London Underground in popular culture

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The London Underground has long provided inspiration in various areas of popular culture.

Film and television[edit]

Filming is now managed all over the system but most commonly takes place at stations like Aldwych (a disused tube station), formerly on the Piccadilly line, or the non-operational Jubilee line complex in Charing Cross. The Waterloo & City line has occasionally been used for filming as it is closed on Sundays.

The London Underground Film Office handles over 200 requests a month.

  • The 1928 film Underground, directed by Anthony Asquith, is a drama about a love quadrangle which begins on a tube train and continues in Waterloo station.
  • The 1929 film Blackmail features a cameo by director Alfred Hitchcock as a passenger on a tube train.
  • The 1953 film The Yellow Balloon directed by J. Lee Thompson. One of two young boys accidentally falls to his death when playing in a bombed-out London neighbourhood. The climax takes place deep within the Tube at the fictional Western Road station.
  • The 1967 film Quatermass and the Pit (U.S. title: Five Million Years to Earth) revolves around alien bodies and spacecraft being discovered in the fictional Hobbs End tube station.
  • The 1968 Doctor Who serial The Web of Fear is set in the tunnels of the Underground and deals with an invasion by robotic Yeti. In the 1974 Serial Invasion of the Dinosaurs, "Operation Golden Age" has its secret base hidden at the Trafalgar Square tube station. In the 1986 serial The Mysterious Planet, the Doctor and his companion discover an underground civilisation in the ruins of Marble Arch tube station on a future Earth. The 1992 spin-off novel Transit shows a future Tube that has evolved to connect human colonies throughout the solar system.
  • In the revived series, the aforementioned episode is alluded to in the episode "The Snowmen" where the Doctor fights the Great Intelligence once again, and mentions the London Underground as a 'key strategic weakness', possibly setting into motion the events of "The Web of Fear".
  • The 1968 film Séance on a Wet Afternoon features a chase scene, featuring shots of several stations.
  • The 1968 film Otley, directed by Dick Clement, features a standoff between Tom Courtenay and Leonard Rossiter on the deserted Central line platform at Notting Hill Gate tube station.
  • In the film adaptation of The Bed-Sitting Room, a satirical play by Spike Milligan and John Antrobus released in 1970 based three years after the nuclear holocaust, survivors wander amidst the debris of London and live in the remains of the London Underground.
  • In The Adventures of Paddington Bear, the episode "Paddington Goes Underground" takes place in the underground where Paddington along with Mrs. Brown and Judy visit the underground and Paddington gets separated from the females in it. The related 1975 series also has an episode of the same name.
  • There is a subgenre of horror based on subterranean humans living in disused sections of the London Underground and preying on any unlucky commuters they find. These include the 1972 film Death Line and 2004's Creep.
  • The secret lab in the 1970s TV series The Tomorrow People was in a disused Underground station.
  • In the 1981 film An American Werewolf in London, Tottenham Court Road Underground station is among the many London landmarks where the titular werewolf attacks.
  • The 1987 film The Fourth Protocol features a double agent being followed on the Piccadilly line between Hyde Park Corner and Green Park, although shot on the Jubilee line between Charing Cross and Green Park. Later in the film, Michael Caine takes his vengeance out on two racist yobs who are causing disruption in the carriage in which he is travelling, this scene being shot on the Aldwych branch.
  • According to Kevin Kline's character Otto in the movie A Fish Called Wanda, the London Underground is a political movement.
  • The 1992 film Split Second, the London Underground is flooded with water due to the rising sea levels. Rutger Hauer and Alastair Duncan's characters are hunting a creature that has murdered people.
  • The 1998 film Sliding Doors shows two parallel universes, hinging on whether the central character (Gwyneth Paltrow) catches a particular Tube train or not.
  • The 1999 film Tube Tales features nine stories based on true-life experiences of London Underground passengers
  • The James Bond film Die Another Day (2002) features the fictional Vauxhall Cross tube station, which having become defunct is used by MI6 as a secret base..
  • Although most of the 2000 film Billy Elliot takes place during the 1984–1985 UK miners' strike, its epilogue takes place in the modern day, a fact presaged by the appearance of the Jubilee Line extension at its start.
  • In the 2002 film 28 Days Later, two of the characters use a sweetshop in the Underground station at Canary Wharf as a hideout in the early part of the film.
  • In the 2006 film V for Vendetta, Aldwych is used for some of the scenes in the film.
  • The Good Shepherd (2006) and Atonement (2007) include scenes shot at Aldwych.
  • The 2007 ITV thriller series Primeval featured the Underground in the second episode of the series. In it, a time anomaly leading to the Late Carboniferous period opens and releases giant extinct insects such as Arthropleura and an unknown species of spider.
  • The 2007 Sky3 documentary series "The Tube" use the London Underground in all of their episodes, including the London Underground depot (21 July 2007) and the London Transport Museum (28 July 2007)series liaise
  • In episode 5 of series 10 (aired 2007) of Top Gear, the team raced across London. The Stig took the Underground from the start point of Kew Gardens to the finish point at London City Airport. He took the District line and the DLR.
  • The 2008 feature film Three and Out, starring Mackenzie Crook, is centred on a London Underground driver.
  • The James Bond film Skyfall (2012) features an action sequence in which a villain is pursued into the tube network. It was Charing Cross tube station and on a substantial set recreation at Pinewood Studios.
  • The 2013 film Thor: The Dark World featured a quick scene in which Thor finds himself teleported into the Charing Cross station.
  • The 2014 television series 24: Live Another Day featured scenes in the London Underground where Jack Bauer chases Simone Al-Harazi from Kennington tube station to Waterloo tube station in episode 3.
  • In the 2014 series 3 of the BBC's Sherlock, the episode entitled "The Empty Hearse" (the first episode of the season) focuses on a potential terrorist attack that occurs in the London Underground. Throughout the episode, the Underground/Tube is mentioned numerous times, and the lead characters—Sherlock and Watson—are seen walking into the Westminster station near the Palace of Westminster to stop a potential bombing on Guy Fawkes Day (November 5).

Although not "filmed" as such on the Underground, there have been two animated children's television series set on and around it. The first was Tube Mice, a 1988 series concerning the adventures of a group of mice living on the Underground. The second was the 2006 series Underground Ernie, set on a fantasy version of the network and featuring a friendly Underground supervisor and his talking trains. There was also a 2004 animated short, also called Tube Mice, about mice who keep the Underground in order.

The Tube has also been used for many other major films including Bridget Jones' Diary I & II, the Harry Potter series, Code 46, Agent Cody Banks II, Love Actually, Bourne Ultimatum, to name just a few, as well as BBC dramas such as Spooks and Hustle, and the film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

Video games[edit]

  • In the 2011 first-person shooter game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, British SAS commandos chase a hijacked underground train through the tunnel system from Canary Wharf, ending up at Westminster station. This mission entitled Mind the Gap caused controversy due to its similarities with the 7/7 terrorist attacks in London in which 3 explosions occurred on underground trains across London. The Jubilee line is currently the only Underground (excluding DLR) line to run through Canary Wharf. This line also runs to Westminster however this section is entirely underground, whereas the mission 'Mind the Gap' includes some overground sections.
  • A level in Tomb Raider 3 is set in the disused Aldwych station.
  • The external architecture of many stations in central London are accurately rendered in The Getaway, including the surviving fragment of City Road station.
  • The internals of Holborn tube station is also used in the sequel, The Getaway: Black Monday.
  • A miniaturised version of the underground is featured in Midtown Madness 2.
  • The Underground features in the RPG Hellgate: London as an underground labyrinth in a demon-occupied London. The train stations are considered the only safe havens in the game, where the character can shop, stockpile on supplies, upgrade equipment, seek healing by a medic, gather information, and receive/complete quests.
  • The level "Underground Uprising" in The World Is Not Enough, where James Bond must rescue hostages and defuse a bomb.
  • Shadow Man features a level set in Down Street tube station where Jack the Ripper lives.
  • In the 2012 video game ZombiU, a part of the underground is used as a safehouse by the survivors.
  • A website group by the name of TubeWorld are attempting to recreate the Northern line in the popular block-building game Minecraft.[1]
  • In Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror, Nico escapes from the British Museum by entering a disused Underground station for the museum, then changing a signal light red in order to cause a train to stop and board.

Art[edit]

The Great Bear by Simon Patterson in 1992 was a modified Tube Map. "Adapting the official map of the London Underground, Patterson has replaced the names of stations with philosophers, actors, politicians and other celebrated figures. The title The Great Bear refers to the constellation Ursa Major, a punning reference to Patterson's own arrangement of stars. Patterson playfully subverts our belief that maps and diagrams provide a reliable source of information. "I like disrupting something people take as read", he comments." (from the entry by the Tate Gallery)

Music[edit]

  • The title track of Waterloo Lily, by English progressive rock band Caravan, refers to the Piccadilly line and its representative colour as "piccadilly blue".
  • The Who's song Who Are You included, "I took the tube back out of town" and "I staggered back to the underground."
  • Nick Drake's song Parasite included, "Sailing downstairs to the Northern line, watching the shine of the shoes."
  • Duffy wrote a song about love set at Warwick Avenue station on the Bakerloo line. Lines in the lyric include "meet me by the entrance to the tube" and "it's departed, I'm broken hearted"
  • Amateur Transplants has written and performed a song, also called "London Underground", which deals with many of the gripes commuters encounter while taking the Tube. This has also been incorporated into a flash animation.
  • Paul Weller of the band The Jam wrote the song "Down in the Tube Station at Midnight".
  • Cry, the second single from Alex Parks, features scenes from Charing Cross and Green Park stations in its video.
  • The system features heavily in the video of Howard Jones' hit "New Song"
  • The 1950 song The Underground Train written and performed by Lord Kitchener describes the practical difficulties faced by post-war Afro-Caribbean immigrants to London in understanding the complexities of the tube network.
  • The song Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks features the line, "Millions of people swarming like flies round Waterloo Underground".
  • Donovan's song Sunny Goodge Street, on the album Fairytale, opens at Goodge Street Station.
  • UK 60s band Mood Reaction had a hit with the song "All Change For The Bakerloo Line" as did The New Vaudeville Band with "Finchley Central", both using tube station names in the title.
  • Before renaming themselves Edwards Hand, the late-60s pop duo made up of Rod Edwards and Roger Hand went by the name of Piccadilly Line.
  • The inner cover of the album Modern Life is Rubbish by Blur features a painting of a dejected looking Blur sitting inside London Underground 1983 Stock with its famous spring grab handles hanging from the roof.
  • The song Clark Gable by The Postal Service contains the line "I was waiting for a cross-town train in the London underground when it struck me".
  • The song Lean On Me I Won't Fall Over by Carter USM contains the lines "Causing chaos and delay on the underground" and "Stuck in a tunnel on the Hammersmith & City line". [1] The Final Comedown by the same group contains the lines "I've looted and I've begged / on the tubes of The Bec and Broadway". [2]
  • The song Dirty Epic by Underworld contains the lines "All I could see was Doris Day/in a big-screen satellite/disappearing down the Tube hole on Farringdon Street."
  • The Bloc Party song Waiting For the 7.18 appropriately declares the Northern line as "the loudest."
  • The video for the Feeder single Suffocate was filmed in Monument station
  • The intro to the song "Deadwing" by Porcupine Tree features a synth line played over ambient noise recorded from the London Underground. At 0:35, it is possible to hear the phrase "Mind the gap" in the background before the guitars start playing.
  • The Mika song Blue Eyes contains the lines "Your heart got broken, On the underground, Go find your spirit, In the lost and found."
  • The video for the Suede song Saturday Night was filmed at a disused Piccadilly line platform at Holborn station.
  • The video for The Prodigy's Firestarter song is filmed in an abandoned tunnel on the Aldwych branch of the Piccadilly line.
  • The closing track of Belle & Sebastian's album The Life Pursuit is called "Mornington Crescent".
  • The song Fifty Two Stations by Robyn Hitchcock states that "there's fifty-two stations on the Northern line". The correct number is actually fifty.
  • "A Poem on the Underground Wall", a song about a graffiti artist in the Underground, was featured on Simon & Garfunkel's Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.
  • 853-5937, a 1987 single by English Pop group Squeeze contains the lyric "She's in Mill Hill, I'm in Bermondsey, it's the end of the Earth on the Northern line".
  • The New Vaudeville's 1966 song "Finchley Central" begins with the lyrics " Finchley Central is two and sixpence from Golders Green on the Northern line / And on the platform, by the kiosk / That's where you said you'd be mine " and the final verse follows with "At Finchley Central, ten long stations / From Golders Green, change at Camden Town"
  • The song "Circle Line" by Fish, from the album 13th Star.
  • Madness' album cover for their second album "Absolutely" was taken outside Chalk Farm tube station.
  • The video for the 2013 song "Booyah", by Dutch record producer duo Showtek, shows the video's main characters entering Finsbury Park station before boarding a Metropolitan line train.
  • The Feeling have an album called Twelve Stops and Home, which refers to the journey on the Piccadilly Line from Leicester Square to singer Dan Gillespie Sell's home in Bounds Green. The album contains a track called Blue Piccadilly, also about the tube line.
  • The Punk Rock band Tubeway Army, led by Gary Numan based their name on the tube line.

Literature[edit]

Legends[edit]

There are reports of the London Underground being haunted. Some of the most famous ghost stories include Anne Naylor, who was murdered in 1758 and is said to haunt Farringdon Station. Her screams are said to be heard, by passengers, as the last train leaves.[2] Actor William Terriss, who was stabbed to death in 1897, is said to haunt Covent Garden tube station, although the last reported sighting was 1972.[3] Tube drivers report that the Kennington Loop on the Northern line is haunted. Bethnal Green tube station is another station believed to be haunted, and the screams of women and children can be heard from the stairwell and ticket hall. It is believed that this is because of the 173 people crushed to death in the stairway during World War II.[4] The now closed British Museum tube station was reputed to be haunted by the daughter of an Egyptian Pharaoh, Amen-Ra, which would appear and scream so loudly that the noise would carry down the tunnels to the adjourning Holborn tube station.[5]

Other[edit]

  • The Underground is featured the board games Scotland Yard, The London Game, Tubefun, and On the Underground, as well as in Thomas De la Rue's card game Lobo.
  • A parody game relating to the Underground is Mornington Crescent.
  • One Stop Short of Barking - Uncovering the London Underground - a humorous guide book to travelling on the London Underground includes popular cultural references, history and tube etiquette.
  • A less-advisable game is the Circle line pub crawl, involving alighting at each station, visiting a pub, then travelling to the next.
  • A false facade hides Underground tracks from view at Leinster Gardens.
  • There is a Guinness World Record for visiting all London Underground stations in the shortest time, informally known as the Tube Challenge.
  • Derren Brown Ghost Train is a dark ride attraction that use virtual reality, motion simulation, special effects, live actors and grand illusion. Riders rode in a Victorian-style train carriage suspended in mid-air by iron chain inside a Victorian warehouse. Although the train is Victorian, it has an interior of a modern London Underground train. But in the middle of the ride, the carriage is now a modern London Underground train in a modern tube station.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]