Crossfire: Where is it filmed and is it based on a true story? Keeley Hawes’ new BBC drama explained

All you need to know about Keeley Hawes’ thrilling new drama.

BBC Crossfire: Where is it filmed and is it based on a true story?
(Image credit: BBC Pictures)

As the summer holiday season almost draws to a close, gripping new BBC thriller Crossfire will have you sat on the edge of your seats as fans ask where is it filmed and is it based on a true story?

Sunbathing on her hotel room balcony while on a dream holiday with her family and friends, Jo’s (Keeley Hawes) world is turned upside down when shots ring out across the complex. Gunmen, out for revenge, have, in an instant, turned a slice of paradise into a terrifying heart-breaking hell.

Created and written by Louise Doughty (author of Apple Tree Yard), in her first original series for television, as we look at all you need to know about the new limited series...

BBC Crossfire: Where is it filmed? 

Crossfire is filmed at the San Blas Hotel in the south of Tenerife, which is one of the Canary Islands. Show producers Chris Carey and CEO Lawrence Bowen explained to Variety, "Crossfire is set in Spain and we filmed most of it in Tenerife." And show writer, author Louise Doughty (Apple Tree Yard), revealed that not all the people staying in the hotel knew that a series was being filmed, which caused "very striking reactions" in which they have to ally themselves with other holidaymakers and hotel employees.

But Vikash Bhai (who plays Chinar) thinks the spacious hotel adds to the fear-factor. He explained, "I think as an audience member, you feel the tension is quite palpable because the hotel is quite open and it doesn't seem like there's anywhere for anyone to hide. So, you can feel that fear and I think that's probably what that space really does really well. 

The recently renovated Barceló Tenerife resort "combines exclusive services and facilities, including SEVEN pools, with the natural and cultural heritage of its beautiful location: right on the seafront and in the heart of a volcanic landscape", plus it's just 10 minutes from the airport. It has 272 rooms - all with furnished terraces and a hot tub.

And guests who want a bit more luxury can book a room in the exclusive Royal Level, a hotel within the resort where guests can enjoy first-class service, special benefits and private Royal Level areas.

Vikash added, "For the shoot, if you're lucky enough to be able to film in the sun in December in 28 degrees, I don't think you can really have anything to complain about and we had a wonderful cast and amazing crew. It was it was a really wonderful experience for six weeks to do that and then to come to rainy London."

The show is so far positioned as a one-off limited series, “but who knows?” they teased.


(Image credit: BBC Youtube)

Is BBC Crossfire based on a true story?

Crossfire is not based on a true story even though gun attacks at holiday resorts have taken place in real life - it's creator and executive producer Louise Doughty revealed it was inspired by a real-life family holiday. She explained, "I got the idea for Crossfire when I was on holiday with my family in Tenerife. I love the Canary Islands, I've been many, many times as it’s one of our favourite holiday spots. I was lying on a sun lounger one day in a hotel complex; my family were scattered around the complex. I had one child was in the pool and one had wandered off somewhere and I couldn't help thinking what if some sort of gun attack happened on the resort at this particular moment. 

"I thought ‘What would I do?’ Of course we would all like to think we would behave heroically; the truth is not all of us would. Which child would I go for? They were both separated. Would I help the people around me; would I only save myself? How would I actually behave? That was the idea for Crossfire. I wanted to write about an ordinary group of people; ordinary holidaymakers from Britain, in a resort hotel like this when such an attack occurs. I wanted to write about the human choices that we all make under pressure and of course the consequences of those decisions that reverberate for years to come."

Gun attacks at holiday resorts have taken place in real life. On 26 June 2015 a mass shooting occurred at the tourist resort at Port El Kantaoui, about 10 kilometres north of the city of Sousse, Tunisia in which almost 40 people died. 

Nevertheless, Crossfire is a story of survival and resilience. It is an edge-of-your-seat nail-biting thriller yet also emotional, intimate and relatable. With the unsuspecting holidaymakers and hotel staff forced to make monumental split-second life or death decisions, the consequences will linger long after the final shots are fired.

Crossfire cast

Crossfire stars Keeley Hawes (the Bodyguard), Josette Simon (Small Axe, Riviera), Anneika Rose (Deadwater Fell, Line of Duty), Lee Ingleby (The A Word, The Serpent Queen, Criminal UK), Daniel Ryan (The Bay, Home Fires), Vikash Bhai (The Stranger, Limbo), Hugo Silva (Nasdrovia, The Cook of Castamar), Alba Brunet (Operation Mincemeat, Paraiso, The Mallorca Files), Shalisha James-Davis (Alex Rider, I May Destroy You) and Ariyon Bakare (His Dark Materials, Good Omens).

Speaking about her first impressions after reading the script for her leading role, Keeley Hawes said, "I suppose firstly it was something quite unusual to have a woman at the centre of a story which is so action-based and at the same time has this moral dilemma with this much emotion. 

"To play a character like Jo who is really imperfect; she's a messy individual, and I went from sort of liking her and finding her quite endearing, thinking she’s this really interesting, quite complex, quite confused, and then thinking god, I'm not sure I do like her. She’s not straightforward. It threw up lots of questions for me and it really made me think about her and that was really appealing too." 

It is directed by Tessa Hoffe (Kin, Wayne, Majority), and produced by Alex Mercer (Inside Man, Doctor Who).

Who is Keeley Hawes married to in real-life?

Keeley Hawes is married to actor Matthew Macfadyen in real-life. Fans were delighted this year when they heard they had been cast in a new series together. The Radio TImes report that they have filmed the new ITV three-part drama Stonehouse.

And Keeley admitted to The Guardian that it "was a joy" to work with her own partner on the project. She said, "We just had far too nice a time. There's this feeling of: 'They're married, how's this going to be?' Ultimately, he's an actor that I would have loved to work with anyway. So yes, it was a joy."

Matthew McFyden and Keeley Hawes

(Image credit: Getty)

Crossfire will air on BBC One on Tuesday 20th September, Wednesday 21st September and Thursday 22nd September at 9pm. All episodes will be available from Tuesday as a boxset on BBC iPlayer.

Related BBC related features:

Video of the week...

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)