Bed Sitting Room, The

Date: 1969
Director: Richard Lester
Production Company: Oscar Lewenstein Productions

Stars: Ralph Richardson, Rita Tushingham, Mona Washbourne, Marty Feldman, Arthur Lowe, Michael Hordern, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Spike Milligan, Harry Secombe, Roy Kinnear
Location(s): Cornwall, Dorset, London, Northamptonshire, Surrey

Region(s): , , ,


A handful of peculiar characters struggle on with their lives in the ruins of a post nuclear holocaust England.

Additional Information:

Screen captures by Phil Wilkinson

Originally published on 13 June 2012

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Three or four years after the end of a two and a half minute long nuclear war, lights flicker on an automatic train as it continues to run on the 'Circle Line' of the London Underground. This is Aldwych station on the Piccadilly Line.

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Taken during a visit to the station in 2014 with thanks once again to David and Christian from TfL for arranging it. This shot was also used in 'Death Line'. (RL)

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The train comes to a halt as the Electricity Man (Henry Woolf) stops pedaling his generator when he falls asleep.

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In what remains of London, the twenty or so surviving members of the population go about their bizarre business.

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To read out the last news, the BBC District Visiting Announcer approaches the abode of Captain Bules Martin. These china clay pits are near St. Austell in Cornwall advises Stephen Smith.

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Mate (Spike Milligan), the last GPO* employee, looks up from digging in a pile of dentures and old boots. *GPO, the General Post Office, operator of postal and telephone services in 1969.

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In flashback, the news bulletin tells of the Prime Minister (Bill Wallis), a caricature of Harold Wilson, arriving at the film's No. 10 Downing Street following the 449th Disarmament Conference.

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Interviewed by The BBC Announcer (Frank Thornton), Lord Fortnum of Alamein (Ralph Richardson) shows off his ‘early warning hat’ outside No. 11 Downing Street.

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Back in the present, the driverless tube train continues around the ‘Circle Line’. The platform at Aldwych station on the branch from Holborn.

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Taken during a visit to the station in 2014 with thanks once again to David and Christian from TfL for arranging it. This shot was also used in 'Battle of Britain'. (RL)

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As the train comes to a stand, Mr. Frereton (Arthur Lowe) dashes out to obtain chocolate for a family meal. The partly obscured sign reads ‘Way Out and to Temple Station, District Line’.

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While getting out to look for his daughter in the next car, the doors close on Mr. Frereton before he sits down to await the train’s return. Opened in 1907, the Grade II listed Aldwych station closed in 1994.

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On the ravaged surface, rusting vehicles line the route of a former roadway as Lord Fortnum speaks with a Patient (Gordon Rollings) sitting in the back of an ambulance.

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Mr. and Mrs. Frereton (Mona Washbourne), Penelope Rose Frereton (Rita Tushingham) and boyfriend Alan (Richard Warwick) leave their home on the Circle Line. Confirmed by Stephen Smith as being Aldwych station on the Piccadilly Line.

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The train that has been their home for years departs from the station. Aldwych station features in many productions including ‘Creep’, ‘Death Line’, ‘The Black Windmill’, ‘Prick Up Your Ears’, 'V for Vendetta' and 'Tube Tales'.

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The young commuter asks Mr. Frereton where they are going as the family make their way from the platform. The lower lift lobby at Aldwych station.

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Almost the right angle, taken during a visit in 2014. With thanks once again to David and Christian from TfL for arranging that visit. (RL)

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Mr. Frereton breaks into a left luggage office where the family are able to obtain some luggage. Stephen Smith recalls filming taking place here, on platform 4 at Wood Lane station on the Central Line. The station closed in 1947 and all traces of this platform were removed by 2006.

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Carrying a large trunk, Mr. Frereton and Alan lead the women from the platform. The corridor at the west end of platform 2 at Knightsbridge station in London SW3.

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The same location, captured at 0932hrs on a Saturday morning. (PW)

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Mrs. Frereton and her seventeen months pregnant daughter get onto the escalator ahead of the men. Knightsbridge station on the Piccadilly Line.

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Panning right from the gate. (PW)

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The up escalator running to the corridor that leads to the Brompton Road exit of the station on Hans Crescent in SW3.

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With thankfully few passengers to spoil the shot. (PW)

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The moving stairway conveys the family from the safety of the Underground. Knightsbridge station opened in 1906 and has been altered over the years before being significantly upgraded in the late 2010s.

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A blurred view from the opposite escalator. (PW)

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At the top of the escalator, the Frentons and Alan fall onto a bleak and devastated landscape. The location for the escalator was within the Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir which was under construction at the time of filming.

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The last remnant of the National Health Service, Nurse Arthur (Marty Feldman), peers through crooked binoculars across the blasted terrain. The structure in the top left distance is the Valve Tower that stands between Knight and Bessborough Reservoirs off Hurst Road, Walton on Thames in Surrey.

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As an eerie night falls across the country, Lord Fortnum desperately tries to reach Belgravia before mutating into a Bed Sitting Room.

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Captain Bules Martin (Michael Hordern) finds a hat as he digs for shelter.

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After asking Mr. Frereton if he can call on Penelope, Captain Martin walks away from an isolated barber's chair after a 'courting' haircut from a Rubber Fetishist (Roy Kinnear).

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The Captain views the Bed Sitting Room at 29 Cul de Sac Place, Paddington as accommodation for Penelope and himself. Stephen Smith informs that this four sided set of The Bed Sitting Room was constructed on Chobham Common in Surrey.

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Having proposed to Penelope, the Captain and his fiancée, her father and boyfriend wait at St. Paul’s Cathedral for the Vicar (Jack Shepheard) to arrive. Stephen Smith advises that Chesil Bank in Dorset was where this third scale model of St. Pauls’ dome was constructed.

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After failing his virility test, Bules Martin visits a saloon bar / car wash where the ambulance Patient, the Fetishist and Morris the Chauffeur (Ronnie Brody) relax while the BBC serves drinks. Weldon near Corby in Northamptonshire located by Stephen Smith.

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Captain Martin and Mr. Frereton dispose of the trunk after learning that the Police Inspector is searching for it as part of a murder investigation.

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As Nigel (Jimmy Edwards) finds his friend Bules, the Police Inspector (Peter Cook) is lowered from his balloon before announcing that clouds of poisonous nuclear fog will no longer be necessary and that a cure has been found to prevent further mutations. Chobham Common identified by Stephen Smith.

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In a brighter world amidst blooming flowers, Alan and Penelope sit on fresh grass with Sergeant the dog and their new born baby as the BBC leads the Army (Ronald Fraser), the Patient, Morris and Mate as they follow carrying a nuclear bomb.

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At the end of the film, the National Anthem is played for Mrs. Ethel Shroake (Dandy Nichols), the late Queen's former charwoman and closest in succession to the throne.