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Jack Dee's London

He loves his Soho manor, wandering around Battersea Park and fancies himself as a Victorian gentleman of leisure with a club on the Mall. Follow in the footsteps of the entertainer and performer as he reveals the best and worst bits of city life.

Jack Dee
Dee, 47, describes himself as a "lost soul" before discovering stand-up comedy

What's your favourite neighbourhood?

For a long time now I've had a little office in Wardour Street, right in the middle of Soho. I've got a great fondness for the area although it's been cleaned up an awful lot.

I love that element of sleaze and danger. There's something quite exhilarating about the red light district of London, and the fact that it's merged with the film business, advertising and all the other businesses around there.

Your favourite building?

I do tend to notice architecture. A building that always lifts my spirits is the Michelin in Brompton Road. There's a big shop there now with a restaurant, but the tiles in there are original back when it was a car showroom. It's a lovely place to go to. I really like it.

Most hated building?

I think I'd have to get rid of the front of King's Cross railway station. I love all those old stations but the front of this one is absolutely horrible. It's going? Good. I imagine I'm going to get beaten up every time I walk through there.

Best view in London?

It's very pretty at night, lit up with all the bulbs. It's rococo and a bit camp in fact, as bridges go
Jack Dee on Albert Bridge

There are lots of them. I like all the views from the bridges. Further up towards Chelsea, I've always had a fondness for the Albert Bridge because I lived around there when I first came to London.

It's very pretty at night, lit up with all the bulbs. It's rococo and a bit camp in fact, as bridges go.

Favourite open space?

Obviously London is blessed with its parks but the one I really love is Battersea Park. I was there one Sunday with my wife and kids and I said, do you know you could probably count as many as 15 different sports or organised activities going on, from football to basketball to roller skating and what have you.

And yet the space itself is very diverse because it's got its ornamental gardens and the river walks as well.

Most interesting shop?

I like to shop, yes. I can go into a hardware shop and get lost, looking at all the tools wondering if I'll ever need this. And I love all the shops along St James's, like Lobb and Lock & Co.

Some of them have been there for over 300 years and I can keep visiting them, much like a tourist does.

Favourite pub, bar or restaurant?

Again, very close to the Michelin building is a place called La Brasserie and it's just a good, standard French restaurant. I like the buzz in there, it's busy and efficient and the food is really well priced.

Most memorable night out?

The Lion King in rehearsal
Disney musical The Lion King is Dee's most memorable night out

I suppose, and this is a bit corny, it would be a few years back when I took the kids to The Lion King, the stage show. They loved it. I was caught unawares by it and I was in tears thinking, this is probably as good as musical theatre gets.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

I'd probably like to plan and cook for the evening. I do a fair bit, yes and I'm not bad at it. I'd go off on my scooter to one of the big food halls to get all the ingredients. I do like markets but it's a treat to be in one of those places.

Where would you take a visitor to London?

To Harrods Food Hall, carrying on from the last question. Every aspect of it is amazing, and the expertise of the people who work there is amazing, too.

Also, and I know it's not very original, I think it's always worth taking people to the London Eye, especially at night when all the flash lights are going off in the pods.

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

There were too many times when I'd be working and it would take me an hour-and-a-half to get home by car
Jack Dee prefers using his scooter

There have been too many over the years. I'm one of those people who think the congestion charge is a good thing, even though I get around a lot on my scooter.

I do drive as well but I don't bring the car up to town. There were too many times when I'd be working and it would take me an hour-and-a-half to get home by car.

Your personal London landmark?

I live in Wandsworth and I love the common right next to me. I suppose a place I can never go past without remembering, although it's changed address, is the Comedy Store off Leicester Square because that's where it all started for me.

Your favourite fictional Londoner?

Apart from James Bond, when he's in town, it would be Raffles, the gentlemen thief. I loved him because he was a bit naughty. He'd sneak out of a ball and go crack a safe, steal a necklace and get back to the ball without anyone being the wiser. I used to pretend to be Raffles when I was a kid, you know.

Favourite London film, book or documentary?

There would be several of the London-based films I'd go for. Anything that shows London in the past I'd be a sucker for. How about Peter Pan? I'm being too much of a softie here. My career's finished, obviously.

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

Don Draper in Mad Men
Suit-wearer Dee is a fan of 50s fashion and the TV series Mad Men

I reckon it would probably be a period at the end of the 50s, where London would be the equivalent to that American TV series Mad Men. I like the suits and I like any period where people wore hats because I think hats are a good thing.

I also like the idea of being a gentleman of leisure in the 1900s and having a club on the Mall and all that. It's the decadence of it I'd enjoy.

Jack Dee's memoir Thanks For Nothing is out now via Transworld Publishers.




SEE ALSO
David Essex's London
06 Oct 09 |  Things to do
Pete Waterman's London
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Ray Davies' London
07 Jul 09 |  Things to do
Des O'Connor's London
30 Jun 09 |  Arts & Culture
Arthur Smith's London
22 Jun 09 |  Arts & Culture


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