Thamesmead on Film

Thamesmead has a rich film history and has appeared in many advertisements, music videos and films. It was Stanley Kubrick’s visionary A Clockwork Orange that started the fascination with Thamesmead for many, despite Southmere only being featured for a total of two minutes. As a setting, it has a graphic quality and the brutalist architecture and modernist surroundings have become a short-hard for urban life. Over the years, Thamesmead and its residents have appeared in a number of films and series such as, A Beautiful Thing, Misfits and Informer, and various stars like Jude Law, Sam Smith and A$AP Rocky have been filmed on location in the area. Filmfixer London, in partnership with Peabody, now manage all filming in Thamesmead. Since 2018 all funds generated through location fees are ring-fenced for the Thamesmead Community Fund which supports local community groups and artists. 

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange is a film adaptation of the novel by Anthony Burgess published in 1962. The film, released in 1971, stars Malcolm McDowell as the central character, Alex, a violent antisocial delinquent with a passion for classical music. The plot of the film fairly faithfully follows that of the book with Alex leading a small gang of thugs — called droogs — who commit a range of violent and horrific crimes. When Alex is captured he is entered into a rehabilitation program that trials psychological conditioning. 

The film, shot by Stanley Kubrick, was withdrawn from British release in 1973 at the Director’s request following a prosecutor in a violent crime case making the association with the film. After this time it was difficult to see A Clockwork Orange in the UK for 27 years. It was only after Kubrick died in 1999 that the film was re-released. It is considered a cult classic. 

The dystopian setting of the film has been heavily associated with Thamesmead despite the location — Binsey Walk on Southmere — only featuring in two minutes of footage.

Excerpt from the cult film by Stanley Kubrick based on the novel by Anthony Burgess

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Misfits

Misfits is a British science fiction comedy-drama television series shown on E4. The plot is based around a group of young offenders sentenced to work in a community service programme. During an electrical storm the abstain supernatural powers. The show ran for five series between 2009 and 2013. In 2010 it won the BAFTA Television Award for Best Drama Series. Much of the series is filmed around Southmere Lake with the iconic four tower blocks — Southmere Towers — forming the signature shot for the footage. 

Trailer for the popular E4 series. The main protagonists are based in a building which is the Lakeside Centre, Southmere Lake

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Interview with Thamesmead resident Dave Bellinger discussing filming in Thamesmead

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Aphex Twin

Come to Daddy is a song by British electronic music producer Richard D James, under his pseudonym, Aphex Twin. It was released as a single through Warp Records in 1997

The video was directed by Chris Cunningham, a British video artist and shot in the Tavy Bridge area of Thamesmead. Many of the locations used for the video have since been demolished. 

The video won the Golden Nica (main award) in the Digital Musics category at the Prix Ars Electronica in 1999.

Aphex Twin, Come to Daddy

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A Beautiful Thing

A Beautiful thing is a 1996 film directed by Hettie MacDonald and released on Channel 4 Films. Originally intended for television only it was released in cinemas following its positive reception. The screenplay, based on the original play of the same name was written by Jonathan Harvey. 

Set in Thamesmead in the 90s the plot follows the making character, Jamie, a teenager who falls in love with his classmate Ste. Throughout the film the music of the Mamas and Papas is featured heavily. The film ends with the two boys slow-dancing in the area outside their home in front of other residents. 

For more information on the reimagined dance-theatre production of Beautiful Thing shown in Binsey Walk in 2018 see A Beautiful Thing.

Trailer for the film based on the novel by Jonthan Harvey

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Interview with Thamesmead resident Billy Devereux in which he talks about films in Thamesmead.

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Advertisements

From Selfridges to AgeUK, Puma to Ikea, Thamesmead and its residents have been used in advertisements for a range of brands over the years. 

In this high-energy ad for Lucazade aerial shots feature a number of residents recruited to join in a mass dance scene.

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Click here for the full collection of Thamesmead on film, television and video.