Visitors to Durdle Door in Dorset were turned away as the beach and car park were closed to the public for the filming of a multi-million pound second season of the Netflix fantasy, The Sandman.
Secrecy was so high surrounding the project that it was only given a codename and all identifying logos were taken off cameras, crew and transport vehicles as a filming village made camp at the Purbeck beauty spot.
The Sandman star Tom Sturridge – here in a publicity still from season one – was spotted on the beach at Durdle Door
Star Tom Sturridge spotted on the sands
But star of the show Tom Sturridge, who plays Lord Morpheus – the titular Sandman – was spotted on the sands in his all black costume and other characters on set were also dressed in the unique style of the fantasy comic book adaptation.
Although not officially confirmed by Netflix, the filming is undoubtedly for season two of The Sandman by Neil Gaiman which also stars Doctor Who actress Jenna Coleman, Game of Thrones favourite Gwendoline Christie, comedy legend Stephen Fry and Star Wars favourite Mark Hamill.
The Netflix location village was set up in Durdle Door car park, which had security guards at the gates round the clock on Tuesday 27th and Wednesday 28th June 2023 to turn away all traffic.
Although access to the South West Coast Path was still possible from West Lulworth, dozens of signs had been put up announcing the closure of Durdle Door beach and up to 50 security guards made sure that the public didn’t get anywhere near the film crew.
Security guards and film crew were told not to give anything away about the production
It was a long way down – and up – from the beach carrying heavy film equipment
Under pain of death not to reveal codename
One of the security guards said:
“It is Netflix filming here, but they have ordered a lot of secrecy over the project. All the branding has been removed and no one refers to the programme being made by its title – it has a codename which we are all under pain of death not to reveal!”
Despite the high levels of security and the half-mile steep climb up the coast path, hundreds of visitors still reached the cliffs above the film crew to see what was going on.
The film crew on Durdle Door beach
Visitors to Durdle Door had to take their Instagram pictures from the cliffs, not the beach
“Horrified to see the beach closed signs”
Many of them were Bollywood film fans who had specifically arrived on a day trip to see where the film Housefull 3 was made and were unhappy that they were not allowed access to the beach.
Schweta Agarwal, of Manchester, said:
“We are staying in Devon for a few days and made a special journey here to see Durdle Door and have some Instagram photos taken on the beach where our favourite film was made.
“We didn’t know that a beach could be closed off and were horrified when we saw the signs and were turned away from the Durdle Door car park.
“It’s been a really long climb just to be able to get a glimpse of the beach, and even though it really is beautiful, this still feels like a wasted day.”
Notice of the beach closure didn’t deter crowds from going to take a look
The BBC was slammed for its ‘irresponsible’ choice of location for Doctor Who’s regeneration scene
Doctor Who use of Durdle Door sparked ban threat
Durdle Door is part of the private 12,000 acre Lulworth estate which is owned by the Weld family.
It has been used as a location for several major films, including Nanny McPhee, Far From The Madding Crowd and Wilde, and for music videos Saviour’s Day by Cliff Richard, Shout by Tears For Fears and Loverboy by Billy Ocean.
A spokesperson for the Lulworth Estate said that the closure of Durdle Door for two days had been publicised on social media, and the adjoining Man O’ War beach had been kept open for visitors. He declined to comment on the production itself.
In 2022, the Doctor Who story The Power of the Doctor saw Jodie Whittaker regenerate into David Tennant on top of Durdle Door – thanks to drone photography and CGI wizardry – and sparked a row over the ‘irresponsible’ choice of location. The estate has signs prohibiting anyone walking out along the top of the arch, which is narrow and dangerous.
At the time, Lulworth Estate owner James Weld said that although permission had been given for the Dr Who filming, he felt deceived about how the stone arch was used and threatened to ban the BBC from any future projects in the area.
Durdle Door car park was taken over by Netflix’s film crew village
Trailer homes, caterers, lighting crews and many more set up a huge village in Durdle Door car park
One of the greatest graphic novels ever
The Sandman is a fantasy drama TV series by Netflix based on the comic book series written by Neil Gaiman and backed by the publishing stable of Batman and Superman, DC Comics.
It tells the story of Lord Morpheus, also known as Dream, played by Tom Sturridge who is best known for his roles in The Boat That Rocked, Effie Gray, Far From the Madding Crowd and Mary Shelley.
The series premiered in August 2022 to a largely positive reception from critics, but it still took Netflix five months before it commissioned a second series, which itself was threatened by the effects of the screenwriters’ strike in Hollywood.
On Twitter, the husband of production designer Jon Gary Steele revealed that the team started filming season two at Shepperton Studios on Monday 25th June 2023. It’s understood that the Durdle Door filming is part of the same production.
The Sandman was the first graphic novel to appear on the New York Times bestseller list in the early 1990s and is said to be one of the greatest examples of the genre.
Game of Thrones favourite Gwendoline Christie stars in The Sandman