Revealed: The man behind #Tube_chat (spoiler: He's American)

Emma Haslett
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400 - Bad Request | City A.M.

400 - Bad Request

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Commuters were baffled by the Tube Chat badges doing the rounds today

It's the phenomenon that has appalled the capital - now City A.M. can exclusively reveal the motive behind #Tube_chat.

NHS worker Jonathan Dunne is the man behind the badges encouraging Tube commuters to perform a decidedly un-Londonish act, and actually talk to each other.

It won't surprise many to learn that Dunne is originally from the US - but has lived in the capital since 1996.

Speaking to City A.M., Dunne said he had handed out the first 480 badges at Old Street Station yesterday.

"I thought it was going to be a laugh, but it was actually miserable," he confessed.

"I've never handed out anything at a Tube station before. You run the gauntlet of people panhandling, people handing out flyers, or whatever.

"Most people aren't interested. Some people take things to be nice."

Read more: The definitive ranking of all the things we hate most about the Tube

But he said that despite the strength of the reaction on social media, there had been some positive sentiment.

"I would say of the 480 [badges] I handed out, maybe 30 or 40 people smiled," he added.

Jonathan has lived in London for the last 20 years

Perhaps those affronted by the campaign should give him a break, though: Dunne added that rather than forcing Londoners to break the wall of silence that greets commuters on the Tube, the point of the badges is to create an experience for willing participants.

Read more: The Night Tube has finally arrived

"The idea is you opt in - if you want to be involved, you can be involved," he said.

"Living in London is an isolated life experience. People have lots of barriers."

The good news for the few who do want to opt in is that Dunne is planning to hand out 500 more badges.

"I don't think I'm going to hand them out near a station," he said. "I think I'll find a different venue."

City AM Do you think Jonathan's idea is a good one?

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