EXCITEMENT about The Hour, hailed as the British Mad Men, has been building for months. With the first episodes of the series about BBC executives in 1956, having been aired, Londoners now have their very own answer to the Madison Avenue of Don Draper and co. But unlike the skyscrapers of mid-town Manhattan or the suburban New York homes of Mad Men set, we bring to you: Crouch End, north London. Although the BBC series, starring Romola Garai (pictured), revolves around the old BBC offices at Alexander Palace, in neighbouring Muswell Hill, much of the new BBC series has been filmed in the Grade-II-listed Hornsey Town Hall in Crouch End. Its wood panelling, art-deco fixtures and vintage lighting makes it the perfect setting for the show’s 1950s feel.
Unsurprisingly it has also charmed developers. Planning permission – and £18m – has been allocated to turn the Hornsey Town Hall site into a complex with 120 homes, along with cafes, art house cinema, exhibition space and a bar.
Crouch End has long been the bohemian or intellectual’s refuge of choice: some might call it the poor man’s Hampstead. It’s kept its status as a slightly out of the way place to live because it doesn’t have a tube link. But celebrities from writer Caitlin Moran to X-Men star James McAvoy reside there, and – as in Hampstead – there is a strong contingent of psychoanalysts and writers.
The Hornsey Art School is based in Crouch End and is home to an annual chorus festival. Rumour has it comic star Michael Mcintyre started out in the local comedy club.
Local estate agent Matthew Englender of Greene & Co. confirms the area’s stereotypes. The artsy types, he says, are usually looking for flats and studios, while the medical professionals and families are after big houses.
Englender reckons the lack of tube stop protects Crouch End from the prices seen elsewhere in the area. Crouch End can be as much as 7 per cent cheaper than like-for-like properties closer to a tube stop.
OVERLOOKED IN THE PAST
“The area has been overlooked in the past because of its transport difficulties,” says James Banks, a City lawyer and resident. “The lack of tube stop gives the area this great community feel.” The web of cute shops on the Broadway, regular local festivals and the strong local schools are a testament to that. Nearly all the primary schools get fantastic results. “I used to find it quite difficult to get people to come visit me, but now everyone’s interested in coming to check out the arty vibe,” says Banks.