If you’re a Dracula fan ushering in 2020 by sinking your teeth into Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffatt’s new BBC adaptation, you may well recognise some of the locations used in the new show, as the creators revisited some famous spots from the Count’s on-screen history during filming.
But even if you’re a casual viewer, there are some pretty striking vistas in the series, so here’s our full guide to where it was all shot…
Photographer: Robert Viglasky
The show’s first ninety-minute episode is based at Castle Dracula, with Slovakia standing in for Transylvania. Interestingly, the exterior shots use the same castle as the one that appeared in 1922 horror classic Nosferatu – the vampire’s first screen appearance.
And apparently shooting there posed a few minor problems. “We went into a forest and there was so much snow we had to reshoot the beginning of it,” Sue Vertue, the show’s executive producer told RadioTimes.com.
Mark Gatiss added, “It was what never happens – there was like a magical snowstorm all through. Flakes the size of your hand. Literally, no-one had stepped on it, it was like Christmas. But the first shot it wasn’t snowing, and we had to go and do it again. It was amazing – beautiful.”
The interiors, built by Sherlock designer Arwel Wyn Jones, were filmed in the slightly less exotic location of Berkshire, at Bray Studios – which was also not making its first appearance in a Dracula adaptation, with the 1958 film starring Christopher Lee as the Count having been filmed there.
Indeed, a whole host of classic horror and sci-fi has been shot at the studios, including Quatermass Experiment, Revenge of Frankenstein, Dracula, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, The Reptile and Plague of the Zombies.
But choosing to film in the same place was actually a total coincidence, according to Gatiss, with Moffat confirming, “we were lined up for somewhere else.”
And Gatiss said that you can feel the history when shooting at the studios. “Well yes because it’s old,” he said. “It feels exactly the same. But I know it very well, and there are certain… the old house that you see at the bottom, the battlements – that’s where Christopher Lee falls to his death in the curse of Frankenstein.
“We shot a little in Oakley Court, the hotel over the road where they did Plague of Zombies. I could go on! They also did the Jack Palance Dracula in Oakley Court, it’s also the house from Rocky Horror Show. There’re dozens of them!”
Photographer: Robert Viglasky
The second episode was filmed entirely in Bray Studios, with the Castle Dracula set put aside for The Demeter – the famous ship that takes Dracula to the UK – which was built completely from scratch in around six weeks.
Asked if the Demeter was a fantasy ship, Moffat told RadioTimes.com, “Well no, there would have been ships of this size. But I think it’s probably… in terms of height of the rooms, they’re all there to accommodate a 6 foot four Dracula. Because it would be less good, and less sinister if Dracula was banging his head all the time!”
Gatiss added. “I think the ship that Stoker had in mind was probably more like a clipper. But we’ve made it into more of a passenger vessel-cum-cargo. It is slightly Hollywoodised, just because you have to, but it’s not ridiculously big.”
Gatiss added that for a while they had considered using a real ship – but that the options were “just too small” – and that being able to use computer generated water made the decision easier.
Episode three takes us to Whitby, with the Yorkshire seaside town starring as itself in the series. Gatiss said that they used the real location as a way to stay faithful to the book.
He said, “Honestly, in a very Sherlock way it’s faithful and faithless at the same time. I think. We absolutely love it, we love every aspect of it, like with Sherlock Holmes. And it is actually often quite faithful, and then also not.”
He added, “If there’s any garlic-touching or pearl-clutching going on, then that comes with the territory. But I think you can see that we love it, and we very much respect and love all kinds of different versions. It’s just that if you’re going to do something with it you have to enjoy that, and say ‘right, here’s our version’.”
In episode three viewers will see scenes taking place near the ruins of Whitby Abbey, a beloved local landmark that’s also popular with fans of the macabre thanks to the Abbey’s inclusion in Bram Stoker’s original Dracula novel.
Other scenes take place in London while many were filmed in sets built at Bray Studios (see above).
Dracula begins on New Year’s Day at 9pm on BBC One