Birmingham Skyline at night

What to see in Birmingham? 9 famous sights as seen on TV

Is Birmingham the new Hollywood? Well, maybe not quite – but it’s certainly had its fair share of big actions movies and even bigger stars. So just where in Birmingham has featured on the big screen? It’s a question we asked ourselves too; so we put together a list of the top locations used as sets for the silver screen. While on your next trip to Birmingham, be sure to keep an eye out for these famous locations!

Ready Player One 

Travel back to 2016 Birmingham and you may just see Steven Spielberg walking around the Jewellery Quarter. As crazy as it may sound, the movie Ready Player One was filmed in Birmingham back in September ‘16 for some of its top action shots and street racing. Focusing on the Jewellery Quarter, Digbeth and Spaghetti Junction, these streets were used for the set of the future!

The Birmingham Jeweller Quarter during a sunny day
The Birmingham Jewellery Quarter

Turning the Jewellery Quarter into a dystopian world set in 2045, Birmingham was used as a futuristic Ohio. The Telephone House in the centre of the city was also turned into a North American High School to be used as a backdrop. Alongside that, the St. John’s Ambulance building was renamed the ‘United States Postal Service’ with a US flag flying high above it – talk about setting the scene! So be sure to look out for the streets and buildings of Birmingham when you watch the film. 

Kingsmen: The Golden Circle 

The sequel to Taron Egerton’s starring film came out with a bang and it happened to feature a few streets from Birmingham City centre. The city centre was turned into a car-chase-lover’s dream with Waterloo Street, Edmund Street, Colmore Row, Margeret Street and Cornwall Street all being turned into a race car track for the ultimate car chase.

Skyline view of Birmingham city
Streets that were featured in the Kingsmen: The Golden Circle

Meant to represent London’s streets, there is a scene in which a car chase happens and the London Eye has been photoshopped into the background! To be precise it looks like the London Eye was photoshopped on top of Ozzie Osborne’s childhood house. Even though Taron Egerton didn’t travel to Birmingham himself, the crew certainly left a lasting impression by closing off streets and setting cars on fire – the city certainly won’t be forgetting this one any time soon.

American Assassin

As big blockbusters tend to be filmed in one location and set in another, for many films, Birmingham is often used to portray London, New York and many other cities, but one that has recently been portrayed here in Warsaw, Poland. The film American Assassin is based on the CIA taking on secret missions which lead them to Poland – or in this case, Birmingham.

The Birmingham Council house with the fountain in front.
The Birmingham Council House

Setting the stage in the Jewellery Quarter and around Birmingham Council House, the explosive scene set in Warsaw, saw Birmingham streets set ablaze as big action scenes took place. As big as the set upon explosives was, the film features even bigger stars such as Michael Keaton and Dylan O’Brien, with the film being released in 2017. 

Line of Duty

The series Line of Duty took the country by storm back in 2012 and has recently left us all wanting more. While directors and producers made it clear that the show is supposed to be set in an ‘unidentified city’, the public weren’t going to take that as the final say! With some amazing detectives at hand, we can now confirm that it was filmed in Birmingham.

A pub front with green paint and a sign that says 'The Queen's Arms'.
The Queen’s Arms as featured on Line of Duty

With shots are shown in local places like The Queen’s Arms, a grade-II listed building on Newhall Street, and road signs being featured occasionally, it was clear that Birmingham was Line of Duty’s main location. Remember the police HQ? It is, in fact, the old Birmingham Municipal Bank on Broad Street. Even though Birmingham was used a base for the first series, the rest of the show was subsequently filmed in Belfast. 

Hustle

The series that is all about swindlers and tricksters also happens to trick the public into thinking it was filmed in the city of London, when in actual fact, Birmingham is where the series was filmed. This isn’t the first time that Birmingham has doubled for London and it certainly won’t be the last, not when filming in the city is much cheaper than filming in the capital and makes for a great alternative for big blockbusters.

A birmingham street with tram tracks down the middle
Birmingham city centre, which doubled for London in Hustle

Located in the area of Saltley is an industrial warehouse that, from the outside, doesn’t appeal much to the public, but on the inside sits a luxurious penthouse apartment. The place where the gang stay to plot their master plans and Eddies bar, the local pub, are all located inside this warehouse, in the middle of Brum. While in reality the cast only spent 4 days filming in London, the other 4 months of the shoot were spent around Birmingham city including Victoria Square and Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Fun Fact: While setting up props such as red telephone boxes, the general public actually posted letters in them and the crew had to fish them out and repost them! 

Peaky Blinders

A canal boat floating on a canal at the museum.
The canal at The Black Country Living Museum

The Peaky Blinders serious that’s set in 1920s Birmingham must surely make the cut off top Birmingham film locations! Well sadly not, as in actual fact, the main filming took place in Liverpool, a neighbouring city further up the road. However, don’t be too disheartened as some of the scenes were filmed at The Black Country Living Museum that is just 6 miles outside of Birmingham. 

A 1920s bus sat outside Victorian houses at The Black Country Living Musuem.
A street used for Peaky Blinders at The Black Country Living Museum

The Black Country Museum is an interactive set where you can meet actors dressed in 1920s fashion and ‘live’ on a designed street to resemble how it would have looked in the 20s. With a whole community already staged for the museum, it makes perfect sense to use the set for the TV, with an added horse and a few gunfights. 

Birmingham isn’t just known for its various film sets but also the rich history and culture the city has. If you plan on visiting Birmingham then check out our other blogs on fantastic activities to do in the city, plus some facts you might not have known! Located close many top attractions are our serviced apartments, which you can also find here!

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Annabel Connell

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