The town most recently featured in TV thriller Close To Me, starring Hollywood star Connie Nielsen and former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston and currently screening on Channel 4. The show was mostly set in Hastings and St Leonards, and the seafront scenes were filmed in September last year, with large numbers of film trucks in the town.
Previously, in filmic terms, the area was most famous for Foyle’s War which regularly saw more than seven million viewers tune into its two-hour episodes. It featured Hastings-based Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, played by Michael Kitchen, and was set just after VE Day in 1945, with Foyle trying to adjust to the quiet life of the seaside. The final episode was aired in 2015, after eight series. The following year, Foyle’s stunning house in the ITV show - St Just, in Croft Road, Hastings Old Town - was put on the market for £785,000.
Another popular show set in Hastings and St Leonards was Roadkill starring Hugh Laurie. The BBC four-part thriller was broadcast last year, and saw Laurie give a very convincing portrayal of a politician whose life was crumbling apart as quickly as the nearby cliffs. The show was written by David Hare and directed by Line Of Duty’s Michael Keillor. For one scene, a business on the seafront near Warrior Square, in St Leonards, was turned into a chip shop. Laurie - playing justice minister Peter Laurence - was filmed munching a fish supper inside, chatting to the owner and staring out at the sea. During filming in the town in January 2020, Laurie gave our Images Editor Justin Lycett a thumbs up as he stopped at a pedestrian crossing for him. The shot was caught on Justin’s car’s dashcam.
Rye has also been a popular film location. In 2013, George Clooney directed The Monuments Men there. His crew took over The George In Rye, a 16th century hotel in the town centre, as well as nearby Pontins Camber Sands Holiday Park. The film was a bit of a flop at the box office, despite its all-star cast including Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett.
In 2011, British vampire film Byzantium was filmed in Hastings. It featured a centuries-old prostitute, played by Gemma Arterton. In 2007, Is Anybody There?, a British film starring Michael Caine as an elderly ex-magician in the early stages of dementia was also shot in the town. Other movies filmed in Hastings include the 1999 biopic Grey Owl, directed by Richard Attenborough, and starring Pierce Brosnan as the Hastings schoolboy turned Native American fur trapper and conservationist Archibald Stansfeld Belaney.