If you have found yourself stuck inside during the Coronavirus lockdown with a dwindling list of TV series and films to watch – look no further! This list is aimed at UCEAP Scotland students past, present, and future. Whether you’re missing Scotland or wanting to learn more about the place where you’ll be studying next semester, we’ve compiled a list of great films and series set in this beautiful country.
Pssst also, at the end of this listicle you’ll find a link to our UCEAP Scotland Spotify playlist which is full of must-know songs by Scottish artists!
Sunshine on Leith
Named after beloved 1988 song, this musical feel-good film features exclusively songs by The Proclaimers (of 500 Miles fame!) and beautiful shots of the whole city of Edinburgh. Leith is a neighbourhood of Edinburgh to the northeast of the city, home to The Shore and the Royal Yacht Britannia.
This 1996 black comedy directed by Danny Boyle quickly became a cult classic. Dealing with themes of drug addiction, poverty, and friendship, this film set in Edinburgh is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the British Film Institute did rank it as the 10th best British film of the 20th century. Filth is a more recent film starring James McAvoy that deals with similar themes.
The film series that needs no explanation! As you might already be aware, JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter book series while living in Edinburgh, her home to this day. Many parts of the city inspired her in writing the books, and she also gave instructions to the film crews about certain places in Edinburgh that should form the basis for classic film scenes (like those in Diagon Alley and Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom). There are several companies in Edinburgh that offer walking tours of Edinburgh’s Harry Potter sights, and they can also point you towards the cafes where she used to write.
Mary Queen of Scots
Starring Saoirse Ronan in the title role and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I, this film tells the story of the 1569 Rising of the North, when Catholics from the North of England tried to replace the Protestant Elizabeth on the throne with the Catholic Mary.
Watch Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway (doing a questionable northern English accent) fall in love as students in the beautiful city of Edinburgh.
This Disney Pixar film set in the Highlands tells the story of a Scottish princess named Merida who refuses to marry. Many famous Scots lend their voices to characters, and the story is accompanied by a beautiful Celtic soundtrack. The film won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film in 2013.
If you haven’t already at least heard of Outlander (first of all, which rock have you been living under?!), this is a TV series involving time travel from the 1940s to the 1700s during the Jacobite risings in Scotland. A romantic historical drama, this very popular series can be found on Amazon Prime. If you get hooked, there are Scottish Highland trips you can take from Edinburgh and Glasgow to important sites and filming locations.
Challenge yourself to keep up with the accents in this comedy sketch show set in Glasgow! Several episodes are available on Youtube.
The Nest premiered on BBC in March 2020 to excellent reviews. In fact, I’m hesitant to read too much about because I haven’t started yet and don’t want to spoil it. From what I know, the story follows a couple (native Scot Martin Compston and English actress Sophie Rundle – you might know her as Ada Shelby in Peaky Blinders) struggling with infertility. One day, a chance encounter leads them to a mysterious young stranger who offers to become their surrogate. In addition to a gripping plot, the Nest also features gorgeous scenes of Glasgow and the surrounding countryside.
Check out our UCEAP Scotland Spotify playlist! This features many classic Scottish songs like “Loch Lomond” and “The Skye Boat Song”, as well as many current songs which you may not realise are by Scottish musical artists (Lewis Capaldi, Calvin Harris, CHVRCHES, and Paolo Nutini to name a few!)