I know…… I’ve been very remiss in my blogging for the past few months, but I’m here now, so I’ll start again and hopefully catch up over time.
I set off for London bright (or rather dark) and early from Bradford on the ever-wonderful Megabus, arriving at Victoria Coach Station at about 10.30am. There were a couple of non-West End venues that I specifically wanted to visit, and both had matinee performances. The first one, “Cinderella” in Wimbledon, started at 1.30pm, and the other was “Beauty and the Beast” in Windsor, starting at 1pm. So careful planning was required. Ideally I could get one cast arriving, and the other cast after the matinee, although there is no guarantee that cast members will leave the theatre between shows.
As Wimbledon was the nearest, it made sense to do that one first, and I arrived there at about 11.20. A couple of other collectors were there, so we had a New Year catch up and waited for the cast.
As I already have autographs and pictures with Wayne Sleep and Matthew Kelly, I was here today for Dallas star Linda Gray, and comedian Tim Vine. I’d met Tim before and he’d signed his DVD for me, but I wanted him in my autograph book, seeing as I was here already.
Wayne Sleep – March 18th 2014
Gielgud Theatre, London
Matthew Kelly – June 20th 2012
Bradford Alhambra Theatre
At about 11.45, Linda Grey’s car pulled up and I greeted her with a “Happy New Year”. She smiled back and returned the greeting. She was absolutely lovely. She signed my autograph book, and 3 pictures each for the others. Unfortunately, she had no make-up on, and so didn’t want to pose for any photos, but I was more than happy to have met her.
Very fortunately, the rain that had been threatening to come had stayed away until after Linda had entered the theatre, but then it started to get a bit drizzly. We saw Tim Vine go into the main foyer of the theatre, but assumed he was just picking something up before coming to the stage door. Thankfully, when somebody else arrived at the stage door, we could see him inside, and so I called out his name. He was more than happy to pop out for a minute and sign for us. I complimented him on his brief, but very welcome, return to the final episode of Not Going Out, and he grateful for the praise.
Luckily the rain wasn’t yet too bad, so I walked back to the train station and started my journey to Windsor. I was happy that from Victoria to Wimbledon, and then to Windsor is quite a straightforward route. The District Line takes you from Victoria to Wimbledon, then back to Earl’s Court, where the west bound Distict Line (it splits here) takes you to Ealing Broadway, and the National Railway takes you to Windsor, changing at Slough.
The Slough to Windsor railway has always amused me. It’s one track, with no stops between the two stations. It serves only to go backwards and forwards from Slough to Windsor to Slough to Windsor to Slough to Windsor, over and over again, all day. How it was ten minutes late today, I can’t begin to imagine !!!
Anyway, I got to Windsor at about 2.30pm, and had a spot of lunch in the McRestaurant opposite the castle. I’d left all the rain back in Wimbledon, and it was a lovely sunny day now. A lot of Carry On film locations are in Windsor, and it was nice to see these again, as I haven’t been here for several years. I remembered that several friends and I were among the first ever guests at the Travelodge here. I think they soon regretted having a 24 hour bar.
My main reason for this whole trip to London was to catch one cast member from Beauty and the Beast here in Windsor. Everything else would be a bonus, so here was the moment of truth. Will she come out after the matinee? Will she pose for a photograph? Will she be nice? Will she even be here?
YES……. to all four questions.
Sally Geeson, from Bless This House and two Carry On films (Girls and Abroad), came out of the theatre for just 5 minutes to pop to the shop. I have met her twice before, but never got a photo with her….. until now. She is so lovely. People I’d met earlier in the day had mentioned that she’d refused pictures due to her stage make-up and hair, but not this time. After a little brush with her hand, she was happy with how she looked. As was I.
Also in the cast was Harry Potter actress Georgina Leonidas, who came out shortly after Sally, and was just as friendly. In fact, while I was talking with her, Sally returned to the theatre and said how happy she was that I’d got to meet Georgina too.
Then it was back to London for my next scheduled stop. Last month I’d been for the cast of the play “Hope” at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square. I got most of them, but not Tommy Smith, star of The Sarah Jane Adventures on BBCTV. As the play finished this Saturday, I thought I’d try and get him arriving for the evening performance.
Nisha Nayar and Sharon Duncan-Brewster –
December 4th 2014
Royal Court Theatre, London
Rudi Dharmalingam –
December 4th 2014
Royal Court Theatre, London
Stella Gonet –
December 4th 2014
Royal Court Theatre, London
Now, I had heard that he arrives at the very last minute, but that wouldn’t suit my plan, so I had to hope that wasn’t his regular routine. Whilst I appreciate information from other people, I do have to remind myself that people’s habits can change daily, whether they are famous or not. It’s human nature. I was there at about 5.30pm, with the play starting at 7.45. Much earlier than I would normally be, but there was nowhere else to be, so I just had to wait. My next call was near Oxford Circus (two tube train rides), at about 7.30pm, so I had to leave here by 7 at the latest.
While I waiting there I spotted Maxine Peake and some other actresses that I recognised, one of whom was Christine Bottomley, I later discovered. It turns out that they are at the Royal Court next month, so I shall have to come back at some point.
It was fast approaching 6.45, and it was rather chilly, so I was on the verge of leaving when I was very pleased to see Tommy arriving. I called his name and he removed his headphones to answer me. He is such a nice guy. I told him how much I liked the Sarah Jane Adventures, and I said “it’s much better than Torchwood”. He was over the moon with that. “Oh, that’s brilliant. Thank you so much. That’s the greatest thing I could hear.” We agreed that Sarah Jane Adventures is so much more like Doctor Who than Torchwood ever was, and it was a perfect spinoff series. I took a moment to say how terrible it was that Liz Sladen had passed away. He was so pleased that he’d got to know her, and was very happy to have worked with her. I parted with him, saying “She left a wonderful legacy….. and you are part of that.” He smiled back at me, repeating “I am a part of that…. Thank you.”
It was now 6.50pm, so I had plenty of time to get to the BBC Broadcasting House, where they do the One Show, which finishes at 7.30. I normally catch the buses in London, because of the daily price cap. It’s about £3 cheaper than the price cap for using the Tube and buses, but since I’d had to already use the Tube for Wimbledon and Windsor, that wasn’t an issue, and meant I got there in plenty of time.
Two cast members from Death in Paradise were on the One Show; Kris Marshall, who I’d met once before and got an autograph from, and Sara Martins, who I’d never met.
They both came out together and were very charming and friendly with the four people waiting to meet them.
Amazingly, I’d successfully complete the first four tasks on my list, and there were only two more to go.
The Tristan Bates Theatre is a tiny venue just off Shaftesbury Avenue, and the lastest play there is being directed by former comedy actor Robert Gillespie. It was having just one preview night, which was tonight, before officially opening tomorrow, on the 7th of January. As a director of a play doesn’t necessarily have any input after the opening night (I know some do, but there’s no guarantee of that) then tonight was my only chance to hopefully meet him.
The play was due to end at about 9.30pm, which meant I could also fit in a theatre before the end of the night. I hadn’t selected which one yet. That would depend on how late Robert showed his face.
At just about 10pm, I saw Robert Gillespie greet a friend in the foyer, so I moved nearer to the building so that I was ready to catch him whichever way he went after his chat. It was still very chilly. So, when the conversation was seemingly coming to an end, I went inside, and waited a couple more minutes. He finished his chat, and I approached him. I pointed out that I will be seeing the play, a double bill of Bernard Shaw plays, later in the month but I really wanted to meet him so I’d had to come today, for the reason I mentioned before. He was very nice, and happily signed an autograph for me.
As it was now 10.05, and was right near Cambridge Circus, I decided that the Donmar Warehouse was perfect for my last call.
Here I got five autographs, and three photos. Katherine Kelly was so sorry not to do a picture, but she had conjunctivitis. She was really nice though, and very friendly…. and I didn’t ask Nick Cavaliere for a photo.
The other three were lovely too. Mark Penfold, from Wire in the Blood was shocked that I wanted a photo with him, but cheerfully obliged. I had met Rosalie Craig before, when she was in Macbeth with Kenneth Branagh in Manchester a couple of years ago, and she was pleased to remember that time. The male star of the play, Hadley Fraser, also obliged with an autograph and photo, and then he and Rosalie exchanged Happy New Year’s with me before they left.
It was a great day, and a great start to the New Year. I’d have been happy just to meet Sally Geeson again, so I’m extremely pleased to have met so many more people as well.
As I haven’t been blogging for a few months, here is a video of all the people I got photos with during 2014. There’s no soundtrack, so feel free to play your own music as you watch. Thank you.