From South African deserts to chocolate-box English villages, Second World War bomb craters to glossy offices in the heart of corporate London, filming for Amazon Prime Video’s Good Omens has been a global effort.
Here’s everything you need to know about the filming locations for Good Omens.
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Garden of Eden
With lush vegetation on one side of the Garden of Eden’s wall and a barren desert on the other, location scouts needed a place of extremes for the first location in human history. Shooting took place around Cape Town, South Africa, with the desert scenes filmed in the sun-bleached Atlantis Dunes just outside the city.
In an interview for the show’s accompanying book, The Nice and Accurate Good Omens TV Companion, first assistant director Francesco Reidy explained the difficulties attached to filming in a miniature Sahara.
“Filming in those kind of areas is difficult,” said Reidy. “It’s exposed. It’s very hot, there’s no shade and you can burn easily. Bringing equipment is also a challenge. Everything had to come in on a fleet of four-wheel-drive jeeps or tractor-type vehicle, and there was a huge amount to get in.”
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Some Garden of Eden scenes were also filmed at Cascade Country Manor, Paarl, built by the Duke of Bedford following World War Two. The location was chosen due to its stunning waterfall, but there was a problem: at the time of shooting, production took place during a severe drought in the Western Cape province.
“We had to ask the special effects department to find a way to pick up water from the bottom and redistribute it to the top,” Reidy said. “It was a complicated business, but much to our surprise we found there was still some water coming down, which really helped. Despite the problems in the city, this water was sourced from the mountains, so we were able to make it work.”
South Africa also provided the backdrop for various scenes, including sites for the recreation of several flashback scenes.
Escalator to Heaven and Hell
It might surprise Good Omens viewers when they realise that both Heaven and Hell are accessed by the same office lobby: one escalator leads straight to a heavenly corporate boardroom, while the other leads down to a (literally) hellish basement.
Locations scouts searched heaven and earth for the lobby in question: Broadgate Tower on Bishopgate, London, which has a polished floor that reflects the escalators moving upwards, creating a mirror effect.
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“It’s one of those modern, huge, very expensive steel and wire buildings, inside of which companies valued at millions of pounds conduct their business,” Reidy said. “Standing inside this magnificent lobby, Douglas [Mackinnon] and Michael [Ralph] realised the shiny marble floor reflected the escalators moving up into the body of the building.
“It had the effect of creating a mirror image, and this led to an idea that when one person goes up the escalator to Heaven, and the other person steps onto one that seemingly drop down into Hell.”
The final shot used a mix of real world and visual effects, with a green screen in the background to recreate the mirrored effect.
Tadfield, the home of the young Antchrist Adam Young, is a quintessentially English village. It’s perfect — Adam’s unwitting influence over the weather means that every season has its ideal weather: scorching Augusts, picture-perfect white Christmases, and crisp autumns.
The “chocolate-box” village of Hambledon near Henley-on-Thames provided the perct setting.
In Good Omens, Heaven is a big organisation run with zealous efficiency by the business-minded Angel Gabriel (Jon Hamm) — all of which required a heavenly corporate headquarters…
“We found a vacant office building in a smart business park in Weybridge, Surrey,” said location manager Nick Marshall. “It had a tiled floor, white pillars and 13 floor-to-ceiling windows. We had to frost every single one of them to get the light looking celestial. It really did have a heavenly vibe.”
If Heaven is prime real estate, then Hell is the lowly basement office of a struggling business — cramped, dingy, and in need of a good lick of paint. Hell scenes were filmed in Cape Town, where the location crew found a former abattoir and filled it with mismatched plastic chairs, strewn litter and lights dangling form the ceiling.
Neil Gaiman also created tortuous motivational posters for the walls of Hell, with captions such as, “You Don’t Matter”, and, “For More Efficient Service Just Rip Out Your Own Throat With A Stapler”.
“I had too much fun with these,” Gaiman said. “The hardest part was just persuading he art department that I was serious about getting them to forget everything they had ever learned about design.”
A woodland utopia and the spiritual home of the Them, Adam Young’s gang of four youngsters (himself, Pepper, Wensleydale and Brian), Hogback Wood had to resemble a scene from Just William.
A suitably idyllic spot was found in Painshill Park, Surrey, where location scouts noticed a huge crater, formed after a bomb dropped there during the Second World War.
“I knew the crater would be significant,” production designer Michael Ralph said. “This is where Adam has found his world, his Eden, unaware that he’s the Antichrist, and a bomb has gone off here. It was a happy accident!”
Good Omens continues on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC Two
The Nice and Accurate Good Omens TV Companion is available now and is published by Headline. Find out more here