A hot, sunny August day when the city swelters can be a bit of a double-edged sword for such exploits as tracing The Squad’s old haunts. On the one hand, you get to enjoy the fine weather without fear of being cold and soggy; however, it also means that London Town is full to bursting with tourists, and (a factor you wouldn’t immediately consider) the trees are in full leaf, and doing a fine job of obscuring lots of things you’d like to photograph. However, not to be deterred, I set off bright and early on the train and arrived at Waterloo just around 8AM. I walked from there – via a coffee stop at Embankment – to the first port of call, Old Compton Street.
Episode Context – S1E05, “Jigsaw”
We’re back on the trail of Eddie Boyse – a recently released con whom Regan is convinced took part in a robbery. However, Boyse has a ‘cast iron’ alibi for the time of the job, so Regan has to hunt down any witnesses or information he can find that will tie Eddie to the scene at the time. Here, he goes into a cafe in search of other members of the gang.
Unsurprised to see that whatever the establishment on the corner used to be, it’s now a chain coffee shop. I like the little cop-nod though of the theater being a cinema that was showing a Dirty Harry double-bill. You’ve got to ask yourself one question: where’s the money, you slag?!
Clearly, the shots were taken from a higher vantage point – crane or building – than I could achieve on-foot; nonetheless you can still see the same basic building structures in place, just – as with so much of London these days – looking a degree more clean and shiny.
From Old Compton Street it was a little walk on to the next location on Jermyn Street.
Episode Context – S2E03, “Supersnout”
Another mob we’ve been on the trail of before; this time it’s jewel thief Yannos and his gang who are planning to rob a jewelers in St. James’. Quirke – standing in for Haskins who is away in Toronto at a conference – is desperate to capture his ‘great white whale’ Yannos and the fabled ‘Post Office Gang’. However, unbeknownst to Quirke, Regan’s informant Stickley – who is inside on the job – feeds false information to Quirke’s informant who replaces him after the dummy run for the actual job, and as a result the operation is a disaster. Seems Stickley had an old score to settle.
Here we can see the view down Jermyn Street in the direction of St. James’, taken from outside ‘the jewelers’, and then the jewelers itself – now the Alfred Dunhill shop.
After Jermyn Street, the plan was to head to Green Park and from there make a short tube hop to Knighstbridge; however, I was somewhat waylaid by the inconvenience of public conveniences – namely them all being shut. First Green Park station, then Hyde Park Corner – eventually I’d walked pretty much all the way to Knightsbridge anyway still searching in vain. I was pondering going into Harrods – but they didn’t open till 10; in the end a ubiquitous Starbuck’s came to the rescue, after which I wandered another 10 minutes or so for the next location stop of the day.
Episode Context – S2E08, “Poppy”
Vic Labbett is back in town, having been holed up in Portugal till the heat from a violent robbery died down a little. Now he wants to recover the stolen loot and trade it for uncut diamonds – in a deal brokered between him and the bank from where the money was stolen by a ‘less than clean’ insurance agent. The bank get their money back on the hush hush, Vic gets the diamonds, everyone’s a winner. However, Regan is tipped off about his return by an informant – and word gets round to Vic’s wife Sally who had no idea he was back in the country. Sally goes round to Vic’s mate Ron’s (1) to see if he knows anything of Vic’s whereabouts. During the investigation, The Squad have the bank manager under surveillance and see the insurance agent, Vane, in talks with him; this leads them to put Vane under surveillance at his flat (2).
The location of Ron’s flat is given as Ennismore Gardens Mews; however, its position looking directly out over the square makes this seem questionable. The mews runs round the back of the main part of Ennismore Gardens, and none of the mews houses is remotely tall enough to see over the 4- and 5-storey houses surrounding the square. Therefore, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly where they were filming those shots from – especially as it seems there was some kind of school playground in the square back in the 70s; the ‘now’ shot below gives the general sense of the buildings, though.
I struggled with this one – endless Google Street View and then walking round the square in person didn’t really give me a solid hit, hence settling for something a bit general. I don’t usually like to do that, but sometimes it’s the only option.
On a more positive note, the next set of shots from Vane’s apartment building are much more authentic looking:
After the jaunt round Ennismore Gardens, I had a bit of a longer trek to get to the next location; so it was on to a bus and heading West along Kensington High Street, alighting a little before Olympia to walk North to the next point of interest.
Episode Context – S2E11, “I Want The Man”
“Popeye”, one of Regan’s informants, has gone missing after phoning Regan with information that small-time crook Frankie Little was going to be involved in a diamond theft. Regan pulls Little – but tells him he’ll consider letting the charges drop in exchange for Little leading him to Maynard, the bigger fish. Whilst turning over the flat of Little’s daughter, Sandy, they find a fag packet with a phone number on it that leads them to a block of flats, which they stake out – hoping to discover who answers when the phone in question rings on one of the landings.
This particular location, on Oakwood Court in the Holland Park neck of the woods, is one of those examples of retreading ground already trod – I walked right down this road past the building in question on my Holland Park to Shepherd’s Bush jaunt, 3 years previously. However, as stated in the ‘methodology’ section of my intro to all this – it’s bound to happen. This was just one where I’d been nearby and not realised it was an episode location; later on in the day, I visited some where the exact same spot was used in 2 completely different episodes, just seen from different angles. More on that coming up in part 2.