When location manager Ian Pollington was handed the script for Bodyguard, he knew he had his work cut out.
“Downing Street, the Home Office, the Palace of Westminster, a bomb blast… It was a brilliant script, but there were definitely challenges!”
The cast and crew spent six months filming scenes around London, and were careful not to alarm passersby when, say, a bomb vest-clad Richard Madden is escorted by police to his flat (it’s actually the Stoneleigh Terrace Estate in Camden).
Pollington didn’t manage to gain access to Number 10, but the BBC1 drama did film in one of the UK’s most popular museums and a boutique hotel near Liverpool Street.
The Safe House
The Home Secretary’s swanky safe house is really a five-star hotel in the heart of the City, South Place Hotel.
There are worse places to have to take refuge. The decor is moody with splashes of colour and bling, rooms are elegant and comfortable, bathrooms are vast with rain showers. There’s a Michelin-starred restaurant on the roof, a chophouse that does a fine steak and an even better brunch, and a spa with more rainfall showers. Service is slick.
Room start from £315. If you can’t afford that, swing by for a cocktail among the palms in the Secret Garden bar.
Police station with a view
You too can gaze out from Commander Sampson’s office and worry about how you’re going to catch the bad guy – because it’s really one of the upper floors in the Tate Modern.
This old power station was converted into an art museum in 2000 and is one of London’s most famous landmarks and top tourist attractions. Its galleries house modern and contemporary art, and its latest free installation is Christian Marclay’s The Clock – a 24-hour montage of thousands of images of clocks from TV and film, edited together so they show the actual time.
Or you can simply enjoy the view and a glass of the Tate’s own gin in the sleek Terrace Bar.
Palace of Westminster
A public school in Surrey stood in for the Palace of Westminster. Charterhouse school‘s historic cloisters can also be spotted in St Trinian’s, Vampire Academy, Bedazzled and Channing Tatum’s space opera Jupiter Ascending. The school is not open to the public, but you can visit the real thing. Visitors can attend parliamentary committee meeting and debates in the Palace of Westminster, and do guided tours.
Designed by Sir Charles Barry after the Great Fire of 1834 ravaged its predecessor, the Palace of Westminster has 1,100 rooms, 100 staircases and 4.8km of passageways. The oldest building is cavernous Westminster Hall, which was built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror’s son to impress his court. The story goes that when William II inspected his new hall, he complained that it was not big enough; that it was a mere bedchamber compared to what he had envisioned.
10 Downing Street is in fact 8 John Adam Street, which is half a mile away from Whitehall. That glossy black door is really the entrance to the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, better known as the RSA. This elegant Georgian townhouse is the only one in London with the same facade as Number 10, so it’s had dozens of cameos in TV shows and films, including the 2011 Oscar-winning movie about Margaret Thatcher The Iron Lady.
The RSA isn’t open to the public, but it is available to hire for private parties and weddings, if you and your spouse-to-be are politically inclined.
And of course, there are no policeman wielding machine guns on this street, so there’s nothing to stop you pretending to knock on the door as you stroll past.
The Home Office and the rest
The Bodyguard’s Home Office is a lot swisher than the real thing and is really an office building in Uxbridge.
University of London’s Senate House played the ill-fated St Matthew’s College as well as the outside of Downing Street and Whitehall.
Haringey also has several cameos, including pub scenes filmed in the recently closed Hornsey Tavern.
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