Where Is Karen Pirie Filmed?

If you want to immerse yourself in the chilly charm of Scotland, you might be curious where is Karen Pirie filmed.

Adapted from Val McDermid’s best-selling novel ‘The Distant Echo’, this gripping series isn’t just a journey through the twists and turns of a cold case but also a visual feast of the picturesque Scottish landscape.

As you follow the young detective constable delving into the past, you are simultaneously taken on a tour of the historic university town of St Andrews in Fife, where the show’s filming predominantly takes place.

The specificity of the location is no accident; St Andrews, with its stunning architecture and coastal views, adds a layer of authenticity and atmosphere to the narrative.

Coupled with the story’s setting in the book, the series’ real locations in Scotland bring Karen Pirie’s investigations to life.

If you’ve been captivated by the series and find yourself wanting to tread the same ground as the intrepid investigator, then a visit to northeast of Edinburgh should be on your agenda.

Where Is Karen Pirie Filmed?

The filming of the ITV drama “Karen Pirie” is rooted in the picturesque settings of Scotland, delivering authenticity to its storyline.

You can find the primary locations in the university town of St. Andrews, the coastal area of East Neuk of Fife, and Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh.

St. Andrews

In St. Andrews, a historic university town northeast of Edinburgh, “Karen Pirie” found its backdrop.

Its cultural landscape and charming streets offer a compelling environment for the drama’s unfolding narrative.

You might recognize the iconic stone buildings and the medieval layout in various scenes.

East Neuk of Fife

The East Neuk of Fife, renowned for its scenic coastal villages and traditional harbors, also features in “Karen Pirie.”

The area’s natural beauty provides a stark contrast to the drama’s darker themes, showcasing fishing villages and rugged coastlines that add depth to the storytelling.


Scotland’s famed capital, Edinburgh, with its rich history and stunning architecture, adds an urban flavor to the series.

The city’s well-known landmarks and bustling streets provide a dynamic setting that complements the series’ complex plot.

Secondary Filming Spots

In addition to the main filming location in St Andrews, “Karen Pirie” also utilized various locations across Scotland to bring the crime drama to life.

Let’s explore some of the secondary spots where the series unfolded.


You might recognize some of Glasgow’s iconic backdrops that were chosen for specific scenes in “Karen Pirie.”

Glasgow’s diverse architecture and vibrant streets provided an ideal urban contrast to the small town of St Andrews.


The region of Tayside also served as a backdrop for parts of the series, showcasing Scotland’s varied landscapes.

From the picturesque countryside to the historic buildings, Tayside contributed to the atmospheric setting of the show.

Filming Challenges and Behind-the-Scenes

When embarking on the filming of Karen Pirie, the production team faced the common yet daunting challenges that accompany shooting in real-world locations.

St Andrews, a historic and bustling university town, brims with geographical charm that adds authenticity to the show; however, filming in such a locale wasn’t without its logistical hurdles.

  • Timing and Coordination: Aiming to disrupt the town’s daily rhythm minimally, your team must meticulously plan each day’s shoot.
    • Securing the necessary permissions and finding moments of quiet in a lively environment requires strategic scheduling.
  • Weather Dependencies: Scotland’s unpredictable weather can be a formidable opponent, with sudden changes potentially impacting your shooting schedule.
    • Keeping a flexible plan and having backup options is crucial to maintain continuity in the visual storytelling.

  • Scene Authenticity: The goal to keep the set closely aligned with the atmospheric descriptions from the Karen Pirie novels means paying close attention to detail.
    • This includes making sure every prop and piece of the set looks truly representative of the scene’s time period and location.

    • Working behind the scenes involves a dynamic interplay between cast, crew, and the local community.

Local businesses and residents often become unsung partners in the filmmaking process, graciously accommodating the disruptions that accompany the magic of bringing a story to life on their streets.

The camaraderie formed during filming can lead to memorable experiences for everyone involved—adding a layer of fondness to the project beyond the final cut.

Impact on Local Communities

When a television drama like Karen Pirie is filmed in a specific location, you often see tangible impacts on the local communities.

Let’s explore how the filming in the university town of St Andrews, Fife, has benefited the local economy and influenced the local culture.

Economic Benefits

Filming in St Andrews has brought economic prosperity to the region, as production activities require a variety of local services.

Here’s what you might observe:

  • Job Creation: Temporary positions arise to support production needs.
    • This can include roles like set builders, location managers, and extras from the local area.
  • Hospitality Uptick: Local accommodation like hotels and B&Bs experience increased bookings as cast and crew need places to stay.
    • These elements together imply a boost in the local economy, as more money circulates within these community-driven businesses.

Cultural Influence

Cultural influence tends to ripple through the town when a show like Karen Pirie sets its roots there:

  • Spotlight on Local Landmarks: Recognizable filming locations can become tourist attractions, drawing fans and increasing foot traffic to shops and restaurants.
  • Community Pride: There’s often a renewed sense of pride among residents as their hometown gains national or even global attention.

Key Takeaways

  • Location: The television series Karen Pirie unfolds in the picturesque setting of Scotland.
    • It brings to life the ambiance of a Scottish university town.
  • Based on Literature: The series is based on the book The Distant Echo by Val McDermid.
    • This book marks the beginning of the celebrated Karen Pirie series.
  • Filming Spots: Your visual journey through the series is anchored in the beautiful town of St Andrews in Fife.
    • The production honors the story’s Scottish heritage by choosing locations that reflect the spirit and geography described in McDermid’s novels.
  • Adaptation Authenticity: By filming in locations that align with the book’s settings, the series maintains a high level of authenticity that fans of the novels will appreciate.
  • Crew: You’ll spot Scottish-born talent in front of and behind the camera.
    • This highlights local expertise in the series’ creation.