BBC Tour

April 6, 2009 at 7:26 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Out at White City you’ll find not only a brand new(ish) shopping centre but the BBC Television Centre. For £9.50 (Adult) you can take a 1.5 – 2hr tour around the complex. Pre-bookings are essential as they won’t allow purchases on the day.

BBC Tour (4)

So the question is do you get enough bang for your buck? On the whole the answer is yes. Once you’ve met your group you’ll walk through security and past the news room for your first major introduction and background on the centre. Next up you’ll exit outside and it is revealed that the complex is in the shape of a giant question mark – the best shape apparently for the plot of land that also allowed speedy access to the studios.

BBC Tour (5)

Moving beyond you’ll see some of the studios and the wonders of green screen technology as it applies to the weather. Some of tour group had seemingly never encountered it as it was met with plenty of exclamations. Now it’s onto one of the dressing rooms and a mock studio for some group participation in front of the ‘cameras’.

BBC Tour (7)

Throughout the tour you’ll get snippets of backstage gossip and things like the excesses or not of various celebrity riders.

The guides we had were great fun, informative and very willing to answer questions. For example I asked who normally Twitters for the BBC’s various feeds. Apparently it’s normally a junior producer (who will also look after the other social web duties in addition to their other tasks). I believe their names were Jamie and Elizabeth (I hope!).

At the end of the tour you’ll get a chance to go to a BBC shop and buy some paraphenalia.

Overall it was a reasonable experience. The tour often references BBC shows (fair enough) and for those of you out there who have an emotional attachment will probably have an even better time!

Freud Museum

April 6, 2009 at 7:25 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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The Freud Museum is a house and Freud lived there. That’s about it, except this was the last year of his life when he fled Austria after German occupation. Intervention by the USA and Britain helped the family and importantly Freud’s collection to be shipped to his new home in London.

Freud Museum Freud Museum (4)

The museum focuses predominantly on the Freud family home life and some of the factors influencing Sigmund – such as a wanderlust that was translated into a collection of artifacts from around the world.

One room is dedicated to a looped series of videos not only talking about the flight from Austria but also rare home movies of the family narrated by Anna Freud. Sigmund’s daughter and a noted psychoanalyst in her own right.  A nearby room was Anna’s and covers her passions and career.

On the ground floor is Sigmund Freud’s study – including the famous couch – it’s wonderfully decorated in that same sense of an organised clutter, with a myriad of pieces – notably Egyptian statues and other knick knacks everywhere.

On the whole it’s reasonably interesting but not so interesting. Most people with only a cursory knowledge of Freud can easily skip this museum. The museum also seems lacking in information for the uninitiated on why Freud and his theories are important. If it were free or only a few pounds I might change my opinion but for £5 you need to be an aficionado. For an extra charge you can also get an audio guide.

The closest tube is Finchley Road and it is reasonably sign posted.

Freud Museum (5) Freud Museum (2)

Jack the Ripper Tour

April 6, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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On a dark and not at all stormy night I met up with my co-conspirators by Tower Hill tube station for an evening of violent crime and intrigue. About 30 of us set off with our guide from London Walks on a journey back to the 19th century and Jack the Ripper (£7).

Obviously the London of today is significantly different to that of the 1880s, no longer is the cost of a cot per night in a poor house the same as a prostitutes services down an alley (4p) and even more so much of the architecture is new. The blitz and urban renewal playing their respective parts. Nonetheless the guide and walk does it best to navigate the path of the murders while maximising the surviving buildings.

To try and have the most atmospheric walk go on a winters night when it gets dark early and hopefully there’ll be some fog as well!

As for content, I’ve never read about the murders so I can’t attest to the guide’s veracity but assuming there aren’t any embellishments it is certainly a grizzly and violent series of attacks against London’s working women. Our guide was compelling and I could clearly hear. In addition to an overview of London life at the time and of course the murders the guide also discusses the investigation and its many fumbles. Towards the end of the tour he discussed the possible suspects and rather vitriolically commented on the may people who write books claiming to know the killer when as he said such a confirmation is impossible.
Apparently the sheer volume of walkers by the various companies has irritated some east end residents resulting in the occasional things being thrown down on unsuspecting walkers.

There were at least 2 other Ripper tours with posters at Tower Hill but each has a different starting time so you shouldn’t accidentally get onto the wrong one. These other tours may be good, they may be bad. I can’t comment and won’t be testing them out. What I will say is that this tour felt informative and engaging – just make sure you have some good shoes as you will be walking for 1 – 2 hours and the walk will finish at Spitalfield Markets near Liverpool Station.

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