Borough area is link to Victorian past
LONDON — One small area of London that has seen a disproportionate amount of lensing is Borough Market just south of the Thames.
The area, covering less than a square mile, contains Bridget Jones’ flat (in the original film and recently completed sequel “The Edge of Reason”), has been visited by Harry Potter’s Knight Bus (“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban”) and was the setting of the bloody denouement for Brit gangster pic “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.”
It also has starred in Sean Connery actioner “Entrapment,” period pic “Keep the Aspidistra Flying” and countless TV productions and musicvids.
“It’s one of the last places that looks like old London,” says Christopher Denning, of the Borough Market trustees. “Particularly for the U.S. market they expect London to look Victorian and foggy, so there have been a lot of smoke machines.”
“After a long period of looking around, it was the best, most characterful part of London,” says David O’Reilly, location manager for “Harry Potter.” “You can change the period and history without much work and it has the railway overhead and the Victorian housing.”
O’Reilly even turned Park Street into Chinatown in New York for a previous shoot for U.S. pic “What a Girl Wants.”
But the market’s rusty arches may be a victim of their own success. Along with international shoots, the trustees have grown a very popular food retailing business at the market, running Thursday-Saturday. The success of the retail biz means the market is being renovated, removing some of the original Victorian charm.
Denning says the renovations will not cover the whole market, but it has already affected filming in the area.
O’Reilly, who’s current production, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” looked at Borough but decided to build a set, says the renovations did make things more difficult but thinks that when they are over the productions would return.
Denning adds that the success of the area as a whole means that shooting is harder. “With the popularity of the area it is harder to find time for big productions. It was easier two, three years ago when there was not much going on.”
Filming is now restricted to Saturday at 6 p.m.-Sunday at 11 p.m. Interested parties need to contact Denning (+44 20 7407 1002) to organize a site visit and cost evaluation.