London is surely one of the world’s most famous capitals. Home to no shortage of amazing sites, it’s also been the core of much of the UK’s culture for centuries. Homegrown studios have been making films here for decades, and the city has also played host to many film shoots from other studios around the world. As a result, it’s become one of the most recognisable cities in the world when it comes to film. We’re going to look at some of the most iconic and exciting locations for filming in London.
Westminster Bridge Features in Many Films
Westminster Bridge is immediately recognisable. With the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in the background, you could never mistake it for anywhere else. As a result, it’s hardly surprising that it’s made its way into so many films. One of the most memorable has to be 28 Days Later. Danny Boyle’s fantastic horror film sees bike courier Jim wake up in an empty hospital. He wanders through a deserted London, over the bridge, to Piccadilly Circus, gradually coming to terms with the horror of an empty city. Shooting took place early on a Sunday morning, and provides us with a truly unforgettable view of London.
Greenwich Offers a Unique Slice of London
Greenwich is home to some of the most historic parts of London. Featuring impressive museums, old naval buildings and a fantastic park, it’s a truly scenic spot. As a result, it’s no surprise that it’s a favourite spot for films. Gulliver’s Travels made use of some of the buildings near the part, and Les Miserable used the same area for filming a scene of a riot in Paris. On a more modern angle, Greenwich Park showed up a few times in Matthew Vaughan’s crime noire Layer Cake.
King’s Cross Is Crucial to Potter Fans
King’s Cross is one of London’s biggest and busiest stations. However, fans around the world have come to know it as the location of platform 9 and three quarters in the Harry Potter books. The spot is so famous that an actual sign for the fictitious platform has been erected on a wall in the station. Naturally, the many film adaptations of the books made use of the station, which is instantly recognisable.
London’s Skyline Is Instantly Recognisable
London’s rooftops and skyline deserve the attention they get. Big Ben and the enormous St Paul’s Cathedral are generally used as convenient shorthand when a director wants to signal to the audience that the action is taking place in London. Sometimes, however, the London above London gets a starring role. Mission Impossible 6 sees Tom Cruise scrambling along the roof of Blackfriars Station, finally arriving on top of the iconic Tate Modern gallery on the South Bank.
Notting Hill Is Home to More than Just Bookshops
Notting Hill has become instantly associated with the famous Richard Curtis film. The actual shop used to shoot the main character’s bookshop no longer exists, even if many tourists seem to think the nearby Notting Hill Book Exchange is the same place. But Notting Hill has a far more interesting film history than just that. The Clash filmed their experimental silent film Hell W10 in the area. And the 1970 crime drama Performance, featuring a deranged Mick Jagger, was also filmed and set in the area.
Trafalgar Square Is the Heart of London
Trafalgar Square is London’s most iconic open space. Situated in the centre of the city, for many Londoners it represents the absolute middle of London. As a result, it’s no surprise that it’s been a favourite spot for filming for many years. As far back as the Sixties, Alec Guinness flees down the entrance to Charing Cross Station in The Lavender Hill Mob. The area has also been home to a fair amount of action, including the Tom Cruise vehicle Edge of Tomorrow.
Tower Bridge Is Unforgettable
Often mistaken as London Bridge, Tower Bridge is the most iconic of all London’s bridges. As a result, it’s easy to see why it’s seen more than its fair share of film shoots. From Brannigan and its famous car chase, all the way up to The Mummy Returns and Bridget Jones the Edge of Reason, the bridge can be spotted in no shortage of classic films.
The Tube Has Been an Icon for Over a Century
The London Underground was the world’s first subterranean transport system, and is tied up with the identity of the city. It features in plenty of classic films, including horror film Creep and bizarre Sixties oddity The Bed Sitting Room. It can also be found in more recent films, such as Sliding Doors and Love Actually.
London’s Museums Are One of a Kind
London’s museums and art galleries have a prestigious history, many of them stretching back hundreds of years. They’ve been favourite locations for a wide range of different films. Churchill’s wartime command centre, the Cabinet War Rooms, were used for Gary Oldman’s Darkest Hour, putting the action right where it was at the time. And the National Gallery was picked for a rendezvous between Bond and M in Skyfall.
Nowhere Has Pubs Like London
London’s pubs are famous around the world, and the city is full of places to stop for a quick drink. Some spots are atmospheric enough that they’ve shown up in cinema. The Wetherspoons pub The Knights Templar features in the adaptation of The Da Vinci Code. And the opening of one of the classics of British gangster cinema, the Long Good Friday, takes place in the Salisbury, on Green Lanes.
London is a city like no other, with a rich history reflected in the beautiful buildings spread throughout the city. It’s been home to many fantastic films, and looks set to be pulling in even more in the future. If you get the chance, check out some of these truly iconic locations.
The author of this post is Evelyn Greenwood. She is from NYC and likes writing articles on various topics. Here is one of the websites she hosts – allpetsexpert.com. Please enjoy reading her publication!