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British actor Hugh Bonneville arrives at BBC One on Brompton folding bike.
British actor Hugh Bonneville arrives at BBC One on Brompton folding bike.

The Bromptons of London

I recently discovered the BBC's 'tongue-in-cheeky' television series 'W1A' on Netflix. It's about a harried, sometime totally befuddled, Head of Values. The opening sketch has him arrive for his first day of work on a Brompton folding bicycle, kitted out in safety yellow jacket, pants cuffs and bike helmet.

Fans of the ever-popular BBC drama series 'Downton Abbey' will immediately recognize "Lord Grantham," played by 50 year-old actor Hugh Bonneville, in the above WENN.com photo. In 'Downton Abbey', Bonneville's character usually is chauffeured around in a Rolls Royce or seen trotting astride a sleek jumper, but in "W1A" he arrives for his first day of work on a Brompton folding bike, which while he is adapt at pedaling, he hasn't quite got the knack of actually folding it. This depiction isn't actually too far from real life, apparently.

According to my friend Ron Gompertz, who now lives in London, the Brompton bicycle has become almost iconic. In fact, he tells me you can actually rent ("hire" to use British parlance) them at various tube stations -- the age-old slang name for London's (haunted) subway stations -- for something like £4 a day ($6.10US).

Given the efforts of both the previous mayor of London, "Red" Ken Livingstone, and now Boris Johnson to promote more cycling in the city, it shouldn't have been all that surprising to see two of the lead characters riding bicycles to work, but I was; one of those pleased sort of surprises.

According to TfL statistic, between 2000 and 2012, the number of daily journeys made by bicycle in Greater London doubled to 580,000. In 2014, the total number of daily trips by cycle climbed to 610,000.

As for the premise of 'W1A', think of it as the cheeky version of HBO's now-discontinued series, "The Newsroom", which I loved, dang it! The Daily Mirror quotes the show's writer, John Morton, "...the show targets the reality of corporate life, rather than attacking the BBC itself. If it is satirical, then it's satirical about an environment, an ethos, and the absurdities of modern corporate life itself." It's 'Dilbert' in 3D.

Here's a scene from Series 2, episode 4, again featuring the Bromptons.

Posted By: Bill Moore [05-Sep-2015]

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