One of the highlights of the tour this year was indoor skydiving at Airkix in Milton Keynes. This is quite something. An enormous structure which is in essence an inverted wind tunnel, circulating air through a central chamber. Jump in and you’re airborne. We received the essential lowdown from Sean, our cool and perky trainer, and then each got a go in the flight chamber with Sean helping us along. It is extraordinary, exhilarating, and SO much fun. The team there looked after us very well and what you see in the video is Coops’ edit of Airkix’s footage. We’ve spared the rest of the team from having their escapades published, as, well, you don’t look your best when you’re at it.
Attached to our helmets – by which I mean, you know, our helmets – are toy animals, flapping in the wind. Coops has a monkey, I have a vampire bat. We chose well. You’ll see my effort first, then Mr Coops, and then finally me again doing a few tricks after some more practice. OK, that last bit’s not true. Make sure you watch the last section to show what can be done – it’s the brilliant Sean and he’s a living Spiderman. Just incredible. All this has made us very enthusiastic to do a proper (ie outdoor, terrifying etc) skydive at some point, and the lovely people at The Red Devils have offered to host it. Wowzers. Expect more footage when that happens, though more likely of Coops and me wetting ourselves at so many thousand feet. Wheee!
Derren Brown will be exhibiting limited edition artworks at the Saatchi Gallery this Autumn as part
of the new Art of Giving charity art exhibition. Art of Giving will be showing three works: Rufus Wainwright, Judi Dench and Clint Eastwood.
The Art of Giving exhibition is organised to raise money for a series of charities including: The Red Cross Disaster Fund, Crisis, CHASE, Help a London Child, Independent Age, Elsa Trust, GAWPT and Water Aid. Works by wellâ€known artists such as Gavin Turk and Alexa Meade will be exhibited alongside the work of the finalists of an open national art competition. Comedian Vic Reeves, photographer Terry Oâ€™Neil and portrait painter Christian Furr are judging the competition.
More information on the competition and Art of Giving exhibition and auction can be found on www.artofgiving.co.uk.
Penn and Teller – my favourite magicians – are so rare amongst conjurors: they have remained cool in a way that others seem to find impossible. I believe this is due mainly to the fact that their agenda has never been about themselves: they have never postured and apotheosised themselves in the hollow way magicians invariably do. And although they have always been the ‘bad boys’ of magic, disclosing methods and ridiculing the fraternity, they produce some of the finest pieces of magic you will ever see.
As you will probably know, they are performing at the Hammersmith Apollo this coming week. The show is fantastic: astonishing, in-your-face, gasp-out-loud, and very funny. There are some tickets left and it’s well, well worth going to see them. They so rarely come to the UK: this is a real treat.
Tickets can be bought here.
Since being home, work has intensified, and I rather rudely forgot to blog about the very end of the tour. Forgive me.
I believe I left you in Northampton. It was followed by a return visit to Milton Keynes, and then up to Leicester. The audience in Leicester was great. Largely due, if I remember correctly, to a rowdy bunch of students sat in the stalls. Apart from one moment of blurting out the ending for all to hear, this gaggle of girls were a welcome source of liveliness. It was a fun show, though sweltering, at least backstage.
The final night was Nottingham. And the audience seemed to know it: the crowd was truly wonderful. In the audience was Peter Jackson and family, along with Rick Baker, the special FX genius. I was pleased they had chosen to come to such a good show. The final night would have been all-round wonderful, had it not been for the moment in the show some of you will know when I make my way up into the circle. Every first night in a theatre I familiarise myself with the route up from the stalls, but this night I forgot the way. I left the stalls to realise I had to re-emerge into them a moment later as I had gone through the wrong door. I asked an usher to show me the route, and this is where the trouble started. He took me out and pointed me in the direction of the long route up through the foyer, which was not what I was after, but faced with no other option, I left the auditorium again and ran up the stairs. The idea is to appear in the circle before the audience get bored with my absence, but the usher’s instructions turned out to be too vague, and I arrived on the next floor up and faced with several doors to choose from. I asked at the bar to be quickly shown into the circle, and received blank confused expressions, from a staff who seemed to have no idea what the circle was. ‘I’m in the middle of the show, quick, please, show me how to get in’. The bar staff still had no idea. One guy pointed and seemed to be suggesting directions, so I told him to go ahead and show me. He didn’t seem to see the urgency, so I physically grabbed him, apologising, and made him go ahead. He took me though a door and pointed up some stairs and said ‘left’ or something. I went down the stairs and there were two sets of doors. I only saw one and went through, came out when I realised it was wrong and tried the other. Some stairs took me up and I shot through a door into some part of the fly rig (the system of scaffold and beams that hold the lights). I came back out, back to the bar, sweating and yelling ‘Oh for fucks sake’ as i went, and burst through another door. This one took me down, too far down… and I emerged at the side of the stage to see Jennie or Iain looking at me in despair. Another ‘For FUCK’S sake’ and I ran back out, through another door and I was suddenly out on the street, in my evening tails, the door locked behind me and faced with nothing that appeared to be an entrance to the theatre. After a moment’s further panic I found one, and ran into a startled box-office staff member asking how he could help. Thank God this man, finally, had the basic knowledge of the theatre and understanding of my predicament to actually run up and take me to the doors at the side of the circle. I appeared, panting and furious, after what seemed like ten whole long minutes of leaving the audience without a performer.
Of course Peter et al presumed it was all part of the show. If you were there that night, it really wasn’t. What a way to finish.
Iain and I travelled back the next morning with our guests and attended the opening of Ray Harryhausen’s exhibition at the Film Museum, County Hall, just by the London Eye. Ray was there celebrating the wonderful exhibition and his 90th birthday. It’s well worth a visit: I believe it runs for a few months. After some meetings about the television projects I went to see All My Sons at the Apollo theatre, which is the finest thing I have seen for a while. And on the back of a friend’s Vespa pootling through London after the play, it felt like I was finally back home.
We are now all taken up with telly-business. Some exciting and stupidly ambitious projects are underfoot, and they should be broadcast towards the end of the year. I have also, these last few days, taken a moment to peek at ‘Glee’, under much pressure from well-meaning friends, and as a huge fan of Glenn Close, ‘Damages’. The former has largely left me cold (doubtless my failing) but the latter is terrific. I so rarely watch TV so this feels like a naughty treat after so much work.
Talking of which, I must get on. I hope you’re all having nice evenings.