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Films to get you in the mood for a Cornish holiday

Missing the Cornwall landscape? Escape to the Duchy with our roundup of some Cornish classics from the big and small screen.

Already dreaming of your summer stay-cation? Looking for some Cornish inspiration? Muddy to the rescue with 12 films and TV series to banish long winter January evenings.

Rick Stein’s Cornwall (2022 and 2021)

Rick’s back on the beeb this Jan with another 15 episode whistle-stop tour round the Duchy, meeting artists and producers, locals and famous residents, and, in episode 1, joining the cold water swimmers in Bude Sea Pool. (Every week day, BBC2, 6.30pm, or on iPlayer). You can also find all of season one on catch up too)

Doc Martin (2004 – 2022)

Nine series and 70 episodes have so far been shown of this long running medical comedy set in fictional Portwenn (Port Isaac) with the tenth and final series set to be filmed in the spring/summer of 2022… get ready by indulging in a marathon catch up session!

Blue Juice (1995)

This legendary 90s surf film stars Sean Pertwee, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ewan McGregor and is a bit of cult classic. With an entertaining story line and lots of recognisable scenery, Cool Britannia meets the Cornish surf scene and we’re here for it – hard to believe it was made 25 years ago, until you look at their outfits!

Poldark (2015)

No Cornish roundup is complete with out a Poldark mention – there’s other adaptations of the Winston Graham but Aiden Turner in the BBC’s 2015 historical drama series is surely the best version of Ross? You know the drill, sweeping landscapes, dramatic music, heaving bosoms and plenty of ogling to be done. You know, of the scenery, obvs.

Fisherman’s Friends (2019)

The Fisherman’s Friends are a real singing group based in Port Isaac (in non-Covid times you can hear them singing on The Platt outside the Golden Lion) and this somewhat cheesy romantic comedy follows their story. Artistic licence has obviously been applied, but it makes a pleasant if predictable watch, particularly if you’re missing Port Isaac, or have watched all of Doc Martin. (Watch out for the sequel which is due to start filming at some point soon, where the group head to Glastonbury).

Ladies in Lavender (2004)

Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Natascha McElhone, and Miriam Margolyes star in this adaptation of a short story, set in the film just pre-war. Two sisters find a washed-up handsome stranger on the beach and in this polite examination of society, nurse him back to health. Filmed on location in Cadgwith, Helston, St. Ives and Prussia Cove, look out for lots of Cornish scenery. If you can find it that is, despite many of you recommending it as a go-to Cornish classic, it’s hard to find online!

Summer in February (2013)

Dominic Cooper is bohemian artist Alfred Munnings in this historical drama – which received rather a lot of bad reviews, but don’t let that put if you off if you’re looking for a fix of the Cornish landscape, the scenery shines through perhaps rather better than some of the storylines!

BAIT (2019)

A fisherman without a boat, the struggle between locals and tourists – this BAFTA winning film shot in black-and-white using a hand-cranked 16mm Bolex, set in a Cornish fishing village against a backdrop of second homes, short-term lets, and gentrification is grittier by far than any of the other films here – but critically acclaimed and refreshingly authentic, it is definitely worth a watch.

About Time (2013)

Directed by Richard Curtis and starring Bill Nighy, Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, About Time is a time-travelling rom-com with loads of Cornwall featuring, including the family home as Porthpean House, Gorran Haven and Vault Beach, plus the interior wedding scene is St Michael Penkevil church near Tregothnan and the exterior is Portloe on The Roseland. Heartwarming as usual from Curtis and will brighten up a January evening no end.

Saving Grace (2000)

This well-received film set in Port Isaac and Boscastle is responsible for the far more well-known ITV spin-off, Doc Martin. Saving Grace is a comedy, where a middle aged widow whose irresponsible husband left her in an enormous debt, is forced to grow cannabis in her greenhouse along with her gardener Matthew to avoid losing her house. It also stars Martin Clunes as, yes, you’ve guessed it, Doc Martin.

Tristan and Isolde (2006)

One of the greatest legends of Cornwall is the tragic tale of Tristram and Iseult which Ridley Scott adapted in a typical sweeping action packed film back in 2006, starring James Franco and Sophia Myles. Sadly this version was mostly filmed in Ireland and the Czech Republic, but has to be worth a mention.

My Cousin Rachel (2017) and Rebecca (2020)

No Cornwall film round-up is complete without a Daphne du Maurier mention – both Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel are practically synonymous with Cornwall, yet both recent adaptations hardly show any actual Cornish scenery. If you’re a fan of DdM or either of these books, you’ll enjoy them regardless, even if Rebecca in particular was taken on a rather new modern adaption.

If you’re looking for a true Cornish adaptation of a DdM novel though, seek out Hitchcock’s 1939 version of Jamaica Inn, filmed on location at Bolventor on Bodmin Moor, where the real inn still stands.

Have we missed out your favourite? Let us know in the comments?

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