Thursday, 24 March 2011

Are my eyes deceiving me or has Spring finally sprung?!

We can all nurse ourselves back to health and let our bodies reach out, like plants towards the natural vitamin D – a.k.a The Sun. I know, I know, you had all forgotten what that crazy ball of yellow in the sky looked like, but rest assured, times.....they are a-changing. YIPEE!

Keeping on the theme of the sun who was it that coined this famous phrase:

“When the sun comes up I have morals again”

I will give you some clues – Eight marriages, 50 movies, two Oscars, 100 operations, a fortune of £360m – The one and only Elizabeth the Great!

We couldn't let the moment of Elizabeth Taylor’s sad departure from this world pass us by. Love her or hate her she was a last living piece of the Golden Hollywood era and bygone age.

A child star who managed to make the transition to adult roles, she won two Oscars – for Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? However, her 50-strong list of film credits tends to be overshadowed by her list of seven husbands, most notably Richard Burton, whom she married and divorced twice.

In 1963 Taylor filmed Cleopatra, a historical epic so long-drawn-out and horrendously expensive that it would come near to bankrupting its producers. She was paid a then record-breaking $1m for her role, and who can blame her for accepting? In her own words:

“If someone’s dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I’m certainly not dumb enough to turn it down”

In 2000, she was thrilled to become Dame Elizabeth Taylor in recognition of her services to film.

She once described herself as a 'living example of what people can go through and survive'.

And survive she did - She had both hips replaced and beat skin cancer, a brain tumour, diabetes, seizures and a stroke. She endured an estimated 70 illnesses and had 100 operations, 20 of them major surgery.

Our own Trevor Nichols has his own Liz Taylor story.

Trevor’s wife Maggie is a nurse and spent one assignment looking after Richard Burton whilst he was with Liz in their hotel suite.

Richard Burton was renowned for his alcoholism and foul temper and Maggie was subjected to both. Burton didn't understand why he needed a nurse maid and took all his aggression and bad behaviour out on poor old Maggie.

However, Maggie wasn't going to stand for Burton's childish antics and after one a particularly aggressive outburst Maggie staunchly replied:

"What do you expect for £10 a night....Raquel Welch!?"

Liz fully approved of Maggie's gun ho attitude and the fact that Burton didn't scare her one little bit. Bravo Maggie....Bravo!

According to Maggie, Dame Liz was a lovely person and very down to earth for all her fame and fortune.

“When people say ‘she’s got everything’ I've got one answer – I haven’t had tomorrow”

So the woman with everything now has no tomorrows left, though wherever she has gone on to I am sure you can hear her, and I’ll bet she’s hooked up with that Burton fella again.

So from one siren to another this time in the guise of Joanna Lumley.

Joanna has been featured on our blog before and I was lucky enough to get a snap taken with her. This time round Felicity Duncan was the lucky gal to be forever pictured with one of her idols.

Flick was bowled over that on being introduced, Joanna knew that the name Felicity means ‘Happiness’ which couldn't have made Felicity....well......happier!

I have a fantastic Aunt called Felicity, or Listy for short, and she makes me happy so I guess it must be true!

After her session I presented Joanna with a gift that had been left at the studio earlier that day. It was a batch of war veteran poetry books and a framed picture of her Radio Times cover!

Rather than just grabbing it from us and leaving without so much as a ‘how’s ya father’ she looked to myself, Chris and Flick and said almost conspiratorially “Shall we see what it is?”

So there we all are huddled around a Liberties bag with Joanna Lumley! Every day has a different twist at Vox Towers I tell ye.

Next week we have funny woman Miranda Hart coming into the studio who has now officially been labelled the Queen of Comedy. Does this mean no eye contact, only speak to her when spoken to and back out of the room once you have seated her in the voice booth? We will find out next week.

Soho News:

Well guys it has been a while so I thought I would treat you to more namby pamby Soho food delights.

Just this week a new branch of LEON opened on our very own Old Compton Street.

Leon is an award winning fast food outlet selling natural, good food, from spicy lamb wraps to mezze. The food is of a high standard and is served with the same efficiency as the big fast food chains. They also have an eat-in section at the back, and are open for lunch and dinner.

There's always a buzz at their restaurants, and it only goes to show how popular they have become with a varying group of people, from businessmen to students to anyone who wants a simple but delicious meal.

Breakfast favourites could include the hot sausage in a wholemeal bap or organic porridge spiked with Valrhona chocolate. Choose from main dishes such as a Thai style chicken curry, Moroccan meatballs or chilli chicken with garlic and yoghurt sauce served with rice. Don't miss their intense chocolate brownie for dessert. YUMMY!

Mr Mark Straker gave me a call last week and said that though pigs weren’t falling from the sky, they were handing out free food from Leons (prioir to it opening).

Wee taster sessions wouldn’t you know.

I made a mad dash down there to eat for free in Soho – a modern miracle. Typically for me just as I got there they closed the door in my face. Hence, I cannot give you a bone fide critique of the food itself so just listen to one reviewer who visited the Carnaby Street branch – over to you Dave:

Dave (15 June 2010)

It was a Friday in June - pole-vaulting season. The weather was disappointing yet warm. A colleague and I had just ordered our second meal of the week from Leon. After silently ploughing our way through an eclectic cacophony of fresh peas, free range chicken, broccoli and mackerel all smothered together in lashings of deliciously concocted dressing we had to embrace each other and cry. That’s when we realised we would never eat in another restaurant again. The End.

So until next week folks – keep it successful, just like the late, great, Liz Taylor, and maybe you too will come up smelling of roses, for in the words of the lady herself:

“Success is a great deodorant. It takes away all your past smells” Nice!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

This week you find me writing to all you merry folk with a packet of Sudafed by my side and a handkerchief surgically attached to my mitts!

It seems that half of us at VOX Towers have been struck down by the lurgy and it ain’t a pretty sight. My nose is so raw I could challenge Rudolph to a schnozzle-off!

The good news is that none of you can catch our nasty little germs whilst reading the Blog from the comfort of your PC.

On the bad side I am going to have to keep it short and sweet so that I don’t infect my keyboard with snot and grot!

We had one of our favourite regulars in this week.... Mr Nick Holder.

Nick is a man of many talents but is more commonly known for using his voice as a fantastic, tongue-tastic, device.

Amongst other works Nick has played The Engineer in Miss Saigon at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Jean Valjean in Les Miserables at the Palace Theatre in the West End, Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar at The Lyceum Theatre - West End, Richard III & The Music Man at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre and L'Assommoir & Wolfpit at The National Theatre.

But apart from big scale, well known musical productions, Nick likes to diversify into the musical macabre.In June 2010 Nick starred in Stephen Sondheim’s firebrand musical Assassins staged and directed by Michael Strassen.

Assassins uses the premise of a murderous carnival game to produce a revue-style portrayal of men and women who attempted (successfully or otherwise) to assassinate Presidents of the United States.

Assassins first opened at Playwrights Horizons during the 1991 Gulf War, to packed houses, of which the audience either embraced the subject matter or rejected it depending on their political slant to the then current President and the war itself. In many ways the shows real subject matter was hijacked, as Assassins isn't so much about political murder but lost and angry individuals, those who fall off the American dream machine.

Nick drew every ounce of humour as well as anguish from his brilliantly realistic characterisation of Sam Byck, a bankrupt salesman in a Santa Claus suit who initiated a plot to fly a 747 into the Reagan White House.

He got rave reviews for his performances, with Time Out, who claimed the show as Critics Choice and show of the week quoting:

"There is a tendency for more flippant characters to overwhelm those with real political motivations. But this doesn't detract from performances like that of Nick Holder - best of all - as a raspy Samuel Byck. Plump as a Thanksgiving turkey and greasy as a McNugget, his perfectly-paced tape-recorded rant to Lenny Bernstein conveys a furious cynicism born of long-term, dee-seated injustice".

It was such a success that Nick was nominated for best male performance in the Off-West End Awards (affectionaltely known as the 'Offies') and who can blame them when his performance was described by Classical as:

A tour de force of brutal acting and of inhabiting a part with such conviction, that his bogeyman presence is palpably chilling...'

BLIMEY let’s hope we don’t meet you in a dark alley dressed as Santa Claus Nick! All I want for Christmas is to be left alone you mad person you!!!!!

Nick is currently rehearsing for his next twist on the stanger side of musical theatre, in the National’s - London Road, opening April 2011.

This experimental musical from Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork, directed by Rufus Norris, has a doubly daring premise. First, it's all about the murder of five women in 2006 by convicted serial killer Steve Wright - a story which brought a media storm to the quiet rural town of Ipswich, not least because the victims were all sex workers.

Second, its songs are all modelled upon the speech patterns of local residents. Blythe, who won a Time Out award for her first play, 'Come Out Eli', back in 2003, conducted interviews with the people of Ipswich, members of the press and others who found themselves caught up in the tragedy.

Then Adam Cork, who has written the music and collaborated with Blythe on the lyrics, took inspiration from the melodic and rhythmic speech patterns she had recorded.

Nick says this is the hardest piece of musical theatre he has ever encountered but believes it will be (in his words) “bloody brilliant”.

The Daily Mail, apparently, has already been firmly informed that 'London Road' will not be 'sensationalist in any way'. But exactly what it will be is more open to speculation - though its creators hope to reveal 'the ways in which even the darkest experiences can engender a greater sense of our mutual dependence'. Deep Man.

Nick hopes that his performance will be judged on just that ......his performance.... and that he won’t be embroiled into some sort of political and high brow condemnation of the risqué production.

OOOOO – he’s just like Johnny Depp – taking on all those strange, darker roles and not saying boo to a goose if people don’t like it. We think he is gonna go down a storm in this powerful and thought-provoking piece that is above all sensitive to the vitims’ humanity. Gritty Stuff People, Gritty Stuff.


Well I thought I would share a bit of A1 Vox frivolity with you which also mixes nicely with our regular gad about London town feature.

There’s a Rumble in the Jumble!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That wiley, sassy Miss Tracy Wiles and slam dunkin', Felicity D took it upon themselves to set up a stall at the oh so trendy Wills Moody Rock N Roll Vintage Jumble Sale in Euston this month.

This is the new take on retail therapy.

The recession means that fashionista’s are having to tighten their Gucci belts and resist from handing over credit cards to cover some shiny but unusable item bought on a whim.

I know...It’s so depressing we are crying into our Prada purses. So what to do when the going gets tough, and the urge to splurge, tougher?

Think outside the box ladies and gentleman. Or put another way – think ‘outside’ the shop.

Yes, grab your imitation, (bought at the local market), Vuitton shopper, collect your coppers and coins, and embrace the humble jumble sale.

Things have come a long way from grannies pouring tea whilst selling a load of knitted goods. With an open bar, a DJ spinning smooth Brazilian jazz in the corner, and all the homemade cake you can eat, the Wills Moody Rock n' Roll Jumble Sale – started by a London-based arts group - certainly lives up to its title. It also kicks off at a very hangover-friendly 2pm, so you can squeeze in a lie-in and a pub roast before heading down. Blooming Marvellous!

As Tracy and Flick will attest, it’s not all charming tat. Tracy had many a pair of designer shoes, some of which had only been worn once, on the offing. Confessions of a Shopaholic.... eat your jumble heart out.

Some familiar A1 faces went along to show their support including the Scot with the Lot, Jane MacFarlane, and the Man with the Plan, Mr Andy Loudon.

It looks like a lot of fun was had by all and what a very forward thinking way of making a few extra bucks on the side. Well done ladies - you Rock N Jumble!

So if you have a yen for all things vintage, second hand or simply like rooting through the remnants of someone else's house, all while listening to cool music, and contemplating your next purchase from the bar, then Wills Moody Jumble Sale is for you. If you're really lucky you may even get to see our gorgeous duo Tracy and Flick selling their wares - OO ER!

That is all for this week folks. I am off to blow my nose for the umpteenth time and smear Vicks vapour rub onto any exposed area that can handle it. I don't know about Rock N Jumble, I feel more Snot and Grumble, so come join us next week when I'm sure we will all be fighting fit again and ready to roll with the vocal punches. Toodle pip!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Welcome back A1 followers. "And what news from our favourite sunny studio this week", I hear you cry.

Well..... we have had a very busy week. At some points all phone lines were ringing off the hook and the answer machine had to kick in, much to the surprise of some of our regular callers who are used to the one ring and pick up system.

Some calls we get are those highly irritating sales pitches for completely irrelevant services. However, the most interesting calls we get are those that think they are calling for a job at a fast food restaurant or attempting to book a cruise ship holiday.

The numbers to both places must be one digit different to A1 which causes all sorts of problems for the hapless job seeker and pensioner cruisers!

Charles and I often have a giggle about these calls as some of them are like a dog with a bone and are adamant that it is us that are in the wrong and not them.

One of my particular favourites was when a well spoken, elderly lady called trying to book a cruise down the Nile. I explained that whilst I had been there myself, and had a lovely time, I couldn't help her with her booking as I was a Sound Studio Manager and knew nothing of the early bird saver scheme! Finally, after conceding that I wasn’t part of the travel bureau, the lady said:

“Well do you have the number for the travel agent then?”

The absolute gem comes from a conversation Charles had with yet another elderly dear, this time a gentleman, trying to book a holiday to some other far flung destination.

To this day Charles bases his ‘Dithery Old Man’ voice on this very episode.

After much stumbling of words, greying of hair and general confusion, the gentleman in question finally cottoned on that he had called the wrong number. However, rather than apologising and hanging up the man paused dramatically and then said.....................................

“Well you shouldn't have answered if it’s not for you!”

For once this left Our Nove totally speechless. I mean what do you say to that folks?

And so to our first guest of the week – Miss Keavy Lynch.

She once beguiled us with tons of denim and innocent pop ditties such as C’est La Vie and Rollercoaster as one fourth of 90’s girl band B*witched. The group were the first international girl band to score 4 consecutive Number 1 singles with their releases in the UK. One of her fellow band members was twin sister Edele. The ladies also have a famous bro in the form of Shane Lynch from Boyzone. Blimey singing round the piano at Christmas time must be something that picture postcards are made of!

Both girls have now grown-up physically, come of age musically and are stomping back onto the music scene dressed in leather bodices and fishnets in the guise of new band Barbarellas.

Barbarellas made their debut public appearance in September 2010 at the prestigious Miss Ireland award ceremony where they performed 3 of their new songs. Although the venue was swarming with Ireland’s greatest beauties, all eyes were on the Barbarellas who, quite literally, brought the audience to a standing ovation of cheers and shrieks as they performed tracks from their forthcoming debut album, Night Mode.

As Barbarellas, the Lynch sisters have finally returned and stand ready to inject fresh excitement into the pop world. 2011…get ready for the almighty Barbarellas!

Having finished her session at A1, myself and Charles grabbed Keavy for a quick picture and a chat. Keavy had her hair up whilst voicing but all she had to do was untie it, shake it about a couple of times, and voila, she was picture perfect with tumbling tresses that could have been teased by Vidal Sassoon himself!

Charles asked her if she had her fair share of fruit cakes following her and it seems that Keavy does indeed have quite a following. One fan was even outraged that Keavy’s family knew something of her whereabouts before their fan base did. It resulted in a discussion about how some intense fans of celebrity actually think they own the star – I guess it can all get pretty scary, though being a humble Essex girl with a mere Disco Dancing Championship title to my name (that’s right folks – 1989!), I wouldn’t have the foggiest how it actually feels to have people wanting to know your every move.

Charles then regaled us with the tale of his 90 year old fan that turned up at the radio station very late at night with a face full of red lipstick cunningly applied on a bus driving at warp speed. Poor old dear only wanted to make sure that she had enough left to smear over Charles as well. ‘Kiss me Quick’ never rung so true eh Charles!

So we left Keavy to continue her busy day.....her next to buy some wigs! Oh I love hearing about how these celeb types spend their days.

Second up the stairs to VOX Towers was sexy Manchurian Dean Lennox Kelly.

Dean is best known for his role playing bed-hopping barman Kev Ball in hit Chanel 4 show Shameless. Much of the series saw him romping naked with sexy blonde Veronica. Oh how I miss those days – "Cheeky Dean".

Dean revealed that it's taken him years to shake off the Shameless character of lovable Kev despite starring in some major TV dramas.

He said: "I loved that show and it changed my life but it was worrying that for quite a while after I left I'd still see Kev peering back at me whenever I looked in the mirror. He just wouldn't leave me alone."

The difficulty has been shared by viewers who still frequently refer to him as "that bloke from Shameless" despite recent roles in dramas like classic Cranford, crime caper The Invisibles and last autumn's ITV drama Collision about the harrowing effect of a major road crash.

Dean said: "It's difficult because when you're in something as good as Shameless not a lot of people want you to try different roles. They still want you to be that guy in that show. But as an actor you want to move on."

So having a laugh and asking Dean if he fancies a pint at The Jockey and a quickie in the bogs, probably wouldn’t go down too well then!

A few of the A1 boys have also been flaunting their wares this week......calm down we haven’t had a case of 'All Vox and No Jocks' but they have been practicing their trade away from A1.

First up Mr Mark Straker took a three day leave of absence so that he could go and film for Law and Order. Here he is in all his finery.

Mark plays nasty defence barrister Morgan Braithe. He looks like he could sentence you with one raise of an eyebrow!!!! Down boy, down!

Second up is Mr Stephen Critchlow who has upped sticks and taken himself off to Salisbury. He is in a play called The Game of Love and Chance at the Salisbury Playhouse until April 23rd.

In it he plays Randy the Cow Poke, a brooding enigmatic drifter who arrives at a small trading outpost in the mid west and all the women fall in love with him.

Not really. He plays the dad!

So if you happen to be catching a breath of fresh air somewhere in the vicinity check it out.


"Commuters give thumbs down to phone proposal"

A WHOPPING three quarters of Londoners have given the thumbs down to plans to have a mobile network on the underground.

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei want to install the system in time for the London Olympics in 2012. Yet in a new poll of 1,094 Londoners by comparison site only 24 per cent want the scheme to go ahead.

Of the 76 per cent opposed to the underground cellular network, a third said they were worried about the threat from muggers or thieves for those passengers brandishing mobiles on the tube. 16 per cent feared their mobile phone bills would increase.

Further criticism has come from security experts who suggest terrorists could use the network to set off explosive devices remotely using their mobile phones.

It's not known what percentage of Londoners simply dread the sound of their fellow commuters droning on endlessly about business deals, boyfriends and football!!!!.

I don't know.... this age of technology is marvellous in its own way but downright annoying and confusing in another - C'est La Vie. I myself like nothing better than a letter penned quietly and taken to its destination by carrier pigeon. Now who can I call about a once in a lifetime trip to Katmandu?.............

Till next week gang - Keep it quietly vocal and on the right number.