West End Extra
Publications by New Journal Enterprises
  Home Archive Competition Jobs Tickets Accommodation Dating Contact us
West End Extra - The XTRA DIARY
Published: 24 October 2008

Famous faces in the kitchen at Claridges including Michael Portillo, Carol Thatcher and Andrew Neil
Rich imagery of the secret Mayfair

NOT just the most expensive square on the Monopoly board, Mayfair is an area full of contrasts, so says photographer Gemma Levine, who has been stalking the salubrious streets to reveal some of its lesser-known curiosities.
Besuited hedge-fund managers are conspicuously absent in her black and white portrait of an area where serendipity can strike around every corner.
Among the most unexpected are pictures from inside the disused Down Street Tube station, once home to Winston Churchill’s war cabinet, the starkly decorated prostitutes’ flats above Shepherd Market – a reminder that vice flourishes in the most unlikely of places – and the discovery of withered epitaphs worked into the paving stones in Mount Street Gardens, a clue of the gardens’ former role as a burial ground and a piece of history decaying with every footprint.
Of course, befitting Mayfair there is plenty of celebrity. The assiduous Miss Levine, 69, has gained the trust and confidence of some famous faces in her
30-plus-year career, including no less than former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Gracing the pages of her deferential but not brochural book of photos are Dame Judi Dench in Claridges, the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, switching on the Christmas lights in the Burlington Arcade and Ms Levine’s close friend Michael Portillo – looking ever the statesman in a bespoke apron in the kitchen of Claridges. The former Tory MP turned political pundit has written the introductions to every chapter, with the totemic historian Sir Martin Gilbert lending his weight in a perceptive foreword.
Miss Levine, who made her name taking pictures of the sculptor Henry Moore, has been living in Davies Street for the past five years and told us it was a delight to photo her home.
“Mayfair is the most amazing place,” she said. “There is so much history. It’s not the monochrome wealth people assume. There are all kinds of people and this is just my small contribution.”

• Mayfair. By Gemma Levine. HarperCollins £30.

Mayor clinches reel deal

FROM the dingy East End railway arches in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels to the leafy Highbury terraces in Fever Pitch and the eerie South Bank in 28 Days Later, London has always lent itself to film-makers.
Now it will become even easier to shoot films in the capital after Mayor Boris Johnson announced a relaxation of restrictions on directors.
Major players from the silver screen, including Michael Winterbottom (The Road to Guantanamo), Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham), Tim Bevan (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Andrew Macdonald (Trainspotting) met the Mayor at City Hall to welcome new powers that enable councils to close roads for up to 24 hours to make feature films.
Mr Johnson also gave his backing to London Film Day, a campaign to provide more opportunities to enjoy movies. Under the new Local Authorities and Transport Act 2008, which came into effect last month, councils and Transport for London can impose immediate street closures for filming.
Mr Johnson said: “The film industry – arguably more than any other – has simultaneously brought the world to London and put London on the world map. Few cities can compete as an iconic backdrop.”

Barbara’s booked for readings

THE cast and crew of the spooky West End show The Woman in Black met with actress and author Barbara Ewing this week to join the council’s new book club.
The former Orange Prize nominee’s novel, The Mesmerist, has been selected as the “One Book” for Westminster’s giant literary group, which readers from across London can discuss online through a special blog. Ms Ewing will give special readings at libraries across the borough in November and December.
Councillor Audrey Lewis, cabinet member for customer and neighbourhoods, said: “Reading groups were recently made more fashionable by television stars Richard and Judy and are becoming increasingly popular. With our ‘One Book’ and online review space we hope to inspire new interest in reading and encourage learning and the sharing of ideas on a grand scale.”
It is hoped the online review space will encourage more people to read and learn through talking about books.
As well as the blog, which can be found at onebookforwestminster. blogspot.com there are also 11 groups which meet in borough libraries and six special groups for younger readers.

Comment on this article.
(You must supply your full name and email address for your comment to be published)







Theatre Music
Arts & Events Attractions