Britain is the setting of countless films and TV series loved by audiences around the world, many of which proudly focus on LGBTQI+ stories, characters and history. Previous hits include My Beautiful Laundrette, The Hours, Kinky Boots, Maurice, The Crying Game, Weekend, Notes of a Scandal, Pride and God’s Own Country, to name just a few. And with a swathe of upcoming films and series, including Ammonite, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Supernova, Gentleman Jack, Killing Eve and Sex Education, 2021 looks set to be a ground-breaking year for British LGBTQI+ entertainment.
Filmed on location in Lyme Regis, a town in West Dorset, England, Ammonite tells the brooding story of acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet), and her lesbian relationship with married Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan) in 1840s England. Directed by gay British filmmaker Francis Lee (God’s Own Country), both Winslet and Ronan are garnering awards buzz for their performances. Mary initially clashes with Charlotte, but despite the distance between their social class and personalities an intense bond begins to develop, compelling the two women to explore the true nature of their relationship.
The Dorset and East Devon Coast, also known as the Jurassic Coast, is one of Britain’s outstanding natural gems and a designated 'natural' World Heritage Site. It spans 95 miles of sensational coastline, but what makes this coast so special is the way its rock formations provide an almost continuous geological 'walk through history' traversing the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods - a time capsule holding 185 million years of the Earth's past.
If you’re an eager adventurer dreaming of future travels, you can imagine walking along the cliff-top paths to see some of England’s most spectacular geology including Durdle Door, the large limestone arch near Lulworth. There’s also Old Harry Rocks, a mesmerising trio of chalk formations that stand proudly on the Isle of Purbeck, signalling the eastern-most point of Dorset’s coastline. The towns of Poole, Weymouth and Swanage are also popular for their sandy beaches.
Accommodation options include Summer Lodge Country House Hotel in the enchanting village of Evershot. Surrounded by rolling hills, this five-star country house hotel offers innovative menus and dining, a boutique spa and an indoor pool. A chic option in Bournemouth is The Connaught Hotel & Spa, just minutes from the beach. And right in Lyme Regis is Dorset House B&B, which overlooks the Jurassic coast and features stunning sea views
Supernova, starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, tells the story of two gay men, Sam and Tusker – partners of 20 years. Diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Tusker takes an RV journey across England with his partner to rediscover their past, visiting with old friends and family along the way. In this heart-breaking film, secrets are revealed and their long-lasting love for each other is called into question. Both Firth and Tucci are considered in the running for top actor awards this season. Supernova, in cinemas soon, while you can watch the trailer on YouTube.
Directed by Harry Macqueen, it was filmed mainly in Cumbria and the timeless landscapes of the Lake District, in England’s north-western corner. The beauty of its lakes and mountains have inspired poets and painters for centuries, with William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and J.M.W. Turner just a few of the artists who found inspiration from the area’s rich heritage and landscapes. If you’re a literature lover, you can look forward to exploring Hill Top, Potter’s former home, which she bought in 1905 with proceeds from her first book, the Tale of Peter Rabbit. You can also plan to visit the first family home of British poet William Wordsworth, Dove Cottage, which is still furnished with family belongings.
Named for the 16 glacial lakes that lie in long ribbons among its fells, moors and green valleys, the Lake District is home to the highest mountain in England, Skafell Pike, which is situated in the heart of the Lake District National Park – a favourite spot for walkers and hikers. You can explore by steam train, enjoy a cruise on Lake Windermere - the Park’s best-known lake – or visit other famed lakes including Derwentwater and Ullswater. Market towns such as Kendal, Ambleside and Keswick are popular bases for exploring the area and home to inns, galleries and shops.
Annual LGBTQI+ events in the area focus on Cumbria Pride, a yearly extravaganza of music, dance, food and fun.
Cumbria offers a range of outstanding luxury accommodation. Set in a 400-acre deer park and woodland, Armathwaite Hall Hotel and Spa is a stately home situated on Bassenthwaite Lake. Activities include forest bathing, wild swimming and paddle boarding. Part of the Leeu Collection of luxury hotels, Linthwaite House is a five-star boutique property that provides a contemporary country house set in 14 acres of established gardens and private woodlands, while Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa is a stylish countryside retreat featuring award-winning dining near Keswick off Derwentwater.
Additional accommodation options include B&Bs and self-catering cottages. The Punchbowl Inn is located in Askham, one of the most attractive villages near Penrith. Shepherd’s Cottage at Borrowdale is situated in a 14-century farmhouse offering three bedrooms, which makes it ideal for families and friends, and Stone Cottage is the perfect getaway to relax, or use as a base to explore. If you’re keen to travel by campervan, just like Sam and Tusker do in Supernova, you’ll find plenty of options at Visit Cumbria.
Located about 2.5 hours via train from Central London, Sheffield in South Yorkshire is the setting for the hit West End musical and very soon a feature film, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.
The musical follows a 16-year-old boy who battles intolerance and bullying to achieve his dream of becoming a drag queen. It originally premiered in 2017 in Sheffield before enjoying an extended run in London’s West End, with the show now planning its return to the Apollo Theatre to celebrate its third anniversary and the release of the film.
Known as a Steel City, Sheffield has long been famous as a place of industry and innovation. Nowadays, the chimney stacks have been replaced by a green, modern cityscape set against the backdrop of the Peak District National Park. Renowned for its live music, award-winning theatre (like Jamie!), street art and cultural venues – not to mention Sheffield Football Club – the city is a vibrant hub of creativity and nightlife.
The film used 22 locations in and around Sheffield. A few highlights include:
You can look forward to exploring Sheffield’s Antiques Quarter, which is brimming with treasures and retro finds along with tearooms and a flea market. Kelham Island was once the centre of the city’s manufacturing, although the former factories and workshops have been transformed into indie shopping arcades, microbreweries and galleries. In the City Centre, you will find the Crucible Theatre, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield Cathedral, Winter Garden and plenty of places to shop, eat and drink.
Annual LGBTQI+ events in the city include Pride in Sheffield, a vibrant celebration of culture and community featuring live music, drag and burlesque, food and drink and family activities. Sheffield’s Gay Quarter is centred around Dempsey’s, the longest running gay nightclub and bar in the city. Located over two floors, it features a dance floor and resident DJs plus karaoke and games nights. QJ: Queer Junction is a relatively new gay bar and is a lively place to pop in for drinks after work or later in the evening to catch drag performances.
Celebrating the release of its third season in 2021, Sex Education focuses on the life of Otis, a socially awkward teenage boy with a sex therapist mother, who sets up an underground sex therapy clinic at school. Starring Asa Butterfield, Gillian Anderson and breakout star Ncuti Gatwa, whose portrayal of Marcus’s gay best friend has received critical acclaim, the series has won rave reviews for the diversity seen in its wide array of characters (Muslim, gay, bisexual, asexual, disabled). It is filmed mostly in Wales, showcasing the beautiful Wye Valley.
A highlight of the Wye Valley is the village of Tintern on the west bank of the River Wye in Monmouthshire, Wales. Located close to the border with England, about five miles north of Chepstow, the area is famous for its racecourse and its Norman castle, which dates back to 1067. It is popular with tourists, in particular for the scenery of the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the ruins of Tintern Abbey, a Cistercian monastery, which inspired the famous poem by William Wordsworth, not to mention Alfred Lord Tennyson and the paintings of J.M.W Turner. Scenes have also been filmed in nearby villages around Llandogo, Brockweir and Symonds Yat, as well as Ross-on-Wye just across the border in England. Popular activities are walking and canoeing the Wye River.
Additional filming has taken place in and around Newport, Wales, particularly at Caerleon, which is known for its cosy pubs, restaurants, tea rooms and craft centre, in addition to Caerleon Fortress. Built by the Romans in AD75, it was one of the farthest-flung outposts of the Empire. There’s lots to see around Newport itself, including the cathedral, museum, art gallery and traditional covered market. Set in a beautiful 90-acre park is Tredegar House, one of the finest 17th century Charles II mansions in Britain. The house was built by the Morgan family, whose most famous son is Sir Henry Morgan, the original pirate of the Caribbean, after whom Captain Morgan Rum is named.
Annual pride events focus on Cardiff Pride, known as Pride Cymru’s Big Weekend. Held at the end of August, it is Wales’s largest celebration of equality and diversity. You can find more information on LGBTQI+ Wales in this handy guide.
If you’re looking forward to exploring Wales, you can also plan a visit to Cardiff’s oldest gay bar, The Golden Cross, a historic Grade II-listed pub. Something of a Welsh institution, it attracts crowds of all ages and has a vibrant beer garden.
Accommodation options include the five-star boutique Manorhaus in Llangollen in North Wales, a luxurious choice that guarantees a warm, stylish ‘croeso’ (that’s Welsh for welcome).
The cat-and-mouse lesbian relationship between Killing Eve’s two protagonists lies at the heart of the award-winning drama. Filled with sexual tension, violent twists and thrilling performances, it stars Liverpool-born actor Jodie Comer as Villanelle, whose sadomasochistic obsession with Eve (Sandra Oh) keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.
The series has featured many striking British locations, with London the star of the show. On a future visit to the British capital, you can explore featured locations including Greenfield Road in Whitechapel and Dingley Place in Islington, the spot chosen for Konstantin’s bachelor pad. Multiple Killing Eve scenes were also shot at New Malden’s Bar Malden, the home of protagonist Eve, while the Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End – a 1930s Art Deco building – was used to film shots of Café Moscow. You may also recognise the modernist building from scenes at the fictional Hotel Atlasov, which featured in the show’s second series.
Brit Movie Tours offers a guided Killing Eve walk that might be just right if you’re looking to explore the filming locations when we’re able to travel again. Covering a wide area of London on the trail of the series, it takes in highlights from London Bridge and Southwark to the Bloomsbury and Barbican areas.
Annual LGBTQI+ events in the capital focus on Pride in London. Postponed from 2020 to summer 2021 on account of Covid-19, details are still to be confirmed.
Diverse and fun-loving, Soho is the centre of London’s LGBTQI+ community and the area around Old Compton Street is buzzing with gay and lesbian bars.
One terrific way to explore the LGBTQI+ culture in SOHO is on a guided stroll with a host who knows the scene. On a future night tour, you can relax in the best bars and delve into the area’s unique history as the home of London’s LGBTQI+ community. With a wide range of gay-friendly tours available, there’s a whole host of options if you’re looking to experience the cultural highlights and history of this vibrant part of London.
Gay-friendly accommodation abounds in the city, with popular options including Haymarket Hotel, FitzBB, The Soho Hotel, Z Soho, The Mandeville Hotel and the Sanderson, in addition to a host of others.
You can find out more about LGBTQI+ London with Visit London.
Gentleman Jack tells the true story of Anne Lister and is based on her collected diaries, largely written in secret code, documenting a lifetime of lesbian relationships. The story begins with Anne’s return to her ancestral home dealing with a broken heart. As she battles to transform her family estate, she looks to find love again with a shy heiress on a neighbouring estate.
It’s set in Halifax and filmed across Yorkshire, showcasing an amazing array of period locations, not least Shibden Hall, the historic home where Anne herself lived. Other filming locations include: Sutton Park (near York,) Fairfax House (York) Broughton Hall (Skipton), Harewood House Estate (Leeds), Wentworth Woodhouse (Rotherham) and Ripponden Moor (South Pennines). You can discover more about Gentleman Jack’s filming locations with Screen Yorkshire.
Pride events in Yorkshire focus on York, Harrogate, Hull, Happy Valley Pride in Hebden Bridge, Sheffield and Leeds, although there are a wide range of LGBTQI+ bars, clubs and entertainment options across the country. You can find out more with Welcome to Yorkshire.
There are plenty of top-notch hotel choices in Yorkshire. Grantley Hall in Ripon opened in June 2019 and quickly made a name for itself with its luxury accommodation offering, while the five-star Goldsborough Hall, a stately manor in a stunning part of North Yorkshire, was once the home of Princess Mary, the aunt of Queen Elizabeth II. Other options to consider include the contemporary elegance at Dakota Leeds, Manor House Lindley in Huddersfield; and The Grand in York.
You can discover more with our LGBTQI+ City Guides.