Bridget Jones's Diary | 2001
The film of the book of Helen Fielding’s newspaper column has become a handbook for fun living around London.
In the newspaper column, Bridget’s London home was in Holland Park, and her locals included The Pharmacy (now gone); Coffee Republic on Portobello Road (outside which Hugh Grant bumps into Julia Roberts in Notting Hill); 192; and Cafe Rouge.
For the movie, however, she’s been relocated south of the River Thames to Borough, a neighbourhood seen in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Howards End and Entrapment. The area is just west of London Bridge Station, a south bank mainline terminus, also on the Northern and Jubilee underground lines.
There’s been quite a bit of redevelopment recently at Borough, with the construction of Borough Viaduct, doubling the number of tracks running west from London Bridge Station. There had been dark rumours of wholesale demolition, so it seems churlish to complain. But I will. The new viaduct runs slap bang alongside the top floor of The Globe, blocking the view and leaving the pub in a pall of gloom.
There’s been more rebuilding opposite the entrance to Bridget’s flat on Bedale Street, which is where shops were transformed into the cab office, the newsagent and, of course, the fictitious ‘Greek restaurant’ where caddish Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and D’Arcyish Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) slug it out during a birthday party. The premises used as the restaurant remains, now a wine merchant, Bedales, at 5 Bedale Street.
Bridget plods glumly through Borough Market after discovering Cleaver with “Lara, from the New York office”. Thankfully, the famous old food market has been spared, and even extended into an airy new glassed-in Market Hall opening onto Borough High Street.
The très smart flat of Daniel Cleaver is Clink Wharf Apartments, Clink Street, one of the warehouse redevelopments only a minute or two away from Bridget’s place.
Grab a bite at the Tate Modern Restaurant in Tate Modern, Bankside, the old Bankside Power Station turned cutting edge art gallery, where Bridget and her friends hang out. But you can no longer shop at Dickins & Jones, the venerable West End department store, where Bridget’s mum demonstrates the strangely erotic egg peeler. It’s now a branch of Banana Republic, 224 Regent Street.
Before the first date with Daniel, Bridget gets advice from her friends at fashionable, exotic and expensive Maghreb restaurant Momo, 25-27 Heddon Street, W1 (Heddon Street, tucked away behind Regent Street, by the way, might be familiar to David Bowie fans as the benighted backstreet featured on the cover of the 1972 album Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.)
The horribly embarrassing book launch for Kafka’s Motorbike, attended by Salman Rushdie, Lord Archer, et al, is the ICA, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Nash House, Carlton House Terrace, on The Mall – the broad, tree-line ceremonial way leading to Buckingham Palace. Despite the incongruously classical cream, pillared porticos, the ICA is a centre for provocative avant garde exhibitions and performances, and also houses a cinema, bar and café.
At the eastern end of The Strand stand the Royal Courts of Justice, the Strand, the extraordinary burst of mock-Gothicism where Bridget bungles her assignment to cover the extradition case for TV show Sit Up Britain.
She pops over the road to buy a packet of fags at BK News, 212 Strand at at Essex Street.
The Royal Courts were featured in Alfred Hitchcock's 1936 Sabotage (though a massive photographic blow-up was used for the backdrop, and it's where the vintage Darracq is first seen in classic 50s comedy Genevieve.
Bridget’s parents’ home, where she first meets Mark Darcy during a Christmas break, is in Snowshill, off the A46 about 12 miles northeast of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. The scene was filmed in June with loads of fake snow. The church here is St Barnabas.
Daniel and Bridget enjoy a date at Cantina del Ponte, 36 Shad Thames, on the Butler's Wharf quayside. Initially a Terence Conran restaurant, it’s since changed hands, but remains a heartily Italian restaurant – and with a terrific view of Tower Bridge. Rohan (Hrithik Roshan) and Pooja (Kareena Kapoor) sit on the same riverside terrace in Hindi smash Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham....
Daniel takes Bridget on a mini-break to the Stoke Park Club, Park Road, Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire. Yes, this is the golf club seen in Goldfinger. It has since been seen as the interior of the ‘Hamburg’ hotel in another Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies. More recently it featured in Layer Cake; in 2004 rom-com Wimbledon; and became a ‘Beverly Hills’ hotel in Bride and Prejudice.
Darcy heads off to 'New York' – but that's not 'JFK'. The ultra-modern terminal at which he arrives is Stansted Airport in Essex, an apparently film-friendly terminal seen also in Spider-Man: Far From Home (as 'Newark New Jersey' at the end of the film), The Dark Knight Rises (as 'Gotham International') and Philomena.
Incurable romantics will, no doubt, want to recreate that wonderful moment in the snow when Bridget not only gets a new diary but also gets the man of her dreams, the impossibly sensitive Mark Darcy. You might reasonably assume that since (a) Bridget is in her tiny pants, (b) it's snowing and (c) it takes about three seconds' screen time to get there, the finale is around the corner from The Globe. Well, it isn't. The spot is Royal Exchange Buildings, Cornhill, across the road from the Bank of England. That's some sprint.
The quaintly period shops here also became Nazir's boutique, 'Le Beau Chapeau' in the northern-set comedy East Is East as well as the flower shop where Clarissa Dalloway (Vanessa Redgrave) briefly glimpses the doomed Septimus Warren Smith (Rupert Graves) in the film of Virginia Woolf's novel Mrs Dalloway (the novel which provides the framework for Oscar-winner The Hours). Cornhill also stands in for the 'West End', where Maud (Carey Mulligan) is shocked by the window-smashing in Sarah Gavron's 2015 Suffragette.