Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Welcome back intrepid A1 followers.

This week we have been somewhat taken over by Manchester City fans!

A1 Voxtraining mentor, Philippa Starns, came into the studio to carry out an interview with English broadcaster to the BBC, and one of Britain’s most recognised DJ’s, Mr Mark Radcliffe.

Mark has worked with the BBC since the 80’s and is an avid Manchester City Fan.

Although Chis Evans is held as the Man who saved Radio 1 he certainly owes a lot to Radcliffe. In the late 70’s when Radcliffe worked for worked for Manchester’s Piccadilly Radio Chris was also working there as a junior. Despite being very enthusiastic 'The Ginger One' managed to delete the tape containing an exclusive interview with Bob Geldof & he would have been sacked if Radcliffe hadn’t persuaded his boss to give Chris another chance. What a good chap.

Ironic then that in later years The White Room, which Mark presented, was dropped due to the success of Chris’ TFI Friday. In another twist of the Mark and Chris showbiz tale Mark became the person who filled in for Chris on the Radio 1 breakfast show when he was away. Hmmmmm – wonder if Mark wishes he had kept his mouth shut all those years ago!

Mark joined BBC Radio 1 in 1991, presenting the one-hour Monday evening show Out on Blue Six. In 1993 Mark presented Skyman, an odd show which he presented in character as a visiting alien, and all the records he played were space-related. Certainly different and though Mark may have come across as mad as a box of biscuits it seemed to work quite well. Go Figure!

His most famous work however was as part of the act Mark and Lard on Radio 1. (Lard is also a Man City supporter!).

In the late 70’s Mark Radcliffe moved to Radio 1 where he produced the sessions for the John Peel Show. As legend tells it was at one of these sessions that Mark Radcliffe and Lard first met.

Radcliffe eventually took Lard on as his sidekick and so the most important partnership since Lennon and McCartney was formed – though some people may disagree with me on that one, A1’s Chris certainly wouldn’t, as he admitted to me last week that for once in his capacity as studio manager he was a little bit star struck.

It seems young Chris grew up listening to the now infamous 10pm – midnight show, (otherwise known as The Graveyard Shift), that the duo began in 1993, and developed a bit of a DJ crush on the pair.

And why wouldn’t he!? – The show was unique for Radio 1 because it was based around non-playlist music and featured live music sessions, poetry readings and comedy. These sessions featured bizarre quizzes such as ‘Fish or Fowl’, and a play list that rivalled John Peel in terms of eclecticism.

The show also held some of the best sessions from up and coming and alternative bands of the time, including Throwing Muses, Moloko, Nick Cave, Pulp, Baby Bird, The Divine Comedy and Mice.

Some other stars weren’t so lucky however and were constantly ribbed by the terrible twosome – Arse Kelly, Manic Street Sweepers, and Alanis Nicorette to name but a few!

Radcliffe’s unique blend of great music, humour, quality items, and of course Lard, quickly built up a cult following. In the words of Mark and Lard their show was the ducks nuts!

Radcliffe left Radio 1 in March 2004 and moved to an evening slot on BBC Radio 2 in June of the same year, with Riley moving to BBC 6 Music.

In 2007 Radcliffe joined forces with Stuart Maconie to present a new show on BBC Radio 2 to much critical acclaim, including winning the prestigious Sony award for the best Radio show of 2009.

Just goes to show that it isn't just Madonna who can keep re-inventing herself and maintaining that all important finger on the consumer pulse, Mr Radcliffe has managed to keep a hold on the airwaves for decades and continues to do so.

And so to the third and final Man City FC supporter of the week – English writer, comedian, actor, radio and television presenter – Jason Manford.

Jason began his career in 1999, while working at the Buzz Comedy Club upstairs at the Southern Hotel in Chorlton, Manchester. Jason was collecting glasses when a performer didn’t arrive for an evening set, Jason, who was 17 at the time stepped in to fill the gap, an event which marked the beginning of his comedy career. Six gigs later he was crowned The City Life North West Comedian of the Year. Why did I never get the chance to showcase my comedic talents when working down the pig and whistle? Some guys have all the luck!

His first major television appearance was as a guest on the Channel 4 panel show 8 out of 10 cats presented by Jimmy Carr. He would eventually go on to become a team captain.

Jason has performed on many stand up on television progammes with his most high profile appearance being a full show on Live at the Apollo in 2008.

He began hosting a breakfast show on XFM Manchester and also presented his own shows on television. The first lone presenting job was in Premier League Allstars Extra Time which was a live show of slightly chaotic drunken interviews with former footballers, celebrities and fans who had just finished playing 6-a-side football. Interesting and potential car crash TV!

In 2010 Jason was announced as the new presenter of The One Show. He resigned in November 2010, following allegations surrounding his private life.

Jason is currently on his second National tour which runs until the end of 2011.


Though I have seen some gorgeous photos from Mark and Willows wedding I haven’t managed to get one on line as yet. However, we were lucky enough to taste the gorgeous cakes that were made for their ‘wedding party in the park’…………

Aren’t they beautiful – they tasted bloody good too, though I am not taking anything away from our Cake Fairy or Eleanor Howell, (who made some exceptional banana bread for everyone at A1 this week). All this cake does not bode well for my dress fittings – naughty people!

This week we started the second phase of the big A1 make over. As I write this blog the builders are slaving away on a new floor and pristine walls in what was the old office. Good on them for giving up their bank holiday to get our studio looking ship shape - Bravo boys!

I am off to Estonia for my hen do this week. If I make it out of Tallinn in one piece I will fill you in on all the crazy antics in the following weeks blog.

Till then toodle pip everyone and Bon Voy-hen-do-age!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Nessa: ' What’s Occurring?'

A1 Sarah: This week’s blog Nessa.

Nessa: ‘Oh.. Tidy’

A1 Sarah: It’s gonna be a real belter.

Nessa: ‘I know..…I feels it’

Yes… we have all been re-living those Gavin and Stacey days here at A1 VOX this week.

The gorgeous Joanna Page paid us a visit and the likeness between her and Stacey is uncanny. At points I had to stop myself from asking how Nessa, Gav and Smithy were doing.

Gavin:(On the phone) Babe, where are you. You just walked off?

Stacey: I know, but there was this woman next to me in a veil, fiddling with her shoe and I thought "oh my god" terrorist.

Gavin: Oh right so your just gonna leave me here to get bombed?

Stacey: I know and I do feel bad but I was going to text you.

I’m sure Joanna wouldn’t do this to real life hubby and actor James Thornton of Emmerdale fame, so we will just say, that like her on-screen persona, Joanna is refreshingly childlike in her enthusiasm. We even got the occasional high-pitched giggle out of her.

Joanna graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1998. She appeared in From Hell, Mine All Mine, Love Actually and Miss Julie as well as several productions at the Royal National Theatre. She even starred as Mark Owen’s love interest in his music video for “Making Out”. Take That!

But it was playing the role of ditzy, yet lovable, Welsh Stacey, that propelled her into the limelight.

“I’ve always been in work but I’ve never been famous. I’ve just carried on doing my job. So, you know, suddenly to reach this age and be famous, I can’t take it seriously”

Bless her little Welsh cottons.

Joanna’s next project is for Sky1 HD in a brand new six part comedy titled Gates. It aims to explore the funnier side of school life for parents and kids alike.

Keeping Joanna company are Sue Johnston (The Royale Family) and Tom Ellis (Miranda).

Gates casts an eye on how relationships with parents formed during fifteen minutes of a school drop off and pick up can so easily take over your life. Let’s face it those gates can be an unforgiving, socially exposed, and political minefield. Sign me up to the firing squad over that any day of the week!

Joanna says:

“I’m so excited to begin filming with such a fantastic cast on Gates. As soon as I read the scripts I could completely identify with my character Helen, and I’m looking forward to the world of the school run and the games and mayhem that go with it. Tom Ellis is a hunk of a husband to be working opposite and my maternal instincts are being brought out working with my adorable daughter”

Do we hear the tiny pitter patter of feet…..could life be imitating art??? If so I hope she doesn’t invite Nessa over to help bathe the bouncing baby:

Nessa (in bath): Oh Stace, will you do my back?

Stacey: Yes

Nessa: The razor's by the sink.

So from a popular female comedy icon to one of the male variety. Enter Mr Dean Lennox Kelly of Shameless fame, (Kev Ball the Gallaghers’ barman neighbour).

Dean has been mentioned on the blog before but we have never been able to grab a piccie of him as he is always flitting here, there and everywhere. This visit he actually took offense that we didn’t have a picture of him on our wall of fame, and hadn’t asked him for one before. Tsk…actors!

So here it is. A ‘do I look devastatingly handsome in this moustache’ shot. Answer – Yes, oh be still my beating heart!

The ‘tache’ is for his latest role, in which he has to age up to 20 years.

‘My paunch sag will help – I’ll slowly release my stomach muscles during the play to show the ageing process’ quips Dean.

Dean plays warm-hearted patriarch Frank Gibbons in a Peter Hall Company revival of Noel Coward’s This Happy Breed, a portrait of the playwright’s lower-class suburban origins between the wars.

Dean feels this is his most challenging role yet, since it was originally played by none other than Noel Coward himself, both on stage and screen. A daunting prospect I would proffer!

Dean says of the play:

“It’s like the original soap – it’s a slice of life. It’s moving and witty with real depth because everything has been influenced by the First World War”

Apart from his dramatics, Dean says that family is everything to him, but he’s done so many love scenes over the years that there have been plenty of opportunities for other women to inspect the chest rug that Eugenie (his wife) nicknames ‘the Forest of Dean’.

“Since having kids, I’m a bit more concerned about taking my clothes off and being crude”.

AHHH God damn it!!!!!


Andy Stanson has run off to his second home in Crete for the school summer holidays - the lucky bugger. I received an e-mail from Andy last week telling me how much he was enjoying his extended holiday, which is often accompanied by an ice cold Mythos beer (Grrrrrrr).

However it isn’t all R and R for Mr Stanson as he has also been doing some volunteering with Archelon, a Greek conservation charity which is dedicated to preserving the endangered Loggerhead turtle.

He has been monitoring nests along the local beaches and even took part in a nest excavation one evening to help some baby turtles out to the sea which he says was fascinating and exceptionally moving. Esme, Andy’s daughter, absolutely loved it and gave them all names as they made their way down the beach. A memory she will never forget I am sure.

Charles has been gracing the airwaves on BBC Radio Oxford for the last week or so. You can catch him there until this Wednesday morning, though you will have to be an early bird to listen in as he starts at 5am and finishes at 7am! This along with A1 VOX and Radio 2 duties plus running the bus company mean Mr Nove is in somewhat of a weird funk right now. In his words:

“The bounce is definitely out of my bungee!”

He is a trooper and a first class broadcasting pro – we salute you Charles.

Lastly we would like to say a big Congrats to our very own Mark Straker and his gorgeous new wife Willow who after a successful wedding in Vienna spent this weekend with their nearest and dearest by having a party in the park. I am sure the champers was flowing and that kiddies and adults alike had a fab time – WELL DONE GUYS!


Visit Sweden is transforming Soho Square into a little piece of Swedish heaven from 24th August - 26th August.

The three-day event will feature a picnic and pop up parlour serving Fika, the Swedish equivalent to high tea. However, instead of Earl Grey, special blend Lila coffee is served accompanied by 7 different flavoured cookies.

These will be served by world-famous chocolatier and pastry chef Jan Hedh, who will be aided by a team of traditionally dressed old ladies!

All sounds pretty bonkers to me but that is the beauty of Soho – Anything Goes!

So that pretty much wraps up another week at your favourite sunny studio. Join us next week for more fun and frolics as we all look forward to the final bank holiday of the year!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Riots, looting, fire and brimstone – and that was just Charles before his morning cup of tea!

After all the drama that was unfolding outside the A1 VOX walls it was nice to be able to escape the madness and delve into the surreal world of voice over.

We had two very special guests at VOX Towers this week.

I will give you a clue to the first guest…

I'm hard yet soft, I am coloured yet clear, I am fruity and sweet, I am jelly... what am I?

Yes, the man behind the Scottish Guy character in Little Britain, Mr David Walliams, or should I say, ‘Williams’.

The funnyman had to change his name on discovering that there was already an actor of the same name in the trade union, Equity!

David is almost as well known for his incredible cross-Channel swim, which raised £1 million, as he is for co-creating and starring in Little Britain.

It was for his strong connection with Sport Relief that David found himself at A1 VOX recording an alternative speaking clock for BT, (who are one of the longest standing partners of Sport Relief).

Last year they were also the headline sponsor of The BT Sport Relief Million Pound Bike Ride.

David and the rest of his celeb fest team (Jimmy Carr, Fearne Cotton, Miranda Hart, Patrick Kielty, Davina Maccall and Russell Howard) all took part in a gruelling non-stop, four-day cycle relay from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

They raised over £1 million for Sport Relief which would see the money help transform the everyday existence of those living tough lives across the UK and the world’s poorest countries.

David says of the excruciating but worthwhile ordeal:

“It wasn’t as much as fun as I’d imagined….I had this vision of us cycling around the country, stopping off for cream teas, but that didn’t happen. We’d cycle about 30 miles at a time and I fell off three times going up Kirkstone Pass in the Lake District – I just keeled over. I’ve been in incredible pain. My tendons are sore and I’m walking a bit funny. There was a lot of chafing!!!!”

Now a star of screens both big and small, as well as a published children’s author and recipient of a Sports Personality of the Year award – it seems there’s nothing David can’t turn his hand to.

Even the ‘is he… isn’t he’ rumour mill has been quashed with his marriage to Dutch model Lara Stone last year at London’s Claridge’s hotel.

As David arrived at A1 I think we had the most people ever to grace the studio. A film crew, photographer, numerous clients and David’s personal cameraman, all clamoured to get their piece of the Walliams pie.

David was professional and polite and not at all fazed by all the comings and goings around him, even though his infamous character Andy would have seen it as ‘a bit of a kerfuffle’.

‘Computer says no’…..but luckily David said ‘yes’ and we got not one, but two, cracking photos for the A1 archives.

Britain, Britain, Britain. We've had running water for over ten years, we have a tunnel connecting us to Peru, and we invented the cat. Yeah, but No, but Yeah????

So from the character Scottish Guy to an actual Scottish guy – please step forward Mr Gregor Fisher.

Gregor is one of television’s most recognizable actors. His television career has seen him appearing in 8 series of Rab C Nesbitt, Scotch and Wry, five series of BBC 2’s Naked Video, as well as dramas such as Blood Red Roses and The Tales of Para Handy.

He is still fondly remembered as ‘The Baldy Man’ in the photo booth, having a bad hair day in the hugely successful TV advert for Hamlet cigars in the late 80’s.

Myself, Charles and Jane had a quick squizz at The Baldy Man after Gregor’s visit and the bit where the photo booth chair collapses just as the bulb goes is comic genius – so simple, and let’s face it, all of us have had some sort of nightmare in those ruddy things!

His numerous theatre credits include As You Like It, The Cherry Orchard, Juno and The Paycock and The Homecoming.

His film credits include Another Time, Another Place, 1984 (brilliant, brilliant acting!), White Mischief, Richard Curtis’s Love Actually, Merchant of Venice and most recently the long heralded remake of Lassie for Charles Sturridge.

Rab C Nesbitt however remains the main jewel in Gregor’s crown.

The string-vested Glaswegian philosopher, is the most memorable comedy character Scotland has ever produced. His countrymen celebrated him as a shambling, boozy antihero. Fisher was constantly recognized in public, although, he says drily, one of the good things about playing Rab was that a lot of people were too shy to approach him ‘in case I gave them a Glasgow kiss’.

When I told Gregor that he was the second comedy actor we had, had in that week he talked about today’s comedy and Little Britain:

“I’d better say first, in bold capital letters, that I still liked the show, but the sketches with the old woman who’s always wetting herself….that was a bit raw!”


One of A1 Vox’s longest associates, Dian Perry, was headed for her homeland, the good ole U S of A, this week when low and behold who should be there soothing any flight phobias and calming the senses?????? This is what Dian posted whilst crossing the Atlantic…Over to you Dian:

“ Listening to the 'reassuring Scottish lilt' of Charles Nove on my British Airways flight while looking at his sweet little mugshot on my screen. I particularly appreciated his back announcement of Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss - 'Don't worry, we've got you a real one'. So good!”

I couldn’t agree more Dian – Pure Radio Genius.

Many more of you on long haul BA flights should check out Charles’ monthly show – BA Easy Listening.

It’s a 90 minute A1 VOX production of music and gentle quips to ease you on your way. Groovy!

So there end’ith another A1 round up of funny men and men that soothe the soul. Next week sees the turn of the comedy female – none other than girl from the valley, Joanna Page.

Till then.. Toodle Pip all.