Monday, 20 December 2010

Ho Ho Ho and welcome to the last blog of the year.

I hope you have enjoyed hearing all the escapades of the fourth floor, as much as we have enjoyed sharing them.

Last week we saw quite a few of our regulars back including, Ray Brooks, Caroline Quentin and Lewis McLeod. A1 VOX newbies came in the form of Holly Willoughby and Victoria Coren.

At the age of 14, Holly was spotted by talent scouts at The Clothes Show Live exhibition. Storm Model Agency snapped her up and signed her on the spot. She appeared in teen magazines for girls and from 1998, at the age of 17, she started modeling underwear for various clients including Pretty Polly. Gosh, I was barely allowed out in skirts above the knee at that age! She’s a game girl that Holly.

In 2000, Holly won an audition for a show on CITV featuring S Club 7 called S Club TV. After these shows, she worked as a receptionist for a while and then as a runner for the now defunct shopping channel Auction World TV. I started my career as a runner, does that mean there’s hope for me yet!? Move over Holly...Hello Phil....there’s a new Sheila in town!

Having persuaded a friend to record a show reel for her, she secured an agent and presented several children’s shows for the BBC including their flagship entertainment show Ministry of Mayhem which was aired on Saturday mornings. It was on this program that she met her future husband Dan Baldwin.

In 2006, the shows title was changed to Holly and Stephens Saturday Showdown in order to reflect the popularity of its co-presenters. During the final episode of the show Holly accidentally revealed one of her breasts during a particularly energetic routine. OO ER MISSUS!

CITV received a small number of complaints, though the wider audience merely wrote the occurrence off as unfortunate. Ah – the old Janet Jackson publicity stunt – always a profile raiser and not the last time Holly's..erm..assets..would overshadow proceedings!

Holly presented CD:UK for a short while but her major breakthrough came as a mainstream family entertainer came when she was chosen to co-present the flagship ITV talent show Dancing on Ice, alongside Phillip Schofield.

She has presented a number of other ITV programmes, especially spin-off show such as The Extra Factor. She has also presented shows exploring celebrity gossip such as Lip Service and the comedy show Celebrity Juice with bessie mate Fearne Cotton, Keith Lemon and Rufus Hound. We have now had all four Celebrity Juice presenters at A1. Top Trumps!

Holly has co-presented ITV’s morning show This Morning with Phillip Schofield since September 2009 after she took over the role from Fern Britton. At only 29 this lady has secured a top spot on day time TV, already had a baby, another is on the way, and she's won a BAFTA! WONDER WOMAN WILLOUGHBY is what I say!

A little know fact is that this golden haired beauty, who reads live from an autocue daily, is in fact dyslexic – just goes to show where pure grit and determination can get you folks.

Holly was a joy to have in the studio. No airs and graces, and after her session there wasn’t a car waiting for this lady...oh no....the pregnant presenter leapt on the back of a taxi courier motorbike instead – Atta Girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So Saturday night saw the Strictly final and what a dance extravaganza it was.

After taking the crown, Strictly Come Dancing 2010 winners Kara Tointon and Artem Chigvintsev appeared to confirm the romance their fans have been hoping for.

While celebrating their win on Saturday night, the excitement appeared to get the better of Artem, who dropped his guard and planted a kiss on his 27 year old partner.

The pair have hinted at their affection for each other, but have remained coy on whether they are an item throughout the series.

Kara said that now that the competition is over, they can concentrate on the future.

'We get on brilliantly and it will be nice to do normal things like go to the cinema or for a meal because we spend all our time in the studio.'

Kara was forced to dance through the pain to victory, but after the show she was whisked to hospital where it was revealed she had torn ligaments in her lower arm.
Kara and Artem wowed the judges with four incredible performances, including the American Smooth and their energetic show dance.

Despite falling at the final hurdle, finalist Matt Baker said he was thrilled with the result, saying: 'It's been great. I have absolutely thoroughly enjoyed tonight, and Kara and Artem are worthy winners. If I was at home, I would be voting for Kara as well.'

Lighting up the dancefloor: Matt and Aliona opened the show with their sexy Samba to Young Hearts Run Free.

But why is all this relevant for an A1 Blog I hear you cry!?

Well before Strictly, there was.... Come Dancing..., a BBC TV ballroom dancing competition show that ran on and off from 1949 to 1998, becoming one of television's longest-running shows. One of its many presenters was our very own Mr Charles Nove.

This picture is from Charles’ archives on the set of Come Dancing back in 1992 with Rosemarie Ford and musical director Andy Ross. Our Mr Nove certainly has had fingers, and sequins, in many a showbiz pie!

Next up to VOX Towers was Victoria Coren who currently writes weekly columns for The Guardian and The Observer, presents the BBC4 quiz show Only Connect and the Radio 4 comedy series Heresy, as well as playing poker as a member of PokerStars Team Pro UK. WOW, what a mixed bag.

Aged 14, and inspired by lonely Jo March from Little Women, Victoria submitted a short story to Just Seventeen magazine under an assumed name. The story was accepted and published, earning her the princely sum of £90. Hooked on trade immediately, Victoria answered a nationwide appeal from the Daily Telegraph for a teenage columnist got the job and wrote for them weekly for four years.

Victoria adapted the newspaper columns of John Diamond into a play A Lump In My Throat, which was performed at The Grace Theatre and The New End Theatre in London and The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, before Victoria re-adapted it into a TV play for BBC2 starring Neil Pearson.

As a broadcaster, she has presented Fourth Column and Off The Page for Radio 4 and two series of Balderdash And Piffle for BBC2, as well as documentaries on language and surrealist art for BBC 4.

As a poker and gambling specialist, she has presented Late Night Poker and The Poker Nations Cup for Channel 4, a series of World Poker Tour for ITV2 and the chat show Bar Beat for the Poker Channel.

She has also appeared as a guest on Question Time, Have I Got News For You, You Have Been Watching, The Bubble, Loose Ends, Midweek, Woman’s Hour and various other short-term experiments.

One such experiment took place in 2002, when Victoria disappeared into the X-rated film industry with her best friend Charlie Skelton and they wrote a book about it, Once More With Feeling – Hot Stuff.

A second experiment was Victoria’s memoir of a life playing cards, For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair With Poker, which was published by Canongate.

For the third experiment, and the one that really stood out for me, Victoria revealed that she had instigated a hoax in order to trap a group who turned up to memorial services for people they had never actually met!

She created the fictitious and recently deceased Sir William Ormerod, and placed an advertisement in the main British newspapers for his memorial service "followed by a drinks reception". Coren reported that the group duly applied for tickets claiming to have known the late Sir William. OOOOOO -naughty Victoria.

Gambling, porn and deceit!!!!!!!! This girl has dipped her toe in every sin known to man, but from mightily clever angles.

She is certainly no wall flower and uses the media to cause what I call The Ripple Effect. In short, she is one clever lady, exploring areas and ideas that are very close to the grain but gets away with it - all dignity intact!

When asked if she has ever NOT said something that she wished she HAD said Victoria replied:

“No, although they once cut something which I thought was a shame. Mike Tindall the rugby player was in one of the celebrity games – he’s a good tournament player, absolutely fearless and with a decent sense of situation – and he’s also a really nice guy. I was telling my co-commentator (Mark Gregorich) that Mike is the boyfriend of Zara Phillips, and I mentioned that Zara sometimes has a big stud in her mouth. They said they couldn’t possibly broadcast that on ITV. I couldn't see why not. I was simply referring to her fashionable tongue piercing”.

Well there you go – honest, direct and to the point, this is one girl who I will never play mind games against for money! Sharp Cookie doesn't even come close!



I would just like to take this opportunity to wish all our A1 VOX followers a Merry Christmas and a vocally uplifting 2011!

Monday, 13 December 2010

I have been attacked by a Blue Spruce!!!!!!!!!!!!

Christmas tree decorating should come with a health warning.

It’s all worth it though as after a couple of glasses of mulled wine you can sit back and enjoy the glorious splendour of your tree in lights. It’s like Freaking Krakow at our place and I love it!

But enough of me let’s get back to this week’s blog.

“Form up. And stay alert. We could run out of space real fast”

No I am not running out of Blog space but this is just one of the epic lines recited by our first guest this week from the film, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, so ‘lock S-foils in attack positions, I'm going in’.

Denis Lawson began his acting career with a small role in a 1969 stage production of The Metamorphosis in London's West End and has since starred in television dramas such as The Merchant of Venice opposite Laurence Olivier as Shylock, Rock Follies and Dead Head. His big Hollywood moment came playing X-wing pilot Wedge Antilles in all three original Star Wars movies, and later reprised the role, in voice-over form, for the Nintendo GameCube game Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 2.

Because his name was misspelled in the Star Wars credits, there was some controversy about if it was the same actor playing Wedge in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980). It is indeed the same actor. ‘Roger that, Rogue Leader’.

Denis was offered the role of Captain Antilles in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005), but turned it down. The part went to Rohan Nichol. According to Star Wars continuity, this Captain Antilles has no relationship to Lawson's other character, Wedge Antilles. Confused much?

Denis appeared with his drama school classmate Ian McDiarmid in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983). His nephew, Ewan McGregor later appeared with McDiarmid in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999), Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones (2002) and Star Wars III - Revenge of the Sith (2005). It seems that the galaxy far far away is strangely interlinked with Mr Lawson.

He has appeared often on the West End stage, most notably during 1983-1984’s run of the musical Mr Cinder's at the Fortune Theatre. In 1999, he directed a production of Little Malcolm & His Struggle Against the Eunuchs - first at the Hampstead Theatre before transferring to the Comedy Theatre in London's West End. The production starred his nephew Ewan McGregor in the lead role of Malcolm Scrawdyke. And who says nepotism is dead!?

He played the leading role of John Jarndyce in the critically acclaimed BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House in 2005, receiving an Emmy for his performance. Denis also appeared alongside Academy Award nominated actress Helena Bonham Carter in the BBC Four movie based on the life of Enid Blyton, playing Kenneth Darrell Waters, a London surgeon who becomes Blyton's second husband.

He also appeared in the West End playing the character of Georges in the revival of the musical hit La Cage Aux Folles, and as no stranger to musical theatre, we must also mention his turn starring in the London revival of Pal Joey opposite Sian Phillips.

Denis Trivia

The best age to be is...

"The age you are now. It's a bad idea to go through life thinking you'd rather not be the age you are, what's the point in that? The only birthday I didn't like was 30, but since then I couldn't give a toss."

He met his wife, Sheila Gish, on the set of the 1985 movie That Uncertain Feeling until they married in March 2004 in the Caribbean.

He is the Step-father of Kay Curram and Lou Gish.

His role as a pilot in Star Wars appears to have inspired both of his nephews. His younger nephew Ewan McGregor, as mentioned, followed him into the acting business and into the Star Wars films in particular. His older nephew, Colin McGregor, became a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Spooky!

In a nutshell, your philosophy is.......

"Go forward. I live in the present and I go forward into the future with a very optimistic, open mind."

Seems like he has more in common with Wedge Antilles than he realises with that last comment and on that note – the last word has to come from Rogue Squadron fighter Wedge himself:

"Copy, Gold Leader. I'm already on my way out”

Remie Purtill-Clarke came in to see us this week and what a beauty she is! Here is one of her publicity shots.

Remie has recently been seen in BBC2 filmsy fantasy spoof Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire alongside Sean Maguire and Matt Lucas.

Remie is a young versatile actress with a clear, soft and melodious read. She is a Proficient Irish speaker and I think you’ll agree she definitely has that Celtic look down to a tee!

Star of BBC Dead Ringers Mark Perry was next up at The Towers. The programme won Mark a BAFTA as well as five other awards.

Dead Ringers was a UK radio and television comedy impressions broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and later on BBC 2. The programme was devised by producer Bill Dare and developed with Jon Holmes, Andy Hurst and Simon Blackwell. Along with Mark it starred Jon Culshaw, Jan Ravens, Phil Cornwell and Kevin Connelly. It was revealed by star Jan Ravens that the BBC quietly cancelled the television run in 2007 after five years of broadcast.

Mark was also nominated for Best Narration 2005 for his reading of the critically acclaimed audio book 'Finding Hercules'. He has an incredible range of cartoon voices, characterisations & accents, and a great straight voice too!

I thought I would stick with the Star Wars theme and re-live a classic Dead Ringers sketch where Obi-Wan Kinobe is talking to a used car salesman and giving him the low down on the car required:

We need passage to Aldershot.
A fine cargo hold; plenty of room for me, my apprentice, two Druids, and no questions asked.
A long time ago I had a Ford Galaxy, far far away.
A metric speedometer. Metric; no Imperial entanglements!
Could it outrun Imperial vessels?
Could it resist a tractor beam?
The color of my last car was a little on the dark side.
I can give you 2,000 now and 15,000 when we get to Aldershot.

[Kenobi to Darth Vader] You cannot win, Darth. If you strike me down, you will lose your No-Claims Bonus!



So there were more riots in London last week as the students revolted. I must say I am blooming happy that I got my degree at a fraction of the price compared to today’s poor scholars.

In fact it was only a few months ago that I finally paid off my student loan so gawd only knows how long today’s graduates will be in debt. They will still be paying it off as their own children attempt to get a degree at this rate!

Chaos last night surrounded the potential use of water cannon against violent protesters. Home Secretary Theresa May appeared to rule out its use in Britain, yet Scotland Yard insisted it would be ‘foolish’ not to consider deploying the high pressure hoses to control rioting protesters.

Thousands of student protesters are expected to descend on London today (Tuesday 14th December) for a fresh demonstration against higher tuition fees – amid fears of a repeat of last week’s riots Commander Bob Broadhurst, of the Metropolitan Police says:

‘I would emphasise we will not rush in to anything and we are not in the business of knee jerk reactions. Anything we do will be carefully and fully considered to ensure the best outcome for protesters, officers and all Londoners.’

Crikey seems like they may need the help of Wedge Antilles, Hans Solo and Luke Skywalker - or maybe just my Blue Spruce - I tell ya those needles are FIERCE!

Till next time people,Keep it Mulled , Keep it Chatty.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Last week saw most of Britain take a good old fashioned lashing of snow and sub zero temperatures. The capital managed to get a fine dousing in comparison, as the snow attempted to settle in poor old London’s polluted streets. Must try harder snow!

This was a photo I took from one of A1 VOX's windows. I just love the irony of the snow falling over a typical back building in London whilst palm trees sway about in the onslaught! Brilliant Stuff.

I also found this stunning picture of London in the snow from last year...when it actually did manage to settle.... and not turn to muddy brown slush that is just plain irritating and unsightly.

Ain't it pretty.

So due to the weather last week things were a little quieter at VOX Towers as lots of our clients struggled to make it into their studios dotted around the country.

The delightful Anita Rani managed to get in to see us no problem, and even asked after my finger as she saw it in its guise as comedy thumb the last time she was in. In case you too were all wondering, it has healed very nicely, and though I have no feeling above the 'slash line', (making it extremely hard to pull socks on believe it or not), the actual wound has finally closed up and stopped weeping at the drop of a hat! Nice.

In 2002 Anita presented The Edit a live news and entertainment programme on Channel Five. She has also presented a number of pop shows including Spring Break Live, Party in the Park and Pop City Live, as well as being a freelance journalist for Five News. In 2005 she was nominated as Best On Screen Personality at the Royal Television Society Midlands awards.

Anita joined the BBC Asian Network radio station and from April 2006 to March 2007 she presented the weekday morning talk-back programme Anita Rani on the BBC.

Anita has also delved into the world of sport as a regular reporter on The Cricket Show on Channel Four. She later joined Sky Sports where she became co-presenter with Simon Thomas on the Cricket AM show each Saturday morning.

In August 2008, she became the co-presenter of Rogue Restaurants on BBC1, and continues to be part of the team of roving reporters for The One Show.

Her most recent venture was last year when Anita appeared on BBC1’s Watchdog as a new co-presenter, replacing Julia Bradbury.

She is a lovely bubbly girl and we discussed the merits of the new train line they are putting in at Tottenham Court Road in time for the Olympics. It will run all the way from Maidenhead in Berkshire through the centre of London, out to Stratford and all the way to Shenfield in Essex – my neck of the woods!

Unfortunately this super duper line won’t be up and running until 2012 so until then we have complete and utter mayhem around one of London’s busiest junctions that is now a heaving building site, full of confused foreigners not knowing where the hell they are going after bobbing up from the underground. Gawd Bless Em!

Last week saw the final date of the Carrie’s War tour come to an end and we would like to take this opportunity to say a HUGE well done to our very own in house voice, Andrew Loudon.

Andrew directed Emma Reeves’ stage adaptation to great acclaim, first at the Lilian Baylis Theatre at Sadler's Wells in 2006 and again in 2009, where the production opened in the West End with a successful summer season at the Apollo Theatre.

The 2010 touring production of Carrie's War visited eleven venues across the UK from 1st September to 27th November. The production featured a thirteen-strong cast starring Brigit Forsyth and Hannah Waterman.

Nina Bawden's award-winning book has been consistently voted one of the nation's best-loved novels. This hugely successful stage adaptation by Emma Reeves brings to life Bawden's heart-warming, funny and evocative coming of age tale in a magical and beautifully staged production.

Nina Bawden based her best-selling 1973 novel, on her own childhood experiences as an evacuee in Wales during the War. Carrie's War has since been adapted twice for television by the BBC, most recently in 2004, the same year that Bawden received the prestigious S T Dupont Golden Pen Award for a lifetime's contribution to literature. Not a bad run eh.

Well the reviews say it all. Everyone thought the production was outstanding and really pulled at the old heart strings:


So there you go! Well done Mr Loudon, both the summer season and the tour were an absolute triumph and we hope you can relax for Christmas and take a well deserved break.

London News:

From Westfield to Canary Wharf, Hampton Court Palace to the Tower of London, ice rinks are springing up for the festive season.

As if on cue, with our plummeting temperatures, London’s ice rinks have thrown open their doors for the season, once again offering classic cityscape views, late night skating and a range of special events and party nights.

Typically, there's all manner of nosh and grog to keep those legs moving and the winter chill at bay.

Increasingly, as with Canary Wharf pictured here, and Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, there’s a trend to make ice skating part of a larger experience; extras include shopping and spa treatments, fairground rides, a giant wheel and Zippos Circus. Take that Victorian London!

New to the scene this year is the London Eye rink where a twirl on the ice and a flight in your own capsule – quaffing mulled wine or champagne – is available as a two-in-one package.

The tried and tested, meanwhile, are gearing up again for festive Business: the rinks at the The Natural History Museum, The Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace are arguably the most atmospheric.

But, if it’s a touch of gliding glamour that you’re looking for then head on over to Somerset House, where the rink is bedecked with a 40 ft-high Tiffany Christmas tree. OOOO, get you and your fancy ways.

So there are just a few ideas to propel you with festive cheer whilst getting a bit of air about you.

So till next week, keep it toastie, tasty and tantalizingly tracheal!

Monday, 29 November 2010

As tube strikes continue and news of the chill factor is only slightly overlooked by the X Factor, we can inject a slice of warmth to all our avid readers.

Fame...I wanna live forever.....I wanna learn how to fly...High!!!!!!! I feel it coming together....

And boy did we come together!!!! The gals of A1 hit Soho where it hurts on Friday for more blood sweat and tears...well just some drinks and embarrassing dancing really.

Here is a fine picture of the girls from Fame, a la A1 VOX stylee, Beth, Flick, Sarah, Jane and Lucy – eat your heart out Coco!

Everyone had a fine old time and the costumes were all fantastic. Top prize of the night went to a girl dressed up as Timmy Mallet! Whack-A-Wave anyone?

Of course we have to show a piccie of the birthday girl so here is the GORGEOUS Princess Leah with her backing creatures.....I mean dancers.

Andrew Neil paid us a visit to A1 and was very happy to pose for this picture.

Andrew Ferguson Neil is a Scottish journalist and broadcaster. Andrew made his name at The Sunday Times where he was editor for 11 years. In 1995 he was made editor-in-chief of the Press Holdings group of newspapers, owner of The Business and (from 2005) The Spectator, moving to become chairman in July 2008.

Andrew was editor of The Sunday Times from 1983 until 1994. His hiring was controversial. Andrew, it was argued, was appointed by Rupert Murdoch over more experienced colleagues. Playing hard ball eh boys.

While at The Sunday Times in 1988, Andrew met the former Miss India, Pamella Bordes, in a nightclub. The News of the World suggested she was an up-market prostitute. Sir Peregrine Worsthorne argued, in an article for The Sunday Telegraph, that Andrew was not fit to edit a serious Sunday newspaper, on the grounds that "playboys" should not be editors. In a subsequent libel case, Andrew sued Worsthorne and won £1,000 plus costs. It seems some playboys, can work hard, play hard and pick up a bit of extra cash along the way – liking your style Andrew.

In 1988 he also became founding chairman of Sky TV, also part of Murdoch's News Corporation. Andrew was in fact the person who brought The Simpsons to UK television – Doh!.

He eventually parted company with Murdoch on bad terms and became a writer for the Daily Mail. Andrew has not enjoyed great success with the circulations of the newspapers (indeed The European folded shortly after he took over). The Business also closed down in February 2008. He exchanged his role as Chief Executive of Press Holdings for Chairman in July 2008.

As well as Andrew's newspaper activities he has also maintained a television career. During the 1990s Neil fronted political programmes for the BBC, notably Despatch Box on BBC Two and the interview show Is This Your Life? which was nominated for a BAFTA award.

After being overlooked to present the BBC's flagship news programme Newsnight, Neil has presented This Week with ex-Conservative minister Michael Portillo, and Labour MP for Hackney Diane Abbott. Andrew also presents the weekly one-on-one political interview programme Straight Talk with Andrew Neil on the BBC News Channel.

Unfortunately for Andrew a photograph of him in a vest and baseball cap, embracing a much younger woman seems to overshadow all else. It ran over several editions of satirical magazine Private Eye, after it became known that he found the picture embarrassing. This still surfaces regularly. Well Andrew, you should know better than anyone – No Publicity is bad Publicity boyo!

The magazine nicknamed him Brillo, after his wiry hair was seen as a striking resemblance to the common kitchen scouring pad. Mind you...he got off lightly.... the poor woman in question was jinxed ‘Scrubber’ throughout the hateful campaign! (Joke) Hee hee.

Andrew has led a life of success and scandal but was very entertaining when he came into VOX Towers. No airs and graces and his hair was extremely well kept! – a Mogul in our midst.

Funny man, and impressionist extraordinaire, Lewis Macleod joined us at A1, and a fun time was had by all!

Lewis is a prolific Scottish character actor, who can be heard as the voice of a huge number of television commercials, movie trailers and cartoons in the UK. He voices characters such as Sebulba, the pod racer, from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and.... Postman Pat. Can you imagine those two characters going head to head in an intergalactic pod race?

Postman Pat: ‘Sebulba, you don’t stand a chance against the ultimate racing machine.....The Pat Van

Sebulba:’When I have been crowned king of the circuit, your van will be only good for second class deliveries and Jess will become road kill’

He can also be heard as The Earl on Cartoon Network's Skatoony, as well as comedy sketches for BBC Radio, including BBC Radio Scotland's Off the Ball, Bigipedia for BBC Radio 4, Newsjack for BBC Radio 7, and Mario Abdullah-Levy in the BBC Comedy Series Look Around You.

He is infamous to fans of the classic PC game of the 90's Theme Park World where players would notoriously become frustrated and pestered by his voice constantly discrediting their actions such as the delicate matter of the player not providing his park with toilets:

“You don’t have any toilets and your visitors are going to have to (puts on William Shatner Voice) ‘BOLDLY GO WHERE NO-ONE HAS GONE BEFORE..if you get my meaning”.

Cracking Stuff Lewis – He could ad lib his way out of a steel box..or a toilet!

His acting credits include 16 Years of Alcohol and The Purifiers directed by Richard Jobson as well as Happy Holidays and Terri McIntyre for BBC Scotland. He is also an outstanding mimic, with a voice range including Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Christopher Walken, Gordon Brown and George Galloway.

When Lewis came in he spent a while with myself and Charles chewing the fat and talking all things celeb. He enjoyed hearing our tales of Brian Blessed at A1, and on coming into the office the next day I saw my answer machine beeping at me.

As I pressed the button I got Brian Blessed’s booming voice asking after myself and A1 and then inviting Charles to some shindig or other. Well it turned out to be dear old Lewis who had obviously gone away and perfected his ‘Blessed’. It was a stroke of genius.

Lewis also told us that on one occasion before boarding a plane, and having settled into the VIP lounge, he turned to see Sir Ben Kingsley sitting opposite him. Sir Kingsley’s phone promptly went off. He made no reference to the caller, listened, nodded a few times, then simply said ‘Get it done’ before flipping the phone shut. That’s A List and knighthood for you sweetie!

Lewis played the Paul McCartney character in The Beatles sketches in the Harry and Paul series 3 for the BBC saying:

“Had a terrific time filming with Harry Enfield, Paul Whitehouse, Lenny Henry and Kevin Eldon for the new series 'Harry And Paul' due out in the autumn. Haven't laughed so much in ages”.

Well ditto to your visit Lewis - please come again!

Having asked us which tie he should wear to a formal meal, (neither Lewis!) with Gordon Ramsay and other such hoi polloi, off he went on his merry way to mix it up with said celeb chef to undoubtedly have a F****** good time!

London News:

Finally, Katie Waisell and Wagner have exited stage left and will no longer be part of the X Factor circus. Love it or hate it, you canny avoid it, but I found these rather good pictures from Cartoonist Leah Gray to give proceedings a humorous edge:

Obviously this is Katie pre, ‘I’m an elf from Dingly Dell’ look.

Loving this one of Mr Moneybags Cowell. Even in cartoon form his hair looks like a gorillas!

And, of course, Wagner has gone too.

Yup – so long to you too my hairy, Brazilian friend – surely a contradiction in terms?

So we will never get to hear Katie perform There’s No-One Quite Like Grandma, to a live audience of 12 million, and neither will we be able to sit and marvel at another Wagner Medley of Madness.

To return to the words of Irene Cara...Katie and Wagner – Baby.... remember my name...remember..remember..please remember!?!

Till next time chickens - keep it leg warmer friendly and sweatband-tastic!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Dashing through the snow, with a reindeer microphone, A1 VOX is back again to voice and laugh and....moan!

Well...just a little moan really, and it is a personal issue. I had a tussle with the serrated edge of a tuna can last week, and guess who came off best?

Whilst the boyf, Dom, desperately worked his way through our medical cabinet to help ebb the ever flowing stream of red stuff, I looked away from the deep, uneven, wound and held on to the sink, bracing myself.

To add dilemma to the proceedings, Dom then dragged me to the bathroom, whilst holding finger aloft, only to find that his bath had made a great escape all over the floor. We now had blood covering the kitchen and enough water on the floor to give a home to a school of koi, blooming, carp! All this and in two days time we would be having our flat inspection. Holy C***!

Luckily for me we have an excellent walk in centre in Soho just down the road from A1, and I must say a big thanks to all the nurses that have stitched, dressed and cleansed my digit. Special thanks must go to the supervisor who on seeing my hashed up thumb didn't mince her words by saying ‘blimey......that is horrendous!’. Nurse Willoughby, I salute you.

At A1 we all decided that the below dressing was the bees knees – especially Charles, who very - ahem – kindly, took this picture. AWOOGA AWOOGA – All Hail the Comedy Thumb!

On a brighter note, we would like give a massive shout out to Miss Eleanor Howell, who in the not too distant future is to become a Mrs!!!!!

Yes, the South London lass, (with a penchant for curry and a Geordie accent, that would make even Cheryl think she was alreet, right up her street, from her toon - you get the point... Whey-Aye pet!), hopped on over to New York last week to visit her boyfriend. Steve is currently in a show over there......oh it’s all totally show biz lovey...and what a better place to pop the question for two successful, young thespians in love!? Of course Ellie said an Empire State Building sized YES!

So this Friday, whilst we all don ridiculous 80’s outfits for Ellie’s 30th birthday, it will now be a double whammy celebration – We are all very happy for you Ellie and in the words of 80’s iconic band, Yazz and the Plastic Population, it seems the only way, really is, up for this gorgeous piece of strumpet and her Welsh lad from the valley. HURRAH!

Jay Benedict is probably best known today for his role as John Kieffer – the US Army officer and friend of Christopher Foyle - in Foyle’s War, but in his varied career he has danced with the legendary Zizi Jeanmaire at Le Casino de Paris, played almost every male role in The Rocky Horror Show in the early 1970s (given half a chance, he’d probably have had a crack at the female ones too …) and has appeared frequently on stage in both straight drama and musical theatre.

He’s also been seen and heard regularly on film and TV including the voice for Shiro Hagen in the cult Saturday morning science fiction show Star Fleet X-Bomber; Frank Crowe, Superintending Engineer on the Hoover Dam, in the BBC’s award-winning documentary series Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, and, perhaps most notably, third lead in Vicente Aranda’s beautiful 2003 adaptation of Prosper Mérimée’s novella Carmen. Someones doing alright!

When not in front of the camera, he and his partner run Sync or Swim (Geddit!?), providing post-production ADR services to the film and television industry. Recent projects have included Downton Abbey, Any Human Heart and Armando Iannucci’s first feature film, In the Loop.

Jay and I discussed English market budgets compared to American sized budgets, as he has worked on both with Sync or Swim. He said the difference is palpable. If making some form of Blockbuster, epic, and the Americans want 200 soldiers running from a hill then they will employ 200 extras but if the same scene were to be shot in England then they will use the same 6 actors over and over again and just hope that none of these film type anoraks, (you know who you are) sit and watch the film frame by frame, thus noticing that Harold Smith 'the extra' is kicking in his own head!

In addition to all this, Jay's voice can be heard on video games, documentaries and TV and radio adverts, as well as in innumerable lifts, theatre foyers and other public spaces. The irritatingly soothing voice requesting that you take your seat and switch off your mobile phone is quite probably him: so now you know who to blame.

Currently Jay can be seen treading the boards as Bill Wilson, Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, in a new play for The Outside Edge Theatre Company - One Day At A Time.

Written and directed by the Artistic Director of Outside Edge,Phil Fox, it tells how the man known as ‘Bill W’ pioneered the ‘12 steps‘, helped AA grow and - finally - set it free:

Bill Wilson is struggling to stay sober. His depression, womanising, physical illness and collapsing marriage are taking their toll. Under criticism from fellow recovering alcoholics Bill instigates an encounter with an old friend who suggests a way through his troubles.Following his suggestions Bill risks all, and sparks events leading to the final and greatest chapter in his and AA’s destiny.

Jay says it is intense stuff, but that he is immensely happy to be back on stage and has wholeheartedly embraced this return to theatre, as he sees it as the only platform to which you can truly test yourself as an actor.

“Can anyone ever get rid of the Demons? Or the ghosts that follow you? … however long Bill Wilson stays sober, he has other problems; his smoking, his womanising … Dr Bob Smith, his co-founder, is his constant ghost and will not let him be … This play could be – should be – at the Fringe Awards next year at the Waldorf … I urge you to see this play. Great performances from Jay Benedict as Bill, Cathy Walker as Lois and Michael Halden as Dr Bob Smith. Phil Fox deserves much credit for the writing and direction. “
(Review by Tony Parkin from London Festival Fringe.)

Well it seems that Jay has certainly passed this test!

Tessa Peake-Jones is best known for her role as Raquel in the television comedy series Only Fools and Horses. She had a co-starring role in the 1999 TV series Births, Marriages, and Deaths and has appeared in the television series, The Demon Headmaster, Midsomer Murders, Casualty, Holby City, The Bill, Up the Garden Path and So Haunt Me.

Currently, Tessa plays Sue Bond in the BBC Birmingham daytime soap opera, Doctors.

Rachel (or "Raquel" as Del would say) first encountered Del via the Technomatch Matrimonial Agency in 1988. She told Del she was an actress but the truth was soon revealed when she was booked to perform in the Nag's a stripagram - Racy Raquel!!!. Despite this shaky start love soon blossomed between the pair (lovely jubbly) and their offspring, Damien, was born in 1991.

One of Raquels best known lines is as she is giving birth :

'Don't you ever come near me again Trotter'

Tessa was an absolute dream to have hanging out in the Green Room and her and Beth got talking about cult show conventions - Beth being in Doctor Who, and Tessa in Only Fools and Horses. Tessa said to Beth 'oh no - I would never go to one of those now' to which Beth replied, 'you may be wise. I was at a Doctor Who convention last week where someone was dressed up in a silver boiler suit with a mask in the shape of the pig over his face. On the second day, having been snuffling around in character for the whole of the first, I didn't see him again. I asked someone what happened to the pig in the boiler suit, to which they replied...........put his back out'!

Pure Genius - just one of our Green Room gems. Tessa seemed to be having a fine old time and we loved having her.

Next up we had the delightful Colin Murray to visit The Towers. He also hung out in the Green Room, after his session, and had Andy Stanson and Lucy Scott roaring with laughter. He is a very genuine and funny person and it is clear to see that his relationship when presenting alongside Edith Bowman on the radio was a true representation of their friendship together and as individuals.

It has been a few years since Radio 1’s hugely popular Colin and Edith Show came to an end. Its success was largely due, as mentioned, to the warmth and humour shared between the two close friends, which resulted in the afternoon show setting new listening-figure records for its time slot. Breaking up such a popular and successful partnership to pursue his late night solo show was a risky and brave decision, but a good one as it has propelled Colin to dizzy heights indeed.

He says of his partnership with Edith:“I don’t think we would have split up had we just had a working relationship because it was working so well and we had record listeners. Because we were such good friends we were able to talk about what we wanted to achieve and what challenges we wanted to take on, which resulted in me feeling the only choice I had was to leave Radio 1”, he explained.

Thankfully for Murray and his many fans the powers-that-be at Radio 1 did not let him go without a fight and offered him his own show in the late evening slot (10 until midnight, Monday to Thursday), a slot previously occupied by such legendary Radio 1 DJs as John Peel and Mark Radcliffe.

Murray said with the show being such a specific reflection of his own musical philosophy, it may not have been to everyone’s taste. Perhaps Murray inadvertently put this best in his typically candid description of music in general - “It goes in your ears and it will either hit your heart or your head and you’ll like it, or it will come out your arse”. How deep and profound!

On 18 March 2009 Murray left Radio 1 to expand his work at 5 Live, hosting 5 Live Sport on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons. In 2010, Murray presented coverage of the BDO World Darts Championship on BBC, replacing the departed Ray Stubbs.

In April 2010, it was announced that Murray would replace Adrian Chiles as BBC's Match of the Day 2 host on BBC Two, while also hosting the BBC's World Cup highlights programme in Summer 2010.

Murray said of this move to Match of the Day 2, "I can't imagine how nervous I will be sitting there and hearing that theme tune. I like a laugh but I am serious also about football and the impartiality required to respect all football fans."

Well it seems that the fans also respect him as he has certainly carved out a lovely little niche in the market for himself. Lucky then, that he and Edith had that candid chat! Ain't the boy done good.

So that is all for this week I am afraid. Only one month until the birth of baby Jesus, St Nick or for any die hard religious fans out there.... Coca Cola's Santa Claus. Whatever your belief, let's hope we all get a better deal than Derek Trotter did when his dad Reg paid him a surprise yuletide visit:

"It's a right blinding Christmas this has turned out to be innit. I mean, some people get wise men bearing gifts, we get a wally with a disease"

Until next time folks - Keep it un-severed and water tight!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Remember remember the 5th November.... and the 4th..... as here we are again to regale you with more top notch A1 exploits.

It has been an extremely busy couple of weeks at A1 VOX with more showbiz than you can shake a sequined stick at!

Gyles Brandreth has been in for an amazing three weeks on the trot - so we must be doing something right. Aled Jones came in for an early morning fixture and I can vouch for the lad when I say he ain't all treble and no substance.

We have also had the legend that is Russ ‘I love a Party’ Abbott in, which caused Chris to be ever so star struck.

My dad was extremely jealous to hear that we had actual royalty in the form of Rula Lenska at the studio, and for those who like a bit of the old two step, Arlene Philips of Strictly fame dropped by, and Carrie Grant of Fame Academy launched her way up the stairs with her flame red hair.

There is almost too much to cover in this weeks blog as we also had the charming Mr Anthony Head of Buffy fame in, as well as the amazing Mr Nigel Short who became a Grandmaster (chess player) at age 19.

Life, as they say, is never dull at VOX Towers!!!!!

On first visit to us he managed to cram in a total of ‘four’ clients. He sure don’t hang about!

Gyles is a writer, broadcaster, former MP and Government Whip - and one of Britain's most sought-after award ceremony hosts and after-dinner speakers. Currently a reporter on The One Show and a regular on Radio 4's Just a Minute, his acclaimed Victorian detective stories - The Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries - are now being published in twenty-one countries around the world.

Gyles Brandreth’s forebears include George R Sims (the highest-paid journalist of his day, who wrote the ballad Christmas Day in the Workhouse) and Jeremiah Brandreth (the last man in England to be beheaded for treason - YIKES!). His great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Brandreth, promoted Brandreth’s Pills’ (a medicine that cured everything!) and was a pioneer of modern advertising and a New York state senator.

Today, Gyles Brandreth has family living in New York, Maryland, South Carolina and California. He has been London correspondent for Up to the Minute on CBS News and his books published in the United States include the New York Times best-seller, The Joy of Lex as well as Philip & Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage and the aforementioned Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries.

He has appeared on countless TV programmes including Countdown and TV-am and was renowned for his seemingly endless collection of jumpers. Many of the more outrageous examples were sold in a charity auction in 1993 and he has since displayed somewhat more restraint in his dress sense. Such a shame as I was looking forward to a lewd yellow knit with royal navy piping!

When asked why he loves, in some people's opinion, particularly awful people such as Fanny Cradock, Jeffrey Archer and Prince Philip, he replies: “They’re larger than life.” He met Philip through the National Playing Fields Association and often goes to Buckingham Palace. In fact, he went fairly recently and flips open his diary to prove it: “Buckingham Palace,” he reads. “All friendly in the state dining room but a little strange ... the food was excellent, the fresh pineapple best, the camp footmen so playful as ever.” Certainly no wall flower, this silver tongued celeb certainly mixes in the right circles - What!

Aled Jones became famous for the cover version of "Walking in the Air", the song from Channel 4's 1982 animated film The Snowman. The record reached No. 5 in the UK charts in 1985, however, the version used in the film was not performed by Jones, but by Peter Auty, a St. Paul's Cathedral choirboy! Hmmmmm - quite a well kept secret that.

In June 1985, Jones was also the subject of the Emmy award winning BBC Omnibus documentary "The Treble".

His recording career was temporarily halted when his voice broke at sixteen. By this time he had recorded sixteen albums, sold more than six million albums, and sung for Pope John Paul II, the Queen, and the Prince and Princess of Wales in a private recital, as well as presenting numerous children's television programmes. He sang at the wedding of music celebrities Bob Geldof and Paula Yates in 1986, the same year that his first biography was published, "Walking on Air".

Jones's appearance as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing in 2004 brought him to the attention of a wider audience, leading to further tours and albums. It also led to increasing demands on him as a broadcaster.

On 11 October 2010 it was announced that Jones would be taking over as stand-in presenter of the early morning breakfast slot on Radio 2 following the departure of Sarah Kennedy, a role which he occasionally covered in the years leading up to Kennedy's departure. It is not known yet if Jones will be permanently assuming the role but if you tuned in to our very own Mr Nove last week then you would have heard him have a little banter with the Welsh lad. Charles tells me that Aled is a very funny chap and having landed a prestigious spot at Radio 2 it seems the voice from Bangor is definitely still walking on air!.

Rula Lenska was born in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, the eldest daughter of Major Count Ludwik Maria Lubienski and Countess Elzbieta Tyszkiewicz. Rula's parents came to the UK from Poland as refugees in 1946. Although Rula was christened Roza-Marie Leopoldyna Lubienska, she has always been known as Rula - rolls off the tongue a lot easier I find.

Rula studied at Ursuline College in Westgate-on-Sea before training at the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Arts and by the time she had started her acting career, she had renounced her title as a Polish countess, saying "In England it doesn't count - if you'll excuse the pun."

Rula has been married twice, to actors Brian Deacon (1977-1987) and Dennis Waterman (1987-1998).

Her big break was as Little Ladies' band member, "Q," in the British TV series Rock Follies (1976) and its sequel Rock Follies of '77 the following year.

Rock Follies was not widely seen in North America, but in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Lenska became famous in the United States and Canada for her Alberto V05 hair products commercials. The commercial began with a closeup of her stating, "I'm Rula Lenska." People assumed this was a product endorsement by a celebrity whose name the advertisers expected them to know.

In a Tonight Show monologue that aired after the commercials started running, Johnny Carson asked "Who the hell is Rula Lenska?" and began using Lenska's name as a running joke on his show. Around the same time, Jane Curtin played Lenska in a sketch on Saturday Night Live. Soon (at least to US audiences) Lenska became famous for merely pretending to be famous. Most people in the U.S. were unaware that she had an acting career in the United Kingdom, and believed she was a model.

She has appeared in television series such as Special Branch, Minder, Boon, The Detectives, Footballers' Wives, To the Manor Born, One Foot in the Grave, Casualty, Space: 1999,Return of the Saint, Robin of Sherwood, Doctors and EastEnders, in which she played Frank Butcher's girlfriend, Krystal, in a Costa del Sol special (2002)

As of 2009, Lenska starred in Coronation Street as new character Claudia Colby, an old friend of Audrey Roberts.

However, Rula is probably now best remembered for her stint in Celebrity Big Brother. On 13th January 2006, with fellow housemate, renegade British MP George Galloway, she attracted the attention of the media by indulging in a role-play task, in which Galloway, as a cat, pretended to lick milk from her cupped hands, and Lenska stroked his ears and moustache. No other word for it but Odd!

This incident has actually benefited Rula as after her departure from the Big Brother house she was offered a five figure deal to promote a famous cat food brand. It just goes to show that no publicity is bad publicity when it comes to this red haired countess!

Random Rula Fact:

Rula is a practicing Buddhist of the Nishiren Daishonin way and describes herself as "passionate, romantic and slightly eccentric".

We think she is just purrrrrrfect.

Nigel David Short MBE (born 1 June 1965 in Leigh, Lancashire) is often regarded as the strongest English chess player of the 20th century. He challenged for the World Chess Championship against Garry Kasparov at London 1993. Still active, Short continues to enjoy international success. He is also a chess columnist, coach and commentator.

A chess prodigy, Short first attracted significant media attention, as a 10-year-old, by defeating Viktor Korchnoi in a simultaneous exhibition. In 1977 he became the youngest ever participant in the British Chess Championship by qualifying three days before his twelfth birthday. He was awarded the grandmaster title in 1984, aged nineteen - becoming the youngest grandmaster in the world at that time.

In 1992, the Englishman overcame the legendary Russian Anatoly Karpov in a match that was described as "the end of an era." In the final, in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Short defeated Dutchman Jan Timman to earn the right to meet defending World Champion Garry Kasparov.

Kasparov won convincingly - the largest margin of victory in a world title contest since Botvinnik defeated Tal in 1961. Short's play came in for heavy criticism from BBC commentators Bill Harston and Tony Miles. Oh give him a break - we all have our 'off days' – even international prodigies.

Nigel now lives in Athens and I had a very interesting conversation with him about the Greek deficit. I think I managed to hold my own – Checkmate!

So to the last guest this week – the one and only Russ Abbott – WHAT A LOVELY MAN

You know when you meet someone for the first time and they just exude warmth and generosity, well that is this gent all over.

Our in house 'voice in the know', Trevor Nichols, told me of a story that once, after filming had wrapped, Russ invited the cast and crew back to his house for an impromptu visit and personally cooked a meal for them all. They don’t make em like they used to eh!

Russ Abbot is an English musician, comedian and actor who first came to public notice during the 1970s as the singer and drummer with British comedic showband the Black Abbots.

From 1980 onwards, Abbot released some albums as a solo artist, and appeared in several TV series. The most successful of his music singles was called "Atmosphere", which did well in the UK top 10, peaking at No 7. I once danced at a holiday camp to this track and came first in the talent competition – my prize......a big box of Maltesers!!!! – Weird the things you remember.........maybe that’s one to try and forget.

The Russ Abbot Show showcased his talents as an all-round entertainer, attracting millions of viewers. This show was especially popular among younger viewers, prompting two annuals to be published in 1982 and 1983. These annuals featured comic strips based on popular characters, plus some publicity photos of Abbot in a variety of guises, including his well-known James Bond satire featuring characters named Basildon Bond and Miss Funnyfanny. Chris and I both reminisced about watching this show religiously as young tots – it was blooming top banana.

From 2000, Abbot played the lead role in the British National Tour of Doctor Dolittle. Taking a break over the Christmas period, Russ stepped down for Phillip Schofield to take the plate, but returned to the tour subsequently.

Abbot's theatre roles include Alfred P. Doolittle in My Fair Lady (starring Amy Nuttall) at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and on tour; The Narrator in The Rocky Horror Show; Grandpa Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium and Fagin in Oliver! both in 1998 and 2009. From July 2007, he took over the role of Roger De Bris in the UK tour of Mel Brooks' The Producers.

In 2008, the BBC announced that Abbot would be joining the cast of Last of the Summer Wine for the show's 30th series playing Luther 'Hobbo' Hobdyke and in 2009, when Rowan Atkinson fell ill during the original run of Cameron Mackintosh's West End revival of Oliver!, Abbot stepped into the role of Fagin for the second time.

He is currently playing the role again, having taken over from the previous Fagin Griff Rhys Jones who left the show on 12 June 2010. You gotta pick a pocket or two, but pick Russ for anything and you will be a winner.

Just like Russ everyone at A1 ‘loves a party’ and can you imagine letting your hair down with Russ Abbott, Gyles Brandreth, Rula Lenska and Nigel Short – something for everyone I think you’ll agree.

But it would be Arlene Philipps and Carrie Grant getting everyone going on the dance floor, as long as Arlene has her make up. The lithe ex dancer refused us a piccie as she didn’t have her slap on and who can really blame her.

Carrie Grant however was slap-tastic and had all the girls in the Green Room cooing over her outfit, hair and accessories.

So I hope that is enough to keep you all going for another couple of weeks. Firework night is looming and so as is the mantra of many a celeb – Be Safe, but more importantly - Be Seen!