'The English': Where was the Emily Blunt western filmed?

Emily Blunt stars in The English. (BBC)
Emily Blunt stars in The English. (BBC)

BBC western The English has proved as stunning for its breathtaking scenery as it is for its A-list performances from the likes of Emily Blunt.

But where was the series filmed, and why? Here's all you need to know about the locations used in The English.

Where was The English filmed?

The English,1,Hugo Blick, Cornelia Locke (EMILY BLUNT), Eli Whipp (CHASKE SPENCER),Drama Republic,Diego López Calvín
Hugo Blick and Emily Blunt on set in Spain. (BBC)

Although the series is set in 1890 Kansas and Wyoming as Lady Cornelia Locke (Emily Blunt) and Eli Whipp (Chaske Spencer) journey north to Nebraska, the six episodes were actually shot in Spain.

It is a location that western filmmakers Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood famously used, although director Hugo Blick explained that they didn't go to exactly the same places.

Read more: The English review: A sumptuous western saga

He said: "Because I knew first hand the locations we needed to replicate, I was already aware that Almeria (which has the famous Leone/Eastwood sets) would not work for this Kansas/Wyoming set story. Luckily our location scout took us to a huge beef farm in Avila outside of Madrid. With the grasses, rock formations and horizontal light, it provided a perfect mythic space for this Western."

The English,First Look,Cornelia Locke (EMILY BLUNT),Drama Republic,screen grab
The hotel was built specially for filming. (BBC)

Blick added: "The hotel was our build - as were almost all of the location sets seen in the production."

Valerie Pachner, who plays Martha Myers, said that the location was perfect for the story.

She said: "We shot in El Espinar which has a spectacular landscape and looks like the Wild West. There were herds of cattle, real cowboys and the most spectacular sunsets that we were rewarded with every evening."

Why did Hugo Blick choose Spain?

The English,1,Hugo Blick,Drama Republic,Diego López Calvín
Hugo Blick filmed in the late afternoon and evening. (BBC)

Aside from Spain's long history as a dupe location for America's west in film, there was a more timely reason for keeping the production in Europe.

Blick explained: "The actual period of the classic cowboy was approximately 30 years, the following 130 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. As it turned out, we got lucky!

The English,First Look,Cornelia Locke (EMILY BLUNT), Eli Whipp (CHASKE SPENCER),Drama Republic,screen grab
The landscapes and distinctive light make for stunning results. (BBC)

"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."

Read more: First look at Kate Winslet and daughter Mia Threapleton in I Am Ruth

Emily Blunt, who also serves as executive producer, added: "The landscape is vast, and we needed different landscapes because the journey they go on starts in Kansas – in the flats, the dust – and it goes through Wyoming, into rocky, beautiful formations. Spain offers all of it.

"The night was so beautiful because the sun would be setting, and with all the horses and the wagons and everything, it would kick up this dust that would add this eerie, beautiful, spellbinding look to the whole thing. It was like a dust bath, and I missed it when I came back to New York, to this concrete jungle."

What did the cast think of filming in Spain?

The English,1,Eli Whipp (CHASKE SPENCER),Drama Republic,Diego López Calvín
Chaske Spencer stars as Eli Whipp. (BBC)

It seems Spain was a dream location for many of the cast involved.

Blunt said: "When we were there, we realised there was nowhere else we would rather have shot this. The crew was 95% Spanish, and one of the best crews I’ve ever worked with."

However, she admitted: "It was so hot. I have never been hotter than that in my life – and I’ve shot in Atlanta in the middle of the summer and thought I’d never experience heat like that. We were warned about it, but the corset acts like a heat trap, your skin doesn’t breathe. I’d be in a corset, wool pants, a skirt, shirt, waistcoat, jacket. I don’t think I ever got used to it."

The English,1,lead horseman (COKEY FALKOW),Drama Republic,Diego López Calvín
The cast said the location was a dream. (BBC)

Her co-star Chaske Spencer said: "There were times I had to take a step back, and I actually thought I was in New Mexico or Wyoming. It felt like we’d lived in this landscape for 20, 30 years."

Pachner was also a huge fan of the location, saying: "Filming in Spain has been a dream. There’s nice weather all the time – sometimes it’s a little too hot! I love hearing more than one language on set. The mix of Spanish and English was cool – like in the Wild West when there were so many languages coming together and mixing. I felt like that was a parallel."

The English,3,Madoc Morgan (KRISTIAN PHILLIPS), Black Eyed Mog (NICHOLA McAULIFFE), Evan Morgan (ARTURO MARTINEZ VAZQUEZ), Cornelia Locke (EMILY BLUNT),Drama Republic,Diego López Calvín
The English stars were amazed by the landscape. (BBC)

For Tom Hughes, who plays aristocrat Thomas Trafford, Spain managed to evoke exactly what he felt his character would have experienced in 19th century America.

He said: "You feel like you’re on Mars sometimes because it’s so wild, the nature. The locations have been fantastic, it does the job for you because you can’t see any civilisation, you do feel like you’ve been transported to what these guys would have been feeling when they arrived in America. I couldn’t have imagined a better place to film it."

The English continues on Thursdays at 9pm on BBC Two and is also available to watch as a box set on BBC iPlayer.

Watch: See the trailer for The English