Selection box of showbiz fun

‘Tis the season to see Olly, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

Norfolk’s multi-talented Olly Day has hosted this annual festive frolic for 14 years. His cocktail of “dad joke” comedy, warm repartee with the audience, magic tricks, tomfoolery and tuneful singing are a distillation of what the show is all about – live family-friendly variety with a seasonal flavour.

Olly Day at his “second home” Cromer Pier

This year’s show has all the elements of traditional Christmas entertainment such as music, dance, magic and comedy sketches, but with modern trimmings including a stunning Irish dance routine, jaw-dropping woman in a box illusion, and even a new Singing Postman song.

Olly reminded the audience that, while Cromer is the only place in the world to be hosting a full-season end-of-the-pier show, it was keen to “not to be a museum piece” and aimed to keep “whizzy and up to date.”

Stand-out moments are some colourful all-cast song and dance numbers enhanced by eye-catching costumes, along with clever scenery, atmospheric lighting and some enchanting video back projections including a mesmerising nativity sand art backdrop to a haunting vocal number.

The lead vocalists see pier regular, and show director Rob McVeigh, joined by newcomer Avalon Lilly, from Dereham, making an impressive debut at the “shed on stilts” as Olly calls it.

Illusionist duo Amethyst, also returnees, astounded with their “how on earth did they do that?” sliding box routine.

Saxophonist Chloe-Edwards-Wood, who also appeared  last year, gave a jazzy twist to Walking The Air, and the six-strong dance ensemble switched effortlessly from graceful elegant ballet, to energetic feet-clattering Celtic tap.

But in true Cromer Pier tradition many of the cast members show other talents and muck in with routines – such as the If I Was Not Upon the Stage musical sketch. And watch out for Olly and illusionist Danny dipping their terpsichorean toes into Swan Lake. 

The show starts with a Dickensian Street scene and ends with a clap-along finale complete with snow flurry. And even an appearance of The Grinch cannot take the shine off a sparkling evening of live entertainment to brighten up anyone’s Christmas. 

CHEEEESE!: Olly Day focuses on the opening number

The two-hour runs until December 30, six days a week, with matinee and evening performances. Prices from £25 (adult) and £17 (child) from or the box office on 01263 512495.

Glitter in the feathery finale

REVIEW: Richard Batson.

PICTURES: Will Jarvis.

Changes to Cromer Remembrance events

Following discussions with the Cromer Church and the Royal British Legion, Cromer Town Council have agreed that from this year, the Remembrance Sunday events will be brought forward by one hour.

Instead of the parade assembling at 2.30pm, the parade will assemble behind the Tourist Information centre in the Meadow Car Park at 1.30pm. Under the direction of Parade Marshall -Matthew Webster – the parade will march off at 1.40, processing through town to the church for a 2pm Service of Remembrance.

Attended by the Royal British Legion and numerous groups and organisations from around Cromer and surrounding towns, the Service will remember the residents of Cromer who died in conflicts from 1914 onwards.

Leaving the service at approximately 2.50pm, wreaths will be laid at the War Memorial where, accompanied by the Cromer & Sheringham Brass Band, those gathered will sing “Abide with Me”.

Members of the public are encouraged to watch this annual parade and join the service in the church at 2pm.

David Pritchard, town councillor and secretary of the Cromer Royal British Legion said: “This decision has been made by the Town Council to ensure that the hundreds attending this important service are able to make their way home afterwards in daylight and that volunteers are able to safely attach the wreaths to the Poppy Panel at the rear of the War Memorial.”

At 10.50am on November 11, an Armistice Day service will be held at the War Memorial in the grounds of Cromer Church where the Last Post will be sounded at 11am, followed by the traditional two minutes silence.

Members of the public are encouraged to come along and join in the service which as taken place in every village, town and city for over one hundred years.

Family’s pledge to keep fighting for justice

The family of a north Norfolk man who died in suspicious circumstances while working in Africa insist they won’t stop fighting for justice, despite repeated knock-backs from the authorities.

MP Duncan Baker recently wrote to the Foreign Office about the unresolved case of Dr Ding Col Dau Ding, who lived in Cromer.

The British national was killed at the age of 39 while practising medicine in South Sudan in October 2015. The authorities there initially said he had taken his own life, but his family quickly poked holes in that theory, and urged the UK government to investigate.

But since then, they say they have received little help, despite multiple attempts to get the government to intervene.

Mr Baker’s predecessor, Norman Lamb, first raised the matter with then-foreign secretary Boris Johnson, but that went nowhere, his family said.

Mr Baker asked a question about the matter in the House of Commons in 2021, before sending a further request for information to the government last month.

Dr Ding’s brother, Dr Dau Ding – who is also from Norfolk and works in the UK – has vowed that he “will not fail to get justice”, but added: “I feel very angry. I am very bitter about it all.

“The UK government have not taken this issue seriously at all. That is the main thing that has made me angry.

“They are not being straight with me. They have been evasive and opaque.

“At worst, that has been intentional because of some ill-conceived diplomacy within the Foreign Office; at best, it has been because of incompetence.”

The latest attempt by Mr Baker to raise the issue with the government has led to a reply from Andrew Mitchell, minster for Africa.

He said: “I recognise that this continues to be a distressing time for Dr Ding and I appreciate his frustration that we have not yet received a response from the South Sudanese minister of foreign affairs regarding his brother’s case.”

Dr Ding’s brother is convinced the murder has been covered up because of political connections his family has in the country.

“I now know who killed my brother and why they did it,” he said.

“But more importantly, I now know why there has been an extensive attempt to sweep my brother’s murder under the carpet by the South Sudanese government. It is political.”

Despite the official ruling that the death was a suicide, he says there is plenty of evidence pointing instead to murder.

He said there was no gun in his brother’s hand, he had been shot from behind, and there was no blood splatter at the scene.

Threats had been made against him previously, and CCTV recordings of the property appeared to have been removed.

Before Mr Baker’s most recent intervention, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said the responsibility for investigating deaths abroad belonged to the local authorities.

In a statement, a spokesman said: “We provided assistance to the family of a British man who died in South Sudan and were in contact with the local authorities.”

When asked what British nationals should do if they encountered resistance or a lack of co-operation from authorities overseas, the FCDO said it had no further comment.

Dr Ding Col Dau Ding attended Aylsham High School and Paston Sixth Form College before going to university at Bristol and Oxford, where he got a PhD in neuroscience, before returning to Bristol to train as a medical doctor.

Mr Baker’s office said that he would not comment publicly on the grounds that it was a constituency “casework inquiry”.

The South Sudanese embassy in London has been contacted for comment.

Adam Aiken

Rare film of dolphins off our coast

North Norfolk photographer Chris Taylor captured the film of a lifetime when he got this amazing clip of bottlenose dolphins off the coast.

“I was lucky enough to film a pod of eight to 10 bottlenose dolphins swimming very close to the  shore at West Runton,” he said. “I was flying the drone doing some filming when I noticed splashing all around the Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority rib.  On flying closer I realised it was bottlenose dolphins.”

The dolphns following the EIFCA boat along the coast. Picture:

One of the crew on the rib told him that the dolphins had first approached them off Blakeney and then followed them to Cley for around an hour.

“The dolphins later rejoined the boat when they were off West Runton and continued to swim around the boat and follow them for another 30-40 minutes,” said Chris.

Lucy’s our Barbie girl

Before Margot Robbie stepped out of a pair of pink high-heeled slippers or sat in Barbie’s iconic pink sports car, Lucy Scarfe had done it first.

As a stand-in for the actress in this summer’s blockbuster, Barbie, Lucy helped the film crew to get the perfect looks for the main character and to rehearse scenes so the leading lady would know where to stand, walk, dance – and fall over.

“I tried on lots of bikinis, lots of dresses, a lot of iconic Barbie outfits from over the years to see what they would look like on camera,” said Lucy, a former pupil at Sheringham High School. “I must have tried more than 100 potential Barbie outfits and a lot of wigs!”

She was also used to develop the perfect tan for all the Barbies — and the Kens.

“They ended up mixing lots together to get one with a plasticky look with some pink in – the dancers had to come in early to have it put on every day.”

Work started back in January 2022 and it was a far cry from the job she had as a teenager – a Saturday girl at Budgens supermarket in Holt.

“A lot of people will remember me from there,” said Lucy, who also went to Holt Primary School. “I’m a Holt girl and my mum still lives in Hempstead.

“It was during my time here that I developed a love for the performing arts. I started taking dance classes after school at Marlene’s School of Dance in Cromer and also evening acting classes at the Sheringham Little Theatre.

“I then moved to London to find more opportunities in TV and film.”

Since then Lucy, who is now 36, has worked as a stand-in for actors Anne Hathaway (in Les Miserables and The Hustle), Emma Stone (in Cruella), Daisy Ridley (In Murder On The Orient Express), Elle Fanning (in Maleficent), Kate Hudson (in Glass Onion) and Millie Bobby Brown (in Enola Holmes).

And while she is never seen on screen, she said she loved doing her job. “There is only a small number of people who do what I do, and once you establish yourself you know you can get regular work.

“You get to work with some crazy famous people and you get used to that very quickly. In a couple of days they are just part of the team.”

A lot of her work is through word of mouth and it was her work in Enola Holmes that led to the offer of the Barbie role.

“I’m always in the background,” she said. “A lot of my family say ‘What are we going to see you in?’ I always tell them they won’t, unless they recognise me when I am doubling.”

In this role she did not act as Margot’s body double which, she says, was just as well, having rehearsed the already famous scene where Barbie steps out of her shoes and her feet stay in shape.

“Margot was perfect for Barbie,” she said. “And she has the nicest feet. Much nicer than mine!”

Apart from a week filming outside in LA, the movie was shot in the Warner Brothers studios in Watford, with proper Dream Houses.

“I thought it would all be green screen but they built all the main set and the attention to detail was amazing. We had some children come round to see it and it was so funny to see their faces. It was the sweetest thing.”

When filming started, Lucy stood in to test the lighting and camera angles so Margot knew where she needed to be to complete the take.

“Margot was always so friendly and fun to be around, and so was Ryan Gosling who played Ken,” she said.

And while Lucy loves all her work, she said the Barbie role was something very special.

“As a child I played with a pink Barbie car so when I was asked to drive Barbie’s 1956 Corvette for rehearsals it was a dream come true! There was never a dull day on set – it often didn’t feel like work!”

Her next job is working on Paddington 3 – but she said she won’t be modelling duffel coats as she is a stand-in for Olivia Colman.

And while she did go to the premiere of Barbie, Lucy has an even more special showing to go to – with her mum.

“She hasn’t seen it yet and I am really looking forward to it.”

Soprano takes centre stage

A Wroxham-based soprano will be taking centre stage at a special concert in Norwich at the weekend.

Katalin Prentice will be the soloist with the Pakefield singers when they present Glory and Grandeur, a concert for organs and choir, and featuring anthems including Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer and Buxtehude’s Toccata in F as well as works by Mozart and Mascagni.

“I feel honoured to be invited to sing the soprano solos with the Pakefield Singers under the direction of conductor Vetta Wise and to be a part of this truly magnificent musical project,” said Katalin, who is Hungarian and has lived in the UK for 11 years and in Wroxham since 2015.

A dentist by profession, she stopped working when pregnant with her first daughter – she now has two – and said classical music and singing has always been her passion.

“Shortly after I moved to the United Kingdom I started vocal training with Nan Christie in London, and soon after relocating to Norfolk I met my lovely singing teacher, Vetta Wise, who has been guiding me on my musical journey ever since,” she said. “With her help and support in 2017 I completed the one-year opera course at the Associated Studios Performing Arts Academy in London, gaining a diploma in opera singing. In 2019 I finished my Trinity College ATCL Performers diploma with distinction.”

Complications with both her pregnancies took their toll and she said it has taken her a while to retrain her voice, but she has now been chosen for this important role at St Peter Mancroft on Saturday night.

She also recently took part in two international competitions, winning an honourable mention at Odin International Music Competition and the Grand Prix at the Alpin Triglav 2021 International Music, Dance and Fine Art Competition.

“As a result of winning the competition in July 2022 I performed at the prize winners’ gala concert in one of Europe’s most prestigious concert halls, the Crystal Hall in Rogaška Slatina (Slovenia) representing the United Kingdom,” said Katalin.

The concert is at 7pm and tickets are £12.50, under-16s free. Tickets can be bought on the door or from

Sheringham Goes Potty

Sheringham is gearing up for a great weekend of fun from June 30 to July 2 as the preparations continue for the annual Potty Festival – a celebration of Morris Dancing and Folk Music, which has taken place in the town for the last 30 years.  Named after Sheringham’s “Lobster Potties” Morris side, the weekend will see 35 sides dancing all around town, showcasing some fantastic outfits and skills.  Dancing will follow the various Morris forms including Molly, Rapper, Mummers, Cotswold, North West and Welsh Border.

The whole town comes alive for this festival of fun, with the 2018 Festival seeing a Guinness world record of 369 dancers dancing together – a spectacular sight.

Folk sessions will run at Holt Rugby Club, where many sides are staying, on Friday and Saturday night – just turn up and listen or play! A singaround has also been arranged at the Little Theatre in Sheringham from 8pm on Friday.

The Sheringham Shantymen will also be performing at Lifeboat Plain and at the Lobster Pub on Saturday to add to the excitement.

On Saturday, the dancing will be at 11 venues throughout the town, commencing with a grand parade at 10am, and dancing finishing at 5.30pm.  On Sunday, four venues will see more activity from 10.30 to 2pm.

For further information, please contact Chairman Tony Chadwick on or 07766163837.

Enjoy a dog day afternoon

May 1 will be a BARK holiday this year as pooches will be going on parade at the Overstrand Fun Dog Show.

It’s time to dust off your best collar and put your best paw forward for the highlight of the north Norfolk canine calendar.

Each year more people and their dogs arrive at the Sea Marge Hotel for 12 classes including waggiest tail, look-alike, best rescue, and scruffiest/fluffiest. The Best Village Dog wins the Mickey Sewell Perpetual Cup, named after the show’s original organiser.

Contestants from last year’s show.

There’s also an agility course, stalls, a raffle and cakes and the hotel bar and restaurant will be open.

Dog show regular and helper Paul Cullen said: “It’s a fabulous day out for both dogs and their owners. It’s not Crufts but the competition is fierce. Last year, there were more than 170 dogs and the event raised £1,100 for the village.

“Everyone is welcome to attend: mutts, mongrels, pups, hounds, and pedigrees. You can also bring your dog.”

Classes include a lookalike competition.

The show was started in 2015 by villager Mickey Sewell in collaboration with Overstrand Together, which helps organise events and activities in the village.

Registration starts at 1pm, with the first class at 2pm. General admission is free and each class costs £1 to enter.

Event organiser Bruce Stratton said: “This is great day out for all the family and lots of fun for everyone. All money raised goes back into the Overstrand Together village fund. We hope to see lots of wonderful dogs and their owners here for the Bank Holiday.”