Hugh Bonneville’s My London

Interview by Hannah Nathanson for the Evening Standard

21st January 2011

Hugh Bonneville plays with the giant Macs at the Hoxton Hotel and does his wooing at dusk on Primrose Hill…

Home is
The Hampshire-Sussex border with my wife Lulu and our nine-year-old son Felix. I grew up in Blackheath but now I feel lucky to live in view of green fields.

Where do you stay in London?
The Hoxton Hotel. I usually have a vodka and cranberry in the bar and play on their giant Apple Mac computers.

What was the last play you saw in London?
The opening night of A Flea in Her Ear at The Old Vic, starring my great friend Tom Hollander. Unfortunately he injured his arm so he’s been off for a while. It’s a farce with lots of door-slamming so one of them was bound to go awry.

What advice would you give a tourist?
Take to the river; it’s the heart of the capital and it will give you a sense of direction.

Which shops do you rely on?
Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street for thrillers. I was at school with the owner and helped him stack his first shelves. For my Downton Abbeycostumes I’m spending quite a lot of time in H Huntsman on Savile Row, which is a great privilege; I intend to camp there for the rest of my life. I buy my ankle boots at RM Williams on Bond Street and I enjoy browsing in Borough Market.

What’s the best meal you’ve had in London?
At Benja, a Thai fusion restaurant on Beak Street, with the producer and writer of The French Film for a celebratory meal after we finished shooting.

What’s your earliest London memory?
Tobogganing in Greenwich Park, aged seven.

What would be on your tombstone?
‘Oh, him!’

What are you most afraid of?
Wasps. I got stung behind the ear when I was four. I’ve never forgotten how much it hurt.

What animal would you most like to be?
A slow loris because we share the same personality, staying very still for a long time and then poking our heads out suddenly.

What would you do as Mayor for the day?
After solving knife crime by elevenses, I would organise an armada to sail along the Thames so Londoners get to know their city better.

What was the last album you bought?
Matt Cardle’s debut album Seven Summers. I have a man crush on him.

What’s your life philosophy?
Do it now.

Who’s your hero?
My son, because he’s wiser than I am.

What makes you cry?
Toy Story 3 and injustice.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Kiehl’s facial moisturiser. I was given some on a TV show last year and now I have to sleep with it by my pillow. My wife finds it strange.

What are you up to at the moment?
I’m ambushing my postman daily waiting for the next Downton Abbey (co-star Michelle Dockery, bottom) script to come through.

Where did you last go on holiday?
I went to Northern Cyprus for two weeks last summer with my wife and son. It was very hot and I got bitten to pieces by sand flies. Before that I managed to get a day off to visit my family who were on holiday in Normandy. I borrowed a fold-up bike and cycled on board a ferry.

What’s the most romantic place in London?
Primrose Hill at dusk.

What are your favourite London discoveries?
Canary Wharf. I filmed a series called Twenty Twelve there for the BBC and became very attached to the area. It’s got a buzzing nightlife.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?
An old school friend playing back a tape of me singing a song about beer in a school band. It was the ascendancy, the peak and the trough of my singing career.

Have you ever stolen anything?
A keyring from a sweet shop in Blackheath when I was about eight. The guilt of it means I haven’t stolen anything since.

Hugh stars in The French Film: A Frenchman’s Guide To Love, which is out on DVD on 7 February, and Twenty Twelve on BBC Four this spring

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