Observational documentary series. Oxford Street comes to a standstill as protesting cabbies take their grievances to the street.
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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!
You are going to be arrested on suspicion of attempted theft.
Are you ready, London?!
A street that never sleeps.
This sort of thing wouldn't happen anywhere else.
HORNS HONK ..Oxford Street gridlock.
Well over 1,000 cabs.
Protesting cabbies take their grievances to the street...
We are fighting for our rights!
..transport control tries to deal with the fallout.
This bus has not moved for about ten minutes.
I wasn't expecting this.
Bath-bomb alert, there's a flagship cosmetics store opening.
And a photographer is on the hunt for the perfect sunrise.
Any minute now.
It's lunchtime at the West End Central Police Station
and the Oxford Street police team, known as ORB,
are bracing themselves for a busy day.
A demonstration is planned on Oxford Street
by a black cab drivers' association,
and it's going to be the ORB's job to police it.
There's probably going to be about 150 cabbies and cabs in attendance.
Police have been told the protest will take the form of a go-slow,
with drivers of black cabs making their point by deliberately
driving slowly to create congestion for an hour in the afternoon.
It's been organised by cabbie Trevor Merralls.
Mr Merralls has no method of communication with the cab drivers
of the event, other than shouting at them as they drive past.
Can I give you one of them, mate?
Fella, can I give you one of these?
There's a demo here at two o'clock in case you're not aware.
The cabbies are protesting
because they believe private hire operations such as minicabs,
pedicabs and online taxi apps like Uber, aren't being properly
regulated by the overseeing authority, Transport For London.
They say this is putting the safety of the public at risk.
Can I give you one of these, mate?
We're calling this demo Enough Is Enough
because the London cab drivers have had enough of this.
We believe that TFL are not doing their own job, which is to
regulate and to enforce the law.
Thanks very much, mate.
Transport For London disputes any suggestion their regulatory work
is inadequate, saying they robustly enforce the rules
and that customer satisfaction rates are high.
But the protest is going ahead anyway, with Oxford Street chosen
to give it maximum exposure.
It is the police's job today to make sure the street doesn't come
to a standstill.
It's a key route for buses and any hold-ups will have
a huge knock-on effect.
Fingers crossed they carry on a snail's pace,
flowing through the street. Hopefully!
At Oxford Circus, in the middle of the mile-and-a-half-long street,
Trevor and colleagues are getting ready for the 2pm kick-off.
Police are allowing them one hour for their protest
and it is generating publicity before it's even started.
-Have you spoken with the organiser?
-Oh, I have...
Chief Inspector Stephen Manger is the key Met man on the ground.
I'm Steve Manger.
We're here to help you facilitate your peaceful protest today.
Respecting the cabbies' right to protest,
he wants to take a cooperative approach today.
I appreciate it is going to get congested down Oxford Street
and that is going to be part of your protest.
What I can't have is obviously the main junctions blocked here at all.
-Thank you, once again.
-Cheers. Much obliged.
The biggest impact of the demonstration is likely to be
felt by the buses.
They are overseen by a central control room known as CentreComm.
This rarely seen communications hub is the nerve centre of London's
traffic planning. It has access to thousands of CCTV cameras
and cutting-edge traffic management systems.
Dealing with today's protest is the job of assistant events
planning manager, Clare Shaw.
My role today is to manage London buses,
make sure we keep them moving as much as possible,
minimise the impact on our passengers.
There's quite a lot in there already.
If they stop and they are static
and they don't move, then obviously that is when the problems start.
Cab traffic on Oxford Street has been steadily building up
in the hour before the beginning of the protest, and at the official
start time, it doesn't take long for the demonstration to have an effect.
So we're looking in the region of 500-plus.
This is a bigger response than we actually thought
and the demo is one minute old and already it is gridlocked.
The authorities' hopes for a go-slow are soon dashed as, instead,
hundreds of taxi drivers use Oxford Street as a giant car park.
Within seconds, it is total gridlock.
-It's already built up, isn't it?
-Solid back there.
For CentreComm, it is a perfect storm.
There's a Tube line already down today, and a major fire
elsewhere means the bus network is under enormous strain as it is.
I've just seen Tottenham Court Road area now
is absolutely chocka as well.
With the go-slow becoming a no-go, it is up to the CentreComm team
to put diversions in place to try and keep the buses moving.
It is probably worth starting to pull...
I think we need to start pulling some out
because the delays are serious now.
Andrew Highfield is the CentreComm manager.
I've allowed the 19s to go up Shaftesbury at the moment.
The guys are working out the best thing to do with the buses
that are currently there and stuck.
They're trying to pull stuff away to remove buses from the area.
Later, as the demonstration escalates,
buses and police come into conflict.
-Pull up to the left-hand side, please?
-Well, I'm not going to.
For every shop chain in the UK, the ultimate proof they've made it
is getting a flagship store on Oxford Street.
Of the street's 200 shops, over 70 are flagships.
But just what does it mean to a company to open their leading store
on Europe's busiest shopping street?
About to find out is British cosmetics chain Lush.
There's seven weeks to go
until they open their international flagship here.
But the shop itself starts life 112 miles away from the glittering
lights of the West End.
It's currently being assembled
in a warehouse in Sturminster Marshall, Dorset,
by store designers Jo and Katie.
This is our mock-up unit for the Oxford Street store,
and at the moment we are just trying to work out what's going where.
The company started 20 years ago making handmade cosmetic products
from organic materials.
It's grown steadily so that it now has over 900 stores across the world,
but the Oxford Street shop will top the lot.
This is the biggest thing we've ever done, store-wise.
This is about three to four times the size
of anything we've ever done.
To coincide with the opening, the company is trialling
over 200 new products, all of them exclusive to Oxford Street.
Their development is being overseen at the firm's production facilities,
also in Dorset.
Today, company co-founder and boss Mark Constantine has come with
senior management to sign off some of the new products.
The company made its name with bath bombs,
or ballistics, as it calls them.
They're fizzy bath salts and scents, hardpacked into balls.
For the store opening, they have developed eight new ones,
but the delicate purple petals on one are proving tricky.
As it went in the water, obviously, so the flower came out
and then we realised we could probably create absolute havoc
But they are so beautiful.
It will be up to the manufacturing team to work out how to
mass-produce the lotus flower to avoid breakages.
While they do that, back on Oxford Street, Jen Hilton
is in charge of fitting out the shop itself.
We've only got four weeks left of construction,
and seven and a half weeks left until we actually open
and there's a huge amount to do.
And that job isn't made any easier by an issue
with the shop's stockroom.
We were trying to get an external office, which is just adjacent
to this building, which is easy for access through the front
and through the back, but we are having landlord issues
in terms of they're not playing ball
and don't want to give us that office at the moment.
So we have to find a solution somehow,
I just don't know what that is at the moment!
So, a real concern,
With potentially tens of thousands of pounds worth of stock being
sold every day, the store needs to keep plenty of products in reserve.
Without a stockroom to keep them in, they risk running empty.
As store manager Claire, who happens to be the boss's daughter,
is about to find out.
So we are struggling to secure that external unit.
But we'll find a way, we've still got time.
While Claire gets her head round the storage issue, back in Dorset,
dad Mark is inspecting the store interiors for sign off,
with Jo and Katie from the design team.
As you come down the grand staircase there,
this will be the first product range you see, which is our massage bars.
-Yeah, you like that?
-OK. Excellent. That's one!
To lure people into the store,
they are planning a number of innovative features, including
a spa, cinema, lecture area, hair-washing facilities,
and a series of music booths.
So we've got a listening post in here.
You can try the digital format there and there's where you can play
Mark's approval means Jo, Katie
and the store interior team can get packing.
Later, the team tackles a leak...
No, can't do it.
..a lack of storage and delicate petals.
-These were falling out before, weren't they?
-They were falling out.
Europe's busiest shopping street has been brought to a standstill
in a protest by drivers of black cabs.
Wall-to-wall taxis along the whole of Oxford Street,
it's very impressive.
They're demonstrating against their regulating authority,
Transport For London.
And as the hour they've been given to protest ticks on,
they start to make their presence felt.
Power to the people! For the taxi trade!
We're fighting for our rights!
This is all about enforcement!
Well over 1,000 cabs. Well over. Can't even get out.
We've all got to stick together.
We need to do it every week.
Stand up for the black cab drivers!
-We've been here for over 300 years!
-Boris is not listening!
But while the cabbies are making the most of the occasion,
Claire and the CentreComm team have their work cut out.
This bus hasn't moved for about ten minutes.
Wasn't expecting this.
It was going to be minimal, wasn't it?
We were told it was going to be minimal, yeah.
Dozens of buses with thousands of passengers on board are now
stuck in gridlock.
They might just have to sit it out.
Until we can get the roads back, we are sort of stopping people
getting home, travelling to work.
Commuters are affected hugely today.
CentreComm control are desperately trying to get them moving again.
The police are now down here because they are stuck
behind traffic, so if they can help them turn right,
then that will be fine.
The pressure is now on the police to try and break the deadlock.
Straight on and to the right, please.
Chief Inspector Manger tries to redirect traffic
away from Oxford Street.
But this is unwelcome news to one bus driver.
Who's given me permission to turn right here?
I'm giving you permission to turn right here and we are
linking with the bus. At the moment, we have got to clear Oxford Street.
Yes, but I've got to be told to do that.
I can't just do...be told... I've got to be told by...
I'm sorry, at the moment, you can't stop in the middle of the road.
If you go around to the left-hand side, you can park up there.
-That's not my route, though.
-You need to go over there, madam.
Madam, you need to pull up over there.
Call them once you've pulled up over to the left-hand side.
If you pull up over there and I'll speak to the Gold Badge.
The Gold Badge is the senior transport commander on the day,
also based at CentreComm.
Have you got the contact for Gold Badge?
I'm going to have to start putting the buses over to the left-hand side.
I'm going to get buses totally redirected.
I'm going to put them at the moment into Regent Street to the north.
-OK? They'll have to park up and they can be redirected from there.
Right, madam, I've just spoken to the Gold Badge people here.
-Where are they?!
-Well, I don't know where they are.
I spoke to them and they said, "Did your garage tell you to do that?"
I said, "No, a policeman did."
They said, "Can you stay there? Stand by, we'll get back to you."
Pull up to the left-hand side, please?
Right, OK, we'll speak to the Gold Badge to try and sort this out.
The officer wants me to turn left, my bus doesn't go left,
my bus goes straight across.
REPORTER: Are you going to listen to the control centre or...
I listen to who I work for - London Transport.
The buses are now refusing to move off their routes.
The dispute with the bus driver reaches CentreComm,
who agree to divert the buses away from the street.
They wanted to go left into Regent Street, Portland Place,
go up to Marylebone Road, turn right onto the Euston Road there,
and then left onto Hampstead Road.
I'll put a call out. Hold on.
It's now Ken's job to put out an announcement to every bus in London.
A demonstration in Oxford Street, Marble Arch.
Please listen out for further calls from CentreComm. Thanks.
I had an audience there of about 5,000 buses,
plus all the operators in the garages,
cos that call goes out to the whole of London.
If you include the passengers on board, it is
probably a couple of hundred thousand.
And Ken's call has an effect on the ground.
To the left, he said. Yes, which would be helpful.
-Thank you. OK.
-'Thank you, Steve.'
Thanks a lot.
OK. So she's got details now from her control
that she can turn left and, hopefully, that is going to
alleviate some of the congestion that we've got.
The demonstration is only due to last an hour
and that time is nearly up.
As 3pm comes round,
the police move in to enforce the deadline for the protest.
My understanding was it was due to finish at three, is that correct?
We're getting the message out to the drivers...
-That's what we're doing.
-Thank you very much for your help.
-Can we try and get your guys to keep moving up?
-Is that all right?
-Yeah, no problem at all. No problem at all, they've got to.
It's over, boys and girls. It's over, thank you very much.
Well done, boys. Thanks very much for your support.
Well done, boys.
All in all, I think went quite well.
They got their say and they have had their piece
and they have had plenty of time to do it
and now it is just about getting the city moving again.
But with an hour's gridlock to clear,
it will take some time before the buses are back to normal.
We are starting to get some movement.
Roads are now starting to reopen in sections.
The plans that were in place are coming out
and we are now looking at a recovery plan.
It is probably going to take an hour to recover, really,
at least, to start getting the services back.
Trevor thinks his protest has been a triumph.
We have been around for 350 years
and we will be around another 350 years.
The boys and girls have demonstrated that today.
I was proud beforehand of being a London cabbie
but I've never been more prouder in my life than I am today.
In a week's time, cosmetics maker Lush opens its brand-new
flagship store on Oxford Street.
But at the firm's Dorset factory,
manufacturing director Liz Smith has come
to check on another crucial area for the opening.
The new Oxford Street stuff, where are you doing it?
Liz has come to see if her ballistics boys,
Mike and Dan, have managed to master mass production of that
difficult lotus flower bath bomb, a mixture of fizzy bath salts and oils
hard-packed into a ball.
Are they working out better, then, Mike?
Yeah, they're working out a lot better. We have revised the formula.
That was the main points there,
every single gap you have to really push in.
Are they going to be ready by tomorrow to get up to Oxford Street?
-We will let you know in the morning.
-It is go, go, go, basically.
I can't stress enough now that every minute, hour counts.
Liz's sign-off means the products can start shipping to London,
which is a worry for Jen.
She is busy fitting the shop out
but there is still no sign of the external stockroom,
which means she has got room for only a fraction
of Mike and Dan's bath bombs.
It completely changes how we would work with this building
and the sales and the functionality of it, in terms of stock.
There is no space for stock.
At the moment it just doesn't work,
so we have to try and find a solution.
For Jen, things are stressful enough as it is
without other unforeseen problems.
We have sprung a leak in the pipework that has already
filled up, so it has flooded through into the basement bit.
So we are just trying to fix it
and we are not having a lot of success at the moment.
And everybody is...worried.
There could be about 60 litres of water in that bit of pipe.
They need to drain the system,
but with the shop-fitting nearly complete, that's NOT easy.
I'm not sure that's going to work.
Later, can the team get the store ready for the grand opening
and a visit from a rock superstar?
It is the early hours of the morning
and James Burns is getting ready for his day's work on Oxford Street.
Clear as you like.
13 degrees, sunrise 6:05.
Time now, four o'clock.
And there is a reason James is paying such close attention
to the sunrise time.
He is a professional photographer, specialising in pictures of skylines.
And today, he has received his dream commission.
A property developer wants him to capture some images of
the sunrise over one of their buildings -
iconic '60s skyscraper, Centre Point.
I think the skill, really, in getting a good shot
is knowing the weather.
And after that, I think it is all just in the eye.
The images will be used in the company's promotional material
and to capture the moment, James has been waiting patiently
for days for the perfect atmospheric conditions.
This morning, he has got to make sure he is bang on time.
If you want to do sunrise, you have got to get there an hour early,
so that it is just starting to become twilight.
When we get there, the lights of Oxford Street will be visible
probably within 20 minutes or so. The light will begin to get bright
even about 45 minutes before sunrise.
James has been commissioned by developer Almacantar.
They are redeveloping Centre Point at the east end of Oxford Street.
But to get that shot,
he has got to get six miles across London from his flat first.
That gives us 45 minutes to get from here to Marble Arch.
A bit of a squeeze!
To get the best picture, James needs to be high up,
and the developer is letting him
access another of its Oxford Street buildings, the Marble Arch Tower.
The problem for James is it's a mile and a half down the other end
of the street and the time and light are not on his side.
Twilight has started. I'll put a little sprint in.
Come on, man!
I think I see our bus.
That's where we're going, look.
-It is waiting for us.
-He has made it to the building.
Now all he's got to do is make it up to the roof,
24 storeys above the ground.
IF he can get past security.
A little bit of a hurry, yeah, just to get the right photograph.
We are trying to get the right shot from up top.
I've got the e-mail here if you want, mate.
OK, thank you, sir. Thank you.
-The sun doesn't wait. The sun is always on time.
Whether he can outrun the sun, we will find out later.
Handmade cosmetics chain Lush is getting ready for the star-studded
opening of its brand-new flagship store on Oxford Street.
It is their biggest ever - over three floors -
and it is taking a massive company-wide effort to prepare.
They have only got two days before the grand store opening,
featuring rock legend Brian May.
But before any of that happens, Jen has got problems in the basement.
Plumber Bob is on the case.
We are waiting for some fittings to actually just redo the pipe...
Oh, here we are.
So, here's the pipes now. The weakest link in the chain,
Right, here we go. So if I just turn these on...
Yay, we've got water!
PHONE RINGS And it looks like Jen's luck has turned.
There is good news about the all-important external stockroom.
That was Martin, our estates manager,
and he has just picked up the keys for the external office.
Massive deal, really happy.
One careful owner.
One empty, messy space, ready to be fitted out for stock and staff.
And just in time, because company boss Mark is on hand to view
the new store he is about to hand over to daughter Claire to manage.
We're just going to be doing some last-minute tweaks
and seeing what bits and pieces aren't quite right,
that just need a little bit of alteration before we open the doors tomorrow morning.
He started the company from scratch 20 years ago
and he has finally made it to Oxford Street.
To have this kind of position on Oxford Street
and to have this opportunity to show off to so many people
our talents and to have them interested, is a great privilege.
For Jen and the rest of the team,
it is vindication for all their hard work.
That was a big, big relief from everyone.
All that is left to do is open up.
For the main opening, there is something a bit special planned.
They are expecting a royal visit. Well, almost.
Brian May is coming because we have a May Day bath bomb,
which is in the shape of a badger.
We sell those - to him and others - for money.
The badger bath bomb, very useful device.
Both Brian May and Lush are major animal rights campaigners
and the Queen guitarist is planning to cash in on the store opening
to get publicity for a march he's leading to Parliament.
Lush has become an incredible icon in fighting for decency,
and particularly in fighting for animal welfare and animal rights.
All the work that I have done over the years has given me a visibility
and a presence and I feel that I have to use that responsibly
and that is what this is about.
Time to open the store and start the march.
This is our new store.
Obviously we are delighted to be hosting this rally
and march from here on the first day
and it is so delightful to have Brian and everybody here.
Let's march on Westminster!
And so, for both Brian and Lush, Oxford Street, it begins.
So, we have arrived in Oxford Street.
I can't imagine a nicer way to launch the shop, I really can't.
I hope everyone approves.
Photographer James is still stuck at security,
trying to get up 24 floors to take a panoramic shot of Oxford Street.
A little bit of a hurry, yeah.
But it is sunrise in 15 minutes and time is running out.
There's a lot of people that you need to go through in order
to get, you know, the authorisation to get up on the roof.
Finally, the supervisor arrives and James gets the all-clear to head up.
This key here is the key to the best view that you get
over Oxford Street.
This and Centre Point
are the two best views you get in the West End, full stop.
Oh, it's beautiful. Look, the moon's out as well.
Oh, that's beautiful. Right.
James gets to work, capturing one of the most breathtaking views
the capital has to offer.
It's actually got brighter already
and I've only been here five minutes.
Hopefully I will get a shot of the sun as it passes over Oxford Street.
That will do. We are all set.
I am expecting to see any minute now the first little red tip
appear over the horizon.
There's the sun.
When you get out of bed at three o'clock in the morning,
as soon as you see the sun come up over the horizon,
I am beaming with energy and...
Oh, this is... Come on. Look at that.
Here we go. Right, I'm looking straight down Oxford Street now.
Oh, look at that! Come on.
What a view, man, what a view.
Oh, it's so relaxing.
Honestly, it is the best way to start your day.
A view of the city that I love coming to life,
everybody starting to run around and do their thing
and bring this city to life and make it what it is.
And as James's working day ends,
another is just beginning on Europe's busiest shopping street.
Oxford Street comes to a standstill as protesting cabbies take their grievances to the street. The police and transport control try to keep the street and its buses moving.
Cosmetics chain Lush prepare for the opening of their biggest ever store, with a little help from a rock superstar.