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Saturday May 18th 2024

Dirty Pretty Things | 2002

Dirty Pretty Things film location: Whitehall Court, Westminster, London
Dirty Pretty Things film location: Okwe finds something nasty in the 'Baltic Hotel': Whitehall Court, Westminster, London

Some contrived thriller elements sit uneasily against the interesting milieu of London’s semi-legal immigrant underclass. It's never really explained why anyone would attempt to flush away a human heart, is it?

Much of the film is set around Hackney’s lively Ridley Road market, where Okwe (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Senay (Audrey Tautou) live at nearby 98 Kingsland High Street, E8 (rail: Dalston Kingsland).

Okwe works for cab company London Bridge Cars, 28 Southwark Street, beneath the railway bridge in Southwark, screen neighbourhood of singleton Bridget in Bridget Jones’s Diary.

But there is no ‘Baltic Hotel’, the establishment where Okwe finds the surplus organ blocking the toilet. The ‘Baltic’ is a patchwork of filming sites. The entrance is 4 Whitehall Court at Horseguards Avenue in Westminster. It’s just across the road from the ‘gentlemen’s toilet’ entrance to the ‘Ministry of Magic’ from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1.

The rooms and corridors were built in the studio, but the lavish lobby is the entrance hall of Wandsworth Town Hall, High Street at Fairfield Street, Wandsworth SW18. The town hall is just southwest of the creepy underpass seen at the opening of A Clockwork Orange.

East of Canary Wharf station in the Dockland area, Okwe visits the family of a Somali man who’s lost a kidney to the underground trade in human organs at the Samuda Estate on Manchester Road. The rather glum housing estate is also featured in Antonia Bird’s heist movie Face.

Dirty Pretty Things film location: Bunhill Burial Ground, London
Dirty Pretty Things film location: Okwe and Senay walk in the graveyard: Bunhill Burial Ground, London

Okwe reveals to Senay that he’s married as they walk in Bunhill Burial Ground, 38 City Road, one of London’s most fascinating secrets.

Originally much larger than the remnant left today, the cemetery has been restored as a peaceful park after being severely bomb-damaged during WWII. Established in 1315, it was, unusually, not consecrated, which meant that it became the last resting place for nonconformists and liberal humanists.

It was closed in 1853 when occupancy reached 120,000. Famous graves here include those of John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim's Progress), Daniel De-Foe (author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders) and mystic poet and painter William Blake.

The most unusual monument, though, must be the huge sarcophagus of one Dame Mary Page, with an enthusiastically detailed inscription which gives just a little too much information: “In 67 months she was tapd [tapped] 66 times. Had taken away 240 gallons of water without ever repining at her case or ever fearing the operation.”