Imagine that you are walking down your street going about your business and then there's a lot of shouting, with someone that sounds like they're in a lot of trouble and in a great deal of distress...
We appear to be getting a lot more of it these days.
As I type, some poor bloke is screaming his head off near Johnsons Island (and has been for the last two hours) and he looks like he's going to get a pasting and possibly a dunking in the Thames Lock weir, all for the sake of a new series of Silent Witness:
There's always a lot of filming by the Thames Lock, by amateur/student film makers or otherwise, probably because it's generally quite quiet and away from the somewhat dated main road (though the lock is used as a thoroughfare by us locals to avoid the main road, and it offers direct access to our local pub). It is here that the Grand Union Canal joins the River Thames, so the lock sees a lot of activity over the day generally. Prunella Scales and Timothy West came down a while ago to film the start of their Great Canal Journeys for Channel 4.
Facing westwards, it does mean that this end of the canal gets some gorgeous evening light, along with the main access road, Dock Road, named so as it was the main road access to what used to be a major dock for the Great Western Railway. The road is quite interesting as it's a mixture of setts, ranging in patterns from fan type, to a more traditional block type, and it's often mistaken for cobblestone. The fan setts are something special, as they've been here since the GWR days:
A lot of filming takes place along the Dock Road, perhaps because the industrial-yet-vintage feel is appealing and versatile for filming. Some scenes in Bastille Day (2016), were shot here, including a stunt driving scene, and so all the current signage we have up here had to be replaced for signs in French for a few days which meant it was a bit strange walking up the road around the time of filming.
Dock Road can be pretty atmospheric at night or in the fog.
On the other side of the Thames Lock, running nearly the entire length of Dock Road and looking down the end of the canal and towards the River Thames, we have a working boatyard (MSO Marine, formerly E C Jones of Brentford) in the dock basin.
Last month, we had ITV come down to film Tennison, which is supposed to be a prequel to Lynda La Plante's Prime Suspect. We didn't see get to see Helen Mirren, though most of the filming appeared to take place on the lock. That said, there were lots of lovely vintage police cars around as the prequel is supposed to be set in 1970s East London.
I was so happy when I got to see these old police vehicles as the cars reminded me of my brother's 'passing out' parade with the Metropolitan Police a few years ago, where they had a line up of all their different vehicles from over the years. Anyway, I digress. Other things we have had filmed here are several instalments of various shows for the BBC, from New Tricks to Spooks and People Just Do Nothing. We've also had a BBC Three production for Salma: Murdered by my Father, which was probably the most troublesome of the lot for me as a lot of the film crew were either outside my front door or traipsing up and down the walkways and getting lost with the layout of the place.
Further along the canal, you have Augustus Close (which is built on top of the old railway bridge) crossing over it and The Ham. There's a footbridge that leads from our estate into The Ham just before it, and this is another shortcut to the High Street. Sometimes you forget you're in West London (until you hear the planes on the approach to London Heathrow, of course):
Using our doorstep as a film location does have its drawbacks. A lot of vehicles tend to turn up, especially the Panavision lorries and Panalux trucks and vans, though the Panavision lorries tend to park in a yard opposite the boatyard as the Dock Road going over the Thames Lock can only take a certain amount of loading. As with most residential parts of London, parking is bad enough as it is where I live, even on a private road.
The crews also have to provide their own facilities, so that's more space that gets taken up, along with there generally being more people around and about. When there's filming on the actual premises where I live, some of the shortcuts and walkways we use are sometimes blocked off and you have to go a different way, or sometimes the crews may deviate a little from the plans they've set.
As for what benefits are gained for allowing these film and TV production companies to come here; as we live on a private road, the management company tell us the fees from filming go towards things that they can't fund through our annual service charge, which normally tends to be communal leisure facilities. So last year, our barbecue area by our marina lock next to the River Thames was updated with new picnic tables (and more of them than we used to have), though I'd rather they used the fees to bring the service charge down!
For all its underdeveloped, industrial and tired-looking woes, Brentford really can be photogenic at times, I guess.
You can find more Brentford locations used for filming at: brentfordhistory.com/connections/tv-and-film/