The London Grill: Sara Pascoe

We challenge our contributor to reply to ten devilishly probing questions about their London and we don’t take “Sorry Gov” for an answer. Everyone sitting in the hot seat will face the same questions that range from their favourite way to spend a day out in the capital to their most hated building on London’s skyline to find out just what Londoners really think about their city. The questions might be the same but the answers vary wildly.

[S]ara Pascoe was once a London tour guide, but she is better known as an actress and a highly original comic. Her many TV credits include series regular roles in Campus; Free Agents and, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret – all for C4 television, and for her guest leads in the BBC’s The Thick of It; Being Human and a regular role in the satire of this year’s London Olympics TwentyTwelve. Sara regularly performs solo stand up shows to capacity crowds and has been voted one of Time Out magazine’s ‘Rising Stars of Comedy’. Sara is one of the regular weekly stars of the Channel 4 series, Stand Up For The Week as well as appearances on Live at the Apollo; Comedy World Cup and Don’t Sit on the Front Row.

What’s your secret London tip?
Do your research before a trip or day out . . . If you are into Roman ruins, have a look at where you can see the really exciting stuff, like The Temple of Mithras near Bank, or even places that don’t have public access – the Museum of London run FREE guided tours down underneath the road to remnants of the Roman wall around the city. Also don’t be afraid to ask, once in St. Bride’s Church off Fleet Street I got talking to a vicar and he let me see the charnel room . . . a big pit full of neatly stacked bones that had been there for 100s of years and needed sorting!

What’s your secret London place?
It’s not really a secret, but I love the view from the top of the Monument. It’s only a few pounds to go up, lots of stairs so good for the heart and then on the way down you get a certificate you can colour in!! More people died committing suicide from the Monument than in the fire too, one of those macabre facts that abound in London history.

What’s your biggest gripe about London?
Most of the things I could list as London’s negatives, also count as positives – it’s the crowding and amount of people that mean anything in the world can be found or achieved here. I guess my only hope for improvement would be that we ensured that children born in poverty here still have exactly the same opportunities as wealthy children in the long run. It’s for children that the welfare state has to exist, and if young people have no opportunities, then poverty becomes a cycle. Ooh, what a light and funny answer!

What’s your favourite building?
My favourite building is the Houses of Parliament. It has fascinated me since childhood when I used to imagine giants hurting their big feet on it because it was so pointy! Now I appreciate its beauty (neo-gothic so inspired by the beauty of nature) and the lives of the men (Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin) that were dedicated to creating it after a fire destroyed the original Westminster Palace.

What’s your most hated building?
Not hatred, but I am not a big fan of the ugly brutalist buildings on Southbank . . . however, taken all together and next to the river, it does still ‘work’.

What’s the best view in London?
There is a bar at the top of Centre Point (The Paramount I think) that anyone can book a day in advance, go and have a nice glass of wine, the view I ASTONISHING! You can’t get used to it!

What’s your personal London landmark?
Boudicca Statue in Westminster Bridge is something I always point out to people and take the time to notice. A reminder of the 2000 years that preceded our time around the Thames, and the transitory nature of everything.

What’s London’s best film, book or documentary?
Do Not Pass Go by Tim Moore is funny and easy to read, it’s a history of Monopoly and why certain London areas were chosen and not others! Also Underground London by Stephen Smith and Necropolis by Catharine Arnold (this will give you an idea of some great graveyards to visit too!)

What’s your favourite bar, pub or restaurant?
My favourite pubs are near me in Tooting, the Antelope and the Tram and Social which is in an old tram shed.

How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
Vegan breakfast at Inspiral Net in Camden, walk through Regents Park to central London, watch a matinee on the fringe, then lovely wine and early dinner at Saf in Kensington, then I would watch a comedy show at Soho Theatre and then I’d catch a late film at Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square. I would pack a lot in!!

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