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Day 2, Wednesday July 16

Trip Information

See my general trip page for an overview of what this post is about.

“It’s …”
— Monty Python

The day 2 plan was to see some of the central London sights – Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The National Gallery, BBC Broadcasting House Tour (at 1:15PM), Piccadilly Circus, as well try to see Tower Bridge, the giant Dead Parrot, Tench Street on the way to the O2 for Monty Python tonight (doors open 6PM).  See map below. Not everything went as planned.

London Sights

Getting to Big Ben is pretty easy.  However the Piccadilly line closed down right as I got into London at Liverpool Station.  Someone was sick on a train (they tell you don’t ride the tube if you’re sick) and that pretty much stopped it.  So I had to take a different route which took more time.  That got me to Big Ben later than I had planned so I had to skip Buckingham Palace and The National Gallery in order to get to the BBC Broadcasting House tour by 1:15PM.

The Big Ben / Westminster area is very very touristy – packed with people taking photos and tour buses.  The buildings are just unbelievable in their detail and intricacies. I made my through on foot towards Piccadilly Circus on my way to the BBC Broadcasting House.

Piccadilly Circus

A circus is a round intersection of several streets.  This was my first Morrissey/Smiths stop.  One of my goals was to see several places mentioned in songs — this is a typical thing we do.  Piccadilly Circus is the namesake of the song “Piccadilly Palare” from the album “Bona Drag” (see below).  The advertisements at the circus have gotten more and more advanced over time.  The screens wrap around the semi-circular building and are always changing.

“the Piccadilly palare
was just a silly slang
between me and the boys in my gang”
— Morrissey, Piccadilly Palare

BBC Broadcasting House

I don’t remember how I found this when planning my trip, but I’m sure glad I did.  This is where much of the BBC news programming, like the world service, is created as well as some TV content.  The tour was simply amazing.  You get to see how they run their news broadcasts (the control room for each studio may be in another building) and you get to see the largest news room outside of China.  A few lucky participants get to do a fake news broadcast (I didn’t try that one), then you get to see a real studio and finally you get to do a radio drama.  We got to sit in the real studio for the One Show which was going to be taping that evening.  I played the creepy butler in an (intentionally) cheesy radio drama — we had sound effects and everything.  It was very fun.

Tower Bridge

I swung by the Tower Bridge area both to see the iconic bridge as well as hunt for the giant dead parrot mentioned in articles.  I didn’t find it there.  But I would find it later.

Tench Street

Nearby in the Wapping area is the Tench street corner as well as the pub in the video for “We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful.” The corner has changed a bit over the years since the photo shoot that yielded a poster (that I had in college).   The pub looks pretty similar (see video below about 57 seconds).

Monty Python at the O2

Then it was off to the O2 for the show.  The O2 is like a city block or two under a big umbrella — there’s a movie theater, restaurants and a 20,000-person arena.  There’s a tube stop right there so getting there is no problem.

Once inside I found my seat which was pretty good – just off to the side a few rows up of the floor.  The arena is huge with seating going very very high up.  The stage was well-designed with a large screen above the stage showing much of the action with two smaller screens on either side that showed other camera angles or other content.  All-in-all a well-done media experience.  Getting pictures was hard due to how dim it was but I got a few.  I also recorded two of the skits (below). The show was hilarious with mainly old material with some updates and some new material woven in. There is a live DVD/Blue-ray on the UK store so hopefully that will come stateside too.

Calling it the “Silly Walks Song” is a bit misleading.

I had to take down my recordings but here’s some official content.  A few times during the night they lost their focus, had a laugh, and got back on it.  They really appeared to be enjoying themselves.

An immense amount of people headed to the tube station — 1000s I’m sure.  It was so organized and we all got in very quickly considering the number of people.  This obviously was a common occurrence and staff were ready to manage the crowd. I didn’t get back until midnight which made for a short night of sleep as I had to be up early the next day to catch my train to Manchester.


One Response to “Day 2, Wednesday July 16”

  1. BIll WIttenbreer says:

    I think we will add the BBC tour to our itinerary…

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