Stephen Merchant’s comedy thriller The Outlaws returns to BBC One/BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video next week with a third series filmed at The Bottle Yard Studios and on location in and around Bristol, with support from the city’s Film Office.

Made by Big Talk Studios and Merchant’s own company Four Eyes, The Outlaws follows a group of strangers from different walks of life forced together to complete a community payback sentence in Bristol.

Production for the new five-part series was once again based at The Bottle Yard Studios, where sets were built for key interiors. Bristol Film Office facilitated filming at a host of locations during the 14 week shoot, including St Werburgh’s City Farm which features prominently. Filming also took place in nearby Weston-Super-Mare.

The Outlaws cast & crew on location at St Werburgh's City Farm, Bristol (image: Big Talk Studios/BBC)

Stephen Merchant & The Outlaws crew on location at St Werburgh’s City Farm, Bristol (image: Big Talk Studios/BBC)

Luke Alkin, Executive Producer, Big Talk Studios, says: “We’ve been very lucky to make three series of The Outlaws at The Bottle Yard Studios. As a production base and as studios, they are a great place to work. The stages gave us all the facilities and space we needed for our sets and production offices. For a proudly Bristol-set show, the range and variety of locations the city offers is unparalleled and was a key part of The Outlaws’ distinct identity. At all times, the Film Office were supportive and proactive with assisting the production. Our experience of shooting in the city could not have been more positive.”

Laura Aviles, Head of Film (Bristol City Council) says: “Welcoming The Outlaws back to The Bottle Yard Studios was an absolute pleasure. It’s hard to express how important this production is to Bristol. Not only does it put the city on screen as itself, with its own distinctive character front and centre, the making of the show has created employment for local crew and skills opportunities for local talent behind the camera. Around 90 people per day worked on Series 3 throughout the production period. Primetime shows like this with such a strong sense of place are proven to have a positive impact on screen tourism, bringing benefits to local businesses in different sectors. Yet again, Stephen and Big Talk have done an excellent job of celebrating Bristol and benefiting our local film and TV sector.”

Writer/director and actor Stephen Merchant (Greg): “I was born and raised in Bristol. The show is very much a love letter to Bristol. I love the fact we get to feature different pockets of the city, and in the instance of series three, we are in a city farm. I love showcasing the city. It’s very visual, it’s full of street art, and it’s very hilly which adds interesting depths to the show. Also, the people of Bristol are very welcoming to us. I like the idea of making it another character in the show. In this show it gets to play itself.

“One of the great things about filming The Outlaws is the community spirit, it’s like a family that moves around the town. It’s just a real pleasure to be in the city I was born in. The weather was good, and it’s just the kind of lovely experience of making the show I dreamed of. The dream was always to come back to my hometown, and see people I knew, my family, introduce actors who hadn’t worked here before to the town and make that feel part of the show.”

The Bottle Yard Studios housed a number of key set builds, including Greg’s flat, Myrna’s flat, Ben’s flat, Halloran & Sons factory offices, probation offices, police station interview rooms and a fertility clinic. Eleanor Tomlinson (Gabby) says: “I think Greg’s flat is my favourite. In series three we really see how Gabby has completely taken over his flat. There are false nails everywhere and massively garish art. Greg’s flat has been fully Gabby’d, which is great.”

Bristolian writer/director Michael Jenkins (age 35) was Trainee Director/Director of Additional Photography on episodes 1 and 2 of the new series, shadowing Stephen Merchant, Curtis Vowell and John Butler. Michael says: “This was a truly transformative experience. Being my first time on set and on such a funny and enjoyable show that had Bristol at its core, was breathtaking. I think my main take away was the confidence it’s infused in me. I was given the freedom and the space from the Directors and the team. I went from watching and really enjoying the show to being able to lend my voice to some of it. It’s just given me the drive and hunger to direct more TV and has really informed my writing.” Read a Q&A with Michael about his experience here.

Michael Jenkins (centre) with Directors Stephen Merchant (R) & Curtis Vowell (L) - image courtesy Big Talk Studios

Michael Jenkins (centre) with Directors Stephen Merchant (R) & Curtis Vowell (L) behind the scenes at The Bottle Yard Studios  (image courtesy Big Talk Studios)

The production team also gave behind the scenes access to students aged 16-18 studying Film & TV Production Diplomas with boomsatsuma, The Bottle Yard’s on-site education provider. Course leader Simon Williams said: “The summer of 2023 was particularly exciting for some of our Year 12 and 13 students, as they got valuable on-set experience and appeared as extras in various scenes of The Outlaws 3. They got to witness a giant LED backdrop virtual driving set-up in The Bottle Yard Studios, as well as witnessing and appearing in scenes at Clifton College and Cirencester Courthouse. Stephen Merchant himself took the time to hold a Q&A with the students on getting a job and working in the industry. They also met other stars of the show including Richard E. Grant and the very lovely Jessica Gunning. We are so grateful to Stephen and everyone at Big Talk Studios for making it all possible and can’t wait to see the results.”

Stephen Merchant with boomsatsuma students studying at The Bottle Yard Studios (image courtesy boomsatsuma)

Stephen Merchant with boomsatsuma students studying at The Bottle Yard Studios (image courtesy boomsatsuma)

Read more about the Bristol locations used and what the cast had to say about filming in the city here.

As series three begins, with crime boss The Dean, (Claes Bang, Bad Sisters) behind bars awaiting trial, The Outlaws are moving on with their lives—until one of their own returns with a deadly secret, hurling them back into mortal danger. As a murder manhunt closes in on the gang, can they prove their innocence before The Dean’s case collapses, and he comes looking for revenge?

Stephen Merchant (The Office) returns as Greg, along with Rhianne Barreto (No Escape, Hanna) as Rani, Gamba Cole (Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle, Hanna) as Ben, Darren Boyd (Killing Eve, Trying) as John, Clare Perkins (Silo, The Wheel of Time) as Myrna, Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark, The Couple Next Door) as Lady Gabby, Jessica Gunning (Back, Baby Reindeer) as Diane, Charles Babalola (Black Mirror, Shaka: King of the Zulu Nation) as Malaki, Tom Hanson (Brassic) as Spencer and Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter, Dune: Part Two) as Frank.

The Outlaws is a Big Talk Studios and Four Eyes production co-created by Stephen Merchant—who also serves as an executive producer, director, and writer—and Elgin James (Mayans M.C., Lowriders). Luke Alkin and Kenton Allen also serve as executive producers for Big Talk, along with John Butler. The Outlaws is co-produced by BBC One and Amazon Studios. Global distribution is handled by BBC Studios for all three seasons.

The Outlaws series 3 begins 30th May on BBC One and BBC iPlayer, and 31st May  on Amazon Prime Video.