The Sweeney: London's starring role in movie remake

Ray Winstone in The Sweeney
Image caption London's streets play a pivotal role in The Sweeney's action sequences.

The Sweeney is arguably the biggest British movie of the year with a star-studded cast and spectacular London locations, according to city film bosses.

Ray Winstone and Ben Drew star as Regan and Carter, the cop duo, in this big screen revamp of the classic 1970s TV series.

London's streets play a pivotal role in the movie's action sequences.

But filming car chases and shoot-outs in the capital posed major challenges for the film-makers.

Real locations

Director Nick Love wanted the film to feel authentic and decided to use actual locations, where possible, rather than studio sets.

"We needed approval from the authorities to do a full action sequence in the middle of London," says Love.

The biggest shoot-out sequence was filmed in Trafalgar Square, the first time this iconic location has being used for a movie gun battle.

Image caption The shoot-out in Trafalgar Square had to be filmed in a single day

"We spent a year trying to convince and impress Westminster Council," the director said.

Originally, the scene was to be shot in Oxford Street but was changed to Trafalgar Square after the film's production was delayed.

The film's modest £2m budget meant the scene could only be filmed once.

"It didn't help that we were setting the action sequence in an impossible location and filming it in one day. You don't get a second pop it at," explained Love.

Classic style

Actor Ben Drew (aka Plan B) also felt "the enormity" of shooting in one of London's busiest iconic locations.

"lt felt special as did the fact that it was something no one had done before," he said.

Modernising the visual style of the 1970s TV programme presented another challenge for the film's production team.

Image caption The Sweeney's visual style is 'post-modern' and 'sexy', says Nick Love

"I always thought that the only way to make it was to make London look post-modern," said Love.

"The London skyline is sexy and cinematic. I wanted it to look stylish, classic and slick."

Other locations featured, include the Thames waterfront and the Gherkin in the City of London, which can be seen from the Flying Squad's new HQ.

Reinventing Regan

For London-born Winstone, his role of Jack Regan was a great opportunity to reprise the part played by John Thaw in the 1970s TV version.

As a young actor he had a small role in the third TV series of The Sweeney in 1976.

Image caption Ray Winstone enjoyed reinventing the role of Regan with new sidekick Ben Drew

"I was lucky enough to work with John Thaw," he said. "He was a fantastic actor. He was an icon. You think, how do I follow that?

"So, I had to reinvent the role of Regan with a modern-day take."

After doing that, Winstone enjoyed the role so much he says he would welcome making a sequel.

"I'd jump at the chance to do it again," he said. "Turning up to do this every day was a pleasure."

Love agrees: "It was definitely special. It's one of the few iconic British brands. It has legacy.

"It's been a real privilege to make it."

The Sweeney is now on release in UK cinemas.

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