Having heard that actor John Lithgow recently had Sunday lunch at The Swan in Lewes, we’ve been thinking about the local area’s various appearances on film and on TV.
Brighton has been part of many films and television shows – from current BBC TV police drama Cuffs to the classic movie Brighton Rock (although the remake favoured Eastbourne). Similarly, many other iconic locations within a short distance of Lewes have hosted Hollywood stars. John Lithgow’s visit to Lewes happened because he’s playing Winston Churchill in a TV drama that’s being filmed at Shoreham Airport. The Bluebell Railway is often used when steam trains are required, including classic Merchant-Ivory romantic drama A Room with a View and Disney sci-fi megaflop John Carter. Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman came ashore at Seven Sisters in their tale of Robin Hood, while Beachy Head appeared in the opening sequence of James Bond film The Living Daylights.
Getting closer to home, nearby Firle Place was used for scenes in The Return Of The Soldier (1982) and Firelight (1997). Charleston Farmhouse featured heavily in Life In Squares, the BBC’s dramatised story of the Bloomsbury Set who visited there from 1916 when Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant moved in. And Swanborough Farm, between Kingston and Iford, turned up in a 1995 Mercedes Benz TV commercial.
But what about films and TV productions shot within the county town of East Sussex itself?
Well, even after we excluded news reports, documentaries and factual shows (which ruled out Bargain Hunt), we still managed to find a handful of productions.
In 2012, Kevin Bacon was in Lewes to record a television commercial for EE’s 4G mobile service. Paddock Road and High Street can both be seen. Three years earlier, BT recorded its own TV ad on Cliffe High Street.
In fact, Lewes has also been visited by the Cuffs TV production team as well. So, who’s next?