Rufus Hound plays the pompous Mr Toad, a wannabe village squire. (©Marc Brenner/Jamie Hendry Productions)
The English actor, presenter and comedian Rufus Hound stars in a new production of "Wind in the Willows," at London Palladium, adapted from the classic children's book by Kenneth Graham. The show runs from 16 June to 9 Sept.
What makes London stand out?
Londoners! They are both a mix of the most helpful people, and people in a hurry. London stands out because it welcomes people from all over the world. In other cities cultures get divided up, whereas London is a melting pot–what it means to be alive on planet Earth at any time is represented in London more than any other city I have ever been to.
What is your perfect breakfast?
I usually have breakfast before I travel into London. I don’t tend to eat much. If I’m having breakfast then it’s a coffee from Kaffeine. They have a couple of outlets now in the West End.
What are your favourite buildings?
I never go past the Natural History Museum without being completely thrilled. As someone who doesn’t believe in any traditional God, I find it brilliant that Darwin convinced people we were here as a result of natural selection—so when they needed a suitable magnificent building to house what he collected, they essentially built a gothic cathedral.
What are your favourite green spaces?
For those with an adventurous demeanour, Richmond Park or Bushy Park. They’ve got deer!
Where do you like to go shopping?
I like shopping in east London. A stone’s throw from Liverpool Street station, there are pop-ups, independent shops and Brick Lane. Now I tend to shop in Soho, as that’s where I work.
What places in the city inspire you?
I can never not love London for as long as Waterloo Bridge stands. The view from both sides: the historic view of Parliament, and across it you have the London Eye. You have the undeniable nature, and man’s claim to the land with the architecture that rudely protrudes. From one location, you can see a history of the architecture of Western civilisation.
Is there a place in London that holds a special memory for you?
When I was brought to London as a kid, in my head ‘Covent Garden’ meant being in London. When I left school I got a job in an office in the centre of the neighbourhood and thought: ‘I’ve cracked this, I’m a proper grown-up, I work in Covent Garden.’ I also did street theatre here, and now I have children, they stand and watch street performers in the same place, telling the same jokes that I told.
How do you prefer to travel around?
I am a motorcyclist. It’s fun to be on a journey through central London traffic and getting into the gaps on the outside.
Would you do anything extravagant?
I have been to a lot of marches, which always have a point to them. I would shut down Trafalgar Square, erect a stage and run a rally telling people to be nicer to each other. People want to be nicer, but we are all too scared.
Where do you like to drink?
The Phoenix on Cavendish Square has fine beers, comedy and bands.
Tell us about "The Wind in the Willows."
If you want to tick off London, then see "The Wind in the Willows"–it’s an English story, by an English playwright, with English composers and a modern British cast. We are doing a show that is essentially a big warm hug.
What would be your ideal entertainment?
I saw Elbow recently at Hammersmith Apollo, and "Jerusalem" and "The Book of Mormon" in the West End. I also like The Comedy Store.
Where do you like eating out?
Bob Bob Ricard just off Beak Street. It was opened as a testimony to Russian opulence, at exactly the point in 2008 when the economy crashed. It was spectacularly mistimed. It serves a beef broth that comes with raw beef at the bottom of a tea cup. It is one of the finest things I’ve put in my mouth. When I go full Oliver Reed, I intend on spending thousands of pounds in a day here and leaving with diseases.