Sunday, 22 August 2010

Ok folks this will be the last blog for a couple of weeks as I take myself off to the land of sea, surf and gastro delights. After Cornwall I am off to Dublin, so I hope to experience a proper pint of Guinness and dance a merry jig in one, or many, of the local pubs! Leprechauns, Shamrocks and screaming Banshee’s here I come!

I will do my best to keep up with the comings and goings at Sunny A1 and report back on my return.

This week A1 VOX has had a couple of guests staying. First up Katy Maw joined us for a busman’s holiday as she set up camp at A1. She made an appearance in the latest Sherlock Holmes BBC programme and regaled us with tales of her time on The Bill when the woman playing her mother in a car wreck scene turned out to be four foot nothing and of Chinese origin!

In between takes the unlikely ‘mother/daughter ‘duo had a great laugh as the mother who was covered in fake blood proceeded to be ‘play slapped’ and beaten up by Katy, much to the horror of passersby on the dual carriageway who had no idea that the crash scene wasn’t real. Nice stunt ladies and great to have you with us Katy.

The second guest was Samantha Dewar who has been helping us out in the office for the past month. Sam is pictured here having a turn in the VoxBox. Sock it to em Sam!

Many a regular face joined the A1 party this week including Redd Pepper and John Sergeant. We also had a visit from Angelica Bell who has been featured in the blog before and is a reporter on The One Show.

Another established A1 friend is Rebecca Gethings. Those of you out there that enjoyed the Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant BBC2 / HBO offering Extras may well recognise Rebecca. She played desperately sad, daddies girl, Lizzie.

I think one of the most cringe worthy scenes I have ever had to watch was as talentless father and daughter performed an all singing, all dancing medley in front of their small group of friends (average age 70) in their front room for Lizzie’s birthday. Surely the ghastliest party ever with dad-dominated, showbiz aspirant Lizzie who is creepy, absurd and pathetic simultaneously. Uncomfortable watching but very entertaining.

Rebecca has just finished filming with Omid Djalili on his latest sketch show which will be out on the BBC early next year and she recently played Andrea in Doctors and Kim in Freezing.

Rebecca has a superb ear for accents counting Irish, American, Russian, Australian and South African among her repertoire. She has a mezzo soprano singing voice and can play the piano to Grade 6. Puts me a bit in the shadows with my keyboard grade two and stint as chorus girl in the Billericay Operatic Society!

Rebecca seems perpetually happy with a constant smile on her face and is an utter joy to have in the studio. Always a pleasure Rebecca.

Another fun and extremely bubbly character that frequents the fourth floor is Jayne Sharp.

Before presenting Jayne went to the University of Lincolnshire and Humberside to study Media and Film, achieving a BA Hons degree. Her first job in TV was as a runner on Family Affairs, and she also worked in 'Durkar Fisheries', - and that would be a fish and chip shop to you and me. Easy on the curry sauce!

Jayne has previously hosted Dial-a-Date, Live With Christian O'Connell, Bad Lads Army, 50 Years 50 Records, Glory Ball Live, and Little Monsters.

On a number of occasions throughout 2010, Jayne guest presented Live from Studio Five, taking the place of Melinda Messenger, Kate Walsh and Emma Willis whilst they were indisposed.

Jayne is always very personable when in the studio and last year during horrendous weather (and wearing non water proofed boots), she even felt comfortable enough to take her socks off and let them dry on our radiator whilst she took her turn in Studio A. What a gal!

Interestingly Sharp is the second wife of Comedy Dave from The Chris Moyles Show. She and Comedy Dave married on 23 August 2008 and they have a daughter, Nicole Katherine Vitty.

Jayne also dated and lived with Media Mogul Chris Evans before getting hitched to Dave.

This is one lady who lives, breathes and marries presenting in a big old way! Nice to see you again Jayne.

London Life in Pictures:

The woman with the lips that could cushion a fall from a very tall building appeared in London this week.

Angelina Jolie positively sizzled on the red carpet as she attended the UK premiere of new film Salt in Leicester Square.

And the London boys had a double whammy as the gorgeous Drew Barrymore posed for a photo with fans at the premiere of her new film Going The Distance.

I found this picture of London last week which I thought was pretty ace. It shows a heavy cloud hanging over Docklands, with Tower Bridge still bathed in sun.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh London – love it or loathe it you can’t deny that it is a pretty exciting place and an amalgamation of eccentricity and fabulous popular culture. I have come over all patriotic.

So that is me done for a couple of weeks. Look after yoursleves....and each other. Till September my vociferous friends.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Hi-de-hi campers.

The British summer continues on its merry way with sporadic doses of sunshine but in the words of Mark Straker ‘however it dresses itself it still feels autumnal’. Well I am crossing fingers, legs and anything else that dangles (steady!) that we are in for a second dose of the golden stuff as I head back down to Cornwall next week. We all have our little dreams.

It has been a kooky week at VOX Towers and with lots of our in house voice team away on their hols it has been unnervingly quiet. Mr Stephen Critchlow soon changed all that though.

For the second week in a row we were lucky enough to catch another of our men strutting his finest in a suit. Critch who has played everything from Siamese fishermen to Macushi Indians didn’t disappoint as he graced us with his presence in the VoxBox, fitting us in between a hectic schedule of three auditions in one day.

He certainly looked the part and should you ever find yourself tackling the Tomorrow Never Dies computer game, check out the voice of James Bond. The name's Critchlow, Stephen Critchlow!

Some Critch trivia:

Likes: The A1 VOX Script Stork, Peter Purves, Beef Wellington, the word Moist.
Dislikes: Cold, any form of physical exercise, radishes, his old art teacher.

So there you have it guys!

One of our good pals Pete Gold came into A1 this week with none other than Mr Mitch Benn.

Mitch is a British musician of Liverpudlian/Scottish descent and a stand-up comedian known for his humorous songs performed on BBC radio.

He has played at several music festivals, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and has also released 7 comedy song albums.

He features on BBC Radio 4 where he has been a regular contributor to The Now Show since 1999, and BBC Radio 2's It's Been a Bad Week. In 2004 he created his own aptly named series, Mitch Benn's Crimes Against Music on Radio 4, featuring Robin Ince and Alfie Joey; this has now run to three series.

Benn is famously remembered during the Now Show for getting annoyed at the fact that only a few people followed him on Twitter. Benn planned to make himself the "King of Twitter" by getting the show's 1.5 million listeners to follow his account and therefore have more followers than Stephen Fry, who he claimed was the current king.

Within a week of his announcement, the number of people following Benn more than tripled to just under 4,000. Benn performed a song expressing his anger that Coldplay beat him into having more followers than Fry first, making remarks that it was not the band themselves posting messages and that as the band has four members, the number of followers should have been divided by four. A case of splitting hairs me thinks Mitchy Mitch.

Benn also mentioned that some of his followers were worried that he was becoming too obsessed with Twitter. I’m saying naught people.

In the last episode of the series, Benn wrote what he claimed was his final Twitter song, which specially featured Fry telling Benn that if he renounced his claim as King of Twitter, Fry would make him "Viceroy of Facebook", which Benn did. Benn also referenced the passing of the one million mark on the site.

Together with his wife, Benn runs a Twitter account called "Things Greta Says", where they post any amusing quotes said by their four-year-old daughter Greta. The page currently has over 2,500 followers. So it seems the obsession lives on...through his own flesh and blood – spooky but true!

From Twitter to Twated as this week we were in the midst of a very nasty character who is probably best known for having his face smashed in with an iron!!!!

However, Alex Ferns, the Scottish actor widely remembered for his role in EastEnders as Trevor Morgan, “Britain’s most-hated Soap villain” and little Mo’s evil husband, is actually a very lovely man. The part scooped him Best Newcomer and Best Villain at the 2002 Soap Awards.

Alex cites a scene where, as Morgan, he had to push Little Mo's face into a Christmas dinner as his most stressful filming experience. Considering that Alex is a Buddhist in real life and killing a fly is considered a mortal sin, then I guess shoving someone’s face into a plateful of East End giblets would be extremely hard going!

Since his two year stint on the famous street, Alex has worked on, amongst other things, Joyeux Noel, an Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTAs nominated film for Best Foreign Language Film.

The Glasgow born actor has also dabbled in the theatre world, starring in Art, I.D, Agatha Christie’s Murder Mystery and The Little Shop of Horrors.

The 41-year-old admitted to a near fatal accident while cooking a prawn pasta dish in practice for his appearance on Marco’s Kitchen Burnout, with a near disastrous end that would have had the Eastenders explosive drum rolls ringing in his ears.

He said: "I always say that I'm not a competitive person but if I am being honest, I am. I'm the same with playing golf. I want to win.

"So when I found out for sure I was going to do this, I said to my wife Jennifer, I'm going to make this prawn pasta dish. Yeah, I'm going to be great on this show."

He continued: "She went up to have a bath, our sons Cameron, seven and Mackenzie, three, were asleep in bed, and I poured myself a glass of wine while I started defrosting prawns at the sink.

"I walked into the living room, forgetting I'd left the empty wok with oil on the gas.

"And the next thing I know, there are flames in the pan, smoke everywhere, the alarms are going off, and I knock over one of our expensive wine glasses and smash it. Setting the kitchen on fire... not a good start is it!". Alex.

Alex, surprisingly, went on to win Marco's Kitchen Burnout competing alongside such raw undulated talent as Carol Smillie and Russell Grant! So some burning but not burnt out eh Mr Ferns. Well done you.



The Saturdays bought sexy chaos to the streets of London last week as they roared into Old Compton Street on Harley Davidson motorbikes for the signing of their new single at G-A-Y bar.

Yes.... our near neighbours who are spitting distance from A1 saw fans queuing for hours to get their copies of the bands new single Missing You signed by the sassy quintet.

The signing was to pre-empt their album launch at the G-A-Y night at the Heaven nightclub promoting their third LP Headlines.

But those wiley foxes don’t fool me one iota as I have it under good authority that the gig they are all chomping to appear at is back in my home town of Chelmsford, Essex at premier venue The Chicago Rock Cafe....(12th selling like hot cakes but I know a geezer that will do you a real good deal).

Us Essex folk laugh in the face of Harley Davidsons and you just wait as the girls get driven to the club in lowered Escort XR3i’s, then carried into the club on the shoulders of five burly wide boys, all wearing white trainers and saying ‘innit’. Utter Genius.

And on that bombshell I must leave you, but do check in next week and see who has been passing through, or by, the doors of VOX Towers. Now where did those five cheeky lads disappear to...........

Monday, 9 August 2010

It has all been a little more ‘quiet on the Western Front’ after last week’s excitement. No dogs, no men in uniform and Paul Barber kept his trousers on!

Ah well you can’t have it all.

We still managed to have a lot of fun with some great people passing through the doors of A1. Each brought their own special ingredient to make life at The Towers the mixed and spicy hotpot of convivial merriment that we all know and love.

Up and coming, Irish actor, Andrew Scott, joined the party last week, and he is definitely a rising star in the making. You could say it is the luck of the Irish but that would be an absolute slight on the raw talent that this young man possesses.

He made his film debut aged seventeen as the lead in acclaimed Irish film Korea.

After filming a small part in Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan , he worked with legendary film and theatre director Karel Reisz on the classic American play Long Days Journey into Night, for which he won Actor of the Year at the Independent/Spirit of Life Awards as well as an Irish Times Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He was just twenty- one years old!

He then filmed Nora with Ewan McGregor, Henry James’s The American, alongside Diana Rigg and Matthew Modine and cast in major roles in the BAFTA winning drama Longitude opposite Michael Gambon, and multi-award winning series Band Of Brothers for HBO. Blimey O'Reilly.

For his role in Buena Vista’s Dead Bodies, Andrew beat the likes of Colin Farrell to win Best Actor at the Irish Film Awards. OOOOO - Take that Farrell.

He received his first Olivier award for his role in A Girl in a Car with a Man at The Royal Court, and the Theatre Goers Choice award for his heartbreaking performance in the National Theatre’s Aristocrats. Good lord lad, I hope you have extensive shelving to show off all those golden trophies?

His theatre credits include Sea Wall, a one man show written especially for him by Olivier-award winning playwright Simon Stephens, and The Vertical Hour, his critically acclaimed Broadway debut opposite Julianne Moore, written by David Hare and directed by Sam Mendes, for which he was nominated for a Drama League Award.

He recently starred in Chasing Cotards, as well as Paul McCartney in BBC film, Lennon Naked. His most recent credit is as Jim (James Moriarty) in the BBC mini-series Sherlock.

Scott will also be playing Leo in a Design For Living at The Old Vic this autumn which was cast by none other than our own Nick Chambers’ other half, Amy. Small world, impressive resume and unquestionably one to watch – to be sure, to be sure!

Paul Barber, everyone’s favourite scouser, came bounding up the stairs and entertained all with his usual cheeky banter this week.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, it seems he has a lucky affinity with anything related to the equine species. He is best known for playing Denzil in Only Fools and Horses and Horse in The Full Monty. Hee-haw!

Barber has worked extensively in British TV, such as in Minder as Willie Reynolds in the episode Don't tell them Willie Boy was Here, Only Fools and Horses (1981–2003), Boys from the Blackstuff, Malcolm in The Front Line, Casualty and Cracker. He made a guest appearance in the first episode of The Green Green Grass - a spin-off from Only Fools And Horses.

Notable early, film roles were in the big-screen version of Porridge and The Long Good Friday. In 2001 he played alongside Full Monty co-star Robert Carlyle and Samuel L Jackson in the Liverpool-based crime movie The 51st State.

However, Barber's most famous role was playing one of the stripping steelworkers in the popular 1997 film The Full Monty set in Sheffield. Sorry but I couldn’t resist the piccie...Get em off boys!

In house news this week – Eleanor Howell has landed herself a new role in An Inspector Calls. The show will be a six week run over in Wales so we wish her all the best of leeks and luck with that.

Nick Chambers and Tom Clarke Hill both had auditions this week. Being in the business that we are in, there isn’t much call for day to day suit wearing, so when the boys get smartened up it is always a bit of a shock....but a pleasant surprise. Here is Nick practicing his business man hand shake for our camera. Eat your heart out Daniel Craig.

Tom had a few of us going over lines with him before his big moment and I think you will agree that he looks more than dapper in his smart offering. Jane MacFarlane was assisting with the line read and is pictured here with the suited and booted. Good luck fella’s.


T.K.Maxx opens on Charing Cross Road – Bargain Hunters - Now is our Time.

The chain store has opened for business on a quirky corner among the collectors’ book emporia and guitar shops.

TK offloads the gear designers and department stores have been unable to sell at full price. In doing so you can pick up a tasty little garment at an astonishingly low cost. Scarily it does give the public a glimpse of just how much the High Street marks up designer goods.

The Primarni’s and Matalans of this world have proved it’s possible to make and distribute clobber for a few pounds apiece, (if you can ignore the plight of the poor souls making it), but TK Maxx teaches us that big fashion houses of Britain, America and Italy clearly don’t spend too much more knocking the stuff up themselves. We are just the silly mugs for buying it.

Some argue that once an item of clothing has been on the hanger for a while, fully celebrity endorsed and then a new fashion line comes in, that items value deteriorates. But unlike a piece of food that would have to be thrown out, a pair of jeans (however old or ‘last season’), can still be worn.

Whatever your view, TK Maxx is the chain store killing the chain store and take it from our own Joan Walker who is a self confessed, bona fide TK Maxx Extremist (she just can’t help herself) who says ‘'s bloody brilliant’.

That is all for this week folks, join us next week for more thrills and spills from your favourite studio – Not Arf!

Monday, 2 August 2010

What do you get when you cross an RAF Policeman, a Royal Marine and an army trained German Shepherd in a Sound Booth?

A ruddy great ball of fuzz fury!!!

RAF policeman Wayne Smith brought his dog Charlie into the studio last week, and though this dog is trained to kill, it was such a big, loveable hound that this seemed hard to imagine. It turned into controlled chaos of the military kind, as Major Steve Melbourne of the Royal Marines volunteered (crazzzzy lad), to step into the booth and help antagonise Charlie to enable us to record the, shall we say, less affable side to the dog's temperament. Snarf.

It could have led to a predicament of uniforms and fur flying at dawn but fortunately due to the sheer professionalism, courage and skill of all three, we managed 'a wrap' with all limbs and heads intact. This was lucky for me as I am in charge of health and safety here at A1, and bar a couple of plasters needed here and there I haven’t had much call to sort out the maiming of any clients thus far. Big Big Phew.

Wayne and Charlie have seen a lot of action including patrolling the air fields in Afghanistan. Charlie is now eight and due to retire very soon. I have asked for first dibs on having him once the brave dog is stepped down from his very important role of protecting Queen and Country.

Major Steve Melbourne joined the Royal Marines in 1979 and served in Northern Ireland and the Gulf, before joining the Physical Training Specialisation in 1991. Since then he has deployed on operations and exercises across the world, from Afghanistan to Kosovo, Norway to Costa Rica.

Currently he is the Media Operations Officer for Joint Force HQ – a unique organisation charged with delivering flexible and effective teams at short notice in response to crisis situations across the world.

A bit like my role at VOX Towers....well...yes.... I am charged with delivering croissants and fresh coffee to the many celebs that grace our doors, and let me tell you, dealing with some of them can definitely lead to a crisis situation!

But in all seriousness these guys have put their lives on the line and seem to take it all in their stride. I take my hat off to them and can say with hand on heart that RAF Policeman Wayne Smith and Major Steve Melbourne are two of the nicest chaps we have had the pleasure to meet at A1, and of course, Charlie the dog who is by far my favourite ever guest, and made last week’s session one of my most memorable.

I am not sure if Peter Dickson read last week’s blog and really did try to have the last bark, but the voice that makes shows like The X-Factor, Britain's Got Talent and Chris Moyle's Quiz Night what they are, (with vocals that are cemented into the public conscience - Ouch!), seems to have taken things a little far with my idle threat last week.

Please no-one call in as I believe the gun was fake and once Charlie had calmed down after his military banter we sent him over to Peter’s house to rescue the poor defenceless kitty cat from Peter’s clutches. Good boy Charlie!

At the end of last week Mr. Robert Opie a consumer historian made his way to the fourth floor.

Starting at the age of sixteen with a packet of Munchies, Robert built up a collection that now extends to all aspects of daily life - toys, magazines, technology, travel, souvenirs, fashion and design..

From mere collecting, Robert's mission extended to understanding the origins and development of brands and retailing, by assembling the evidence from thousands of surviving examples of bottles, tins, labels, signs and many forms of promotional and advertising material.

He comments, 'When the thousands of pieces of our social history are assembled into some giant jigsaw, the picture becomes clearer as to the remarkable journey we have all come through'.

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising present the collection of Robert Opie.

I had a chat with Robert as I have asked many of my friends if they remember the spearmint chewy sweet of the eighties – “Pacers” – they all think I am nuts!. 'I’ll ask the expert', I said to myself, 'then we will see who is off their rocker'.

Robert did indeed remember the sweet and even has the packet of one such tube in his collection. He also agrees there is a gap in the market for such a chew-tastic delicacy. So eat that non believers!

If you have a problem and no-one else can help – maybe you should hire –
The Dream Team.

Yup, time to forget the A-Team as our own Charles (Hannibal) Nove whizzed up to Glasgow last week to film an episode of BBC 2 quiz Celebrity Eggheads.

The show pits a team of five 'Eggheads' (made up from seven highly regarded quiz and game show champions, rotating each episode) against a series of 'challengers' who in each episode attempt to beat the Eggheads through a series of rounds.

Charles made up one fifth of "Rent-a-Gob" the celebrity voice artists team along with Redd Pepper (featured in the blog not so long ago), Steve Punt, Jon Briggs and Mitch Johnson.

The show is presented by Dermot Murnaghan and you will have to tune in to see if the lucid tongues of the voice team could outwit the champions. Go on it for all things vocal.


Soho's Marshall Baths opens!

The eagerly awaited opening of the 160 year-old London baths in Soho is now here, and will open to the public next month.

Costing a cool £25m, Westminster Council’s Marshall Street baths in Soho has undergone an extensive regeneration.

The Grade II listed building, which first opened in 1932 and is famous for its stunning barrel vaulted roof, will operate as a public facility, like others provided across the city, with fees, charges and resident discounts similar to those operating at other sites in the council’s ownership. So this should be a pretty top notch facility with down market prices, quite the one off for Westminster and Soho!!!!!

The ambitious project will boast a new purpose-built leisure centre which will include new fitness suites, sauna and health suite and dedicated dance and exercise studios. Watch out London...... I may be tempted to once more don my Lycra all in one and dance like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. What a Soho feeling!

Well I don’t know about you but I feel that quite a lot has happened in what seemed like five short days.

To my knowledge there are no more animals entering A1 this week, though we are getting a visit from Paul Barber of The Full Monty fame, so some of the ladies may go animalistic if Paul decides to shred his wares as he does in the film – "Why do they call they call you horse?" (Paul's character drops his kecks) "WHOA!!!!....Ahhhhh" - OO ER Missus!

Till next week - Over and out.