Have you spotted the SOAS Library in The Crown? | SOAS in films & TV

To celebrate the SOAS Library’s 50th birthday, we have compiled a list of films and TV shows where you can spot our famous library on screen.

The SOAS Library is a star in its own right. Not only is it recognised as one of the world’s most important collections for the study of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, but its impressive Brutalist design adds some cinematic flair to the screen.  

That’s why for its 50th birthday, we have pulled together a list of films and TV shows that feature the library. So, get some popcorn, sit back and get ready to shout, "I go there!" to anyone who will listen.

1. The Crown (2016–2023)

You won't miss this one: the ever-impressive span of the inside of SOAS Library is the opening shot. The season 5 episode ‘No Woman’s Land’ tells the story of the infamous BBC interview between Princess Diana and Martin Bashir. Here, the journalist Bashir, who has somehow managed to secure a desk in an aisle, is looking up newspaper clippings of the princess and cramming for his interview.

A scene in The Crown of Prince Charles and Princess Diana looking concerned and off camera.
The Crown, Season 5. Photo Credit: Keith Bernstein

If there was a following season, perhaps another study scene could be filmed; The SOAS Library has a vast collection of resources critically engaging with the legacy of colonialism and imperialism. Well, the doors are open.

2. Last Night in Soho (2021)  

In this gripping thriller directed by Edgar Wright, we follow Eloise, a first-year fashion student living in a bedsit in Soho who time-travels back to the 1960s and discovers a dark past.  

This film is great for spotting sights near campus - keep an eye out for Anya Taylor-Joy walking in the SOAS precinct.

As she becomes more determined to find out what happened, she heads to the SOAS Library to search the (fictional) archives. This late-night study session turns into a nightmare as she runs down the labyrinthian aisles, haunted by visions of ghosts in suits. All in a day’s studying.

This film is great for spotting sights near campus - keep an eye out for Anya Taylor-Joy walking in the SOAS precinct. But we wouldn't recommend watching it before going to sleep.

3. Criminal (2016)  

A bit of a box office flop, this action thriller has a stellar cast, including Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman.

But most importantly, it features Kevin Costner storming into the SOAS Library reception, demanding to know where the George Orwell collection is. Fourth floor, apparently. The librarian didn’t tell him about our Special Collection, though. Shame.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Matt Smith in a scene of Last Night in Soho.
Last Night in Soho. Photo credit: Universal Pictures.

4. Lockwood & Co. (2023)

In the world of Lockwood & Co., there is an epidemic of ghosts bringing death by touch, but only children can sense them. So, a young psychic investigator, Lucy Carlyle, joins London's smallest ghost-hunting agency.

Lockwood & Co. need to do some research about the deadly spirits plaguing London; Where better than the SOAS Library? But, unfortunately, their research session is rudely interrupted by a sword-fight stand-off. 

5. Bodyguard (2018)

From the creator of Line of Duty, Jed Mercurio, the Bodyguard tells the story of war veteran and police sergeant David Budd, who is suffering from the impact of PTSD and gets caught up in the murky world of politics. In the season finale, a stand-off occurs in Woburn Square Gardens, right next to SOAS. 

Technically, the scene shows the Phillips Building, but we know the library is there, so it still counts. But be warned: you may need to watch the scene twice. It's hard to focus on the action when you're staring at the building behind him and shouting, "I go there!".

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of SOAS Library, a new exhibition, A Concrete Solution: 50 Years of the Philips Building, has opened on the ground floor. It's free and open to the public from 25 September to the end of December 2023.