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The Top 10: Fictional Pubs

From the Three Broomsticks and the Prancing Pony to the bar in Star Wars with all the aliens

John Rentoul
Saturday 18 February 2017 15:10 GMT
The Mos Eisley Cantina, Star Wars
The Mos Eisley Cantina, Star Wars

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This list was proposed by James Dinsdale, who nominated the first four.

1. Moon Under Water. George Orwell’s ideal pub, invented in a review in the Evening Standard, 1946. “It is always quiet enough to talk.”

2. Three Broomsticks. Where Harry Potter and friends drink butterbeer, in Hogsmeade.

3. Prancing Pony. The inn at Bree where, right at the start of his journey, Frodo Baggins nearly cuts the whole story short by putting on the Ring.

4. Queen Vic. The Central Perk of EastEnders. This week the roof continued to leak even though it hasn’t rained in east London.

5. Horse and Groom. Where Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect order six pints 10 minutes before the world ends in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Thanks to Greves and Alasdair Brooks, who also nominated the Admiral Benbow Inn, home of Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island.

6. Kebab and Calculator. Fine name from The Young Ones, nominated by James Irwin, although the sign looks silly.

7. Fool and Bladder. From Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, radio comedy by Vivian Stanshall that started on the John Peel show in 1975 and which was made into a film in 1980. Graham Kirby also nominated the Slaughtered Lamb (American Werewolf in London), the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters (Our Mutual Friend) and the Angler’s Rest, which was the opening setting for Mr Mulliner’s stories in three PG Wodehouse collections.

8. Rover’s Return Inn. I have never watched the programme, but Jonathan Isaby said it would be a travesty if the local of “my beloved Coronation Street does not make your fictional pubs list”.

9. Frog and Nightgown. “This appeared in the sitcom Ray’s a Laugh on the old steam radio in the 1950s, which was a vehicle for the comedian Ted Ray, celebrated music-hall artist who became a fixture on the radio in the post-war years – he was reputed to be the sharpest ad libber in the business. Ray’s a Laugh was a marital sitcom – Ray’s partner was played by Kitty Bluett – and a catchphrase was ‘I’m going for a noggin at the Frog and Nightgown’. Around 1960, a real pub at the Elephant and Castle end of the Old Kent Road was renamed the Frog and Nightgown. When I lived in the area until 1990, it had been made into a pub/nightclub, and was still popular, but apparently it went into a steep decline and was eventually demolished in the last five years. I wonder how many customers and passers-by realise where the name came from.” Guy Cudmore.

10. Mos Eisley Cantina. The scene with all the different aliens in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (pictured above). From Greves again.

No room, therefore, for the White Hart, from Arthur C Clarke’s humorous science fiction short stories, Tales from the White Hart (Paul T Horgan); the Crow and Crown, from Withnail and I (Usahibs; David Gentle’s nomination of the Mother Black Cap from the same film was rejected because there was a real pub of that name in Camden); the Hand and Racquet, from Hancock’s Half Hour; or the Skinner’s Arms, from Steptoe and Son (Herr E Legs).

Next week: Expressions used only in the negative (does anyone mince their words?)

Coming soon: Actor-politicians (Reagan, Schwarzenegger, Jackson, Faulds…)

The e-book of Listellany: A Miscellany of Very British Top Tens, From Politics to Pop is just £3.79. Your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, in the comments please, or to me on Twitter, or by email to

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