film / People

No Stranger to Croydon

2 May 2024

I would just like to say, how lucky are we to have the David Lean Cinema? Seriously, there’s always something decent on and recently we’ve been treated to incredible Q&As with the likes of Tilda Swindon, Joanna Scanlan (patron of the cinema), Anjana Vasan (think Killing Eve, Black Mirror) and now director, Andrew Haigh.

The David Lean Cinema recently celebrated Andrew Haigh’s film ‘All of Us Strangers’ with a special screening including a Q&A with the director himself, Joanna Scanlan and British writer and Guardian film critic, Peter Bradshaw. Aside from there being a Q&A, what made this screening extra special is that the director spent part of his childhood in Croydon and much of the film was also shot here.

The film ‘All of us Strangers’ is a modern ghost story. It is a film about grief, loneliness and our need to understand the past, to revisit it and have those conversations we always wished we could have had. If we could go back, what would we say? What would we feel?  It’s about how even as adults we’re still children and need love, care and to be understood. It is clever, gripping, haunting and raw. It does not shy away from topics of homophobia and addiction but ultimately it is a story about love.


With the incredible cast of Andrew Scott, Claire Foy, Jamie Bell and Paul Mescal, expect to be taken on an emotional rollercoaster. This is like no other ghost story that you will have seen before. There’s no woman in white, ghoulish music or grand stately homes here, which leads me onto the Croydon setting.

As mentioned, Andrew Haigh grew up in Croydon. His old family home in Sanderstead is one of the main sets for this film. Our lead character, played by Andrew Scott, visits his old childhood home and reconnects with his parents as ghosts. At the Q&A, Andrew retells how they selected this location.

‘I didn’t expect to go and shoot in that house, but every time I was thinking of a childhood home all that came into my mind was my own childhood home. I lived there from about 2 to 8 years old I guess. But it was so imprinted in my mind and so when we were talking about locations I thought, why don’t we just go there and have a look at it.’

There is a moment in the film where the lead character lifts up a photo from his childhood outside the house. This is actually a real photo from the director’s childhood of him as a child with his mother.  Notice how spot-on the casting is, as Claire Foy looks just like Andrew’s real mum… just kidding, in the film Claire Foy’s face has been photoshopped in as a replacement.

Luckily the interior of the house was very much in the style of the 70s/80s so worked perfectly.

So what other local spots might you notice in this film? None other than the Whitgift Centre where Andrew takes his parents for a bite to eat. A place that they might have taken him as a child. The shopping centre sign is as bold as it is today and creates a nostalgic flashback to my own childhood of Saturdays spent in a similar shopping mall in East Ham (East London) with my mum.

The diner in the film is not a Croydon one but the shots around it are most certainly the Whitgift Centre. Other locations you might spot in there are roads such as Limpsfield and  Purley Downs as well as Sanderstead Recreation Ground, East Croydon Station, and Southern Trains commutes. It dips into Croydon throughout as well as venturing further into London.

It is a story of Croydon. A story of relationships. And another feather in the cap for Croydon’s rich film set history.

Thank you for highlighting, David Lean.

Check out all of the cinema’s screenings on their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The David Lean Cinema resides in Croydon Clocktower, Katharine Street, Croydon, CR9 1ET. 

Tickets are much more reasonable than chain cinemas, priced at £9.50 (Adults), £8.50 (Seniors aged 65 and over) with concessionary pricing at £5.00 for people in receipt of Pension Credit, Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Income Support or Job Seekers allowance, disabled people, students and those aged 25 and under.

All images courtesy of The David Lean Cinema, photographs © Peter G. Ball.

Posted by Angela

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