Whitstable Pearl stars Kerry Godliman as restaurant owner Pearl Nolan © Acorn TV
Writer: Julie Wassmer, Øystein Karlsen, Mike Walden, Rachel Flowerday, Alastair Galbraith
Directors: David Caffrey, Jon Jones
Starring: Kerry Godliman, Howard Charles, Frances Barber
Production Company: Buccaneer Media
Kent Locations Used: Whitstable, Canterbury, Faversham, Herne Bay, Margate, Ramsgate, Detling, Dover, Maidstone
Based on the much loved series of novels ‘The Whitstable Pearl Mysteries’ by Kent resident Julie Wassmer (EastEnders, London’s Burning), Whitstable Pearl (2021) is a six part detective series for Acorn TV. The story follows big-hearted local restaurant owner Pearl Nolan (Kerry Godliman) who sets up a local detective agency after undergoing police training in an earlier career. She is soon embroiled in her first case when she discovers the body of close friend, Vinnie. Pearl forms an unlikely partnership with DCI Mike McGuire (Howard Charles) and finds herself pulled into the dark underbelly of the picturesque town she calls home.
Whitstable Pearl (2021) was adapted for screen by Norwegian filmmaker Øystein Karlsen (One Night, Dag). Other writer credits include Mike Walden (Marcella), Rachel Flowerday (Marcella, Malory Towers) and Alastair Galbraith (Coronation Street). David Caffrey (The Alienist: Angel of Darkness, Peaky Blinders) is lead director joined by Jon Jones (We Hunt Together, Mr Selfridge (2013)).
Kerry Godliman (After Life, Call the Midwife (2019)) headlines the show as Pearl Nolan alongside Howard Charles as DCI Mike McGuire (Shadow and Bone, Liar Series 2 (2020)) and Frances Barber (Cold Feet, Queens of Mystery (2019)) as Pearl’s mum Dolly.
Frances Barber as Pearl’s mother Dolly (left) and Kerry Godliman as Pearl Nolan © Mark Bourdillon / Acorn TV
Most of the filming took place in and around Whitstable itself, including scenes filmed by the coast at Whitstable Harbour, Whitstable West Beach, Whitstable Yacht Club and Tankerton Beach. Long Rock and Swalecliff doubles as Seasalter Beach in Episode 6.
Whitstable High Street features and local shops were filmed including Iain’s Plaice (fish and chip restaurant), Gilbert’s Cafe and art gallery Chappell Contemporary as Houlihan’s Hardware store. Other Whitstable businesses filmed include the Cemetery, Football Ground, MFA Bowl and Seaview Holiday Park, which features as the trailer park where Vinnie and Connie live. Several private residences were used for filming including Beacon House as Pearl’s House located on Tankerton Beach and several other properties across Whitstable town.
The Kent Events Centre was used as a studio build location for interiors of Pearl’s seafood restaurant. Meanwhile, Margate in Thanet features in the series with Westgate-on-Sea doubling for Whitstable Beach and The Walpole Bay Hotel & Museum doubling for a Whitstable hotel. Production also filmed what was formerly St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church on Canterbury Road as Mather’s Church in Westgate-on-Sea for Episode 4. The Port of Ramsgate Harbour Approach Tunnel and Royal Harbour Marina also feature in Episode 2.
Interior scenes were filmed at St Martin’s Hospital in Canterbury doubling as a police station and a hospital, while The Citadel doubles as a Police Station and a children’s home. In Episode 3 Jasper House on London Road in Dover doubles as Greenacre Social Club. Other filming locations include the Redsand (Maunsell) Forts off the shore of Whitstable, a field near Faversham at Belmont Park, Hall Place Enterprises – a campus of the University of Kent at Canterbury doubling for interior scenes for both Whitstable Hospital and Whitstable Police Station – and private residences in Herne Bay and Thurnham near Maidstone. Mount Ephraim Gardens in Hernhill also features in Episode 1 as the Azarov family rented villa.
Whitstable is a 16th century thriving seaside resort in Kent. Known for its native oysters, Whitstable boasts a working fishing harbour, shingle beach and busy high street. Recent productions to film in the town include The Great Pottery Throw Down – Series 3 (2020) and The Thames: Britain’s Great River With Tony Robinson (2019). Beacon House is a colonial clapboard wooden turn of the century Beach House. Set above the beach on a private sea road, the grounds include wild woodland gardens and views out to sea and lines of beach huts. Catastrophe Series 4 (2019) filmed at this location. Long Rock beach is a shingle promontory covered in grass with a number of paths across it. It is situated at Swalecliffe between Whitstable and Herne Bay.
Canterbury is a historic cathedral city; many of its original historical structures remain, including the cathedral and section of the city wall. The city is a popular tourist destination and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sex Education Season 3 (2021) and Small Axe (2020) have previously filmed at locations in the City.
Mount Ephraim Gardens located in Hernhill, Swale is a late Victorian property with an impressive and grand columned entrance situated in 10 glorious acres of stunning Edwardian terraced gardens. The large hall has marble columns and an elegant staircase adorned with a highly decorative hand-rail. The original Victorian roof-mounted skylight is located directly above the hall, providing natural daylight.
The Kent Events Centre based in Detling is the largest, most flexible conference and exhibition venue in Kent, offering 7,000 sqm of indoor space available to film productions as studio space and 200 acres of outdoor space. As the county town of Kent, Maidstone plays an important part in Kent’s history. The Borough of Maidstone is a popular town for filming, previous productions include This Time With Alan Partridge – Season 2 (2021) and Hetty Feather Series 1 – 6 (2015 – 2020).
Margate is a traditional seaside town complete with sandy beach, harbour, amusement park, period housing and ultra modern art gallery Turner Contemporary. The Walpole Bay Hotel & Museum in Margate was built for discerning guests in 1914 and extended in 1927. The hotel has five floors and 42 bedrooms and a museum space. The décor and layout is versatile to suit many eras and the hotel provides cast and crew accommodation and on road parking in a quiet cul de sac. Westgate-on-Sea is a charming Victorian town, steeped in Heritage with quaint shops and two fantastic blue flag beaches. Margate is popular as a film location with recent productions including Two Weeks to Live (2020), Pandemonium (2020) and Top Boy – Series 3 (2019).
The Port of Ramsgate offers 32 acres of dedicated Port Land including 3 modern Ro-Ro bridges and water and bunker facilities on all berths and the Ramsgate Harbour Approach Tunnel. It is often used as ‘stand-in’ for the Port of Dover. Royal Harbour Marina offers 700 finger moorings set in a picturesque and historic harbour setting. Crime dramas to previously film at the Port of Ramsgate include The Tunnel: Vengeance (2017) and Baptiste (2019).
The Citadel, located on Dover’s Western Heights was constructed in the late 1700’s as a port of defence during the Napoleonic war. Most recently it has been used as a borstal, prison, and immigration detention centre up until its closure in 2015. It is now becoming popular as a filming location and has welcomed several productions over the past year – soon to broadcast. Dover is the site of the famous The White Cliffs of Dover and has been used in previous productions such as Britain’s Most Historic Towns – Series 2 (2019) and Flog It! Series 17 (2019).
Herne Bay is a coastal resort popular for filming along the Kent coast. Kate & Koji (2020) is a recent production to film here. Faversham is a beautiful historic market town set on Faversham Creek. TV productions to film in the area include Hetty Feather Series 1 – 6 (2015 – 2020) and Celebrity Antiques Road Show – Series 8 (2018).
St Martin’s Hospital is a large building on the outskirts of busy Canterbury town centre. It has hosted filming for crime drama The Tunnel: Sabotage (2016) and The Tunnel: Vengeance (2017).
Whitstable Pearl (2021) will be available as a box set on Acorn TV on Monday 24th May 2021.
Official trailer: https://youtu.be/hDA4KWtw7JU
For more information about Kent’s Filming History please visit our Movie Map.