Alton Towers!


What does a little touring family do when given a day off between Nottingham and Manchester? What else. That’s me on the far left, in my lame disguise: Coops’ hoodie. The park has come a long way since the Corkscrew was the main attraction: other high octane excitements such as Rita, Nemesis, Air and Oblivion (4 times) gave us just about all the fun we could take. The weather was terrible, so we ate burgers in the rain and wore regulation plastic ponchi.

On several occasions, a ride was delayed with people onboard for maintenance or to remove an individual too fat or inattentive to the arms-inside rule for it to proceed safely, which I found quite fascinating. Here, at the peak of child-like nervous anticipation, were dozens of us, strapped, clunked and clicked into place, bodies and minds prepared for the commencement of our chosen thrill; when that take-off was unexpectedly postponed, we were utterly unprepared, unsure how to respond other than to stare dumbly at the student ride operators, bewildered, as if in a trance, restrained in a kind of chav limbo.

I took the liberty of securing a couple of prizes for a blog competition: some ‘Mindbender’ sweets from the gift shop, and the real treasure: an official fridge magnet showing myself and Mr. Coops aboard the ‘Air’ ride, where I can be seen to be amusingly pretending to smoke a cigarette as we glide pass the camera. Also noticeable in the image, as well in those below, is the make-up work done by our own Jennie before we commenced the rides: she blacked out several of the crew’s teeth so that we’d look injured in our ride photographs. How exciting! I shall post pictures of these superlative prizes when I have photographed them, and suggest a suitable activity for you to attempt, should you so desire, in order to win these rare objects for your good selves.




Right, I’m off to have a hotel massage and do an FHM interview. Please continue to enjoy yourselves.


Nottingham – 2nd night

Well, if I may say so, I think that was even better than last night. First time I’ve had 2,000 people standing and cheering before the (very) end. This is good – feels like the show has really found itself. And that’s great, given the extra pressure of the West End this year. Am sat back in the hotel having a pizza – which I know is a bad idea this late – and a scotch, waiting for the crew to come back. Tomorrow is a treat day. A day off, aside from travel, and some fun is planned.

Thank you to all the lovely people who queued outside in the drizzle to say hello afterwards. I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of nights.

That really is quite enough pizza. Very tasty though: pepperoni¬†and chorizo. if those aren’t just two of my favourite things on a pizza, than I don’t know what they are. But I shall stop, lest there are windy-pops. Ner-night.



Left Bournemouth and said goodbye to Cheryl. Here we are: me, Cheryl, Bagel and Rob:


And after a long drive, where I pretty much slept the whole way and left Coops to smoke fags and hum, we arrived in Nottingham yesterday afternoon. None of us had had more than a few hours’ sleep the night before, so crew energy was quite low.

The show, however, was great: best so far. The differences would only be noted by those of us who know the show well: even a night that might seem a little flat to me (audiences differ geographically; different weeknights bring in different moods and levels of rowdiness; my own level of concentration, enjoyment and energy will naturally fluctuate) will hopefully be enjoyed by the audience to roughly the same extent as a night I think was a triumph. But last night felt very good, and the response at the end was amazing. I hope tonight will have a similar feel: the set-out of the auditorium means it’s tricky for people to get up on stage quickly. The danger is in such places that the overall pace can slip a bit if we’re having to routinely wait for people to get up on stage. In the Royal Concert Hall where I’m playing, it can take people two minutes to get down from upstairs – these are the things I have to check before the performance starts. Two minutes is an eternity to wait during a show. There are times when such a wait holds: there’s a lot that has to be balanced to keep the spirit of the show bouncing along in all the right places, and for the darker, slower sequences to not feel interminable.

The people after the show were as lovely as ever: the stage door at the RCH opens into the street, so this is one venue where there’s a tendency for signings to last for hours as passers-by attach themselves to the outer reaches of the friendly gathered crowd. I had to be a little more hurried than usual last night as we had to make a dinner reservation, but thank you all of you who gathered there, and apologies again that I was rushed.

It’s a rainy morning in Nottingham, and having packed nothing suitable for wet weather, I may have to postpone the bits of shopping I need to do for myself and the show. Yesterday managed to make it to Debenhams here before early Sunday closing: just in time to have a very sweet member of staff at the till recognise me in a blushy, lovely way, while I knew I had to then pay for a bunch of pants I’d just bought. I considered just stealing them to avoid the embarrassment, but imagine the scandal if I was caught. Like a cheap Winona Ryder. At least she’d have been caught in House of Fraser.





Bournemouth (the BIC) is a huge conference centre, as opposed to theatre, so the stage had to be built from scratch in a massive empty barn of a room. It seats over 4000; the rows stretching back and back, making me a tiny pink featureless dot for those lucky ladies and gentlemen in the back reaches. Work started at six am, and I spent the afternoon in town writing a foreword for a book on Houdini which is on its way out soon. (Amazon makes it sound like i have written the book with Harry himself: not quite, it’s just a foreword).

The first night in Bournemouth was great: such a huge crowd, all of whom sprung to their feet the moment the show finished. Andy, our sound chap, did an excellent job of making sure everyone could hear me clearly in that big old space, and Tim and Other Andy did a sterling job on lighting. (Both aside from Other Other Andy who directs.)

After the show, we arrived at the Captain’s Club Hotel, a beautiful retreat by the marina, and have been looked after astonishingly well by Cheryl, who has just brought me an excellent Eggs Benedict. (This is the touring brekkie of choice, and so far I haven’t found one on a menu). We’ve never received such extraordinary service from a hotel: Cheryl even came to pick me up last night after the second Bournemouth show. They went to amazing lengths to make sure we were looked after, and we’ve all had the most wonderful and refreshing stay. Thank you Cheryl, Tim, Rob, Luke, Marcus and Bagel and everyone else.

That night after the show, we had a visit from a chap called Phil who had taken part in the Heist – he was one of the guys who refused to continue with the Milgram, to his credit. He now works for a private wine company called Romanet, and he arrived at the hotel to give us all a delightful post-show wine-tasting. Just lovely. Thank you again Phil! A great end to a night. Our production manager spilt ketchup over the carpet: that’s about as rock ‘n’ roll as I get.

The next day Coops and I went to Monkeyworld and looked at monkeys. Here’s a picture of one I looked at:


And another, more aggressive one:


The second night was ok, but felt just a bit flat in comparison to the previous nights: the audience were still lovely but it was the first show without a standing ovation. Whaddya gonna do. Back to the Captains Club for some excellent seafood after the show.

Bye-bye Bournemouth, it’s been much fun. Long drive now… to Nottingham. Hoot if you pass us.




Big-up’s to Mini-Me his brother Mega-Me and the whole crew at the White Rock Theatre Hastings, you guys are awesome and I can’t wait to go back, thanks for all your help, I wish every tour date could go so smoothly.