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Undercurrents is a regular podcast series featuring interviews with Chatham House experts - and others - about the critical underlying issues which are shaping modern society. Hosted by staff from across the institute, each episode goes in-depth on a topic, looking beyond the news to explore the issues shaping global politics.

Chatham House is an independent policy institute based in London. Our mission is to help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.

Dec 23, 2021

Piccadilly Circus is one of the best-known landmarks in London, but the site has undergone significant change in the past 100 years. How has this affected the lives and livelihoods of local people? 

For this bonus episode of Undercurrents, the team explore the history of Piccadilly Circus with help from the Chatham House SNF CoLab. The CoLab is a project which aims to share our ideas in experimental, collaborative ways - and to learn how different audiences think we can design a better future. In 2020, the project launched Futurescape, an ambitious re-imagining of Piccadilly Circus in 100 year's time.

Alongside the future-oriented research, CoLab partnered with the Museum of London’s Listening to London project to explore Piccadilly Circus through the museum’s Oral History collection. Through this project, the Museum is inviting teams of volunteer researchers to reinterpret the Museum’s Oral History Collection – over 5,000 hours of recorded life-story interviews of Londoners. Listening to London is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, delivered by the Museums Association.

In this episode you'll hear some fascinating clips from the Listening to London archive, introduced and discussed by some of the volunteers working on the Museum of London project. They include the experiences of Italian and Albanian immigrants, the changing face of business in the area, and how it became a site of struggle for the LGBTQ+ community. Thanks to Lorraine Ebdo-Price, Kristyna Racova and Keith Turpin for their contributions. 

Find out more:

Futurescape - Piccadilly Circus

Listening to London


Speakers: Lorraine Ebdo-Price, Kristyna Racova, Keith Turpin

Host: Mariana Vieira

Editor: Jamie Reed Sound Services

Recorded and produced by Chatham House in partnership with the Museum of London