Northampton Square: Home of Ewan McGregor and Michelle Williams

17 Jul

When starting Lights, Camera… Islington! a few months ago, I made the conscious decision to concentrate on the borough. In doing so I was aware that I would only be mentioning a few scenes from each movie. Three, four or five at best with movies such as Happy-Go-Lucky, Notes on a Scandal or Fever Pitch, more often than not just the one. What I had not anticipated was to find a full length feature movie shot primarily in Islington, and where most scenes were filmed around one square or within yards from it!

Despite boosting a promising cast (Michelle Williams, Ewan McGregor and Matthew Macfadyen), and being directed by Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones’s Diary), Incendiary (2008) did not hit the headlines.

In fairness, the subject and the timing (the 7/7 London bombings still fresh in people’s mind), probably did not help. Based on a book of the same name, Incendiary depicts the aftermath of a suicide bombing at a North London football ground on a May Day derby game.

A young unhappy and adulterous wife (Michelle Williams) lives in a big estate with her husband and kid. Her life is torn apart when they are both killed by a suicide bombing during an Arsenal football game while she was with her lover, Jasper (Ewan McGregor), a journalist.

Islington appears on screen from the first moment: the opening shot showing huge blocks of flats before descending towards smaller houses. We are in Northampton Square and the blocks of flats are part of the Brunswick Estate.

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 01

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 02

Incendiary - Northampton Square - MRX

However, probably for contract reasons, in the film, when the young mother meets Jasper for the first time, she says that she lives at the Wellington estate.

Him: Are you from around here?

Her: Over there, the Wellington estate.

Him: That’s right opposite me. I can see the Wellington estate from my place.

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 20

Indeed, the two of them live around Northampton Square hence why many scenes are shot in this specific area of Islington.

At various stages of the movie we can spot the path and row of garages leading to Northampton Square. For example. coming back from shopping or when heading towards the Arsenal Football Club game.

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 07

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 08

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 11 Incendiary - Northampton Square - MRX 03


Emberton Court, where the family leaves, is easily recognisable thanks to the mosaic by the entrance:

 When Jasper comes to visit her,

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 13

when Terrence (Matthew Macfadyen), her husband’s boss, comes to meet her after the accident or, again,

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 12

when the young mother looks for her son, convinced he is still alive.

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 18

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 19  Incendiary - Northampton Square - MRX 04

Similarly, Northampton Square features a number of times in the movie:

When she sees Jasper getting home late with a date from her window although, technically speaking, she could not possibly see his front door from her flat!

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 04

When Jasper gets into his car parked on Northampton Square,

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 03

and when her husband and kid on the way to the game stop to look at Jasper’s car.

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 09

Incendiary - Northampton Square - MRX 06

When she talks to Jasper on her way back from shopping, and when she leaves, we can recognise the bandstand in the centre of Northampton Square and the red structure of City University.

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 10

Incendiary - Northampton Square - MRX 09

The final scene is also set up on Northampton Square. This time from another angle, where City University stands in for an hospital. Jasper is seating on a bench while behind him a direction sign has been put up and extras in nurse uniform walk.

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 21

Incendiary - Northampton Square - MRX 11

Finally, when he stands up and starts running the camera zooms out and we can see the square quite clearly.

Incendiary - Northampton Square - FILM 22

A lot happening within a small perimeter as you can see. As for Ewan McGregor’s character, I am not sure he did study journalism at City University. Interestingly I believe the director, Sharon Maguire, is a City University alumni and did a postgraduate in journalism there!

Fade Out

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Northampton Square EC1V 0HB

Angel Tube Station (Zone 1)

Many buses to Goswell Road and St John’s Street


Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX(at) or via Twitter

3 Responses to “Northampton Square: Home of Ewan McGregor and Michelle Williams”

  1. mr July 17, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    McGregor and Williams had an affair in real life whilst doing that film

    • The Unbelievable Mr X July 19, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

      Ah, ah, ah…Now we’re talking – Maybe I should start a “Behind the scene / Gossip” column 😉 Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for your contribution!


  1. Michelle Williams spotted in St John’s Street | Lights, Camera…Islington! - August 14, 2014

    […] they both live around Northampton Square, it is almost normal that another scene, an everyday one for that matter, ended up being shot […]

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