To add a spontaneous effect to the performances, Mike Leigh met with each actor individually and only told them what their character would know at the beginning of the film. As filming progressed the actors were hearing the secrets for the very first time. Brenda Blethyn, for instance, didn't know that Marianne Jean-Baptiste was black.
The restaurant where Cynthia and Hortense meet for lunch is "Pasta Plus Restaurant", a family-run Italian restaurant on 62 Eversholt Street, Camden, London. The restaurant is still open to the public (Monday to Saturday) and is very close to Euston station.