Around the World

So here I am, in a luxury apartment in Cape Town, South Africa, relaxing before resuming my studies at my new uni. I thought it would be good to make some notes about places I’ve visited that are related to Film and TV.

  • Spaghetti Westerns – Spain

On a previous holiday, in the area of Almeria, Spain, we visited the sites where Sergio Leone made the famous spaghetti westerns, notably the Dollars trilogy with Clint Eastwood. How I Won The War (director: Richard Lester) was also filmed there – follow the link at the end of the post.

  • Harry Potter – UK

As part of my college course, I went on an organised trip to the newly opened Harry Potter studios in Leavesden, near Watford, Herts. The tour is made up of all the props, sets and costumes used in the Harry Potter film series.

The building it’s in are the actual studios used to shoot the movies. It contains things such as Dumbledore’s office, Hagrid’s Hut, Diagon Alley and No.4 Privet Drive. They also have staff members who are well versed in Harry Potter knowledge as well as smaller props such as pots that stir themselves.

It was refreshing to see that a large part of the filming process used actual sets as opposed to merely green screens all over the place.

  • Warner Brothers – USA

On a whirlwind visit to Los Angeles, we made an appointment for a tour of Warner Bros studios in the Hollywood Hills.  Each tour varies, depending on what is being filmed and where, on any given day.

We saw several indoor and outdoor sets that we recognised from Friends, The Mentalist, Spider-man, etc. One of the highlights was being invited to walk around The Mentalist set: the lift/elevator area, the offices and Jane’s attic.

While we were there, we saw the horse from Two Broke Girls but no famous humans, although The Big Bang Theory was being recorded (so we were not allowed to see inside), which reminds me… the next day, we were wandering around Malibu and accidentally walked on set during a run-through of a TV show with Malcolm McDowell. Oops.

Back at Warner Brothers, “Central Perk” from Friends had been reconstructed in one building especially for visitors’ photo-opportunities. The Two and a Half Men sit-com studio was empty and we were were shown round; it reminded me of the “Not Going Out” set in the TV studios at Teddington Lock that I’d been given tickets for – see below.

The tour included props warehouses, including several Batmobiles and the space pod from The Big Bang Theory. At the end of the tour you can wander through the costume museum where there are genuine costumes from Batman, Harry Potter, Inception, Friends and more.

After the tour, we drove to downtown Hollywood where we saw the Oscars being set up, which was really interesting as we’ve also seen the BAFTAs being set up in London, both occasions were entirely by coincidence!

  • TV Studios – UK

I’ve been to watch a couple of TV shows being made. One was Have I Got News For You with Paul Merton, Ian Hislop and guest Chair Stephen Mangan. I was working at Comedy Central at the time and made my way from Camden to Waterloo to spend almost two hours waiting in the freezing cold  until we were let in and then we had rotten seats. We saw goalkeeper Robert Green in the audience though.

Better than that, we had priority tickets to watch episode(s) of Not Going Out with Lee Mack, being filmed at Teddington Lock TV studios. It included a special sketch with Terry Wogan for Red Nose Day and I was seen on TV in an audience shot!

More about the Warner Brothers Studios tour (with photos).

Really interesting link with Richard Lester interview snippets.