Mod in London: Phil Daniels
Phil Daniels interview
He's a King's Cross boy at heart, loves walking around the City of London and fancies himself as a Dickensian character in a top hat. Read and hear more as the actor and Quadrophenia star talks about the best and worst of London life...
Actor Phil Daniels has one of those CVs that stretches from stage-work with the RSC and the National Theatre to West End musicals, television drama, and hard-hitting film roles.
He's also been in EastEnders, was the voice of Blur's Parklife and famously starred as the pilled-up mod, Jimmy, in Quadrophenia, the film version of The Who's soundtrack of gang warfare and teenage kicks.
These days, he tells 94.9's Robert Elms, he likes a round of golf and playing a bit of guitar.
Asked about constantly being invited to recall his Quadrophenia days, he admits that he used to get fed up with it, but adds: "if it's lasted this long, then good luck to it, y'know."
Your favourite neighbourhood?
I've got to go back to where I come from, King's Cross. It's full of a lot of old memories for me. It was very community-based back then. I sometimes go back on me own and pop into pubs like the Skinner's Arms, which is a theme pub now. I just wish I'd kept my old property in King's Cross - I'd be laughing.
St Pancras: Phil is an unlikely train-spotter
Your favourite building?
It's always been St Pancras Station, where I used to go train-spotting. I think I've even seen the Flying Scotsman. It's just a fantastic building. They used to have raves and all sorts in there and now, of course, it's all perfectly in order.
Most hated building?
There's quite a few, isn't there? Like the Trocadero and Old Street roundabout, but opposite St Pancras Station is the new Camden town hall. It's really bleak and bad inside. I know because I had to register my daughter's birth there.
Best view in London?
Well, there's my hindsight view when we used to be able to go up the Post Office tower in these really fast lifts to the observation gallery. Otherwise, Kite Hill on Hampstead Heath, where people fly their kites. You can see everything there, like on Primrose Hill.
Favourite open space?
I'm going to say Hampstead Heath because at the moment I'm in training for the London Marathon. I've been running up and down and across it, and it's such a great space. There, I had to say it.
Most interesting shop?
It's difficult to talk about shops. When I was young I was into guitar shops, the ones on Denmark Street, and I'd sit there for hours doing Smoke On The Water. It's a bit sad now because I play a lot of golf, and so I go into discount places like Nevada Bob's. My philosophy is to enjoy yourself, do the things you want to do, like play golf!
Favourite pub, bar or restaurant?
I used to live in Stoke Newington and I'd go to a Thai place called Yum Yum, and that's my favourite restaurant. I also like the Magdala, the pub where Ruth Ellis shot... Timothy Everett!
Parklife collaborator Damon Albarn
Most memorable night out?
It's difficult because I can never remember those sort of nights. But I remember once doing Carousel in the West End for a long while. I sang in that and at the end of one show, I had to go on the Tube to the Shepherds Bush Empire to sing with Blur and do Parklife. It was a very odd evening and there was a great party after. Being a part-time pop star was perfect really, when I wasn't worn out by the partying.
How would you spend your ideal day off in London?
I'm going to play golf actually. I used to go into bars on my days off and I decided that wasn't too good for me.
Where would you take a visitor to London?
When I was little, my dad used to take us walking around the City of London, and I think that would be a good thing to do, on a Sunday, where all the banks are and down by the river.
The worst journey you've had to make in London?
It's tricky... I've been in a few bad ones but nothing awful, awful. The thing is, when I'm floating about I tend to use a scooter, plus I drive a little - but only when I have to.
The National Theatre: love or loathe it
Your personal London landmark?
The National Theatre, because it's where I started doing theatre and I've done a lot of theatre there. I love the views over Waterloo Bridge. Those buildings around there get slagged off a lot, but they're great.
Your favourite fictional Londoner?
It's tricky again to say what. But I did once play a part in a thing called Holding On by a great writer, Tony Marchant. The part was a journalist, a bit of a Tony Parsons-type, and he was a restaurant critic who had bulimia. I liked him very much indeed, yeah.
Favourite London film, book or documentary?
I've just read The Book of Dave by Will Self. It's a mad idea about a cab driver who splits up with his wife and goes bonkers and writes this book about all his manic thoughts... and it becomes a bible to all these other people. It's very interesting.
Which time period in London, past or future, would you like to go to?
I'd have to go back to Dickensian London and find out whether it's really like what we see on the telly. I'd also like to walk around with a top hat and sing, Consider Yourself!
Phil Daniels can be seen in the film Freebird, currently on release in selected London cinemas
last updated: 04/06/2008 at 16:40