo de la Competencia Lingüística de y en Lenguas Extranjeras en centros docentes públicos no universitarios de la Comunidad Autónoma de Aragón.

Using and creating news in the classroom-spotting fake news

News can be very useful in the classroom, as they provide real language input, a connection to the real world, and, in the case of videos, they tend to be short enough to be listened to more than once. However, you can also create your own news, or even fake news (to discuss how easy it is to create and spread fake news on social media). Here are some of the resources that may be used:

News creators:

  • Read Write Think- Printing Press– online tool to create a newspaper: The interactive Printing Press is designed to assist students in creating newspapers, brochures, and flyers. Teachers and students can choose from several templates to publish class newspapers, informational brochures, and flyers announcing class events.
  • write a headline, description, and pick a background picture- there you have your fake breaking news!


self-grading google forms

Self-grading google forms might be a useful resource to check students’ understanding and progress, as well as to provide them with extra input or independent opportunities of exposure to the language. Here’s how to create one:

Open your Google Drive, then click on “new”. Scroll down to “more”, then choose “google forms”.

On your new form, click on the wheel (settings), then on “quizzes”, and toggle “Make this a quiz”.

If you want to share your form, you can do it by emailing it, sharing the link (long or shortened link), or embedding it on your websites / blogs. For this last option, my advice would be to both embed it and copy the link, as sometimes, embedded forms may be tricky to use on mobile devices.

Some examples of self-grading google forms for different skills:

QR codes & URL shorteners in the classroom

URL shorteners:

For example, copy these links, and paste them onto any of the previous URL shorteners, to share a shorter link with your students, colleagues, families…


Click on the picture to open original source file



Can parents take their children on holiday during term time?

We’ve been discussing this case, which hit the headlines in the UK some months ago (click on the picture to watch the video with subtitles):

(Toggle transcript viewer, or click on CC for subtitles)

The case reached the Supreme Court, and this was the result:

(Read transcript here)

Over to you:

  • What are your views on this? Is it reasonable / unreasonable for parents to take their children on holiday when they’re supposed to be attending school?
  • Do you know of any cases where this happens? Does it tend to be justified?
  • What is the effect of such holidays on students? On their classmates? On their teachers?