7 times Hampstead showed its face on TV and film

Bright Star director Jane Campion, with Ben Whishaw, who played John Keats, at Keats House in 2009

Bright Star director Jane Campion, with Ben Whishaw, who played John Keats, at Keats House in 2009 - Credit: PA

Hampstead’s beloved Heath and its surrounding areas have long played a prominent role in popular culture. 

Whether it be the influence on Keats’ 18th century classic poem Ode to a Nightingale or CS Lewis finding his inspiration to write The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe while out for walks, Hampstead’s grand homes, quaint side-roads and of course the heath’s gloriously expansive greenery and wildlife regularly feature on screen. 

Here we take a look at some of the most well-known appearances Hampstead has made on both the big and small screens.

Eternals 

Despite a confusing leaflet being distributed telling locals a film called Sack Lunch was being shot in the Heath in early 2020, it was always fairly obvious it was the next Marvel blockbuster, Eternals, that was being worked on in Hampstead. 

Sightings of Kit Harrington and Gemma Chan, who was seen held 15 feet in the air by a crane on Parliament Hill, confirmed those suspicions.  

The heath's grand appearance came right at the end of the film, providing the setting for a conversation between Sersi (Chan) and Dane (Harrington). 

Eternals Hampstead Heath

Marvel Studios filming The Eternals on Hampstead Heath - Credit: James Rossiter

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy novelist John Le Carré, real name David Cornwell, had well-known ties to Hampstead and the Heath. 

The ponds make a very real appearance in both the TV and film adaptations of the writer’s befuddlingly brilliant spy thriller. In the movie, Gary Oldman’s character George Smiley enters its waters to consider the mole at the heart of the British secret service. 

Hampstead's John Le Carre with Colin Firth and Gary Oldman, at the UK premiere of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Hampstead's John Le Carre with Colin Firth and Gary Oldman, arriving for the UK premiere of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, at the BFI Southbank - Credit: PA

Notting Hill 

Richard Curtis and Roger Michell’s classic rom-com may be most-closely associated with a certain west London location, but once again our beloved heath makes a notable appearance. 

Kenwood House was used as the site of the Henry James movie shoot, which is where William (Hugh Grant) visits Anna (Julia Roberts) and overhears her discussing him dismissively to a colleague.

Notting Hill star Hugh Grant with former actress and then-Hampstead and Highgate MP Glenda Jackson on the film's set in 1998

Notting Hill star Hugh Grant with former actress and then-Hampstead and Highgate MP Glenda Jackson on the film's set in 1998 - Credit: PA

After Life 

Ricky Gervais’s Netflix comedy-drama After Life features Hampstead and the Heath heavily, with the house where the main character, Tony, lives located in Vale of Health.  

Tony is also seen walking his dog around the Heath, which is just down the road from his house in the show. 

Hampstead recently welcomed a new bench thanks to a project backed by Gervais, who lives in the area himself. 

Netflix and the mental health charity CALM partnered to donate 25 benches across the UK, to support people dealing with grief and loss. 

Ricky Gervais posed with the Hampstead Heath bench

Ricky Gervais posed with dog Anti behind the Hampstead Heath bench - Credit: Netflix

Bright Star 

Considering the topic of Jane Campion's Bright Star, which tells the story of the romance between poet John Keats (Ben Wishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), it is unsurprising that the movie is set against the lush backdrop of Hampstead and the Heath. 

However, not all of it was filmed in the area, with Keats House replaced with the Hyde House and Estate in Hyde, Bedfordshire.

Bright Star director Jane Campion, with Ben Whishaw, who played John Keats, at Keats House in 2009

Bright Star director Jane Campion, with Ben Whishaw, who played John Keats, at Keats House in 2009 - Credit: PA

101 Dalmatians 

Stephen Herek's 1996 remake of the Disney classic had a prominent role for a famous Hampstead location: Sarum Chase in West Heath Road. 

Chosen as the location for Cruella De Vill’s home, played by Glenn Close, the house itself is Grade II listed, and was built in 1932 as the home and studio of artist Frank O. Salisbury.  

It is not the first time it has featured on the big screen, having previously been used for movies such as The Body Beneath and The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! 

The Lady in the Van 

While not technically Hampstead, The Lady in the Van’s nearby filming around Camden Town felt worthy of sticking in our list. 

A real-life story about an elderly woman, Mary Shepherd, who pitched up her van/home outside writer Alan Bennett’s Gloucester Crescent house, Lady in the Van’s stellar cast included Dame Maggie Smith and was largely filmed on location. 

Bennett put the three-bedroom house up for sale in November 2017, with the last sale listed on RightMove as occurring in December 2019 for £2,050,000. 

Lady in the Van

Dame Maggie Smith played Mary Shepherd in Alan Bennett's Lady in the Van - Credit: Archant