Our North London Culture Tour in a DriveNow Talking BMW

Written by: Sophie Taylor

(Kindly sponsored by DriveNow)

His name is KITT and he’s a talking BMW

We begged the beauties of DriveNow to borrow one of their luxury cars again to zip about North London. We needed to get our culture fix and we needed to do it quickly. They said, “you know what? We’ve got just the car for you. His name is KITT and he’s a talking BMW”. I shit you not.

North Four, North London magazine, Parasol Unit Gallery, Islington, art, exhibition, article

So we changed our names to Michael Knight, threw on a leather jacket and curled our hair into a boosh only David Hasselhoff would fully comprehend. Not got the cultural reference yet? Sucks for you. Now quickly Google Knight Rider, have your life changed for the better and we’ll see you back here in a tick. You’re welcome.

It was time for our shadowy flight into the dangerous world of culture in North London. We were leather clad loners on a crusade to champion the cause of the dramatic, the bookish, the arty and the film buffed.

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Keep your scanners peeled KITT

Stop One: Art
Parasol Unit Contemporary Art Gallery – Islington

We began in Islington, expertly nipping down an alleyway to find the Parasol Unit Gallery, all thanks to our chatty bimmer. Yep, savvy-minded KITT flagged up the congestion zone and showed us a fine-avoiding route straight to the gallery front door. Thanks babe.

Bangladeshi-British artist Rana Begum is currently showing her first solo presentation of past and recent works, titled ‘The Space Between’, until 18th September and we wanted to catch it before it ended. Using influences from constructivist and minimalist art, Begum creates two and three-dimensional works that masterfully fill the rooms like an absolute demon. The exhibition is accompanied by a limited edition of ten sculptural wall pieces. 

The standout piece for us was the new large-scale installation No. 670, 2016, a room of industrial steel-mesh fencing arranged into a large maze-like structure that we got lost in for a while before KITT flashed his headlights at us through the window. 

What is it mate? He was peering in and wanted to express his delight at the neon light piece that reminded him of his own dashboard.

“I discovered dynamic shifts in its colour and form,” he murmured, “light is a vitally activating element in all of Begum’s works, its shifts and changes producing an experience that is both temporal and sensorial” sounding less William Daniels and more scripted than ever. Yeah, we know you read all that in the exhibition pamphlet KITT, get over yourself.

The Space Between is on at The Parasol Unit until the 18th September, but if you can’t get yourself there in time the gallery run brilliant exhibitions, events, talks, workshops and film screenings throughout the year. 

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Michael Knight: I need ya buddy!
KITT: Right away Michael.

Stop Two: Literature
The Muswell Hill Bookshop – Muswell Hill

We felt like a coffee and a good book after all that sculpture. So we put the pedal to the metal again and headed to Muswell Hill bookshop to see if we could nab some good finds. But not before grabbing a view from the top of Alexandra Palace car park.

“Whew KITT! Look at that. All of this world will be yours one day. The world… of the Knight Rider.”

KITT: “Get a life.”

“I got a life and a body, too, which is more than I can say for you.” 

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Jeez. Time to leave the little diva in park mode and have an extended browse around Muswell Hill’s finest bookshop.

The Muswell Hill Bookshop is a long established independent bookshop on Fortis Green Road, who sometimes hold readings and signing events by various authors. As an indie set up they are selective and discerning with their stock, which makes for a pretty enticing browse. Thanks be to Hasselhoff above that we have our helpful car waiting outside to carry our stacks of literature. We load K.I.T.T. up with some crime-busting Ruth Rendell’s, Patricia Cornwall’s and a big old pile of Ian Rankin’s, which he was more than happy to cart about for us, like a handy DriveNow car should.

K.I.T.T: “Please do not refer to me as a ‘car’ or a ‘set of wheels’, it’s most demeaning. I’m the Knight Industries Two Thousand.”

Wow. We almost forgot just how much of a complete sass master our BMW is.

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On that note, we were ready to sit in silence in the dark and hope our diva hire car had calmed down in the interim. Off to the Park Theatre for a matinee methinks.

Muswell Hill Bookshop, 70 – 72 Fortis Green Road open Monday – Saturday 9.30am-6pm, Sundays 11am-4pm

A lone crusader in a dangerous world…

Stop Three: Theatre
Park Theatre – Finsbury Park

In association with The Other Cheek and Park Theatre, Cahoots Theatre Company present the first major revival of ‘The Roundabout’, a comedy by prolific British playwright J.B. Priestley. Directed by Hugh Ross, the show has been nominated for three Offie Awards and has been receiving some rave reviews.

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We meet dysfunctional family The Kettlewell’s over one farcical weekend and gained insight into England in the 1930s, when social standings seemed to be on the cusp of changing. As all the reviews state, Bessie Carter is a real stand out performance and ‘a one to watch’ for sure in this witty yet touching production. 

The Roundabout is showing at The Park Theatre, Finsbury Park until 24th September. Tickets available here. 

We come out of the theatre giggling and see our BMW patiently waiting for us, chuckling away to himself too. 

“Something tickled your gearbox K.I.T.T?”

Turns out he’d spotted another hire car company vehicle and was less than impressed with their performance. 

K.I.T.T: “Terrific. The lights are on, but nobody’s home. Hilarious.”

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My dear I’m a car, not a plane

Stop Four: Film
Picturehouse – Crouch End

We were rather excited about our next and final culture stop. Onwards, my good friend, to The Picturehouse cinema in Crouch End! The comfy sofas, buckets of hot popcorn and excellent in-house restaurant are calling to us. Sorry K.I.T.T, as much as we’d love to wheel you through the auditorium, drive-ins are no longer much of a thing. Never really were a thing at all here in the UK, I’m afraid (we blame rain). You’re a lone crusader in a dangerous world. For the next 90 minutes anyway. Keep that parking space secret dude, keep it safe.

Our shiny DriveNow BMW didn’t seem to care, still chuckling away to himself about the state of the other hire car he was now fervently trolling on Twitter.

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We were lucky enough to catch the new Nick Cave film ‘One More Time With Feeling’. Showing as a one off one night only screening, this was a rare opportunity to preview the new Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds album before it’s release date the following day.  We even had the chance to take in the 3D version. So we swapped our Ray-Bans for plastic specs and sat back, prepared to be blown away. 

Well, we’re ready to head home now after that cultural assault on our senses. No fuel costs, no strings with insurance, car tax and parking all included. Not bad for a day out. How was it for you?

K.I.T.T. “You’ve been stubborn, impatient and arrogant, drove like a maniac, were readily distracted by pretty girls and boys, and listened to perhaps the most appalling music to ever shatter my airwaves. I’ve had a blast.”

Thanks mate, it’s been special. Let’s shatter those airwaves some more with one more for the road, eh?

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We connect our iPhone to the DriveNow Bluetooth speakers and zoom back home to the dulcet sounds of Hasselhoff circa 2006. Swoon.


Need a car and need it now? Make like Knight Rider and download the DriveNow app quick sharp to find a sassy little BMW or MINI nearby who can take you to the ends of the world and back (or perhaps just to the cinema with your mates…).

While you’re at it, enjoy free registration exclusively for you lucky North Four readers right about now, right about here.

*we cannot guarantee that the car will actually talk. In fact, if it does start talking be afraid, be very afraid.

Photos by Mike Barry

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