Any eagled eyed viewers watching the recent re-run on terrestrial TV of Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, in 24: Live Another Day might have noticed Shepherds Bush Market in the opening scenes of the first episode.
What is interesting about the filming in early 2014 was that it was held up due Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter. The location had already been secured by the BBC for the filming of a one-off Only Fools and Horses special for Sport Relief featuring David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst and David Beckham.
And of course it was Only Fools and Horses that immortalised Shepherds Bush in the closing lyrics of the series; ‘some Trevor Francis tracksuits from a mush in Shepherds Bush’. Trevor Francis was both a player and a manager at Queens Park Rangers.
But long before Del Boy came along Shepherds Bush had its very own TV fictional residents; the rag and bone duo of Albert Edward Ladysmith Steptoe, played by Wilfrid Brambell, and his son Harold Albert Kitchener Steptoe, played by Harry H. Corbett. They lived in a house behind their scrapyard at 24 Oil Drum Lane, Shepherds Bush – although the true filming location was Adela Street off Kensal Road in London W10.
Not only was their fictional address based in Shepherds Bush but several outside locations were shot in the area. One of the most interesting being the 1965 episode entitled ‘And afterwards at….’ where the nervous Harold with Albert as his best man, goes to church to marry Melanie but she turns him down at the altar. The church location was actually the old St Luke’s Church on the corner of Wormholt Road and Uxbridge Road. The episode shows some good images of the local roads as well as the interior and exterior of the long demolished church.
Anyone walking around Shepherds Bush between the 60s and 80s would almost certainly have stumbled upon filming in progress. Scenes in series such as ‘Dr Who’, ‘Grange Hill’, ‘Candid Camera’, ‘Till Death Us Do Part’, ‘The Goodies’, ‘Minder’, ‘The Sweeney’ and ‘Monty Pythons flying Circus’ were filmed locally.
One location of particular interest is in the closing credits of Series 4 of The Sweeney. John Thaw as Detective Inspector John “Jack” Regan and Dennis Waterman as Detective Sergeant George Carter go up the travelator from the West 12 shopping precinct, which at that time I think was called the Concorde Centre. They walk to the middle of the now demolished ‘125 Train’ bridge and look out over a dark Shepherds Bush Green.
In one episode of Till Death Do Us Part, West Ham fan Alf Garnett played by Warren Mitchell is seen using The Greyhound Pub in Becklow Road and a large iron gate that once led into Keith Grove was used as the location for the football ground entrance.
In Grange Hill you can see outside shots of Wormholt Park Primary School, Hammersmith County School (now Phoenix High School), as well as some scenes in Wormholt Park.
Minder featuring George Cole as Arthur Daley and Dennis Waterman as Terry McCann had an episode entitled ‘A bird in the hand is worth two in Shepherd’s Bush’ although to my knowledge no scenes were filmed in Shepherds Bush. In the early 1990s I bumped into George Cole in the market filming scenes for an episode called ‘The Great Trilby’. Several local locations are seen in this episode including Shepherds Bush Green and the Uxbridge Road.
Monty Pythons Flying Circus has a famous sketch ‘The Ministry of Walks’ featuring John Cleese. The sketch commences in a long gone corner shop in Thorpebank Road and progresses along Dunraven Road. As John Cleese walks across Thorpebank Road he passes a very long line of gas men. These appear in another sketch entitled ‘The New cooker’.
But it’s not only on TV that Shepherds Bush can be seen. Sir Michael Caine’s character Harry Palmer lived at 9 Stanlake Villas in the film The Ipcress File. He can also be seen as Charlie Croker leaving Wormwood Scrubs prison in the film The Italian Job. In fact anyone seen leaving prison on TV or film will almost certainly be seen with Wormwood Scrubs in the background. The prison can be seen in Steptoe and Son, Porridge, The Sweeney, Minder, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Billy Liar to name but a few.
The Dimco Building which is now part of the bus station behind Westfield, was the location for the Acme Factory in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
One iconic 1979 film portraying the troubled lives of Mods and Rockers in the sixties is Quadrophenia. Much of Shepherds Bush can be seen in the film. Shots include Cooke’s Pie and Mash Shop, the Goldhawk Road, Wells Road, Shepherds Bush Market, Orchid Street, Gravesend Road and Sawley Road.
Shepherds Bush is the backdrop for several books including White City Blue by Tim Lott, although little of the Bush is actually mentioned. However Shepherds Bush born Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is the creator and author of the Bill Slider Mysteries. DCI Bill Slider is based at Shepherds Bush police station and all of the action takes place in and around Shepherds Bush. To date Cynthia has written 18 books in the series; the first being ‘Orchestrated Death’ in 1991 and the most recent entitled ‘One Under’ published in October last year.
by Peter Trott
Retired Museum Steward, Fulham Palace