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6th March 2023

Manchester on the Screen

“…this is set in Manchester!”
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Manchester on the Screen
Manchester’s Peter Street disguised as Manhattan in The Crown Season 4. Credit: Netflix

During the previous lockdowns, many second and third-year students may recall parts of their freshers’ experience not as the social whirl they had hoped for, but as time spent locked in their rooms, entertaining themselves with the likes of Netflix and social media. While students now have much more freedom to entertain themselves socially and to explore Manchester, we all still need some downtime, especially those recovering from the inevitable fresher’s flu. As for me, on several occasions, I have settled down to watch a film or series, only to quickly realize, “Hang on, I recognise that club… this is set in Manchester!”

Whether you’re looking for inspiration on how to spend your time here (although it’s probably best not to take that from these recommendations) or simply want characters that are relatable when it comes to their postcode, here are my top choices for films and TV shows set in Manchester to explore the city from the comfort of your bed. Manchester is a vibrant and diverse city that has a lot to offer. From its rich history to its thriving music and arts scene, there is always something to discover. Watching films and TV shows set in Manchester is a great way to get a feel for the city and its culture, especially if you’re new to the area. Whether you’re in the mood for drama, comedy, or something in between, there is no shortage of films and TV shows set in Manchester to keep you entertained. So grab some popcorn and settle in for a virtual tour of this amazing city!

1) Queer as Folk

Set in 1999 on Canal Street, in the heart of Gay Village, Queer as Folk follows the lives of a group of gay friends navigating nightclubs, hook-up culture and their own feelings towards eachother. Available on Netflix, Queer as Folk is chaotic, witty, bittersweet and at points very sad, but absolutely worth watching.

2) Control

This beautifully shot film about the life of Joy Division’s Lead Singer Ian Curtis is available on Amazon Prime and set in Macclesfield and Manchester. Based on the memoirs of and co-produced by Curtis’ wife, Deborah Curtis, Control is an incredibly atmospheric and raw depiction of Joy Division’s rise to success, their wild popularity and their abrupt end as a band due to their lead singer’s suicide.

3) Fresh Meat

Unlike the previous two suggestions, this probably won’t make you cry. Fresh Meat is a sitcom about six housemates studying at the University of Manchester and if you haven’t watched it yet: A) You live under a rock and B) I am jealous that you are now able to watch it for the first time. Directed by Sam Bain (writer of Peep Show), this series had been binged in its entirety by me at least four times by the time I was in Year 11 and is available on Netflix.

4) 24 Hour Party People

Starring Steve Coogan (and lots of other people you’ll recognise), 24 Hour Party People film follows the cultural phenomenon of the Punk Rock scene followed by Rave and DJ culture in Manchester from the late 1970’s to early 1990’s through the narration of the real life character, Tony Wilson, owner of Factory Records and The Hacienda Nightclub. This film is characterised by its fast pacing and frequent breaking of the Fourth wall by Tony (Coogan) and is available on Amazon Prime.

5) The Crown (Season 4)

In the fourth season of Netflix’s The Crown (see our review here), Manchester was transformed into New York City using a combination of practical and visual effects. The production team utilised various locations around Manchester, including the town hall, to recreate the grandeur of New York City’s iconic landmarks such as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Additionally, CGI was used to add in the distinctive skyline and cityscape of New York. Through careful attention to detail and expert craftsmanship, the transformation successfully transported viewers to the bustling streets of Manhattan.

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