In the first of an occasional series: ‘London Facts’ (the more obscure, the better) will take a theme and explore it’s associations with London and, where we can, we’ll give away some of the city’s secrets. Firstly, we’re looking at film locations.
The UK has a thriving film industry that’s famous around the world. And, over the years, London itself has played a starring role in many of the box office hits that premiere in Leicester Square. Here’s our top 10 favourite films with specific London locations to look out for:
1. Notting Hill
It’s an obvious one to begin with. The romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant was filmed on Portobello Road and the surrounding area of Notting Hill. The famous blue door of William Thacker’s (Hugh Grant’s role) flat can be found on the corner of Westbourne Park Road and other landmarks include The Ritz (Piccadilly) and The Savoy Hotel (located on the Strand).
2. Harry Potter
London, and Harry Potter go together like Ron & Hermione. Filmed across several areas of the city, here are just a few: Leadenhall Market (near Monument Underground station) is where Diagon Alley scenes were filmed and nearby is a local optician’s shop, The Glass House, which was used for the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron (Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire) and the interior of Australia House, located near Temple, was used for the scenes at Gringotts Bank. HP’s most popular location can be found at King’s Cross St. Pancras Station, where Platform 9 ¾ (or where it would be) can be found with a special trolley been built into the wall for the perfect photo opportunity.
3. The Italian Job
Released in 1969, this classic was filmed in various locations around London. Famously, the exterior shots of Charlie being released from Wormwood Scrubs Prison (close to Hammersmith Hospital) were the real thing. And the iconic scene which the film is most famous for, where Charlie test runs the explosives for the bank raid and uses the now famous phrase ‘you were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off’, was actually filmed in Crystal Palace Park.
4. Love Actually
Love Actually follows eight very different couples and their dealings with love and the main London locations were Whiteley’s in Bayswater and Selfridges on Oxford Street. Grosvenor Chapel on South Audley Street (Mayfair) was used to film the wedding scene, but, unfortunately, the 10 Downing Street scenes had to be built and filmed at Shepperton Studios.
5. Bridget Jones’s Diary
Alongside Bridget’s love highs and lows, the film includes a mixed tour around the sights of London. Bridget’s flat was filmed in Borough, close to London Bridge Station, above the Globe pub. The ‘Greek Restaurant’ where Hugh Grant and Colin Firth fight it out is now Bedales wine merchants and other locations include: the Tate Modern restaurant, Borough Market, and Mahgreb restaurant Momo on Heddon Street.
6. The King’s Speech
As well a a royal storyline the Oscar winning film impressively recreated 1930’s London. The Harley Street consulting room, where most of the film takes place, is located at 33 Portland Place and Lionel Logue, the speech therapist to the then Duke, had a home in Kensington but these scenes were actually filmed in Iliffe Street, Elephant & Castle. The cathartic scene where the Duke explodes at Lionel was filmed on an icy morning in Regents Park. Other key locations include the Royal Naval College at Greenwich and Lancaster House was used to mimic Buckingham Palace.
7. Golden Eye
James Bond is a British icon and our most famous MI5 spy. Although many of the Bond films were set in exotic locations, Golden Eye, featured some more eclectic sites. The ‘Grand Hotel Europe’ which, despite flying a Russian flag in the film, is actually the Langham Hotel in Portland Place (at the top of Regent Street) and the filming of St Petersburg Square in Moscow actually took place in the newly renovated Somerset House (just off the Strand).
8. 28 Days Later
This post-apocalyptic sets the scene of a deserted London. Locations include Westminster Bridge, Horse Guards Parade and Duke of York steps, and the Royal Exchange feature as an Ancient Greek inspired building. And you may recognise Piccadilly Circus, but what happened to all the traffic crowds?
9. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
John Le Carré’s hunt-the-mole mystery that features the MI6 headquarters in Cambridge Circus and George Smiley’s home can be found in Lloyd Square in Islington. Coincidentally, this location is just south of Sirius Black’s (from Harry Potter) fictional home, Grimmauld Place.
10. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Sherlock Holmes, a famous Londoner, has a fictional home in Baker Street and is where most of the filming for A Game of Shadows took place. Further afield, Greenwich College was used in scenes of the Auction House, Moriarty’s Lecture and the Opera House. The Nearby Greenwich Maritime Museum was used to film for Holmes’ first fight and Hampton Court Palace also appears in the kitchens and outside in the privy gardens and courtyard.