Films and TV Shows to Watch Before Visiting Cambridge, England
As if its amazing university, boat race and the beauty of the River Cam itself wasn’t enough, Cambridge has also been the backdrop of many recent movie and TV dramatisations – some of which we’ve listed here.
Meanwhile, historian Dr Gill Sutherland of Newman College @Newnham_College says: “For Cambridge residents, it’s always great fun to see how a production has stitched together a doorway from one college, a flight of steps from another college, and then a street from the other end of town.
Many would watch this just to feast on leading actor James Norton for an hour or so – regardless of the script. But, happily, the storylines aren’t bad. Set in 1950s Grantchester (the village next to Cambridge with the lovely meadows and famous tearoom), it features clergyman Sidney Chambers (Norton) who ends up being a private detective. It has the great nickname of ‘Cluedo with cassocks.’
This time it’s Cambridge in the 1970s (don’t you just adore all these dated reincarnations of the city and its surroundings?).
Sherlock star Martin Freeman plays a leading character in this movie which is all about how the home computer came to dominate our lives. It includes a scenario featuring the video game crash of 1983 (‘course you remember it). Cambridge University actually supplied all the old computers for this.
Photo of King’s College in Cambridge by Chris Boland
As the title suggests, this is a spy thriller set in Cambridge. Filmed with overheard conversations and hurried phone calls, it outlines the story of four of the Cambridge Five Soviet Spies responsible for passing on classified info to the Russians during WWII. Two of the Cambridge students later defected to Russia in 1951. Many of the city’s lovely cobbled streets appear in this film, as does its impressive architecture.
A touching tale about the life of the American poet Sylvia Plath’s university days in Cambridge when she met charming fellow poet Ted Hughes. The film shows her struggles with depression and her love of poetry (and Hughes). It has a top-rated cast of Gwyneth Paltrow (Plath) and Daniel Craig (Hughes). The hallowed corridors of Cambridge and The Cam also have a starring role, of course.
This is a film about teachers at a grammar school in Sheffield getting boys prepared to do their entrance exams for Cambridge and Oxford. It’s during their final year and set in the mid-noughties when declaring you are gay could be tough. Adapted from an Alan Bennett play, the movie has big names such as James Corden, Dominic Cooper and Russell Tovey. Funny and very touching at times, a great film you’re bound to love.
The incredibly inspiring story of the late Stephen Hawking. This starts from his Cambridge University days where he meets his wife and later learns of his awful condition – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Hawking – who survived his conditions decades more than the experts said he would – is played in the film by Eddie Redmayne, while Cambridge – and the university in particular – is the stunning backdrop.