Friday Fun: Being a Film Star

Last week I headed back to my workplace for the first time in 18 months and mentioned that, despite the discomfort of commuting and fear of Covid, one of the absolute perks of my job is working an iconic building such as Senate House. I have always been an Art Deco fan, and the architect, Charles Holden, was clearly also influenced by the Bauhaus style when he proposed a grandiose scheme in the early 1930s. Lack of funding and the start of the war meant those plans were abandoned and only a small fraction was actually built. Nevertheless, it is an impressive building both inside and out, and has starred in many a film or TV series. You can find a full list of films, TV productions and advertisements in which the Grand Old Lady has played a part here, but I’d just like to highlight a few personal favourites.

The Ministry of War was actually located at Senate House during WW2 and inspired Orwell, so it’s only natural that 1984 should be filmed there. (And no, our Room 101 is not the same, although it seems to be popular with visitors.)
The tower of the library stood in for Gotham City Town Hall in at least two different Batman films.
One of the films I adored as a child (because of David Bowie and because it was far too naughty for my age) was The Hunger. Senate House was obviously Park West Clinic back in 1983. From
The Bodyguard TV series had one very explosive episode filmed in Senate House, when the PM (played by Keeley Hawes) gives a lecture at St Matthew’s College. The college library is of course Senate House Library.
The Cloisters, or passage linking the north and south wing of the building was the entrance to the American Embassy in the TV series Silent Witness. They were filming this when I went there for my job interview, so you can imagine my confusion.
I meaen… why couldn’t the interview have been the day that Cillian Murphy was filming Batman Begins?
I was very surprised to find out that Patrick Melrose’s hotel in New York City bore more than a passing resemblance to the central hall.
This is what it might look like on a more typical occasion such as graduation.

6 thoughts on “Friday Fun: Being a Film Star”

    1. Ah, yes, so you know why I love that library so, especially the comfy sofas in the Periodicals Room. I used to go spontaneously up to one of the reading rooms whenever I needed a break from the open plan office or a bit of natural daylight (we were in the basement). Nowadays, of course, you have to book your seat in advance…

  1. How fascinating that the building has ‘starred’ in so many films and TV shows, Marina Sofia! I’m not surprised, given how lovely it is. You are lucky to have such beauty right there at your workplace. And I have to admit, I like Art Deco very much.

  2. Fascinating, as Mr Spock would say to Captain Kirk, and since he didn’t do sarcasm (bar the odd raised eyebrow) he usually meant it—as I do! Because the Nolan Batman trilogy is my favourite of all the recent DC universe films I can now associate the building to particular scenes, so thanks. 😊 In any case, I can see why you’re pleased to be back in this magnificent and iconic building complex!

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