Not sure what to watch during lockdown? The choice is endless, whether its BBC iPlayer, Netflix or Amazon Prime. But one way to narrow it down is to check out some of the films and series that feature our own local areas which include acclaimed films such as Babylon or television classics like Call the Midwife….and see if you can spot the location….
Babylon is a grounded, street-level, social realist exploration into race in 1980s London from the city’s Caribbean community’s point of view. Filmed in Deptford, Lewisham as well as the neon-lit streets of Brixton, Babylon is one of the greats of British cinema, boasting a brilliant soundtrack and beautiful cinematography from Academy Award winner Chris Menges.
Shaun of the Dead (Prime Video)
Zombie rom com Shaun of the Dead kicked off the famous Cornetto Trilogy from the comic partnership of Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The exterior shots of the iconic Winchester pub, the makeshift sanctuary and centrepiece of the film’s finale, were shot at the now-closed Duke of Albany Pub in New Cross, Lewisham.
Top Boy (Netflix)
Set in the fictional Summerhouse estate in Hackney, Top Boy has become one of the most significant crime dramas in recent memory. It boasts a cast of stars including Asher D, Kano, and Little Simz. The series was originally cancelled in 2014 after a two series run on Channel 4 but made its return on Netflix last year.
Peep Show (Netflix)
One of the biggest UK comedies of the century so far. Peep Show looks into the lives of two dysfunctional Gen-X roommates, Mark and Jez, shot almost entirely through their perspective. Set in Croydon, the duo’s flat was initially filmed inside a property inside Zodiac Court, before being replaced by a studio replica. In an interview with The Guardian, David Mitchell said director Jeremy Wooding wanted to set the show in Croydon because he “liked the idea of there being trams”. However, Channel 4 prevented him from including the borough’s trams in the series because they “weren’t funny”.
I May Destroy You (BBC iPlayer)
One of the most acclaimed series of the summer of COVID. Following actor/creator Micaela Coel’s Tower Hamlets based sex comedy Chewing Gum (available on Netflix and recommended by ELL), comes I May Destroy You. Coel stars as Arabella, an influencer coming to terms with her sexual assault. This boundary pushing drama takes place across a variety of locations from Italy to London, including Arabella’s flatshare in Hackney.
This realist yet hopeful coming of age film from director Sarah Gavron hit Netflix immediately after its UK cinema release this September. Set in a housing estate in De Beauvoir, Hackney, Rocks follows a young British-Nigerian girl, nicknamed “Rocks”, who is tasked with looking after her younger brother due to their absent mother.
Luther (BBC iPlayer)
Idris Elba stars in an iconic role as the flawed detective, DCI John Luther, a role which netted him a Golden Globe in 2012. The gritty psychological crime drama Luther has been filmed in a number of London locations across its five series, including Hackney where Elba was born. Since the series first premiered, the actor had an affordable housing block in Andre Street named after him and made his directorial debut in 2018 with Yardie, which was also partially shot in Hackney.
Call the Midwife (Netflix)
An acclaimed period piece featuring an ensemble cast, including Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, and narration from Vanessa Redgrave. Call The Midwife follows a group of nurses and midwives belonging to a nursing convent in the Poplar district of Tower Hamlets during the 1950s and 60s and has been praised for its treatment of issues such as under-age pregnancies and women’s health. The show has reached nine series and is still going.
Blue Story (Prime Video)
The cinematic debut of creator Andrew “Rapman” Onwubolu, based on his childhood in Deptford, Lewisham. Blue Story was controversially banned by Vue Cinemas due to incidents of violence occurring at some screenings, despite the creator’s protests. The film explores enduring friendships among London’s Postcode Wars, featuring powerful narration from Rapman as well as emerging young talent such as Michael Ward who won the 2020 BAFTA Rising Star award.