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David Essex's London

The heartthrob singer and actor grew up in Canning Town, the son of a dock worker. It's now "just a flyover", he tells us as he reveals his best and worst bits of London.

David Essex
Essex, now 62, still tours the UK on a yearly basis and releases albums through his website

What's your favourite neighbourhood?

It would be the East End. Every time I go there it feels like home. When I grew up there in the 50s, it was fascinating. My dad was a docker and there were ships at the end of the road.

Your favourite building?

As you walk through London, you forget to look up sometimes. But I do look at architecture. I think one of the buildings I like is that one on the Thames, the MI6 building. What goes on there? Is it all gadgets and James Bond?

Most hated building?

There's a thing going up in Shaftesbury Avenue that looks like a giant Meccano set. I mean there's lime green and orange walls and yellow, and what got me was this line from the architect, who probably lives in Barcelona or somewhere: "architecture to suit the environment".

This thing is well, it's like a lump of rubbish and it's so different to the lovely Victorian architecture and the environment around it.

Best view in London?

Waterloo Bridge
Each side of Waterloo Bridge is "equally interesting", says Essex

It's got to be the one from Waterloo Bridge. Each side is equally interesting.

Favourite open space?

London is blessed with parks and green spaces and all those garden squares, isn't it? I think St James's Park is probably the most beautiful with the water, the Serpentine, flowing through it and those fountains.

Most interesting shop?

I don't have one, not for books or records or clothes or anything. I hate it. The whole idea of shopping is something I can't stand. I'll have to leave this one blank I'm afraid.

Favourite pub, bar or restaurant?

There's a great pub in Covent Garden, the Cross Keys in Endell Street, where I like to go to have Sunday lunch. Please don't all rush there, they sell out quick and there won't be anything left for me.

Most memorable night out?

I remember wandering down one New Year's Eve to the Strand and the fireworks were going off. The police had put barriers across so you couldn't see what was happening. There was a nice policeman there and I said, "I'm just going down to my flat".

And he said, "Ok Mr Essex," and I don't live there at all (laughs). So I was able to get right down by the Embankment and saw this incredible display.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

I think walking through London is interesting, finding different little places where you go
David Essex on how to spend an ideal day off

I think walking through London is interesting, finding different little places where you go. I actually don't know south London much because I've lived elsewhere. I'm not sure I'm going to start walking around there, nothing against it, but you know it's more interesting to walk around the City or the West End.

Where would you take a visitor to London?

To the British Museum. It's a phenomenal place. It would probably take a month to take it all in, so I'd definitely say the British Museum... that and the Imperial War Museum.

The worst journey you've had to make in London?

Well, most days to be honest. You've got the congestion charge, holes in the road, roads you can't go down... it's murder getting around, which is why it's so much easier to walk.

Your personal London landmark?

The incredible towering dome of St Paul's Cathedral. It really feels to me like it's so London. It never got bombed in the war and to my parents' generation that was a great image of hope.

Your favourite fictional Londoner?

The Artful Dodger. He's an East End boy of course and we like our villains. Also that Dickensian period, it's fascinating and there's a romance about it, rightly or wrongly.

Favourite London film, book or documentary?

Actor Jack Warner as PC George Dixon
PC George Dixon was the first British copper to tread the TV beat

I'll tell you what was good, Dixon of Dock Green (hums the theme tune). Everything was foggy back then. I remember some days when I was going to school by the docks, it was so foggy you had to feel the road sides, honest.

Which time period in London, past or future, would you like to go to?

The 60s were wonderful, that's when London was the centre of the universe. If I had to go somewhere, it would be the Marquee or the Flamingo club. If not then, maybe the 1700s to see what was going on there. It would be great to have a month in every decade, wouldn't it?

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