Monday, 3 July 2017

Dinosaurs Of China Exhibition REVIEW

Photo copyright Laura Patterson  ©
Nottingham, get ready to stampede from here all the way to October to the most jaw-dropping Jurassic-tastic prehistoric fantastic beasts show not only right here in town but ONLY right here in town!
Mamenchisaurus copyright Laura Patterson  ©
With exhibits ranging from the massive and mighty Mamenchisaurus right down to the adorable little Mei Long dinosaur that's actually small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the Dinosaurs Of China Exhibition is THE world-exclusive event of the summer. Spread over the two sites of Nottingham's Wollaton Hall and Lakeside Arts, the exhibition tells the story of how birds evolved from dinosaurs and features 26 specimens, 3D mounted skeletons, detailed replicas and original fossils.

Photo copyright Laura Patterson  ©

TV presenter, renowned naturalist and lifelong dinosaur fan Chris Packham is supporting the event. "I'm tremendously excited, there are some remarkable specimens here," he told us confidentially. "They've done such a brilliant job to get these specimens on loan. For me, it's all about transforming the way people perceive these ancient animals and I think that many people still think they were relatively unintelligent, slow-moving, cold-blooded, lizard-like things. They were none of those things, they were rapid, warm-blooded, social and feathered in many instances. This is about the science, this is about the real deal. And we've learned so much more in recent years and this is a great opportunity for the public to have their impressions updated.

Chris Packham copyright Laura Patterson  ©
"I think Wollaton Hall as a venue is fantastic, I like the mix of the old and the new, I'm a museum buff and I had an opportunity to look at their natural history collection, it's a remarkable collection of bird taxidermy and other mammals too. And this is a brilliant modern exhibit, it's got a narrative to it, it's got an overall purpose and the purpose is that you come here and from utilising the space and the specimens that have come all the way from China, you leave understanding that in fact, dinosaurs aren't extinct, they live on in the form of birds which are flying around outside."

Famous for quoting Smiths lyrics whilst presenting Springwatch on television, could Chris quote any dinosaur-relevant Smiths lyrics? "Well - of course, there would be Panic if any of these things were recreated and they were rampaging around, no doubt about that," he quips brilliantly straight away. "And downstairs in Wollaton Hall, there's no doubt that if the Sinraptor got its way, then it would be a case of Big Mouth Strikes Again. I could go on forever but I won't."

Photo copyright Laura Patterson  ©

Dr Adam Smith is the curator of the exhibition and the Nottingham Natural History Museum, and, with a lifelong interest in dinosaurs and fossils, he has even been involved in the naming of newly-discovered dinosaur species "I'm the main curator and there are two of us but it was actually Dr Wang Qi's idea to do this exhibition in the first place. He's a lecturer at Nottingham University in the architecture department and his background is in how museums use space to tell stories, so when he visited Wollaton Hall, he was surprised to find it's a Natural History Museum as well and it combines his two interests. So, five years ago, he came here and said, I've got this idea and through his connections in China, he was able to bring the Chinese dinosaurs and this is where we are now. Once the project started to get rolling, we worked together to select the objects and decided on the story we wanted to tell between us. It was quite complicated to organise but it's so rewarding to see the exhibition come together now."

Dr Adam Smith copyright Laura Patterson  ©
A concerted effort has been made to keep the entrance fee to the Wollaton Hall exhibition as affordable as possible whilst entrance to the Lakeside Arts exhibits is completely free. Family-friendly events, talks and workshops will also be taking place in conjunction with the exhibition.

The Dinosaurs Of China Ground Shakers To Feathered Flyers World Exclusive Exhibition is at Wollaton Hall and Lakeside Arts right now until 29 October 2017. Full details can be found on the official Dinosaurs of China website

And you can see lots more photos of the exhibition in glorious technicolour on our Nottingham Confidential Facebook page

Photo copyright Laura Patterson  ©
Monday, 25 May 2015

Brenton Film: The Big Noise in Silent Film!

Silent films are big business worldwide! Yup, you heard right: silent films – no words, just pictures and music. The huge critical and commercial success of The Artist (2011) and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011) served to highlight the fact that not only are they experiencing a renaissance, in many ways they never really went away. However, even in 2015, no single website catered comprehensively to the needs of fans worldwide – until now. Building the world’s biggest and best silent film website has been the dream of local boy Brent Reid for years – now he’s well on his way. Here’s how and why he got started.

How did you first get into film; what’s your earliest film memory?

Like many I was fascinated by films on television from an early age I guess at that point I was mostly interested in fantasy, action and adventure-type stuff: wizards, war films, westerns and especially anything with monsters or dinosaurs in. Then as now, the name Ray Harryhausen (stop-motion animation wizard) in the credits was always a guarantee of quality!

I basically first became aware of film-watching as a special, theatrical experience when I was old enough to take myself, from the age of around 7 or 8 (!) to one of the surviving handful of ‘proper’ original cinemas that were still operating in the city centre back then. Sadly, the only one still remaining is the Savoy on Derby Road. Use it or lose it, people!

Why is silent film still relevant today?

They’re still entertaining – very much so. I’m on a mission to demonstrate to non-believers and the as-yet-uninitiated that they’re far from being just for film buffs and beard-stroking academics – and that’s just the women! The best silents, with a quality presentation, are every bit as potent and affecting to everyone, regardless of age and background, as they were first time around.

The influence of the silent era (1890s–1930s) is absolutely everywhere too. Modern filmmakers pay homage to it constantly; there’s barely a day goes by without me coming across yet another overt silents reference in a film, TV programme, computer game, music video or, especially, friends’ kids’ cartoons. Do you like WALL-E? he’s an amalgamation of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, two of the silver screen’s greatest-ever comedians, and the film itself is a quasi-silent one. Heard of Metropolis (1927)? If not, maybe you’ve heard of Star Wars, because that’s where C-3PO was born. So too was the dystopian vision of Gotham City in every Batman outing since 1989. (Speaking of which, Batman himself was based on silent film action hero Douglas Fairbanks, as was Superman!) How about Lord of the Rings? Yup: Metropolis is in there again. The list goes on and on. And on. That’s just one film – most people are already silent film fans and don’t even know it yet!

Additionally, much of the style and glamour of the silent era remain resolutely at the cutting edge of fashion and design and show no sign of ever fading.

One last crucial example of the silent era's ongoing relevance: incredibly, women in the film industry have never since enjoyed such wide-ranging power and autonomy as they did back then. They frequently rose to the top as some of the most highly-paid actors, directors and producers of the day. What's more, around 50% of all films made before 1925 were written by women; now it's around 10%. So much for progress... We seriously need to catch up again!

What first inspired you to start the website?

Easy: no-one else was doing it and I was fed up of waiting! I saw what was lacking online from the start and countless other silents fans I’ve met at screenings and film festivals, both at home and abroad, agreed it was a great idea. However, after unsuccessfully spending over a decade trying to cajole other, more tech-savvy folk to start such a site, it was clear that no-one actually wanted to take on such a huge task Eventually I took a deep breath and one year ago jumped into the heady world of social media to start heralding the site’s arrival, whilst simultaneously working on it. Finally, I just recently launched the site and got an immediate, great response. Tens of thousands of visitors already – and this is just the start!

How is Brenton Film different to other film sites?

That would require a whole article in itself, but fundamentally, I’m, trying to amalgamate and build on the existing global silent film community. Though in the real world it’s a thriving and healthy one, online it’s extremely fragmented, with a greatly diminished reach as a result. There are many smaller sites and blogs that do some parts of what I’m doing, but no single site is doing all of it. In addition to that, mine has several features that are unique, at least in the world of silent film. Chief amongst these is the Worldwide Events Calendar, the first of its kind I aim to get every relevant happening on there eventually. There are hundreds of them, on every continent, scheduled at any one time and it would be impossible for one person to keep track of them all. Therefore the calendar is a special interactive one that allows promoters and fans to upload dates themselves. I've got BuddyPress on there which is a sophisticated social networking facility. There are also features that people are more familiar with: chat forums, articles, news, reviews, prize giveaways, etc.

Brenton Film, including its calendar and forums, is built using WordPress so the entire site is completely integrated. Amongst other things this means that once you’ve signed in, using your own password or a social media account, you have the ability to create your own profile and post anywhere onsite, including leaving article comments, etc. I’m not claiming this to be unique but it must be a bit of a rarity, because I haven’t come across it anywhere else yet!

All of this is also promoted with targeted advertising and a large and very active social media presence, which are things that much of the silent film world in particular has been slow to adopt. I guess 'community' and 'interactivity' are my watchwords. I may have built the site but it really is intended for everyone to use and actively participate in.

How can people in Nottingham get involved?

Easy: use the site! Sign in, leave comments and post in the forums. If you know a lot about silents, share your knowledge; if you don’t know much yet, ask questions! Guest articles are always welcome: click here to contribute

Eventually I’d love to bring a proper silent screening – or even series of screenings – back to Nottingham. Somewhere a little out of the ordinary would be cool, like inside either Wollaton Hall or St Mary's in the Lace Market.

Any there any other Nottingham connections?

Well, Alma Reville, or Mrs Alfred Hitchcock, as she was otherwise known, was from St Ann’s! As any true Hitch fan will know, she was well-established in the film industry before they met. Afterwards, she continued to be instrumental in the filmmaking process and was almost as much a part of all his films, including his silent ones, as he was himself. There are many other luminaries of the early British film industry that were born and brought up in Nottingham, amongst them Jackeydawra Melford (her actual, real name!), Holmes Herbert, Billy Merson, Norman Page and Sebastian Smith.

You want more? The history of film exhibition in Nottingham is as old as film itself, with the first public screenings occurring from 1896 onwards, just a few months after the Lumière brothers débuted projected motion pictures in Paris. Far more recently, the British Silent Film Festival, one of the finest such events anywhere and my first real induction into this wonderful world, had its home at the Broadway cinema for a decade. Since sadly having to depart in 2009 it’s become a nomadic one; this year it’s being held in September at Leicester’s Phoenix Cinema. Make the trip: you'll meet lots of lovely folk, have your filmic horizons broadened inordinately and might just become addicted too!

What’s your favourite cinema in Nottingham?

Why, the Savoy Cinema, of course. The last remaining bastion of my childhood cinematic dreams, I absolutely love it there. I’ll even tell you my favourite seat: Screen 1, front row centre, right of the aisle – my happy place! Note that this grand old lady celebrates her 80th birthday this November; I’ll see you at the party!

Brenton Film: The past, present and future of silent film

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


Photo by Marcel van Hoorn

The musically undisputed and crowned 'King of Waltz' André Rieu will be performing at Nottingham's Capital FM Arena on December 10th. Wowing audiences into sing and dance-along participation since 1987 with his Johann Strauss Orchestra with up to 60 musicians and with album sales of more than 40 million worldwide, he talks about his new album, romance and falling in love with his first violin teacher.

You will be returning to the UK in December for the fourth time. What can audiences expect from your new show?

We are going to play a completely new program with new music.  Preparing a new show, choosing a new program is a great joy for me. The tour is called “Love in Venice” like the new album and we will try to bring the beauty, passion and warmth of Italy to the UK. So we will play some well-known melodies from Italy but also waltzes, music from film, opera and operetta. The Berlin Comedian Harmonists will join us with English songs and we have lots of international soloists from all over the world! The evening will end again with a big party. I hope you will come, dance, sing and clap along with us.

In your concerts, people are known to get up and dance or sing along with you. How would you explain this passion?

I think it’s a mix. Every night, we play with our hearts and I choose the program very carefully. A song has to touch my heart and then I know it will touch yours, too. When I am on stage I try to communicate with the audience and to involve them. I make jokes, I invite them to dance. I see myself not only as a violinist, but also as a conductor and entertainer. Classical music is so beautiful and can be so entertaining. And of course my orchestra is so joyful. We laugh a lot. They wear beautiful dresses. And it’s true, yes, the atmosphere is completely different from a typical “stiff” classical concert.

Do you have any favourite cities in the UK to play?

That’s such a difficult question! It’s like asking which one of your children is your favourite. I travel a lot around the world, but unfortunately the only places that I see are the airport, the hotel and the hall where we play. I rarely have time to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere because I keep to a very strict routine on days of performances. So I experience a city through its audience -  and all of the UK audience is fantastic. That’s why we play twelve concerts this year. We just wouldn't know which city to miss. It’s wonderful to return.

What makes the British audiences special?

The British audience is very special because they have their heart open right from the start. They are “there”. It’s fantastic for any artist to play in the UK. In Japan they sit very quiet and polite and listen and then during the encores they explode.  But in the UK I can feel the energy from the audience the moment I step out on stage.

How do you spend your time when you are not on the road?

I work a lot. I practice the violin several hours every day, I rehearse with the orchestra, prepare the next album, that means I'm always looking for new repertoire, I compose together with Frank Steijns, I work a lot in the studio, assisting to the editing of TV specials and DVDs. And beside all these musical things I'm an entrepreneur so there is always a lot to do in business too. In my free time I do a lot of sports, I cook and of course love to spend time with my family.

Your new album, “Love in Venice” is a collection of the most beautiful and romantic Italian music, like O sole mio, Mama, Volare, That’s Amore and many more. Next year you will be married for 40 years. What was the most romantic thing you’ve ever done for your wife?

My wife is the most important person in my life. Without her I would be in the gutter. I was deeply touched when she wrote my biography some years ago, “My music, my life”. I gave her a necklace with a little golden book as a gift in which both our names are engraved. She thought that was VERY romantic! And during the summer we love to sit at the Maas river together and watch a pair of swans that lives there.

Have you every composed a song for her?

There are three songs on “Love in Venice” that are all dedicated to this beautiful city: Bella Tarantella, La Gondola and Love in Venice, the title song, which I wrote for her, yes. We both adore Italy and go there once a year on a private vacation. It’s the most romantic place I know.

Your nickname is “The King of the Waltz”…

…haha, yes! Although there’s only ONE true King of the waltz and that is Johann Strauss.

But where did the waltz come from and how come it is so special?

I am not a musicologist, but here’s the story in short: The waltz got famous in the second half of the 19th century and came from the minuet. The minuet was danced far from each other, very distanced – so when the waltz came up it was shocking. To hold a woman in your arms and turning her around so that she would get out of breath was a scandal. Fortunately for England, Queen Victoria loved to
waltz, she could go on and on. The Strauss family were the pop stars of their time.

Why did you choose the waltz as your signature  tune?

My father was a conductor and we always used to go and see his concerts. One night, after playing Beethoven and Mahler, he conducted “By the Beautiful Blue Danube” as an encore. It was magical. I saw people smiling the whole atmosphere changed. I realized how powerful this music is. In a good waltz you always find joy and melancholy, love and sadness. It’s a mirror of life – and I see that every night before me, when the audience gets up and dance.

…and you play a Stradivarius, correct?

Yes, it’s a Stradivarius from 1732 and was built in Italy. It is one of the last instruments Stradivarius himself built. I used to play one from 1667, which was one of his first, but it was too small for me, so I gave it to a young girl from Korea. His instruments vary in size, the earlier ones are smaller than the later ones. I love this instrument; it reminds me of the opera singer Maria Callas – very warm and passionate.

What kind of music do you listen to in your free time?

Ohh, I would love to surprise you, but, alas, like many musicians I am so much surrounded by music every day that I do not listen to music in my free time. Unless I am prepare a new album. So I spent a lot of time listening to Italian music recently to choose pieces for “Love in Venice”.

Could you name one or two major influences in your life, and why were they important?

That’s easy! The most important influence is my wife. We've been married for 39 years now.  I always dreamed about finding someone I could share my private and business life with. When I was young, she introduced me to a lot of wonderful music – operetta, pop music, musicals, music from the twenties and thirties, which we both adore. I was not familiar with that kind of music. As a child all I ever heard at home was Bach, Bartok, Beethoven – which was great, of course but Marjorie opened a whole new world for me. The other major influence was my first violin teacher. A blond beautiful 18-year old girl. I was five years old and immediately fell in love with her. So I practiced a lot to impress her!

You've said you would like to perform someday at the North Pole, and on the moon - what are some of the other things you have on your Bucket List, both professionally and personally?

Haha, yes, but I think my wife would stop me from doing that! She keeps my feet on the ground. Honestly, I’d just be happy to be able to go on like this for as long as possible. I hope live up to 120 years. Personally I want my family, my sons and grandchildren to be happy.

André Rieu will be at Capital FM Arena Nottingham on Wednesday 10 December 2014. For tickets or more information visit or call 0843 373 3000.

riday, 16 August 2013

INTERVIEW Alastair Campbell Confidential

Photo courtesy of The Random House Group
With high-profile careers in journalism and politics punctuated by personal battles with alcoholism and depression, Alastair Campbell is now making a name for himself as an issue-led novelist writing books based on his experiences. He spoke to Nottingham Confidential about his latest novel about a teenage alcoholic, his upcoming talk at Nottingham Playhouse and how he feels about TV character Malcolm Tucker being based on him.

Whilst his debut novel All in the Mind was based primarily on the theme of depression, Alastair Campbell's latest book My Name Is... revolves around an intricately-formed and vividly disturbing story about a teenage girl's heart-rending descent into alcoholism.The novel follows an imaginative and original structure with each chapter voiced by a different character in the girl's life, most of whom are women, and who are written in a convincing emotionally-charged style.

"With the novel, I didn't want to preach, I wanted to tell a story. I think the story is real and I think people will identify with it, even though she's a teenager and that's very young to have a drink problem. The first time I ever had a doctor warn me that I was drinking too much I was 17 and she said, you know, I think you need to be careful because it could escalate into a problem - and it did. Of course I got through university fine, I got through my journalistic career fine and it wasn't till I had a breakdown that I realised I had to do something about it. I wonder if that's why I've written it as a teenager - the whole thing about the creative process is so weird, you just don't know where these characters come from.

"I think of alcohol in terms of a relationship. The book tells the story from when the main character, Hannah, was born and it charts her relationship with her family and friends but the thing that's driving her on is her relationship with alcohol." One of the most shocking passages in the book sees Hannah describe her worst drinking session, a "24-carat, full-on bender" in which she lists a jaw-dropping, mind-numbing, seemingly inexhaustible binge of chasers, pints, cans, shots, bottles of wine, cider and champagne - plus mini-bar. "That is quite autobiographical, that sense of, you set out with the best of intentions, you have one and then another and suddenly there's a spiral and before you know you're completely out of control. One of the people I've dedicated the book to is somebody who picked me off the floor of the buffet at Peterborough railway station when I was a student and I hadn't got a clue how I got there."

Known probably most famously for his role as Director of Communications and Strategy for Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister, does he feel politicians should be doing more about the drink culture? "Definitely and I never really understood why we did the whole changing of the licensing laws. People called it 24 hour drinking, it's not 24 hour drinking, but we did relax the licensing laws and I never quite bought the idea that Britain was going to end up like Spain and Italy where people sat around drinking coffee and maybe having the odd glass of wine. I think we are a drinking culture but I think it's got worse. If you go into any A&E not just at the weekend, any night of the week, you're basically seeing people who have drink problems, and what happens is they get patched up and get put out again. And if you think about an individual drink problem, it only stops being a problem potentially when you admit it is a problem and I think as a country we have to take the same approach, we do have a problem. The book isn't a political tract but I am going to go to the party conferences and talk about it because Cameron said he was going to do the minimum unit pricing and he backed out of it."

But can he see Britain's entrenched drinking culture ever actually changing? "Well it's interesting, if you look at smoking, back when I was a journalist in the Daily Mirror newsroom in a fog of tobacco, if you'd have said then, can you imaging this ever changing, we'd have said no, because this is part of the culture. And look at it now, it's totally changed. When the Irish government were the first to bring in the smoking ban in pubs, I can remember thinking bloody hell, this is a bit of a risk! But actually, we ended up doing the same. So if you look at France who are now banning alcohol advertising at sports venues, the total ban on alcohol advertising in Norway, Russia's ban on all alcohol advertising on TV, radio, internet and public transport and Ireland is reviewing whether to ban sports sponsorship, as other countries do it, I think we maybe will do it. But I think one of the reasons behind writing the novel is trying to answer that question, I think we have to start thinking about why we do have such a drinking culture. I don't know the answer, I don't know if it's because we're unhappy, because of the climate, whether it's the power of marketing, I just don't know. Everybody's doing it and I always feel that Britain is a very, very hard country not to drink in. You're abnormal if you don't drink as opposed to being abnormal if you do."

Nottingham Playhouse will be hosting An Evening With Alastair Campbell on September 7, so what can we expect to hear him talking about at the event?" I'd like to talk about the book, I'd like to talk about the issue and then throw it open to the public and talk about anything at all. I'm not primarily known as a writer, I'm known because of politics and all the rest of it and I'm perfectly happy to talk about that but I really do want to talk about this book, it's an important story to tell."

And does he know Nottingham at all? "I do, I know Nottingham because I've been to a few test matches at Trent Bridge, I've been to a lot of Burnley football matches, both at the City Ground and Meadow Lane, my mum doesn't live that far away, she lives over in Retford, so I know it reasonably well, and the other connection is Nigel Doughty the Forest owner who sadly died last year, was a very good friend of mine."

And finally, it has been said that the TV character, legendary swear-meister Malcolm Tucker from The Thick Of It, is loosely based on him. Is that something that's OK with him? "Yeah!" he laughs. "Absolutely fine. Although it's really funny, my mum reads all my books she really hates the fact that I'm swearing in this book, but I think the Malcolm Tucker thing's fine, especially now he's Doctor Who. I can't pretend to know much about Doctor Who but I do think he's a great actor. I think the Malcolm Tucker character is brilliant and I don't have a problem with that at all."

An Evening With Alastair Campbell is at Nottingham Playhouse Saturday September 7 2013. Tickets priced £15 can be booked here

My Name Is... by Alastair Campbell published by The Random House Group is available to pre-order for 12 September 2013 here

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Peter Pan Panto Launch At Nottingham Theatre Royal

Photo © Nottingham Confidential
Ahoy me Nottingham hearties! 'Twas with a merry swash and a buckle that local heroine Su Pollard, Blue Peter presenter Barney Harwood and a cardboard cut-out of David 'The Hoff' Hasselhoff did launch the Peter Pan Panto at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham exactly six months before Christmas Day, arrrrrrr!

Whilst The Hoff sent his hilarious apologies and panto greetings via a video link from his home in LA, Nottingham's favourite daughter and home-town legend, the super-duper superstar Su Pollard shimmered into view as Mimi the Magical Mermaid, a vision in matching sparkling blue dress, hair and lipstick whilst CBBC's Barney Harwood wisecracked through proceedings as a naughtily impish Peter Pan.

"Oooh, it's always wonderful to be back in Nottingham," Sue told us confidentially. "You never forget where you've been brought up and where you've been given a chance in life, do you? And the lovely thing is, I've also been sent an honorary ticket for life member at Nottingham Arts Theatre where I trained! I was so lucky to join that, I learned a lot from there darling, I was there about fourteen years, yes, man and boy! So I'm thrilled!

"And here in the Theatre Royal I've had a seat named after me! It's J17, I was so thrilled, they surprised me and I said, I'll love that! They said they'd call it Su Pollard's Nottingham Seat but I said ooh no, that's too poncey, we won't have that, let's call it the Queen Of The Midlands! And that meant as much to me as meeting the Queen, dear! And whoever sits in it when they come and watch the panto , I'll throw marshmallows at you!

"Can you imagine dear, David Hasselhoff! I think it'll be great, he's popular with everybody and you know what, I like that he sends himself up, he's able to joke about himself and the girls all love him and the ladies will probably swoon! I think it'll be fabulous."

Photo © Nottingham Confidential

"I did a little dance when I heard about David Hasselhoff," said Barney Harwood "I haven't told anyone that, but I did a little boogie. He's been on TV since I was a kid, 1982-1986 was Knight Rider, you see how I'm a geek, I know all the dates. He drove the coolest car in the world, he had all the coolest gadgets and I used to pretend to be David Hasselhoff as a kid, I used to run round the streets talking to my watch. And now he's going to be the bad guy in this and I've got to scrap with him with a sword. He's a genuine bona fide hero of mine and I can't wait to meet him.

"This is my first panto in Nottingham and I'm going to be here about six and a half weeks, so I'll need plenty of tips on chippies and good places to eat and and I'm bringing my camera as I like taking photographs so I need good places to take some nice shots!"

So whilst Nottingham buzzes with excitement at possibly one of the most fabulous panto line-ups EVER, what more could we want- but to be told possibly some of the best secrets we've heard confidentially EVER. "I think the secret I can tell you is when I'm on stage, even though you can see the regular Peter Pan costume, there's another costume underneath..." said Barney Harwood. " It's for a specific reason and even though what I'm about to tell you sounds weird and probably not quite right, I have to do it. When I'm Peter Pan, I wear incontinence pants. Now listen, the harness digs into certain areas and the only way to protect those areas when you're flying is to wear those pants so that's my secret and do NOT tell anybody!"

And you can watch Su Pollard's secret confidentially in the video clip below!

You can also see our photo album of the launch in glorious technicolor on our Facebook page here

Peter Pan is at Nottingham Theatre Royal from December 7th 2013 to January 12th 2014. Full details can be found on the Theatre Royal website here

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Music Week Award Nomination For Anton Lockwood From Nottingham's DHP Group

With a Live Music Business Award for National Promoter of the Year already in the bag last year for Nottingham's DHP Group, promotions director Anton Lockwood has now also been nominated for Live Promoter (Individual) in the highly respected Music Week Awards taking place at The Brewery in London on April 11. He spoke to Nottingham Confidential about nominations, the city's burgeoning music scene and how Rock City initially brought him to Nottingham.

Together with running Rock City, Rescue Rooms, Stealth, Black Cherry Lounge and The Bodega in the city as well as Thekla in Bristol, Nottingham's DHP Group oversees 1200 gigs and nine festivals a year nationally, working with artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Flaming Lips and Ed Sheeran, whilst also now managing Nottingham band Dog Is Dead. "It was brilliant to win the Live Music Business Award, absolutely amazing," says Anton, "and this one's nice too because Music Week is the whole music industry, not just the live sector, it's a wider scope of people." All these award nominations are now coming! "I suppose it reflects that we've got to a certain level now where we're being really taken seriously and we're making an impact, in London especially, but all over the country."

The Music Exchange record shop in Stoney Street in Nottingham has also been nominated for a Music Week award in the Independent Retailer category. "It's great, because post-Selectadisc there was a bit of 'what are we going to do, it's the end of the music scene in Nottingham!' So it's great to see people come through there, doing really well and it's brilliant to see those guys getting somewhere. And Joey, the manager of The Music Exchange, is a really good friend of mine, I used to manage a band called Punish The Atom and he was the lead singer so I know him very well!" Two music award nominations is also great news for Nottingham. "Things seem to be really coming together for Nottingham at the moment, with that Jake fella doing all right for himself and we manage Dog Is Dead who are doing really well and there's another whole wave of people who are coming through, whether it's Harleighblu, Ady Suleiman, Indiana and many more."

What's caused this recent Nottingham music explosion? "It's just getting momentum, once you get a few things together the council starts taking notice and supporting things, and we try to put Nottingham acts on at Splendour festival, last year Jake Bugg opened the main stage, he was in the courtyard the year before and this year with him headlining we'll also have some more of the latest new people. Then there was the Guardian article and all these things conspire to mean people are taking notice and the artists think, I'm not just stuck in a box, I actually can get somewhere, I can be ambitious, they can see a future and think yeah, it's worth the effort."

Are you from Nottingham? "I'm from South Yorkshire, from Mexborough. I came to University in 1984 and this is absolutely completely true, I had good offers and it was down to Manchester or Nottingham, and I saw Echo and the Bunneymen were playing two nights at Rock City and Rock City was pretty unique as there weren't many proper dedicated music venues where bands would play that weren't municipal concert halls or bingo halls, so I thought yeah, I want to go there. I came to Nottingham and spent fourteen years working for Boots- my background is in IT- and I started putting on gigs as a hobby, basically. And then eventually Boots had a restructuring, I got made redundant and at about the same time I got offered to come and do what became Rescue Rooms, so I started from there and have been working for DHP for just over ten years."

With a recently opened London office, their successful Dollop dance music brand and their Alt-Tickets ticketing operation ticking over nicely along with everything else, are there any more future plans in store for DHP Group? "Will we do more festivals, maybe, will we look at more outdoor events, definitely, we really want to keep growing and getting bigger and better tours and also growing the dance music as we have a really strong brand in Dollop. We're also expanding the venues, fingers crossed, we'll have more news soon on that in the next few weeks. Dog Is Dead is doing very well so band management is something else we'll be looking for, if we see the right thing, we'll support that. We like to think we're big enough to deliver but small enough to be personal and a bit more rock n roll and with everything that's now happening with the music scene in Nottingham, we need to work together and we're trying to take our message around the country."

The Music Week Awards 2013 take place at The Brewery in London on April 11. A full list of all the awards finalists can be found on the Music Week website here

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Rob Ne'Kros, Expect The Unforgettable

Photo by Eva-Maria Nagy Photography
This week, Nottingham Confidential was treated to its very own private magic show by Nottingham close-up illusionist extraordinaire Rob Ne'Kros as we spent an afternoon dodging magically flying colouring pencils and being wowed by angelic card tricks at Nottingham Contemporary whilst trying to figure out just exactly how he does it...

Born in Eastwood and now living in Hockley for the last four years, Rob first became interested in magic at the tender age of three when he was given a Paul Daniel's magic set for Christmas and he later professionally carved out his Nottingham magician's patch by approaching punters in local bars and clubs and performing his illusions and hypnotism skills. "I had to learn to take the knock-backs and it was hard, but the only way was to get out there and do it. It was like an apprenticeship of life. But I have a great community now and living where I am now in Hockley in the centre of town is great, because whenever I have an idea I can go and try it straightaway.

"I get my ideas from all sorts of things and I like to jot them down in my notebook, sometimes writing in code. I'm currently working on an idea of how to make Rorschah ink-blot tests come to life," says Rob, idly drawing a doodle of a twenty pound note with a (very appropriate) magic marker which he then actually used to pay for all our drinks, receiving real change, all by the power of his cheeky mind-bending tricks (hmm, we'd love to be able to do THAT one) and then proceeding to lead us on a bit of a magical mystery tour to a charity shop in Hockley where he 'stopped time' freezing customers in mid-shop.

"The reason magicians become magicians is because they want to prove something. But now I genuinely enjoy it. If someone was to hire a magician, I would highly recommend they look at what they've been doing, there are different kinds, I like to make sure it's not about me, it's about them."

Currently devising a new show involving close-up magic on stage which will take place somewhere in Nottingham later this year, what we don't see at first sight we actually witness the whole time, so make sure you keep your eyes on this one.

You can find out more about Rob Ne'Kros on his website

Monday, 21 November 2011

Ryan Roxie Interview: Secrets, Guitars And What It's Really Like Working With Alice Cooper

Ryan Roxie photo @ Nottingham Confidential
Rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Ryan Roxie is the founding member of Roxie 77 and has played with Alice Cooper, Slash and Gilby Clarke of Guns N' Roses. He spoke to Nottingham Confidential ahead of his solo acoustic gig at The Old Angel in Nottingham.

"This is the first time I've been to Nottingham under these circumstances, just me and a guitar and my solo stuff. I've been here before with Alice (Cooper) I know we've played Nottingham, I've seen it on the itinerary!
The tour I'm doing now, it couldn't have been done without the help of friends and fans from my previous bands, whether it was Alice or Roxie 77, I had some really great guys who stepped up and helped make these dates possible for this tour after the sponsor pulled out of another tour I was doing. I work with Gibson guitars as my 'normal' gig and do clinics all round, but in order to do the tour I had to take some time off so this was the first time I was booked to play in England for five years so I thought, I've got to come here, there's no way I'm not coming!. We're going to come and a do another set of gigs again really soon, hopefully in the next couple of months or so and next time we'll try and come with big electric guitars because much as I love talking and being intimate with an acoustic guitar, there's something about an electric guitar that I'm just more comfortable with.

Ryan Roxie photo @ Nottingham Confidential 
"My set is a collection of everything I've done and have been influenced by over the years. I got my influences from the 'real guys', there's a lot of bands who are influenced by newer bands, who were influenced by older bands. I was influenced by The Beatles, that was my ultimate favourite band from day one and then another band named Cheap Trick and through that I have these power-pop, melodic roots, but there's something about that electirc guitar, that loud guitar, playing big chords, it allured me and so I have always tried to blend those two together. And it's quite conicidental that Alice Cooper who I played with does the same thing, he blends very pop melodies with heavy guitars, which is what I'd been trying to do my whole life anyway so it was a great fit for me and Alice to play together for as many years as we did.

"I always said Alice Cooper was pretty much the best boss you could ever have, seriously! A long, black- haired rock & roller as your boss is not a bad thing. He taught me so much, not just about music, but about the music business and to be honest with you, to this day, the lessons that I learned from playing with him and the things that I see him doing business wise, from being a radio show host and doing all the things he does with his charity work, I really tried to emulate all those things, like Splitting the Profits- half of the money from downloads from Roxie 77 goes to charity. So all of this was influenced by how Alice used music as a foundation, but also how he always branched off into other facets, very cool and inspiring."

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

How Best-Selling Nottingham Author Adrian Dawson Met His Nottingham Publisher Last Passage

It's a story about high-tech thrillers, perseverance, serendipity and above all, the power of Nottingham. Adrian Dawson, best-selling author of Codex and Sequence, told Nottingham Confidential how it all happened.

When I wrote my first book Codex I was living in Leeds but not long after I met my girlfriend Jo who was from Nottingham and I moved down here to be with Jo and I've been in Nottingham for about seven years now. When I first wrote Codex I sent a copy to Patrick Walsh from Christopher Little Literary Agency and they snapped it up on the spot and then it turned out they were J K Rowling's agent, pretty much the largest agent in the UK, I didn't know that, but obviously when I got down there and I realised who they represented I was a bit taken aback! I had meetings with Patrick that intrinsically were saying, "you are going to be the next big thing, your book is going to be huge and fantastic" and for a couple of years, they tried in vain to sell it to publishers. Because it was 1999 and there is an artificial intelligence computer in Codex, I got comments such as "it's a bit millennial" because at that time, everyone was talking about computers and what was going to go wrong. Then in 2002 Dan Brown came along with Angels and Demons and everyone said "it's a bit Dan Brown". So the agency, with all respect to them, all but gave up. They tried everybody and everybody rejected it. So I spent another year trying to find another agent unsuccessfully- no one was interested. I had a fairly successful day job as the creative director of an advertising agency so I carried on doing that for the next 8 or 9 years.

Then I was at a party and though a friend of a friend of a friend I met Last Passage who were looking to set up in Nottingham with some money to put into developing a publishing business using the latest technology. It was very serendipitous! I do genuinely remember the roll of the eyes when I said oh, I've written a couple of books. Because in that time, in my spare time, I'd all but completed Sequence as well. I was still writing, I hadn't given up. So I told Last Passage the full story of the book and Last Passage were looking to put some money behind a new author in the modern realm and that's how we found each other.

It was Last Passage's desire and intent to launch the book in print as all publishers do, but it's very expensive so they developed a business model to launch it digitally, which anyone can do, it's fairly easy, but to also put behind that a strong advertising and PR campaign and try and spread the word to compete with the approximately 10,000 new titles which come out every year. If the book was well received and sold it would go into print with Last Passage paying the author's percentage, with their percentage going into launching the book into print. What nobody expected, least of all myself, is that we launched it digitally and within a week the Apple iBookstore had it as their featured book, Amazon featured it in various emails and it sold and sold and sold. And in six months it had became the number one best selling thriller in the UK iBookstore beating everyone.

I cannot deny I felt vindicated! I believed I had a strong book and I believed it had a marketplace. From June to December it grew and grew and the real kicker came at the end of 2010, in the mysteries and thrillers section, a short story by Peter James was at number one, my book was at number two and was therefore the number one selling full-length thriller. And behind me was Michael Connelly, other Peter James books and Lee Childs.

With everything to do with Nottingham, my life changed. I had been a workaholic, single, running an ad agency, trying to write novels in my spare time, rushing round, I had no real life. Then I met my partner and the decision was made for me to move from Leeds to Nottingham and from the minute I did that, I got a life, I got a loving girlfriend, loving stepson and coupled with all that, all the success from writing. Nottingham is now my life. And I must also give credit to Nottingham Waterstone's because when we first released Codex in print, they gave me so much support, they are absolutely brilliant. Waterstone's will do whatever they can to publicise local authors and I was fairly nervous about doing signings but they put me so at ease, it was wonderful. they make you feel like a king. Although I would have been happy with the ebook succes, I dreamed as an author of having my book in print so it's an absolute honour to fit in places like Waterstone's and independent book shops and see people buy my books. Books to me is paper.

I watch a  film every day and my writing is unbeliveably influenced by film. In Codex it's no secret that the Afro-American world-weary FBI agent is based on Morgan Freeman and Robin Williams is the main character. I'd be absolutely over the moon if my books were turned into films and they were actually cast. Two film companies are currently looking at Sequence but I'm trying not to get too excited!. But if Hollywood comes knocking and gives me a million, I won't move abroad, I love Nottingham and I'm staying here.

Last Passage are currently running a competition in conjunction with Adrian Dawson's new novel Sequence. Following clues using techniques outlined in the book you can work out the location of an object hidden somewhere in the world. If you guess the location correctly your name goes into a draw for an iPod Nano with a hyper-cool Lunatik Watch strap. But if you actually travel to the location, there is a object hidden there, a genuine antique worth a lot of money! Full details are available on Adrian Dawson's website
You can find out more about Last Passage at

Monday, 26 September 2011

Isy Suttie Interview- Nottingham Skateboarders, Victoria Wood And Bogeys

She's best known as Dobby from Peep Show on the telly, she's a story-telling, songwriting stand-up and she's coming to Nottingham this Saturday. Isy Suttie spoke to Nottingham Confidential ahead of her appearance this weekend at the Nottingham Comedy Festival.

I grew up in Matlock and we used to go to Nottingham quite a lot, that's where the best shops were really. Going to Nottingham was quite a big deal because it took like an hour and it was really exciting and we used to go and watch all the skateboarders in the Market Square and hang around with them because we thought they were really cool and stuff. I used to really want to be a skater boy and I went to Nottingham and bought the deck of a skateboard- the board bit, without wheels- and I never bought the wheels, I was just carrying around the deck on my shoulder around Matlock, trying to look cool but everyone thought I looked stupid, I'm sure. So I do know Nottingham quite well, I like the tram system, that wasn't around when I was younger, good place Nottingham. You always want what you haven't got so although Matlock is really beautiful it was also quite boring because there wasn't a cinema and there wasn't a lot going on then so it was so great to go somewhere where we could buy clothes and watch films.

I'd always written songs and they turned into funny songs when I was at school. I didn't know I would end up doing stand-up, I always wanted to write and act and when I graduated from acting school I started going to watch a lot of comedy because I lived near a comedy club and then I just thought I'd try it and I loved it. It's quite hard when you start because you have to gig five or six nights a week to learn anything, but I think it was the music more than anything else, the fact that I had these funny songs that got me into stand-up comedy, though I didn't do the songs at first, I didn't want to rely on the guitar so I made myself talk.

It's strange and nice and a massive compliment to be compared to Victoria Wood but I know virtually nothing of her work. She's obviously fantastic, but I was sort of avoiding her work when the comparisons started because I want to carve my own furrow as anyone does. The people who I loved when I was growing up were Chris Morris with The Day Today, Alan Partridge and I really loved an Australian sitcom called Let The Blood Run Free and Mr Bean when I was a kid, I loved the slapstick which isn't something that I do on stage at all but it's the sort of thing I find funny, the misunderstandings.  

Confidentially, my secret for Nottingham Confidential is that when I was a kid I had like a bogey mountain under my bed which was made up of loads of bogeys that I just used to put under the bed and it developed its own eco-system, it was disgusting with all these insects running around in it that were translucent and then my mum hoovered it up. That's one hundred per cent true.

Isy Suttie will be appearing at Bunkers Hill in Nottingham on October 1st courtesy of Magners Funhouse Comedy and tickets are £7. You can read more about the Nottingham Comedy Festival in our earlier article There's Something Funny HAppening In NottingHAm

Saturday, 3 September 2011

CITIZEN NOTTINGHAM The Lord Mayor Of Nottingham Councillor Michael Wildgust

My Nottingham Day

The Lord Mayor Of Nottingham Councillor Michael
Wildgust by Gary Hope Photography
I wake up between five o'clock and a quarter past five every morning. I get up, take the dog for a walk, come back and have a drink of tea and Carol, my wife, will have one if she's up too. The dog will lie at the side of us on the floor whilst we have our tea and we have a little bit of a chat about what's going to happen today and we'll probably have a little bit of toast. I don't always have breakfast, it all depends how I feel and Carol is just the same. At half past seven the paper shop opens so I will fetch the papers for myself and I also bring the papers for five other people who are senior citizens and can't get about so that's not a problem for me, I get them a paper in the morning and push it through their letterbox and that's one of my good deeds of the day. And then I will always look to see what I am doing for the day. I do have a preview the previous night to see what I am doing, but I don't look days ahead, I take it day by day.

Then my day will start, I will go into the bathroom, have a shave, do the normal things, wash my teeth, shower and get my clothes ready and put my gown on. While I'm having a shower Carol will make another drink because I love tea, and then we'll take if from there. The chauffeur picks me up at 10 o'clock and he is always punctual, you can set your watch by him, to the second he is! And he'll drive me to my first engagement. Being Lord Mayor is very, very interesting, something that I am proud of, and I'm proud of the people of Nottingham, I'm a fanatic of our city,  I think Nottingham has something that suits everyone from teenagers up to senior citizens. I was born in Nottingham in 1943 and I've lived here all my life and I've always said that I would never, ever leave Nottingham as it's very dear to my heart. Wherever I go I always mention Nottingham and people who come and visit think it's a fantastic city and they always mention how friendly the people are and how generous they are and they always talk about the local expression 'are you all right me duck?'. We have buildings and architects in our Nottingham city centre that are out of this world and I always say to people who visit the city to have a look at them, if you go around the Lace Market it's unbelievable the buildings that we've got.

We have fifty-five councillors, at the present time we have fifty Labour councillors, five Conservative councillors and no Liberal councillors. So out of the 55 the main majority is the Labour party who will run the council. They elect the Mayor every year, who has to be proposed and seconded. This year I was proposed by the leader Jon Collins and seconded by Graham Chapman, the deputy leader. Also it goes to a vote, the group pass it, then it goes to full council, which is on the second Monday of every month barring August because of holiday time, they then have a vote on who the Lord Mayor will be and also who the Sheriff will be. And I was fortunate this time that I got the vote to be the Lord Mayor, and that's how the Lord Mayor is elected in our city.

So from my first engagement of the day possibly we'll go to another one. Sometimes there are a few hours spare, if there are I will go home, get unchanged again, have a drink, take the dog out and then we'll have a bit of something to eat and ready to go out again. And that goes on all day that does, never stops. Some days I will come into the Council House if there's an hour or so to spare to meet people who are visiting, I do a lot of that and I enjoy that. And I think the people of Nottingham have the right to see the Lord Mayor as they elected me and have put me where I am and I appreciate that.

During my year so far I've been in different communities throughout the city, including deprived areas and we do have a lot of deprived areas and the people who are living there are absolutely fantastic, they don't moan, they don't groan, they get on with life. So this year I'd like to do something special, something a little but different. Goose Fair is coming up shortly, and a lot of families will be taking the kids down to go on the rides, but the deprived kids probably won't even see Goose Fair. I don't think it's right in my own heart that a family can go down and little Jimmy and Mary can go on every ride and have candy floss and ice cream and anything they want and yet there's another Jimmy and Mary who come down to Goose Fair and mum and dad will only be able to afford one ride. So at the end of my year in office I'm going to arrange to have a fun day and everything will be free for the kids so anybody that lives in the city can bring their children down and have a really good day. There will be indoor and outdoor events and all the rides, everything will be free and that's my way of saying thank you to the people of Nottingham.

The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress
by Gary Hope Photography

When I get home at night it's more or less the same thing, undress, wind down a little bit, have a read of the paper, put the text on to see what news I've been missing and what's been happening in our city. If it's a slack night I love to go to bed at 9pm, and when I get into bed I always put country music on because I'm a big country fan, particularly Ann Breen and Tammy Wynette. Music is very important in my life and the first record I ever bought was Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls of Fire when I was 14. I can remember going down to Simpsons, a very small record shop in Arnold to buy it. When I went to school I loved sport and still do today, I went to Redhill school and I ran for the school, I was captain of the school football team I played cricket and basketball for the school, I represented Notts in athletics and I won the All England Schools' Cross Country Championship. I'd had trials with Aston Villa and Wolverhampton and they were prepared to take me on but I got injured unfortunately and wasn't able to play football. But I enjoy watching sport in Nottingham, we have great teams and I love going to Trent Bridge to watch the cricket. So at the end of the day I always listen to one of my CDs, mostly I get through three parts of it then I've flagged out, I've gone for the night and that's it till next morning.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

CITIZEN NOTTINGHAM Sarah Davenport From The Davenport Shop Of Originality

My Nottingham Day
Photo by David 'Dwyz' Wayman
I normally get up around 6am and have coffee and don't have a cigarette as I'm trying to give them up and then I walk the dog, my giant white long-haired Alsation who's moulting at the moment! And then I'll get into the shop as early as possible as sometimes I'll have a meeting before we open.

We first opened the shop on October 1st 2010 in Nottingham's Flying Horse Walk because lots of independent shops were closing and as unique and original skills were at risk we wanted to showcase new and existing talent in Nottingham. The shop is everything creative, we have more than fifty designers and artists involved and the talent is incredible. Everyone here is from Nottingham and works for clients who are looking for something unique and original or very personal with a difference and not mass-produced. We like to be challenged, anything! If they can imagine it, we can make it.

We normally spend the mornings getting everything organised and as we offer bespoke products that tends to take a lot of work. So mornings we do as much of that as we can and if possible we try to leave the day free for talking to people and our customers. We have a steady flow of people coming in so the day turns into a bit of an event. Noon is when we start to get really busy, especially on Saturdays. We have artists and fashion designers popping in, we might have musicians playing or artists painting and they're mixing with all our customers which creates a nice buzz. It's very relaxed and social and some of the artists have met each other through here and then gone on to collaborate on different projects. Mum makes sandwiches for lunch, mozzarella and tomato are my favourite at the moment. When Susi Henson from Nottingham's Eternal Spirits is in town she kidnaps me and she often takes me to Antenna, if not there we'll go toNottingham Castle and I also really like the Walk Cafe.

Photo by David 'Dwyz' Wayman
We also have lots of events happening live in the window and filling the window with activity attracts so much attention as people are so used to walking past a static window display. Every time we have anything like the fashion show we did recently or even if it's just a local artist doing a bit of painting people will stop and watch and take loads of photos. It's also wonderful to draw people across the street, that's kind of magical. So many retailers decide what you want and push you towards it but here you can be curious, come down the stairs into the shop and decide what you like. Every day is different and that's what's really lovely, you never know who's going to walk in, sometimes we'll be sitting here and by the end of the day we'll be working on the most exciting project you could ever dream of. Projects we're working on include a small piece of bespoke furniture, one of our artists is working on a winged mermaids piece and we also work with a local weaver who weaves everything individually so every garment is unique and tailored exactly to each customer. And in the midst of all that we're Tweeting, meeting with clients and connecting people to people so that the artists are directly contacting their customers. So we spend time having crazy ideas and making them happen!

Photo by David 'Dwyz' Wayman
The shop closes at 5 o' clock and whoever is around comes along for a drink after work. I might go to Waltons, sometimes it'll just be me and mum and sometimes it'll be everybody and it'll turn into a bit of a mad one. There's a lot of networking and collaboration that goes on after hours. I don't cook so much, it varies really, I'm good at beans on toast! I'm so focused on things we're doing I've forgotten to learn things like cooking. After work in the evening we'll get back to whatever projects we're currently working on. If I do go out in the evening, The Victoria in Beeston is really nice, sometimes I'll go to Rock City at the weekends andNottingham Contemporary is also very nice in the evenings.  Frequently the other creatives will have events and launches on so we'll go along to support those. Apart from coming to the shop and our free events, everyone can also follow what we're doing on Facebook and Twitter and we're also working on our new online shop. I go to bed between midnight and 1am, I either sleep really well or not at all. I think it's all the creative stuff just going on in my head!

You can find out more about The Davenport Shop Of Originality and all their events at

Photo by David 'Dwyz' Wayman