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The year in review: heroes and villains of 2015

Isabelle Aron
Written by
Isabelle Aron

It might be panto season at the moment, but not all heroes and villains are whimsical, made-up characters who we can enjoy shouting at from the safety of our seats. London has been rife with real heroes and villains this year – here are some of the best and worst people of 2015.

Let's kick things off with the bad guys...


Boris Johnson

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There are many things we could berate Boris Johnson for this year, but there was one moment that undoubtedly sealed his fate as one of 2015's bad guys. Back in October, his competitive side got the best of him during a trip to Tokyo, when he visited a school and ended up rugby tackling a ten-year-old schoolboy to the ground. The kid was a trooper, saying 'he felt a little bit of pain but it's okay'. Doesn't mean you're off the hook though, Boris.

The people behind the Jack the Ripper museum

Mike Prior

In July, it emerged that what was proposed as a 'Museum of Women's History' in Whitechapel, had somehow morphed into a museum dedicated to Jack the Ripper. Y'know, the guy who spent his leisure time brutally murdering women? Yeah, him. Unsurprisingly, this didn't go down too well and there have been various protests since it opened this summer. The latest involved protesters hacking apart an effigy of the museum's owner, who incidentally happens to be the former diversity chief of Google, so you'd think he'd have thought this one through a bit more.

The people who bulldozed a pub without telling the landlady

Thomas Crockett

It was a sad day for London's pubs (and drinkers) when development company CLTX decided to bulldoze a pub after being denied planning permission to do just that. And they didn't even have the common courtesy to inform the landlady, who thought the pub was closed for inventory. Thankfully, the developers didn't get away with it – later that month the council issued an enforcement notice, meaning CLTX had to rebuild it brick by brick. 


TfL has obviously done lots of irritating things this year (thanks for making us cope without Central line at Tottenham Court Road station for a YEAR). But there's one thing we can't forgive – and that's the endless toying with our emotions around the Night Tube. In case you've forgotten, the 24-hour weekend service was meant to launch on September 12 but, because of unresolved disputes with the unions, we're still waiting. Much like we're still having to wait ages out in the cold for a night bus when we're stranded in east London at 2am. Thanks a lot, TfL.

The people who want to charge for Notting Hill Carnival

© David Tett

There are very few things that come for free in London, we all know that. But when we heard the news that we might have to pay for tickets to Notting Hill Carnival in future, well, we couldn't help but be a little outraged. Conservative MP for Kensington, Victoria Borwick, has submitted proposals suggesting that the street party should be ticketed - but if that means we have to deal with a Glastonbury-like scramble to get tickets months in advance then it won't be quite the same.

All of the estate agents ever

Really, this needs no explanation. Anyone who uses the word 'cosy' to describe a room that's only slightly larger than a broom cupboard is clearly not a great person. But in case you need any more reasons to hate estate agents, let's remember when Londoners let out a collective groan of despair as estate agents decided to turn The Elephant and Castle pub – the birthplace of UK Garage – into a branch of Foxtons. We also learned that those slippery property pushers are taking over London, with an average of 83 branches in each borough. 

And now onto the good guys...


Get In The Sea

Moving on from the worst people in London, it seems appropriate to give a shout out to the folks behind Twitter account @getinthesea, who spent their time calling out the worst trends/people/events of the year, including glitter beards, shit property adverts and people being dickheads on the tube.

The hoverboarding Lucozade thief


He might be a villain in the eyes of the law, but this guy is surely a hero for pulling off one of the most elaborate, yet nonchalant, minor thefts that this city has ever seen. Earlier this year, the Met Police announced that riding 'hoverboards' was illegal on London's streets, but that didn't stop this guy using one to assist him in casually shoplifting a crate of Lucozade in the Co-op on Streatham Road. Well, he's gotta keep those energy levels up somehow.

Carsten Höller

David Levene

Before this year, you might not have even known the name of Belgian artist Carsten Höller, but that was before he put a giant pair of slides on the South Bank and we all lost our minds with excitement. The slides were part of his 'Decision' exhibition, which also featured flying machines and upside-down goggles. It basically gave us an excuse to hang out in a giant playground under the premise that we were doing something 'cultural'.

All the people behind the refugee fundraisers

Rob Greig

This year, thousands of Syrian refugees made their way to Europe and many ended up stranded in Calais with limited supplies and a lack of warm clothing. Londoners might be known for being grumpy and unfriendly, but it was nice to see our city club together to help those in need, organising donation drives and showing their support with a huge protest in central London.

The fatberg that saved a man's wedding ring

Fatbergs aren't people, but this one sure had a good heart. Fatbergs have a bad rep for being nothing but a useless ball of fat and waste, but this guy came into its own when a man dropped his engagement ring down a manhole in Beckton. It fell on top of the fatberg, which valiantly protected the ring until Thames Water hoisted it back out and returned it to its rightful owner. What a hero!

Nile Rodgers


London's buskers can be a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes you can hear some really ace musicians, and sometimes you'll wander past someone belting out Leona Lewis covers, which you could probably do without. But back in June, disco legend Nile Rodgers decided to busk on the South Bank – and no one even noticed until he cracked out some of his classic hits, including 'Le Freak' and 'Good Times'.

Have you heard that Laser lights are coming to every Boris Bike in London?

And someone's put mistletoe on the tube.

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