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Emma barnett

The broadcaster tucks in to salt beef at Monty’s Deli, buys her notebooks from Campo Marzio and loves Brixton’s Bowie vibe

Home is…

Brixton has been my home for seven happy years. It’s me and the boys; my husband and two-year-old son.

If you could buy any building in London and live there, which would it be?

Admiralty Arch is divine and dramatic. The idea of living in a grand arch fills me with childish wonder and glee. And just across from Her Maj, too — so decent neighbours who keep the peace. Please note I thought of it before the hotel developers did.

Admiralty Arch

Which shops do you rely on?

Every Friday I hunt down a challah loaf, usually from Gail’s. Being Jewish in south London has its limitations. Harry Otto & Son for fish in Brixton market; day-boat fresh, great value for money and always delish. And speedy service with a smile and a twinkle in the eye. I love the brightly coloured notebooks of Campo Marzio on Piccadilly. Crucially they are stapled, so they open properly flat — perfect for writing and fellow lefties.

Have you ever had a run-in with a London police officer?

On the airwaves — many. And brilliantly.

Where would you recommend for a first date?

We would start at Monty’s Deli for the best salt beef, latkes and gherkins this side of New York. Then it’s a cinema date in one of the stunners — like the Electric. But if they are really special, hire them the whole place and support an indie like the awesome Whirled Cinema in Loughborough Junction. Then it’s Soho for ice cream at Gelupo and nightcaps at Milroys.

Monty's Deli bagels

What’s the best meal you’ve had?

The Savoy chef’s table for a
big group work dinner in my first journalism job at Media Week a few days before it was shut down for its major refurbishment. I have never dined and drank so well.

Favourite hotel?

Alas I don’t tend to stay in hotels in the city I live in but if I did, I’d love a bit of Firmdale action. The Soho Hotel or Ham Yard’s decor is so damn beautiful — I could eat every cushion.

What’s your favourite work of art in London?

Bathers at Asnières by Georges Seurat at the National Gallery.

Bathers at Asnières

What’s your London secret?

The South London Gallery. The food at the café is amazing, as is the little garden out back. A total secret oasis. And the art, too, of course.
Tell no one.

What’s the best thing a cabbie has ever said to you?

‘Wake up.’ I had just pulled an all-nighter for the 2019 election and needed to go back on air a couple of hours later. I slept slumped in the back of the cab the whole way home with my mouth wide open. Sexy.

Which podcast are you currently obsessed with?

Grounded with Louis Theroux. I have loved the random selection of guests and how he has made me see them in a new light.

Most iconic Londoner?

As an adopted Brixton girl, I would have to say Brixton boy, David Bowie. His mural opposite the station is now protected by a screen but I loved how it became such an organic shrine to him — with flowers and all sorts of tributes.

Brixton's Bowie mural

What makes someone
a Londoner?

Knowing exactly which Tube door to stand by for your desired interchange and the tunnel shortcuts. Then thinking that waiting anything more than two minutes for the next Tube is utterly, utterly scandalous.

Emma Barnett is the new presenter of Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’. Episodes available on BBC Sounds