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Gyles Brandreth’s Childhood Street


The street I grew up on: Giles Brandreth, 75, broadcaster and former Tory MP shares memories of Baker Street, London

I lived in Baker Street, London, from the ages of eight to eighteen. Ours was on the third floor of a Victorian block of flats and had a very long, dark L-shaped corridor, but the rooms were very large and had very high ceilings.

It looked a lot like the interior of Rumpole’s apartment in the TV series Rumpole Of The Bailey. My father Charles was a lawyer, but before that, when he was a lawyer, he worked in the same rooms as John Mortimer, who wrote Rumpole.

At one time my mother Alice ran a small Montessori nursery out of our dining room.

I loved being on Baker Street. While I was there I discovered Sherlock Holmes, and when I found out his house in the books was on the same street – it was at 221B – I couldn’t believe it. He was my hero.

The first play I wrote, when I was 12 years old, was called A Study in Sherlock. We put him in my boarding school.

Giles Brandreth, 75, shares fond memories of living on London’s Baker Street as a child and teenager

When we moved into the apartment, my three sisters were so much older than me that they started leaving the house. So it was mostly me and my younger brother Ben, who was adopted in 1958.

I realize now that my parents had financial concerns. They were comfortable but spent a little more than they earned.

They weren’t expensive at all but there was school fees to pay for five kids. I can picture my dad most nights sitting at the kitchen table with all the bills laid out around him, deciding which to pay first, and which he can put off.

But he always managed – school fees were always paid and we had nice holidays. My father was a heavy smoker, but I also think he was wracked by money issues.

He died when he was 71 years old. I would have loved to know how it turned out and how grateful we are for it. I had a very happy childhood.

I couldn’t believe I lived in the same street as my hero, Sherlock Holmes

Another thing I loved about Baker Street was that it was near Madame Tussauds, because I was always fascinated by the magic of fame.

My dad loved telling us about old murder cases, so The Room of Horrors didn’t scare me.

Several years later, she began writing murder mysteries featuring Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle, Baker Street, and Madame Tussauds.

Pictured: Giles in 1958, aged about 10, near his beloved childhood home.  He says it's where he was discovered

Pictured: Giles in 1958, aged about 10, near his beloved childhood home. He says it is where he discovered his “hero” Sherlock Holmes

The third sensation around the street was the Beatles, who opened an Apple Store in 1967, just ten yards from our front door. I walked in and Paul McCartney was there, and he told us, “This is a nice place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things.”

I used to see every Beatle on the street.

Regent’s Park was nearby, and is one of the places I fell in love with the theatre, for its outdoor Shakespeare theatre. On Easter, my dad would hide Easter eggs in the garden – he would hide loads and we were always missing some. Many years later, when my wife, Michelle, and I lived on Baker Street—I loved it so much we have an apartment there—and we hid eggs for our young son, I found one of my old family eggs in the bushes!

Michelle and I got married near Baker Street, in the Marylebone Registry Office. So Baker Street means everything to me.

It’s where I discovered my love for all things Victorian through Sherlock Holmes, it was my childhood where I got married and it was my first home.

As told to Vicki Bauer

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