Cambridge Circus, London

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Coordinates: 51°30′48″N 0°07′45″W / 51.513295°N 0.129164°W / 51.513295; -0.129164

Cambridge Circus and the Palace Theatre

Cambridge Circus is a junction at the intersection of Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road in central London.[1] It is situated approximately halfway between Tottenham Court Road station (at St Giles Circus) and Leicester Square. Consisting of listed Georgian and Victorian buildings, the junction is home to a number of social and cultural institutions, including The Ivy (a restaurant popular with celebrities and artists) and the Palace Theatre.


The Palace Theatre is located on the west side of the junction, while The Ivy restaurant and a number of private clubs are accessible from the south of Cambridge Circus. The listed Georgian and Victorian buildings which make up the junction have featured in a number of espionage and spy films and books.[1]

In fiction[edit]

In his espionage novels, author John le Carré placed the headquarters of the fictionalised British intelligence service based on MI6 in buildings on Shaftesbury Avenue and Cambridge Circus;[1][2] it is from this that Le Carré's nickname for the agency, "The Circus", derives. The BBC's Gordon Corera notes that the entrance described by Le Carré most closely resembles that of 90 Charing Cross Road, just north of Cambridge Circus.[3] The actual MI6 has never occupied premises in or near Cambridge Circus.[3][4]

Cambridge Circus was the location of Marks & Co, booksellers, who operated from 84 Charing Cross Road, which featured in Helene Hanff's 1970 book 84, Charing Cross Road, which has subsequently been adapted into a stage play, a television play, and a 1987 movie starting Anne Bancroft, Anthony Hopkins, and Judi Dench. Hanff's book, as well as her other work The Duchess of Bloomsbury (1973), detail her several-decades-long correspondence by mail with Frank Doel, a bookseller at Marks & Co.

In the 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, the protagonist, Jamal, is asked to identify the location of Cambridge Circus while a participant on the Indian version of the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. He answers the 5 million rupee question correctly, based on his experience working in an outsourced call centre.[5]

Film locations[edit]

Cambridge Circus has featured as a location in the following productions:


  1. ^ a b c Christopher Howse (1 May 2007). "Exactly where is the Circus?". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 May 2012.
  2. ^ John Le Carré Call for the Dead
  3. ^ a b Gordon Corera (11 September 2011). "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: John Le Carre and reality". BBC News. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  4. ^ "Buildings". Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). Archived from the original on 4 July 2015. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Slumdog Millionaire". 112. Retrieved 20 October 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to Cambridge Circus, London at Wikimedia Commons