Life cast

BBC drama Life: Where is the six-part Doctor Foster spin-off filmed in the UK?

The drama is the BBC at its best - but where was it filmed in the UK?

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Life on BBC is proving to be one of the best dramas of 2020 so far.

The BBC six-parter continues tonight at 9pm (Tuesday October 6 2020), and follows the residents of a block of flats as they all come to a dramatic crossroads in their lives.

But where is the Doctor Foster spin-off Life set? And where was it filmed?

Life BBC
David and Kelly kiss goodbye outside Oxford Road train station (Credit: BBC)

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Where is Life filmed?

Life is filmed in and around the city of Manchester.

The six-part drama follows the residents of a fictional detached house in contemporary Manchester, which has been divided into four flats.

Each separate neighbour has their own storyline surrounding love, parenthood, loss, addiction and denial.

We soon learn that, although each resident leads very separate lives, their fortunes interlace over the course of the series.

Viewers will notice many of the city’s landmarks as they watch – including The Beetham Tower Hilton, John Rylands Library, The Town Hall and The Bridgewater Hall.

Why was Life filmed in Manchester?

Creator and writer Mike Bartlett, born in Oxford, explains why he chose to set BBC1’s Life in Manchester.

He reveals: “Manchester is a world of its own.

“It’s both normal and extraordinary. Every day and remarkable. One has the feeling anything could happen there. It’s also beautiful and I love seeing that on screen.”

Life location BBC
An aerial view of the block of flats in BBC’s Life (Credit: BBC)

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What did the cast think about Manchester?

Alison Steadman, who plays Gail, loved returning to her Northern roots.

The actress, who was born in Liverpool, has said: “It was a very enjoyable shoot… And it was great being in Manchester.”

She told the BBC: “You might be living in close proximity, but it’s quite a normal thing where you go, ‘Oh hi’, when you bump into your neighbours and then you don’t say anything else, so you don’t really know what’s going on with each other’s lives.”

Describing one particular scene set in a church, she said: “I don’t want to give away the plot’s many surprises […] but there is a scene in a church which I found extremely moving.

“I found it beautiful to be part of such an absolutely beautiful scene.”

Saira and David in Life
Saira Choudhry and Adrian Lester film scenes in Manchester (Credit: BBC)

Why did Mike Bartlett set Life in flats?

Mike Bartlett believes the dynamics of a flat work perfectly for an ensemble drama.

He says: “I wanted to write about isolation and its opposite – community.

“We crave a connection to other people but, at the same time, often end up feeling lonely, or disconnected – particularly in big cities.

“I used to live in a flat that was part of a divided up old house. You could hear intimate details of your neighbours’ lives, but when we passed in the corridor we barely exchanged two words.

“The apparent contradiction fascinated me. I also wanted to write about how amazing people could be, when faced with the difficulties and tragedies of life.

“In every household in the country there are some of the biggest stories occurring, every day.”

Life continues on BBC One on Tuesdays at 9pm. The entire series is now available to watch on iPlayer.

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