"London Walks puts you into the hands of an expert on the particular area and topic of a tour."
The New York Times
Adam, journalist, author and part-time musician, spends much of his time endeavouring to live up to his countryman J.M. Barrie's famous remark: "There are few more impressive sights in the world than a Scotsman on the make." He writes theatre criticism for The Independent newspaper, and on everything from cocktails to travel for Time Out and other publications. Anything else? Yes, that Champagne of Blogs – the London Walks Blog – is Adam's creation. And he appears in the occasional film! This one, for example.
Alison is a lecturer for the London Blue Badge Course. A Dickens expert, she's a prize-winning* Blue Badge Guide herself. When she's not collecting Antiques! *"Prize winning" is putting it modestly: she won the BCP, one of the two top awards. To use an American analogy, it's the guiding equivalent of baseball's Triple Crown!
Andrew is "the Queen Mum's favourite". Or, in the words of the Evening Standard, "a class act". Astrikingly talentedyoung actor – and budding historian – he received rave reviews for his one-man show, "George VI in Heaven". Andrew is good company: laid back, friendly, fun, at ease with himself and his walkers and his handsome, historic old patch. Add to the mix the fact that he's completely in command of his material and you've got a great walk fronted by a very gifted young guide.
Andy R. crewed yachts in the Caribbean, was held at gunpoint in Haiti and delivered cars across the USA. He's a grizzled old actor/playwright with a wealth of experience, knowledge, stories and a deep love of his native city.
Angela is one special actress. "She's so good it's almost impossible to compliment her", as Frederic Raphael, the author of The Glittering Prizes, said of her performance in that award-winning series. A similarly smitten Clive James said of her "Helena in the Royal Shakespeare Company's All's Well That Ends Well: "You couldn't ask to hear the words better spoken".
Ann – quondam BBC journalist and current star Blue Badge Guide (let alone the Helen Mirren of London Walks) – knows everything there is to know about food: its history, where to buy it, how to cook it, how to enjoy it and, into the bargain, how to keep your figure! Of which she's an exemplar!!
That face, that form, that dignity, that ease. Those powers of pleasing with that will to please. She's also a demmed good guide.
Barry is our "Renaissance man". He's a Consultant Public Health Physician, an Art Historian, and a professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide.
Brian, a professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide, won the London Tourist Board's Guide of the Year Award in 1994. His career has embraced the law, surveying, catering, dispatch riding and art - and the stage may be beckoning. And if you'd like a completely independent take on Brian's guiding, well, read this Marylebone Journal review of his Old Marylebone walk.
Aileen, Andrew, Mike G., Peter, Richard, Roger and Sara all have many years" experience of the inland waterways and have explored them extensively by narrowboat (and, in Roger's case, canoe). They're all active members of the Inland Waterways Association, which works in partnership with us to provide the towpath walks in the London Walks programme.
Chris is a classicist, weaver, and another professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide working right at the top of her form. She's very bright and a little bit mischievous. Shake – don't stir - those ingredients and what you get is a lot of fun. Anything else? Yes, this: she could anthem for England with that voice of hers. Chris is the guide who features in the wonderful little video trailer of our Bath Tour.
Corinna is a treasurably barking – and ferociously intelligent – Cambridge bluestocking. She's the only well known Royal National Theatre actress who's also a psychrolute!* Most recently she starred in the hit West End play, Copenhagen. She's been known to throw in a song or two on her walks but she leaves her cello at home. Anything else? Yes, she's also a professionally qualified London Guide. *Every single morning of the year. With the ducks. In a Hampstead pond.
Best driver-guide in London. (All rounder because she also pinch hits brilliantly on walking tours.) Knows her London – she was bred and born here – but has been a driver-guide for many years. And not just in England. She's just got it. The Good Fairy touched her with the "you're going to be a brilliant guide" wand at birth. In short, she's got the gift – the flair, the knack, the know-how. And that special something, that god-given talent has been honed by years of experience. She's switched on, fun, gentle, enthusiastic, and "awesomely" [as one of her Yank clients put it] knowledgable. And in her spare time she makes the best pasta this side of Genoa.
David – the Seigneur of this favoured realm – broods over words, breeds enthusiasms and is "unmanageable". A balterer, literary historian, university lecturer, journalist, and lifelong thanatophobe, he's also the London Walks "pen" – he writes "the famous white leaflet", let alone the document you're reading (this website). Or, for that matter, the "piece" you're listening to! In short, this is what I sound like – chewy dipthongs and all. The Old Kensington, and Old Hampstead Village chapters in our book. Both of which, needless to say, were inspired by and draw on the walks that I guide in those two magical London neighbourhoods. And the Thames chapter, which opens the book, was inspired by my Along the Thames Pub Walk.
Fun, quirky, knowledgeable, "Rats" is a City Finance Director who's seen the light and become a guide.
Delianne is a (white) witch. The broom's a scarlet Jaguar convertible. The badge is blue, the hair's blonde, the nails are ruby, coat and boots are red, style's Goth, personality's big, IQ's Mensa, fun quotient's huge.
Desirée; is drop dead glamorous. A former top fashion model and cult film actress, her world overlapped with Princess Diana's. Comes the walk, comes the guide!
Donald "is internationally recognised as the leading authority on Jack the Ripper". Britain's most distinguished crime historian, he is the author of the pre-eminent book on the Ripper, the best-selling The Complete Jack the Ripper. ("Donald Rumbelow's The Complete Jack the Ripper remains the definitive book on the subject" The Sunday Times.) The former Curator of The City of London Police Crime Museum and a two time Chairman of the Crime Writers Association, he is a Freeman of the City of London and a professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide. For good measure, he's genial and twinkling! You can hear him in action on his Sunday night (or alternate Friday nights) Ripper Walk. It gets better. Which is by way of saying, a click here will take you to a very special little video trailer of Don's Jack the Ripper Walk!
Brilliant Blue Badge Guide. Chairman of the Guild of Guides Association. Architecture specialist. All round good guy.
Ed fairly coruscates with London lore and expertise, let alone contacts and "connections". He's the author of London: Exploring the Hidden Metropolis,The London Compendium, A Literary Guide to London, East End Chronicles and West End Chronicles. How "in the know" - let alone irreverant - is he? Well, how does a 10-year-track record at the scurrilous satirical rag Private Eye grab you? His Literary Guide to London has been described as a "mine of information... this book is a must for literary enthusiasts". He has also worked for the Radio Times and Mojo, the rock 'n' roll magazine, and co-wrote Fodor's Rock 'n' roll Traveler USA and Rock 'n' roll Traveler USA Great Britain and Ireland.
Fedora, an actress, is blonde, bubbly, Blue-Badged and as bright as her blinding sweaters.
Fiona – actress, descendant of John of Gaunt, elite* professionally qualified guide – teaches juggling, circus skills and escapology (she made a famous break from the London Dungeon). *The works: Blue Badge Guide of the Year, City of Westminster, City of London. Par for the course for London Walks guides: drenched in honours!
Fiona H. conducts our Thames beachcombing walks. An Inter-tidal Aracheologist (and Archaeological illustrator), she's a leading authority on the Thames foreshore. (She's also excavated in many near Eastern and central European countries. Given papers all over the world...well, you get the idea.) And she's a Super Mum - six children! In her "spare" time she spins.
Freddie. Ah, yes, Freddie. Man and boy he's lived, breathed and battled the London theatre. And come through it to tell the tale – when he's not directing. From front of house farce to backstage badinage via acting atrocities to operatic outrageousness, Freddie's experience of the West End theatre scene, past, present and beyond is nonpareil. Anything else? Yes. Freddie's his nom de guerre. Ah, yes, Freddie.
Gillian is a linguist and professionally qualifed - and prize-winning - Blue Badge Guide. And she can out-Fred the nimblest Astaire on the dance floor!
Greer's a young archaeologist. She's to the manner born. (Like Katy she's aka Bloodline.) Her parents are two of the brightest stars in the London Walks firmament. Her mother, Kim, won the Guide of the Year Award in her year. Her father, Rex, sailed through the Blue Badge exams as "an external student" – aced 'em without having to take the two year course.
Gary. London detective for over 30 years. Member of the Anti-Terrorist branch at New Scotland Yard. London historian. London author.* Professionally qualified St. Paul's Cathedral Guide. *Square London ("fascinating, quirky and...flabbergasting") and Death in Disguise ("a gripping account of a sensational Victorian double-murder in Chelsea in 1870").
Harry – "Britain's Favourite Guide"* – is a Cockney, a Scouser and (these days) a country gentleman. And a character - how could he be otherwise? And a top flight professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide.*So he was elected on that famous BBC Radio 4 travel programme.
Hilary, OBE, is a Historian, Soroptimist, and a professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide Let alone a Supermum! Into the bargain, she's unquenchably cheerful. With her very English eye for the idiosyncratic and her sense of humour – to say nothing of her sense of history and her command of the material – she's a star turn. And hey, where else but London Walks are you going to be guided by an OBE!
Isobel is an artist, journalist, linguist, prize-winning Blue Badge Guide and London Walks' token aristocrat. One of her ancestors introduced the waltz to this country.
Geordie ski champion. To walk with Jan is to go off piste in an avalanche. Brilliant. And beautiful.
Jane is from Bloomsbury, where Virginia Woolf's circle lived in squares and loved in triangles. She keeps up the tradition by living in a square and as a professionally qualified Clerkenwell & Islington, City of Westminster and City of London Guide, loving the triangle she tills. Living at the foot of Centre Point she's the fixed point of the London compass: London encircles Jane! There's more: she's another award-winning London Walks guide.
Joanne is a practicing criminal defence lawyer who escapes from prison and court cells whenever possible to lead walking tours and run in the London Marathon. Ask her about her Olympics connection.
Jolyon is our Doctor Who specialist. And I mean specialist. The author of Was Conceived in a Dalek, he's a serious student of Doctor Who and his world. Let alone a major aficionado (cheerfully admits to "35 years of obsession" with DW). Potent combination, that. He's a big league actor – and a big talent. Jolyon's credits range from the National Theatre to the West End to comedy venues (writing it and performing it – yes, he's done his time as a stand-up) to being a Dame-sel in Dis-stress in Pantoland (every Christmas season since the century began [well, practically] he's donned a frock and caused no end of theatrical mayhem as a Pantomime Dame). And was ever comic actor better named? I mean Jolyon combines Jolly and Joy.
Judy, winner of the London Tourist Board's prestigious Guide of the Year Award, is a professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide.
Blue Badged, bi-lingual, laid back and 007 (even unto looking the part).
Karen comes trailing clouds of glory. Travel & Leisure crowned her "the world's greatest tour guide." She hosts the Canadian television travel show "London Next Stop." She won the London Tourist Board's Guide of the Year award. She's the author of Royal London. She is, quite simply, a star turn – which is why she's the "go to" London guide for every major media concern. A reformed actress and occasional journalist, she was Independent Magazine's Cultural Heritage Correspondent. Her gold standard walks are, needless to say, vivid and entertaining. So: "World's greatest tour guide", CBC star, Guide of the Year – no way she wasn't going to front the flaghip London Walks film!
Katy, aka Bloodline, is our juv lead. She's young, gifted and beautiful. Let alone to the manner born. And as for that voice of hers, it's vintage, tawny port made audible. (The quality and clarity and timbre of a guide's voice – it's something that often gets overlooked when people are selecting a tour; it shouldn't be. Boy, are we ever aware of it. There are guides out there – none of them are London Walks guides, I hasten to add – listening to them is like listening to a paint scraper in action. NO. THANK. YOU.) And if you want to see Katy in action, well, a click here takes you to the little video trailer film maker Jon Klein's made of her Village in Piccdilly Walk.
Kim, who has worked in the House of Commons and the European Parliament, is another 24-carat Blue Badge Guide: she won the London Tourist Board's Guide of the Year award in 2001.
Lance Pierson is an actor and professional poetry performer who aims to bring words to life. His repertoire extends from John Cleese to William Cowper and Stanley Holloway to Shakespeare. He was told recently that he has one of the most beautiful voices in the world. Lance is not known to argue with his critics.
Lesley is a gifted young Irish actress - and "a lass unparalleled". her tour delivery is poised, bell-clear, paced to perfection - is yet another reminder of why London Walks fronts so many of its walks with professional actors. Amateurs always overcook it - they rant and rave and bluster and shout. It's like having a cheese grater taken to your ear. No thanks.
Liam is an Irish actor, writer, director and sometime curator of London's gingerest beard. Beautiful voice, perfect timing, lots of fun and leading man looks. What's not to like.
'Maitland', yes that's her first name, is Scottish, short and dyes her hair vivid colours – not surprising as she used to sing in a punk band. She also happens to be an award-winning Blue Badge Guide who has enjoyed London for more than 20 years. The arty side of town is her side of choice so if you find 'London calling at the top of the dial' come on down and walk for a while...
Marc Zakian is a writer, photographer and history guide. His articles and photographs have appeared in The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, Conde Nast Traveller and many other publications. He's a top flight London Blue Badge Guide and editor of The Guide magazine.
Margaret, a former international journalist and editor, is a lecturer at the Victoria & Albert Museumand a top flight Blue Badge Guide (and the possessor of the lovliest Scots accent you'll ever hear).
Mary ("Poppins") is "practically perfect." A classically trained dancer and an actress (West End credits include Gone With the Wind, a long stint at the Royal National Theatre and Noises Off), she's also a trapeze artiste, a professionally qualified, award-winning Blue Badge and City of London Guide and the boss. She is one of those English roses upon whom it is unsafe to try any oompus-boompus.
Michael, is the foremost authority on the Regent's Canal, the author of a masterly book on the subject, and a Trustee of London's Canal Museum.
Molly guides at the British Museum and lectures on Art, Archaeology, and London History. An Art Historian, she is a Freeman of the City of London and a top flight professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide.
Monisha Bharadwaj is an award winning author, food historian and a food writer based in London, UK. She was awarded ‘Cookery Writer of the Year’ in 2003 and some of her 15 books have been shortlisted for awards such as the Cordon Bleu World Food Media Awards, the Andre Simon Award and the Jacob’s Creek World Food Media Awards. Her books have sold over half a million copies in 8 languages. A qualified chef from the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Mumbai, she also has a degree in Indian History as well as a Diploma in Journalism. And that's just for starters. She's also a professional dancer and choreographer. Oh just click here.
Nick, a swashbuckling National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, West End stage and silver screen actor (and Jack the Ripper on television!), is an authority on Indian cookery and a professionally qualified Greenwich Guide. When he's not yachting across the Atlantic. And as Julie from Philadelphia would put it, "he's a real mensch". He's the real deal, a seriously big talent - check out his clip reel. It's here. Nick guides his Greenwich Walk. He's the complete package - the modulation and range and timbre of his voice, the timing, the engagement with his audience, the mastery of his subject, the selection and ordering of detail, the humour. A textbook example of how it should be done, it's a fusion of hard work and two all-important gifts: a first-rate mind and a great voice. Some corroboration anyone? How about this? "Dear Mr. Day, My wife Viva and I were guided by you on New Years day. We had a wonderful time. You are an exceptional guide...My wife had seen the episode of Foyle's War shown on your web site but did not recognize you in person. She loved that episode and your portayal therein.Thank You again for THE BEST tour we have ever taken both for entertainment and education. We look foward to seeing you on film and in the theatre. Best Wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year". Richard E. R. & Viva E. R., M.D. And here's an encore. Nick wrote the Greenwich chapter in our book.
Voice (and timing and presence) to die for. Londoner born and bred. Westminster Abbey chorister. West End musical theatre actor. Ergo the song bursts. Anything else (apart from the new baby)? For sure: we're dialling up quick blasts on his trumpet!
Pepe is our east London street art expert. He's a collector. He's tack-sharp, savvy and connected. Anything else? Yes, he's an award-winning* Blue Badge Guide. *A big one – the guiding equivalent of baseball's Triple Crown!
Peter G. Now about Peter G. – here's the gen. Like those other great Londoners Shakespeare, Dr. Johnson and Dickens, Peter does not hail from the metropolis. Yes, that northerner friendliness is to the manor born – cuz Peter's a Nelson, Lancashire lad! Well, was. He's all Londoner now, having coom doon a good few years ago to study at the Drama Centre. After an intermittently average acting career he has fallen literally on his feet with "the wonderful London Walks" (his phrase, but everybody, the smellfeasts excepted of course, would agree with him). Guiding the public through the streets of London combines his three great loves: architecture, history and showing off.
Rex is an English gentleman.
Richard - the man with the honeyed voice and the distinctive red hat - has three careers. He's an actor, a professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide, and he restores old houses. Urbane, witty, and charming - he's the perfect host. He brings authority, panache, and an insider's savvy to his walks. And if you like our Day Trips from London, you owe Richard a debt of thanks, because he's the one who's masterminded that wonderful strand of our programme. If you'd like to hear that honeyed voice in action simply join him on his Stonehenge & Salisbury Day Trip.
Richard III, scion of a Lord Mayor of London, is a writer, actor, director and stand-up comic. And the only London Walks guide to have addressed the United Nations!
Richard IV is an actor, swordsman and an expert on early detective fiction. His velvety voice and perfect timing make for some awfully handsome listening on his Sherlock Holmes walk! No surprise to learn that he's narrated numerous documentaries and audiobooks.
"the Pied Piper of Beatlemania", is the author of The Beatles' London, a consultant on the Hard Day's Night DVD and holder of the Beatles Brain of Britain title. So much for the understatement! As actor David Jansen* put it, "[Richard] is a Beatles genius". Part and parcel of all that are Richard's "connections" – they're to die for. He knows them all – all the "players" from the Beatles saga. One could go on. I'm thinking of his collection of Beatles gear...but really, the thing is to "go on" the walk. *David Jansen was the child actor who appeared in A Hard Day's Night.
has a "past". He's sailed across the Pacific in a two-man boat. He's explored the Himalayas. He's an author. He's carved out a successful acting career.* He's True Grit. True North. True to the compass of his beyond perfect surname. Let alone the spun gold of his nickname: Kontiki. He's a brilliant guide. *You'll have seen him in any number of "London" programmes, from London's Burning to The Bill, etc.
Robert is allowed to drive sheep across London Bridge. An Oxford graduate, he's an actor, museum director, author and holder of the Freedom. Let alone the first person since Brunel to organise an underwater fair.
Is a professionally qualified City of London guide. She has worked as an actress for the National Theatre and in the West End and her dulcet tones are often heard reading for the BBC on radio and audio.
Dapper London chap, novice beekeeper, champion Charleston dancer, star Blue Badge Guide.
Ms. Efferfescence. "...the perfect blend – a font of knowledge, a diplomat and a comedian!!" That's how one of Rachel's walkers described her.* Some of the foundations for that skill set – award-winning Blue Badge Guide, high seas Lecturer, author of Jewish London and Whitechapel in 50 Buildings. *In short, you don't need to take it from us.
Ruth is a geologist at University College London. She researches geological materials used in art, architecture and archaeology. She is interested in the natural history of cities and this includes the fossils and crystals that we walk past every day. Ruth has appeared on the BBC World Service programme Science Now and regularly writes and blogs on building stones.
Shaughan is a distinguished - and stylish - actor (his stage roles range from Frank-n-Furter in The Rocky Horror Show to Sherlock Holmes; his many television credits include Poirot and Miss Marple). A professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide and the possessor of a fine baritone voice, he usually spices his walks with a song or two. You can hear him on his Little Venice walk.
Simon is James Bond material. He's tall, dark, and easier on the eyes than Pierce Brosnan. Let alone brainier. This is an actor who's tri-lingual, who's lived in Asia and South America, and, for good measure, is a top flight professionally qualified London Blue Badge, Southeast England and Cambridge Guide. And he's also a very nice guy. And as a guide - well, they don't come any better. And believe me, it's not just us saying that!
Française, mais londonienne d'adoption, je suis professeur de français langues étrangères. Ma grande spécialité? Les crêpes! Mais je ne vous dis pas d'où je viens en France...
Stephanie, a splendidly droll ex-Elephant Keeper, was in Shakespeare in Love! She's a professionally qualified Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, City of London, and Blue Badge Guide.
Steve. Hmmm. Steve. When you see him from a distance you think he's a roadie for a heavy metal band. And then he starts guiding and it's KA-BOOM. Which is by way of saying, all that business about him being London Walks' fizziest guide - I'll let you in on a secret - that's a piece of English understatement. Anything else? Yes, lots. He's a dashing actor, a playwright, a song writer and a musician.
Sue is a Freeman of the City of London, a botanist and a water-colourist. She's an expert on the Fleet River and a professionally qualified Blue Badge and City of London Guide. She wrote the Life in the Mediaeval City chapter in our book. She guides many London Walks, ranging from Kew Gardens to the Fleet River to Ancient London (her tour de force) and points beyond.
is a gifted young actor.
Simon W. comes trailing clouds of guiding glory. An award-winning Blue Badge Guide, he guides for the Royal Opera House, for the BBC and for London Walks. When he's not acting.
Former Editor and CEO of Indepent Television News and now spy biographer, Stewart Purvis has created and guides The Hampstead Spies walk. Stewart's the author of Guy Burgess, The Spy Who Knew Everyone.
Simon B. is a young(ish) actor regularly spotted on stage and screen. Blessed with great height, a strong voice and a quick wit, he's easy to follow in every sense.
Fiercely intelligent, terrifyingly talented, distinguished actor. Royal Shakespeare Company, West End shows, lots of films, Sir Peter Hall's Shakespeare productions, etc. Best ear ever. His impersonation of John Lennon is a resurrection. Doesn't just guide Shakespeare, performs him.
Tom is a barrister, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Examiner for the Blue Badge Guides Course, travel writer and another creme de la creme professionally qualified Blue Badge Guide (he's the Chairman of the Guild of Guides Association). Follically challenged but motorcycling virile, his graceful wit, classic elegance of mind, infectious giggle, and gentle and generous heart make him the delight of all who know him. He takes the Wednesday afternoon tour, The London Walk - St. Paul's to the Tower of London.
Tim P. was at LSE when LSE was LSE. A retired lecturer (and senior manager), he's the only West Ham supporter to officially attend the G8 summit in Rome. Left his scarf behind.
Tim T. killed Simon Callow in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Wrote and performed the theme tune to the children's television programme Rainbow. Actor, blues musician, Oxford graduate (Cultural Anthropology) and the man with 40 hats.