The Establishing Shot: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy The Circus Blythe House Film Location

Monday, February 13, 2012 Craig Grobler 0 Comments

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy LocationLast night Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won the BAFTA for Outstanding British Film and Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan won the BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay as well as Mr John Hurt or Control won an Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema BAFTA.

To commemorate this occasion - this week I bring you a closer look at Tomas Alfredson's version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy 's The Circus.

In John le Carré's books The Circus overlooked New Compton Street and Charing Cross Road and believed to be based at 90 Charing Cross Road overlooking Cambridge Circus from whence its name came from The Circus. Although the description is more well suited to the Palladium Theatre across the road with it's salt and pepper pot look outs.

For Tomas Alfredson's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy an altogether different location was chosen for The Circus as it was relocated to West Kensington a more discrete location for the shadowy SIS offices.

Whilst all the interior shots for The Circus were done on a set in former army barracks in Mill Hill, North London the exterior of The Circus is Blythe House in Kensington Olympia, West London. You can read more about how the team went about designing The Circus here:

Blythe House is the former headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank and now used by The Science Museum to store a large part of their collections.

The Establishing Shot: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - Inside The Circus Featurette

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Set in the 1970s,  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy finds George Smiley (Gary Oldman), a recently retired MI6 agent, doing his best to adjust to a life outside the secret service. However, when a disgraced agent reappears with information concerning a mole at the heart of the Circus, Smiley is drawn back into the murky field of espionage. Tasked with investigating which of his trusted former colleagues has chosen to betray him and their country, Smiley narrows his search to four suspects - all experienced, urbane, successful agents - but past histories, rivalries and friendships make it far from easy to pinpoint the man who is eating away at the heart of the British establishment.

In Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy the grand façade of Blythe House is used for the establishing Shots of The Circus.

In a couple of scenes, senior members of The Circus can be seen meeting and having a cigarette on the roof of The Circus. Close to the salt and pepper pot look-outs. In these scenes you can see Earls Court and Olympia are exhibition halls, which can actually be seen from the roof of Blythe House.

In a couple scenes the agents of The Circus can be seen leaving or arriving at The Circus and going through an external security gate. Most noticeably when the disgraced Control (John Hurt) and George Smiley (Gary Oldman) leave The Circus near the beginning of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and walk passed the elderly lady in the window.

This is actually Gate A of Blythe House which was slightly altered. You can actually see the 1961 on the gate which is in the film.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy The Circus Slideshow

The Circus, Blythe House
Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, W14, London United Kingdom

View The Establishing Shot Film Map in a larger map

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons.

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Writers: John le Carré (novel), Peter Straughan (screenplay)
Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Poster
Image: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Poster

The Establishing Shot: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy The Circus Blythe House Film Location