Observational documentary series. Things turn ugly when the Oxford Street security team deal with a disgruntled customer. John Lewis plan to unveil their Christmas lights.
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It's the most famous shopping street in the world.
In the heart of Britain's capital city.
A mile and a half long, with 30 million visitors each year.
With some of the world's most famous shops...
..and busiest stations.
Sorry, guys. Stand back for me.
What does it take to keep it running 24 hours a day...
It's the busiest street in the world. It needs constant attention.
-seven days a week?
-Oi! Clear off!
Welcome to Oxford Street. Welcome to the pickpocket team.
Are you ready, London?!
A street that never sleeps.
This sort of thing wouldn't happen anywhere else.
Police are called when a passenger squabble at
Britain's busiest station threatens to overwhelm the platforms.
..John Lewis have a mountain to climb if they want to unveil
their Christmas lights...
Three, two, one!
Yes! Yes, yes.
..and the buskers of Oxford Street.
They're looking for their big break and has one of them just found it?
Look behind you, it's The Jacksons. Mr Jackson!
Oxford Circus is the busiest station on the Underground network.
With three different Tube lines meeting in one spot,
the smallest delay can easily snowball into major disruption
and affect the three million passengers
that use it every day.
-Yeah, platform number three.
-'Yeah, I see it, mate.'
It's rush hour and Michael Kemp the station controller at Oxford Circus
is focused on keeping everything moving.
He has to respond quickly
to any incident that could result in disruption.
And it looks like such an event has occurred.
There's something going on.
There's a PEA been operated on a southbound Victoria line train,
so I need to go and investigate and see what the problem is down there.
A PEA, or passenger emergency alarm, has been activated on a train
in the station, bringing the entire underground line to a halt.
This is the worst possible news for the station during rush hour.
Activating a PEA is a big deal and should only be used as a last resort
in serious situations, because of the disruption it causes.
Despite this, Tube staff deal with around
1,600 PEA incidents a year.
Yeah, whereabouts are you on the platform are you? Over.
There's no information about what's happened in this case.
The alarm means the train can't move off
and passenger numbers are building up to potentially dangerous levels.
-Are you all right?
-I don't know.
I do know what's going on with the incident people.
-The one in the black jacket?
It's a confusing situation and the train driver
isn't sure what's happened.
What's going on?
Although the details are hazy, it seems that a heated altercation
broke out between two groups on the train.
The woman Michael's talking to is one of the parties
and she's claiming racist language was used.
The other party is stood nearby.
And if you wish to press charges the police will take a statement
from you and from them.
The seriousness of the situation means the British Transport Police's
Network Incident Response Team have been called to attend.
They've called the place, it takes time to get here.
With hundreds of people stranded by the shutdown,
tempers are becoming flared.
OK, let me speak, yeah. Zero through to base, are you receiving? Over.
Later in the programme...
police arrive and try to get to the bottom of things.
At the West End of Oxford Street is the Art Deco, 700-room,
luxury Thistle Hotel.
While it's one of the few hotels directly on Oxford Street,
it's competing with dozens of other top hotels throughout the West End.
One of the ways the hotels compete is on the quality
of their customer service.
If the hotel wants to keep guests coming back year after year,
it has to create the right atmosphere
and make sure their every need is catered for.
Someone who knows this more than most is restaurant host Biram.
Another busy night tonight, but it's fine.
We can do it, I feel you can do it. Yes! Definitely.
Originally from Senegal, it's Biram's job to entice people into
the restaurant and make sure things go smoothly once they're there.
Marmor Grill, yes. This is my house,
that's the Marmor Grill.
Hello, madame. Everything is OK? Yeah, the weather was nice, as well.
-It was beautiful.
-Thank you very much. Enjoy.
He might seem to be permanently good humoured,
but Biram takes customer service very seriously.
I try to make people happy
and try to make people comfortable in the restaurant.
The hotel chain runs a badge scheme for its staff, to encourage
the highest levels of customer service.
Can you follow me, please?
Different colour badges represent different levels achieved.
The badge that I have on my jacket is about the customer service
satisfaction. Now, I'm in green.
Two steps to get the black one, yeah. I think I can have it, yes.
With a little bit of effort, yes. Biram, yes - you can do it!
Tonight, he's trying something different
to entice people in to the Marmor Grill.
He's got one of the chefs to cook samples of the restaurant menu
in the foyer.
You do have some food. We're going to give our customers to taste.
It's called live cooking and Biram's hoping it will lure people
to stay and eat at the restaurant.
I just want all my customers to come and taste all these lovely things.
Things are slow to begin with, which is a problem.
Taking a chef out of the kitchen in this way costs money.
Madame, do you want to try the live cooking tonight?
-I'm all right, thank you very much.
-I'm OK, thank you.
You're welcome. He doesn't want it.
But Biram soon finds someone willing to try his live cooking.
-You know, you can try this one of them.
-What is this?
This is the pork with the duck, mix it together with the duck terrine.
-Pork? What's the duck?
-Where are you from, sir?
-I'm from Norway.
I don't know how they call it in Norway. It is duck, in English.
All right, yeah.
-The bird, the big birds.
-What, is it turkey?
-It's kind of turkey,
-but it's not that big. It's like.
Try it, you're going to like it anyway.
Biram's convinced the man to take a bite
but his translation isn't going so well.
Is this the kind of duck that lives in the trees?
-No, you find it in the lake.
-Has it the hair like this?
No, that's chicken, right? The duck is...
What kind of duck is this?
-That's a normal duck.
-Just a normal duck, yeah?
Eatable duck, yeah, the eatable duck, yeah, the normal duck.
Eventually, however, the message does get through.
-It has a green head?
-Yeah, that's correct.
-We call it stokkand.
Stokkand. Oh, that's great.
-So, we know a new word now - stokkand.
I will write it down, I have a new word now - stokkand.
The man is one of three Arsenal-supporting Norwegian friends
who have come to London for the FA Cup final.
-You can try it, and...
-They're only in the hotel
to pick up their match tickets and weren't planning on eating here,
but Biram's spotted an opportunity.
You know what I'm going to give you? The menu for the Marmor Grill.
After, you can keep it with you.
-Yeah, and you'll stay in the hotel,
you can pop in any time you want for dinner.
Biram continues his rounds, checking on the diners he does have.
If there's anything, just let me know,
I'm the host in this restaurant.
-Yeah, it's lovely.
-It is tender...
-That's nice, lovely.
And like it, enjoy your food.
Later in the programme, Biram snares his Norwegians,
but will he live to regret it?
It's triple gin and tonics.
I wasn't aware they are a little bit drunk.
Christmas comes early on Oxford Street -
October, to be exact.
The festive season sees the whole street transform
into a colourful mass of decorations.
Many of the stores compete to have the best display.
Shoppers from across the country will travel down to London
to see the spectacle and inside this van are the lights
that department store John Lewis hope will make them stand out
from the crowd.
The lighting display is a central part of their Christmas promotion.
They hope it will help them generate millions of pounds in sales,
so getting the display right is crucial,
as John Vasey of specialist decorating team Springfield
knows only too well.
The Christmas lights on Oxford Street are huge.
It's the world's busiest, most important shopping street.
This is a job that we have to get right. There's a lot of competition.
All the stores want to look the best on Oxford Street and, this year,
John Lewis have got the switch-on event, which means that
TV, radio, will all be coming here next week to look at their lights.
The 12-strong Springfield team have been hard at work on the lights
for five days already.
Today, they plan on finishing the job.
They'll be mounting and hanging the last of the lights,
and then, at the end of the day,
they'll perform a final test, to check they're all working.
For team member Dean Brandon, hanging Christmas lights is
the culmination of a much longer preparation process.
Pre-rigging everything, checking the wirings...
We've also got to get all the decorations prepared
back at our base in Guildford, so we start a long time before Christmas.
When Christmas comes, it's quite a relief for us.
We, sort of, start doing... thinking about Christmas
about a month before Christmas.
We're putting up the light curtains on the front of the building.
In this section alone, the bit that we haven't done
along the front of Oxford Street, there's 13 bars,
and we've also got 13 round the side there, 13 round the other side...
I don't know why it's the unlucky 13 number.
And we've got 18 down at the other end.
This is the section we want to get finished by the end of today.
The lights will hang down from the roof to create a light curtain.
The power cables to make them twinkle
will have to be lifted up the outside of the building.
These'll be lifted up to the roof, but you can see,
the harness gives 15 power outlets,
so, from each one of these bars, we can power 15 sets of lights.
And we build that across the front of the building into a giant panel,
70 metres wide and 16 metres high.
And these are giant strings of Christmas lights.
They, too, will be attached and pulled up the building.
It'll, like, connect to there. When they get up to the top,
they'll be simply screwed into the socket there.
Like everything on Oxford Street,
it's bigger and more complicated than anywhere else in Britain.
This is how we do it here. Pull them up, one string at a time.
Takes a long time to cover the front of the building
in individual strings. Other places, we use cherry pickers,
because we can do about 20 strings at a time.
We can't put a cherry picker down in Oxford Street, it's too busy,
so we pull them up one at a time.
The team have to put up a mind-boggling total
of 120,000 lights on the exterior of the building
with 19km of wiring - all to convince potential customers
to step off Oxford Street and into the store.
It's taken five days to get this far,
but there's a whole other phase to getting the job done.
Bring on the abseilers.
100 feet above Oxford Street, the store is using
specialist climbers, who will lower themselves over the side
and attach the light cables to the building, to stop them moving.
When the winter wind howls down Oxford Street,
John Lewis don't want their lights blowing away.
So, running along the front of the building are a series
of horizontal rigging wires, similar to this one,
and we'll zip-tie the lights back into those, and that keeps the whole
light panel in place, regardless of what the wind and weather do.
There's a lot of lights for them to do, as well,
and we get through a lot of cable-ties tying this lot off.
Some of the John Lewis clients find it strange
to look out the window and suddenly they see an abseiler
hanging around outside their window.
We see some sights looking into the John Lewis stores, as well.
As the abseilers step back inside and the sun begins to go down,
6,000 cable-ties are now holding everything in place,
and it's time for the team to make sure the lights are working.
The test switch-on falls to team member Dean Weston.
Five days' work and hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment
are depending on it.
I've got my fingers crossed.
We're just waiting for them to go on now. Any second,
the whole bank should light up.
one, come on!
Yes! Yes, yes, yes, over 100,000 lights all on.
With the lights tested and working, it's job done for the team.
Tested the lights a few times.
Now, they'll be turned off until the big, big light-up day.
It's amazing, the light that comes out of them,
lights up the whole street in front.
Gives the building a really good, big presence on Oxford Street.
The lights will sit dormant
until their official turn-on later in the month,
but with 100,000 bulbs raring to go, when they are finally turned on,
everyone will know it's Christmas time on Oxford Street.
At Oxford Circus Tube station,
station controller Michael is dealing with a developing incident.
What's your problem?!
A passenger emergency alarm has been activated after
two groups of people got into an argument on a train.
Both parties are claiming racist language was used.
The police have been called.
Meanwhile, passenger numbers are building up to dangerous levels
on the platforms, while the train is held.
No...zero-three to base, are you receiving, over?
Michael decides to keep both parties on the platform
but he allows the train to move off to help relieve the overcrowding.
-'Please get off the platform now.'
Leave it, folks, nothing to see.
The rapid response team arrive
and start helping to clear the passengers down the platform.
Do you want to talk? You don't want to talk to the police, no?
Accompanying them are officers from the British Transport Police.
What's going on? Who are the parties involved here?
-This lady here and this family over here.
-The lady there.
-This family over here.
Right, can you bring this lady through to...
off the platform, cos it's a bit dangerous.
Can we get this family who's involved off the platform?
Put them in the middle, cos it's unsafe on the platform.
Inspector Nick Brandon takes control of the situation
and moves the two groups to a quieter location.
You just go over there,
and if you can come over here for me, please.
-The train's been stopped? How?
-The train was, by a PEA...yeah.
-Right, and then they've been taken off and then it's moved.
Yeah, we've just contained the situation.
We've got all the passengers involved off of the platform
into a little bit more of a safer area.
The police are conducting investigations.
An off-duty police officer partially witnessed the incident
and briefs the inspector on what he knows.
-Shouting and swearing?
The officers talk to both parties, to get their side of the story.
Both parties have now calmed down and neither wants to press charges.
It's all probably the usual thing,
people cramped up together in a tight space
and just a bit of an altercation.
It will be recorded.
The activation of a passenger emergency alarm,
effectively paralysing a whole Tube line, is a big deal.
Across the underground, it happens around four times a day,
and the Network Incident Response Team always has to
compile a thorough report.
For the British Transport Police, it's a familiar scenario.
What we do tend to find sometimes, in such a crowded environment,
is that a very small disturbance can get much larger.
Initially, some words being exchanged
can escalate up to a serious assault or even worse.
But words of advice have been given to both parties about how
this incident could have escalated on the train.
At the end of the day, it's a very dangerous environment.
We've got moving trains, we've got 750 volts on the track,
and I think they've all gone away a little bit wiser.
The two parties are put on separate trains and head off.
Although no further action is going to be taken,
it's not the end of the incident for Michael.
Everyone's gone on their way now, so what we need to do now
is I need to go upstairs and do all the paperwork.
With the incident dealt with,
all he's got left to do is run Britain's busiest station.
At the Thistle Hotel, restaurant host Biram
is trying to attract the paying public into the grill,
by enticing them with live cooking in the foyer.
It doesn't work.
-One Norwegian football fan liked Biram's duck...
-You like it?
..but wasn't interested in dinner.
Biram continues his rounds
-and concentrates on keeping his other customers happy.
From Japan, right? Arigato.
-How are you, baby?
-Oh, thank you.
Why not? Kissing him as well, here.
Oh...that's a good thing.
-Very much, thank you. Enjoy your dinner.
Thank you very much. Happiness.
And at the bar, he comes across his old friend.
-Ah, do you remember how do you call the duck, again?
Yes, I'm going to keep the name, now. That's a stokkand, yeah?
-Now, you are here, you know, for the Arsenal game.
-Right, that's what he said to us.
So, at the meantime, you know, stay, enjoy your stay in our hotel.
-Enjoy your beer, guys.
-Of course we are.
Biram leaves the Norwegians to their drinks.
Back in the foyer, he's trying to entice more guests.
I can give you a lovely table by the window, if you want it.
-The nice things, you know, they all just...
-Oh, that's my friends, you know, yes, from Denmark.
-Norway, yes, guys.
We will go inside and we will eat it now.
Right now, yes. Can you come with me, please?
I will give you the table right now.
-Yes, table for three?
It's a great result. His live cooking has paid off, after all.
-And I'm going to give you, as well, the drink list, right?
Delighted, Biram shows them to their seats.
-Just around the corner.
-Just around the corner.
# And we all cherish the Arsenal
-# And we all cherish the Arsenal.
But Biram's moment of triumph is tinged with concern.
-Thank you, sir.
The Norwegians have been drinking and are in full voice
and high spirits.
Biram's worried their behaviour might get too much
for the other diners.
So, you know, I wasn't aware they are a little bit drunk, yeah.
-We're not going to sleep, no.
-So, so we got these triple gin and tonics.
I think, I think we shouldn't give them any more drinks.
Yeah, yes, we shouldn't give them more drinks, you know,
so, we just, you know, put, you know, oil on the fire.
So we need to keep them on ice, you know,
no more drinks, otherwise, you know, they have to leave the restaurant.
Concerned, he calls in hotel security
to keep a discreet eye on them.
If they get any drunker, he might have an incident on his hands.
Yes, and this is about the situation, you know,
I give you the updates, you know, about the Danish people, you know,
there are three people drunk, you know, in a restaurant.
Just as he thinks he might have to take action...
-Hello, Chef, 77 is coming.
-Think you very much, Chef.
Salvation arrives in the shape of some bavette steaks.
When the food is on the table, I think drunk, not drunk,
everything should be perfect.
The food arrives and the boys tuck in.
We just want something...
Enjoying the steak, of course, in Marmor Grill.
The food seems to have done its job and brought
the noise of the Norwegians' table down to manageable levels.
-I keeped an eye on them.
-Observed, they are quiet now.
I'll keep my eye on them, but, yeah, OK.
And it seems Biram's customer service has won him
more than just happy diners.
How is it going? How was the food, guys?
-It was good, right?
-Yeah, very good, even.
How was your service, have you had good service today?
More than excellent.
Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
Whatever this guy is telling you, you should...
you should try this one.
Meal eaten, the Norwegians had out to enjoy
the rest of their evening, with a belly full of steak and stokkand.
I think they've behaved themselves, they're cool, yeah.
Biram can enjoy the rest of his evening,
inching ever closer to that black customer service badge.
I'm very happy to meet people, to make people feel happy.
Yeah, it's OK.
The shops and stores aren't the only ones trying to
make a bit of money on Oxford Street.
With over half a million visitors a week,
it's become an irresistible draw for street performers, who
view it as a mile-and-a-half-long stage for their performances.
But they're not just doing it for love -
they're primarily here to earn a living.
Oliver from Guadeloupe has been busking on Oxford Street
for four years.
Classically trained, he turned to busking
because it's not easy to make a living in the music industry.
It's very difficult to be in the music industry professionally.
Sometimes you don't get pay or people promise you the pay,
they don't pay you.
I've been in this situation for long, so I've got to do something.
As well as earning him money,
Oliver says busking on Oxford Street gives him priceless exposure.
This street is the best advert ever.
You can have three million people watching you, in four or five months.
When you are busking on Oxford Street, you become famous.
The power of public exposure Oxford Street provides
is something break dancers Kevin and Reece have also experienced.
We did Fashion Week last week, didn't we?
We got a clothing line that saw us dancing, they said,
"Look, we want you guys.
"Wear the clothes, go there, dance."
And loads of photographers took pictures of us, it was amazing.
And the exposure is also the draw for saxophonist Rodney Rock.
He gave up a solid profession for the love of live performance.
I was a London cab driver, a licensed London taxi driver.
I learnt to play the saxophone in the back of my taxi during breaks,
and sometimes I would park up and go busking,
because I really wanted to just be a musician.
You're doing something worthwhile, you're bringing joy to people.
I've been invited to play at people's weddings, they've seen me,
they've said, "We loved your music."
It's really nice, it's really touching.
And Rodney's not the only one whose performances on Oxford Street
have won him wedding gigs.
-Do you do wedding venues?
-Of course I do.
If you need me, just give me a ring, I'll give you my number.
The whole day will be about 100 quid,
that would cover the whole day for me,
and that'd be the cheapest piper you'll get.
Finbar Hagan is the self-styled bagpiper of Oxford Street
and it's not just weddings his street performances have won him.
I've just done a film with Sean Penn, called The Gunman.
I'm the piper at the end of it.
Someone else attracted to the large audiences Oxford Street provides
is Danny Shine...
..better known to shoppers and the local authorities
as the "megaphone man".
People, what's wrong?
Who did this to you?
The difference is, he's trying to encourage people
not to part with their money.
I'm here to help you not spend anything here today,
and don't worry, if you've already made the mistake of buying something,
I can help you get the money back.
Part performance artist and part anti-consumerist protester,
Danny's brand of in-your-face performance amuses many people.
-Good for you.
-For plenty of others,
his brand of protest street theatre is just a nuisance.
And, go! Fantastic,
well done to all those people who waited till the man was green.
-Why don't you shut up?
-Oh, we've got a bloke,
"Why don't you shut up?" And he actually hit me.
That's a bit of an extreme response to a bloke on a megaphone.
Danny's uncompromising promoting approach has made him
the bete noire of the authorities.
Uh-oh, could be my ride home.
Danny has previously been prosecuted by Westminster Council
for breaking a bylaw at Oxford Circus, for the prevention
and suppression of nuisances. The case was later dropped.
Do you like the purple? Nice, isn't it?
I'm the only person in this street
that's trying to stop you buying things.
The problem for many people is they don't have a choice
whether to listen to Danny or not and, today,
he's started to rub people up the wrong way again.
Coming today and there's a bloke with a megaphone outside.
-Please, be quiet.
-A lot of people don't want to hear you.
-You don't want to hear?
-It's far too loud.
-Did you want me
-to turn it down a little bit?
-I just don't want you to talk, at all.
Madam, please come back.
I think we can work it out together. I apologise.
But while Danny seeks to raise awareness,
the other buskers are there to raise money,
and even with half one million spectators a week,
it's not always easy.
1p - it's like a dream come true(!)
Thankfully, for all the performers,
there are plenty of people that do appreciate their efforts.
But some things no amount of money can buy.
Look behind you, it's the Jacksons.
It really is the Jacksons, who are themselves performing in London.
This is what I mean about Oxford Street.
This sort of thing wouldn't happen anywhere else.
Things turn ugly when the Oxford Street security team deal with a disgruntled customer who is convinced she is right.
John Lewis have a mountain to climb if they want to unveil their Christmas lights.
Police are called when a passenger squabble at Britain's busiest station threatens to overwhelm the platforms.
An experiment with live cooking threatens to go horribly wrong at an Oxford Street hotel.
The buskers of Oxford Street are looking for their big break. Has one of them just found it?