Edinburgh on screen

Cinema fans have caught a glimpse of the University, with Edinburgh starring in dozens of films and TV programmes.

Locations throughout the University have appeared on television in Britain and around the world. Here we feature some highlights.

Edinburgh on television

STV’s Vet School gave viewers an insight into the work of vets and students at the University’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.

The programme showed the cutting-edge procedures carried out at the school.

A dramatic setting

Closer to the historic heart of the University, Case Histories, the BBC’s recent dramatisation of the detective novels by Kate Atkinson, featured University locations including the Informatics Forum.

The iconic Playfair Library featured in period legal drama Garrow’s Law. The BBC programme explores the devious world of Eighteenth Century British law.

Despite being set in London, the first two series were filmed in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Edinburgh student life will come to the small screen in upcoming BBC Three comedy Pram Face.

The series follows a young Edinburgh student as she negotiates the twin challenges of study and pregnancy. Filmed around Edinburgh this summer, the series is due to air later this year.

Meanwhile, viewers in East Asia have received an intimate view of the University, with an advertisement for bank HSBC telling the story of a Hong Kong girl who travels here to study.

The advert features the University’s historic New College as well as the picturesque countryside around Edinburgh.

Edinburgh on film

For decades filmmakers have been coming to Edinburgh, using some of our most historic buildings as backdrops for romances, mysteries and dramas.

Recent films set in Edinburgh

Skeleton of William Burke

Edinburgh is at the centre of upcoming romance One Day, which tells the story of two University graduates whose friendship lasts a lifetime.

The film charts the key moments of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew's relationship as experienced on several July 15ths - the day in which they both graduated and met.

The 2010 film Burke and Hare, starring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis, tells the tale of two landlords who murdered unsuspecting victims to sell the bodies so that they could be used in anatomy dissections to teach Edinburgh’s medical students.

The film, which starts with the caveat “This is a true story - except for the parts that are not”, takes a tongue-in-cheek slant on the infamous story that rocked the medical establishment and caused outrage in Edinburgh at the time.

Burke’s skeleton - featured at the end of the film - is kept at the University’s Anatomy Museum.

Classic Edinburgh films

Eric Liddell

In the 1959 film version of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, the filmmakers turned the protagonist from a German professor to a Scottish academic at the University.

Scenes from the film were shot in Edinburgh, while many of the extras in crowd scenes were students from the University.

One of the most iconic films to be set in Scotland, Chariots of Fire, released in 1981, chronicles the sporting life of University alumnus Eric Liddell.

The film sees Liddell, a devout Christian, compete against an ambitious Cambridge student at the 1924 Olympic Games.

The University’s presence in the film is seen when Liddell is confronted by his sister Jennie outside the Assembly Hall on the Mound.

A cinematic city

Beyond the University, Edinburgh itself is has lent its unique atmosphere to countless films.

The city’s dark side, which informed the murky tales of Robert Louis Stevenson and James Hogg, was revived in Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle’s Shallow Grave (1994) and Trainspotting (1996). David Mackenzie set 2007’s brooding tale of obsession, Hallam Foe, amid the city's stunning skyline.

On a more adventurous note, both The Da Vinci Code (2006) and the classic Alfred Hitchcock version of The 39 Steps (1939) reach their climax in Edinburgh.

Away from the city’s edgy side, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) brought one of 20th century literature’s great characters to the screen. Dame Maggie Smith won an Oscar for her role as Dame Muriel Spark’s unorthodox Edinburgh school teacher.

Last year’s animated film The Illusionist was a visual love letter to the city. Its sweeping vistas, gnarled architecture, and knotted streets are lovingly etched around a melancholic tale of a fading magician.

Set your film in Edinburgh

The University is able to provide locations for a wide range of filming including feature films, documentaries and television dramas.

The Festivals Office based at the university can help identify ideal locations, liaise with film crews and help manage shoots on the day.

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