Ranging from recreations of Charles Dickens’s Victorian London, to the romantic comedies of Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’s Diary, London has been used as a movie setting and filming location since movies first started. London has also been recreated many times in Hollywood Studios, to avoid the crew making the long flight to London. However we are only focusing on the movies genuinely filmed in the UK capital.
It is not difficult to see why so many movie directors opt to stay in London to shoot; the city makes the perfect setting for so many films. Movie makers will find it all here; from narrow alleys, huge parks and waste grounds, to tall buildings, medieval architecture and a great river, London is the ideal backdrop for films of all kinds.
The King’s Speech
London’s 33 Portland Place was the setting for the “Harley Street” surgery where Colin Firth’s stammer in the King’s Speech was cured. This beautiful Georgian townhouse was also used for Amy Winehouse’s video “Rehab”.
In the 1966 movie, Blowup, Maryon Park in Charlton is the setting for swinging London. It looks a bit different in reality, as false houses were built for the background and even the grass was painted. But the tennis courts used for the imaginary tennis game remain in place to this day.
Ironmonger Row Baths, London’s oldest public baths, are a good place to visit if only to appreciate the handsome art deco tiling and wonderful steam rooms. Used in David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises, the baths are currently being refurbished and will be re-opened in spring 2012.
Dino’s, next to the tube station at 1-3 Pelham Street, South Kensington, is where filming took place for Polanski’s Repulsion. The restaurant is pretty much the same as when Catherine Deneuve was confronted by dismal battered cod and chips in the 1965 movie, although the food may have improved!
The outside of Chicago’s Jewellers Building was used as Gotham City State Courts in Christopher Nolan’s 2005 movie Batman Begins. However, the inside is actually the lobby of London University’s Senate House in Malet Street, Bloomsbury.
Sense and Sensibility
If you loved the 1995 movie Sense and Sensibility, you can hire Chandos House, Queen Anne Street, for your wedding. Virtually nothing was changed for the movie makers filming the interior of the rooms where Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson learn of Hugh Grant’s engagement.
Carbery Avenue, Ealing, was the setting for Lone Scherfig’s 2009 movie, An Education. Carey Mulligan, as Lynn Barber, has a house on Carbery Avenue. The Japanese School, Creffield Road, is her school and look closely and you’ll see the local shops are actually St John’s Parade.
A Clockwork Orange
One of London’s best movie sites is Thamesmead. This is the setting for Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 masterpiece, A Clockwork Orange. Roddie McDowell’s apartment was actually the Tavy Bridge Centre and most of the landscape here is much as it was back then. The underpass where the tramp was assaulted, however, is in Wandsworth.
London’s beautiful Leadenhall Market is the setting for some scenes in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 42 Bull’s Head Passage is the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron (actually an optician’s).
V for Vendetta
One of the most distinctive London locations was utilised for 2006’s V for Vendetta. The film’s producers obtained a permit which allowed them to shut down the world famous Parliament Square for shooting over three nights, from midnight to 5am. This was the first time the area – which is home to Big Ben and The House of Commons- has been shut down in such a way to accommodate filming.
At the time, rumours circulated that a certain young runner for the production company named Ewan Blair had managed to persuade his Prime Minister father to push the request through, a claim strenuously denied by the government, but with a knowing wink!
Whatever the reason we’re just grateful for this memorable scene of the deserted capital, besieged by anarchists, intent on overthrowing government and burning parliament to the ground.
Sherlock Holmes + James Bond
It seems as though director’s attraction to filming in London shows no signs of letting up. With Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows only recently showcasing areas of South London, and with Daniel Craig spotted filming scenes for the new Bond flick Skyfall in the capital, it appears London will be cropping up onscreen for some time to come.
We couldn’t include them all, did we miss your favourite? Let us know your thoughts below.