Enid and Tubby (Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball)
Enid and Tubby (Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball)

“IT’S letting your dreams literally come true. Which is rather beautiful.

“Ordinary people being extraordinary.”

Imelda Staunton talking about the truly glorious That Day We Sang, written and directed by Victoria Wood.

A TV musical drama destined to become an instant classic.

Screened on BBC2 at 9pm on Boxing Day – Friday Dec 26.

It stars Imelda as “PA not secretary” Enid and Michael Ball as insurance salesman Tubby, two lonely middle-aged people who grab a second chance of life via the power of music.

These fictional characters meet in 1969 at a reunion of the Manchester Children’s Choir which made the iconic million selling recording of Nymphs and Shepherds with the Halle Orchestra 40 years before.

The film moving between events in the late 1960s and the story of a young Tubby, whose real name is Jimmy Baker, and his difficult home life in 1929.

With Harvey Chaisty as the young Jimmy and the always engaging Daniel Rigby as Mr Kirkby, the war veteran who helps him through.

Victoria Wood is also responsible for writing all of the music – Purcell’s Nymphs and Shepherds aside – in the 90-minute film.


“WHAT’S the point of getting old if you can’t break the rules?”

I have been lucky enough to experience many magical moments in my career.

Discussing Tootsie over a Soho lunch with Dustin Hoffman in 1982 is one of thousands.

Dustin Hoffman Soho 1982-1-2

Another was just a few streets and 32 years away from there earlier this month.

The press premiere screening of a 90-minute adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot.

A heartwarming and joyous film to be screened on BBC1 on New Year’s Day – 6:30pm Thursday Jan 1.

Starring Dustin Hoffman as Mr Hoppy, Judi Dench as Mrs Silver and James Corden as the (in-vision) narrator.

With a screenplay by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, reunited for the first time since The Vicar of Dibley.

Resulting in a classic film to charm both adults and children.


“DON’T wake mummy…”

The chilling, disturbing and fascinating series two of The Fall is due to begin on BBC2 next month (November).

As many fans of the drama will know, the premiere screening – hosted by BAFTA – was held at London’s Mayfair Hotel on September 23.

Below is the story I wrote for a national newspaper a few hours after that launch which was used the day after in the hard copy edition and online – the latter behind a paywall.

So for those who were unable to access at the time, here’s that report.

Followed by my transcript of the post-screening Q&A that night involving Jamie Dornan, Gillian Anderson and Allan Cubitt.

The London preview screening.
The London preview screening.

“WE all know people who have stood too close to the fire and have died.

“It happened to Philip Seymour Hoffman very recently.”

Tom Hollander reflecting after last night’s premiere screening of A Poet In New York.

A remarkable BBC2 / BBC1 Wales single drama about the final days of Dylan Thomas before his death in 1953, aged just 39.

“IT’S the most full on thing I’ve ever done.”

Keeley Hawes speaking tonight about being “waterboarded” in the second series of Line Of Duty.

Not quite the infamous torture technique.

But struggling to breathe after having her hair grabbed and being violently flushed face down several times into a police HQ toilet.

“You just do it and then have a big glass of wine,” she smiled.

The 2013 Christmas Special.
The 2013 Christmas Special.


I could not let 2013 pass without a special mention for my comedy of the year – Hebburn.

Shamefully ignored in last week’s British Comedy Awards, the first BBC2 series was screened in October and November 2012.

Just about as impressive a TV sitcom debut as I can remember.

And I was there in September 1998 for the very first press screening of a new BBC2 sitcom called The Royle Family.

Hebburn is a worthy successor to Geordie comedy classics like Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.

Bel Rowley (Romola Garai), Hector Madden (Dominic West) and Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw)

“THE newsreels are dead. We’ve bored the public for too long.”

So begins The Hour, a fascinating new BBC2 drama series set in the changing media and political world of the 1950s.

Episode one finds the BBC News at London’s Alexandra Palace still fixated with reporting on the daily lives of society darlings.

Frustrated TV news reporter Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw), working alongside Bel Rowley (Romola Garai) knows there are far more important stories to tell.

Both seize their chance with a move to Lime Grove studios in west London, heralding the dawn on a modern and questioning topical news programme called The Hour.