This Bloody Good Map Extensively Charts The Locations Of 60 British TV Shows
Tim Ritz loves British television. So much, that he decided to map it.
One day, while deep into an episode of Foyle's War, Kolleen asked me: "Where exactly in England is Hastings anyway?"And so I drew her a map of the UK—on a Post-It note—with a dot on the southeastern coast. And then she asked where Downton Abbey was, and then Pride and Prejudice ... and soon it was was just too much for the tiny sketch. "You should do this map for real!" she said. So I did.
You can explore the extensive, interactive map, which charts the locations of 60 scripted British TV shows here. They include not only where the show takes place, but where they're filmed (if not on location), and what channel the show originally appeared on. By his count, Ritz tells LAist he's watched 29 of the shows on the map. "I'm almost disgusted with myself by that number, but whatever," he said. Hey, no judgement here.
As British TV became more popular and available in the United States, remakes of British shows became popular, too. Ritz, a Washington D.C. based graphic designer, tells LAist that while some of these remakes, like The Office, evolved into their own things, others, like Skins, were simply rubbish.
"Once some original British shows became higher-profile hits here, everyone just kind of realized, 'Wow, there is so much good TV coming out of Britain, and it's already in the English language, why are we remaking it?" Ritz said.
London is such a popular location that it gets its own inset, detailing the specific neighborhoods of some of the shows, like Call The Midwife, Wolf Hall, The IT Crowd, Luther, and my personal favorite, Peep Show.
"There are so many references in these shows about UK-specific stuff — slang, pop-culture, and of course places," Ritz tells LAist. "I find myself pausing an episode of Peep Show to Wikipedia what Mark Corrigan is referencing and I wind up buried in the medieval history of Wales 45 minutes later."
In some shows, the location is an especially crucial element of the story; like the postwar East London slums of Call The Midwife. "Or Foyle's War," Ritz says, "where the Hastings location sets up the importance for all of the plots. The idea that Hastings is this coastal city right between occupied France and London is really important to understand why everyone is always a bit on edge."
But on the other hand, there can be a marked discrepancy between where the shows are filmed versus where they're supposed to take place. Take for example Downton Abbey, which Ritz points out is shot at Highclere Castle in sunnier Southern England, but is supposed to be located in gloomy North Yorkshire.
British television can be educational in more ways than one, Ritz says.
"You don't take for granted as much of the assumed level of regional or cultural knowledge as their original intended audience, so you have to sort of make up for that, and you wind up learning a new thing," he says. "A lot of my desire to put this map together was just to make something fun that addressed at least one layer of that knowledge, namely the geography."
Before you jump down Ritz's throat for not including one of your British favorites, know that the map is in flux. "I know the second this gets posted a bunch of fans of things I've left out will come clamoring," he says. "But I plan on adding those shows though. I was thinking of this mostly as a guide to stuff people are watching now with some classics sprinkled in where they fit." Personally, I need to know where the magical tent on The Great British Baking Show is located.
Ok. Time for my annual Pride and Prejudice binge.