WARNING – SPOILERS!
The RCP is housed in a Grade I listed building designed by celebrated architect Sir Denys Lasdun. The striking modernist building with its unexpected historic interiors has been popular with film and television producers since it was opened in 1964. In this blog we revisit some of the sets the RCP has played host to in recent years. Why not come and visit us to see where you favourite scene was filmed?
Lockwood & Co
First floor exhibition gallery, stairs
The exhibition space on the first floor of the central Lasdun Hall, normally home to the Museum’s temporary exhibitions, features as the library where the team go to carry out research. Appearing in multiple episodes, the RCP central staircase can be seen when the characters enter the library. The gallery is made to look as though the space extends much further than it does in real life. Keep an eye out for the grey marble tiles on the side of the balcony to spot when the cast are in the RCP.
Lasdun Hall, reception, Council chamber, exterior
The RCP features heavily in this Barclaycard advert with Nick Frost. The building on the CCTV behind Frost shows various views of the inside of the RCP building. His accomplice is then seen sneaking through the galleries – including hiding next to the anatomical tables display cases – to the Council Chamber, which is used as the room full of servers. The ad finishes with a view of the Barclaycard Sidekicks’ ‘inconspicuous van’ parked outside the RCP.
You can watch the advert here:
Wonder Woman 1984
Exterior, Lasdun Hall, Council Chamber
In her civilian identity as Diana Prince, Wonder Woman works as a museum curator at Washington DC’s Smithsonian Institute. During a museum members’ gala, in which our front exterior, Lasdun Hall, and main staircase all feature prominently, Diana is reunited with her resurrected love interest, Steve Trevor. As Steve is inhabiting another man’s body, Diana initially doesn’t recognise him, but is finally convinced of his identity when the two embrace in the RCP Council Chamber.
Exterior, Lasdun Hall
In season 3, episode 1 of The Crown, ‘Olding’, the RCP’s central Lasdun Hall plays the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace. As she is due to give a speech at the gallery, Queen Elizabeth II seeks advice from Royal Collection curator, Anthony Blunt, but is shocked to discover before the episode is out that he has been working as a Soviet spy for decades. The UK establishment decide it would be too embarrassing to admit their failure to identify the spy sooner, and he is allowed to keep his position. Feeling betrayed, Elizabeth looks daggers at Blunt during her pointed speech, and afterwards Prince Philip has a quiet word with the curator on one of the galleries overlooking the Lasdun Hall. Blunt is able to buy Philip’s secrecy by revealing he has evidence of the Prince Consort’s involvement in the Profumo Affair.
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
In the second ABBA-filled musical, the Osler Room hosts a fancy dinner scene when the characters are in Sweden.
After Paddington is framed and arrested for stealing a pop-up book from an antique shop, the Brown family go to the police to attempt to clear his name. Our main entrance and reception area double for those of the police station. A bust of 17th century physician William Harvey can be glimpsed on the wall behind the Browns as they plead their case.
Council Chamber, Thomas Cotton room
In this Lance Armstrong biopic, the RCP stood in for the headquarters of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body of cycling, which is actually in Geneva. The two sets used were the Thomas Cotton Room for an intimate meeting with Lance and UCI officers, and the Council Chamber for the press conference scene where Lance restates that he has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. During filming, Chris O'Dowd (IT Crowd, Moone Boy) who played the journalist David Walsh, the first to go public with his suspicions that Lance is doping, was regularly seen in between takes lying stretched out on a sofa near reception.
Exterior, Lasdun Hall, Officers Corridor, Dorchester Library
Episode ‘The Prodigal, Part 1’, season 14 episode 9, saw the RCP turned into the ‘Royal Dutch Embassy’, where the shoot-out and police chase at the beginning of the episode occurs. Complete with several fake police cars, the filming caused quite a stir among locals and tourists visiting Regents Park. The Exterior and Lasdun Hall was the location of a shooting, and the Dorchester Library hosted a victim.
Filmed over two days, on the first day it rained heavily. When the weather cleared up for day two, the need for continuity in the shots saw the filming company hire in some old fire engines to spray water over the cars and street while they shot more scenes.
All episodes of Silent Witness are currently available on BBC iPlayer
The 34th Richard Dimbleby Lecture, 'Shaking Hands with Death' by Terry Pratchett, was broadcast on February 1, 2010 in the RCP’s Dorchester Library. The lecture was introduced by David Dimbleby and delivered very charismatically on behalf of Terry Pratchett by his friend the actor Tony Robinson (Blackadder, Time Team) due to Terry's advancing neurological condition, with Terry sitting beside him on the platform. The event was described by The Lancet as 'an impassioned plea for the rights of the terminally ill to die at the time and place of their own choosing'.
The video is available to watch on YouTube:
The RCP’s impressive rare books library has also been host to a number of BBC programming, including:
- BBC World News’ Global Questions, ‘A Covid Vaccine: The End of the Pandemic?’ in the Dorchester library
- Gardeners Question Time at Regent’s Park, London, broadcast on 5 Feb 2012.
Seen your favourite RCP spot elsewhere on the silver screen? Let us know on social media! @RCPMuseum on twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Information about filming at the RCP can be found on the RCP Events webpage.
Unless otherwise stated, all images in this blog post are c. RCP and photographed by Mike Fear.