British actress and writer Meera Syal has recently completed a run playing Miss Hannigan in the musical Annie. She'ss well known for starring in the British TV comedy series Goodness Gracious Me and award-winning The Kumars at No. 42, created by and co-starring her real-life husband, Sanjeev Bhaskar. Meera has also written the novels Anita and Me and Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee.
What are your favourite buildings in the capital?
I love the Natural History Museum; it’s a beautiful building. I also love King’s Cross station, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. I think Gothic and Victorian architecture is glorious!
Which galleries do you like?
The V&A is constantly surprising. Every time I go, I’m delighted by something new. I’ve been to some fantastic talks there about Indian art. I like that is does cross-genre exhibitions and events, linking up with art, film or music.
Where do you like to go shopping?
I prefer hanging around independent places in neighbourhoods like Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Covent Garden.
Tell us about one of your favourite items you bought…
I bought a little 1920s handbag from a tiny shop in Camden Passage in Islington. It was velvet, and covered with fish and mermaids. I’m very sad because it fell apart recently after lots of mending. The only problem with individual things is that you can never replace them.
What is your favourite green space?
It has to be Hampstead Heath. I live so near it and I go there all the time. It’s one of the great jewels of London, all that unspoiled woodland. You can stand in some places and think you are in the middle of the countryside. I still get lost in it; it’s really so loved. Kenwood House is nearby and has just recently been refurbished; it has a fantastic free art collection.
How do you prefer to travel?
It’s the Tube all the time. I live quite near a Tube station. My favourite line? The Northern line, mate! Only because I use it the most.
What place holds a special memory?
For any actor who has worked at the National Theatre, the South Bank is special. The walk over Waterloo Bridge is amazing—seeing the theatre across the river, as well as Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe. It feels like a cultural hub. It’s a place that means a lot to me professionally.
Do you have a favourite café?
There’s a really nice café called Kalendar, which is on Swain’s Lane in Highgate. It does what you’d expect from a great café: brunch, wonderful morning coffee and pastries. After I’ve been for a walk with a mate, that’s where we go to put back on all of the calories we’ve just got rid of.
Where do you like to drink?
I’m not really a pub person, though The Flask in Highgate village is a lovely place.
What about eating out?
I’m a great fan of Dishoom, which serves Indian-style tapas. The branch I know best is on St Martin’s Lane. When I play at theatres there, we always head there to eat between shows. The menu has stuff my mum makes, such as rosewater lassi, but also high-end dishes like mango and duck salad.
What is your perfect entertainment?
In London we have the best theatre in the world, ranging from fringe venues to big West End ones. But if I could see any show, it would be Hamilton.
Do you have a favourite hotel in London?
Charlotte Street Hotel. It is a nice hotel; I’ve been to screenings there and they do them beautifully.
What makes London stand out?
The main buzz and pulse of London comes from it being so multinational. Every community brings its own vibe, flavour, food and music.