Here are just a few examples of Covent Garden’s esteemed history as a film location.
Words: Tom Deehan
When James Bond wasn’t dashing through the streets of Mexico or bounding down a slope in Austria, the most recent Bond production, Spectre, made sure that 007’s home country had plenty of representation. Due to the scene in question being an interior shot, even the most ardent Covent Garden fans might have missed the moment when Rules Restaurant on Maiden Lane made an appearance. Known for its walls adorned with seemingly countless paintings, Rules appears to be the eatery of choice for the all-powerful M and serves as the location for his meeting with Q and Moneypenny.
Stan and Ollie 2019
Jon. S. Baird’s loving tribute to the careers of Laurel and Hardy travelled the whole of the UK during production – just as the comedic duo did back in the 1950s for their live tour of the country. With so much of the film set on stage, something would have been amiss if London’s iconic West End wasn’t featured on screen. When it came to finding a double for the Empire Theatre in Glasgow, the team settled on the historic Fortune Theatre on Russell Street. The Lyceum Theatre also stars as the home of Laurel and Hardy’s West End debut, although the interior was swapped for the Hackney Empire Theatre.
Hitchcockian suspense and the old Covent Garden Market might not seem like an obvious pairing, but in the eyes of the acclaimed British director, they were a match made in heaven. Filmed in the summer of 1971, Frenzy was able to capture the original Covent Garden Market as it was, prior to its move to Nine Elms Lane. With the passage of time, the film has only become more important as a historical artefact and a way to delve into the past of this great London landmark. As the son of a merchant, Hitchcock was keen to capture the hustle and bustle of the area, with trucks and greengrocers aplenty. Whatever you do, don’t turn the film into a spot the difference drinking game – you won’t make it past the first ten minutes.
The Death of Stalin 2017
It just goes to show that with a little bit of ingenuity, London can double for pretty much any location you fancy (barring the Savannah Desert at least). For The Death of Stalin, the grand Freemasons’ Hall was used as a cheat for none other than the imposing Kremlin. While the film might take a more comedic approach to the monstrous rule of Russia’s communist party, no expense was spared in recreating the aesthetic of the era. With its Art Deco design dating all the way back to 1932, the Hall fit the bill perfectly. Book yourself in for one of the guided tours and you certainly won’t be disappointed – just don’t expect Steve Buscemi to be running around its corridors.