London Filming Locations: GoldenEye (1995)

After a six year hiatus the James Bond franchise returned in 1995 with Irish actor Pierce Brosnan at the helm as the series was modernised a bit in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War and this ended up providing background for the plot.

Following opening scenes in Switzerland (filling in for the USSR) and Monaco, the capital of England appears as we see the debut of the MI6 building, Vauxhall Cross (below) at 85 Albert Embankment. It would go on to appear in ‘The World Is Not Enough‘ (1999), ‘Die Another Day‘ (2002) and ‘Skyfall‘ (2012) and just so you know that it really is London, a red double decker passes by in the foreground on 36 minutes.

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Over the decades, many world locations have been faked in Bond films and ‘GoldenEye‘ is no exception. Sure, there are a few shots of the real St Petersburg but much of it was shot in the UK in the nations capital. Somerset House (below) at The Strand on 55 minutes doubled up as Russia’s second largest city whereas in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies‘ (1997) the courtyard was seen as 007 is driven to the MI6 HQ. This place is a short distance from Temple tube station and also appears as scenery footage at the start of ‘Love Actually‘ (2003).

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Other “Russian” locations in London to feature include Brompton Cemetry (below) on 58 minutes which is the exterior of the St Petersburg church where Natalya meets Boris by chance. This cemetery can also be seen in the Rowan Atkinson Bond spoof ‘Johnny English‘ (2003) and in ‘Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation‘ (2015).

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The interior is St Sofia’s Cathedral (below) which funnily enough is on Moscow Road near Bayswater Station.

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The Langham Hilton (below) at Portland Place is portrayed as ‘Grand Hotel Europe’ and is seen briefly on 63 minutes.

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One final “Russian” location is Drapers’ Hall (below) on Throgmorton Street near Bank station. It is the St Petersburg council chamber where a General discovers that Natalya has survived the detonation. I visited here on two occasions with the first one being hindered slightly by a lot of visible scaffolding which meant I had to zoom in close to cut it out.

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A couple of years after ‘GoldenEye‘ and this place, which isn’t open to the public, became Russia again in ‘The Saint‘ (1997) starring Val Kilmer.

For other London filming locations click on the links below:

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace    Trainspotting    Mission: Impossible    Lara Croft Tomb Raider    The Bourne Ultimatum   Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone   James Bond    About A Boy    Quadrophenia    Bridget Jones’s Diary    Goodnight Sweetheart    Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels    Basic Instinct 2    Batman Begins/The Dark Knight    The Italian Job    Snatch    Rom-Com Special    Skyfall    Notting Hill    The World Is Not Enough     Paddington    Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (Re-Visited)    Entrapment    Sliding Doors    Eyes Wide Shut     Four Weddings & A Funeral   Die Another Day

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London Filming Locations: Die Another Day (2002)

This much derided 007 movie marked the 40th anniversary of the franchise and includes references to each of the 19 Bond films which preceded it. Having watched it again for this feature I don’t actually mind it as much as I previously thought. Sure there are some ridiculous gimmicks and too much computer imagery but the first half is pretty good. Continue reading

Top 10……Filming Location Trips For 2014

Another year has passed and despite my reservations about the future of such ‘top 10……filming locations’ this time last year, I have managed to do enough locations to warrant another list. It’s quite 007-centric and has in the main included just topping up pre-existing entries. Here then, in no particular order, is the Top 10……filming location trips for 2014…

1) Entrapment, 1999 (Click here)

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2) The Hangover Part II, 2011 (Click here)

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3) The Man With The Golden Gun, 1974 (Click here)

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4) Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997 (Click here)

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5) The Wolverine, 2013 (Click here)

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6) Godzilla, 1954 (Click here)

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7) Notting Hill, 1999 (Click here)

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8) The World Is Not Enough, 1999 (Click here)

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9) Skyfall, 2012 (Click here)

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10) Quantum Of Solace, 2008 (Click here)

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For the best filming locations for other years please click on the links below:

2009     2010     2011     2012     2013

Top 10……Movies Filmed In Central America

Before I went travelling around Central America during the Christmas and New Years holiday of 2012/2013 I spent the months before preparing as only I do! Forget internet research and thumbing through guidebooks, for my work beforehand is often all about watching movies (and TV shows) filmed in that part of the world. Thankfully there were just about ten of them which makes it perfect for a top 10 listings feature; the perfect aid for anyone going or thinking of going to Central America.

This area, sandwiched between North and South America, possesses seven countries (eight if you include the southern part of Mexico as is often the case) of which five feature here. Sorry but I don’t know of any western productions being shot in Honduras or El Salvador!

Here then, in no particular order, are the top 10 movies filmed in Central America…

1. Nicaragua – ‘Carla’s Song‘ (1996): Robert Carlyle leaves Glasgow behind to go to war-torn Nicaragua to help Carla search for her past. Estelí; the third largest city in Nicaragua is where a lot of those scenes were filmed. It is 150km north of capital city Managua.

2. Belize -‘The Mosquito Coast‘ (1986): Based on the novel of the same name, this tells the story of a family leaving the USA in the hope of finding a happier, simpler life in the jungle but things don’t quite go to plan. Hotel Mona Lisa on the south side of Haulover Creek in Belize City was one of the filming locations.

3. Belize – ‘The Dogs Of War‘ (1980): This one is also based on a novel and is about a small, international unit of mercenary soldiers privately hired to depose of the President of a fictional West African country so that a British tycoon can gain access to vast mines of platinum. The movie was shot in Belize City and the Chateau Caribbean hotel was where Christopher Walken’s character stayed upon his arrival.

4. Guatemala – ‘Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope‘ (1977): The rebel base where Luke Skywalker and co launch their attack to destroy the Death Star and save their people from Darth Vader’s grasp was shot in Tikal. It gets only 13 seconds of screen time and features the Millennium Falcon flying over Yavin 4 which is overseen by a rebel standing on top of Temple IV in the western part of the national park. More details here.

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5. Guatemala – ‘Moonraker‘ (1979): Tikal features again on screen but this time only for three seconds! 007 travels through the Amazon in search of villain Hugo Drax’s lair, encountering Jaws and other henchmen along the way, before he discovers it supposedly at Temple I of Gran Plaza. More details here.

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6. Panama – ‘Quantum Of Solace‘ (2008): Due to its diversity Panama doubled up for both Bolivia and Haiti. Colon at the Caribbean end of the Canal represents Port Au Prince in the latter and Casco Viejo in Panama City fills in for Bolivia. The ruins of the Old Union Club were revamped for villain Dominic Greene’s party. More details here.

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7. Panama – ‘The Tailor Of Panama‘ (2001): Another 007 connection for Panama with Pierce Brosnan playing a far seedier agent than Bond. Filming took place in the picturesque old town of Casco Viejo, the lobby and bar of The Marriott Hotel and Gatun Lake. More details here.

8. Panama – ‘Contraband‘ (2012): To protect his brother-in-law from a drug lord, a former smuggler heads to Panama to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills in this action crime thriller. The Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal and the  local neighbourhood known as El Chorillo featured in the filming. The latter is an impoverished area within Panama City where some of the more salacious scenes take place.

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9. Costa Rica – ‘Spy Kids 2: Island Of Lost Dreams‘ (2002): The artificial Arenal Lake which is situated in the northern highlands was one of the locations used in this sequel production along with Manuel Antonio National Park. Known for its beautiful beaches and hiking trails this impressive landscape has white sand beaches, lush foliage, great mountains and tropical forests which made it a prime area to film this sci-fi family adventure film.

10. Costa Rica – ‘1492: Conquest Of Paradise‘ (1992): Directed by Ridley Scott, this overly long flop of a film details the discovery (albeit a fictionalised one!) of the New World by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and the effect it had on the indigenous population of the Americas. Filming took place at Playa Herradura (Herradura beach) in Puntarenas; a coastal town on the Pacific Ocean located about four km north of Jaco.

Top 5……Tokyo Movie Locations Where You Can Stay

Whilst its probably possible to spend the night at the Wolverine temple or outside the Grudge house, I certainly doesn’t recommend it!! There are far more appropriate and more conventional ways to absorb the atmosphere of a handful of films which have been shot at various places in Tokyo. Last month featured the top 10 movie locations where you can stay and earlier in the year there was the top (double oh) 7 Hotels featured in James Bond films. Now, its time to bring you a list of movie-related places where you can stay in Japan’s capital city.

So here, in no particular order is the Tokyo Fox top 5……Tokyo movie locations where you can stay

1. Hotel New Otani (from $217 per night), 4-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku.

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You Only Live Twice (1967) – This hotel plays the part of Osato Chemicals exterior for a few brief moments on 24, 28, 36 and 41 minutes respectively. The nearest station is Akasaka-Mitsuke. Its small, but peaceful gardens round the back are worth a visit for anyone wishing to take a break from the concrete jungle. More details here

2. The Park Hyatt Hotel (from $507 per night), 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku.

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Lost In Translation (2003) – Featuring throughout the films 97 minute entirety, this is where the characters Bob (Bill Murray) and Charlotte (Scarlett Johanson) stay and the 52nd floor is the New York Grill & Bar where a fair few scenes were filmed including when they meet for the first time on 23 mins. This place is a great one for the lunch set menu (5000 yen) with the salad and dessert buffet spread being sufficient enough in itself! A delicious main course of grilled Australian beef or lamb is also part of the deal and the aforementioned buffet is laid out on the table where Bob and Charlotte first meet. More details here

3. Hotel Okura (from $237 per night), 2-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku.

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Walk, Don’t Run (1966) – Cary Grant’s swan-song was mostly set in and around Toranomon during the 1964 Olympic Games. On his arrival in Tokyo on business, he turns up at Hotel Okura in the first minute but is unable to get a room there so goes to the British Embassy where he sees an advert for an apartment which he soon fast-talks his way into sharing with Samantha Eggar. More details here

4. Imperial Hotel (from $337 per night),  1-1-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku.

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Wasabi (2000) – Appearing on 47 mins this is where Hubert (Jean Reno) books into ‘pretending’ that the young under-age Japanese girl is his daughter with the irony being that she actually is, not that she knows it! More details here

5. Nakagin Capsule Tower (from $51 per night), 8-10-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku.

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The Wolverine (2013) – Logan and Mariko disembark (52 minutes) from the Shinkansen in “Nagasaki” though in reality it’s a combination of Fukuyama and  Ginza where the Nakagin Capsule Tower appears as a love hotel which they check into. The interior of these tiny apartments could be seen in episode four of the BBC documentary ‘Journeys Into The Ring Of Fire‘ (2006). The building is a fine example of Tokyo modern architecture and now you can actually stay there thanks to airbnb website. More details here

Bonus: Karaoke-Kan (from $17 per night), 30-8 Utagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku.

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Lost In Translation (2003) – Those wanting to experience a night at a movie location on a shoestring budget should get themselves into rooms 601 and 602, which featured on 46 minutes, and is where Bob sings ‘More than this’ by Roxy Music. You’ll have to check out at 6am though as that’s when it closes each night…or morning if you prefer! This particular idea for a cheap nights stay in Tokyo actually featured on the ‘The Travel Show‘ (Episode 31) on BBC2 last Friday (19th Sept). More details here

London Filming Locations: The World Is Not Enough (1999)

It was pretty much a law of diminishing returns where the Pierce Brosnan Bond-era was concerned and by the time of his third outing as the double agent things were starting to get more and more ridiculous regarding plot, excessive action scenes and an over-reliance on technological devices of some sort. Still, it was enjoyable enough and the follow up ‘Die Another Day‘ (2002) made it seem not so bad after all!

The MI6 Headquarters building is Vauxhall Cross (below); the same building which would reappear in ‘Skyfall‘ (2012). It’s located at 85 Albert Embankment next to Vauxhall Bridge.

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The pre-titles sequence along the River Thames is actually the longest one of all the 23 James Bond films clocking in at just over 14 minutes. It starts off at the MI6 building, and goes past Westminster, which is clearly seen alongside Big Ben, as the chase continues on down to Tower Bridge.

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Perhaps the most memorable part of the chase was on 10 minutes at Glengall Bridge (below) in the East End’s docks where, with the bridge closing in true dramatic movie style, Bond hits a special button which allows the boat (Q’s retirement recreational boat no less which is on show at the ‘Bond In Motion’ exhibition at London Film Museum) to go under the water to avoid the bridge. No doubt the underwater scene was shot in the studio but it was classic Bond with him slyly finding a moment to adjust his tie!

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The bridge, which opened in 1990, is located at Millwall Inner Dock and Crossharbour Station on the DRL Line is technically the closest station though many of the other stops on this line are in close proximity too. I actually walked from Canary Wharf which is three stops away!

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From there the chase proceeds along Ornamental Canal (below) at Wapping Lane where he soaks a couple of traffic wardens at the right-angle bend as they motor on towards the purposely built canoeing clubhouse.

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A brief detour on tarmac and then its back on the water as the scene comes to a climax in Greenwich at the Millennium Dome (below) as it was known then. These days its sponsored and is called the O2 Arena. Sadly, my photo below is a rather poorly scanned photo which I took back in 2005. 

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Not quite London, but Luton is near enough to the nations capital for its airport to have been re-named London-Luton in 1990 to re-emphasise the airport’s proximity to London……and if it’s good enough for them then it’s good enough for Tokyo Fox!! So with that in mind let us remind you that Luton Hoo, Hotel, Golf & Spa (also used in ‘Eyes Wide Shut‘ and ‘Four Wedding’s And A Funeral‘) in Bedforshire was actually used to portray the interior of Electra’s Baku palace in Azerbaijan.

Click here to see 15 ‘fake’ Bond filming locations.

After that, the action moves on to a few places including Turkey where the Maidens Tower (below); a tiny islet off the coast at Uskudar, is where ‘M’ (Judi Dench) is taken prisoner.

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Bonus: London has of course regularly appeared in many Bond films and is the true home of 007. It made a brief appearance on 15 minutes in ‘Quantum Of Solace‘ (2008) when Daniel Craig’s Bond is driven into the entrance of a high rise apartment (below) belonging to a deceased double agent where he and M realise the extent of the mysterious organisation. The flats are called The Water Gardens and they’re on Burwood Place close to Edgware Road tube station.

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The city of London featured extensively throughout the awesome follow up ‘Skyfall‘ (2012) which you can see in detail here.

For other London filming locations click on the links below:

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace    Trainspotting    Mission: Impossible    Lara Croft Tomb Raider    The Bourne Ultimatum   Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone   James Bond    About A Boy    Quadrophenia    Bridget Jones’s Diary    Goodnight Sweetheart    Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels    Basic Instinct 2    Batman Begins/The Dark Knight    The Italian Job    Snatch    Rom-Com Special    Skyfall    Notting Hill

‘Bond In Motion’ Exhibition

One of the things I really wanted to do whilst I was back in the nations capital was to visit this exhibition at London Film Museum in Covent Garden. With no-one else interested in going with me it was just a question of finding some time to myself to visit this fairly pricey place (£14.50 entry), and thankfully that opportunity arose the day after we returned to London from our mini trip back to my hometown.

This museum boasts as having the largest official collection of original 007 vehicles and is the largest display of its kind ever staged in London. The majority are loaned from the archive of EON Productions who produce the movies and the Ian Fleming Foundation who have located and restored many of the vehicles.

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The ticket sellers at reception advise you to start upstairs on the upper mezzanine that features some examples of the production company’s concept art and storyboards which was interesting enough but it’s downstairs where the real excitement exists as that’s where you can see the vast collection of vehicles representing almost all of the 23 Bond movies thus far.

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Each and every vehicle thankfully has a large TV screen next to it looping the moments it was seen in the film which is a great idea and really adds to the occasion as it isn’t too easy remembering the role each car, motorbike or whatever played in the movie.

There are about 50 James Bond vehicles on display and below are a selection of them:

Skyfall (2012): Honda CRF250R – The motorcycle which Bond rode through the streets and bazaars of Istanbul as he chased an assailant in the films pre-title sequence.

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Quantum Of Solace (2008): Aston Martin DBS & Montesa Cota 4RT – The former was heavily damaged after a chase at the beginning of the film in Siena, Italy. The motorcycle was rode through the streets of Haiti which in reality were filmed in Panama.

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Casino Royale (2006) – Aston Martin DBS V12 – A product placement deal with Aston Martin was probably the main reason this one featured on screen. The car only features a spare gun and a defibrillator and was destroyed during Bond’s pursuit of Le Chiffre.

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Die Another Day (2002): Aston Martin V12 Vanquish – The infamous car possessing a rather silly gimmick; the ability to effectively become invisible at the push of a button.

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The World Is Not Enough (1999): Q’s Retirement Recreational Boat – The boat which Bond rode along the Thames, and even under it, in hot pursuit of an assassin.

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Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): BMW R1200C & BMW 750iL – The stolen motorcycle was ridden through the streets of Saigon with Bond and Wai Lin handcuffed together. The car was remotely controlled by Bond during a chase inside Brent Cross shopping centre car park in London which doubled up as ‘Hamburg’.

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The Living Daylights (1987): Aston Martin V8 + Cello Case Sled and case – The combination of 007 and Aston Martin were reunited for Timothy Dalton’s first outing as the double agent.

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A View To A Kill (1985): Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II & Renault 11 2XE – Bond is driven around in the impressive Rolls whilst the Renault features in an early car chase as 007 pursues an assassin through Paris at high speeds whereby it loses its roof and manages to  jump onto and off a sight-seeing bus.

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Octopussy (1983): Acrostar BD-5J Jet & the auto rickshaw – This mini-folding jet was  originally owned by Budweiser and can be seen exiting a horse-box. The latter was driven through the streets of Udaipur with Bond as a passenger rather at the controls.

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): Lotus Esprit S1 – Q delivers this special submarine car to Bond in Sardinia. It is equipped with anti-aircraft missiles.

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Diamonds Are Forever (1971): Honda ATC 90 ATV & Ford Mustang Mach 1 – The dune buggy that went after Bond whilst the car is owned by Tiffany Case and during theLas Vegas chase it manages to balance on two side wheels to drive through a narrow alley although it mysteriously exits on the other two wheels in one of the great 007 movie goofs.

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You Only Live Twice (1967): “Little Nellie” – the aircraft flown by Bond to try and locate Blofeld’s hidden rocket base from the air. The weapons include two fixed machine guns, rocket launchers, heat-seeking missiles, rear-firing flame guns and aerial mines.

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Goldfinger (1964): Rolls-Royce Phantom III & Aston Martin DB5 – The Rolls was  owned by Auric Goldfinger and driven by Oddjob; one of the great Bond villains. The Aston Martin prototype has appeared in many Bond films but with slightly different number plates.

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There’s a photo opportunity allowing you to don a tuxedo (top half only) and recreate the gun barrel scene which features in all the movies. This could be pretty cool but £8 for something that could just as easily be done online for free was not worth it in my eyes!

There’s a cafe and souvenir shop beyond the main gallery which you need to pass through to exit the place. The cafe is surrounded by a few artefacts as well as a GoldenEye pinball machine and the gift shop is a place like no other with just about every conceivable product having the ‘Bond In Motion’ label on it. Needless to say that the 007 fans were lapping it all up!

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The London Film Museum is open 7 days a week from 10am and is located at 45 Wellington Street in Covent Garden. It is open for the rest of this year.

The London Film Museum in County Hall on the Southbank closed at the end of last year.