Movie Middlesex

On location c 1936, possibly at Northwood Park racecourse, shooting ‘Educated Evans’ with Max Miller

Almost all British films have been shot in London or the three home counties of Middlesex, Hertfordshire (Elstree) and Buckinghamshire (Pinewood). In addition for a long period of the BBC’s history the streets of former-Middlesex stood in for almost every part of the country. For example, Ealing police station’s exterior was the outside of George Dixon’s Dock Green; Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow was the Torquay hospital in Fawlty Towers; Northwood was Surrey as the archetypal suburbia of The Good Life; Perivale more recently served for a number of Doctor Who locations. Monty Python’s fish-slapping dance was filmed at Teddington Lock.

The Middlesex film studios have a glorious history:

Ealing: Kind Hearts and Coronets, Whisky Galore, The Ladykillers, It Always Rains on Sunday (here’s an appreciation of this film and its maker) ; later it was the BBC’s Television Film Studios making film inserts and programmes entirely made on film, such as Jonathan Miller’s Alice in Wonderland (1966) and Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective (1986)/

Shepperton: founded 1934: I’m All Right Jack, The Guns of Navarone, Gandhi,A Passage to India ..

Poster for the US release of The Trollenberg Terror

Southall (1924:1958). Despite the dedicated work of the creators of this site  it’s quite tough to make a case for the place in history of this studio, created in an old aircraft hanger. 26 episodes of Colonel March of the Yard for BBC Television? The Trollenberg Terror (1958) ? I thought not …

Teddington: now owned by Pinewood (which is a mile beyond Middlesex in Buckinghamshire); originally a home of quota quickies, but later Thames Television’s main production base (Benny Hill, Tommy Cooper, Kenny Everett ..)

Twickenham: Help, A Hard Day’s Night, Repulsion, Alfie, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

Worton Hall Studios Isleworth (now a driving test centre): some of The Third Man and most of The African Queen.

The films could be viewed in the height of luxury close to the studios where they were shot and edited. The Lido Golders Green was the first of the talkie-equipped suburban supercinemas, opening in October 1928 with 1,959 seats, a Christie-Unti organ, a café lounge and parking for a hundred cars.

The Odeon South Harrow opened September 1933, demolished (apart from wings) 1972

The Odeon South Harrow opened September 1933, demolished (apart from wings) 1972

The Odeon chain reached London from the Midlands in 1933. Arthur Percival Starkey, a Harrow based architect, originated the distinctive Odeon style, with a clading of cream faience tiles. His first was in South Harrow — similar theatres followed in Kingsbury, Colindale, North Finchley, Sudbury and Wealdstone.  All Odeons could seat at least 1,000. All these have been demolished although Starkey’s former Herga cinema in Wealdstone is intact and in use as an electronics store, and his former Crescent Cinema in Leatherhead has been Grade II listed.

In Pinner the 1,500 seat Langham replaced a 16th century farmhouse in 1936, the same year that saw the opening of the spectacular (and still standing) 1235-seater Grosvenor, Rayners Lane with its cosmetic room, ‘for the convenience of lady patrons.’

Interior of the Grosvenor Cinema, Rayners Lane

 

One Response to Movie Middlesex

  1. Pingback: A stand-in at the group practice — Dr Foster’s ‘Parminster’ is really Middlesex | MIDDLESEX: A ROUNDTRIP IN NOWHERE LAND

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