Come on TfL! Everybody thinks our idea of a plaque for Barry Cryer is great!

Exclusive: Victoria Coren Mitchell tells CNJ why she backs a tribute – and one for Tim Brooke-Taylor too!

Thursday, 10th February — By Harry Taylor

pics2022feb10 Image 2022-02-10 at 10.51.54 (15)

We were deluged with encouragement after suggesting a plaque at Mornington Crescent

THE idea of getting a plaque honouring comedian Barry Cryer at Mornington Crescent tube station could be stopped in its tracks by Transport for London – despite an outpouring of support after the New Journal came up with the suggestion.

The transport authority said it could clash with its policy to “limit” plaques to those that celebrate London Underground heritage or “mark significant events”.

This is despite the fact a plaque has been in place at the station for the late Willie Rushton for two decades. Comedian and cartoonist Mr Rushton, who died in 1996, starred alongside Mr Cryer on BBC Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue.

Mr Cryer’s death last month at 86 provoked a deluge of tributes and memories of his one-liners and prolific writing career.

Mornington Crescent is considered the perfect location because of a game played by the radio programme’s panellists in which they try to reach the tube stop through a system of incomprehensible and ever-changing rules.

It has also been suggested that a plaque should honour another of the game’s players, Tim Brooke-Taylor, who died from Covid in April 2020.

After we suggested the idea of honouring Mr Cryer, our story went viral with a host of comedy writers and comedians sharing it and tweeting support, including Victoria Coren-Mitchell, Mark Steel, Arthur Smith and Shappi Khorsandi.


Victoria Coren Mitchell: I’m so proud that one of our local tubes is associated with that comedy greatness

A TfL spokesperson said that a poster may be possible instead. “TfL’s policy is to limit plaques to events that celebrate London Underground heritage or mark significant events,” they added.

“We are aware of the impact that Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and many other well-loved comedians have had in raising awareness of the underground through the Mornington Crescent game. This impact is something we will consider celebrating at the station in the future.”

Ms Coren-Mitchell, the Only Connect host and writer, had tweeted a photo of Mr Cryer at her wedding to David Mitchell in 2012.

She told the New Journal: “We’ve got a big painting of Mornington Crescent tube station on our kitchen wall.

“I bought it for three reasons: it’s a lovely painting, I grew up round here, and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue is one of my favourite cultural artefacts of all time. And I’m including things like the Mona Lisa and the Tower of London.”

She added: “As a lifetime north Londoner, I’m so proud that one of our local tubes is associated with that comedy greatness.

“I love it that there is a Lyttelton Arms nearby and I think it’s a brilliant idea to commemorate Barry and also Tim Brooke-Taylor alongside Willie Rushton in the actual station.

“Tim Brooke-Taylor brought up his family in West Hampstead, and Graeme Garden and family lived in our actual road in Cricklewood when I was little. I hope a plaque will also be added for Graeme at the proper time, which is the year of 2073*. I only wish there was the money to commission a massive bronze statue of all of them.”

Gareth Hughes, chair of the British Comedy Society, said: “When we would do plaque unveilings he would joke ‘they’ll be one of these for me one day’. Mornington Crescent would be such a great place for it. We think it’s a great idea, and would be a lovely way to remember him.

“He was very funny, not just as a writer, but he was very funny in himself. He was from that great music hall tradition. Both he and Tim’s places in history are guaranteed.”

* Graeme Garden will be 130 in 2073

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