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Jay Blades: The West End Through Time | Preview (Channel 5)

Over two episodes, Jay Blades discovers what made the West End of London the iconic place it is today. Despite growing up in London’s notorious East End, Jay has always loved the bright lights of the West End.

In this series, he explores how it was shaped by its close connections to power, royalty, and wealth. He learns how the West End attracted all walks of life to become a place of entertainment and glamourous shopping streets and finds out that there is much more to its history than he could have ever imagined.

In the first episode, Jay hops in a black cab and goes ‘Up West’ to discover how the West End of London began. Starting his journey in St Martins-in-the Field Church in Trafalgar Square, Jay hears how an incredible discovery made in 2006 changed people’s opinions of the origins of London.

Fast-forwarding to the 17th Century when things really got going in the West End, he traces back to the visionary Henry Jermyn, whose ambitious building development close to St James’s Palace, transformed fields into homes for the country’s most wealthy, earning himself the name the ‘founder of the West End’.

Next, Jay visits one of his favourite luxury food stores, Fortnum & Mason, to find out how it fits into the West End’s long history of shopping, and learns of its humble origins, selling the Queen’s discarded candles, and he samples some of their most iconic products, including scotch eggs which they claim to have invented.

A visit to the West End wouldn’t be complete without a theatre trip, so Jay pops into Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, to find out how theatreland all started thanks to Charles II.

Going out in the West End you’d need to wear your glad rags, so Jay pays a visit to one of the area’s oldest tailors, Henry Poole & Co, on Saville Row, to hear how the road became known as the Golden Mile of Tailoring.

Over lunch at Wiltons, Jay gets a taste of how restaurants first started in Britain and how there was nowhere better for fine dining than the West End. He finishes up in Hyde Park, one of the West End’s Royal Parks, that attracted wealthy West Enders who wanted to show off the latest fashions.

Jay Blades: The West End Through Time begins Saturday 13th July on Channel 5.


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