Monday, 26 July 2010

It seems that we are in the midst of mass military hysteria here at A1 and for Queen and country we will go to great lengths to conquer every time.

Last week saw the ‘battle of the sergeants’ as real life Warrant Officer Class One William Mott, Garrison Sergeant Major London District, OBE of the Welsh Guards (try saying that after a few), and John Sergeant, radio journalist, broadcaster and dancer extraordinaire, both visited our barracks.

They weren’t in the same session together, which is probably just as well for John, who would have needed industrial sized head phones to rise to the challenge of out voicing, and hearing himself, against the impressive, yet booming, vocal activity, of the Garrison Sergeant Major who could be heard reverberating across the whole of Soho.

A Garrison Sergeant Major (GSM) in the British Army is the senior warrant officer of a garrison and holds the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1. The GSM London District is always a guardsman, and holds one of the four most senior WO1 appointments in the British Army. They also have military ceremonial responsibility for important state occasions such as Trooping the Colour.

London's pageantry is admired throughout the world and the magnificent Trooping of the Colour, to celebrate our Monarch's birthday, forms a vital part of our national heritage. The role of the GSM is critical to the successful and world class execution of state ceremonial and Public Duties. He is widely recognised as the expert on the drill of all Arms.

So as you can imagine, we were extremely honoured to meet the current Garrison Sergeant Major, WO1 ‘Billy’ Mott, and though he looked exceptionally tall, broad and ever so slightly intimidating in his uniform, he was a very unassuming and pleasant man. He even popped his head round my office door on his way out to say thank you for having him. The Queen has bagged herself a mighty fine one there me thinks.

And so to the second ‘Sergeant’ of the week.

John Sergeant may be best remembered for donning sequinned outfits and defying the Strictly Come Dancing panel by being kept in by the public vote. Each week saw the man with the bulgy tummy, thinning hair and face of a grumpy wee troll, turn into an overnight sex symbol and loveable fixture, even though he was by no means a Fred Astaire.

One of John’s other memorable moments was when he waited outside the British embassy in Paris for Margaret Thatcher, in the hope of hearing her reaction to the first ballot in the party leadership contest of 1990, only to be pushed aside by her press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham, when Thatcher emerged from the building.

For this broadcast, Sergeant won the British Press Guild award for the most memorable broadcast of the year, beating Paul Gascoigne who had been nominated for bursting into tears during the 1990 Football World Cup Semi-Final against West Germany! The big wuss.

After retirement from political journalism, Sergeant's appearances on programmes such as Have I Got News For You made him a sought-after participant in television comedy and satire shows.

He is currently a reporter for The One Show and even hosted alongside Myleene Klass for a week last August. Lucky old thing eh!

But for me, I just loved watching John on Strictly as whilst the other contestants quaked before the ferocious judging panel, he was a force to be reckoned with. Used to batting off the likes of Margaret Thatcher, the judges had to watch their words for fear he might humiliate them back.

But however you see John, babe magnet or not, whatever he has, he’s got it by the tangoful and in the words of Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood, John.....we think you’re Fab-U-Lous!

But the military fun doesn’t end there, for this week - believe it or not - coming into A1 we have...wait for it................a military dog that barks on command!!!

You heard it here first ladies and gentleman.

There are simply no limits to what the likes of us at VOX Towers can stretch our talent to.

We also have Channel 4 voice guru (of X Factor fame), Peter Dickson making an appearance on the same day so let’s see who has the last ‘bark’.

Lordy lord – I don’t think my ears are going to take all of where did I leave the pooper scooper?


So I have totally broken with tradition and found a story that doesn’t include food or booze!

One hundred open-air ping pong tables are to be introduced around London this summer.

Ping London comes from the original mind of Colette Hiller, who last year plonked 30 pianos around town and invited Londoners to play them. Ping-pong bats will be provided with each table, bearing the legend: "Please put me back".

You won't be surprised to learn that the scheme has the hands of Boris Johnson all over it. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a slightly sozzled Boz went off-message during a press conference, and claimed the sport... thought to be a Chinese invention... for the Brits. Ping pong is, according to the Mayor, a descendent of "whiff-whaff", a game invented by the wealthy upper-classes in 19th century Albion. Believe what you will but though the claim is highly debatable apparently the Mayor’s skill is not!

A dab hand with the paddle, Boris will play Sebastian Coe in the opening match of a summer tournament pitting various celebrities and artists against each other. Locations announced so far include Terminal 5, the Albert Memorial, and Trafalgar Square.

Wonders will never cease.

So please wish me luck this week as we go for round two of our military inspired theme and I attempt to keep my cool as I combat that age old quandary of never working with animals. It could be a ‘ruff’ ride!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Friday night saw Jonathan Ross quit the BBC as his very last show aired to the public. Jackie Chan, Mickey Rourke and ‘dishy’ David Beckham joined him for his swan song.

I was particularly delighted as David Beckham proceeded to tell Jonathan an anecdote about calling his good friend James Corden, whilst living in Milan, to tell him that he was sitting down and making the Taj Mahal in Lego, to which James apparently replied ‘I’m sitting in a hotel room thinking.......should I have a shower?’ The crazy lives these celebs really live eh!??

The up side of all this was that having met James Corden last week, was surely akin to having touched David Beckham himself? No?

I have to clear one thing up straight away as I have since found out that James was actually born in Buckinghamshire, so I clearly win the clash of the Essex Titans by default. James had had himself a bit of a ‘shop up' in Selfridges before arriving at our studio - no doubt acquiring some new clobber for his holiday, or maybe some more Lego kits for bessie mate David Beckham to play with. Bless.

James was very pleasant but quite clearly desperate for the loo as that was all he kept asking me on arrival to the studio. Once shown the path he literally dashed past at warp speed not allowing me to get out of the way first, thus creating a rather embarrassing tummy to tummy fiasco between me and the self named ‘chunky unit’.

I decided then and there that that was as much contact as James and I needed and passed over the camera – and all responsibility - to Chris so that he could get the attached snap. Rabbit in headlights anyone? – maybe James was still a little shocked at his close encounter of the toilet kind!

This week VOX Towers was visited by the UK’s answer to the late great Don LaFontaine.....Mr Redd Pepper.

Redd is a voice actor notable for his work providing theatrical trailers for movies such as Amistad, The Blair Witch Project, Men in Black and Boogie Nights.

He came to prominence following his voice-over work for Armageddon and Independence Day when he was actually mistaken for said Hollywood voice artist LaFontaine.

Recent work includes a long-standing relationship with The Chris Moyle’s Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1, where Pepper provides idents and voiceovers for various segments of the show.

We are proud to call Redd one of the friends of A1 and due to his smooth, strong and unnaturally deep resonance he is very much in demand. Redd was actually discovered as he drove trains on the London underground. Being the cheeky chappie that he is, Redd would often have a bit of a joke at the passengers’ expense. One such time he turned all the lights off in the carriages and using his trademark deep and spooky voice he said ‘This is your driver speaking............or is it?’ What a cad.

It was during one such impromptu performance in 1996 that a TV executive happened to be on board. The rest, as they say, is history.

We were very honoured this week as the European President of Christie’s Mr Jussi Pylkkanen came into our studio to record an interview. After much fussing, special coffee making and biscuit searching Jussi arrived and straight off the bat he recognised the lovely Lucy Scott from our in house team.

So all that fretting was for nothing as Jussi and Lucy had a good old chinwag, just like old friends meeting in the high street. Our Lucy does tend to know a varying assortment of people and even went to the opening of parliament this year and saw the Queen, so I guess it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise to find out that her and Jussi are very good pals – what an asset to have in the Green Room eh!

Soho News:

SHOCK news for Bastille Day – The French House is going Italian!!!!

Noel and Lesley Botham, landlords of the legendary Soho watering hole which was the informal HQ of the Free French during the second World war, told regulars last week that the upstairs restaurant is to be taken over by Russell Norman, who introduced cichetti – or Venetian tapas – to London via his nearby Soho success story, Polpo.

I have been to Polpo and thoroughly recommend it. It has an ace rustic and atmospherically busy ambience and though you often have to linger by the bar to be seated it is well worth the wait, especially if you order one of the carafes of vino and nosh on the crudités and dips on offer. Eccellente!

The French’s 28-seater dining room is to be renamed Polpetto – Italian for baby octopus.

De Gaulle wrote his seminal wartime speech calling for his countrymen to keep alive “the flame of the French resistance” in the bar, so as Polpetto opens on August 23rd, one can only assume that General de Gaulle will be spinning in his garlic infested grave. Mon Dieur!

Join us next week for more thrills and spills from your Number 1, A1, Studio. Until then keep it loquacious and delicious darrrrrlings!

Monday, 12 July 2010

The A1 VOXers were out and about in full force on Friday night as we met up with the blooming Viv White.

Viv used to operate the logistics of everything here at A1 a little before my time, and still maintains a good working relationship alongside A1 VOX through her current role as voice over agent.

Viv is about to clock off from the busy London scene to give birth to her first sprog. It was great to take some time out from the office with all the gang, enjoy the Soho sunshine and stroke baby bump. We wish you all the best with the new arrival Viv.

First through the doors of A1 last week was Louis Mellis who went to the same drama school as resident voice artist Mark Straker. Whilst they went through some thespian nostalgia in the Green Room we made sure that everything was ready for his booking.

Session completed Louis left but after a hurried convo with the clients it seemed they had changed their minds and needed to re-record. Louis being the very down to earth professional that he is came right on back to the studio and we went for round two. Mission completed!

Along with David Scinto, Louis wrote the screenplay for the 2000 film Sexy Beast (see the picture below) and the 2009 film 44 Inch Chest.

Louis has since signed on to write The Princess Gangster based on the true story of Princess Margaret's affair with gangster John Bindon in the late 1960s. It seems this Mafioso scriptwriter is set to continue with his favoured theme. No messing.

Mid week it was the turn of one of our best-loved guest voices to make an exceptional, happy and music filled entrance. Introducing........Mr Tom Clarke Hill!!!! "He’s Grrrrreat!"

A little clue there as to one of the many character voices that Tom is famed for – Yes indeedy, the UK voice of Tony the Tiger of Kellogg’s Frosties fame.

Versatility and rock solid performance......Tom Clarke-Hill continues to do it all! Film trailers, character voices, animation, e-learning, wildlife and sports narration, radio and TV ads, computer and console games, corporate reads and post production lip sync. His arsenal of character voices are best described as “Deep to Squeaky, Straight to Freaky”! GAWD love him...we certainly do!

California bass man Tom is also known for his musical prowess and has played with the likes of George Shearing, Tal Farlow, Art Farmer, Joe Williams, Mel Torme and many more. Tom continues to juggle work as a jazz bassist with his extremely busy role as a voice over artiste, actor and presenter. He has got it going on!

But it is due to his in depth study of jazz, blues and rock that he is the “bro in the know” and has hosted engagements like the Sun Alliance Jazz Awards at Ronnie Scotts.

This goes some way to explain why last Wednesday the office was transformed into an afro-tastic music fest as Charles and Tom reminisced whilst listening...and singing.... to The O’Jays (Backstabbers....”what they do”) followed by a re-creation of The Hustle. Let me tell you, it was a delightful 15 minutes of seventies heaven where all that was missing was the glitter ball and cheese and pineapple on sticks – heavy on the cheese.

It goes to prove that I really don’t work in a conventional office and as Jazzy DJ met Jazz musician a delightful combo was created....slightly disturbing, yet very entertaining!

Joe Crowley is Inside Out South’s presenter and he found the time in his busy schedule to pop into A1 and reel off a quick V/O for The One Show.

Whilst waiting for that elusive first presenting job Joe trained as a broadcast journalist at City University in London. He was lucky enough to get onto the BBC News Sponsorship scheme which helped him through his studies and enabled him to get a placement working for Newsround.

Joe says of his job on Inside Out as “simply the most fantastic first presenting gig”. It means he can use his journalism and even his history degree to tackle a huge range of compelling stories and tricky issues.

Some of these stories include some stomach-churning stunts in helicopters with the Army Air Corps, camping in the woods with dread-locked freegan protestors and even swimming with a German Shepherd dog in the name of hydrotherapy (and trust me, dog hair gets everywhere!).

It seems Joe is one man very content with his lot and it was a pleasure meeting the fresh faced presenter for the first time.

Well the World Cup may have finally come to a close but one presenter will be looking forward to a much deserved break after covering the tournament in ‘James Corden’s World Cup Live’ show on ITV.

Yes ...before James jets off to LA he will be making a whirlwind visit to VOX Towers and I am very excited to meet him and maybe have a chinwag, one Essex peep to another. I will of course try and subtly drop into conversation the fact that I was brought up in Billericay, the setting for the Essex side of award winning Gavin and Stacey which James wrote with co-star Ruth Jones.

It could go either way and I might bottle it all together and just ask for a picture. You will have to wait till next week’s blog to see if this Essex girl can walk the walk. Gavlar!!!!..........................................


Shock, horror – no food item this week but a theatrical insight instead.

Young girls have been going Soho crazy as Nick the youngest of the U.S pop sensation, ‘The Jonas Brothers’ has been treading the boards at London’s Queen’s Theatre where he has been playing the part of 'Marius' in Les Miserables.

He had the backing of older bro’s Kevin and Joe, his parents and younger brother Frankie who all jetted into the capital to cheer him on.

His stint in Les Miserables will see fans packing into the theatre for a glimpse of their idol, with some arriving early to see him and his brothers arriving backstage.

Nick said that he wasn’t worried about the theatre being packed of screaming girls and said “I believe they will be respectful and they will know the code of conduct at the theatre. Even if they do scream it will just add to the excitement of the night”.

Hmmmmm, not so sure your fellow cast members would agree with this ‘scream every time Nick is on stage’ theory but I guess The Queen’s Theatre will break records for having the largest London audience at an average age of 16!

So ends another raucous ride through VOX Towers.

Tune in next week to see who wins the 'Clash of the Essex Titans' and maybe Tom Clarke Hill and Charles can attempt to re-create another era in the A1 VOX office – Glam rock anyone?

Monday, 5 July 2010

Murray is out and the English football team are still licking their wounds whilst spending thousands on holidays in far flung places, to soften the blow. I say bring on the curling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Meanwhile in our little piece of Soho paradise things have been tripping along very nicely.

The crafty couple of pigeons that created a Houdini act by materialising ‘within’ the bird protected netting last week managed to escape just as mysteriously as they appeared. Weird.

Charles had a special milestone birthday and a jolly good time by all accounts, so a very happy belated one Mr Nove!

We also had a visit from ‘Mini Nick’ otherwise known as baby Isaac. He was ever so good and seemed to be cooing all the right sort of sounds. It seems we have another ‘thesp’ in the making.

Now one of my all time favourite programmes has to be Red Dwarf – A timeless classic, with my favourite quote being:

Lister: The red, green and blue signs are all flashing. What the smeg does that mean?

Kryten: Well either we’re under attack sir, or we’re having a disco


But there is a point to this random outburst as naturally funny man Mr Norman Lovett came in to grace our sofas on Wednesday. It was Norman who played the part of the computer generated head ‘Holly' during the first, second, seventh (as a guest star) and eighth series.

Holly prides himself on the fact he had an IQ of 6,000 (apparently the same IQ as 6,000 PE teachers or 12,000 car park attendants), but after three million years by himself, he had become computer senile, or as Holly put it, "a bit peculiar".

Norman is a stand-up comedian and even has his own DVD out called Bags and Biscuits of which he is immensely proud. He was also heard as the voice over for several Sugar Puffs adverts of the late 1980s in which he said "Sugar Puffs, you'll go monster mad for the honey"

I was just VOX mad to meet one of my childhood idols. Thanks for the laughs Norm.

Another regular to A1, and friend of resident voice artist Lucy Scott, is Ben Miles. Ben is an English actor, best known for his starring role as Patrick Maitland in the British TV comedy Coupling, from 2000 to 2004.

He trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which also boasts such alumni as Orlando Bloom (yum), Daniel Craig (swoon) and Joseph Fiennes (somebody stop me!).

Miles often works with director James McTeigue: he appeared in McTeigue's 2006 film V for Vendetta as 'Dascombe', in Ninja Assassin and in Speed Racer. On stage he played 'Bolingbroke' in the Old Vic's production of Richard II in 2005 alongside his father-in-law Gary Raymond.

I managed to pluck up the courage to ask for a wee piccie of Ben last week and pretty much blinded him in the process - twice - and all for the sake of you lot out there. Such dedication to the cause.

So last week we had it all. Comedian, trained actor and.....A Reality TV Star!!!!!!

The words ‘dignity intact’ and ‘Big Brother’ don’t usually go hand in hand but incredibly one human being has managed it.

Mr BB ‘winner spinner’ himself, Craig Phillips, was up at VOX Towers looking very tanned indeed and not a hammer or chisel in sight (unless you count his chin).

In 2000 when Craig shot to fame winning the first Big Brother and with it the hearts of a nation, many viewers already knew he was a self-made entrepreneur.

His public appeal shown in Big Brother along with his vast property experience and down to earth manner were quickly spotted by television execs and he was drafted in as a resident expert on various programmes.

He has presented TV shows across the globe, destinations including Canada, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands, Germany, Cyprus, Kosovo, Bosnia, France, Spain and Ascension Island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Well that accounts for the deep perma tan then Craigy boy.

Craig supports numerous charities and is certainly a man of action. In supporting them he has; abseiled one of London’s tallest buildings, abseiled the 335ft high St John’s Beacon tower above Liverpool City Centre, completed the London marathon, zip lined 600 feet across an open quarry, took part in a 12,000 ft skydive jumps and wing walked at 2000ft.

Dear lord man, most reality TV stars are content to get their bits out, snog a celeb then dive into obscurity forever and a day! We salute you Craig for mixing hard graft with a media edge and remaining a lucrative commodity in your own right.


Ok, ok, I can deny it no longer.....I am indeed obsessed with food. Is there somewhere I can go to stand up and be counted as such??

I blame Eleanor Howell for this week’s foodie blog as she made an impromptu visit to the recently opened new offering from Jamie Oliver.

‘Jamie’s Italian' in Covent Garden is the new central London flagship site.

It has been named brand of the year by the British Hospitality Association at its annual awards ceremony. This accolade is testament to the teams who work hard everyday to ensure that the customer experience is true to what ‘Jamie's Italian’ prides itself on - fantastic quality, honest Italian food in beautifully rustic and un-pretentious environments.

You don’t even need to book, and I have it on authority from Miss Howell that it is indeed very affordable and bloody lovely!

So go on, make that change from Pizza Express just the once, and see if the cheeky cockney sparrow really is onto something.

So I close another chapter of the saucy and delectable goings on at A1.

Join the fun bus next week to find out who, or indeed what, may be stepping through those doors and visiting us folk on the fourth floor.