The Dome is not enough
Never mind forthcoming events - Greenwich has already had a long film and TV career of its own
The sequence involves James Bond chasing a beautiful assassin along the Thames, after she has blown up the MI6 building at Vauxhall Cross.
She attempts to escape in a hot-air balloon tethered next to the Dome, but Bond, in typical 007 fashion, steers his boat up a ramp, jumps out in mid-air, and clings to one of the balloon's mooring ropes. There is a brief struggle, after which he shoots down the balloon, lands on the Dome and slides to the ground.
All in a day's work for James Bond - and also for Nicola Hogan, film liaison officer at Greenwich Film Unit. The borough is one of the most aggressively marketed in terms of TV and film locations, and she's keen on the extra revenue that this brings to the area.
"The money goes to so many different agencies across the board," she explains. "Film companies need set-builders and caterers, and these jobs may well go out to local people." She points out that filming charges are negotiable. "You have to treat each shoot as an individual case, and you have to price it up accordingly. We work around their budgets, and they work around our charges."
The Bill and London's Burning are regular visitors. Adverts, too, from Skoda to Wonder Bra, have all made use of its varying backdrops. As Greenwich's glossy Film Unit brochure says, "We offer a host of locations from the magnificent architecture of Wren to the urban sprawl of modern day." So follow me as we hot-foot through the streets of the millennium borough in search of those famous sites.
Where better to start than at the Dome? Greenwich Peninsula, in its former incarnation as a gasworks, played host to The Cement Garden, as well as TV shows such as Doctor Who and Dempsey and Makepeace. It was also the location for Blur's "Parklife" music video. And earlier this year, veteran Hollywood actor Rod Steiger was to be found in Watergate Street, Deptford, shooting The Snatching of Bookie Bob, to be released next year.
In Greenwich itself, the Royal Naval College has provided the backdrop for many a film. Its Painted Hall featured in the "holy goat" scene of Four Weddings and a Funeral, as well as The Madness of King George, Frenchman's Creek, and the forthcoming Quills. The recent Danepak TV commercial was filmed there, too. Its 17th-century exterior has represented Buckingham Palace (King Ralph and Patriot Games), the Pentagon (Shining Through) and a secret Whitehall department (The Avengers film).
Nearby Cutty Sark Gardens popped up in The Lost Language of Cranes and a dire Doctor Who skit for 1993's Children in Need appeal.
Over the road, Greenwich Park has featured in various period dramas; notably Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility, The Go Between and Secret Agent, in which the park was littered with (fake) severed limbs.
Carrington used nearby Gloucester Circus, a location shared recently by a TV movie of A Christmas Carol, starring Patrick Stewart, which will air on American television this December. The Thames Barrier was the setting for TV series both good (The Comic Strip Presents: GLC) and bad (Bugs, twice).
Overlooking it is Westminster Industrial Estate, a popular venue for music videos. "That's used a lot," says Hogan of the estate. "Particularly Bowater Road, which often doubles as a New York street from the 1940s."
Close to the Barrier is Maryon Park, famously featured in the 1966 film Blow-Up. Director Michelangelo Antonioni's surreal thriller had David Hemmings as a photographer who unwittingly snaps a murder in a quiet suburban park. The upper field overlooking the Thames is the scene of the murder, while the tennis courts below feature in the eerie "pretend tennis match" sequences. The antique shop where he buys a propeller has been pulled down.
Twenty minutes' walk away is Charlton House, one of the best examples of Jacobean architecture in the country. It has twice doubled for an Oxford college (Porterhouse Blue and A Masculine Ending), and featured in the sitcom Heaven Can Wait, the Alan Bennett play A Question of Attribution, and Agatha Christie's Poirot.
Take a 161 bus to Eltham, and you'll find that Ian McKellen's Richard III was set in 14th-century Eltham Palace, while Michael Winner's terrible 1977 remake of The Big Sleep saw Robert Mitchum and James Stewart go through the motions in Avery Hill Tropical Plant House.
And the 1990s relaunch of The Tomorrow People made use of Severndroog Castle in Castle Wood, a boarded-up Gothic folly which stands at the highest point in south- east London and commands spectacular views.
Woolwich is another prime location. Judi Dench won a Bafta in 1965 for the film Four in the Morning, which featured scenes aboard the marvellously atmospheric Woolwich Free Ferry. More recently, Mike Hodges' IRA thriller A Prayer for the Dying used it, too, as did London's Burning, when the film-makers pretended to blow it up (causing frantic 999 calls from local residents).
Woolwich Arsenal, original home of the Arsenal football team and formerly the hub of England's arms industry, is one of the borough's most popular film locations. Its secluded 70-acre site offers a variety of buildings, such as a disused power station, Edwardian workshops, and a large back- lot for set-building. Recent films have included The Saint and Richard III (again).
"It's an enclosed area, so if people want to do stunts or car chases it's great, because legally we're not actually allowed to close roads in the borough," says Hogan.
We come now to my own stamping ground of Plumstead. The steps of St John's Terrace, Plumstead Common, featured in last year's Heinz Soup advert, with accompanying music by African band Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Down the road, The Krays filmed scenes at Woolwich Cemetery, and the makers of the new series of 2.4 Children used the steeply sloping Grosmont Road, off Winn's Common, to shoot your standard sitcom scene of "man riding on runaway piano".
A little further east is Abbey Wood, which provided the genteel suburban setting for Cynthia Payne (played in the film by Julie Walters) and her "luncheon vouchers for sex" trade in Personal Services.
Lastly, one of the most famous Greenwich locations has to be that of Thamesmead South, a vast, ugly concrete estate built in 1967 on reclaimed Thames marshland. It was used to great effect as the dystopian Britain of Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange; a curiously dated film, now due for cinematic re-release next year. Binsey Walk, Tavy Bridge and Southmere Lake formed the grim backdrop to Malcolm McDowell and his fellow Droogs' trail of violence.
Nicola Hogan is the film liaison officer at Greenwich Film Unit (0208- 312 5662)
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