London Blue Badge Tourist Guides are used to talking to groups, families and individuals in the open air and at sites like Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London where they are qualified to conduct tours. However, they have had to adjust to the new reality of life during COVID-19 with lockdowns and social distancing by offering virtual tours.
One of the main ways that they have been demonstrating their knowledge and skills while promoting their virtual tours is by participating in Guide London’s live broadcast series which was launched last March with a promotional video by Danny Parlour, Chair of the Association of Professional Tourist Guides.
The first live broadcast occurred on Monday, 30th March 2020, with host Nick Salmond and featured Pepe Martinez and Vicky Bailey as guests talking about books featuring London and films/TV shows made in the capital city. Nick, who worked for the BBC for many years, is now the producer for these broadcasts while Pepe has been sharing his knowledge and skills with guides keen to offer their clients London Virtual Tours on the internet.
At first, the live broadcasts were three times a week with historical and social topics covered on Mondays and Wednesdays and a more light-hearted theme on Fridays. Now they go out on Tuesdays at 4 pm London time, 11 am Eastern Standard Time in the USA. Those who miss the live broadcasts streamed to Guide London’s social media channels can watch them on the organisation’s YouTube channel that has over 800 subscribers.
In total, there have been sixty-seven different live broadcasts in the last year with a rotating cast of seven hosts who have been joined by over seventy of their fellow London Blue Badge Tourist Guides. The videos have garnered over 220,000 views with most watching on Facebook or YouTube.
Topics covered include James Bond and the Beatles in London (by the author of this post, shamelessly plugging his own efforts) and visits to famous sites such as Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, Saint Paul’s Cathedral and Windsor Castle, places where guides are trained to take groups and have both the ability and right to conduct tours.
More offbeat topics covered include the London Underground system, London’s Green Spaces and Gay Pride Parades. The live broadcasts have also featured famous people associated with London, such as Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale have been featured and many interesting sites, well known and more obscure, have also been covered by guides.
Some of the shows that attracted the most views involved those that discussed the Royal London and the British Monarchy along with those that discussed popular television shows featuring London locations like The Crown.
Truly London offers a feast for the discerning and curious visitor to the capital and Blue Badge Tourist Guides have been hard at work maintaining interest around the world in the city and the many places they take people to in the course of their work. Soon, they hope to be back at work guiding in the real world but their broadcasts can still be seen on Tuesdays in the virtual world.