Saturday, 28 April 2018

Our first film

It was a busy old day yesterday, which found me up with the lark, and driving to Northampton to speak to the lovely Bernie Keith on the radio up there. It’s always a real treat to go in and chat to him in the studio. He’s very witty and easy to talk to, and he always does his research. He’s from that older school of regional radio presenters who care passionate about their patch. I’ve always thought that this is one of the things which used to make the BBC great, and I was horrified when this particular regional pride seemed to be being slowly whittled away in favour of news gathering, which itself was becoming increasingly sensationalist and always negative. Celebrate what unites a community rather than what divides it, and we’ll find a future beyond Brexit.

I was talking to Bernie about the Em album which is available to download now from all the usual places. It would also have been available for physical sales via my website had my entire online life not vanished in a puff of smoke as a result of someone hacking into our server! Releasing an album without email is challenging to say the least. What I would say is that we now have an Em Facebook page, under “Em: The Musical” and I will be putting all sorts of cool films and things up on that. So if you’re interested, hit “like” or, better still, “follow.”

From Northampton, I went further and further north, ending my journey at Edge Hill university in Ormskirk where we released our official single from Em in the shape of their musical theatre students’ version of The Pool, which is also available as a download from all the usual places.

I did a bit of a Q and A with the students beforehand, talking to them about my career whilst trying to give them all the advice I could about working in the arts. The best advice, of course, is to work hard and be enthusiastic, but above all it’s to expect nothing. It’s hard to give this advice without sounding negative, but unless you go in with open eyes, knowing how unstable the industry is, you’re absolutely lost. The sad truth is that an actor is no more employable at the age of 40 than he or she is at 20, regardless of how many West End shows they’ve done in the meantime. I suppose the headline is that there’s no continuity in a career in the arts. My earnings have fluctuated wildly over the last twenty years. Sadly, I haven’t been aware of a particular upward trajectory!

In the early evening, we had a lovely screening of the three promotional films we’ve made for Em, in front of an audience of the students who’d worked with me on The Pool. Keith the cameraman came, as did Alice, who’d choreographed the piece, and Clare Chandler organised for Chloe and Reuben from the cast to sing two other songs from the musical live, which they did excellently.

It’s a thrill to watch a film with a large number of its cast. There’s always great howls and appreciative guffaws.

My journey home was meant to be broken at a Days Inn just off the M6 in Stafford. Imagine my surprise, and horror, therefore, when I was diverted off the motorway just one junction north of the hotel, and sent on an excruciating 45-minute diversion which brought me back to the motorway a junction further south. It was utterly impossible to reach it, so I had to phone up and book myself into a different hotel nearer Birmingham. I arrived there feeling exhausted and hugely irritable but thankfully the woman behind the counter was all smiles and kind words, so the bad mood evaporated.

If anyone wants to see our first film, please check it out at

It’s an upbeat ode to Liverpool in the 1960s, shot entirely on location in the city, including, I’m proud to say, at the famous Cavern Club.

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