Ken in is and is Former Mayor, Former MP and House husband.

Ken Livingstone has been central to London politics for the best part of four decades. However, since the last mayoral election he has largely retired from public life. What is he doing now?

This new short film is a portrait of the former mayor in his retirement. It is filmed at his family home in North London where he tends to his garden, planting wild strawberries. Now a self-confessed house husband, Ken spends much of time time looking after his children and caring for his neighbours with politics taking up a much smaller part of his life.

In the course of the documentary, he reflects on his relationship with Tony Blair (“we just don’t talk about the war”), the state of the city now, and the impact that his generation had on London.

25 Shares

Film Maker:

Questions & Answers

  • What's your first memory of London? Looking out the window at the great smogs we used to have when everyone had a coal fire and there was a lot of industry in London. You couldn't see across the road. In some cases often thousands of people died in those fogs. I remember my Gran saying "You can't go out today, there's a smog. It'll be bad for your lungs!"
  • What do you miss when you're away from London? My family basically, and the dog.
  • What's your favourite neighbourhood? I really like round here (Cricklewood) because they're nice homes. If you pick these homes in Cricklewood up and drop them down in Hampstead they'd be about two million each, but you can afford to buy them here. And there's a park at the end of the road. I've always been happy wherever I've been living really but I've lived here long enough - longer than anywhere else in my life.
  • What's your ideal day out in London? If it's a nice sunny day, I'll take the kids to the zoo or Kew Gardens, if it's not a nice day we'll go to the museums.
  • What's your ideal night out in London? Going with good friends to my favourite Italian restaurant - Vasco and Piero's Pavillion in Poland Street. I've been going there for about thirty years. The same family still run it and it's the same staff. It's the healthiest Italian meal you can get anywhere I've ever come across.
  • What's your most hated building? There's so many you can choose from. It's really that Metropolitan Police Headquarters - New Scotland Yard. That whole street is just filled buildings which are just faceless slabs rising out of the ground and it's ghastly.
  • What's the best view in London? Hampstead Heath or Greenwich Observatory
  • What's your favourite open space? I suppose it's Hampstead Heath because it's just so big. All the parks really, the bigger the better.
  • What's the most interesting shop? The shops I'm most interested in are bookshops. All my life I've bought more books than I can ever hope to read. I'm still working my way through them now that I'm retired. Once I lost the election to Boris I ended up picking up a book that I bought in 1965 about President Andrew Johnson.
  • How would you like to spend your ideal day off in London? Gardening
  • Where would you take someone visiting from out of town? London Zoo - there's a very nice restaurant there as well
  • What's the worst journey you've had to make in London? The transport system's pretty good and reliable. The worst one was about 10 years ago when we suddenly had a totally unexpected snowstorm. It closed down the Tube so I had to get off the Tube at Kilburn Park and had to slip and slide all the way up here - 2 1/2 miles. I was lucky I didn't break a leg.
  • What's your personal London landmark? Do I get to list all the things I built here? I suppose the Shard. I wanted to build two Shards - one on either side of the river Thames. I was saying that they should be our Twin Towers - this was of course before the Twin Towers were demolished. I think it's absolutely beautiful. The thing about the Shard is that you can be in all sorts of parts of London and see it, particularly in South East London where you don't have a sense of where the centre of London is until you see the Shard.
  • Who's your favourite fictional Londoner? Sherlock Holmes as we're having such a good television series at the moment.
  • What's your favourite London film, book or documentary? The one that made the biggest impact on me was 'Cathy, Come Home'. Or 'Up The Junction' - I love 'Up The Junction'.
  • If you could travel to any time period in London, past or future, where would you go? I'd go about three or four hundred years ahead, just to make sure we're still here.
  • For you, who is the ultimate Londoner? Although I know he wasn't born here I'd pick Churchill. He's the single most significant politician in the last hundred years because he was about the only person in the Tory leadership who was prepared to stand up to Hitler. Everybody else wanted to do a compromise after the fall of France. If it hadn't been for him the heirs of Hitler would still be running Europe. He had his lovely country estate and all that, but he enjoyed London.
×