Aldwych tube station, formerly known as Strand, was built in 1907 as an offshoot of the Piccadilly Line. Because the branch is entirely self-contained, and was always closed at weekends, it has long been a popular location for film and television companies wanting to film on the Underground.
The station closed to the public in 1994, but it has been reasonably well-preserved, and for £1000 an hour (not including the use of a train) you can bring in your own film crew.
Thanks to Transport for London’s Film Office, I recently had a look around. We were shown the defunct lift shafts that spelled the station’s doom when their repair bill was deemed uneconomical, and then we descended the winding spiral staircase.
Aldwych’s remaining platform is used to test mock-up designs for new signage, tilework and advertising systems. The walls feature replicas of posters from decades gone by. The trackwork and infrastructure remains in good condition, and a train of ex-Northern Line 1972 tube stock is permanently stabled on the branch, which can be driven up and down the branch for filming and to keep the trackwork in good repair.
We walked through the train used in V for Vendetta; we peered into the tunnel used for The Prodigy’s Firestarter music video; and we imagined the wave of water through the corridor as depicted in Atonement (where Aldwych stood in for Balham station). That water, we were told, was CGI; film crews are expected to leave the station as they found it. Which isn’t always easy – goodness knows how the film crew for Creep cleared up after releasing hundreds of real rats into the empty lift shafts!