From Take That and The Bill to the Da Vinci Code, Peter Truman looks at Croydon’s celluloid popularity
Since April last year, 70 companies have decided that Croydon has the “look” and descended with lights and cameras to capture the borough’s backgrounds.
That amounts to over 100 shoot days, with 13 already this year and plenty more expected.
Most filming takes place in the town centre along landmarks such as North End, St George’s Walk and Surrey Street, but some choose further afield such as Thornton Heath, Selhurst, South Croydon and Purley.
Perhaps the most famous landmarks are the water towers, off the Purley Way, which were featured in the blockbuster movie the Da Vinci Code.
But some directors try and avoid any landmarks as they try and find a street that “could be anywhere”.
Some scenes only make the cutting room floor, with the famous abandoned streets scene in 28 Days Later, which was originally set on the Croydon flyover but was not felt “epic” enough.
Fans of the Bill will have seen the streets of Croydon used many times, but other hit shows that have come include The Gadget Show in Lloyd Park and The IT Crowd in Selhurst Park.
And such heavyweights of the celebrity world such as magician Paul Daniels and fashionista Gok Wan have come to Croydon.
A council spokewoman said: “Croydon is a very popular borough for film crews.
“Our borough is incredibly versatile, containing many styles of housing, a range of parks and open spaces, a vibrant market and some fabulous views.
“Location Managers also tell me that filming is made easier by the efficiency of the council’s parking department and the friendliness and enthusiasm of local residents.”
For a shoot to take place it requires not only a licence and appropriate insurance, but co-operation between varying council departments, the police events office and the owners of any private land, such as residents’ houses.
But those fans who are thinking of heading down to the next big shoot to grab a glimpse of their favourite star might be disappointed.
The majority of filming is organised in just two weeks in a bid to stop crowds of people intruding on a shoot.
The recent Take That video was kept under wraps for as long as possible with as few people knowing about it as they could just in case.
And when asked what big stars might be coming to Croydon soon, the spokeswoman teased: “The Bill is being filmed in Selhurst – I can’t give any more details than that I’m afraid as a crowd of fans in the background of a scene might not be what the director is looking for.”
• What parts of Croydon have you seen on TV? Tell us below