Wednesday, 26 January 2011

London Landmarks - Madame Tussauds

Value: 3
Queues: 5
Shop: 3
Family-friendly: 9
Enjoyment: 10

Total: 30/50

When you stop and think about it the idea of Madame Tussauds is pretty bloody weird. Gawping at famous people made of wax? Maybe that's what passed for entertainment in whenever the hell it was when Mrs Tussaud first started melting down candles, but nowadays we have iPads and QVC and Noel Edmunds (coincidently not featured). Surely we're above all of this? Outside, the hoardes of tourists queuing for a chance to eyeball The Beckhams are a visual representation of the fact that no, we're not.

Inside excitement is at fever pitch. Is that Liza Minelli? Isn't that the bloke from Pirates of the Caribbean? Get me next to Tara Palmer Tompkinson (who has rather bizarrely been placed in the A-list room. Surely some mistake?) A slightly boozier lunch than planned means that my excitement levels are also riding the crest of the wave. Sadly they don't quite match up to my reflexes, which seem to have plummeted. As I move in for an enthusiastic hug with Lady Gaga – the first figurine I've encountered – she starts to wobble alarmingly. Clearly I haven't worked out the correct pressure to apply to wax figurines yet.

My over-eagerness sees that I've used up the entire film of my disposable camera by the time we've got to the world leaders' room, meaning that from then on photo opportunities have to be rationed (sorry Mugabe!) Still, looking at wax turns out to be a hell of a lot of fun. Some celebrities are spot on (Helen Mirren and Angelina Jolie) Others look horrendous and provide plenty of laughs. The Beatles are almost unrecognisable and Marlon Brando looks like he has Bell's palsy.

The highlight of the entire day is the 'Spirit of London' ride which I get so into I make my brother go on twice. You take a tour through London history in a black cab, which is ace in itself, but the not-really-in-the-textbooks renditions of our history are a laugh a minute. The Great Fire of London and the Plague receive plenty of coverage, but, I would guess in an effort to be inoffensive to European tourists, the Blitz is represented by a slightly untidy looking house. The crowning glory is a 'Best of British' carousel featuring a cockney photographer, a good old fashioned bobby and Barbara Windsor and David Jason waving merrily. Binge-drinking, obesity and cynicism must be hard to represent in wax.

Other high points include the chamber of horrors representing the glories of the French Revolution (where I bump into an old school friend who now has a job playing a corpse), a 4D film about superheroes and the X-Factor Experience, in which you sing karaoke and are played clips of the judges comments. Predictably only Cheryl liked our rendition of Dolly Parton's 9-5. All in all a very fun and, at times, unintentionally hilarious day out.

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