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!