No clever headline needed. That series of words will make a certain subset of Londoners very excited. Some will even salivate.
Peter Ackroyd, author of ‘London the Biography’ and much else, is on the Beeb tonight presenting his ‘unique perspective’ of London’s changing face.
He will argue that London’s planning laws should be relaxed, allowing the city’s skyline to evolve according to the whim and fancy of developers. He believes London really could be beautified with the Shard, the cheesegrater and their iconic brethren.
It’s a refreshing angle to find on mainstream TV, given the frequent opposition to tall buildings from certain newspapers and heritage bodies. Many who want to see a bullish, bold architecture in London will be pleased to have such a high-profile figure on their side of the argument.
The one problem with Ackroyd is that he tends to offer his opinions in the floweriest of terms.
I think the past and the present are entwined like lovers in an embrace. So the memory of the past is very much present in the development of the future. And in a sense the future of London is already here. We should embrace it.
Which means what?
It’s always lovely to hear London described in semi-mystical (and eminently quotable) narrative. It makes Ackroyd such a joy to read. But it won’t hold much stock with the hard-nosed anti-scraper lobby.
That said, if you’re already one of the converted, allow yourself to be preached to. When it comes to a love of London, no one gives better sermon than Peter Ackroyd.
Building Britain by Peter Ackroyd is on BBC ONE tonight at 10.35.