Where is This Town filmed? Birmingham locations behind the BBC drama

Dated destinations across the West Midlands set the scene for Eighties Birmingham

Natalie Wilson
Friday 05 April 2024 13:45 BST
Tower blocks in Birmingham backdrop Steven Knight’s new drama
Tower blocks in Birmingham backdrop Steven Knight’s new drama (BBC/Banijay Rights/Kudos/Robert Viglasky)

New BBC drama This Town has been a top hit with ska music fans since its debut at the end of March, and the retro local settings are reminiscent of an industrial city’s musical heyday.

The six-part miniseries from Peaky Blinders creator – and Midlands native – Steven Knight is set in Eighties Birmingham and narrates the tangled lives of those living in the social unrest of “a city on edge”.

Described as a story of “feuds, family and fierce music”, actor Levi Brown stars as the lyrical poet Dante Williams alongside Downtown Abbey’s Michelle Dockery and Jordan Bolger.

Soundtracked by Ray Charles, The Clash, Bob Marley and Coventry-based ska revival band The Specials, the heart of This Town beats in Birmingham.

Here are the West Midlands locations behind the Brummie-based family saga.

Where is This Town filmed?

Druids Heath in south Birmingham is used for the high-rise blocks of Chelmsley Wood (BBC/Banijay Rights/Kudos)

Druids Heath, Birmingham

In This Town, the tower blocks of Druids Heath in south Birmingham double as the high-rise blocks of Saxelby House, Kingswood House and Barratts House where Dante lives in Chelmsley Wood.

The original Chelmsley Wood blocks, Europe’s largest single housing development in the Sixties, were demolished in the 1990s.

Heartlands Parkway, Nechells 

A spaceman was carried roadside down Heartlands Parkway in Nechells during a motorway scene, across the red and black diamond brickwork.

Gravelly Hill, Birmingham 

The famed tangle of roads at the motorway interchange Spaghetti Junction is seen on screen in the series. Actors filmed underneath the Gravelly Hill motorway junction to save getting caught up in the on-road confusion.

Filming too place underneath Gravelly Hill’s motorway junction (BBC/Banijay Rights/Kudos)

Horse and Coaches, West Bromwich

The Horse and Coaches in West Bromwich was used as a set to recreate Chelmsley Wood’s former The Happy Trooper pub. New signage and retro tweaks to interiors by production brought the Trooper, demolished to make space for a housing development, back to life.

Aston Parish Church, Birmingham

The cameras rolled at Aston’s Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul in Witton Lane, believed to have been founded in the 9th century, to encapsulate the community hubs of Birmingham 40 years ago.

Set designers used shop signage to recreate retro Birmingham (BBC/Banijay Rights/Kudos)

Birks Street and Fielding Street, Stoke-on-Trent

To echo the Eighties, crews headed to the still-authentic terraced houses and back alleys of Birks Street and Fielding Street in Stoke-on-Trent in place of Birmingham music hub Handsworth. Here, riot scenes were also filmed off Lyndhurst Street in Burslem.

Digbeth Loc. Studios, Birmingham 

Some scenes from This Town were shot at Steven Knight’s own Digbeth Loc Studios in Minerva Works which opened in 2023.

The 80,000 sq ft space aims to “plant a thriving industry in Birmingham” and “engage with the city” according to screenwriter, film and television producer, Knight.

Several riot scenes were filmed in Stoke-on-Trent (BBC/Banijay Rights/Kudos)

Walsall Junction, Walsall

The bridge at Bescot overlooking Walsall Junction, the busy stretch between the M5 and M6, was used to film a scene between Dante and Jeannie.

Coventry Cathedral, Coventry 

Knight confirmed that the cast took to Coventry, the birthplace of ska bands Two-Tone and The Specials.

Several interior church shots were filmed inside the Coventry cathedral, with other locations including the Spon End estate, Bell Green Social Club in Roseberry Ave and Riley Square in Bell Green filmed in the English city.

Knight described the medieval cathedral as being “beautiful beyond belief”.

Downtown Abbey’s Michelle Dockery stars as alcoholic singer Estella (BBC/Banijay Rights/Kudos)

All six episodes of ‘This Town’ are available to stream now on BBC iPlayer.

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