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Set and filmed in Bristol: Channel 4 thriller Before We Die starring Lesley Sharp

Set and filmed in Bristol: Channel 4 thriller Before We Die starring Lesley Sharp

Before We Die, the new Channel 4 drama starring Lesley Sharp, adapted from the hit Swedish series of the same name, begins tonight after filming in Bristol last year with support from our Film Office team.

Before We Die (image: Channel 4)

Described as “a breathless crime thriller, full of heart-stopping jeopardy and unpredictable twists,” the six-part series is set in Bristol and produced for Channel 4 by Eagle Eye Drama.

With support from Bristol Film Office, the production team filmed in September 2020 and the first three months of 2021, shooting at numerous locations around the city including Stokes Croft, Victoria Square and The Paragon in Clifton, Brandon Hill Park, York Road, Clarence Road and The Horsefair. The production team carried out aerial filming above a number of Bristol’s green spaces, including Sparke Evans, Netham and Castle Parks. Filming also took place in Belgium.

We wanted to set it in a port city, as that is important to the drug trafficking storyline. We were looking for something a little less familiar and Bristol is one of those cities that actually has been used as a backdrop for filming a lot, but you wouldn’t know it because a lot of series are filmed there but not set there. Bristol is such a visually interesting city and editorially it fitted with our storyline. Belgium also features in our drug trafficking storyline. Jan (the Director) is Belgian too and we did shoot many of the interiors in Belgium.

Exec Producer Jo McGrath

For me, part of the challenge was making Belgium match with the other scenes in Bristol – which was interesting. We became specialists in ‘Anglifying’ Belgium.

Director Jan Matthys

Putting in place incredibly strong and sophisticated protocols to make sure that everybody was safe and adhering to the rules gave us some unexpected advantages through the ability to bubble. This meant that the bubbles of creatives, actors and heads of departments were able to take themselves out of reality for a few months, living together to keep safe and keep working. They made the sacrifice, but it paid off because the performances were enhanced from all being together and living in this bubble whilst bonding on and off screen. I think this has truly resulted in great performances.

Exec Producer Walter Iuzzolino
Lesley Sharp stars as DI Hannah Laing in Before We Die (image: Channel 4)

When Detective Inspector Hannah Laing (Lesley Sharp) kisses her married lover Sean Hardacre (Bill Ward) goodbye one morning, she never imagines it will be the last time she will see her fellow detective alive. But Sean goes missing and his brutalised corpse is recovered the following day.

Determined to find whoever is responsible for killing him, Hannah accesses one of Sean’s confidential contacts and persuades ‘Issy’ to help her unpick the tangled threads of Sean’s investigation into the Mimicas, a tight-knit family who left Croatia for Bristol and now run a successful restaurant, where Christian (Patrick Gibson), Hannah’s son now works. But under the guidance of the ruthless eldest son, Davor (Toni Gojanović), the family are ambitious to expand their criminal activities, which risks stretching family bonds to breaking point. The Mimicas closeness as a family provides a painful contrast to Hannah’s fractured, dysfunctional relationship with her own son.

Forced to operate undercover for fear of a criminal informer at Police HQ, Hannah and her sceptical new partner, Billy Murdoch (Vincent Regan), uncover a daring plot by the Mimicas to smuggle an enormous quantity of cocaine into the country. When Hannah also discovers Issy’s identity, however, she quickly realises there is far more at stake than bringing Sean’s killers to justice.

The cast also stars Issy Knopfler as Bianca Mimica, Rebecca Scroggs as Tina Carter, Steve Toussaint as Leonard Kane, Kazia Pelka as Dubravka Mimica, Petar Cvirn as Stefan Vargic and Ryszard Turbiasz as Zvonomir Mimica.

Before We Die is produced by Eagle Eye Drama in association with Caviar and is supported by Screen Flanders, DPG Media and the Belgian tax shelter via Caviar Film Financing.

Before We Die starts Wednesday 26 May at 9pm on Channel 4. All episodes will be available on All 4 after transmission of episode 1.