South London is the real star of the show

BY TOBY PORTER
toby@slpmedia.co.uk

The names on the credits include movie and TV stars such as Carey Mulligan and Billie Piper.

But South London is the real star of the BBC’s hottest new series, political thriller Collateral, on BBC2 on Monday nights.

And shooting for the series, which goes out at 9pm, was done at a tense time south of the Thames – cameras rolled last year in the dark days around the March 22 Westminster Bridge attacks.

More than 50 people were injured that day and five died, including Clapham window cleaner  Leslie Rhodes, 75; Charlton policeman Keith Palmer and Lambeth administrator and mum Ayse Frade.

Filming also took place around the time of the June 3 attack on London Bridge, where eight died and 48 were injured.

Billie Piper plays Karen Mars

Carey Mulligan said to the BBC: “It was an odd time to film. We were literally filming scenes on bridges which two weeks later had huge bollards up on them because there had been terrorist attacks there.

“So it was a slightly tense time to shoot in the city but it was also amazing.

“You get to put these iconic places on camera and there is something wonderful about getting to walk along Westminster Bridge with the Houses of Parliament behind you and to see parts of London you never go to.

“When you are shooting in your hometown, you don’t really think about where you are and then you put it on camera and you just realise that you live in the most extraordinary city.

“When there is a lot of uncertainty and people are on edge you have to be careful sending police cars around London.

“We had to make sure people knew that we were filming a drama and that people didn’t get panicked that there are suddenly 10 squad cars pulling up outside.

“You have to make sure that people around you know that these are stunt men driving those cars and not real policemen. So that was certainly a consideration.”

Twice Oscar-nominated playwright Hare, who wrote the script, said: “I’ve been writing drama for the BBC since 1973, but this is my first original series. I’m thrilled that it has such a stunningly gifted cast.”

Billie Piper said: “I have a love affair with London. I can’t ever shake. It always impressed me so much growing up, and I have always felt so lucky to live and work here. There have been a lot of things recently that have made London feel more threatening than it has normally but I am behind it and I believe in the city. I am not going anywhere.

“There are lots of things about London that blow my mind, that I can never get over. I am from a small town that looks totally different, so I was always shocked as a child how somewhere that was only 50 minutes down the motorway could be so different in culture, diversity and opportunity, and how it could contain so many different worlds, all coexisting. It still blows my mind.

“This show encapsulates all of that. It shows London in all of its ugly truths and, at times, it feels very underworld even though these are things that are happening on our streets all the time at the moment.”

Nicola Walker said: “Filming in London is brilliant. I love seeing London on film and with the questions that this piece is raising, an urban setting is ideal and London is perfect for it.”

Director SJ Clarkson said: “I’m not going to lie – it is not the easiest of cities to film in. I’m sorry to say I think London is slowly pricing itself out of TV.

“However London is a huge part of Collateral. It’s a character in its own right and I don’t think the piece would be what it is without having the city as the backdrop.

“It is so diverse in both its people and places – so rich and layered and offers up so many visual opportunities.

“I wanted to capture the spirit of the city, the energy, the attitude and the atmosphere.”

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