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Alexandra Palace in 150 years of John Lewis advert

Date posted: 01.05.2014

Using no less than 22 London locations John Lewis is back with another blockbuster advert - this time celebrating its 150th birthday. And where better to shoot a snow-covered sledging scene in late April than the capital's own Alexandra Palace?

It wasn't just the green hilly slopes that were transformed by Blink Productions for the ad, they also built a tree house, and re-created Blitz-era London. 

Blink Productions crew members spray snow on Alexander Palace park to prepare it for a John Lewis advert

Moving with the Times

The location brief for the commercial required 24 shots at different locations, 22 of which were within the M25. With the London part of the shoot being filmed over the course 7 days, this proved to be quite a challenge.

Shots in the advert didn't just span locations; they also had to represent different decades – a task Alexandra Palace proved to be particularly helpful with.

Initially selected for two scenes running from sledging in the 1930s to the same hill on a contemporary sunny day, the location ended up supporting five set ups making the most of all that it has to offer:

  • Victorian houses on the grounds provided the backdrop to a scene from WW2 which finds a family running down their garden and into an air-raid shelter.
  • The kids playground gave the setting for 1970s scene of a child on a slide
  • One of the Park's trees provided the perfect place to build a tree house and shoot a scene of idyllic childhood

As Location Manager and Director of The Location Partnership & Amazing Space Eddy Pearce explains: "The opportunity that Ally Pally gave us to shoot five very different locations all with quite complex camera moves in essentially one contained area helped the location and schedule juggling act enormously."

All-encompassing location

Blink Productions crew set up Alexandra Palace for the latest John Lewis advert

As the crew filming the advert can testify, Alexandra Palace is not only visually stunning, but is also well equipped to afford the practicalities of a big shoot. Lucy Fenner, Head of Client Sales at Alexandra Palace, rightly describes it as an "all-encompassing location".

The location offers:

  • Ample space for a unit base
  • A liaison service with the residents to ensure minimum disruption and maximum communication

Fenner found the experience of working with the production team very positive and enthuses, "The team worked hard late into the night to ensure they captured the perfect shot and ensured throughout that our beautiful parkland was maintained."

Due to the excellent preparation leading up to the shoot and the openness of Alexandra Palace to fully engage with the production at the planning stages, Pearce says, "For me it was a very stress-free location and I'd have no hesitation in recommending it to other productions."

Alexandra Palace

An historic building set in 196 acres of parkland, Alexandra Palace offers stunning architectural features, two large, well-proportioned halls and a range of smaller rooms as well as a Victorian theatre. It blends Victorian splendour with modern technology.

The grounds showcased by this advert are one of the largest open spaces in North London, with fantastic views across the city from the highest points.

Additional leisure facilities include

  • Ice Rink
  • Phoenix Pub
  • Boating Lake
  • Children's Playground
  • Animal Enclosure
  • Conservation Area

Internal features include:

  • Victorian conservatory with exotic palms (Palm Court).
  • The Great Hall — Victorian decor with glass rose window and grand Henry Willis organ.
  • The Londesborough room has the atmosphere of Italian Renaissance with dramatic Cinalli murals of Samson.
  • The Palace Suite boasts hand-painted murals of three-dimensional Italian courtyard. 

There are also long corridors; marquee; external staircases; traditional pub; canteen with alcove seating and spacious toilets.

Other productions that have shot here include: Hereafter; T-Mobile; Coldplay video; My Gay Wedding the Musical.

For filming at Alexandra Palace, please contact:

Sophie Varnava

Sales Support Executive
T: 020 8365 4314 | E: Sophie.Varnava@alexandrapalace.com

About Blink Productions

Launched in 1985, Blink Productions is an award winning British commercial production company. Based in London, it is recognised as one of the most exciting places for creative talent and has been named Production Company of the Year at the 2014 Creative Circle Awards. Frequent collaborator and acclaimed commercials and music video director, Dougal Wilson, worked with Blink Productions to put together this celebratory advert for John Lewis. Alongside a Grammy nominated music video for Coldplay, Wilson has also helmed the recent John Lewis commercial for Insurance as well as the Christmas campaign, The Journey. His sci-fi-themed commercial for Lurpak is also currently airing.

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