London cabbies are a wonderful, rich and varied bunch and Mark Monroe is no exception.
Born in Plymouth Mark moved to London as a young man and studied Musical Theatre at the Arts Ed school in Chiswick, after which he was a jobbing theatre actor to the age of 33. Realising the instability of the acting world Mark took the ‘The Knowledge’ absorbing very facet of his new home London. Marks love of London extended beyond the standout historical icons such as Buckingham Palace and the London eye. It was the quirky, bizarre, and unusual that excites him.
So much so that in May 2019, as complete novice in film making, presenting and social media, mark created Secret London, his very own You Tube Chanel where he shares a side of London, very view people are aware of, or indeed ever get to see.
When social distancing is over, I’m going to ask Mark to take to me to some of the fabulous places he talks about, but for now, we can all enjoy his wonderful Secret London story from the comfort of our own homes, wherever in the world we may be. This is Your London Legacy.
“I’m always asking people to tell me something about London that I don’t know.”
Mark’s first role came around 16 when he joined a youth theatre with a friend, essentially to try and meet girls. Well after singing he ended up landing the role of Tony in a Westside Story—and ended up playing Riff, leader of the Jets in the opposite gang. So it’s unsurprising that Mark went into theatre and the arts, and finished his A levels around 20 and scored a grant to come to London and study at drama school—the Arts School at Chiswick. 3 years later he came out the other side with a performance diploma. He went on the be in productions of Aladdin, Wind in the Willows, and Peter Pan. However, as many in the arts are to find out, especially in acting, work isn’t always steady and income can be hard to come by.
“You’re then assigned your first appearance—there not called exams. There called ‘appearances’. How incredible is that? It makes you feel even more nervous.”
Mark decided to join the cabbie life and start down the, literally, long road toward passing “The Knowledge”. He studied part time while working, spending his weekends on a moped with maps in front of him as he memorized and took stock of street names and just as importantly—points of interest. 17,000 or so at that. And after passing his “appearances” and test where he was given a blank map of London and asked to put down street names, he finally got his badge—3 years down the line.
“I want to share something a little bit more hidden—under the surface of London, and unique. And what that is what the channel is all about.”
Mark now runs a YouTube channel: Secret London. A channel borne out of his love for London’s points of interests and even his love for performance and expressing his personality. He started off with just a regular old iPhone, going around and showing some of London’s most hidden gems—one of which he shares with us, a place he calls a Secret Garden. But he learned the ins and outs of film making with minimal equipment, while on the go, and it’s allowed him to showcase the hidden and obscure corners of our wonderful city—which I wholeheartedly hope you delve deeper into and explore.