Follow in the footsteps of your favourite stars and be the star of your own London holiday, with our guide to the latest films, and their locations.
"Harry Potter," "James Bond," "Paddington" and "Bridget Jones" have all been filmed in London, with good reason. For directors, London is a technicolour dream as it’s got historic architecture, sleek skyscrapers and British A listers. There’s also Pinewood, Shepperton and Warner Bros. Studios on the outskirts.
Kicking off 2018 was the dark WWII drama, "Darkest Hour." Kristen Scott Thomas plays the wife of Winston Churchill, played by Londoner Gary Oldman, with Lily James starring as his secretary. Shooting took place outside 10 Downing Street—office and home of today’s prime minister Theresa May—and inside The Treasury, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Houses of Parliament where events would have taken place during WWII. In a scene where Churchill makes a royal visit, Somerset House was used as the entrance of Buckingham Palace.
Another British hero, the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, is the focus in "Sherlock Gnomes" (from 11 May). The animation, sequel to "Gnomeo & Juliet", follows the detective as he investigates the disappearance of garden gnomes. British favourites Emily Blunt, Maggie Smith and James McAvoy star alongside Johnny Depp, while Chiwetel Ejiofor plays his sidekick Watson. The team whizz through Chinatown and under Tower Bridge.
To take a closer look, visit Tower Bridge Exhibition, which grants you access to a glass floor 42m above the River Thames, while its behind the scenes tour delves deeper into its engine rooms. Have dinner in Chinatown, which has four painted archways—the one on Wardour Street is the UK’s largest. And of course you can pay homage to the great fictional sleuth with a visit to Sherlock Holmes Museum.
Later in the year, look out for Holmes returning in the comical period drama "Holmes and Watson" (from 8 Nov)—this time the detective is played by Will Ferrell, and supported by British actors Ralph Fiennes and Hugh Laurie. You might recognise scenes shot within the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College. Today, visit the 18th-century Painted Hall – current renovations allow you to climb 18m scaffolding for a close-up view of the ceiling. You can also attend a choral performance at the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul, a Neoclassical masterpiece.
Central London landmarks are a common sight in blockbusters—less so for the northwest suburb of Golders Green. But the Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood features heavily in "Disobedience" (from 24 Aug), based on Naomi Alderman’s novel. Produced by Rachel Weisz, she plays Ronit who embarks on a gay affair, causing shockwaves throughout the conservative community. The film features Maida Vale’s Lauderdale Road Synagogue, a Victorian red brick with a grand dome, built in 1896. If you’re in the area, explore the deer enclosure in Golders Hill Park and the nearby pergola in Hampstead Heath. The heath might not be Hollywood, but it’s a popular celebrity spot – so you still might spot some stars.
Film Locations Further Afield
Directors are wising up to the fact that the UK has more to offer than just London. Here’s a selection of films that will inspire you to head outside the capital.
"Phantom Thread" stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a tailor in a toxic relationship. While its set in London’s 1950s world of couture, scenes were filmed in Blackpool Tower Ballroom in Lancashire and Lythe village, Robin Hood’s Bay and the seaside town of Whitby in North Yorkshire. Take the 199 steps from Whitby Abbey ruins to Whitby harbour. Here, you’ll find Captain Cook Memorial Museum, dedicated to the former local explorer. Visit Blackpool for afternoon tea in the grand Blackpool Tower Ballroom, which was built in 1894.
"Peter Rabbit" (from 16 Mar) is based on Beatrix Potter’s tales about a mischievous rabbit. While it was mostly shot in Australia, it was also filmed in Ambleside town and Lake Windermere in the Lake District in Cumbria, where Potter lived. Visit the area to climb Loughrigg Fell, see Wray Castle and cruise around the lake.
Director Steven Spielberg swapped Hollywood for Birmingham while shooting "Ready Player One" (from 30 Mar), a film about a games designer who challenges players to find his fortune in a virtual reality world. Starring Mark Rylance, it was filmed in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter. Learn about the area at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Bullring mall.
The dramatic "Avengers: Infinity War" (from 27 Apr) features Durham Cathedral, Edinburgh’s Waverly Train Station, and St Abbs Head in Berwickshire. Follow in the avengers’ footsteps and visit the cathedral, then cross the river for Crook Hall & Gardens, before visiting the open-air museum Beamish depicting life in the 1800s and 1900s. Edinburgh is best known for its castle, and the Queen’s official Scottish residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse.
"Christopher Robin" (from 17 Aug) is an animation based on author AA Milne’s classic Winnie-the-Pooh story. It sees the bear help an adult Christopher Robin rediscover his imagination in Hundred Acre Wood, which is based on Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. Play Poohsticks where it was meant to be played—on the footbridge over the River Medway in Posingford Wood. The film was also filmed at Dover Harbour Marine Station and Harbour Beach in Dover, Kent, and in Windsor Great Park, south of Windsor Castle.