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American Tour Guide wins award for London Walk
Sandra Shevey tells us about winning an award for her London Walking Tour
Where in the States are you from?
Ludlow Park, Yonkers, but I worked out of Hollywood from 1972 until 1981 when I moved to UK.
Why did you decide to move to Britain?
A lot of American films were being made in Europe, in Britain in the Eighties. I really felt that Hollywood had dried up. I still feel this way. It’s dead.
What got you interested in the history of the UK’s capital?
Robert Stannage was the editor of Tourism in Action. He had been in the press office at Warner Bros. We became friends and he roped me into doing features for the English Tourism Board magazine in the 1980s.
Why the particular interest in Alfred Hitchcock and showing visitors the sites relating to his movies?
I did Hitchcock's last one to one interview in Hollywood. He had asked me to pen his authorized biography which sadly I could not accept as I was (and am) living hand to mouth and I had to pay the next month's rent. Because of this rare piece of vintage film history I decided it might be fun to run a tour about the London locations in the films. Many of his films contain London backgrounds, not only the films made at London studios but those made in Hollywood too.
What’s your favorite part of London related to Hitchcock?
I wish I could say East London but I won't. I love Covent Garden and the Frenzy locations. Hitchcock's film is a great record of what the Covent Garden market was like being it was gentrified and re-developed ...before the old fruit and veg market moved to Nine Elms.
You do Agatha Christie tours too.
I was surprised by the rave reviews for this tour as the Hitchcock is my personal favorite. But someone nominated us for the 2018 EU Travel Hospitality Award ('Most Unique London Tour') and we won. This is significant inasmuch as we get very little support from London and Partners as we are not a paying partner. We are bookable via Viator, a great portal which sticks by us. Also direct at email@example.com
Do you do other tours too?
I don't envisage any new tours at the moment. I am busy trying to promote those already conceived and running. These include The Alfred Hitchcock Walk, The Agatha Christie Walk at Green Park, and The London/Countryside Street Markets Walk (3 markets in 3 hours)
What’s the most interesting American Agatha Christie connection?
Agatha Christie's father was an American. He was a stockbroker who sadly went broke financing the building of the local parish church in Devon.
Is there anything you miss from the USA?
The candy and the pizza. More importantly the medical care. Over here the NHS will give you medicine so you won't die from an ailment but it rarely (at least in my case) schedules a vital operation.
What do you hope visitors take away from your tour experience?
They should be able to taste the person around whom I run the tour.
Finally, what’s the best thing about being able to offer tours in London?
Without subsidy, it’s hard to pay the bills. I am age 75 now and a pensioner. I only get £210 per month from the Americans. I am hoping to get sponsorship for The Sandra Shevey Museum of Popular Culture. I have interviewed over 500 megastars on gender and race. You can listen to a few at sandrasheveyinterviews on YouTube.