My Neighbourhood On Film
There are a lot of film locations around Kings Cross, where we live, including the most of the Harry Potter films, ‘Alfie’, ‘The Ladykillers’ (above), ‘Smashing Time’, ‘Batman’ and ‘Chaplin’.
I always remember the scene in Ken Russell’s ‘The Music Lovers’ where Richard Chamberlain as Tchaikovsky tries to drown himself in Regent’s Canal (standing in for Russia!).
Mike Leigh’s charming (and horrendously funny) ‘High Hopes’ was shot a couple of streets away from me. I suggested to Mike that he change the title of the film, which he had originally planned to call ‘Winter’. Ruth Sheen and Philip Davis are the couple trying to keep it together in the backstreets of King’s Cross and here, at Karl Marx’s tomb, in Highgate Cemetery.
Just up the road from me, the Monty Python dead parrot sketch was filmed in Cally Pets at 345 Caledonian Road. The pet shop is still pretty much the same all these years later.
Michael Palin wrote about the filming in his diary…
Thanks to the King’s Cross Environment website for this!
Most London streets need little set dressing for filming. The most common thing they do is spray them down because wet London photographs better. There’s a website that contrasts British film locations then and now here.
Ken Russell was the master of substituting British locations for more exotic ones. In ‘French Dressing’, he made Herne Bay look like the Cote D’Azur, and often used Greenwich to stand in for other countries.
Now, though, it’s so hard to find any parts of the original Soho that British period films have to be shot in the Baltics. But a good director steps away from tourist sights and finds oddities that others fail to notice. I liked the sequences in ‘Skyfall’ that showcased London more realistically.