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Britain Is Only London

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"London isn't the world, Clarice. It just thinks it is."
John Constantine, Hellblazer

Ah, Great Britain. Rule Britannia: Land of the... Big Red Buses.

Are aliens landing in UFOs? They'll land in Hyde Park. Is there a neighbourhood full of world-class martial artists with superhuman powers? It's probably right off of Shaftesbury Avenue. Is there a mysterious gigantic cavern hidden just beneath the Earth's surface, wherein the Precursors created all life on Earth? There's probably a sealed tunnel in The London Underground that breaches right into it. Are you looking for The Leader of a secret den of werewolves? He's probably drinking a piña colada down at Trader Vic's.note  Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny? Wembley Stadium has front-row seats. A magical gateway between worlds? Look in the London Underground again — or keep your eye out for an out-of-place police box. Zombie Apocalypse or The Plague has broken out? The epicenter is in Neasden. A Kaiju on the loose who’s looking for her lost son? She’s probably rampaging through Piccadilly Circus right now.

In Hollywood, any characters visiting Britain will stop in one place: Central London. They'll catch a ride on those cool red buses, try to make the Guards at the palace laugh, get into a debate about whether it's fries or chips, and at some point meet the Royal Family. The Establishing Shot will show the Palace of Westminster, Tower Bridge, The London Eye, or all of the above to a brief Standard Snippet of "Rule Britannia" or the Westminster Chimes, just in case you weren't clear on the location. If the makers think they're being subtle, it will feature a red phone box, a red Routemaster Bus driving by, and a red-and-blue London Transport sign for one of London's major interchange stations like Liverpool Street or Kings Cross.

Despite the real-life London being 607 sq miles in area, the characters will never leave Central London (around 24 square miles), if they even make it more than half a mile from the river. London is just one city in England, which is itself just one of three countries (England, Scotland, Wales) that make up Great Britain, the largest island in the United Kingdom, which includes Northern Ireland, and lots of other islands (see Britain Versus the UK if you've just gone all cross-eyed). Hollywood England is a tiny place. It's an island, for trope's sake! While there may be a bit more to it than just London, it's not a whole lot more. If Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland cross their fingers and hope really hard, they might just make an appearance in the form of Scotireland. The Isle of Man and Channel Islands are just plain out of luck. Unless they come into play, the only other place in Britain is basically just a giant field outside London that is home to some sheep, a few cows, some supernatural monsters, a village, a couple of English manors, a castle or two and Stonehenge.

Hollywood England has only two accents; the "What-Ho, Old Bean" chinless twit one and the "Gorblimey Guvnah" Dick Van Dyke one. If it's a pirate movie set about two hundred years ago there's only the Dorset accent of Robert Newton; "Ahrr, Jim Lad!" See I Am Very British for examples.

This one is fairly understandable when you consider that London has been by far the biggest urban conurbation of the British Isles for the past millenniumnote  note , and for most of that period, it also was by far their most important political, economic and cultural centre. And London's importance extends beyond the British Isles, as for centuries it not only was the capital of England and later the UK, but also of The British Empire, and the world over people measure their geographical position and their standard time with reference to the Greenwich Meridian in London. As a European metropolis, London for several centuries could only be compared in its aggregate of size, importance, and influence to one other city: Paris. From a non-British point of view, London is exciting, overwhelming even, in its labyrinthine sprawl of streets and underground lines, in its mix of various British (Irish, Scottish, Welsh...) and foreign populations (e.g. South Asian and Eastern European). Most foreign travellers find what they want to see in an urban context on a trip to Britain within a 100m radius of the Houses of Parliament and they might not even be able to name a museum, gallery, theatre or store outside of it. It's not that they don't want to see more of the wider British Isles, but there they are usually interested in individual buildings (Canterbury Cathedral, Edinburgh Castle, the Cavern Club in Liverpool, etc...) and scenic areas in the countryside.

From the point of view of people outside London, it does not help that — whether they travel by air, ship, car or train — most foreigners come to the British Isles via London, and that the vast majority of UK film and television is made in or around London. The Beeb (and various film councils and what-have-you) are making a serious effort to change this, handing Doctor Who duties to the capable BBC Wales (although most stories set in the UK in its first three series were London-based) and bringing BBC Scotland's locally-popular sitcom Still Game to the rest of the country. ITV even got told off by Ofcom for not producing 50% of their shows outside London.note 

It also does not help that London as a whole really does tend to see the rest of the British Isles as an appendage of it, regarding everything outside the M25 (or beyond, at a push, the Watford Gap) as Mordor. Furthermore, Londoners, who are by and large comparatively sophisticated, liberal and cosmopolitan, think very differently from those in the North or in the small towns and countryside of England and Wales, something shown very clearly by the EU Referendum in 2016 — where almost all of England and Wales outside of the big cities voted to Leave, London voted by a two thirds majority to Remain. This has left a lot of Londoners very resentful towards their rural compatriots (who are usually stereotyped as ignorant, inbred bigots) and half-joking petitions for London to either declare Independence or join similarly pro-Remain Scotland (abbreviated as "Londependence" and "ScotLond" respectively) quickly gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures, cementing the ideas that a) London is a place unto itself, b) London and the rest of Britain enjoy a seething mutual hatred.note 

America's Flyover Country is a similar phenomenon, where all the money, power, movies and things you've heard of are on the coasts and rest is the people and space the coast-dwellers skip over by air travel. The comparison is especially apt when you reflect that London for the UK combines the functions of New York, L.A. and Washington, D.C. within the US.

Compare Britain Is Only England, Big Applesauce, Hollywood Provincialism, Canada Does Not Exist, Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe, Freestate Amsterdam, and New York Is Only Manhattan. France gets a very similar treatment with Gay Paree. A strange variation occurs in Irish media, with a huge number of productions set in Dublin. In New Zealand, the country's largest city, Auckland, tends to be used this way, if natural scenery isn't involved. Fictional depictions of the Soviet Union and Russia tend to be set in Moscow. The Spaghetti and Gondolas version of Italy typically (but not always) takes place in Rome. Contrast Aliens in Cardiff (where a small town or a mid-sized city is the primary setting) and Oop North (for British works set in northern England).

For a brief education to personally avert this trope, see Other British Towns and Cities. Don't confuse with the "London, England" Syndrome.

Note: A version of this trope is far Older Than Steam: P'tah was an Egyptian god; his temple in the city we know as 'Memphis' was known as 'Hwt-Ka-P'tah'. Impressed Cretan traders called that city by the same name, and eventually, all Greeks called the country the city was in 'Aigyptos' from which we get 'Egypt'—we call the country by the name foreigners gave to the city because they mostly talked about the temple in it.


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  • A series of TV adverts that have run at Christmas for four years running have gathered awards, critical acclaim and gushing coverage in national newspapers - despite the fact they have only ever been shown on TV in London and the South-East. Most of the country has not seen Heathrow Airport's annual heart-warming ads featuring the Bair family coming home for Christmas, but despite being what any other context would be dismissed as a parochial, regional, and local thing, have placed highly in industry votes for Britain's Greatest TV Advert. This possibly speaks volumes for Britain's advertising, TV and newspapers being based in London and metro-centred.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Averted in Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the important bit of British action took place in Scotland.
  • For the most part, it's averted in Hellsing. Until the Big Bad Millennium fully enters the series, we have action taking place in an undisclosed British suburb, an abandoned factory and warehouse in Badrick, Ireland, outside the town of Cheddar (actual places), the Hellsing Organization, Britain's National Gallery, a hotel in Rio de Janeiro, and an undisclosed suburb of Brazil. Even when they reveal themselves fully, the fight afterward takes place in presumably the English Channel on a British ship taken over by Millennium. London is their main target and the last five manga volumes/OVAs take place there; clearly, this is not a case of generalization.
  • Death Note: Averted. The British characters all come from Winchester, and while the viewer isn't hammered over the head with it, a few visuals and spoken references seem to relate to the famous cathedral there. (Some animator, evidently confusing Winchester with Westminster, managed to shove in a shot of Big Ben anyway, but still.)
  • In Soul Eater, Maka, Soul, Tsubaki and Black Star fight Free for the first time on what appears to be Tower Bridge note 
  • Averted in Negima! Magister Negi Magi: while there is a brief period of time that Negi and co. are in London, they end up traveling to Wales. Some of their classmates do manage to find the first group from just wandering around London, but that's normal for Sakurako.
  • Princess Principal, as the opening exposition explains, takes place in Albion. This is apparently what London is now called, given its appearance and the "London Wall" dividing it into two mutually-hateful halves. The status of the rest of England never comes up. The only other location of import—showing another variant of this trope—is Casablanca.

    Comic Books 
  • An issue of Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! features a half-page shot of various giant egg-yolks that were attacking various cities around the world being dispersed of by the Bunny From Beyond. One of the cities under attack was "Loondon" (Earth-C's London), depicted by a shot of a guard standing in front of (Earth-C's) Buckingham Palace watching an attacking egg-yolk get disintegrated.
  • Millie the Model's pal Toni seemed to think Liverpool was just a short bus ride away from Buckingham Palace, as shown by this panel. Though in her defense, she wouldn't be the first tourist to be thrown off by the fact there's a Liverpool Street in London; it was probably once the main coach road towards Liverpool and the name stuck long after it ceased to be accurate. Either way, Liverpool is a good three hours away from London by rail at time of writing —probably closer to four hours in The '60s — and the better part of a day by coach.
  • This attitude is satirized in the comic strip The Critics in Viz. The Critics are completely ignorant of the UK outside of London, to the extent they sometimes don't seem aware it exists at all. Even when they are aware, they believe large cities such as Liverpool or Newcastle are small villages and are very snobby and condescending about them despite admitting to knowing nothing about them. And of course, on the rare occasions they venture outside of London, their attempts to "go native" by adopting various outdated rural stereotypes make them look like complete lunatics.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • After being attacked by a lycanthrope on the Yorkshire Moors, David Kessler is inexplicably transported to a hospital 300 km to the south, thereby becoming An American Werewolf in London. (An American Werewolf Oop North might not have been as easy to sell, even in Britain). They try and handwave it by implying he's suspected of having some weird and exotic disease that the nearest A&E wasn't capable of dealing with, but the process of getting him there is completely glossed over.
  • As pictured above, a sequence set in London in The Mummy Returns opens with an establishing shot that features Big Ben, Tower Bridge, and St. Paul's Cathedral all within a few blocks of each other. Anyone who's actually visited those places can tell you the problem there.
  • It's apparently due to this trope that the Amanda Bynes comedy What a Girl Wants has Colin Firth's character owning a country estate in downtown London. Roger Ebert's review of the film contains a priceless quote in which he commented that that kind of real estate would have to be "worth more than Rhode Island".
  • Across the Universe (2007)'s England-based scenes were set in (and for the most part filmed in) Liverpool, but then it is a Jukebox Musical based around the discography of The Beatles, so it isn't a bold choice of setting.
  • National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets has a sequence take place in London. It's justified by the plot, but the ensuing car chase makes no sense to anyone who's actually been there, or with any idea how bridges work (You can start a car chase going south on Westminster Bridge, but you will end up in Lambeth, not The City. And without crossing another bridge the whole time, you cannot finish that car chase by going south on Blackfriars Bridge.)
  • Trainspotting Has a montage of 'typical' London featuring pearly kings & queens, red buses, pigeons in Trafalgar Square, etc used when Renton moves to London. It's so over the top that it's probably a parody of this trope.
  • Discussed in Kinky Boots:
    Lola: I gave up the provinces years ago, and I've just been reminded why. Lola doesn't do north.
    Charlie: Northampton's The Midlands.
    Lola: No, Charlie, Tottenham Court Road is the Midlands!
  • Fully justified in A Royal Night Out since the events on which the film is based took place entirely in London. Done with a dash of realism though, as Elizabeth gets lost in the city—showing how big London actually is.
  • Lampshaded in Der Wixxer. One location (Blackwhite Castle) is described as "Not in London, but in England".
  • Subverted in the American-made film Save Rosemary, which features a British character as the sixth Rosemary. She's played by Sheffield native Sarah Elisabeth Flinton, who keeps her own accent, and shows off the scenery. The original plans were for her to be an expat in Australia, but because of this trope she lobbied to show off her native Yorkshire.


By Author:

  • Subverted in the English author Robert Rankin's comedy novels such as Raiders of the Lost Car Park and Nostradamus Ate My Hamster. All of them technically take place in Greater London except it's Brentford — one of the most boring, bypass-overshadowed suburbs in all of England. Of course, it's also where all the aliens land, the seat of the hidden king of the world, a virtual reality utopia, the only place in the world you can find the Perfect Pint (at the Flying Swan) and the real location of the Garden of Eden.
  • Peter F. Hamilton
    • Averted in the Greg Mandel trilogy where most of the action takes place around Peterborough. This is because Global Warming and the subsequent evacuations due to flooding led to a concentration of refugees in the city, and Britain's extreme left-wing government was forced to allow foreign investment to bring in jobs and alleviate the costs. Now the New Conservatives are back in power, the area has become the center of Britain's industrial restoration.
    • In The Night's Dawn Trilogy, Louise Kavanagh goes to London because she's unfamiliar with Earth, but as her planet is based on 19th Century England the name at least is familiar. However as the land outside the arcologies has been devastated by the armada storms and other ecological damage, it's likely that for all practical purposes the arcology of London really is all of Britain.

By Work:

  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Played with/discussed in The Amulet of Samarkand, when the magicians running the government whine about being forced to attend a conference "in some ghastly place, outside of London, can you imagine?"
  • Averted heavily in John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard's Chronicles of the Invaders YA novel series, in which the invading Illyri aliens make Edinburgh Castle their UK base of operations. There are significant forays into the Scottish highlands and Cornwall (specifically, the Eden Project), and a few key scenes take place in the north of England and the east coast of Ireland, but nothing important takes place in London even off-page.
  • It becomes clearer, as the Discworld develops more depth and detail, that the great smelly city of Ankh-Morpork is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of London. the City Mappe features a suspiciously familiar wiggly river with lots of Thames-like twists and turns. It even has an "Isle of Gods" in roughly the plae where the Isle of Dogs appears on London's map, and district names like Dimwell and Dolly Sisters echo locations in London, as do many street names note 
  • Mostly averted in Adrian Mole, the bulk of which takes place in Leicester in the Midlands. People from outside London often refer to everywhere else as "the provinces".
  • Harry Potter mostly averts this. It does feature London prominently as the Ministry of Magic is based there and so is Diagon Alley, where Hogwarts students buy most of their magical equipment. The safehouse in Grimmauld Place is located in Islington, which is a London borough. The train to Hogwarts leaves from King's Cross every year, making one wonder about the students who may live closer to the school (which Word of God confirmed was in Scotland). However, the main protagonists are explicitly from outside London: Harry was born in the West Country and raised in Surrey, Ron is from Devon, and Word of God states Hermione is from Oxford. The only Londoner in the cast is the minor character Dean Thomas (and if his support of West Ham is anything to go by, he's from Stratford in the East End).
  • Averted in Murderess, to some extent: while the James Centre Boarding School is next to London and its students visit London on their monthly days off on the town, Lu needs a few hours of riding the train south to reach London—in other words, she’s coming from Scotland. This seems like a narrow aversion, but most of the plot until Lu moves to Greywall’d takes place within the school anyway.
  • Night Watch (Series): Averted in Last Watch — the action takes place in Edinburgh. Of course, that's mostly tourist Edinburgh, but it's justified by the fact that Anton was following the case of a tourist.
  • This trope is invoked, embraced and gloried in by the Rivers of London series, whose second book starts with the sentence "It is a sad fact of modern life that if one drives long enough, sooner or later you must leave London behind."
  • Averted by Thomas the Tank Engine.
    • Two engines, Donald and Douglas are Scottish, another two, Duck and Oliver are from the West Country, and the writer assures people to see the trains in Wales. Of course, the writer is British, but still.
    • The stories take place on the fictional island of Sodor too.
    • Early "talking book" recordings of The Railway Series included a variety of engine accents: Gordon ends up coming from the North, James from Wales and Toby from the West Country (despite being a Great Eastern Railway engine).
  • Subverted in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. In the first few chapters, Thursday leaves London and returns to her hometown of Swindon, which remains the centre of events in the Outworld (real world) thereafter. In Something Rotten she visits the vast headquarters of the Goliath Corporation on the Isle of Man.
  • Averted and Lampshaded with knobs on in the Village Tales series. Not only does all the main action center on the West Country, but the side-actions also take in Oxford, Scotland, Salop, Worcs, Cheshire, Wales, and Westmorland. On the rare occasion that anyone goes up to London, it's practically at gunpoint, bitching all the way; and "London" is a metonymic toponym for everything that is wrong with the world. Even former Londoners now retired to rural Wilts have taken on the attitude.
  • Avoided in World War Z. British supreme command is relocated to Scotland. Conwy, Wales served as the base of the reclamation of Great Britain. The defense of Caerphilly Castle in South Wales is also mentioned.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A variant is shown in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where all London is central London, and the University of Greenwich is surprisingly, nowhere near Greenwich.
  • Averted on The Beverly Hillbillies of all places. They visit a castle in Kent, England in a few episodes.
  • Booth and Brennan never leave London in Bones “The Yanks in the U.K.”.
  • Averted on Doc Martin. Britain is London AND Cornwall.
  • Doctor Who shows that sometimes even British writers can fall into this:
    • The classic series had issues with this sometimes, but that was an Enforced Trope for logistical reasons. Location shoots in those days were expensive enough when they were only a few miles from the studios.
    • "Boom Town" averted this by having a hostile alien become mayor of Cardiff; when asked how she's getting away with it, since she's in many ways Obviously Evil, she goes on about how nobody in London would notice if Wales fell into the sea, then catches herself and realizes she's Going Native. (She probably has a point.)
    • Series 2 had over half its episodes set in London (four present-day note , two in a parallel present-day, one in 2012 and one in 1953).
    • Six out of the 13 episodes of series 3 take place in London and five in present-day London. This wouldn't be so bad if the characters didn't have the whole of time and space to travel in.
    • "Turn Left" averts this, starting in London but moving to Leeds after southeast England gets irradiated by a spaceship crashing into London.
    • Steven Moffat was particularly irritated by this trope's use in Doctor Who, which is why "The Eleventh Hour" subverts this as the out-of-control TARDIS arrives in central London after crashing from space and narrowly avoids colliding with Big Ben, but instead crash lands in a small English village in the garden of a girl from Scotland. The rest of Moffatt's first season only has two episodes set in London (the second also in two other parts of Britain), and a third with a brief (though important) scene there (respectively: "Victory of the Daleks", "The Big Bang", and "The Pandorica Opens"). Incidentally, Amy and Rory lived in London late in their tenure as companions, and the next companion, Clara Oswald, lived in London despite being originally from Blackpool.
    • Averted in the Doctor Who spinoff series Torchwood. Instead of London, the series is set in Cardiff, Wales. (This is partly because most of the filming for both Doctor Who and Torchwood is done in Cardiff anyway). This makes Torchwood the trope namer for Aliens in Cardiff.
    • Its third series splits its time between Cardiff and London (this is in part due to Her Majesty's Government's involvement), while its internationally-set, fourth series, Miracle Day, has its British scenes in Swansea, a nearby "overflow camp" in Cowbridge and a house somewhere in rural Wales.
  • Averted to some extent by Frasier. Daphne Moon is from Manchester, rather than London, and at least sounds like she's from somewhere in the north of England. Even if that somewhere migrates around a large geographical area.
  • Friends hung a lampshade on this with the character of Emily whose (British) uncle said she was from London, then corrected it to "Well, Shropshire...but you know..." (her actress Helen Baxendale is from Yorkshire, which is slightly further away). But of course when they go to England for the wedding, it's in London.
  • Averted in The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret , which takes place in Leeds.
  • Lampshaded on The Kevin Bishop Show. One of the characters is a camp American who opens a sketch by confirming where an English woman's from. She explicitly states she's not from London, and of course, he starts ranting about how he loves London. A likely inspiration is Truth in Television — see bottom of the page.
  • Played very straight on Law & Order: UK, which despite the explicit mention of the UK in its title, has had every episode set in London. What's especially bad is that the show's working title was Law and Order: London, making you wonder why the producers didn't stick with it, given what's turned out to be its setting.
  • Averted by Lost, which features several British characters from outside of London: Charlie and Naomi are from Manchester, Desmond is from Glasgow (and a Celtic supporter), and Charlotte was born in Essex and raised in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. Penny is from London though. Flashback scenes have been set in a variety of places around Britain, and in season four these were even filmed on location in at least two episodes.
  • The Once Upon a Time features two different worlds that are based off Victorian and Edwardian London to allow incarnations of Alice and the Darlings to appear (Word of God is that they are two separate worlds and not our one). Any other worlds that appear are a vaguer Fantasy Counterpart Culture of a general region.
  • Also averted on Married... with Children where the family goes to Upper and Lower Uncton, after the obligatory visit to London.
  • Averted with You, Me and the Apocalypse, in which Britain is only Slough, Berkshire.
  • Averted on RuPaul's Drag Race UK. In the first season, only three contestants were from London, while the others were from all over England, except Blu Hydrangea who hailed from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Blu talks about how things are culturally different over there, with Northern Ireland being more conservative and homophobic (during filming it had not yet legalized same-sex marriage, the last country in the UK to hold out), and how she sometimes felt like an outsider compared to the other contestants, all mainland Brits. In theory, Scottish and Welsh drag queens are also eligible to compete.
  • Played straight in Motherland. The series is set in a wealthy borough in South London and it's all we see.
  • Averted on Ted Lasso. The show is set in London, but it's in Richmond upon Thames, one of London's westernmost boroughs about 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Central London. Additionally, the characters are frequently shown traveling to the UK's other cities such as Liverpool for matches.
  • The first series of The Likely Lads, about the adventures of two young Geordie friends in Newcastle, was filmed for external locations... in East London. note 

    Music Videos 
  • Tori Amos' video for "Welcome to England". The Guardian ran with it in their MSTing.
    You know what that view says? It says: "WELCOME TO ENGLAND (You'll Find Most of It Outside London)".

  • In the British sci-fi comedy series Nebulous Lampshades this when the Big Bad (played by David Tennant) is asked why aliens only invade London. His response? "Isn't it obvious? For tax reasons!"
  • Mark Steel's In Town is an intentional aversion of this trope with each show coming from a different British town with a stand-up routine based around the town.
  • Radio DJ Andy Peebles remarked that when BBC Radio One opened up in 1967 as a dedicated pop music station, the BBC "did not do its homework". While the BBC was savvy enough to recruit its new broadcasting talent from the soon-to-be-defunct pirate radio stations, it did so only from those stations that served London and the South-East. Presenters such as Peebles, who had worked for a pirate station broadcasting to the North and Scotland, had to start all over again at the bottom. It took ten years and a stint on local commercial radio before the BBC noticed him and realised somebody with his deep and dedicated knowledge of soul music just might be an Asset.
  • Parodied and inverted in an episode of The Now Show shortly after the opening of the Media City complex in Salford, Greater Manchester. They began by talking about how the main news story was the snow, then said that where they were recording in Broadcasting House, London, it wasn't snowing, but that was typical of the Manchester-based news media.

    Video Games 
  • In the Fighting Game genre, almost all of the British characters with English-speaking voice actors (Dudley, Cammy, Ivy, Christie, Leanne etc) are ALL apparently from London (Ivy is specified as being so), or at least the South East, judging by their RP accents. Tekken's Steve Fox provides a variation (having more of a cockney accent in the English dub) but this still firmly pegs him as a Londoner.
  • With a few exceptions such as MacGregor, MacMillan, and John "Soap" MacTavish (all three of whom are Scottish), and at least one randomly generated soldier voice in Call of Duty 2 that has a discernible Northern accent, British characters from Call of Duty almost always fall under this trope, either being explicitly from London or having sufficiently non-distinct accents and/or backgrounds to leave the possibility open.
  • Command & Conquer:
  • Averted in Metal Gear Solid. Major Zero and Strangelove are from Exeter and Manchester respectively, although both play the accent part straight.
  • Despite being created by Scots, the only Grand Theft Auto games set in the UK are the two London expansions (London, 1969 and London, 1961) of Grand Theft Auto (Classic). Later games are all set in America but reference other parts of Britain in dialogue.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Assassin's Creed Syndicate is set in Victorian Britain with a heavy focus on its street gangs amidst the rampant industrialization and poverty affecting the rest of the country. The city which serves as the backdrop of the events that occur throughout the story? London, especially it's ever so prevalent criminal underworld.
    • Very much averted in Assassin's Creed: Valhalla where Eivor and the Raven Clan settle in a small English town known as Ravensthorpe which is located in the East Midlands region. Additionally, the cities of Norwich, Leicester, York, Winchester, and of course London can be visited by the player throughout the game.
  • Another example from the same developer of Syndicate is Watch Dogs: Legion which is about a near-futuristic version of London that is under occupation by the private military company Albion after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union and Scotland subsequently decided to secede and become an independent country.
  • In Mass Effect 3, the Reapers attack Earth en-masse. After Shepard assembles The Cavalry to retake Earth, the final part of the game is set in the war-torn streets of London. It also features some of the usual sights, like Big Ben, and even the odd telephone box. Now, unless they're there for tourist purposes, it's hard to imagine them having any real purpose a couple of centuries into the future.
  • The Getaway and its sequel The Getaway: Black Monday both avert this as they were handled by a London based developer. There was also a spin-off of sorts called Gangs Of London, which takes place all around the title city and has an in-game map that accurately depicts the names and locations of real-life streets.
  • London is featured less than you might think in the Professor Layton series. It's definitely the main place in Unwound Future and Mystery Journey, while also being one of the main playable locations in Azran Legacy; however, the good professor also visits other places in the other games like St Mystere, Misthallery, Labyrinthia, etc. Although he doesn't seem to visit any other real-life British places...
  • Averted in New Dynamic English where Max not only visits London but also visits Brighton to meet his friend John.
  • Averted in Forza Horizon 4 where the Britain setting is anything but London, but instead the playable location is set around the huge open lands around Edinburgh, and (part of) the city of Edinburgh itself.
  • Mario Kart Tour: Justified. Many of the debuting racetracks in this game are based on capitals of real-life countries (the only exceptions being New York Minute, Los Angeles Laps and Vancouver Velocity, since the capitals of USA and Canada are Washington DC and Ottawa respectively). So when it's England's turn, the course representing it is London Loop, which also features many iconic attractions like the Big Ben and River Thames. This also extends to the course's appearance in the Booster Course Pass of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.


    Western Animation 
  • Jem played this trope straight in the "Beauty & The Rock Promoter" episode. Subverted in "Britrock", which had the climax take place at a lord's mansion in Essex.
  • Monkey Dust had a memorable sketch about 'Curtis Land', a version of Britain based on the romantic comedies of Richard Curtis, actually a walled compound protected by massive barbed wire fences, searchlight towers, and armed guards, where everyone is either posh or a Cockney, living in unrealistically well-appointed flats with no visible means of support, obtained by carting off or killing all the coloured people.
  • A tongue-in-cheek version: in an episode of Phineas and Ferb, we open on an establishing shot of the family in the back of a taxi cab in England somewhere, and Lawrence, the (British) father, hangs his head out the window, to say, "Ah, London, there's Big Ben, the White Cliffs of Dover, Buckingham Palace, Stonehenge..." with jumpcuts to the respective landmarks when he mentions them. Phineas sticks his head out the window and comments, "London's gotten a lot smaller since we were here last..." Cut to a shot of all those landmarks in the space of a single city block.
  • Family Guy:
    • One episode has Peter's favourite bar replaced by an English pub ("British" and "English" are used interchangeably and the pub has the Union Flag on the wall); all the new pub-goers are toffs or Cockneys. A subplot of the episode is a My Fair Lady parody in which Stewie attempts to change the accent of a Cockney child so she can become toff-esque.
    • "Patriot Games" sees Peter transferred to a London American football team.
    • "Road to Europe" has Stewie and Brian visit the set of a BBC programme in, of course, London.
    • "Road to Germany" has Stewie drives a submarine into London and remarks that he's reached England.
    • One episode featured Andy Capp as a guest character for a quick joke. Both he and his wife speak with Cockney accents. This is actually a common mistake when Andy Capp is referenced in non-British media (it features Northerners, y'see...).
    • In "Stewie, Chris & Brian's Excellent Adventure" the Titanic is shown departing from London, when in reality it departed from Southampton.
  • The Simpsons go to London in the episode "The Regina Monologues". When they arrive at the airport they are greeted by then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair (voiced by himself) who welcomes them "to the United Kingdom" and says "there's so much to see here: Parliament, Stratford-on-Avon, the White Cliffs of Dover, oh, and you Americans love castles — there's a huge one in Edinburgh, the city where I was born". However, they end up not venturing outside London for the entire trip, though any plans they might have had to do so were frustrated by Homer offending the Queen and being imprisoned in the Tower of London.

    Real Life 
  • Beyoncé once greeted a crowd in Brighton with "Hello, London!" Sadly, the microphone didn't pick up their response. (Brighton is about 50 miles from the capital — there is even a film called London to Brighton, which should make it clear they're different places.)
  • Britney Spears greeted Manchester as London.
  • Lady Gaga, at T in the Park (Scotland's biggest music festival) greeted the crowd with "Hello, London"... Twice. Considering how many Scots, um, dislike being mistaken for the English, this was met poorly.
  • Liam Gallagher famously made fun of artists not knowing where they are by opening an Oasis concert at Wembley Stadium in 2000 sarcastically shouting "Hello, Manchester!". Gallagher, a Manchester and UK native, was of course well aware that he was in London.
  • It's common for foreign acts to greet Irish crowds with "Hello Dublin!" even if they're far away:
    • Mike Skinner (the Streets) in 2005 (in Punchestown, County Kildare)
    • David Bowie in 1997 (Slane, County Meath)
    • The Prodigy in 2018 (Stradbally, County Laois) — at the same festival, St Vincent, Stefflon Don, Pharrell, The Clementines all made the same error, despite being 70 km to the southwest
    • Andre3000 in 2014 (Stradbally, County Laois)
  • In an Aussie variation of this trope, Guns N' Roses once greeted a crowd in Melbourne with "Hello Sydney!". Given the rivalry between the two cities, this wasn't met too well.
  • Most American media will refer to British newspapers as "the London papers". While this is accurate in the sense that their offices are indeed in London, it creates the impression that they only circulate in the city limits (only three do). This may be more to do with Britain being smaller than America, and national newspapers, therefore, being a lot more feasible. It is worth noting that many of the major American newspapers are named for the cities they are published in (e.g. the New York Times), with at least one national paper named for a particular street (Wall Street Journal) which might also have something to do with this.
  • The Guardian once averted this trope by being the Manchester Guardian — named for the city it was published in at the time (and even after it moved production to London). But the place name has long since been dropped from the paper's title, and it would be difficult to argue that this paper, like all the other national broadsheets, isn't incredibly London-centric these days.
  • London-based newspaper The Observer is renowned, among provincial readers, for its incredibly myopic metro-centrism. A general trend among the paper's would-be opinion formers is that South London (i.e., the other side of the Thames) is so far out of the cultural and social loop that it isn't worth visiting. So what hope for the rest of us if an otherwise readable paper has this prejudice?
  • Private Eye's architecture column once mentioned the "remote" city of Aberdeen, prompting a Scottish reader to point out that for many, many people, London was the one that was remote.
  • In an amusing inversion, Dolly Parton once greeted a crowd by saying "Hello Rotherham!" only to be informed by a member of the crowd that she was in London.
  • Zack Snyder, on Alan Moore's premature disapproval of the Watchmen movie, said "Worst case scenario — Alan puts the movie on his DVD player on a cold Sunday in London and watches and says, 'Yeah, that doesn't suck too bad.'" Alan Moore, a Northampton resident, called him out on it.
  • British Airways has concentrated basically all of their long-haul flights in London, prompting detractors to refer to them as London Airways.
    • As far as air travel goes, this is a self-reinforcing trope: London is the world's busiest air traffic hub, so that's where it logically follows all airlines should try to focus their business in the UK, to the detriment of other cities. Meanwhile, nobody is willing to build extra runways and terminals in the northern half of the country because nobody flies from there, and even if they tried, some miserable people whose only mission is to make sure nothing exciting happens in their vicinity would complain about it relentlessly until it ends up being cancelled.
    • Heathrow's PR campaign to get the go-ahead for extra capacity to be built there, such as another runway and supporting infrastructure, revolved around saying loudly and repeatedly that this would benefit the entire country in economic terms. Snarky non-Londoners suggested this was confusing the "entire country" with "Britain is only London and the immediately surrounding areas", asking how exactly heavy government subsidy here would benefit Manchester or Newcastle or even, say, remoter bits like Glasgow.
  • Also a common mistake by Londoners is to forget they are not in London, as happened on Question Time in 2011.
    Jon Gaunt: Let's remember at this very moment tonight, Britain's bravest coppers are being celebrated at a hotel here in London. Let's remember the kind of work these men and women do on the streets... what's so funny?
    Hugh Grant: Basingstoke.
    • And the irony is that Jon Gaunt is from Coventry. Although this does highlight a subtrope in which the rest of the country endows the status of Londoner on people they dislike; for example Tony and Cherie Blair (Scotland and Manchester/Liverpool respectively) a trend brought to its apotheosis by Alex Salmond, former Scottish First Minister, who uses the word London to include anyone who is not actually a member of the Scottish National Party.
    • In Salmond's case, it is more a reference to allegiance rather than nationality. The other major parties are run from London after all.
  • Every now and then England has a debate over where something national, such as the football stadium, should be located. It is pointed out that land and running costs would be cheaper in the North and that the Midlands is central and would be easier to get to. Then the planners remember that everything must be in London because everything else is in London and thus it's built there.
    • The northern city of Manchester made three credible attempts to be chosen as the host city for the Olympics. Despite each bid being highly professional and well-regarded by those who mattered, the metropolitan intelligentsia responded with patronising sniggers and mutters about provincials not knowing their place. There is a suspicion Manchester's bids were not properly backed or even taken seriously by London governments. It was a different story when London applied. The IOC stated that although any UK city was welcome to bid for the Olympics, only London had any chance of winning.
    • Manchester had been promised significant government investment in expanding the successful (and economically significant) Metrolink urban tram system to cover more areas of the conurbation with new lines. Local people were angry when it was announced they were diverting the funding to the Crossrail project in London, on the explicitly stated grounds that this was far more important and Manchester was just going to have to wait. Even local MP's normally supine and sycophantic to Blair were moved to protest. Manchester is only now (2017) finishing the upgrades that might have been in place fifteen years ago.
  • There's a stereotype about Londoners, that goes along the lines of them never truly realizing that they're not in London even if they're halfway up the Yorkshire Dales and fighting off sheep. Then again, there's probably a similar one for every capital city in the world.
  • After Margaret Thatcher died, her rather sycophantic biographer Charles Moore was invited to a radio debate. He tried to argue that she was not a divisive Prime Minister, when in fact she was perhaps the most divisive since WWII (this is true regardless of whether or not one thinks she was a good PM). When he was finally forced to admit that Thatcher was despised in many parts of the country, he labelled these parts "not the particularly important bits". When asked to elaborate, his combined response could be boiled down to, in essence, "err, well, London and the South of England liked her!" Perhaps one of the strongest expressions of London narcissism.
  • The tendency for many British politicians - and their campaign donors - to act like this trope is Truth in Television is one of the many reasons the Scottish National Party are doing so well in The New '10s.
  • The Radio Times Guide To TV Comedy has plenty of entries for American comedies as well as British ones... as long as they've been screened in the London area (for reasons of space, admittedly, since not all the series imported by ITV were shown in all ITV regions). Hence no entries for Love, American Style, The Ugliest Girl In Town or other series which showed up in other regions but not in the Thames/LWT area.This can scupper the chances of imported sitcoms in Britain; Granada TV, for instance, showed the imports of Sledge Hammer! where it was extremely well received, but as neither Thames nor London Weekend thought it worth screening, it passed with barely a ripple.
  • After the Brexit referendum in 2016, there were proposals to make London, where the majority of people supported remaining in the EU, a city-state. Observers have noted with varying degrees of seriousness that Greater London already constitutes a city-state politically for all of the cultural, political, and economic differences between it and the rest of the United Kingdom.
  • In non-British media, it is somewhat common to use Scotland Yard as a generic name for British law enforcement. In reality, Scotland Yard is the unofficial name of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), which only has jurisdiction in the Greater London region.
  • Ross Grant likes to remind aspiring UK-based actors that they don't have to move to London to "make it", and that there's a very active film and television industry in the north (he's Manchester based) - considering the likes of Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, and Last Tango in Halifax are all filmed up there. It has been noted, however, that the creation of the ITV1 monolith, based inevitably in London, has effectively killed the old ITV regions for everything except residual functions like local newsnote . Large production facilities in Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester are now just memories or empty derelict shells awaiting demolition. note 
  • Following on from the above, there are a growing number of complaints that casting calls frequently state actors must be based in London, shutting out talent from outside that bubble almost completely.
  • And in 2021, a TV show seeking to identify Britain's Best loved Television Advert gave the accolade to a series of ads for Heathrow Airport, featuring a family of anthropomorphised cute bears getting together for Christmas, that had never, ever, been screened outside London and the South-East. Britain's favourite TV advert?
  • And even within the ITV regions, there were issues. Granada TV covered the whole of the North-Western region from the Scottish borders to Chester and notionally included the Isle of Man. But a frequent complaint was that 95% of its local news and current affairs footage dealt with Manchester and Liverpool, the two biggest and most significant cities. Granada Is Only Manchester or Granada Is Only Liverpool was heard a lot.
  • On an episode of The Graham Norton Show, German actress Diane Kruger asked comedian John Bishop (who possess a very thick Liverpudlian accent) if he could do an "English accent" - meaning the London RP dialect. To her credit, she seemed to immediately realise her mistake and said "you know what I mean".
  • The BBC has had all sorts of problems with this, especially with being very grudgingly forced to divest production to the regions. Supposedly, its 2021 ident rebrand was hamstrung and delayed when the rest of the UK realised that all the planned idents had been filmed within the M25.
  • This has somewhat been averted in the Eurovision Song Contest - of the nine times it has been in the United Kingdom, four of them - 1960, 1963, 1968 and 1977 - have been in London. The remaining shows have been in Edinburgh (1972), Brighton (1974), Harrogate (1982), Birmingham (1998) and Liverpool (2023). Indeed, London - which met the criteria - was specifically excluded from the 2023 shortlist as the UK government and the BBC aimed to "move events and opportunities outside the capital". The 2004 Junior edition was also originally planned to be in Manchester, but was relocated to Lillehammer (via Zagreb) due to finance and scheduling problems. It is played straight with anniversary editions, however: one to celebrate the 50th anniversary was going to be held in London, but the venue was unavailable and was relocated to Copenhagen. The 60th anniversary edition, was held in London.
  • Amusingly, you see it on this wiki too: the editor of the Sinister Surveillance page seems to think the Oyster Card travel pass system is universally applicable to the whole of the United Kingdom and hasn't stopped to consider that the Oyster Card is only local to Greater London.