Historical figures and events are about to come alive on stage in Woking – and it’ going to be truly horrible.

Using actors and 3D special effects, Horrible Histories are bring two shows to the New Victoria Theatre from Wednesday 20  November until Saturday 23 November.

TERRIBLE TUDORS – Anne Boleyn is about to lose her head in Horrible Histories

Awful Egyptians will tell all about the fascinating Pharaohs, the power of the pyramids, along with the foul facts of death and decay with the meanest mummies.

Or you could opt for the Terrible Tudors and find out about the horrible Henries to the end of evil Elizabeth, as well as hear the legends (and the lies!) about the torturing Tudors. Henry’s headless wives, his punch-up with the Pope, Bloody Mary and the Spanish Armada sailing into the audience are all included. It’s history with the horrible bits left in…

After three top 10 albums and more than 15 years on the road, Britpop legends The Bluetones split in 2011…only to reform for a tour four years ago. Now they’re doing it again – despite having yet to record any new material.

“The band is our train set and we can pick it up and play with it any time we want,” explains frontman Mark Morriss, who life these days revolves a little more around being a dad as much as it does adhering to a busy schedule of gigging commitments. But he’s loving it as much as the band’s ‘90s heyday.

BACK ON THE ROAD – The Bluetones have a date at the Boileroom

“I’ve just had a lovely birthday – I was actually up doing a solo show in Derby and was touched that people remembered it, and I received three cakes,” he says. That latest solo venture is Look Up, the singer’s fourth set of melody-infused recordings.

“I’m really pleased with the new album – it’s eventually arrived after a wait, but it was fun to make that one and it has been well received so far.

“We were in Margate for the video of Holiday of A Lifetime and I knew the guys who did that for me pretty well – we shot it in about seven hours and it was a case of guerilla film making, which is a style that I quite like with my music,” says Mark of the album, which gained a crowdfunding release, before emerging this autumn on multiple formats through independent label Reckless Yes.

For Mark, now 47, seeing it gain a full release was the most important thing, rather than any concerns over it making mainstream charts and he’s pleased to be returning to life on the road with The Bluetones, at least for a while.

“I think I’m at a point where I have a good balance between my family life and work,” he sys. “It’s always a pleasure to pick up with The Bluetones, as well as playing in another band.”

He is also part of actor and comedian Matt Berry’s group, The Maypoles, as well as teaming up with David Walliams to record music for audiobook versions of the comic’s award-winning children’s stories.

Life is very different from the days when The Bluetones emerged from Hounslow to grace the charts with songs like Slight Return, Bluetonic, Are You Blue Or Are You Blind?, Cut Some ug and Marblehead Johnson.

“We’re living in a Simon Cowell world at the moment and it’s going to take a little time for that to change,” sighs Mark. “But there’s definitely some really good music being made out there, but it’s largely under the radar, which I think is actually quite cool.”

As for the band’s upcoming tour, he says he’s not overly nostalgic, while admitting it’s the reason The Bluetones can still draw a crowd.

“It does feel like literally half a lifetime ago that we started out, but those early songs do still mean a lot to us,” he says. “I think they’ve lasted well and people still want us to play them, so we’ll be playing the whole of our Science and Nature album, as well as a greatest hits as well.

“So it’s going to be good to be playing some songs we haven’t done in a long while.”

The Bluetones will play at the Boileroom, Guildford, on Thursday 21 November.  

A PAIR of 2-Tone legends are heading to Surrey on Thursday (14 Nov).

The Selecter will be joined on their 40th Anniversary Tour by Rhoda Dakar, lead singer with The Bodysnatchers, at G Live in Guildford.

The Selecter, still led by the queen of ska Pauline Black, will play a set packed with old hits like On My Radio, Three Minute Hero and Too Much Pressure, as well as tracks from their most recent album, Daylight.

QUEEN OF SKA – Pauline Black with Arthur Hendrickson

Black will be accompanied by fellow original member Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson and their politically-engaged songs remain as relevant today as when they originally hit the charts alongside labelmates like The Specials and Madness in the late 1970s.

While Dakar’s career began as lead vocalist with all-woman 2-Tone band The Bodysnatchers, whose first single was double A-side Let’s Do Rocksteady with Ruder Than You, she later sang and collaborated with The Specials. On this tour she will be warming up the crowd with a DJ set.

ANY music fan from the 1980s will remember Mari Wilson’s beehive hairdo, as well as her vocal skill.

When the single Just What I Always Wanted propelled her into the Top 10, her reputation as the Neasden Queen of Soul seemed assured and Mari and her backing band The Wilsations were a fixture on TV and radio.

Pop and Soul singer Mari Wilson says her style has morphed to a more Jazz based sound as she goes on tour with new band the New Wilsations

Since those days, she has gradually morphed towards a jazzier sound and is still writing and recording at the age of 64.

Her latest album, Pop Deluxe, was recorded with Alistair Gavin. “I’ve been touring that for three-and-a-half years now,” she says. “I was singing some Dusty Springfield songs and, as they’re mainly ballads, I found myself wanting to perform my own interpretation of them.

“It was from this that led me to doing shows featuring some of my other, favourite, female artists like Dusty, and Sandie Shaw, and Cilla Black.” says Mari.

Along with other songs from her extensive back catalogue Mari is now back on tour with her current band, the New Wilsations, promising an energetic live show.

“It’s a great show,” she says. “I’ll be telling some really good stories and, if you’ve not been and seen me before, I’m often told that people are surprised by my vocals – so just come along and have yourselves a good old sing-a-long.”

Mari Wilson plays at the Electric Theatre in Guildford, tomorrow night (Friday 1 November).

For the full story get the 31 October edition of the News & Mail

THE Undercover Festival has announced the Woking News & Mail as its official printed media partner for its eighth and final full festival back in Woking at the Fiery Bird on 6 and 7 March 2020.

“Undercover 8 is going to be our final festival, and we intend for it to go out with a bang,” says organiser Mick Moriarty.

Undercover 8 will be the final full Undercover music festival

“We’ll have two packed days of alternative music, including punk, post punk and some ska and dub thrown in for good measure, pulled together in the way that only we at Undercover can,” he adds.

“It’s fitting that we’re working with the Woking News & Mail as they were a great help to Undercover when we first started at Bisley back in 2013.”

The festival has had a somewhat nomadic existence since 2013, calling in at Brighton, Margate and Tufnell Park, but through this journey Undercover has kept close links to Woking, with Keith Woodhouse from Radio Woking being the ever-present MC.

Barry Rutter, the News & Mail entertainment editor, says: “While it’s a shame that 2020 will be the final Undercover Festival, it’s great to see the event back in Woking, especially at the Fiery Bird. The line-up looks like one of the best yet so it should be a great send-off.

“It’s also good to see a line-up that includes some great alternative artists from Surrey, as well as the big names that Undercover always manages to land.”

The bill includes Johnny Moped, Subhumans, Roddy Radiation & The Skabilly Rebels (with Roddy Byers from The Specials), 999, Chelsea, Menace, XSLF, Radical Dance Faction, Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons, dragSTER, Diablofurs, Screaming Dead,
R.E.D – Religion Equals Decay, Stone Heroes, G.Y.B, No Lip, RAGE DC, WitchDoktors and Wyrd Sisters.

Full details on www.undercoverfest.com.

WAOS (Woking Amateur Operatic Society) Musical Theatre is bringing Cole Porter’s High Society to Woking.

Best known for the 1956 film version starring Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly, it is full of classics songs such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?True Love and Well, Did You Evah!.

WAOS Musical Theatre presents High Society, a musical set among the rich and famous of Newport, Rhode Island, next month

Based on the play The Philadelphia Story, it is set in the 1950s among the rich and glamorous of Newport, Rhode Island. The comic story revolves around the wedding plans of a socialite, which are disrupted by a past romance and two reporters who are not impressed by the goings on of the rich and opulent.

WAOS Musical Theatre has produced a show full of fabulous ’50s fashions to add to the usual song, comedy and dance.

High Society will run from the 5-9 November at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking. Tickets on 07765 006565 or www.waos.info/tickets.

ROY Hudd is a massive fan of Oscar Wilde – mainly because Wilde helped his radio career no end.

“Whenever I did Quote… Unquote, I always guessed the quote was from Wilde,” recalls the veteran entertainer. “And nine times out of 10 I was right!”

However, he says that’s not the reason he was keen to join the cast of the latest tour of the master playwright’s A Woman of No Importance.

WILDE MAN – Roy Hudd stars in A Woman of No Importance at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford

“I was actually interested because of Wilde’s jokes,” he insists. “But the real sweetener with this show was they wanted me to do three songs. And they said, ‘You can pick the songs you want to do’, so that’s what I’ve done.”

The songs will be performed during scene changes, like party pieces at the posh dinner party around which the play is set, and they offer him the opportunity to indulge his love of music hall and variety.

Music hall is where it all started for Hudd. Or rather concert party. As a kid growing up in Croydon, he needed an activity to keep him out of trouble.

“One day, the front page of The Daily Mirror had a headline: The Roughest School in England. It was a picture of my mates,” he laughs. So off to a boys’ club he went, where he signed up to learn about concert party, a style of variety show.

“My gran, who brought me up, always talked about going to see it,” he says. “She brought me up on an old-age pension, but always, whatever happened, took me to the Croydon Empire every week on a Tuesday night because she loved variety.”

When not singing in A Woman of No Importance, he plays Archdeacon Daubeny in Wilde’s upper-class comedy about a society house party and a woman with a long-buried secret that needs to be addressed.

“It’s old Oscar beating the drum for women of his period,” Hudd explains. “They were all treated like rubbish, so he made them the heroines.”

The 83-year-old, who made his professional debut as a comedian in 1957 before hundreds of appearances on TV, radio and film, as well as the stage, says he’s loving his career as much as ever.

“I enjoy doing it very much,” he says, succinctly, of performing in A Woman of No Importance, before, almost inevitably, kicking on: “I did an early Call The Midwife. I played an old soldier who died at the end of the episode. After that, I died in every job I got on television. This role is particularly lovely because I’m alive at the end of it.”

Roy Hudd will star alongside Liza Goddard in A Woman of No Importance at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, from Monday (28 October) until Saturday 2 November.

EASTENDERS star Samantha Womack will play the central role in the thriller The Girl On The Train, which comes to the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday (28 October) until Saturday 2 November.

Based on the international best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins, it tells the story of Rachel Watson, who longs for a different life. Her only escape is the perfect couple she watches through the train window every day, happy and in love. Or so it appears.

JUST THE TICKET – Samantha Womack in rehearsal for The Girl On The Train, which comes to Woking on Monday

When Rachel learns that the woman she’s been secretly watching has suddenly disappeared, she finds herself as a witness and even a suspect in a mystery.

Best known for playing Ronnie Mitchell in BBC1’s EastEnders, Womack’s other television credits include leading roles in Mount Pleasant and the hugely popular Game On.

There’s some sad news involving UK-based Canadian gag master Stewart Francis…Into The Punset is his farewell tour.

However, he’s promising to go out with a show that proves he’s at the peak of his punchline-making powers.

“For me, it’s a happy conclusion as I’ve left the best til last,” says Stewart. “I’m thrilled to bits with what I have and it’s nice to go out on a high, like when the athlete that throws the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl then retires.”

HIGH NOON – The sun is setting on Stewart Francis’s comedy career

He’s pretty confident the farewell show will go well as he’s been trying it out on the folks back home.

“I’ve been doing it in Canada, my home and native land, where I got to workshop it and get it into my brain,” explains the Toronto-born comic. “I write solely for British audiences, so I was doing jokes there that I knew full well the Canadian audiences wouldn’t really appreciate. But I had fun with it by stepping back from the joke to tell them what I’m going for in it and when I repeated it, that would generally be a nice moment. There’d be some sarcastic laughs…but what are drunks like?”

Having arrived in the UK over a decade ago, Stewart has cultivated a strong following among critics and audiences, aided by TV appearances on the likes of Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo, but fully consolidated by joke-heavy live shows such as Tour De Francis, Pun Gent and Outstanding In His Field. And at the Edinburgh Festival of 2012, he won the Dave Joke Of The Fringe Award for this perky one-liner: “You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks.”

“From my perspective, British and Irish audiences are so comedy savvy, so I don’t have to pull a big cheesy smile after every punchline to let you know that the joke’s over and you can now feel free to laugh,” he says. “With my dry, deadpan humour, I can just leave it out there and the audience will connect the dots.”

Stewart admits to feeling no extra pressure to make Into The Punset an extra-special one, and his joke-writing process for this show hasn’t changed. “I just come up with the gags as and when. I’ve got the template for the show down, so as I come up with a new gag I try to work out how I can put it in there. But for me, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and that’s how I can carry on with my day without being obsessed with writing jokes. I just feel the sunshine on my cheeks and if I come up with a gag, all the better.”

The big question, then, is what comes next for Stewart Francis?

“I’m going to step away from comedy and focus on acting which is another passion,” he says. “When you’re a comedian, casting directors can be a bit lazy and think, ‘well he’s just a comedian’ but I’m not. I think I have some significant acting chops and I want to prove that to myself and to the world. But when you’re wearing both hats as a comedian and an actor, you can be taken less seriously; so I want there to be a real separation.”

So, anyone thinking that this ‘farewell tour’ could be one of those fake finales which some bands have announced down the years only to return and tread some more boards shortly after, you’ll have to take Stewart on his word.

“I saw Simply Red’s last show at the O2 three years ago and they came back out a year later!” he exclaims. “I have way too much respect for the audience to do something like that. People don’t know me well enough to know how much I value the crowd and how much I appreciate their time.

“Even if I did want to come back, I wouldn’t do it, I’d get a job doing what I needed to do, because I try to be a man of my word. Sadly we live in a world where there’s all this cynicism and some people might believe that it’s just a publicity thing. It’s not. Andy Kaufman is dead, he’s not coming back, and this is my last tour.”

To date, Stewart’s acting CV features the likes of Canadian comedy An American In Canada, US legal drama Kevin Hill, and British sitcom Not Going Out, but is there a particular type of role he’s on the lookout for?

“I love my fellow Canadian Will Arnett, he gets the most wonderful parts,” he muses. “But I’ve been watching The Assassination Of Gianni Versace recently and I’d love a part like Darren Criss has on there. That would be juicy. Honestly, I want to be the Disco Killer. I can do the eyes so I’m good to go.”

Stewart Francis will bring Into The Punset to G Live, Guildford, on Friday 25 October.

Singer songwriter Lloyd Cole has a new album, Guesswork, and he proudly declares that it’s shorter than any of his previous 11 solo albums.

He also says it ‘mirrors the uncertainty of the world as you enter your third act’. Either way,  those who remember Lloyd for the literary pop of his early days like 1984’s Rattlesnakes, made with the Commotions will want to hear it.

Singer songwriter Lloyd Cole

That debut album earned him an unlikely place alongside Wham! and Duran Duran in the following year’s Smash Hits/Panini sticker book. But he’s had the last laugh by outlasting them all.

Hear Lloyd Cole play songs from across his career in From Rattlesnakes to Guesswork at G Live, Guildford, on Saturday (19 Oct).