Once notorious for things like the Kray twins and generally being the rough end of town, East London now sees vegan fried chicken (“chicken”) shops with a side of gentrification next to classic institutions that we hope will never leave.
From its flower markets and antique ballrooms to grimy old boozers that have seen more than you can cram into at least three generations, it’s one of the city’s favourite playgrounds. Which means it makes for good TV, too.
Noel Clarke (Kidulthood) and Ashley Walters (Top Boy) seem to agree, as the London natives have chosen it to be the setting of their new buddy-cop drama, Bulletproof.
In the pair’s first project together (despite knowing each other 20 years), they’re seen as two best mate cops with very different stories but the same values.
As Pike and Bishop, Clarke and Walters tear through the East End fighting the kind of guys you don’t want to bump into on the way home, becoming embroiled in a case they had no idea would consume their lives and challenge their friendship.
Inspired by the newest TV venture into the East, we’ve rounded up all the best spots you may have seen on your screens but definitely need to visit.
In the Thirties, when Gandhi (apparently a West Ham fan) visited London, it’s said he sat in the Boleyn Tavern, had a cream soda and did as Londoners do - talk politics and football.
The pub sits on Green Street in Newham that forms the border between West Ham and East Ham, which is why it was the namesake and setting for Elijah Wood’s titular football hooligan movie in 2005.
In real life, it’s the antidote to London’s shopping malls, full of independent businesses and stalls within a large Asian community.
Which we all know is hungry work, so make sure you head to East Ham High Street afterwards to indulge in some of the best South Indian food in London. If it was good enough for Gandhi…
The Boleyn Tavern, London, E6
The Royal Oak
You might know Columbia Road for its famous Sunday flower market, where you can get beautiful, fresh flowers for a reasonable price (even more so after 3pm).
But what you should know it for is the main pub on the road, The Royal Oak.
It’s the kind of pub that serves up puy lentils with its pints and has a garden courtyard, but it was also used in the 1990 movie, The Krays.
It also featured in a scene in Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, where Rory Breaker (Vas Blackwood) sets fire to a guy for asking him to turn the volume down on the football. The nerve.
Dans Le Noir
We’re not expecting you to recognise this place on its visuals, because Dans Le Noir in Farringdon is where you eat your food in pitch black surroundings.
So not much to go on.
But if you’ve been in the kind of emotional hangover state where you’ve just put something on to sleep to instead of watch, you might have seen About Time with Domhnall Gleeson - which is actually a terrible choice when you’re in said state because it’s emosh and will play with your heartstrings. No chance of shuteye, high chance of tears.
From that, you’ll recognise Dans Le Noir as the place where Gleeson first meets Rachel McAdams and is desperately trying to track her down after a meal there.
The Old Truman Brewery
You don’t really need much of an imagination to think Brick Lane could be the host to any scene you could conjour up. Drunk city boys? Check. Confused tourists? Check. Yelling restauranteurs? A-plenty.
We’d say you’ve probably got a murder mystery in there somewhere.
But it’s the rooftop of the Old Truman Brewery (rather than ground level Brick Lane) that’s host to Danny Boyle’s Trance - in which James McAvoy uses his position as an art auctioneer to help steal a multimillion pound painting, but gets hit on the head, forgets where he’s put it and then has to delve deep into his own psyche to try and find it.
Think The Thomas Crown Affair meets Inception.
The brewery is used as a club rooftop in the film, where there is a 6ft cockroach seen crawling over the city.
That view of the iconic East London skyline is yours too if you head to an event at the brewery. Minus the giant roach.
Head to the East End with Bulletproof on Sky One, starts Tuesday 15 May.