Editorial Team

 

PLAYING a stand-up comic who is out of tune with his audience should be a doddle for Shane Richie – the former EastEnders star says so himself.

He’s about to take on the stage role of the washed-up Archie Rice in a new production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer, which can be both hilarious and heartbreaking.

WASHED-UP STAND-UP: Shane Richie plays Archie Rice in The Entertainer at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

The action has been moved from the 1950s to the 1980s, but the themes of a failing star performing to audiences looking for a different style of comedy hasn’t changed – and Shane says he knows exactly how Archie feels.

“Unlike a lot of the actors that have played this part before me, like Sir Laurence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh – there is no denying that they are wonderful actors – but they have never done stand-up,” he explains.

“They’ve never stood on a stage, in a club or at Butlins when kids are doing knee-slides in front of you, there’s someone playing on the fruit machines or waiting for bingo to get started. I have.

“I’ve been that comedian and I’ve stood there doing my thing for all these people who have come to see Little and Large or Jimmy Cricket, and I’ve died because this audience had been fed a staple diet of your Jim Davidsons, your Bernard Mannings, your Jim Bowens.

“That’s all they knew, so I would have to go and perform material which was totally not right for them, and died. So I know. I know what it’s like, I know who Archie Rice is, I know how it feels inside and I know what it’s like to be dead on stage.”

“I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me in Colchester,” he laughs. “I remember in Wales, coming off stage, I was 19 or 20, and back then you had to do three half-hour spots. I remember doing this particular club, going on and doing the material that I was doing then and just dying a death. No one was interested, they were just talking.

“I remember getting changed in the dressing room in between spots and there was a duo there too, and the average age of the duo was dead. And one of them said, ‘Hey, if you don’t mind me saying, I don’t think you’re very funny’. He said, ‘Do you know any Tom Jones? Why don’t you go and sing because you’re not very funny.’

“So I remember going on and singing Rock Around the Clock and a load of old Elvis songs, just so I could get paid.

“This is back in the day when you’d arrive in the middle of nowhere, find a phone box, ring the agent and they would tell you there and then if you were working or not, then you’d have to find some digs for the night. So I know who Archie Rice is, and that’s him.”

In The Entertainer the story is set against the backdrop of the Falklands War of 1982, and  the satirical new world of alternative comedy has dismissed Archie’s style of humour and his act as old–fashioned, even offensive. The mother-in-law joke has been outlawed and a generation of entertainers like Archie have suddenly found themselves irrelevant.

Shane, who played Robin Hood in panto at Woking two years ago and is also a Surrey resident, landed the Archie role thanks to director Sean O’Connor, who worked with him as a story editor on EastEnders.

“I was in my mid-forties then. Sean was still in his early fifties and he said to me, ‘Are you familiar with John Osborne’s The Entertainer?’ And, of course, I was. That amazing performance by Sir Laurence Olivier, a great movie, and he said, ‘Because one day you will make a great Archie Rice’.

“So, we jump 12 years ahead and last year we’re chatting, and he said, ‘How do you fancy having a go at this?’ I said, ‘I’d love to…’”

Shane Richie will star in The Entertainer at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday (23 September) until Saturday 28 September.

For the full story get the 19 September edition of the News & Mail

KENT singer-songwriter Katie Bradley came into the spotlight with her 2012 iTunes blues hit I Hear The River, which received a nomination for Best Original Song in the British Blues Awards, which came from her debut album She’s Ready.

PLAYING THE BLUES – Katie Bradley is one of the leading attractions at the Americana Festival, Fiery Bird, Woking, this weekend

Her success grew quickly as she supported and collaborated with the likes of Luther Allison, Suzanne Vega, Lucky Peterson, Taildragger, Georgie Fame and Geno Washington.

An accomplished blues harp player, her second album, Anchor Baby Sessions, has cemented her reputation to the point where she is a major attraction at the first Surrey Americana Festival in Woking this weekend.

Taking place at the Fiery Bird, the festival will run on Saturday (4pm-midnight) and Sunday  (2-10.30pm) and will also feature Dustbowl Sinners, Mantic Muddlers, Downtown Roundabout, Beth Keeping, the Will Purdue Band and many more.

THE Liberal Democrats have turned down an offer from Woking’s ruling Conservatives to have seats on the borough council’s executive.

Council leader David Bittleston invited two opposition councillors to join the committee after winning a confidence vote at a special meeting last week.

Council Leader Cllr David Bittleston

But Lib Dem councillors Ken Howard and Ian Johnson have declined to sit with the Tories on the council’s main decision-making body.

Cllr Bittleston faced the confidence vote – proposed by his party – at a meeting of councillors described by the Lib Dem group leader as an “absolute joke”.

The leader of a minority administration, he made his offer of executive places after 13 Conservatives voted in support of his leadership, with two Independents voting against and 13 Lib Dem and Labour councillors abstaining.

Lib-Dem group leader Cllr Ann-Marie Barker called the most recent confidence vote “an absolute joke”

Cllr Howard, who was offered a climate change responsibility on the executive, said this week: “It could be quite difficult being an opposition member of a Tory executive when it takes decisions I don’t agree with. There doesn’t seem to be any advantage in it.

“I would like Woking to be taking a lead on climate change, but I can continue to pursue this as chairman of the climate change working group,” added the St John’s representative, who has been a councillor since 2000.

A meeting of the executive scheduled for last Thursday was cancelled in favour of a special debate prompted by Cllr Bittleston losing a Labour no-confidence motion in July. Lib Dem leader Ann-Marie Barker had followed up the lost vote by telling Cllr Bittleston he should have his status as leader of the council confirmed by the Conservative group.

However, it was ruled by council chief executive Ray Morgan that only the full council can confirm the leader.

For the full story get the 19 September edition of the News & Mail

HUNDREDS of people enjoyed a traditional day out in the late summer sunshine at Saturday’s West End Show.

The organisers were delighted with the number of people who attended the annual event in Tringham Hall and on the village recreation ground.

Impressive fruit and veg in the horticultural classes

vice-chairman Rachel Bennett said it was felt that the 2019 show was a good tribute to Robin Higgs OBE, the veteran president of West End, Windlesham & District Agricultural and Horticultural Society, who died in June at the age of 87.

Christine Smith’s winning floral arrangement recreated Buzz Aldrin’s footprint on the Moon

“Robin felt that the show should always be a traditional village show and that’s what we are determined to continue,” Rachel added. “He also liked to have a fun element and we have carried on with his paper aeroplane competition.”

Entries for classes ranging from floral art to a fun dog show were slightly down this year, leading the committee to decided to step up its publicity on social media for next year.

“We are looking at introducing a family membership so that we can involved younger people at an earlier age,” said Rachel. “We want people of ages to get involved, so that we can continue our village tradition.”

For more information on the society and its show, visit www.wewdahs.org or email info@wewdahs.org.

For more pictures of the event, get the 19 September edition of the News & Mail

When he left school at 13 unable to read and write, it seemed unlikely that Benjamin Zephaniah would become one fo the UK’s best known poets.

However, the Brummie went on to befriend Nelson Mandela, fought in the 1980s race riots and recorded radical reggae music with Bob Marley’s former band.

Benjamin Zephaniah

His first poetry book was published in 1980 and his success has grown ever since and now he’s doing his first tour in eight years, to coincide with his autobiography, The Life And Rhymes Of Benjamin Zephaniah.

In the show, which will be at G Live, Guildford, on Friday 27 September, the 61-year-old will explain how he fought injustice and discrimination to lead a remarkable life, while sharing a selection of favourite stories and poems.

Believe it or not, it’s 10 years since Diversity took the nation by storm when they won the third series of Britain’s Got Talent, beating Susan Boyle in front of a television audience of over 20 million.

The country’s best known dance troupe are celebrating by heading out on tour, and will bring their latest show, Born Ready, to G Live, Guildford, on Tuesday (24 Sept) and Wednesday (25 Sept).

HIGH ENERGY – Diversity will celebrate past successes and visions of the future at G Live, Guildford, next week

Creator and choreographer Ashley Banjo says: “Born Ready is such an incredibly special tour for the whole Diversity family. 2019 marks 10 years since we won Britain’s Got Talent and since then we have continued to innovate, grow and achieve things that most said were impossible.

Born Ready will not only celebrate this and look back at some of the iconic Diversity moments over the past 10 years. But it will also look forward to the future, at how Diversity continues to evolve and how we plan to pass what we’ve created onto the next generation. Be prepared for dance, illusions, mind blowing stunts and inspiring stories that will hopefully leave people amazed!”

Playing a washed up stand-up comic who is out of tune with his audience should be a doddle for Shane Richie – the ex-Eastenders star says so himself.

He’s about to take on the stage role of Archie Rice in a new production of John Osborne’s The Entertainer, which can be both hilarious and heartbreaking.

The action has been moved from the 1950s to the 1980s but the themes of a failing star performing to audiences looking for a different style of comedy hasn’t changed – and Shane says he knows exactly how Archie feels.

“Unlike a lot of the actors that have played this part before me, like Sir Laurence Olivier or Kenneth Branagh – I mean there is no denying that they are wonderful actors – but they have never done stand up,” he explains.

“They’ve never stood on a stage, in a club or at Butlins when kids are doing knee slides in front of you, there’s someone playing on the fruit machines or waiting for bingo to get started – and I have.

WASHED-UP SAND-UP Shane Richie plays Archie Rice in The Entertainer at the New Victoria Theatre Woking

“I’ve been that comedian and I’ve stood there doing my thing for all these people who have come to see Little and Large or Jimmy Cricket, and I’ve died on my arse because this audience had been fed a staple diet of your Jim Davidsons your Bernard Mannings, your Jim Bowens. That’s all they knew, so I would have to go up perform material which was totally not right for them and died on my arse. So, I know. I know what it’s like, I know who Archie Rice is, I know how it feels inside and I know what is like to be dead on stage.”

Richie was famously a Butlins redcoat early in his career but his experience of comedy goes back further than that.

“My dad used to run clubs in London, I grew up around working men’s clubs in north London,” he recalls. “I come from a big Irish family so every weekend we’d be at the clubs and I’d see these comedians come on stage and do Irish gags, homophobic, racist, sexist stuff and people would laugh. Then when I started in the business, in the ‘80s, it’s been well documented that I did stand up. I did shows like Live From the Piccadilly, Live From the Palladium, Seaside Specials, I did summer seasons in clubs, holiday camps, I get depressed thinking about it.”

Although Richie was inspired by the ‘new’ alternative comedy of the 1980s like Spitting Image, French and Saunders and Alexei Sayle, it did him no good at first.

“I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me in Colchester,” he laughs. “I remember in Wales, coming off stage, I was 19 or 20, and back then you had to do three half-hour spots. I remember doing this particular club, going on and doing the material that I was doing then and just dying a death. No one was interested, they were just talking.

“I remember getting changed in the dressing room in between spots and there was a duo there too and the average age of the duo was dead. And one of them said ‘Hey, if you don’t mind me saying, I don’t think you’re very funny.’ He said’ Do you know any Tom Jones? Why don’t you go and sing because you’re not very funny?’

“So I remember going on and just singing Rock Around the Clock and a load of old Elvis songs just so I could get paid.

“This is back in the day when you’d arrive in the middle of nowhere, find a phone box ring the agent and they would tell you there and then if you are working or not and then you’d have to find some digs for the night so, I know who Archie Rice is, and that is him.”

In The Entertainer the story is set against the backdrop of the Falklands War of 1982, and in a reversal of Richie’s experience, the satirical new world of alternative comedy has dismissed Archie’s style of humour and his sort of act as old–fashioned and even offensive. The mother-in-law joke has been outlawed and a generation of entertainers like Archie have suddenly found themselves irrelevant.

Richie, who played Robin Hood in panto at Woking two years ago and is also a Surrey resident, landed the Archie role thanks to director Sean O’Connor who worked with him as a story editor on EastEnders in 2001.

“He was responsible for a lot of Alfie Moon’s big stories back in the day and then we worked together on a reboot of Minder for Channel 5 where I played Archie Daley,” he explains. “I was in my mid-forties then. Sean was still in his early fifties and he said to me ‘Are you familiar with John Osborne’s The Entertainer?’ And of course, I was. That amazing performance by Sir Lawrence Olivier, a great movie, and he said, ‘Because one day you will make a great Archie Rice’.

“So, then we jump 12 years ahead and last year we’re chatting, and he said, ‘How do you fancy having a go at this?’ I said, ‘I’d love to’…”

Shane Richie will star in The Entertainer at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday (23 September) until Saturday 28 September.

ATTACHING the term legend to a footballer is an easily overused habit in these days of ridiculously inflated wages and non-existent player loyalty to a club, writes Mark Doyle.

But when it comes to Woking FC, one name keeps recurring when the word legend is mentioned.

12 April 1958: A triumphant Charlie Mortimore holds aloft the FA Amateur Cup after leading Woking to a 3-0 victory over Ilford at Wembley Stadium on his 30th birthday

That name is Charles (Charlie) Mortimore MBE, who died last week. He was 91.

In what was to be the most noteworthy event in the club’s history since the FA Cup tie against Bolton Wanderers in 1908, England amateur international and former Aldershot player Charlie and his brother John signed for Woking in August 1953. 

Charlie’s arrival at Kingfield and his belief in total football transformed Woking in a few short seasons into a club recognised for always trying to play stylish passing football. 

Swiftly becoming captain, centre-forward Charlie soon began collecting personal honours in a playing and managerial reign at Kingfield spanning 15 years.

These included playing for Surrey, Hampshire, the FA XI, the Isthmian League, Middlesex Wanderers and the England amateur side, holding the club individual scoring record of nine goals in a game – in a 10-3 win over Dorking in 1963 – and becoming the Cards’ all-time record marksman with more than 260 strikes. 

Fortunately for Woking, the Charlie Mortimore legacy of total football lives on at the club.

Future Woking teams went on to play his style of football – not always with great success – but generations of supporters grew accustomed to this approach and demanded nothing less.

For the full story get the 19 September edition of the News & Mail

HIGH-RISE developments could go up across the borough if the current plans for Cardinal Court, the housing development next to Woking Football Club, go ahead, say campaigners.

South Woking Action Group (SWAG) is seeking to scale down the planned building of 1,100 one and two-bedroom flats in Kingfield, which will help to pay for upgrading the Cards’ stadium to Football League standards.

MP Jonathan Lord addresses the meeting alongside Katie Bowes, centre, and Monique van Bellen

“If the development goes ahead as suggested, this sets a precedent for this scale of development in other low-lying areas of the borough and surrounding areas,” said Katie Bowes, a SWAG committee member.

SWAG held a public meeting last Saturday and is planning to ask questions at the Woking Joint Committee meeting at Woking Borough Council next Wednesday (25 September).  The group will also present a petition to a full council meeting on 17 October, currently signed by 584 people, calling on the council to “stop [the] extreme proposal” contained in the development plan.

Katie, who will present the petition, said the group was not seeking to halt any development of the area and football club, but wanted it to be respectful of and in character with the local community.

“We want to work with the relevant parties on the development. We want to be involved and heard and not have decisions made ‘in the interests of the local community’ without our input,” Katie said.

For the full story get the 19 September edition of the News & Mail

A RECORD £2,000 was raised for the Woking & Sam Beare Hospices at an annual fundraising fishing competition.

Match winner Roger Bell, left, was presented with his trophies by Sam Molnar, whose brother, John Akers, was cared for at Woking Hospice

More than 40 anglers of all ages took part in the event, held in memory of John Akers, who was cared for by Woking Hospice until his death in 2013.

Sean Mitchell, who organised the event on Sunday 8 September at Willinghurst Fishery in Shamley Green, said: “Many of us involved have been touched by the great work done by the hospice in helping our family and friends,

“We’re pleased to be have been able to raise some money for such a great cause.”

For the full story get the 19 September edition of the News & Mail