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London on screen: the guinea pig-themed café from ‘Fleabag’

By Thomas Hobbs

Given that in ‘Fleabag’ the titular character charged £12.55 for a cheese sandwich in this café, it’s no wonder that it’s changed hands (although we hope the guinea pigs are safe). Here’s the story behind the location...

The location: 20 York Rise, NW5 1ST.

The scene: After her best friend is killed in a traffic accident, twentysomething Londoner Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is left to manage a quirky guinea-pig-themed café. When a customer picks up a cheese sandwich, Fleabag tells him it costs £12.55. He shakes his head in disbelief, to which she replies: ‘London, eh?’

Then: In 2016, producers of the BBC comedy needed a nondescript eaterie to turn into a haven for guinea pigs and self-loathing. Highgate greasy spoon the Village Café fit the bill.

Andy Parsons

Now: ‘Fleabag’ is a cult comedy and Waller-Bridge a Hollywood star, but the Village Café is no more – it’s now a Turkish place called the Bold Café & Restaurant. The café’s manager, Ibrahim Aksu, took a call from the BBC asking for permission to film there again for season two. The snag? He was six weeks into a refurbishment so the design team from the Beeb had to return it to its previous look. ‘It was weird going backwards,’ he says. The café is now almost unrecognisable from its ‘Fleabag’ days. ‘I’m thinking about getting a guinea-pig photo on the wall’, says Aksu, ‘just so people can see how much we’ve changed!’

RECOMMENDED: For more of the city on screen, check out our list of the 30 best London movies

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