Harlen Coben’s latest Netflix adaptation, Stay Close, which is based on his 2012 book of the same name, has caused the expected stir, but for reasons unanticipated.
The new series, which is currently available to watch on Netflix, follows a woman (Cush Jumbo) called Megan who has left her home to start a new life in a different town – and jumps from one filming location in the north west to another.
From Chorley to St Helens, which is 30 miles the other way, in the blink of an eye, to Blackpool to Ashton-Under-Lyne in a matter of seconds, it’s fair to say the series has some pretty dramatic location leaps.
So, if you’re still wondering where exactly Stay Close was filmed, or you think you’ve recognised some of the locations from the north west, then look no further: we have all the details.
Read on for your guide to the major Stay Close filming locations, from the suburban homes to beaches and urban nightclubs to sprawling forests – not to mention a monument in the shape of a giant head – featured throughout the series.
Where is Stay Close filmed?
While the original book was set in Atlantic City in the USA, the TV adaptation was filmed in Manchester and locations across the northwest of England.
Coben explained: “[As well as Manchester], we also used Blackpool, while the book is set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Blackpool really looks a lot like Atlantic City. It’s always a challenge to move things around.”
Of course, the show is all set in a fictional place called Ridgwood, so it’s not actually supposed to mirror the real geography of the north west where it is filmed.
Where is the big head in Stay Close filmed?
At several points in Stay Close, we are taken to a sculpture in the form of a huge head, which might be familiar to some viewers living up north.
This construct is titled 'Dream' and is a creation of world-renowned artist Jaume Plensa, depicting a young girl's head whose eyes are closed in a state of slumber.
It is located in St Helens and is visible around junction seven on the M62, which is approximately halfway between Liverpool and Manchester.
The sculpture was commissioned by ex-miners and St Helens council, and erected on the site which once hosted Sutton Manor Colliery, with its bright white colour intended to contrast with the coal that was once mined there.
"That head was the funniest thing, because it really is as big as it looks," Stay Close star Bethany Antonia told RadioTimes.com. "It was huge and yet the way into it was a little tiny maintenance cover that you had to squeeze into.
"You'd think there's going to be all this room in this head but there just wasn't, so every time we did anything there we were just crammed in a little cubby house."
She added: "It was really funny, but it looks amazing. It's such a landmark for the show, and anyone that watches the show and then sees it will be really taken aback by how how big it is. It's not been edited to look at that size at all."
The Harlan Coben novel also features a grand, unusual sculpture, that being Lucy The Elephant, a six-storey piece of architecture located in Margate City, New Jersey.
Where is Vipers in Stay Close filmed?
Another key location in Harlan Coben's Stay Close is the nightclub Vipers, the venue where Cassie used to work and from which a number of men have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
The interior scenes were filmed in the basement room of a real nightclub called Impossible in Manchester, which star James Nesbitt described as a "wonderful, beautiful, seductive, sexy, smoky" setting.
Mark O'Hanlon, location manager, explained: "The subterranean floor, which is what we used, wasn’t used all the time so in lockdown that was fantastic. That was ours no problem but we were filming for nearly six months.
"From when we started filming in February to when we finished filming at the end of July everything was open again. Luckily, we had a really good relationship with the guys there."
The scenes set outside Vipers were filmed somewhere else entirely, with the production travelling to an old nightclub in Formby, Merseyside, which proved a perfect location thanks to the wooded area surrounding it.
O'Hanlon added: "I’ve got a lot of Scouse friends and they all talked about this place saying they used to go there when they were 17. It reminds me of the country clubs you get in Essex. It’s between all these trees and near the beach.
"You feel like you’re near the coast. That to me was one of the nicest locations I shot. I’ve always looked at it and thought it would be amazing to use it. After this it’s going to be flattened. By the end of the year it will all be gone."
Where is the bridge in Stay Close?
Megan's old and new lives are connected by a grand bridge, which we see her drive across in an early episode as she seeks answers about a long-buried trauma.
While its location within the continuity of the show is deliberately left ambiguous, in real-life it is known as the Silver Jubilee Bridge or the Runcorn Bridge.
It can be found between the towns of Runcorn and Widnes in Cheshire, providing a crossing over the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal.
"[It] had been closed for nearly three years while they totally renovated it," recalls O'Hanlon. "It’s all ironwork and they’ve repainted it. I was trying to be clever asking them if we could film there before it reopened but it didn’t work with the schedule.
"It had been open for a week and they wanted me to go and ask them if they minded closing for a day again. They were really helpful though. We managed to do it on a Sunday. We had a stop and go and it looked fantastic."
He added: "It’s a really interesting shape and we had some really good drone stuff that day as well."
Where were the beach and carnival scenes filmed?
The event that kicks off the story in Stay Close is a vibrant carnival that begins marching down the local beachfront, before gradually making its way to Vipers for a raucous club night.
The seaside part of the parade, as well as later coastal scenes, were filmed on Blackpool beach, which might be recognisable to some viewers by the ferris wheel featured in some shots.
"The stuff in Blackpool was amazing because Blackpool was kind of closed, we were in the middle of lockdown, so it was like they put all the illuminations on for us and it just felt like we were at a real night out," Antonia told RadioTimes.com.
"It was March  so restrictions were still in place, clubs were still closed, and we just got to have these two nights on the town in Blackpool, although there was a mad storm that day that so it was freezing cold and, of course, we were at the beachfront."
Where is Ken and Barbie's log cabin filmed?
Two characters that are sure to get people talking are the all-singing all-dancing murderers Ken and Barbie, who at one point take a captive to a remote countryside cabin, which Stay Close director Lindy Heymann was particularly fond of.
"Knowsley Safari Park, near Liverpool, is one of the biggest privately owned estates in the UK," she said. "It’s the most enormous estate. Honestly, you go through the gate and it’s still another 10 minutes to get to this cabin. There are sheep and fields and then the safari park."
Heymann continued: "It was built by the Canadians after the Second World War. They had used the estate for the soldiers so as a gift they built a traditional Canadian cabin. It’s so brilliant. I said, ‘This has to be Ken and Barbie’s place.’ In previous versions their place had been a hotel room or an apartment."
Where else was Stay Close filmed?
The homes of the Shaw and Green family were actually just around the corner from each other, located in Didsbury, Manchester, while Lorraine's flat can be found in Morecambe Bay.
"That’s a lovely place," said Stay Close star Sarah Parish. "From Lorraine’s flat you can see right across Morecambe Bay to the Lake District, which is stunning."
Meanwhile, the studio of failing photographer Ray Levine was created in Ashton-under-Lyne, but the production got more when they bargained for as work got underway.
Richard Armitage remembers: "We started in quite a severe lockdown so at first it was a very empty street with a lot of closed shops and quite an angry neighbour who really didn’t want us to be there filming.
"Every time we started filming he would get his hammer and his music out and when they called, ‘Cut’ he’d stop. It was weirdly frustrating and kind of amusing at the same time... That did ease off as we continued filming."
An old rectory in Ormskirk stood in for the care home where Dave's mother lives, while his stag do utilised some rooms at the Edwardian hotel and spa in Manchester.
Where is Stay Close set?
The main drama of Stay Close is set in the fictional town of Ridgewood, where Megan (formerly known as Cassie) lives with her fiancé and three children.
It's deliberately never stated where she used to live under her original name, but it is made clear that it was a seaside town somewhere in England.
In the Stay Close novel by Harlan Coben, this story takes place in the United States, with Cassie's coastal home and workplace being situated in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Stay Close is available to stream on Netflix.