Whose Line Is it Anyway – Adelphi Theatre

All the best TV panel programmes started as radio shows performed in front of a live audience, so the staging of Whose Line Is it Anyway? in the West End seems quite natural. Top improvisers from this Channel 4 favourite are set to reunite after one and a half decades and will be bringing their own special brand of organised mayhem to the Adelphi Theatre. Clive Anderson will chair the proceedings as Colin Mochrie, Josie Lawrence, Greg Proops and Brad Sherwood all seek to out-gag, out-act and out-goof each other in a series of hilarious set pieces.

Even though it disappeared from our screens at the turn of the Millenium, Whose Line? has met with continued success in the states and has continued to evolve and pick up new audiences. This means that the show that kicks off for a limited run in June, will be fresher, sharper and funnier than ever. As always, the lack of format, script or rehearsals forces the cast to think on their feet at all times. Audience participation is almost mandatory and some of the most hilarious outcomes occur when they take over from Anderson in the direction of proceedings.


Trailer Happiness – Portobello Road
Trailer Happiness
Theres definitely a fine line between cosy and claustrophobic and Trailer Happiness gets this delicate balance just right. Situated in a basement just off the Portobello Road, this cocktail bar harks back to the days before gentrification when the area was a cultural touchstone for Londoners of West Indian descent. As a result, rum, rum-based cocktails and spicy bar snacks feature quite heavily on the menu, although there are many items that go beyond the Caribbean theme.

The decor features a lot of neon and mirrors, effortlessly conjuring up a distinct 80s vibe, but that’s no bad thing as the music also draws heavily from that era. Bar staff are friendly, helpful and full of enthusiasm for all things rum so don’t be surprised if your roped in to an impromptu tasting session! The jerk chicken burger with cassava chips and banana ketchup comes highly recommended and is the ideal way to kick-start an evening of rum connoisseurship. Dr Fang, Yellow Belly and Dark ‘n’ Stormy may sound like comic book villains, but they are actually types of rum – each with their own characteristic flavour and kick.


Eton v Harrow – Lord’s Cricket Ground
This is one of the longest running fixtures of any sport, anywhere in the world. Both Eton College and Harrow School are where the British establishment sent their sons with the expectation that they would, in time, emerge as worthy administrators of a global empire. Cricket was seen as part and parcel of that education, as was an intense level of inter-school rivalry, meaning that this contest will always be so much more than about who scores the most runs.

Harrow laugh at Eton’s pinstripe trousers while Eton joke about Harrow’s straw hats. Eton students boast about being near Windsor Castle while the Harrow pupils claim that they can see the whole of London from their hilltop campus. In short, one-upmanship is the name of the game and there’ll be plenty of ex-pupils in attendance to cheer their old schools on. Both the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London are Old Etonians but that won’t faze Harrow who can point to a certain Winston Spencer Churchill as the most famous “old boy” of all.


San Andreas – Cinemas Londonwide
View London
As Stallone, Arnie and Van Damme fade into semi-retirement, Dwayne Johnson has stepped in smartly to bridge the muscleman action hero gap. San Andreas is his first truly solo star vehicle and it comes at a time when he is beginning to be known by his proper name, rather than his wrestling moniker, “The Rock”. Johnson plays a helicopter rescue pilot who is in the process of getting divorced when disaster strikes, causing him to re-evaluate both his plans and priorities.

The title of the movie stems from the massive fault line that runs along the Western seaboard of the U.S. When this causes a giant earthquake, half of California plunges into the sea and Johnson sets out with his estranged wife on a quest to find his missing daughter. Snappy visuals and impressive CGI set-pieces help to convey the awesome spectacle of a continent in upheaval, but Johnson is a big enough figure not to be dwarfed by all this natural mayhem. Watch out for Kylie Minogue in a key supporting role.


Bubba Gump Shrimp Co – Piccadilly
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co
Themed restaurants can be a risk to both entrepreneur and customer as failure to enter the spirit of things on either leads to embarrassment on both sides, no matter how good the food. When the theme is based on a famous film, the line between inspiration and incoherence is even more indistinct, so it’s a relief to know that there are still places with the nerve to pull it off. Bubba Gump takes its theme from the fictional shrimp business formed by Tom Hanks in the movie Forrest Gump. Seafood is fresh, plentiful and cooked with an American-style fervour which seems to be a big hit with hungry West End diners.

The word “shrimp” can be deceiving because in U.S. terminology, this indicates big, juicy prawns. These beauties are prepared with deft precision, laced with just the right amount of seasoning and fully deserve the title: “Shrimpers Net Catch”. Prawns pop up again in the excellent Jambalaya and once again the seasoning is spot on. Staff are bright, friendly and engaging, making Bubba Gump the ideal pre-club hangout.


Gypsy – Savoy Theatre
Gypsy is a musical loosely based on the early life of Gypsy Rose Lee, the (in)famous exotic dancer who once had ambitions to be a serious actress. The fact that she drifted into the seedier side of the trade was down to her mother, a template that all overbearing “show biz moms” seem to have followed ever since. Imelda Staunton plays, sings and dances the role of Mama Rose, revealing the barely suppressed mania that inhabits only the truly self-delusional.

To call Staunton a theatrical “Force of Nature” is to almost fall into show business cliche. Exuberant, focused and massively talented, she invests emotion and intelligence into every role given to her. Acclaimed lyricist, Stephen Sondheim, consented to this revival only on the condition that Staunton was available to star in it – she’s that good.


Wigmore Hall – Marylebone
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the makers of Bechstein pianos wanted to show off their instruments in the best way possible. With this in mind, they proceeded to build a concert venue that was in every way, as exquisite and as sonically rich as their best model. The fabulous acoustics achieved have ensured that Wigmore Hall continues to attract the brightest and the best practitioners of chamber, solo and early classical music.

This means that quality control is not a problem. Any lunchtime recital or evening concert is guaranteed to be richly rewarding and life-affirming. It’s not a place to take your smartphone as every rustle and creak can be heard. Musicians are instantly rewarded, however, as every arpeggio, chord and tonal variation is instantly reflected back to them, spurring them on to even more dazzling feats.


All Star Lanes – Bayswater
All Star Lanes seeks to reimagine the bowling experience by taking it back to its roots in 50s Americana. Gone is the over-reliance on digital technology, the indifferent food and the bored staff. Here, the emphasis is on vintage looks and an enthusiastic front-of-house team. There’s still plenty of computerised help with the score keeping should you need it but All Star Lanes hope that you’re having so much fun that you’ll forget whose winning.

There’s some modern touches to the menu as well with vegetarian options and up-to-date cocktails. Themed nights, guest DJs and children’s facilities are all indicative of the flexible, friendly approach that comes as a welcome change to a format that has, in recent times, become stale. Party bookings and private rooms are also available.


Royal China restaurant – Bayswater
The distinctive gold and black colour scheme of the Royal China is one of the informal landmarks of Bayswater. Pass through their doors and you’ll find yourself in a world of exceptional dim sum expertise. Special weekends are dedicated to this most addictive and communal of oriental delicacies and because of the no-bookings policy, it sometimes takes planning and a bit of persistence to get a seat.

Royal China get their dim sum just right and they have just the right combination of familiar presentation and surprise fillings. The stickiness of the rice and the delicacy of the seasonings are also spot on. Standout examples are: prawn and chive, pork and radish and fried mixed meat dumpling. Don’t forget your side dishes as too much indulgence could leave you queasy. Ho fun noodles and baked seafood rice come highly recommended.


Tangerine Cafe Bar – Knightsbridge
Millenium Hotels and Resorts

The Tangerine Cafe Bar is the ideal place to kick back and connect with loved ones in the heart of Knightsbridge. Located in the plush Millennium Hotel, this classy watering hole is where you’ll find serious shoppers catching their second wind over a cocktail or a coffee. Discerning tourists will find the light snacks and well thought out wine selection preferable to the mega-chains that populate the area and may want to use it as a cosy spot from which to plan their itineraries.

The modern European menu offers freshly made food, all made from locally sourced produce and is well priced and skilfully presented. Small plates, sandwiches and light desserts are all good options for those with neither the time or inclination for eating a three course lunch.


Searcys Champagne Bar – Westfield Shepherd’s Bush

If you’re spending the day purchasing luxury goods, then it stands to reason that any refreshment break should be as exclusively elegant as the items in your shopping bag. At Westfield Shepherd’s Bush, Gucci, Dior and Prada all come under one roof so the existence of a Searcys Champagne Bar right amongst them isn’t a surprise. There was a time when glamorous additions like these were tucked away in a discreet corner of the mall, but in these robustly confident times, drinking champagne cocktails in full view of other shoppers seems quite natural.

The open plan leather seating and ornate chandeliers provide an excellent environment from which to watch the world go by while enjoying a wide range of vintage fizz. Billecart-Salmon, Laurent Perrier and Piper Heidseick are among the prestigious brands sold here and can be bought by the glass or by the bottle. So if you need a few moments to reflect the wisdom of investing in that Louis Vuitton bag, spend those moments over a glass of bubbly at Searcys before taking the plunge.


Philomena’s Bar – Covent Garden


In London, there’s a big difference between an Irish bar and an “Irish themed” establishment. The real deal tends to avoid tourist-trap shenanigans while sticking to the basics and that is indeed Philomenas main strength. As in all Irish watering holes, sport plays a big part in the all round atmosphere. Huge screens are strategically placed around the venue showing all the hurling, rugby and Gaelic football direct from the old country and this month the pub will be buzzing as the six nations rugby contest coincides with St Patricks Day.

The food and drink here is as honest and unpretentious as the decor. Ploughman’s lunches, beef pies and fish suppers are well made, promptly served and inexpensive. The Guinness never runs out and is poured with the utmost care and dedication (the staff will even bring the pint over to your table rather than have you waiting at the bar).


Founders Arms – Bankside

A pub with a view is not an uncommon occurrence in London but a pub with one as a majestic as this is definitely worth a visit or two. Sited between Blackfriars Bridge and the Millennium foot crossing on the southern shore of the Thames, the Founders Arms is an ideal pit stop for those rambling along the South Bank. Visitors to the monolithic Tate Modern museum will also be able to obtain a welcome snack and a friendly pint before pressing on to the Globe theatre or the London Eye.

Those looking for more substantial fare will find a lot to choose from from the exhaustive lunch and brunch menus. Steak, fish & chips, and various pasta dishes are cooked and served with skill and efficiency leaving guests free to enjoy the unrivalled views of the City, St Paul’s and Tower Bridge. As the evenings close in, the atmosphere gets livelier as students, artists and City workers add to the social mingle.


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