One of the insanely large number of great things about London is the ability to stumble across a seemingly innocent storefront that you instantly recognize from your favorite British comedy or drama series. Yes, you can always travel to Yorkshire, Portmeirion on the coast of North Wales, or Cornwall but it’s still pretty cool to turn the corner walking down the streets of London and encounter the likes of a Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe on North Gower Street which just happens to double as a fairly frequent hangout of the world’s most famous consulting detective and next door neighbor to the inhabitants of 221b Baker Street.
The same can be said if you happen to be on Leigh Street in the area between the Russell Square Tube station and the British Library. Suddenly you are standing in front of what looks like Black Books. Well, actually, you’d be ready to enter Collinge & Clark, one of London’s leading bookshops for Private Presses, Typography, Graphic Design and the art of the book since William Morris. Sellers of rare and secondhand books, Collinge & Clark also doubles as the exterior for the British comedy series, Black Books. That’s where the similarities end, thankfully.
Is it bad to admit publicly that I want to hang out with Bernard Black, Manny Bianco and Fran Katzenjammer? Too late now, I guess. But, as the central figures of the Black Books series co-created by Dylan Moran and Graham Linehan, their general disdain for the outside world is oddly intriguing with Black, quite frequently, being openly hostile towards his customers. He actively avoids having to interact with anyone and displays very little interest in the retail world that he is a part of.
While the exterior of Black Books may have been filmed at Collinge & Clark, that’s where the similarities end, thankfully. Although, next time I’m in the neighborhood, I would love to walk in and see Bernard, Fran and Manny there to greet me.
Collinge & Clark 13 Leigh Street London WC1H 9EW