London is an iconic city for its architecture, culture and general ‘vibe’. What’s more though is that the capital has been immortalised on screen throughout the years and portrayed in many different lights from the mystical and magical, to the nail-biting and thrilling.
The city itself has a variety of personas to be discovered on a film tour of London. Let’s take a look at the changing landscapes of London and the iconic scenes from some of our best loved films that have captured London at its best.
James Bond, our favourite English hero and spy who works for Mi6, is perhaps one of the most obvious connections to our capital. With offices based on the banks of the Thames, his HQ is frequently featured in the popular series Fleming created so many decades ago. A memorable moment was Brosnan’s speedboat chase along the Thames in The World is Not Enough. Later, in Skyfall with Daniel Craig, he symbolically stands on a rooftop in central London with some of the most iconic sights on the horizon, including Big Ben and the tops of the houses of Parliament, with bronze topped domes of local churches in the foreground. Spot some of London’s iconic “Bond spots” with a trip down the Thames on a Hop On Hop Off Thames River Cruise – you’ll even spot the infamous MI6 and MI5 buildings on the rivers-edge!
Probably one of the best pop-culture films of the 1990s, Notting Hill, starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, takes you on a tour of London like a local, as lived by a group on thirty-somethings. Grant’s iconic tiny house with the blue door can be found at 280 Westbourne Park Road (although since then the owners have painted it and changed the façade apparently) and his travel bookshop lives at 13-15 Blenheim Crescent. It’s even been renamed to Notting Hill Bookshop in homage to the film! While you’re wandering around the area, why not check out some of our neighbourhood hotspots courtesy of our Notting Hill area guide!
This much-loved protagonist will always have a soft spot in women’s hearts. With a hilarious life and full of love dramas, she was the loveable character of Helen Fielding’s creation. Her kooky flat moved South of the river for the film, from its original location in Holland Park in the books, and for those with a keen eye and who’ve visited Borough Market you’ll recognise her black front door beside The Globe pub on Bedale Street. You might even remember the scene where Darcy and Daniel have their bare-fisted battle and smash through the Greek restaurant – well that premise is now a wine merchant called Bedales just around the corner in the popular market place.
Moving from reality into magic, Harry Potter’s muggle world is based in London and fans of the books might recognise some architecture featured heavily in the scenes throughout the story. The Ministry of Magic was filmed outside Scotland Yard and the street shots you’ll remember from Diagon Alley were a mixture of Borough Market and Leadenhall Market – even though they’re not even remotely nearby! You can’t forget platform 9 ¾ in Kings Cross, the portal into the magic world to catch the Hogwarts Express train, which is signposted in the actual Kings Cross station where you can even go and get your photo taken. There’s a number of wizarding places scattered across London, from dedicated Harry Potter fan stores to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour where the magic happens to the shaky bridge Voldemort destroys in the last film. Check out our master Harry Potter guide to London – and don’t forget to bring a Potterhead or two.
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Now a Hollywood Blockbuster (and star of this year’s 2017 M&S Christmas Ad) Paddington Bear is one of London’s most famous mascots. This fictional character has been around since 1958 when Michael Bond’s series of books landed him from deep in the Peruvian jungle into the home of the Browns. Those travelling in and out of Paddington station will be able to purchase a small bear as a memorabilia just for themselves!
Beautiful sunrise over the @oldroyalnavalcollege Greenwich captured by @69drops ☀️ . . Did you know that Queen Mary asked architect Christopher Wren to keep the view of Thames when he built the Old Royal Naval College? . . #greenwich #greenwhichpark #royallondon #visitlondon #mylondon #londonlife #thisislondon #royalnavalcollege #visitgreenwich
As the film reaches its revolutionary peak, the cast of Les Miserables takes to the barricades – which unfortunately aren’t set in Paris, but rather in Greenwich nearby the Old Naval College. According to The Telegraph, the set designers spent a month scouring for period furniture before knitting it altogether to form the impressive wall that Enjolras and the revolutionaries make their impressive last stand. The buildings surrounding the college also played a part in the film and it’s all down to Greenwich’s old timey charm – while it’s not entirely relevant to Les Miserables, a stroll through the park and a visit to the Royal Observatory is always a great shout, with its breathtaking view over the Thames river.
Fun fact, the film Wimbledon was actually shot over at The Queen’s Club out in South Kensington. This grand club actually hosts an impressive tennis tournament of their own called The Queen’s Club Championships, which despite its pretty unambitious name is one of the big qualifiers leading up to Wimbledon. However if you’re looking to really get into the technical nitty gritty behind the Kirsten Dunst romcom, it’s worth jumping over to Wimbledon itself where you can tour the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum.
Want to get a truly behind-the-scenes look at some of the top London film locations? Join a Brit Movie Tour, free with your London Pass!