MTV A-to-Z: Great British pop videos in great British locations
Got your motor running, but with no particular place to go? Then why not check out the places where our best and brightest musicians ventured to add vision to their sound?
Supergrass – Alright
Portmeirion is more readily associated with eccentric architect Clough Williams-Ellis and surreal TV series The Prisoner. But thanks to Gaz, Danny and Mick, any glimpse of the finest beach in North-West Wales now brings to mind three hairy men mucking about on a bed with wheels.
The Fab Four’s early stab at music video making took them to Syon Park on the western outskirts of London. Alas, someone forgot to bring a kit along for Ringo to mime to, reducing Mr Starkey to the status of the world’s highest paid garden gnome.
The Beatles – Paperback Writer
Queen – Breakthru
It’s a wonderfully restorative place, the Nene Valley Railway. But don’t just take our word for it – Queen considered shooting a video aboard a racing locomotive in the Cambridgeshire countryside one of the most satisfying experiences of their career in music.
Award-winning film director Ken Russell was living in Cumbria’s Borrowdale valley when he decided to use it as the setting for the opening and closing scenes of The Who’s Tommy. The natural beauty of the end result eclipses all the movie’s more spectacular moments put together.
The Who – See Me, Feel Me
Madness – House Of Fun
Lead singer Suggs might be the unofficial Lord Mayor of Camden but when it came to shooting the video for their first – and only – number one, he and his fellow Nutty Boys spent a day riding the rollercoasters at Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach.
Robert Smith and friends actually filmed two promos at Beachy Head, East Sussex; In Between Days and this cheerfully eccentric effort. The area’s pop pedigree is further enhanced by it having featured so heavily in the finale of the mod classic Quadrophenia.
The Cure – Close To Me
Robbie Williams – Angels
Before Robbie chanced upon it, Saunton Sands on the north coast of Devon was best known as a mecca for longboard surfers. It remains an area of outstanding beauty that, despite its reputation, is rarely as crowded as the equivalent resorts in Cornwall.
Not content with fronting a soft rock behemoth, Chris Martin also seems to have an eye for a good video location. Studland Bay on the Isle Of Purbeck is made more attractive still by its close proximity to the charming Dorset town of Swanage.
Coldplay – Yellow
Wings – Mull Of Kintyre
It’s amazing to think so many bought it (it sold over two million copies in the UK alone), but visit the majestic peninsula and you’ll be left wondering why more people haven’t followed in Paul McCartney’s footsteps, so inspiring is this idyllic corner of Scotland.
Only someone as hard-hearted as Morrissey would say Southend, Essex, resembled a ‘coastal town they forgot to close down’. The video, however, is as sublime as the song, featuring as it does a cameo from film and theatre legend Billie Whitelaw.
Morrissey – Every Day Is Like Sunday
The Beatles – The Night Before
Nowadays, there are strict rules preventing people from filming in and around Salisbury Plain and Stonehenge. As arguably Britain’s greatest band, it’s only right that John, Paul, George and Ringo should have been among the last people granted this special privilege.
The video that saw Liam and Noel star opposite cult TV legend Patrick Macnee was shot at stately Studley Hall in Oxfordshire. It wasn’t just the place drummer Alan White was taken with – during the shoot he met the woman he would later marry.
Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger
Tears For Fears – Shout
To visit Durdle Door is to chance upon a place with such a prehistoric feel, you half expect a plesiosaur to appear from beneath the waves. Which would certainly be something to ‘shout’ about. Instead of a plesiosaur, this video just contains loads of widdly solos and earnest eighties dancing.
If, as Mick Hucknall is, you’re from the north-west of England and you’ve written a song called Fairground, it only makes good sense to shoot the video at the most visited tourist attraction in the whole of the United Kingdom, the spectacular Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
Simply Red – Fairground
Nicki Minaj – Freedom
No, she’s not a British artist but it’s rather delightful that young Onika Minaj should have shot a promo in Dungeness, the Kent headland whose shingle beach, World War 2-era acoustic mirrors and peculiar stillness make it equal parts odd and unique.
Pop along to Minions on Craddock Moor and you can check out the Hurlers, one of the UK’s most enigmatic stone circles. And with the village being located in Cornwall, the chances of rainfall are actually far less than elsewhere in the country.
Travis – Why Does It Always Rain On Me?
Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
Should you be keen to visit this location, the Holloway Sanatorium in the bucolic Surrey town of Egham, be sure not to use the Bonnie Tyler sat nav. That’s the one that keeps telling you to turn around, and every now and then falls apart.
The Vale Of White Horse near Uffington, Oxfordshire, provides the setting for this quite extraordinary promo based on the life and times of Wilhelm Reich, a German philosopher who dedicated his life to creating a machine capable of causing rainfall.
Kate Bush – Cloudbusting
Chas & Dave – Margate
The perfect tribute to the ideal English seaside destination. We’ll leave the last word to Messrs Hodges and Peacock; “You can keep your Costa Brava and all that pallava, going no farther, me I’d rather have a day down Margate with all me family!’