Top 5: Movie locations in and around Kentish Town

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Richard Burton and Liz Taylor at the Assembly House
Richard Burton and Liz Taylor at the Assembly House


Villain (Michael Tuchner, 1971)

The most intriguing discovery in Kentish Town’s filmic A to Z is a movie I had previously never heard of. Villain is Dick Clement’s and Ian La Frenais’ thinly veiled take on the Ronnie Kray story starring Richard Burton. And this remarkable photo is of Mr and Mrs Burton at the bar of Assembly House on Kentish Town Road, where the pub scenes were all filmed; in between takes Elizabeth Taylor was known to pull pints for the cast and crew.

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Venus (Roger Mitchell, 2006)

otoole_cabinNo film showcases as much of Kentish Town as Hanif Kureishi’s portrait of horny old actor Maurice (Peter O’Toole) whose best mate’s great-niece Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) sets his ageing ticker a-flutter. Maurice’s flat is 61 Athlone Street while pal Leslie Phillips lives at Heathview Apartments on Gordon House Road. The Cabin Cafe on Willes Road is where the pair hangout. Maurice persuades Jessie to model at a life drawing class at Westminster Kingsway College on Holmes Road (now the French School) and buys her earrings at Dawson & Briant on Kentish Town Road (now the much less attractive Albemarle). The pawn shop also features in Woody Allen’s execrable Cassandra’s Dream.

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Backbeat (Iain Softley, 1996)

MSDBACK EC052 Where better to re-create the fleshpots of Hamburg than our corner of north London? That’s not the Reeperbahn where the Fab Five make their debut in Iain Softley’s re-telling of Beatles: The Early Years. The Top Ten Club is actually The Dome in Tufnell Park. Another ‘Hamburg’ location, the cinema where Stu Sutcliffe (Stephen Dorff) and Astrif Kircherr (Sheryl Lee) watch Les Enfants Terribles, is the Odeon on Parkway. The other nearby location you’ll glimpse in Backbeat is Berthold Lubetkin’s modernist masterwork, the Highpoint. The 1930s apartment block in Highgate doubles as the ‘Polydor Record Company’ in the film.

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High Hopes, Career Girls & Happy Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh)

highhopes_highgateMike Leigh, our city’s most prolific cinematic chronicler, has regularly turned his lense towards postcodes beginning with N. Closest to Kentish Town are the two flats in Career Girls. When we’re introduced to Annie (Lynda Steadman) and Hannah (Katrin Cartlidge), Hannah’s living in the top floor flat at 72 Caversham Road. The film flashes back to their student digs at 40 Rousden Street near Camden Road. One of the most memorable moments in High Hopes is the scene where Cyril and Shirley (Phil Davies and Ruth Sheen) pay their respects to Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetry and in Happy Go-Lucky Sally Hawkins endures many exclamations of “En-Ra-Ha!” during driving lessons from Eddie Marsan around Tufnell Park.

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Notes on a Scandal (Richard Eyre, 2006)

notesonascandal_gospeloak You know the area’s getting gentrified when Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett make films here. Actually, while you see Kentish Town Road and Royal College Street in the film and the Gospel Oak bridge is noticeable, Richard Eyre shot most of Notes on a Scandal on the periphery of Kentish Town. Still, many locations are familiar. The house of Blanchett’s character, Sheba, is at 20 Upper Park Road in Belsize Park while her confidante/nemesis Dench’s residence just nudges into Zone 3 at 2 Wembury Road. ‘St George’s High School’ is Islington Arts and Media School (formerly Tollington Park Secondary School) in Stroud Green.

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Supporting Features

Owl Bookshop FrontOther productions shot in the area include Monty Python and The Holy Grail, whose opening scene (with the coconuts) is on Hampstead Heath. Before Damien’s true nature reveals itself in The Omen, his ‘parents’ take him on a stroll up Parliament Hill and in the largely forgotten Bad Behaviour (Les Blair, 1993), Sinead Cussack’s character Ellie works at our beloved Owl Bookshop.

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Nigel Smith programmes Tufnell Park Film Club, every fortnight at the Lord Palmerston. Next up is Taxi Driver (10 Sep) and on 17 September the Orson Welles’ classic Touch of Evil as part of the UK-wide Scalarama festival. More info and membership details here.

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  • Show Comments

  • Ella Phileas Hog

    My flat on Caversham road was once used to film some scenes in New Tricks so you can add that to your list! haha! Nowhere near as good as Liz Taylor and Burton, Amanda Redman and Dennis Waterman! These are fantastic though, thanks.

  • JM

    The house on the corner of Oseney Crescent and Caversham Road was used as the house where the boy lived in About a Boy.

  • Anon

    Parts of About a Boy was filmed in Kentish Town too

  • Nigel Smith

    I did know that About A Boy was filmed in Kentish Town. It’s not a film I’ve seen.

  • Phil

    Plender Street in Camden Town features in Hitchcock’s ‘Man Who Knew Too Much’

    • Kentishtowner

      Oh wow. That’s a great one!

  • owlbookshop

    Bad Behaviour was filmed in the Owl when we were located next door (now Ladbrokes), It would be wonderful to see any photos of the old Owl. Even better if there are any of the first Owl in 1974 which is now Cafe Renoir.

    • Nigel Smith

      I’ll try to get some screengrabs of Bad Behaviour.

  • Jon Price

    Don’t forget Sapphire from 1959, various locations around the area Malden Road, Lady Somerset Road, Fortress Road

    • Nigel Smith

      I have not seen Sapphire and really must. It’s a film we should try to show at Tufnell Park Film Club at some point.

  • leafy

    tinker taylor sodier spy – wilkin street, although in the film they super-impose st pauls behind the railway bridge.
    new tricks also in wilkin street
    the henry holland / ri-ri fashion show all filmed in fleet house on corner of wilkin st and grafton road although on air they said it was hoxton!

  • Hilly

    What about Enduring Love with Daniel Craig. A lot was filmed in Leighton Road and Leighton Place

    • Matt

      And I got a bottle of champagne from the film crew because of it! They made it rain all day on Leighton place.

  • Adie

    I guess it’s one of the more obvious ones but the end of Withnail And I was shot in Regent’s Park.

    Didn’t realise that about Monty Python. Might take a coconut up there this weekend.

    • Matt

      Regent’s Park isn’t Kentish Town, though.

      • Adie

        Neither is The Dome or The Odeon or numerous other places in the article.

        • Nigel Smith

          The rule I gave myself while writing the article was, ‘Is it walking distance from Kentish Town station?’ 😉

      • Nanny leer

        Yes mate you are so right

  • Nigel Smith

    Thanks for all the other suggestions.

  • Ruth.

    There used to be a lot of filming in ST Luke’s Church, corner of Caversham/Busby Place, mostly TV series like Prime Suspect, were it was a Boxing Youth Club.

  • Jonathan Cronin

    Let’s not forget ‘Betrayal’ (1983), shot on Dartmouth Park Ave, NW5. Yoko Ono’s ‘Rape’ (1969) was partially shot in Highgate Cemetery, and ‘This Year’s Love’ (1999) made all over Camden Town.

  • Rose

    Not a film, but several of the episodes of ‘Look Around You’, the spoof education series from Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz, feature Prowse Place and Bonny Street near Camden Road Station. Also the irritating new Lotto advert has a rather nice shot of Hartland Road off Chalk Farm Road.


    A late 40’s Noir film ”It never rains on a Sunday ” recently shown at the NFT had a repeating moody little shot of the railway bridge and Holy Trinity School in Clarence Way NW1
    Over 60 years on the view is still the same.

  • Kentish Town taxi

    Venus is a great movie. Enjoyed it with my family more than once.

  • Nanny leer

    And don,t forget flame in the street John mills in hartland road Clarence way hawley street lebourne road back in 1961 I know I was there and they nicked our bonfire and put it in the film never gave as a farthing