Tuesday, May 25, 2010


It's that time of the month again!

VVWORP!!! - Who @ The Lass

With a big screen presentation of this week's Dr Who adventure: 'COLD BLOOD'. Come and see The Silurians v The Apes!!!!!

Last Saturday of the month from 3.00pm in the grooviest pub in Manchester - the mighty Lass O'Gowrie. Primarily for fans of old and new Doctor Who, but all are welcome for discussion, debate and drinking.
Come one, come all and sample the unique excellence of The Lass O'Gowrie - winner of Pub of The Year 2009/10

Monday, May 24, 2010


The Ian Curtis celebration continues this week with a special tribute night on Thursday 27th May from 7pm at Moho Live, Tib Street, Manchester.

Details from the Facebook site:

On the 18th May 1980 the country lost a legend, to mark his life and music.. Boon Army Army bring you a very special night...TRANSMISSION THE ULTIMATE JOY DIVISION TRIBUTE BAND...Devoted to recreating the atmosphere of a live Joy Division gig, Transmission emulate the sound of one of the most inventive, evocative and influential groups of their era. Joy Division were formed in the late 1970s and dissolved in May 1980 after the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis. The remaining members went on to form New Order and have achieved much critical and commercial success. The influence of Joy Division, however, was far reaching. They were considered the pioneering band of the post-punk movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s. More than 30 years on you can still relive the dark cavernous sound of Joy Division through Transmission one of the leading UK tribute bands.Tickets are an absolute bargain at just £7 as we want this night rammed and everyone dancing along Mr Curtis style... So come down, reminisce and let the music live on..MAIN SUPPORT ON THE NIGHT COMES FROM THE QUANGOS, ALSO ON THE BILL ARE DIRTY AVENUES, THE SO AND SOS AND A HOST MORE

Sunday, May 23, 2010

'THE MEMORY OF WATER' (Oldham Coliseum) Review

Shelagh Stephenson

Oldham Coliseum Theatre until 5th June

Review by Brian Gorman

A sweltering summer’s evening in a theatre can be absolute torture, but if it’s a fabulous production then one doesn’t mind the suffocating temperature so much. Well, luckily for the audience, what we got was an absolutely fantastic staging of Shelagh Stephenson’s Olivier award-winning play, ‘The Memory Of Water’. This is the story of three sisters attending their mother’s funeral and struggling to make sense of their relationships with her, their partners, lovers, and each other. There shouldn’t really be much room for laughs here, but such is the skill of director Kevin Shaw, that we got to experience the whole gamut of human emotion from a superb ensemble cast. The setting is a ramshackle old house in the Yorkshire countryside, with a snowstorm raging outside. Sophie Khan’s set is dustily realistic, except for the subtle, artificial placing of stacks of books at all manner of odd angles which perfectly compliments the themes of the play; time being out of joint, memories being unreliable and highly subjective, and general entropy.
Eva Pope (a familiar face from tv’s ‘Waterloo Road’) plays the elder sister, Teresa; the dependable one who stayed home to nurse the dying mother. Resentful of her siblings, and jealous of middle sister Mary (Maeve Larkin) who was the favoured daughter and is now a high flying doctor. Catherine Kinsella completes the bereaved trio as the moody, mixed-up tearaway (also called Catherine) desperate for love but going about trying to find it in all the wrong places. All three actresses give full-bloodied, gutsy and brave performances, with each getting some superbly directed moments in which to shine. Eva Pope threatens to devour everyone on stage in one highly charged scene, when she explodes with an outpouring of anger and bitterness after downing half a bottle of whiskey. Maeve Larkin plays Mary with a detached superiority before emotionally dissolving when a long-hidden family secret is shockingly revealed. And Catherine Kinsella, playing the extravagant, highly strung child-woman, goes into mental breakdown with a shattering hundred mile an hour monologue about how unfair she feels life has been to her (to the resigned amusement of her sisters). This was probably the best moment of the night; a beautiful performance eliciting laughter and tears in equal measure.
Playing the ghostly figure of Vi (the mother), Emma Gregory put in a tremendous performance as a brassy and voluptuous Amazonian in a dress so tight it’s a wonder she could breathe. At complete ease with herself and displaying a ferocious man-eating attitude that, if it could be bottled, would surely be outlawed immediately. With so much female talent on show, the male members of the cast truly had their work cut out, but rose to the occasion. If there is one weakness in the script, it has to be the slightly underwritten male parts. Paul Barnhill played Mike, the married lover of fellow doctor Mary, with stoical solidness, but had little to do except spend half the evening dressed only in a towel. Defending his decision not to leave his ailing wife, Barnhill communicated a range of mixed emotions and motives in a well-judged, understated and subtle performance. Full marks to director Shaw again for balancing the characters so well, and for handling the mix of gut-wrenching drama and side-splitting belly laughs. Completing the cast was Tim Treslove as Frank, the amiable and somewhat downtrodden husband of Teresa. Again, a somewhat underwritten part, but handled with great skill, pathos, and excellent comic timing. The music track opening and closing the show was Nat ‘King’ Cole’s classic ‘Unforgettable’; a perfect choice if ever there was one; this was a memorable evening indeed.
This review can also be seen at www.thepublicreviews.com

Wednesday, May 19, 2010



I went to only my third ever gig last night, to FAC251 The Factory Club to see Peter Hook’s band, The Light, play a tribute to Ian Curtis on the 30th anniversary of the Joy Division singer’s death. Blimey it was hot! Packed to capacity in the ground floor performance space, I was amongst mainly middle-aged folk, but there was also a healthy smattering of cool young dudes too. I know now why I don’t do gigs like this. It’s hard to enjoy the music when your eardrums are being blasted and sweat is streaming down your face. Plus you can’t get to the bar because there’s a wall of flesh surrounding you.
Before I saw the show, I took the opportunity to visit the Curtis exhibition that was being held on the top floor of the club. Appropriately, in the old boardroom of Tony Wilson’s legendary Factory Records. Here was everything the Joy Division devotee could wish for; Producer Martin Hannett’s various recording gadgets, some of the band’s old guitars, song sheets, and, hauntingly, the sound booth that Curtis recorded several tracks in. In the darkened room, with its bare brick walls, the empty booth stood like a wood and glass coffin, with the abandoned headphones and microphone exhibited like holy relics; the tools of a departed genius’ trade.
The gig’s support act was a big, bald, middle-aged guy called Kevin (I didn’t catch his surname) who played a few folkie type songs on his guitar. He told us he’d been with Factory records, and had supported Joy Division and New Order. He was pretty good, but terribly modest and virtually apologizing for being on stage. Have more faith in your talents, Kevin!
Peter Hook has been criticized by some people for putting on this event. There have been accusations of cashing in on his ex bandmate’s memory in order to promote the Factory Club (which he co-owns) and his new band, Freebass. What utter tosh! Hook was IN Joy Division. The Factory Club was the HQ of their record label, and what do you expect the man to do? Nothing? It was plain from the emotion in his voice and on his face throughout the set, that this evening meant a lot to him. I expected a bit of an opening speech, but no; not from ‘Hooky’. Actions spoke louder than words, as the band went straight into several early, punk era JD songs with Hook thrashing away like the old days. ‘At A Later Date’, ‘Digital’, and ‘Glass’ were played with fury, and the audience were in heaven. Before launching into the entire ‘Unknown Pleasures’ (Joy Division's 1979 debut album) , Hook told us he wasn’t going to say much, and that we knew why we were here. Then, with a trembling voice, said ‘I’m just trying to remember my friend’s beautiful words’. The NME interviewed him later where he admitted it was a bit of an effort memorizing Curtis’ lyrics, and that it gave him renewed insight into just how much the young man had worked on crafting them (Curtis was only 23 when he hanged himself in 1980). The band was joined on stage for two songs, ‘Insight’ and ‘New Dawn Fades’ by Happy Mondays singer, Rowetta, and for the encore, ‘Transmission’ by A Certain Ratios’s Simon Topping. A second encore saw the band ending the night with Joy Division’s only commercial hit single, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. A tremendous night, and a fabulous decision by Hooky to go ahead and stick two proverbial fingers up at his critics.
By the way, whilst having a drink in a local pub before the gig, I saw Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins in Canal Street. A living legend, and another fine example of a true individual and tortured genius. Hats off to the uniqueness of the human spirit, in all its forms!

Matt Smith is Christopher Isherwood

Photo: Toby Jones as 'The Dream Lord' in a recent Dr Who adventure

New Dr Who Matt Smith is starring in a new BBC film, directed by the man responsible for the 1996 Paul McGann adventure, Geoffrey Sax. He is joined by fellow Dr who stars Lindsay Duncan ('The waters Of Mars') and Toby Jones ('Amy's Choice')

Here's the latest from the beeb:

New BBC Two drama, Christopher And His Kind
Category: BBC Two; Drama
Lindsay Duncan, Imogen Poots, Toby Jones and Douglas Booth join Matt Smith in a new BBC Two drama. Written by acclaimed playwright Kevin Elyot (My Night With Reg) and produced by Mammoth Screen through BBC Wales, Christopher And His Kind chronicles the formative years of Christopher Isherwood.
Isherwood, played by Matt Smith (Doctor Who), escapes repressive English society and his suffocating relationship with his mother, Kathleen played by Lindsay Duncan (Criminal Justice, Thatcher, Under The Tuscan Sun) for the decadent – and politically unstable – world of Thirties Berlin.
Imogen Poots (28 Weeks Later, Solitary Man) stars as Jean Ross, an aspiring actress and singer who provided Christopher with the inspiration for the Sally Bowles character of Cabaret fame.
Toby Jones (Frost/Nixon, W) plays Gerald Hamilton, a peculiar man who provided the inspiration for the title character in the celebrated Isherwood novel Mr Norris Changes Trains.
Pip Carter (Party Animals) plays Wystan Auden, the famous poet with a droll sense of humour who persuaded Christopher to join him in Berlin.
Douglas Booth (Worried About The Boy) plays Heinz, an unassuming street cleaner who Christopher meets and falls in love with during his time in Berlin.
The hedonistic Berlin cabaret scene is in full swing when a young and wide-eyed Christopher Isherwood arrives in the city, unable to speak a word of German, to stay with his close friend, Auden.
To Isherwood's reserved English sensibility, the city's thriving gay subculture is thrilling and intoxicating. But Christopher soon finds himself heartbroken after the failure of a hopeless love affair, and so sets out on a process of self-discovery.
This 90-minute film is directed by Geoffrey Sax (Tipping The Velvet) and produced by Celia Duval (Margot) for Mammoth Screen, with Michele Buck, Kevin Elyot and Damien Timmer as executive producers.
The drama was commissioned for BBC Two by Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC Two and Ben Stephenson, Controller of Drama commissioning with Eleanor Moran as BBC executive producer and Piers Wenger, Head of Drama, BBC Wales.
Christopher And His Kind is currently filming on location in Belfast and is being made with the assistance of Northern Ireland Screen.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Colin Baker faces a rather daunting task later this year when he takes on the role made famous by the late great John Thaw. Oxford's finest, Inspector Morse, is to return courtesy of Calibre Productions, in a brand new stage play, 'House Of Ghosts'. Written by Alma Cullen, who was also responsible for four of the televison series' episodes, this new case for Morse has been fully endorsed by his creator, Colin Dexter. It is the first time the great detective has appeared on stage, and he will be facing an old enemy and a former lover.

Eagerly looking forward to bringing the Jaguar-driving, real ale-swilling, crossword -solving Inspector back to life, Colin Baker comments:

“More Morse! This in itself is exciting enough but for me to have the opportunity to follow in John Thaw's footsteps and bring this sullen, intuitive intellectual to life on-stage, is both daunting and very exciting. Whilst revisiting the character in Dexter's novels, I am both appalled, and greatly encouraged to discover just how many characteristics I share with the great Inspector. It's a great and fiendishly clever script - I simply can't wait”.

Casting is still taking place for Morse's sidekick, the ever loyal Lewis.

For more information check out the company website here: http://www.calibreproductions.co.uk/

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I am writing a new short play called 'EVERYMAN', about the life of Patrick McGoohan the star of cult 60s tv series 'Danger Man' and 'The Prisoner'. The idea is to produce a preview for the upcoming 'Lass Fest' at the Lass O'Gowrie pub in Manchester at the end of July. I'm looking for someone to play McGoohan in what I'm planning as a one man show. It's all for fun at the moment, but we should make a few pennies on the night to split between us, and if it all works out I shall be looking to produce it professionally later in the year. The actor must bear a passing resemblance to McGoohan (i.e. tall, athletic), but acting ability is the first priority. The story begins in 1968 when McGoohan was 40, but we shall be covering his early years in Hollywood, and later years up to working on the Columbo tv series in the 70s and 80s. Minimal use of costume and props, so the actor will have to suggest McGoohan's age in various scenes.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Latest Press Release from The Factory:

FREEBASSFeaturing: PETER HOOK (NewOrder)GARY 'MANI' MOUNFIELD (The Stone Roses)ANDY ROURKE (The Smiths)GARY BRIGGS (Haven)The long awaited debut full live show from the Manc-union of rock star Bassists playing their first hometown gig in their own city...THE FACTORYWEDNESDAY 02 JUNE 2010 8pm-10:30pmADV £12.50. Inc Aftershow Party until 4am with DJ Set from BEZ http//:www.factorymanchester.comhttp//:www.freebassuk.com

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Christopher Eccleston and Mackenzie Crook take lead roles in opening episodes of Accused, compelling new drama series from Jimmy McGovern for BBC One
Date: 11.05.2010
Category: BBC One; Drama
Christopher Eccleston (Lennon Naked, Doctor Who) and Mackenzie Crook (Pirates Of The Caribbean) are to star in new BBC One six-part drama Accused, by Jimmy McGovern.
Christopher Eccleston and Mackenzie Crook play the leading characters in the first two episodes of Accused; separate stories which open as an ordinary individual is led to the dock to hear his fate.
As each hour-long episode unravels we learn how each man came to be there. But on reflection should they be the accused? Are they innocent or guilty or somewhere in between? And will the jury make the right judgement?
RSJ Films, the independent television and film drama production company founded in August 2009 by Jimmy McGovern, Sita Williams and Roxy Spencer, the creative team responsible for the multi-award winning BBC One hit The Street, begins filming Accused, an unflinching contemporary six-part drama, this month.
Jimmy McGovern says: "In the time it takes to climb the steps to the court we tell the story of how the accused came to be here. We see the crime and we see the punishment. Nothing else. No police procedure, thanks very much, no coppers striding along corridors with coats flapping. Just crime and punishment – the two things that matter most in any crime drama.
"It's great to work with Chris again and I've often tried in the past to get Mackenzie into something of mine. And needless to say, it's wonderful to reunite the team that made The Street."
Polly Hill, BBC Commissioning Editor, says: "After three wonderful, award-winning series of The Street, we are thrilled the same team are making Accused for BBC One. The first commission for RSJ Films, Jimmy McGovern, Sita Williams and Roxy Spencer, together with David Blair, continue to make drama that is relevent, challenging and above all moving. I'm sure this will prove to be a real treat for the BBC One audience."
Accused was commissioned by BBC One Controller Jay Hunt, and Ben Stephenson, Controller of Drama Commissioning, and is executive produced for the BBC by Polly Hill, Commissioning Editor, Independent Drama. Sita Williams is the producer and executive producer for RSJ Films.
Christopher Eccleston stars as a man in turmoil in Willy's Story by Jimmy McGovern, which starts filming on 30 May. Lapsed Catholic Willy does his best; he's a good plumber and a loving father, but he fails to be a faithful husband.
Just when Willy is about to confess to his wife Carmel, played by Pooky Quesnel, his daughter announces she's getting married. Willy's guilty secret must wait while pressure from all sides keeps growing. He is about to implode when he finds something in the back of a cab and it's either the answer to his prayers or the beginning of his downfall...
Mackenzie Crook stars as Buckley, a soldier's soldier – a man you need on your side if you are to survive. The Soldier Story is written by Jimmy McGovern and begins filming on 10 May.
Newcomers Benjamin Smith and Ben Batt play Frankie Nash and Peter McShane respectively, two friends who join the British army. Soon they are on the frontline in Afghanistan where they learn that not obeying orders has deadly consequences, and that the enemy are not necessarily who you think they are. Robert Pugh plays Peter McShane Senior, an army veteran who is proud to have a son in the military keeping the family tradition alive.
A further four episodes of Accused film in and around Manchester until the end of August this year and further casting will be announced shortly.
The directors are David Blair (The Street), (eps 1, 2, 5 & 6) and Richard Laxton (An Englishman In New York), (eps 3 & 4).


Sunday 6th June 8pm
The Fab Café, Portland St., Manchester

(Press release 10.05.10)

Manchester’s premiere sci-fi themed bar and night club, The Fab Café, is proud to welcome their latest guest, DIRK BENEDICT, for another of their regular celebrity evenings. The international star of 1980s tv classics ‘The A Team’ (as Templeton ‘Face Man’ Peck) and the original ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (as the dashing Viper pilot Lieutenant Starbuck), Benedict is currently touring the UK in a stage version of ‘Prescription Murder’, the original pilot for the tv series ‘Columbo’, in which he plays the title role. He was also on our television screens in 2007’s ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ alongside Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty and the late Jade Goody, where he came third.
Local fans of Benedict are in for a treat, as his appearance at The Fab Café is followed by a week-long run of ‘Prescription Murder’ at Salford’s Lowry Theatre. There is also a cameo to look forward to in the upcoming, big budget film version of ‘The A Team’ starring Liam Neeson, which hits cinemas in the very same week.

Dirk Benedict will be interviewed on stage, followed by a Q & A session, and an opportunity for autographs and photos.
Fans are warned to be on the look out for any Cylons who may be in the vicinity on the night!

Tickets at just £4 are expected to sell quickly, and can be obtained from the venue itself - The Fab Café, Portland Street, Manchester (Tel. 0161 2122997).

For more information contact: Brian Gorman
email: brianinchester@yahoo.co.uk
tel. 07510 591444

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


(Photo: The cast of 'Mind Your Language' with Barry Evans and Francoise Pascal)

Comedy legends to be honoured
31st October, Marriott Hotel, Swiss Cottage, London

(Press Release by Brian Gorman)

TV comedy legends BARRY EVANS and VINCE POWELL are to be posthumously honoured with a commemoration lunch at the Marriott Hotel, Swiss Cottage, London at 1pm on the 31st October. There will also be the unveiling of a plaque at Barry Evans’s house earlier in the day in Swiss Cottage where he lived for many years before he moved to Leicester.

The event is being organized by FRANCOISE PASCAL, (Evans’ co-star in the phenomenally successful 1970s and 1980s ITV comedy series ‘Mind Your Language’ which can still boast close to three million fans in Britain and around the world.). Other members of the cast are expected to attend as well as actors who played alongside Evans in the equally popular ‘Doctor in The House’ series.

Barry Evans was born in Guildford, Surrey in 1943, and is best remembered for the popular and controversial 1970s ITV sit-com ‘Mind Your Language’ written by Vince Powell. The show, set in an evening class for mature foreign students, was a huge ratings success, bringing in up to 18 million viewers a week. Evans had previously starred in such iconic films as ‘The White Bus’ (1966) and ‘Here We Go ‘Round The Mulberry Bush’ (1968), and television series’ ‘The Baron’ and ‘Doctor In The House’. He died in 1997 at age 52.

Born in 1928, in Miles Platting, Manchester, Vince Powell wrote some of the most popular and successful television comedy series of all-time. In the 1960s he helped to turn comedian Harry Worth into a household name with ‘Here’s Harry’ (1960-65), and contributed to early episodes of ‘Coronation Street’ (1961-64), and ‘Adam Adamant Lives!’ (1966-67). Other successful series he helped to create and write included ‘George and The Dragon’ (1966-68) with Sid James and Peggy Mount, ‘Never Mind The Quality, Feel The Width’ (1967-71), ‘Nearest and Dearest’ (1968-72) with Jimmy Jewel and Hylda Baker, and ‘Bless This House’ (1971-76), another vehicle for Sid James. With regular writing partner Harry Driver, Powell’s best-known creation was ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ (1972-76); a hugely controversial comedy that was also the most watched show on British Television at the time. In later years he also wrote 130 episodes of ‘Surprise Surprise’ starring Cilla Black, worked on 224 episodes of ‘Blind Date’, and supplied comedy routines for ‘Play Your Cards Right’ with Bruce Forsyth.
Vince Powell died in 2009, aged 80.

There are a limited number of tickets on sale, which can be obtained via Francoise Pascal at francoisepascal2@gmail.com.
Tickets are £70 per person (Table of 10: £700). Please provide your telephone number, address, and any dietary requirements. All cheques made payable to: MYL Lunch.

All proceeds will go to BARNARDO’S CHARITY, as Barry Evans was a Barnardo’s child.

Monday, May 03, 2010



The Fab Café, Portland Street, Manchester
Sunday 2nd May

Review by Brian Gorman

FANS LIKE US, the Wirral-based Dr Who fan group, presented their latest day of sci-fi themed festivities at Manchester’s Fab Café with ex Dr Who COLIN BAKER headlining.
Producer Erica Egerton prides herself on providing relatively low-key affairs aimed at putting the ordinary fans first, and succeeded once more with an all-day event featuring actors, writers, and directors from the hit BBC TV show. Kicking off at 10am, a near capacity crowd were welcomed by popular Scots comedian CHARLIE ROSS, no stranger to the world of Dr Who, as he has acted in several of the audio adventures produced by Big Finish. A natural performer with bags of charisma, Ross had the audience in the palm of his hand in no time. First guest up was actor ALAN RUSCOE, who first appeared as an Auton in the very first episode of the newly rebooted show back in 2005. Ruscoe is a laid-back, unpretentious man with a winning smile and an easy manner. As well as the customary anecdotes about how uncomfortable the costumes were (he also played a gas belching Slitheen and an alien ‘tree person’), there were entertaining tales of acting alongside the intense Christopher Eccleston and the more amiable David Tennant. In last year’s ‘Waters Of Mars’ tv special, he finally got to play the part of a human, only for his character to evolve into a water-gushing alien hybrid. Next up was the immensely charming onstage double act of veteran director GRAEME HARPER and his long-time friend, actor COLIN SPAULL. Harper has the distinction of directing the all-time fan favourite story ‘The Caves of Androzani’ (1984) which saw Peter Davison’s Doctor regenerate into Colin Baker, and he has recently returned to helm episodes of the new series including David Tennant’s swan song ‘The End Of Time’. The two men were childhood friends, and actually acted together in the classic children’s tv series ‘Noddy’ back in the 1950s, with Spaull in the title role, and Harper as his mischievous pal ‘Moonface’. Spaull appeared in ‘Revelation Of The Daleks’ (1985), under Harper’s direction, and was cast again in ‘Rise Of The Cybermen’ (2006) as the sinister Mr Crane. With a wealth of anecdotes covering half a century of working in tv and film, the time flew by. Both men are old-school charmers with a genuine fondness for Dr Who, and seemed to thoroughly enjoy mixing with the fans throughout the day.
Writer ROB SHEARMAN was the first man to bring back the Daleks in the new series, and was a fabulously entertaining speaker, particularly when chronicling the process of writing for his favourite show. Actress SARAH SUTTON, who accompanied The Doctor in the 1980s, chatted about working with a difficult Tom Baker nearing the end of his run, and NICOLA BRYANT, who partnered Colin Baker’s Doctor, dazzled the largely male audience by looking hardly a day older than when she made her debut nearly 30 years ago, in an awfully skimpy bikini.
The announcement of a late cancellation by veteran actor NICHOLAS COURTNEY, (who played ‘The Brigadier’ alongside five different Doctors) due to ill health, brought an expected chorus of groans. Courtney played a hugely popular character, and is a much-loved and respected member of the Dr Who ‘family’, so the disappointment caused by his absence was fully understandable. Nevertheless, the show went on, and Colin Baker’s arrival ensured the excitement levels shot up, as the Time Lord himself was in the house. Guest interviewer Alan Lear, making his Fab Café debut, introduced Baker to the stage in a curiously exuberant and flamboyant manner, and I anticipated another thoroughly entertaining turn from the man who played the sixth incarnation of the time-travelling hero. Unfortunately, a few technical hitches meant the interview had to be scrapped and restarted after just 10 minutes in. The quick-thinking Charlie Ross came to the rescue with the announcement of an impromptu five minute break. One or two boos rang out as an understandably puzzled Mr Baker left the scene, but order was re-established very quickly when Ross introduced local comedian John Cooper to the stage, who immediately broke the ice by quoting Baker’s famous line “Change, my dear. And it seems not a moment too soon”. With a new man asking the questions, Baker effortlessly won over his attentive audience in no time, with his customary charm and rapier wit; evidently much at ease with Cooper’s relaxed, informed and respectful style. There followed a ringing endorsement for new Doctor, Matt Smith, and a variety of humorous exchanges with audience members. A round of the tongue-in-cheek quiz ‘Have I Got Who For You?’ (based on the BBC panel show of a similar name) had compere Phil Ellis testing Baker’s knowledge of the sci-fi series (providing plenty of opportunity for ad-libbing and off the cuff witticisms), and there were charity auctions of books, original artwork, cds and dvds. Merchandise stalls supplied vintage annuals, vinyl recordings, and art prints, while publisher Tim Hirst was on hand with a selection of hot-off-the-press items including Colin Baker’s recent collection of newspaper articles ‘Look Who’s Talking’. Proceedings wrapped up around 6pm, but there was more to come, with an evening of free stand-up comedy from professional performers John Cooper, Dom Woodward and Phil Ellis which rounded the day off perfectly. Here’s to the next one.

'JUMBLE' by Sally Lawton

Maggie (Jennifer Edwards), Sandra (Sally Lawton), and Nigel (Daniel Holden) in rehearsal.

by Sally Lawton

TSL Productions at Studio Salford till Sat 1st May

Review by Brian Gorman

As I walked from Manchester’s Victoria Rail Station towards The King’s Arms pub on Bloom Street (home of Studio Salford), I passed a great many people on their way to see local megastar Peter Kay at the M.E.N. Arena. I honestly don’t think they could have had a better time than I did this evening. Multi-talented local writer/actor Sally Lawton (who, if there’s any justice in the world, should one day make it as big as Kay) has written a cracking piece of full-on, make ‘em ‘ave it, old-fashioned entertainment; and by ‘old-fashioned’ I mean the kind that tickles you silly without having to smuggle in any messages about ‘Broken Britain’ or ‘The Human Condition’ (take note please, John Godber!).
Baker Dale Primary School is preparing for their annual P.T.A. jumble sale, but headmaster Nigel (Daniel Holden sweating and twitching for England as a frankly terrifying hybrid of Hugh Grant and Lee Evans) has a dark secret; he’s forged the SATs results in order to beat a rival school whose headmistress just happens to be his workaholic, iron maiden of a wife, Rachel (Katherine Godfrey). Enter blonde bombshell Maggie (statuesque Jennifer Edwards, recently graduated from Salford University, and on this evidence, a real star in the making) who quickly steals Nigel’s heart to the horror of his obsessive, drama queen of a p.a. Jason (Christopher Taylor). But is Maggie all she seems?
Sally Lawton herself completes the Baker Dale team as the mentally unhinged, hyperactive busybody Sandra with a turbo-charged performance that threatened to suck all the oxygen from the room. Sandra is a fabulous creation that the bard of Salford, Mike Leigh, himself would be proud of. Every character in this gem of play is sharply defined, and performed to perfection by actors having a whale of a time. Christopher Taylor threatened to steal every scene he was in, with an absolutely exquisite performance that never once fell into self-indulgence; his spot-on comic timing, and extensive range of subtle and not-so-subtle expressions helping to create a character you miss every second he’s off stage. In perfect contrast, Katherine Godfrey as Rachel, brought a great deal of subtlety and understatement to her role that really paid dividends in her scenes with Sally Lawton; truly a case of immoveable object meeting irresistible force. How Ms Godfrey managed to keep a straight face while being manhandled and screamed at by a beserk munchkin in an ill-fitting blue cagoule, lop-sided NHS specs, and a knitted wooly hat, I’ll never know.
A simple set consisted of a large wall of children’s drawings, and a couple of desks and chairs, with a tiny child’s seat providing regular belly laughs when squeezed into by various characters. Director Mike Heath kept everything zipping along at a brisk pace, and orchestrated his team beautifully. I thoroughly enjoyed this ‘Jumble’, so much in fact that I didn’t want it to end; and it really isn’t often I can say that about a piece of theatre.
For more information: http://www.jumbletheplay.co.uk/