Niamos, deprivation and Blackpool in Andor

(L-R): Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and a KX-series Droid in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and a KX-series Droid in Lucasfilm's ANDOR, exclusively on Disney+. ©2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved. /

The latest episode of Andor introduced audiences to a brand new location, the planet Niamos, which has a beach resort. This resort was heralded in by a grimy club track, which has become widely loved by fans.

The music also hints to the class of the place, feeling like a piece of upbeat music that would be commonplace at many resorts. Despite the fact that it’s a beach resort that gives Andor rest, this track makes the place feel less like the expensive luxury of The Last Jedi’s Canto Bight but more of a cheap substitute for those that aren’t as well off. Andor might have scored big, but he hasn’t scored big enough to get to the Las Vegas of Star Wars.

Where Canto Bight is full of rich, upper class, socialites, Niamos’ clientele is much less fortunate. There isn’t anyone wishing to gamble away credits here, but those spending time on the beach, a much cheaper activity in comparison. Canto Bight also isn’t full of youths irritating the local garrison with likely petty actions.

The whole place gives off a feeling of being underfunded, with the courthouse in particular in dire need of renovation. It isn’t what one would typically imagine as a courthouse, with dirty wooden walls and benches hastily arranged, packed with sweaty arrestees.

It’s the polar opposite to the sterile white walls and the purpose made circular table of the Imperial Security Bureau headquarters on Coruscant. There isn’t even any air conditioning, with a large fan behind the judge. In a galaxy that has faster than light travel and holographic technology, air conditioning is extremely simple.

There is a huge Imperial presence on Niamos, which is extremely surprising. Shoretroopers, probe droids and KX droids all patrol the beach, and even TIE Fighters can be seen overhead. There are huge arrest sweeps, evidenced by the full courthouse, and people get long sentences for petty crimes. The cause of these high arrest numbers is certainly influenced by the Empire’s wish to arrest large numbers of people, but social inequality contributes to people committing crime.

It’s hard to imagine the same police presence at Canto Bight. There weren’t any First Order troopers on the planet in The Last Jedi, yet there are those equipping the Resistance at the casino, a far more serious crime than animal fouling. It’s hard to think that the Empire has a tight hold on the casino either, probably having been paid to stay out of the city. If only Niamos could afford such a luxury.

Niamos being in a deprived position makes it easy for the Empire to come in and conduct these arrest sweeps. No one cares about the working class of the galaxy, and the police overly cracking down heavily on the working class isn’t rare here on earth.

This deprivation in the universe is represented outside of it, down to the filming location. Scenes at Niamos were filmed at Cleveleys Beach England, less than five miles away from Blackpool. Like many seasides in the UK, Blackpool is heavily deprived, an issue that has been present for many years. According to the latest deprivation index, Blackpool has eight of the UK’s ten poorest neighbourhoods.

Areas such as Blackpool have higher crime rates than normal. In the year ending 2021, their crime rate per 100 people was 89% higher than the rest of Lancashire, earning the title of most dangerous major town in Lancashire. Deprivation is a big cause of this.

It’s almost certainly likely that none of this was on Tony Gilroy or the crew of Andor’s minds when they chose to film close to the town. It’s possible that composer Nicholas Britell based his absolute tune for Niamos on the similar ones heard at so many beachfront resorts, as he is from the UK. But with Andor’s focus on politics it wouldn’t be surprising if this wasn’t a nod to the deprivation experienced by many UK beaches.