Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010
QI panellist and Jonathan Creek star Alan Davies' London

He loves his Highbury and Islington manor, rates the pubs in Stoke Newington and once had an awkward encounter with Rick Astley at the top of the Post Office Tower. Follow in the footsteps of the comic, actor and panel show guest as he reveals the best and worst bits of city life.

Alan Davies
Davies, 43, grew up in Loughton, Essex, with an 01 phone number that cemented his conviction he was a Londoner from an early age

What's your favourite neighbourhood?

I quite like Stokie, Stoke Newington. When I left university, there were a few of us who rented there. I live in Highbury now but I think Stokie's got the nicest pubs.

It was also where I did my first gig - at the Rose and Crown in Church Street.

Your favourite building?

It's got to be St Paul's Cathedral really. I just think it's wonderful - that and the new bridge that goes across to Tate Modern.

Most hated building?

You know if you look across the water from Tate Modern, there's a sort of flyover, a road, that comes down towards Blackfriars Bridge I think it is. There's a lot of the front there in terms of buildings that needs blowing up.

Best view in London?

I went to this place at the top of Centre Point, a club, and the view from there is really spectacular.

The Post Office Tower
The Post Office Tower was given Grade II listed status in 2003

But when I was young, we used to go up to the top of Pole Hill in Chingford. In those days there was no Canary Wharf or Nat West Tower. The only thing you could look out for was the Post Office Tower - and I've been up to the top of it, funnily enough. It was for a charity event for Children in Need.

And it really does revolve. Rick Astley was there that night, singing, and when I went to the loo and came back, I practically ended up onstage with him. We were almost in an arm sway together, in unison, and I had to back out.

Favourite open space?

You can't beat Epping Forest if you ask me. There's enough of it in London for it to count. It's beautiful up there.

Most interesting shop?

I'm not a great shopper but I do buy a lot of books. I'm the publishers' friend - I buy a hundred books a year and read four.

I still like Housmans on Caledonian Road if you're passing that way. And there used to be another bookshop I liked: Collets on Charing Cross Road. They had the best postcards in there.

Favourite pub, bar or restaurant?

My favourite restaurant is the Thai Corner Cafe on St Paul's Road. We go there all the time. I shouldn't really mention it - I don't want it to be chock-a-block.

I like pubs too, but it's hard for me to go and get proper bladdered in the way I used to. I don't want to moan about being recognised but I do get a bit of grief sometimes.

Most memorable night out?

We went into Trafalgar Square and the fountains were full of people. It was one of my finest moments - I ended up snogging a WPC
Alan Davies recalls a memorable night out on New Year's Eve

The one I remember is going into London, as it was for us in Essex, on New Year's Eve in 1981. There were four of us and we'd had a few lagers on the way. One of my mates threw up in the Tube and then stood up and fell over in it. We thought it was the funniest thing we'd ever seen.

Then we went into Trafalgar Square and the fountains were full of people. We had a fantastic night with everyone snogging everyone else. It was one of my finest moments - I ended up snogging a WPC.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?

This is what Katie, my wife, and I would do: we'd go walking. We'd pick a show, a matinee probably, or a gallery or maybe have lunch first. Then we'd stroll around town - anywhere will do. My wife gets blisters and I save about £20 on the taxi fare.

Where would you take a visitor to London?

I'd take them up the London Eye. And you know what's really good? If you've got friends from America or Australia as I have, point out the Crystal Palace transmitter from your pod and tell them it's the Eiffel Tower. They'll at least do a double take.

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

I don't drive around London much. Any journey around Islington involves hundreds of speed bumps that seem to tear the bottom of your car off. How about driving to Gatwick? That takes about 400 years and what's the point in the end?

Your personal London landmark?

I like Highbury Fields, and the entrance to Abbey Park cemetery, which is where I got cruised in my early days as a naive young student.

Your favourite fictional Londoner?

Actor George Cole
Arthur Daley was played by George Cole in the original Minder

Arthur Daley, that's easy. Minder was a fantastic show. Didn't you want to be in the Winchester Club, drinking at the bar?

When it first started it was a vehicle for Denis Waterman to have a punch up each week. And then it became about this relationship between these two men - father and son or uncle and nephew, and it was funny and touching and beautifully written. It was the best show on television in its day.

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

The thing I'd really like to see is the old London Bridge, with all the old buildings around it like Shakespeare's Globe. I'd like to walk along that. Don't worry, I won't get drunk and fall in.

My Favourite People and Me, 1978 - 1988 by Alan Davies is out now, published by Penguin Books.

Jack Dee's London
16 Nov 09 |  Things to do
David Essex's London
06 Oct 09 |  Things to do
Pete Waterman's London
23 Sep 09 |  Things to do
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



Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific