Film and TV Facts – East London

The East End of London has featured as a location or setting for many films and TV shows over the years. Sometimes, these are filmed in odd locations recreated to look like the East End or on studio lots.




Other times, you can actually spot glimpses of the actual area in all its glory, or even spot some local famous people.

East London Film and TV Facts

Let’s take a look at some of the connections the East End pf London has with the film and TV world.

A walk-on part for the Kray twins

Notorious East End gangster brothers, the Krays, have a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” walk on part in the 1960s film, Sparrows Can’t Sing. Starring Barbara Windsor, this film was set in the East End and used a lot of local locations in Limehouse and Stepney.

Stanley Kubrick blows up Beckton

Beckton Gas Works had closed down by the time Kubrick started filming Full Metal Jacket. It’s just as well really, as he then turned it into war-torn Vietnam and proceeded to blow most of it up with dynamite. The site at Beckton has also, bizarrely, seen an appearance from John Wayne in the film Brannigan. It was also used in the James Bond film, For Your Eyes Only, as part of the opening scene.

Alf Garnett’s front door

One of the most famous TV East Enders in the 1960s and 1970s was Alf Garnett, who became the man we loved to hate. Alf didn’t really leave the house, which was just as well, as most of the show was filmed in a studio. But, if you ever catch an early episode, watch the opening credits. They show a house in Garnet Street in Wapping, making Alf really a local boy.

Only Fools and Horses visits the Prospect of Whitby

One of the most famous old East End pubs, the Prospect of Whitby, features ever so briefly in an episode of Only Fools and Horses. Rodney is filmed leaving the pub on a search for Uncle Albert.

Turning The Royal Oak into Samoan Jo’s

Bits of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels were filmed in various East End locations. You may not want to dig out the grimy alley in Shoreditch where Eddie and Bacon did a runner, but a drink in Samoan Jo’s might be a better bet. This pub is actually the Royal Oak in Hackney.

Patrick McGoohan zips through the Rotherhithe Tunnel

If you’re a fan of the prisoner, you can spot a little bit of the East End in the opening credits. The tunnel that Patrick McGoohan speeds through is in Rotherhithe.

Nineteen Eighty Four comes to the East End

The George Orwell film, Nineteen Eighty Four, also used Beckton Gas Works as a location. It was also partly filmed in Cheshire Street in Brick Lane. Look out for the exterior of the pawn shop and the pub scene.

Walking the beat on Sun Hill

Famous London East End Gangsters.You may have to catch The Bill on repeat since it was cancelled, but you can still see where its popular bobbies walked the beat.

You just might have to go to South London to do so. Based in a fictional police station, Sun Hill, The Bill was allegedly set in the East End in Wapping, Whitechapel or Stepney, depending on whose opinion you agree with.

However, it was mostly filmed in South London, although the series did use some areas of the Docklands for some outdoor scenes.

Apprentices learn how to trade in Spitalfields Market

During the 2013 season, Alan Sugar’s apprentices had to take on a task selling on a market stall. They were sent to the relatively up-market Spitalfields market to run their stalls.

Whitechapel has bagels in Brick Lane.

The popular TV crime series, Whitechapel, is unsurprisingly set in Whitechapel, but some of the filming takes place in South London. You can, however, visit the bagel bakery in Brick Lane and Pellici’s Café in Bethnal Green that appeared in the show. Scenes with the main characters, Rupert Penry Jones, Steve Pemberton and Phil Davis were filmed here.

The Krays East End

The Martin and Gary Kemp film, The Krays, was set in the East End and did use some local locations, however not always the ones you’d think they use. For example, rather than using the real Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel when recreating the scene where Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell, the producers opted to use a pub in nearby Hoxton instead. The Royal Oak in Hackney also has a role in the film.

East End or Hertfordshire?

If you avidly watch the goings on in Walford on Eastenders, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is an authentic part of the East End. It’s actually an Elstree studio lot in Borehamwood in Hertfordshire. Walford may have its own postcode, tube station and London Underground sign, but you’re really getting a slice of East End life Hertfordshire style. Exterior scenes are often filmed in areas around the studios, with St Albans and Watford proving popular locations.

East London History - East End Facts

Malcolm Oakley - East London History - A Guide to London's East End.

I grew up on the fringes of London's true East End and have been fascinated by the ever changing history and landscape of the area.

Visitors and tourists to London may only ever explore the City centre but for those that care to travel further east, a rich and rewarding travel adventure awaits. So much of London's history owes a debt to the East End. Colourful characters, famous architecture, hidden treasures of changing life over the years.

Author by Malcolm Oakley.

Follow Me on Google+

One comment on “Film and TV Facts – East London
  1. paul says:

    Also, Beckton Gas works appeared in “Biggles” (1986)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Comments

  • Mike Olive on V1 and V2 Rocket Attacks in East LondonI grew up in Hanworth, Mddx. I saw several V1's and on one occasion, when I was standing outside, talking to my neighbours, a V1 came towards us, the engine
  • Jane on History of Canning Town East LondonHave you read the book “The Sugar Girls about Tate sugar factory? Wonderful book and lots of mentions of Cannong Town, Plaistow. All where my family are from
  • Roger London on History of Canning Town East LondonMy Dad Eddie London worked in Johnson Bros butchers in the Old Rathbone market, and I used work there every Saturday. outside was a stall that sold all types of
  • Jac on V1 and V2 Rocket Attacks in East LondonI know of The Peacock, my grandma worked there. My grandma lived in Burrard Road, it's where my Mum was mainly brought up. They lived in Burrard Road before the
  • Peter R Budd on V1 and V2 Rocket Attacks in East LondonThis now feels like a confessional. The only other plain memory of those times was occasionally being with the big boys after raids. They would quickly enter the bombed out
  • Peter R Budd on V1 and V2 Rocket Attacks in East LondonBurrard Rd Custom House London E16. I was born May 1941 I have a strong memory of standing next to my mother at the back yard door. Lots of ladies
  • Alison on Limehouse a Brief History of LondonIn my genealogical research I have discovered several generations of the Burford family who ran a distillery at Limehouse Hole in the 17th and 18th centuries. The earliest, John, is
  • Melanie Chappel on The London Burkers, BodysnatchingHi Malcolm, My 5x Great Grandfather was born and raised in Shoreditch (1809). He would have been considered part of the 'Swell Mob' and was nicked for stealing fabric from
  • Jeff on The East End in the 1950sYes, I think it is more 1930s. I was born 1945 and raised in Aldgate. Went to Fairclough St Primary (changed name to Harry Gosling), then Coopers' in Bow. Much
  • Brian Coaker on The East End in the 1950sWell I have watched a couple of episodes of Midwife,and it is in my opinion mostly fiction,born in Whitehorse Road Stepney we lived in a ancient house but had gas

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 139 other subscribers.

Top