Hot Fuzz at 10: Detective recalls research for hit comedy at Kentish Town police station
Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright went on a fact-finding tour in NW5 before filming began for cult cop film
16 February, 2017 — By William McLennan
The stars of Hot Fuzz and Kentish Town Police Station
WHEN Simon Pegg took on the role of PC Nicholas Angel – a hardened city policeman determined to solve a string of seemingly unrelated deaths in a sleepy Somerset village – it quickly became a cult classic.
But establishing a connection between Kentish Town and the hit satire Hot Fuzz is a case that has remained unsolved for a decade. Now, on the 10th anniversary of the film’s cinema release, the inspirational role of the Holmes Road police station can be fully revealed.
Before filming began, Stuart Lutes, who was serving as a detective sergeant with Holborn CID at the time, led Pegg and the film’s director, Edgar Wright, on a fact-finding tour of the station – with scenes lifted directly from their experiences with local officers.
Recounting the filmmakers’ visit in 2005, DS Lutes, who received a credit for his advisory role, told the New Journal: “We came across a CID department. I knocked on the door, opened it and there’s four or five guys in there in a fug of cigarette smoke. We’re all in the doorway together and I introduced them and said: ‘They’re making a new movie about the police.’ I was expecting them to get up and say: ‘Oh, Simon Pegg. Oh it’s nice to meet you.’ But they sat there and looked at me with no change of expression, without a word. I shut the door and just burst out laughing.”
Months later, at a West End screening ahead of the release in February 2007, DS Lutes was surprised to see the encounter with Camden CID replayed on the silver screen. “I was watching the film and in one scene the inspector is showing him [PC Angel] around and he opens the door up and lo and behold there’s these two insolent, obnoxious detectives in there and they look at him like he is the last thing on earth they wanted to see. I felt like jumping up and saying: ‘That’s my bit.’ I was so pleased,” he said.
It’s not the first time Camden has featured in a cult comedy created by Pegg and Wright, with hit Channel 4 series Spaced famously set in Carleton Road, Tufnell Park, in 1999.
Hot Fuzz, which came on the back of their success with Shaun of the Dead in 2004, boasted some of the leading names in British cinema, with Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Steve Coogan and Cate Blanchett all making an appearance within the first few minutes. DS Lutes, who retired in November after 30 years with the Met, including a stint with the murder squad, said he had at first feared that police themselves would be the butt of all jokes. “I was naturally paranoid they were going to take the piss and make us look stupid.
As it turned out it was one of the best adverts the police could ever have. It is affectionate, funny, witty and warm,” he said. “If you are a police officer there’s a lot of in-jokes for you to enjoy. The village where Simon Pegg gets sent is called Sandford. When you do a promotional exam, they set the questions in this fictitious town called Sandford. It’s crammed with stuff like that.”
DS Lutes, who fact-checked a draft script before filming began, said: “I won’t watch police drama, because it will wind me up. I know it’s for dramatic effect, I get it, but I like things to be just so. “Hot Fuzz was very much like that, apart from the sea mine in the evidence room. “It’s got a lovely mixture of being factually accurate and really absurd as well. I’m really proud to have my name on the credits.”