In the history of cinema, films of all genres have taken place in the United Kingdom’s capital city. Naturally, this includes a number of films aimed at children and families with stories that range from the fantastical to the heartwarming. These films can also be a good way to introduce your kids to the city before you travel there, and they can excitedly point to iconic buildings and film locations when they see the real places. We’ve identified several live-action family movies set in London that you can watch together, and if you have any we didn’t include, you can share them with us in the comments.
Our first entry is a timeless story that represents one of a number of Disney animated films that got live-action remakes. Starring Jeff Daniels and Joely Richardson as Roger and Anita with Glenn Close as Cruella de Vil (not to mention Hugh Laurie and Mark Williams), the 1996 adaptation makes sure to show off enough shots of London to let you know the story takes place there. From St. James’s Park to Trafalgar Square, there’s plenty of London scenery to take in throughout the film’s runtime.
Paddington (1 & 2)
A more recent addition, the Paddington films have represented some of the best adaptations of Michael Bond’s famous character. Plenty of important locations in London are featured in the first film, including of course, Paddington Station. In both movies, the Browns’ home can be found on Chalcot Crescent in Primrose Hill. A quick Google search can help you identify all of the locations if you want to visit them while in the city, but of course you’ll need to visit the train station where it all started and get a picture with the bronze sculpture of Paddington himself.
Bedknobs & Broomsticks
Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a history lesson wrapped in a magical adventure. At the onset of the London Blitz, three children are sent to live with Angela Lansbury’s character Miss Eglantine Price, who unbeknownst to them is a very real witch. In addition to some magical adventures, the children visit London during the Battle of Britain and Miss Price helps to fight a Nazi invasion of her village. Disney certainly has a fascination with London and this is only the second movie on this list from the studio that takes place in the city, so you can also watch this if you have Disney+.
Mary Poppins (and Mary Poppins Returns)
Across the decades, both the original Mary Poppins with Julie Andrews and the sequel with Emily Blunt present a London at two very different points within its history. The first takes place prior to WWI and heavily features the women’s suffrage movement (of which Mrs. Banks is a member) and the second takes place during the Great Depression (and features a grown Michael struggling to keep his family’s house). While both films made heavy use of sets, there are many Georgian townhomes lining London’s streets that look just like the Banks residence.
The Great Muppet Caper
Although you can watch this film on Disney+ as well, it was made long before the Muppets were a Disney property. The basic premise of the film is that Kermit and Fozzie are identical twins (it’s a running gag) who are reporters visiting London to cover a story. There they end up hooking up with the rest of the Muppet cast and stumbling on a jewelry heist scheme. Of course, the film offers plenty of great establishing shots of Trafalgar Square, Tower Bridge, and so on. You can also visit the exterior of the Happiness Hotel where most of the cast stays which is at 134 Westbourne Terrace in Paddington. Who says you have stay on a soundstage when filming puppets?