The city of Oxford has maintained its reputation as a popular location for film and television, with popular BBC soap EastEnders filming in Oxford during the Easter vacation. James Kent’s film Testament of Youth also used Oxford as a filming location in early April.
EastEnders actors Diane Parish and Belinda Owusu, who play characters Denise and Libby Fox respectively, were spotted in late March strolling through Oxford’s Botanic Gardens, with film crews also seen outside the Radcliffe Camera. Owusu’s character, Libby Fox, left Albert Square in 2010 to attend Oxford University. The episode that aired on April 18 depicted a visit from Libby’s mother.
Oxford University has links with the much-loved BBC soap, with executive producer Dominic Treadwell-Collins graduating from Merton College in 1996. Chief executive of Experience Oxfordshire Giles Ingram described the news as ‘fantastic’ for the city’s image, emphasising the ‘enormous’ audience reach enjoyed by EastEnders. The news was also treated favourably by students interested in Access issues. History fresher Megan Erwin, for example, described the news as “encouraging’, the Oxford Student that the depiction of Oxford as “normal” and ‘attainable’ in a soap as popular as EastEnders was ‘a very good thing’.
The Easter vacation also brought filming of period drama Testament of Youth. The film, an adaptation of the 1933 book, chronicles the experiences of Vera Brittain during the First World War. Brittain postponed her English studies at Somerville College during the War to serve as a nurse, later returning to the city as a feminist writer. Film crews were spotted in Radcliffe Square in early April. The square’s pavement was covered in sand and gravel to provide a historic appearance, with several students who remained in Oxford over the vacation stopping to admire the Edwardian style cars deployed outside the Sheldonian Theatre. Filming also took place in Merton College.
The film features Game of Thrones actor Kit Harrington, bringing delight to Oxford’s many fans of the popular HBO show. One avid fan told the OxStu that she ‘would have loved’ to have been in Oxford during the filming, with another explaining that he would have ‘definitely got [Harrington’s] autograph’. The film is due to be released in 2015.
Oxford is well known as a popular location for filming, with the Harry Potter franchise, The Golden Compass, and the popular detective series Morse all heavily featuring the city.