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7 iconic London filming locations (TV shows & films set in London)

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Written by Becky T

Published Sep 25, 2023

It likely comes as no surprise that London has served as a backdrop for countless TV shows and films across the years. And if you've lived in London for some time, you've probably experienced seeing a local landmark pop up in the background of something you're watching (never gets old). Or maybe you simply enjoy immersing yourself in shows and films set in London from somewhere far away, swooning at its romantic charm and dramatic city bustle. Regardless of our familiarity, there is a certain thrill about the realisation that our favourite characters live in the same tangible world as us - that we can visit the very places that they stood and reimagine their lives amidst our own.

Saying that, it's no surprise that productions skew the geographical realities of the locations where they film (it is fiction after all), and this is no different for TV shows and films set in London. You may discover your favourite character's iconic Camden townhouse was actually filmed several miles over, or what you thought was a London park was filmed outside the city altogether. We're here to reveal the true London filming locations of 7 iconic TV shows and movies based in London.

Spoiler Warning: This article will feature plot details from the following films and TV shows.

  1. The King's Speech (2010)
  2. Paddington (2014-2017)
  3. The Fourth Protocol (1987)
  4. The Da Vinci Code (2006)
  5. You: Season 4 (2023)
  6. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  7. Top Boy (2011-2023)

1. The King's Speech (2010)

The King's Speech (2010), directed by Tom Hooper, follows the real-life story of King George VI's torment with a speech impediment (brilliantly portrayed by Colin Firth.) The film follows his developing friendship with speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), and explores the struggle of a seemingly ordinary man forced to lead a country during a pivotal moment in British history.

Battersea Power Station

Film still from The King's Speech (2010), a film set in London
Film still from The King's Speech (2010)

During the scene where King George (Firth) delivers his infamous 1939 WWII radio broadcast, we see staff as they listen along from the BBC radio control room and applaud at the King's successful delivery. This London filming location was actually within a recently restored control room at Battersea Power Station. Featuring a gold-coffered glass ceiling and original Art Deco finishings, this site serves well in capturing the charm of an era gone by.

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Control Room A provides the perfect setting for private events and celebrations, as well as receptions, fashion shows, brand launches, and film productions.

33 Portland Place

Film still from The King's Speech (2010), a film set in London
Film still from The King's Speech (2010)

Before the King's accession to the throne and move to Buckingham palace, the Duke and Duchess of York (Firth and Bonham-Carter) return to their residence at 145 Piccadilly, overlooking Green Park. Unfortunately, the house was destroyed in 1940 by WWII bombers, so the family home no longer exists. In the film, 33 Portland Street stands in as a replacement, a beautiful Grade-II-listed Georgian townhouse that retains many of its original features. Many of the interior shots were also filmed here, including the scene where "Bertie" (Firth) tells his daughters a story about a penguin.

Logue's (Geoffrey Rush) consultation rooms are also filmed at 33 Portland Place, after the crew discovered that the speech therapist's real office locations were too small to film in.

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2. Paddington (2014-2017)

Moving onto one of London's most famous residents, the beloved Paddington Bear. Though himself an expatriate from Peru, Paddington has come to represent something quintessentially British, and the 2014 and 2017 films have held their place as modern classics. Featuring famous landmarks and capturing the atmosphere of modern London was a crucial part of production, and many of the famous London filming locations will come as no shock.

Paddington Station

Film still from Paddington (2014), a movie based in London
Film still from Paddington (2014)

Named after the London landmark that he was discovered in, it's no surprise that Paddington Station is featured in the recent film series. However, whilst the interior that we see is indeed the real Paddington Station, the exterior was actually filmed outside Marylebone Station, which sports a similar 19th-century design. Today, you can find a bronze Paddington bear statue, sculpted by Marcus Cornish, standing outside of Paddington Station.

Portobello Road

Film still from Paddington (2014), a movie based in London
Film still from Paddington (2014)

Samuel Gruber’s antique shop, which features in both Paddington films, is filmed at Alice’s Antiques on Portobello Road. The red, chocolate-box exterior is honoured in its entirety, except for the replacement of Alice's name with Gruber's. Its claim to fame in the Paddington films has seen an influx of tourists and Paddington-lovers coming to get a taste of the magic at this iconic London filming location.

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The Natural History Museum

Joining the likes of The Mummy (2017) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), the original Paddington (2014) film uses the unique and grandiose setting of London's Natural History Museum as a focal point of its plot. Millicent Clyde (played by Nicole Kidman) works at the museum and reveals her plans to stuff and display the poor bear (voiced by Ben Whishaw) within the museum itself. Luckily, Paddington's loyal family, the Browns, come to the save the day in an elaborate rescue mission.

3. The Fourth Protocol (1987)

Starring Michael Caine and Pierce Brosnan, and directed by John Mackenzie, The Fourth Protocol (1987) follows the intertwining missions of two Cold War spies. The narrative revolves around a British intelligence agent's suspenseful efforts to stop a rogue KGB operative from detonating a nuclear bomb in the United Kingdom, with London serving as the prime backdrop.

The Barbican Theatre

Film still from The Fourth Protocol (1987), a film set in London
Film still from The Fourth Protocol (1987)

About half way through the film, we cut to a scene featuring a classical music concert taking place in a theatre hall, which cross cuts with Petrofsky (Brosnan) receiving bomb-making components in the corridor as the music intensifies. These scenes were filmed at the Barbican Centre, with the concert taking place in the Barbican Theatre. Much like the rest of the centre, the Barbican Theatre has retained its distinctive art deco charm, making it a perfect London filming location for films set across a range of eras.

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The Barbican Theatre can accommodate up to 1,150 people. No seat is located further than 20 metres from the stage making it an ideal space for conferences, private, events, productions, and more.

Primrose Hill

Film still from The Fourth Protocol (1987), a film set in London
Film still from The Fourth Protocol (1987)

As Preston (Caine) flys a plane on Primose Hill with his son Timmy (James Older), Irvine (Ian Richardson) arrives to update him about the soviet agent planning to build an atomic bomb in London. A beautiful filming location for a rather tense subject matter... Notoriously a great spot for catching the London skyline, you can see that the cityscape has changed a bit over the years; the shard (which is now quite visible from the Camden landmark) is missing of course, though we can see the iconic BT Tower looming in the distance.

Royal Albert Hall

Film still from The Fourth Protocol (1987), a film set in London
Film still from The Fourth Protocol (1987)

After stepping off a bus, Irina Vassilievn (Joanna Cassidy) stands for a moment outside the Royal Albert Hall, giving us a great shot of the majestic building and the Prince Consort Statue that stands in front. Petrofsky (Brosnan) walks up the steps to meet her and they depart to his car, within Vassilievn delivering the final component of the bomb that Petrofsky has needed.

4. The Da Vinci Code (2006)

Based on Dan Brown's bestselling novel of the same name, The Da Vinci Code is a 2006 film directed by Ron Howard, which follows Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) after a murder in the Louvre Museum leads them to unravel a religious conspiracy. The film takes place across a number of different settings, including Paris, London and Scotland, featuring a number of London filming locations.

Fairfield Halls

The "Parisian" lecture hall where Professor of Religious Symbology, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), delivers a promotional lecture for his book is actually filmed in the Concert Hall of Fairfield Halls in Croydon, London. Whilst a fair way from Paris in real life, this beautiful venue fits perfectly into its role as the venue of choice for a world-leading symbologist's Parisian book tour. Just listen to those acoustics.

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Since its inception in 1962, Fairfield Halls has been a major venue for live music, plays, musicals, stand-up comedy and classical music, as well as community events. 

Temple Church

Film still from The Da Vinci Code (2006), a film set in London
Film still from The Da Vinci Code (2006)

Following a series of hidden clues and riddles, Langdon and Neveu find the following riddle hidden in a cryptex that they're finally able to unlock:

"In London lies a knight a Pope interred. His labour’s fruit a Holy wrath incurred. You seek the orb that out be on his tomb. It speaks of Rosy flesh and a seeded womb."

The pair first believe the riddle is leading them to Temple Church in London (a 12th century church built the Knight's Templar to serve as their English headquarters). Whilst trying to uncover the secret tombs they believe to be  behind the Knight's stone effigies, Langdon and Neveu realise that the riddle is actually leading them to Westminster Abbey.

5. You: Season 4 (2023)

Spitalfields

Still from You: Season 4 (2023)
Still from You: Season 4 (2023)

Any Londoner who watched season 4 of You will be aware of the geographical inconsistencies relating to its London filming locations, not least Joe's very long walk from the Royal Holloway campus (in Surrey) to his home in South Kensington (9 hours give or take). During this walk through South West London, Joe also somehow finds himself strolling through Spitalfields and Shoreditch. The beautiful 18th-century Anglican Church, Christ Church, in Spitalfields is seen in the background, along with Shoreditch High Street Station. Talk about taking the scenic route....

If you're running a low-budget production with a limited crew, then generally it's free to film in London's public spaces like the public streets mentioned above. Just make sure you have the appropriate permits and insurance.

Royal Victoria Dock

Still from You: Season 4 (2023)
Still from You: Season 4 (2023)

During a rather tense and climactic scene in the final episode, Joe (Penn Badgley) and Rhys (Ed Speleers) stand on the footbridge at Royal Victoria Dock before Joe is seen to push Rhys off into the water and jump in himself. The imposing backdrop of canary wharf and numerous cranes rising above the docklands gives a dramatic and gritty feel to this intense moment on screen.

6. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Thamesmead Estate

Many of the film's scenes feature a Brutalist housing estate in South East London called Thamesmead South. The sprawling concrete complex fits the imposing and dystopian feel of Kubrick's masterpiece, and was later used as a backdrop for E4's Misfits (2009-2014). The estate overlooks an artificial lake called Southmere lake on the bank of the River Thames, known in A Clockwork Orange as the "Flat Block Marina". This lake becomes a key feature in the film when Alex attacks his fellow droogs and kicks them into the marina from a site on Thamesmead South called Binsey Walk.

Many parts of the estate featured in the film have since been demolished, and plans are underway for a regeneration project.

Wandsworth Prison

Film still from A Clockwork Orange (1971), a film set in London
Film still from A Clockwork Orange (1971)

The exterior of Parkmoor Prison was filmed at HMP Wandsworth, or Wandsworth Prison, in South West London. We get a great aerial shot of the sprawling Panopticon-style prison, built in the mid-19th-century. However, it's said that the interior shots of the prison were filmed at "Woolwich Barracks Prison", though it's not clear whether this is referring to what today is the Royal Artillery Barracks, The Royal Arsenal or HM Prison Belmarsh.

7. Top Boy (2011-2023)

Finally, the East London crime drama created by Ronan Bennett, Top Boy. The show, which began in 2011 and has recently seen the success of its fifth and final series, is set in and around the fictional Summerhouse estate in Hackney. Shots of the actual estate are filmed across multiple London housing estates, but there are some staple London filming locations that remain consistent throughout the show.

Ridley Road Market

Still from Top Boy: Season 5 (2023), a tv show set in London
Still from Top Boy: Season 5 (2023)

Ridley Road Market is an iconic Dalston landmark and community hub, having operated as a central marketplace in the area for over a century. The market itself serves as the backdrop for much of the show's street scenes, with the likes of Jaq (Jasmin Jobson) and Si (Dudley O'Shaghnessey) conducting discreet drug deals at the edge of the market street.

Number One Café

Still from Top Boy: Season 5 (2023), a tv show set in London
Still from Top Boy: Season 5 (2023)

Another regular London filming location featured in the series is the wood-panelled caff where Sully (Kane Robinson) and Dushane (Ashley Walters) meet to discuss various business dealings. The Number One Café in London Fields has attracted plenty of tourism since its rise to fame in the show, with Top Boy fans regularly turning up to check out the local haunt of their favourite characters.

That's a wrap!

So there you have it - 7 iconic London filming locations featured in some of the biggest TV shows and films set in London! This city truly is a goldmine when it comes to finding creative spaces for your film projects, but its wealth of options can also make it a tad intimidating... You can rest assured that the perfect theatre hall or Georgian townhouse to fulfil your creative vision exists, but how do you go about finding it and locking it down? Tutti empowers you with the technology to locate, book and manage partnerships with venues fit for Oscar-worthy productions. Location scouting doesn't have to be a source of stress, and with over 30 unique filters, you can find exactly what you need at the click of a button.

Find iconic filming locations with Tutti

Choose from 1000+ spaces and locations on Tutti and deal directly with space hosts for a quick, hassle-free booking process.

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