King’s on screen: film scenes around campus

Somerset House Filming

With the Oscars 2015 fast-approaching, we thought this was a perfect time to reflect on King’s contribution to television and cinema over the years.

Being able to boast of grand buildings including the Maughan Library, Strand campus, parts of Somerset House, Guy’s Campus and Denmark Hill, as well as being in the centre of one of the greatest cities in the world, King’s is a natural choice for film locations.

There are a few cinematic gems that have been filmed around campus, but sadly the widely-held rumour that Dumbledore’s office was filmed in the Maughan Library’s Round Reading Room is a myth!

Library Services dispelled it for good in 2013 with this newsletter. The Maughan does typically receive several requests to film per month, most of which are usually turned down.

For King’s College London in general, it seems we’ve seen it all. From period dramas to big-budget blockbusters, here’s a list (by no means exhaustive) of some interesting tidbits of filming on and around campus:

The Maughan Library

  • The Maughan’s biggest claim to cinematic fame is Johnny English (2003), in which it was used to represent exterior shots of the Tower of London.
  • Perhaps only rivalled by its appearance in The Imitation Game (2003), during a scene in which Keira Knightley's character is recruited for the Enigma project (submitted by Naomi Drury)
  • Part of the music video of the song Twilight's Chapter Seven from the album Still Fantasy by Taiwanese musician Jay Chou was filmed at the Maughan (a big artist in certain circles)
  • The dystopian science fiction film V for Vendetta (2005) includes a scene filmed at the disused Aldwych Tube Station on the Strand

Video: Jay Chou's music video, Twilight, including shots of the Maughan Library

Somerset House

  • Stephen Fry and Jennifer Ehle in Wilde (1998) - the exterior of Wilde’s (played by Fry) West End apartment is the central courtyard of Somerset House in the Strand
  • Somerset House is presented as St Petersburg in Golden Eye (1995), one of the James Bond films, during which scene Wade’s car breaks down. It also features in another Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
  • It is filmed as ‘Devonshire House’ in The Duchess (2008), featuring Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes
  • Johnny Depp was filmed there in Sleepy Hollow (1999), a horror film by Tim Burton, in which Somerset House is used to portray New York
  • Rupert Everett and Colin Firth were filmed there in The Importance of Being Earnest (2002), in the alleyway just outside of Somerset House East Wing
  • Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in Shanghai Knights (2003) filmed there, featuring two scenes with their characters, Wang and Troy
  • Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes (2009) as Pentonville Prison
  • Filming with Jack Hawkins in The Long Arm (1956), a British crime film shot on location, including London
  • Filming of Bob Hoskins and Eddie Izzard in historical crime thriller The Secret Agent (1996)
  • Viggo Mortensen and Nicole Kidman were shot there for Portrait of a Lady (1994), a film based on the 19th century novel by Henry James


  • Scences from Sid and Nancy: Love Kills (1986), a British biopic about seminal punk musician Sid Vicious and his girlfriend, Nancy, was filmed at Chelsea College, and students found the prop champagne bottles in the labs (submitted by Ann)



  • The Greenwood Theatre is the original home of iconic BBC TV series Question Time, and was also the TV studio for a few other lesser-known shows
  • This is Your Life (with Eamonn Andrews) used to be filmed in what is now the Peacock Theatre attached to Virginia Woolf Building


Alumni in film and TV

  • ­Boris Karloff is famous for appearing in classic horror flick Frankenstein (1931) and many other films, in a career spanning several decades
  • Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Criminal Justice, 1989) plays the character of Nash in Annie (2014)
  • Sacha Gervasi (History, 1998) is an Emmy award-winning director and screenwriter, with hits such as The Terminal (2004)
  • Georgina Bouzova (Law, 1998) is an actress with roles in popular TV dramas such as Casualty and Doctors
  • King's English alumnus Gareth Gwenlan was head of comedy at the BBC, probably best known as producer of Only Fools and Horses (long-running comedy show) and the recipient of numerous awards, including an OBE for his TV work (submitted by Gavin Swinburne)

We hope you enjoy your association with such starry locations and fellow alumni, and we won’t blame you if you start making your way through some of these titles.

>> If you know of any we’ve missed out, or simply just want to share your own personal experiences of film and TV at King’s, please get in touch with us.

>> Now, read about alumni who are now married, but met each other whilst studying at King's

Article posted: February, 2015




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