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Back to Life series two and its references to Hythe and other parts of Kent


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Hit comedy drama Back to Life has returned to the BBC for its second season - and is not disappointing viewers.

Set in Hythe, it follows Miri Matteson - played by show creator Daisy Haggard - as she returns to the outside world following an 18 year stint behind bars for killing her best friend.

Back to Life series two - staring Daisy Haggard - was filmed across Folkestone, Hythe and parts of Dover and Romney Marsh. Picture: Luke Varley
Back to Life series two - staring Daisy Haggard - was filmed across Folkestone, Hythe and parts of Dover and Romney Marsh. Picture: Luke Varley

The first series, from 2019, scored 100% approval rating on critic website Rotten Tomatoes and now its second season has already received 5* reviews in The Guardian and The Telegraph.

As well as Haggard, it stars Geraldine James, Adeel Akhtar, Jo Martin, Christine Bottomley, Ade Edmondson and Meera Syal.

Episode one of the new series first aired on BBC Three at the end of August, but all six episodes are available to view on iPlayer.

And if you've binge-watched the whole series already (like we have), you would have noticed the various locations across the Folkestone district which were used for filming, including the Harbour Arm and beaches.

There are also many references to Hythe - some real, and some made up.

Two characters meet on Folkestone Harbour Arm. Photo: BBC iPlayer
Two characters meet on Folkestone Harbour Arm. Photo: BBC iPlayer

Here we list some of the ways the seaside town was included in the show, and in some ways became its own character.

*We've tried to avoid spoilers, in case you've yet to complete the series*

Clean Hythe

Miri's dad Oscar, played by Richard Durden, is obsessed with recycling and is as fanatic about making sure the correct items go in the right bins as he is about loading the dishwasher efficiently.

His latest crusade is to tidy up Hythe's streets and he launches a Make Hythe Clean account on Instagram.

He takes to the High Street to encourage others to join his litter busting campaign.

His activism isn't out of place in Hythe, which has many Green town and district councillors and its residents are not opposed to a protest.

St Julius of Hythe acts as a meeting point in the series. Photo: BBC iPlayer
St Julius of Hythe acts as a meeting point in the series. Photo: BBC iPlayer

St Julius

In the show, The Ladies of Hythe use the church as a meeting point for their work on the foodbank and flower arranging.

The church is called St Julius of Hythe, with a sign welcoming people to the building.

As far as we know, there is no such church.

The contact number for the building also starts with 01632, but the real area code for Hythe is 01303.

Miri's dad, with Hythe's shops in the background. Photo: BBC iPlayer
Miri's dad, with Hythe's shops in the background. Photo: BBC iPlayer

Sleepy town

When Miri meets neighbour Billy for dinner, she is surprised that the restaurant is empty.

And when she asks him if he hired the whole venue out, Billy replies that it is quiet because it's '8.30pm in Hythe'.

Miri's mum also at one point refers to herself as Hythe's most hated woman following an STI scandal.

The made up driving test centre. Photo: BBC iPlayer
The made up driving test centre. Photo: BBC iPlayer

Bank and test centre

As Miri focuses on re-starting her life, she realises there are certain essential things she needs, such as a bank account and a driving license.

As such, she is seen visiting Hythe Bank and Hythe Driving Test Centre.

While there is a Santander in the town, the nearest place to take a driving test is along the coast in Folkestone.

'Hythe Bank'. Photo: BBC iPlayer
'Hythe Bank'. Photo: BBC iPlayer

Visit the shops

Eagle-eyed viewers will be able to spot several Hythe shops in the background, including Posh Potions, Artisan and Root, all in the High Street.

The Swan Hotel and its cocktail bar Cgynet are also visible, as is the town hall.

Acfold of Hythe also appears behind Oscar when he is leafleting, but this appears to be added for the show.

At one point, characters make reference to a Starbucks, but alas the coffee chain does not exist in reality. There is a Costa though.

The local police force are also part of the South Eastern Constabulary in the series, as opposed to Kent Police.

People pass the Swan Hotel in Hythe. Photo: BBC iPlayer
People pass the Swan Hotel in Hythe. Photo: BBC iPlayer
The lighthouse on Folkestone Harbour Arm is regularly featured. Photo: BBC iPlayer
The lighthouse on Folkestone Harbour Arm is regularly featured. Photo: BBC iPlayer

Spot the landmark

Just along the coast from Hythe is the Folkestone Harbour Arm, which features heavily in the second series, with one of the pivotal scenes playing out there.

In real life, the popular tourist spot was brought back to life itself in recent years by owner Folkestone Harbour & Seafront Development Company.

As well as views over the Channel, visitors can enjoy the outdoor cinema, various food and drink vendors and mini golf along the Arm.

For Back to Life however, all these are absent. The Lighthouse Champagne Bar is also gone in the show, although one of the characters reveals there are plans to turn it into a champagne and oyster bar.

Just like the first series, the sound mirror at Abbot's Cliff, between Folkestone and Dover, is also repeatedly shown.

Characters also frequent the district's shingle beaches.

The Abbot's Cliff sound mirror on the White Cliffs of Dover is also a regular sight in both series one and two
The Abbot's Cliff sound mirror on the White Cliffs of Dover is also a regular sight in both series one and two
You are now leaving Hythe. Photo: BBC iPlayer
You are now leaving Hythe. Photo: BBC iPlayer

Fans of the drama have taken to social media to express their delight at seeing parts of the district in the show.

Alison Moncrieff-Kelly said on Twitter: "Back To Life is just wonderful. I live in Hythe - or just outside it - and the choice of Hythe as the town is perfect.

"Beautiful writing, gorgeous filming and such incredibly funny moments amidst the bathos."

Another viewer, @DoctorWarmflash, said: "Not me checking out property prices in Hythe because I finished Back To Life."

Hythe Town Council also shared its delight: "We are so happy that the BBC chose to film in our beautiful Hythe.

"To be able to share the beauty of the town with the rest of the world is amazing."

Read more: All the latest news from Hythe

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