From The First Post to The World's End: A look back at filming of Simon Pegg movie in Welwyn Garden City
- Credit: Universal
On June 22, 1990, Gary King led his merry band of teenage mates on a mythical quest to drink a pint in every pub in their hometown of Newton Haven.
Starting at The First Post and ending a dozen pints each later at The World's End, this is the fabled 'Golden Mile'.
Sound familiar? It should be as this is the infamous pub crawl from sci-fi comedy The World's End, which was largely filmed on location in Welwyn Garden City and Letchworth, Hertfordshire, back in 2012.
The movie went on general release at UK cinemas eight years ago, a fact celebrated by both director Edgar Wright and star Simon Pegg with Instagram posts.
Despite appearing in the Mission: Impossible films as Benji Dunn, Scotty in Star Trek, Nicholas Angel in Hot Fuzz, and the titular hero of Shaun of The Dead, Pegg still picks the legendary Gary King as his favourite screen role.
Pegg posted a picture of himself in character on Instagram with the words: "8 years since The World’s End was released. Gary King remains my all time favourite role."
Rosamund Pike, who played love interest Sam Chamberlain in the movie, replied to Pegg's post with a reference to her character's toilets scene.
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"And you are so wonderfully brilliant in it Simon. So so funny and then then you go fathoms deep – and the effect is blinding.True and funny.
"Watching you create him up close was an absolute career highlight for me. And we’ll always have the disableds. X"
Edgar Wright posted a picture of Pegg in character on set during filming of the movie in Welwyn Garden City on morning, with the words: "#TheWorldsEnd was released in the UK, eight years ago. Long live, King Gary x"
Again, Rosamund Pike replied to Wright's post with the message: "Watching Simon create Gary King and you capture everything with your inimitable rhythm, wit and style was one of the most brilliant experiences of my career.
"I admired the whole darn thing so much, from the first read through to the final frame."
Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and directed by Edgar Wright, The World's End is the third in the so-called Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy after comedy-horror Shaun of the Dead and action-comedy Hot Fuzz, which was also partly filmed on location in WGC and Hatfield.
Just how far would a man go for a pint – to the end of the world, perhaps?
That burning question is explored in The World’s End, the final instalment in Pegg and Wright's 'Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy'.
A signature brew of camaraderie, knockabout humour, excessive quaffing, questionable life choices, hand-to-hand combat, the apocalyptic sci-fi romp had its London premiere eight years ago on July 10 at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square.
The tale begins in the fictional town of Newton Haven on June 22, 1990, as five lads in the prime of their teenage youth celebrate the end of school by attempting an epic pub crawl.
The group is led by Gary King – the younger version being played by Hertfordshire's Thomas Law, who was also Peter Beale in EastEnders.
Despite their enthusiasm and the downing of a slew of pints of beer, they fall short of seeing their quest through to the 12th and final pub on their list – The World’s End.
Twenty-odd years later, “the Five Musketeers” have each left their hometown and are now husbands, fathers, men with careers – with the exception of their voluble one-time ringleader, Gary King (Pegg).
A 40-year-old trapped at the cigarette end of his teens, The Sisters of Mercy fan Gary becomes hellbent on trying ‘The Golden Mile’ drinking marathon one more time.
He convinces estranged former best friend Andy Knightley (Frost), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) to stage an encore.
Filming took place in WGC in 2012, with residents regularly spotting Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and fellow cast members about town.
In the movie, the first four fictional pubs are in WGC, although not all of them are alehouses to this day.
Pub number one, The First Post, was filmed at the Pear Tree Inn.
The interior of the pub in Hollybush Lane was also used for inside of the gang's second pub stop at The Old Familiar.
This was to highlight the 'Starbucking' of their favourite drinking establishments.
The exterior of The Doctors Tonic in Church Road was turned into the fictional The Old Familiar pub.
Making the short walk to Howardsgate, the intrepid drinkers head towards The Famous Cock, where Gary King is already barred for life. The pub's name is a subtle reference to Gary King.
At the time of filming in Welwyn Garden City, this was actually The Cork but is now renamed Two Willows.
There's a blue plaque above the entrance to mark its big screen appearance.
The fourth pub on the route, The Cross Hands, was The Parkway Bar back in 2012.
This is now Turkish restaurant Misya Meze & Grill.
The exterior of The Parkway Bar, in Parkway, was even repainted green for filming, having previously been red and yellow.
While filming in Howardsgate, a large 'alien' statue that featured later in the movie was positioned on the green and the crew also filmed along Sir Theodore's Way, near to the former Debenhams store.
If you want to complete 'The Golden Mile' you'll have to travel to Letchworth, where the final eight stops on the pub crawl were filmed.
Locations include the Broadway Cinema, which doubled for the exterior of The Mermaid, and Letchworth railway station, which was converted into The Hole in the Wall.
The drinking binge also visits The Three Magnets among others, before finishing at The Gardener's Arms, now The Wilbury.
However, you will not find the inside of The Good Companions, the fifth stop on the pub crawl, in Letchworth.
Although a shop was used for the exterior of the pub, interior scenes were filmed at The Wenlock Arms in London.
Making the movie in his "local manor" was a joy for Pegg.
Speaking at the movie's press junket back in 2012, Hertfordshire-based Pegg said: "I love working abroad and it is always an interesting experience, but nothing beats getting home to your own bed.
"Certainly shooting The World's End I would be in my living room an hour after we wrapped. It just doesn't get better than that."
Of his character in the movie, co-writer Pegg said: “Edgar and I joked about how in reunion films like The Big Chill there’s a corpse because someone has died.
“In The World’s End, Gary basically is the corpse!
“When he first sees his old friends individually to talk them into doing ‘The Golden Mile’, it’s like they’re seeing a ghost from their past.”
The Mission: Impossible star added: “Actually, I do feel that Gary is a walking tragedy. He’s dyeing his hair black every two weeks.
“He’s clinging to his heyday of one night over 20 years ago, which was the pinnacle of his achievements.”