5 movies to watch on TV this week filmed in Herts

Barbara Windsor and the cast of Crooks in Cloisters at Elstree Studios in 1963.

Barbara Windsor and the cast of Crooks in Cloisters in 1963. - Credit: Elstree Studios

Sir Sean Connery, Richard Gere, the late Barbara Windsor, Hugh Bonneville, Claire Foy, and Gwyneth Paltrow feature in films made in Herts on TV this week.

From Arthurian legend to Shakespeare and a 1960s comedy to a moving drama inspired by a true story, there's a mixture of movies with links to the county to watch at home during lockdown in the coming week.


1. First Knight
Sunday, January 31.
Paramount Network (Sky 150, Virgin 187), 6.15pm. 

Richard Gere, former James Bond star Sean Connery and Julia Ormond play the leads in this medieval adventure based on Arthurian legend.

Directed by Jerry Zucker, best known for spoof films such as Airplane! and Top Secret!, Sean Connery plays King Arthur, who wishes to marry Lady Guinevere (Julia Ormond).

Things, however, get a bit complicated when Guinevere falls in love with Lancelot (Richard Gere). 

St Albans Cathedral in the September sun. Picture: Alan Davies

St Albans Cathedral was used for the filming of First Knight starring Richard Gere and Sean Connery. - Credit: Alan Davies

While the fabled Camelot and the Round Table are situated nowhere near Hertfordshire, filming of this 1995 movie did take place in the county at St Albans Cathedral.

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The historic abbey's Lady Chapel was used for the wedding of Arthur and Guinevere.


2. The Secret Garden
Monday, February 1.
Sky Cinema Family (Sky 306, Virgin 406), 8.45am / 11.40pm. 

This latest adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved classic novel stars Colin Firth, Julie Walters and young Dixie Egerickx.

From the producer of Harry Potter and Paddington, this new take on the novel of the same name is now set in England during a new time period in 1947.

The family film follows young orphan girl Mary Lennox who, after being sent to live with her uncle, discovers a magical garden on the grounds of his remote Yorkshire estate, Misselthwaite Manor.

Colin Firth stars in The Secret Garden, a Sky Original telling the story of Mary Lennox, a 10-year-o

Colin Firth stars in The Secret Garden, a Sky Original telling the story of Mary Lennox, a 10-year-old girl sent to live with her uncle Archibald Craven at Misselthwaite Manor, a remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors. - Credit: Studio Canal / Sky UK

Colin Firth plays the role of Mary's grieving uncle, Archibald Craven, and his study in the movie is actually inside Knebworth House with scenes filmed in the Picture Gallery and State Drawing Room.

The magical garden, of course, is central to the story and scenes were also filmed on location in Hertfordshire in Woodhall Park and the grounds of Heath Mount School, in Watton-at-Stone.

Dixie Egerickx plays Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden. Picture: STUDIOCANAL

Dixie Egerickx plays Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden. - Credit: STUDIOCANAL

You can also see The Secret Garden on Sky Cinema Family on Friday, February 5 at 4.25pm.


3. Breathe
Wednesday, February 3.
BBC2, 9pm. 

This touching 2017 biographical drama starring former Spider-Man Andrew Garfield, Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville and The Crown's Claire Foy has its BBC Two premiere on Wednesday. 

The directorial debut of The Lord of the Rings' Andy Serkis, Breathe is based on the true story of film producer Jonathan Cavendish’s own parents, Robin and Diana.

Adventurous and charismatic, Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield) has his whole life ahead of him when he is paralysed by polio aged 28 while in Africa in 1958.

Playing Robin's loving and courageous wife Diana is Golden Globe winner Claire Foy.

Given only three months to live, Robin defies medical experts by becoming one of the longest-living polio survivors in Britain.

Inventor and Oxford professor Teddy Hall (Hugh Bonneville) helps him develop a wheelchair with a built-in respirator in order to free him from confinement to a bed.

Robin then devotes the rest of his life to helping fellow patients and becomes an advocate for disabled people.

The movie includes scenes shot at Hatfield House. 

The Old Palace and the gatehouse at the top of Fore Street in Old Hatfield also feature in the film.

The entrance to Hatfield House at the top of Fore Street in Hatfield [Picture: Alan Davies]

The gatehouse entrance to Hatfield House at the top of Fore Street in Hatfield. - Credit: Alan Davies

Both Breathe stars Hugh Bonneville and Claire Foy have appeared in other productions filmed on location at Hatfield House.

Claire Foy played Elizabeth in the first two series of Netflix royal drama The Crown, with scenes from season one shot on location at Lord Salisbury's Jacobean mansion.

The Old Palace at Hatfield House [Picture: Alan Davies]

The Old Palace at Hatfield House. - Credit: Archant

The Old Palace at Hatfield House. Picture: Alan Davies.

The Old Palace at Hatfield House. - Credit: Alan Davies

In one episode Foy gives a speech as Elizabeth standing in front of the famous Rainbow Portrait of Elizabeth I in the Marble Hall. 

Viceroy’s House, starring Hugh Bonneville opposite The X Files’ Gillian Anderson, also used the Hertfordshire estate.

The first Paddington movie featuring Bonneville as Henry Brown also includes scenes filmed in Hatfield.


4. Crooks in Cloisters
Thursday, February 4.
Talking Pictures (Sky 328, Virgin 445), 10.35am. 

The late Dame Barbara Windsor had a long association with the film studios of Elstree. 

Before she became the matriarch of the Mitchell family in EastEnders, which is filmed at BBC Elstree Centre, Dame Barbara Windsor starred in this 1964 British crime caper as a bunch of crooks develop bad habits.

Having pulled off a train robbery, 'Little Walter' (Ronald Fraser) and his gang of rogues are forced to hide out in a monastery on a remote Cornish island disguised as monks.

Think a 1960s British comedy before Sister Act or Nuns on the Run.

Barbara Windsor plays Walter's moll Bikini – later 'Brother Bikini' – in the movie.

Barbara Windsor and cast of Crooks in Cloisters, including Bernard Cribbins and Melvyn Hayes in 1963.

Barbara Windsor and cast of Crooks in Cloisters, including Bernard Cribbins and Melvyn Hayes, in 1963. - Credit: Elstree Studios

In the same year Babs also made her Carry On debut as Daphne Honeybutt, aka Agent Brown Cow, in Carry On Spying.

Shot at the now Hertsmere Borough Council-owned Elstree Studios, Crooks in Cloisters also stars Bernard Cribbins as 'Squirts' and Melvyn Hayes as 'Willy'.

Melvyn Hayes went on to appear in 1970s sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum as Gunner ‘Gloria’ Beaumont and later ran St Albans pub The White Hart Tap. 


5. Shakespeare in Love
Friday, February 5.
BBC1, 11.35pm. 

Shakespeare comedy Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter... Doesn't sound quite right, does it?

A young Will Shakespeare, played by Joseph Fiennes, has writer's block in this Oscar-winning 1998 period romantic comedy.

Enter Gwyneth Paltrow as the up-and-coming playwright's new muse, the beautiful and betrothed Lady Viola.

The path of true love does not run smooth for Will, but the joys and tragedy of his own life find their way onto the page in this moving, witty and spellbinding tale.

The fireworks scene in the movie was filmed at Hatfield House, the childhood home of Elizabeth I.

Judi Dench won an Oscar for her supporting role in the movie as Queen Elizabeth I.

The all-star cast also includes Colin Firth as Lord Wessex, Ben Affleck as Ned Alleyn, Geoffrey Rush as Philip Henslowe, and Simon Callow as Edmund Tilney.

Shakespeare In Love won the 'Best Picture' Oscar at the 71st Academy Awards, beating Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, which was also filmed in Hatfield at the former British Aerospace factory and aerodrome site. 


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