Canals and rivers on screen

Our waterways have been in the limelight - or set lights - from feature films to fashion shoots for years.

photo of Paddington 2 film still Paddington 2

From James Bond to Call the Midwife, our canals and rivers have provided unique and varied backdrops for all kinds of productions. Most recently Little Venice in London became the scene of chaotic chase in Paddington 2, with Paddington riding on the back of a dog in Browning's Pool and the home to Charlie's narrowboat in the romantic comedy Finding your Feet. In 2014 Gloucester Docks was transported back to the 19th century for a day, complete with tall ships and llamas, as setting for the opening scene of Alice Through the Looking Glass. Later the same year the Regent's Canal doubled up as the River Thames for S.P.E.C.T.R.E and in February 2015 Three Mills on the River Lea became Vienna for a scene in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (our widebeam boat Jena had a cameo role).

photo of Disney, Alice Through the Looking Glass filming at Gloucester Docks

The rich heritage of our canals has become the focus of period dramas such as Peaky Blinders, filmed at Ellesmere Port and Call The Midwife, filmed at Bulborne Yard on the Grand Union Canal. Back in the present day our locations have featured in modern dramas such as Channel 4's Humans, BBC's Hard Sun and Silent Witness. Off screen, the Regent's Canal made its way on to the pages of Vogue magazine several times, with models Cara Delevingne and Edie Campbell gracing the towpaths.

Production still of Call The Midwife BBC show filming by canal

Over the past three years the Channel 4 series Great Canal Journeys with Timothy West and Prunella Scales and ITV's Barging Around Britain with John Sergeant have taken a closer look at waterway heritage, culture and boating lifestyle today. This year Celebrity Carry on Barging with Debbie McGee, Simon Callow, Lorraine Chase and Nigel Havers continues the trend for 'slow living' TV shows.

In 2015 BBC4 commissioned two new documentary series focusing on canals, the slow TV style All Aboard! The Canal Trip was great success as well as Canals: The Making of a Nation which delved into the history of our waterways and uncovered the ways in which they've helped shape modern British life. In recent years desirable waterside homes on and beside our waterways have been showcased in series such as Grand DesignsGeorge Clarke's Amazing Spaces and Escape to the Country.

We also work alongside production companies to highlight the great work we do at Canal & River Trust – recently CBeebies' The Lets Go Club have filmed with our lock keepers on the Leeds & Liverpool canal. Our staff and volunteers love to get involved in the planning of these types of programmes and are more than happy to be part of the action on the day.

photo of CBeebies filming at Bingley

Last date edited: 26 March 2018