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Dick Whittington statue starts chatting to strangers in Archway

Dick Whittington's cat will call up passing pedestrians Dick Whittington's cat will call up passing pedestrians

Sunday, August 24, 2014
12:00 PM

Two statues are set to come to life this week as part of a year-long celebration of London’s history.

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Helen Lederer's voice has brought the cat's statue to lifeHelen Lederer's voice has brought the cat's statue to life

Monuments to Dick Whittington and his cat, in Highgate Hill, Archway and New River philanthropist Hugh Myddleton, in Islington Green, Islington, will call up any passer by who swipes their smart phone on newly installed plaques.

The project, called Talking Statues, a collaboration between Islington Council and event company Sing London, sees actors give a voice to two of the borough’s most famous visitors.

TV star Helen Lederer has written and recorded the monologue of Dick Whittington’s cat, while Hugh Myddleton, the man who first brought clean water to London, has been animated through the words of comedy writer Tom Basden.

Ms Lederer said: “The intriguing element about channelling Dick Whittington’s cat is that there are a few conflicting versions.

“Am I male or am I female? Am I myth or am I truth? I found something in the middle. I love the playfulness of the concept. History and fun chime together with an element of surprise.”

Kiran Benawra, assistant producer of Sing London, said: “There are so many statues it was difficult to choose which ones to bring to life.

“People usually just live in their own little world and ignore these monuments that they pass by.

“We really hope this is a chance for the public to see these historical figures in a new light and to relive their stories. It’s story telling, not a historical tour guide”.

She added: “Dick Whittington has an entire pantomime dedicated to him; it was his cat’s time to shine. There’s lots of speculation over whether the cat existed and if it really was the reason for his success. With the cat now telling its story, you can decide for yourself.”

A total of 25 statues across the capital and Manchester are already involved with the project.

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