With its stunning scenery, rich heritage and skilled industry experts, Northern Ireland has played host to many excellent television shows and movies, from A-list blockbusters to indie films and hit TV sitcoms.
The region has also produced some of the world’s best-known stars, including Belfast-born actor and director Sir Kenneth Branagh, and Fifty Shades of Grey’s Jamie Dornan (more homegrown names can be found here.)
This month, the Belfast Film Festival will showcase top local talent alongside features and short films from around the world.
To mark the event, which runs from April 11 to 20, we’ve put together a round-up of some of the finest dramas and comedies filmed in the province, and the locations which enjoyed a starring role.
Line of Duty
Jed Mercurio’s grippingly tense police drama about an anti-corruption unit stars Enniskillen-born Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings.
What’s more, much of the show was filmed in Northern Ireland. Belfast’s BT Tower and the Invest NI building appear in the fifth series, which is currently airing on BBC One.
Did you know: Line of Duty has become the biggest show of 2019 so far, with a peak of eight million viewers for episode one.
Series one of the Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls was the most-watched TV show in Northern Ireland since modern records began, pulling in more than half a million viewers in the region per episode. The show’s unique blend of humour, 90s nostalgia and teenage angst struck a chord with people throughout the UK, making it Channel 4’s biggest comedy launch series in 14 years.
The multi award-winning sitcom, which is now in its second series, has been filmed on location in Derry~Londonderry and Belfast, with north west settings including the Guildhall, Bishop’s Gate on the historic Derry Walls, and the Bogside Shops.
Did you know: Fans can now enjoy a new Derry Girls walking tour. And smartphones at the ready: there’s even a selfie-friendly mural of the show beside the city’s Foyleside Shopping Centre.
Game of Thrones®
Northern Ireland’s dramatic, breathtaking landscape made it an ideal filming location for global TV hit Game of Thrones®.
There are lots of experiences and tours on offer in the numerous settings which have appeared in the HBO series, whose eighth and final series is released this month. But whether or not you’re a GoT fan, these stunning sites are well worth a visit in their own right.
Locations include Tollymore Forest Park in County Down (the Haunted Forest in series one) and the Cushendun Caves in County Antrim (which appeared as a cove in the Stormlands) to the Castle Ward Estate in County Down (Winterfell) and County Londonderry’s Downhill Beach and Mussenden Temple (Dragonstone).
Other scenes were filmed at the famous Dark Hedges in County Antrim (the Kingsroad) and Pollnagollum Cave in County Fermanagh (Hollow Hill).
Holywood, County Down actor Jamie Dornan and The X-Files’ Gillian Anderson star in this slick, gripping thriller about a serial killer and the detective trying to catch him.
Among the locations featured in the BBC show, which ran for three tense series, are Belfast’s Merchant Hotel, the Botanic Gardens, the Waterfront Hall and the Malmaison Hotel.
Did you know: Ex-model Dornan, who ended up starring as wicked Paul Spector, originally auditioned to play a police officer.
Belfast’s vibrant musical heritage is celebrated in this 2012 film, based on a true story. It stars Richard Dormer as Terri Hooley, whose Good Vibrations record shop and label championed the city’s underground punk scene at the height of the Troubles.
Locations used in Good Vibrations included the Tavern Bar, the Oh Yeah music centre, and Queen’s University.
Did you know: Hooley’s most famous signing were The Undertones, whose song Teenage Kicks was famously described as “the most wonderful record you’ve heard in your life” by DJ John Peel.
The Lost City of Z
This 2016 film tells the story of Percy Fawcett, who led explorations into the Amazon in 1925 in search of a lost civilisation. Its star-studded cast includes Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson and Sienna Miller.
Filmed in Northern Ireland and Colombia, local locations included Castle Ward in County Down, and the Antrim Hills, which doubled as the battlefields of the Somme.
Northern Ireland hasn’t just played host to live action film and TV shows; it’s also a rich source of animated shows, including Puffin Rock, produced by Derry~Londonderry media company Dog Ears.
In addition to its narrator, Bridesmaids star Chris O’Dowd, the cast is comprised of local actors and schoolchildren who voice characters including young puffins Oona and Baba, and Bernie the hermit crab.
Dog Ears have also produced new animation Saturday Club, which aims to encourage empathy in children.
A Bump Along the Way
The opening night gala of the Belfast Film Festival stars Bronagh Gallagher in A Bump Along the Way as an immature mother who becomes pregnant after a one-night stand.
Settings for the film include Brooke Park in Derry-Londonderry, and the city’s stunning Peace Bridge.
With a wealth of events on offer, the Belfast Film Festival is well worth getting involved in during your trip to Northern Ireland. And who knows? You might just bump into a famous face or two.
Tell us your favourite show or movie filmed here at #DiscoverNI