Where is The English filmed? Locations featured in the BBC Emily Blunt Western drama series

The real filming locations are very different to where the show is set

Chaske Spencer as Eli Whipp in The English
(Image credit: Diego López Calvín/Drama Republic/BBC/Future)

The series sees star turns from its leading cast, but filming locations of The English are drawing attention because they're far away from where the series is set.

So far, The English is both an audience and critical success, bringing rave reviews from both parties. Leading cast members Emily Blunt as Lady Cornelia Locke, and Chaske Spencer as Eli Whipp, have audiences drawn in with mesmerising and nuanced performances of their innately complex characters. It's not only the acting that has audiences talking - the filming locations are also causing a stir, with fans wanting to know where the series was shot. Keep reading, to find out exactly where filming took place, and other burning questions about this hot new Western series answered.   

Some viewers have been asking if The English is based on a true story (opens in new tab) - the answer is certainly an interesting one. Similarly, the true story (opens in new tab) behind the BBC's recent hit SAS: Rogue Heroes has also been surprising fans who knew very little about it. The series protagonist in the Steven Knight penned hit war drama - Paddy Mayne (opens in new tab) - also had audiences searching for the truth about his fascinating life and subsequent premature death.

Where is The English filmed?

Although set in Wyoming and Kansas, The English was filmed in Spain, specifically in parts of Toledo and Ávila. Covid-19 restrictions prevented filming taking place in the parts of America the action is set. 

Toledo sits atop a gorge overlooking the Río Tajo, and was known as the ‘city of three cultures’ throughout the Middle Ages. This is believed to be due to Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities coexisting peacefully in the city. According to Lonely Planet (opens in new tab), Horseshoe-arched mosques, Sephardic synagogues and one of the finest Gothic cathedrals found in Spain, are some of it's biggest attractions. The area is a World Heritage site, and has also seen film crews descend for the filming of 1969's Gunman of Ave Maria, and later, The Four Musketeers with Michael York. 

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Ávila's old city is surrounded by walls consisting of eight monumental gates, 88 watchtowers, and over 2500 turrets. It is said to be one of the best-preserved medieval bastions in Spain. When night falls, the walls become illuminated which is said to make the area look like a fairy tale. Unsurprisingly, the area is no stranger to filming, having payed host to shooting Kingdom of Heaven, and Conan the Barbarian

When asked why he chose Spain as a filming location, writer and director Hugo Blick said "The actual period of the classic cowboy was approximately thirty years, the following hundred and thirty has been almost entirely myth, built as much by our televisions and cinema as by the Chisholm trail itself. The Western lives in our imagination - and it can travel. So when Covid chased us first out of Kansas then Alberta, I was intrigued to look to Spain."

He continued "As it turned out, we got lucky! I can see, and hear, in every frame just how lucky we were to make this with such an experienced and committed crew whose involvement in the the genre often stretched back through generations. It’s interesting that we made a story with colonialism at its heart told from the very kernel of its creation. This meant a lot to all involved." 

Edward Crook as Captain Grann and Tonatzin Carmelo as Touching Ground in The English

(Image credit: Diego López Calvín/Drama Republic)

When was The English filmed?

The English was filmed between May 2021 and September 2021. 

When asked how much of the series was shot on location, Hugo Blick replied "the vast majority. You just wouldn’t get that light or landscape any other way. Taking this level of circus to that environment presented great logistical challenges to our producers. But under the management of the simply genius horse-master, Hernan Ortiz, the whole pace of the production was dictated by the rhythm of the horses. This was an entirely beneficial experience."

Emily Blunt as Cornelia Locke in The English

(Image credit: Diego López Calvín/Drama Republic/BBC)

When is The English set?

The English is set is set in two states of the American Frontier in 1890, during the final days of the Old West.

When asked to quickly describe the setting of the show to audiences, Hugo Blick said "The English is set in the American West of 1890, on the cusp of the frontier’s closure. It tells the story of an Englishwoman and a Native American man. In very different ways but to equally devastating effect both have been stripped of their identities."

He continued "United, each reveals strengths the other lacks but together they have a chance to avenge themselves against their loss. So much as it’s a quest for reclamation, it’s a love story." 

Chaske Spencer as Eli Whipp in The English

(Image credit: Diego López Calvín/Drama Republic/BBC)

The English: Cast

  • Emily Blunt (The Girl on The Trian, A Quiet Place) as Lady Cornelia Locke
  • Chaske Spencer (The Twilight Saga, Banshee) as Sgt. Eli Whipp/Wounded Wolf
  • Rafe Spall (Black Mirror, Trying) as David Melmont
  • Tom Hughes (Cemetery Junction, Red Joan) as Thomas Trafford
  • Stephen Rea (The Shadow Line, the Honourable Woman) as Sheriff Robert Marshall
  • Valerie Pachner (A Hidden Life, The King's Man) as Martha Myers
  • Toby Jones (Detectorists, Sherlock) as Sebold Cusk
  • Ciaran Hinds (First Man, Belfast) as Richard M Watts
  • Malcolm Storry (Doc Martin, Temple) as Red Morgan
  • Steve Wall (Vikings, Tin Star) as Thin Kelly
  • Nichola McAuliffe (Doctor Who, My Family) as Black Eyed Mog
  • Sule Rimi as Captain Knox
  • Edward Crook as Captain Grann
  • Cristian Solimeno as Clay Jackson
  • Nakota Kennedy
  • Miguel Alvarez as Timothy Flynn

Behind the scenes picture of The English being filmed

(Image credit: Diego López Calvín/BBC)

On how he came to be involved in The English, Eli Whipp actor Chaske Spencer said "I auditioned and had a session with Hugo and Emily. They were very fun scenes to do because, once I read them, I got how the language and the dialogue was going to be in a rhythm. I was very nervous – I think I told them that – and they decided to take a chance on me."

He added "My own personal experience as a Native American played a lot into this character. I tried to bring that to life and to represent him as genuinely as I possibly could. As a Native American man, and an actor and artist, it’s pretty rare to be a lead in a project like this. I have to say I had amazing support from Hugo, Emily, the crew – it made me feel comfortable to take risks in this character."

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Lucy Wigley
TV writer - contributing

Lucy is a multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ experience writing about entertainment, parenting and family life. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and telling you why you should watch them.