Which stunning TV settings topped all others last year? Read on to find out which Radio Times* readers voted the top 10 of 2013…
10. Sicily – Inspector Montalbano
Nine series and a prequel later, we still can’t get enough of Inspector Salvo Montalbano’s Sicilian crime-fighting capers against a stunning backdrop of ancient churches, pastel coastlines and warm rural views.
Must see: Porto Empedocle is the real spot that inspired writer Andrea Camilleri in his vision of Vigàta – the fictional town in the original novels and TV series. Meanwhile, in Punta Secca, Ragusa, visitors will find Montalbano’s seafront home. “This beach is a striking, emblematic place,” says producer Luciano Ricceri, “and a hard one to forget.” As for Salvo’s police station, it’s actually the Palazzo di Città town hall in Scicli.
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9. Guadeloupe – Death in Paradise
Ben Miller played fish-out-of-water detective Richard Poole in the first two series of this crime drama – Kris Marshall is the new star – set on the fictional tropical island of Saint-Marie. In real life it is filmed on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe – “one of the friendliest, safest places you could possibly go,” says Miller. “It feels like there’s no crime whatsoever.”
Must see: Much of the drama is shot in Deshaies, a commune on the north-west coast of Basse-Terre Island. The beautiful beaches from the series (Grande Anse, Rifflet, La Perle and Bas Vent) are all nearby. There’s also a pretty botanical garden, plus world-class diving opportunities. Interestingly, Poole’s house didn’t exist before the show; the production team found the perfect view and then built a house on it.
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8. Italy –Gino’s Italian Escape
In Gino D’Acampo’s culinary tour, viewers are taken on a taste experience through southern Italy – to the glorious Amalfi Coast for its zesty lemons, Rome for its cured meats and Naples for its ripe buffalo mozzarella.
Must see: D’Acampo also recommends Bologna, but not for its most famous “export”. “Don’t come here for the bolognese sauce; come here for the way these guys make pasta – it’s second to none.” In fact, he says, before going into any restaurant in Italy, check the menu. “If they have spaghetti bolognese, stay well away. It is an English and American dish, and it means that the restaurant is not good enough for Italian people so they have to cater for tourists.”
Visit Italy with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details
7. New York – Mad Men
The hit drama about debauched New York advertising executives in the 1960s is filled with legendary Manhattan haunts.
Must see: The offices from the early seasons can be found on Madison Avenue itself. Elsewhere, PJ Clarke’s bar and diner on Third Avenue – Frank Sinatra was a regular – features in season one, when the Sterling Cooper team celebrates a successful pitch by dancing the twist next to the bar. Other filming spots include a Benihana teppanyaki restaurant on 56th Street where Don Draper and Bethany Van Nuys went on a date.
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6. Australia – I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here
Every year, a dozen celebrities descend on the Murwillumbah jungle inside Springbrook National Park, where they attempt various revolting challenges in the bush-tucker trials. As well as setting up a critter-infested camp of their own, visitors to the park can attempt their own challenges.
Must see: The I’m a Celeb… camp is right under the park’s main suspension bridge. There are plenty of rainforest resorts, B&Bs and farmhouses in which to stay. The Springbrook Plateau is stunning, and there are nocturnal glow-worm tours in Cave Creek.
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5. New Zealand – Top of the Lake
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) plays a dysfunctional detective in this harrowing BBC2 series that follows the search for a missing teenage girl. It’s shot against the menacing mountains, long open roads, dense forests and deep lakes of Queenstown on the South Island.
Must see: “The landscape is always innocent,” says writer Jane Campion. “It’s a very healing environment.” Moke Lake doubles for Paradise in the series; companies organise swimming, kayaking or fishing outings. The rolling green Dart Valley is where the search party heads. “The undergrowth of moss and fern is unique in these beech forests,” says producer Philippa Campbell.
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4. Dorset – Broadchurch
David Tennant and Olivia Colman star in this small-town whodunnit drama, which returns to ITV in 2014. Unsurprisingly, the beautiful Jurassic Coast backdrop has seen a soar in visitor numbers since the show hit our screens last year.
Must see: The action takes place at West Bay, which is two miles from Bridport. Local entrepreneurs have set up Broadchurch walking tours, but you can do it yourself by visiting the death cliff and stunning seaside spot at West Bay, the police station at the Folly, Quay West, plus village spots from the series including the Harbour Newsagent, the Ellipse Caffé Bistro and Chesil House – where Olivia Colman’s DS Ellie Miller’s stays.
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3. London – Mr Selfridge
In the wake of Downton Abbey came this high-profile period drama starring Jeremy Piven as Harry Gordon Selfridge – the American who founded his eponymous high-end department store in 1909.
Must see: Although much of the series was filmed on set, fans can, of course, visit the original store in London’s Oxford Street. In the centre of the grand masonry-columned façade, above the main entrance, there’s an intricate blue and gold statue of the Queen of Time riding in her “Ship of Commerce”, which remains in its original spot, as do some of the large oak doorways inside. Exterior shots, meanwhile, were taken at the historic Chatham Dockyard, as seen in Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey.
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2. Cornwall – Doc Martin
With its dreamy scenery and excellent writing, this series about a grumpy London surgeon (Martin Clunes) who relocates to the sleepy Cornish village of Portwenn has run to six series.
Must see: The drama was shot on location in the pretty southwest seaside town of Port Isaac. It’s a lovely base from which to explore the coastal paths that weave in and out of the area. Martin Clunes recommends a walk to Port Quin. “There’s a beautiful crenellated folly there called Doyden Castle,” he says. “Built about 1830, it doubled as Pentire Castle at the end of season five.” Meanwhile, fans of the show can snap a picture of Fern Cottage on nearby Roscarrock Hill – the doctor’s house in the series.
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1. Iceland – Game of Thrones
Here it is, the TV-show that topped all others last year, your number one location – Iceland. But, truth be told, this northern nation is just one of the incredible locations that features in HBO’s epic fantasy series, which has visited Malta, Croatia and Northern Ireland, to name but a few. Different locations are used to represent the various noble houses, all battling it out for the Iron Throne. Iceland brings active glaciers and blizzards to the drama, and is the backdrop for many of the scenes featuring Kit Harington’s Jon Snow (the bastard son of Eddard Stark). Snow leaves the wall that guards the Seven Kingdoms and ventures into an area where the mythical “white walkers” roam.
Must see: Scenes take place at Hofdabrekka Heath and Skaftafell in Iceland, where incredible blue ice sculptures, mountain ridges and the mountains known as the Frostfangs in the series can be seen. See page 13 for our Game of Thrones guide to Northern Ireland.
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*Poll was conducted with 1926 entrants on RadioTimes.com