The Barry Wise Wise Tour of Soho

Things to do, Walks and tours
Recommended
Barry Wise and Clive tour guides, Soho

Time Out says

Barry and Clive aren’t your average tour guides. Nor are they your average ‘lads’ (hard though they may try), and this is certainly not your average walking tour. We meet them next to a park bench in Soho Square. There’s a clipboard and promise of ‘facts-a-plenty’ on a walk around London’s central streets. Next thing I know we’re drinking rum out of hipflasks, playing audience icebreakers, greeting passers-by and practising how to say no to drugs. Oh right, shit just got immersive.

What unravels is a hilarious journey around one of London’s most interesting areas. It’s a sightseeing walk in the fact that we’re being shown around Soho – pointed in the direction of blue-plaques and local street art – but the brilliant ‘tour-guide’ duo and inaccuracy of the information turn this into a sharp, playful comedy in its own right. Barry thinks he knows everything, Clive’s there to ‘mug him off’ with truth-bombs. Some facts are real (the name ‘Soho’ comes from an old hunting cry when the area was once fields), others are false (Bin Laden’s hiding place probably wasn’t inspired by a visit to Soho Square) and part of the fun is trying to sieve out the truisms. The whole tour is accompanied by a homemade sound system on wheels, which Clive dutifully pushes along until he gets ‘fired’ for undermining Barry one too many times. We interact with clueless bystanders and play games whilst huddled in Soho’s nooks and crannies.

After two hours of constant laughter, running around, a break for tea and biscuits, a brief sex-toy shopping spree and a truly amazing moment when Barry sings the whole of his favourite song from 'Les Misérables', we end up in a local pub as giggly as a group of best mates. My Soho knowledge may not have improved but, for just £14 a ticket, this is much, much more than your average walking tour. Phoebe Trimingham

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