Against stiff competition, spy drama Killing Eve looks set to be the feistiest and funniest TV drama this autumn, and probably of the year. An all-woman love-hate affair between a frustrated MI5 operative and an unstoppable international assassin, it’s an abundance of riches: a hugely accomplished cast, a witty and snappy script from Fleabag auteur Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a slinky soundtrack from trip-hop maestro David Holmes, and costumes, camerawork and art direction producing Netflix results from BBC budgets.
Then there are the locations, zigzagging across Europe, from London greasy spoon to Moscow jail. No Big Ben or Eiffel Tower establishing shots here: the idea is to see everywhere from the locals’ point of view and ground an otherwise cartoon-size story, so, as Waller-Bridge puts it, ‘It was very important that it was slightly dismissive.’
With that in mind, much of Killing Eve was shot on location, starting with Paris, home to assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer, last seen in Doctor Foster). Her apartment is placed in the ever-chic and pricey 6th arrondissement. Though the interior was rebuilt in a London studio, we see her walking in off Rue Guénégaud and Rue Mazarine into a classic courtyard block. Later she confronts her handler Konstantin (Kim Bodnia, of The Bridge fame) among the 18th-century galleries of Place Vendôme (pictured above), but otherwise we only see her on the streets or the Metro.
For London, home to her MI5 pursuer Eve (Sandra Oh, star of Grey’s Anatomy), the locations are like a tour of the capital’s quirkiest hidden gems. Her grubby office is placed in Warwick House Street, a forgettable side street around the corner from Trafalgar Square, where the sight of Nelson’s Column gives a perfect hiding-in-plain-sight frisson. When she leaves the office, we move to Guy’s Hospital in Southwark, where the warped-metal siding of its modern-art ‘Boiler Suit’ contrasts with the checker-paved 19th-century cloister of the Counting House block.
Eve meets her husband in the Mildmay Club, a wood-panelled working mens’ club in Stoke Newington (as seen in Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicleseries), and joins up with colleagues in a pub that crosses the exterior of The Albert in Victoria Street, a Grade-II-listed Victorian survivor, with the dark-wood interior of The Old Nick in Sandland Street. More all-English atmosphere is provided by Episode 4’s countryside chase that takes in the picturebook Buckinghamshire village of Turvilleand the Chiltern Hills around Ivinghoe Beacon