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Storm set to batter Norfolk

Norfolk is bracing itself for the arrival of Storm Eunice, with winds of up to 80mph set to hit the county.

Public transport has been disrupted and many attractions have closed their doors as everyone battens down the hatches in preparation for what meteorologists say will be the worst storm to hit the UK in decades.

The county has been put under an amber warning, meaning it is quite likely that bad weather will affect people, possibly including travel delays, road and rail closures and power cuts.

It is still clearing up in places from Storm Dudley, which battered the coast last weekend and resorts including Cromer and Sheringham are ready for another pounding.

Cromer bore the brunt of Storm Dudley and is now ready for another battering from Storm Eunice. Photo: PAUL MACRO

Trains services have been disrupted with some services being cancelled and others changed to hourly or two hourly. Greater Anglia is asking people not to travel unless they have to and to check before setting off for the station.

KLM has announced that it will have no flights in and out of Norwich airport and motoring organisations and the police are telling folk to take great care if they have to travel on the roads.

All Norfolk’s recycling centres will be closed all day, as will all Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserves. Breydon Water has been closed to boats and Blickling Estate, Wroxham Barns and Bewilderwood have also shut up shop.

Love Light Norwich, an illuminated display on the city’s most iconic buildings has also been called of tonight but it is still scheduled for tomorrow.

The main force of the storm is set to hit around noon.

Shows Are Just The Ticket

A comedy romp set in north Norfolk is one of the highlights of the new season put on by Norwich Theatre this spring.
Showing at Norwich Theatre Playhouse in April, The Birds and the Bees is one of a great selection of drama, singing and dancing being shown there and at the Theatre Royal.
James McDermott’s new version of the 2016 Canadian play relocates the action to north Norfolk for what is described as a “hilarious comedy romp” which “tackles topics of sex, love, science, family, and the artificial insemination of turkeys”.
The play – a collaboration with Ipswich’s New Wolsey Theatre and Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds – is on stage from April 20 to April 30.
Stephen Crocker, chief executive and creative director of Norwich Theatre, said: “The spirit of determination and love for theatre unites all three venues, and The Birds and the Bees will offer audiences good light-hearted fun, which is just what is needed right now.”

Other feel-good shows planned for the new season include The Addams Family (at the Theatre Royal, April 26 to 30); The Magic of the Beatles, which pays tribute to the fab four at the Theatre Royal on May 11; a night of music from Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in Big Girls Don’t Cry on May 18; and the sounds of the Beach Boys in Good Vibrations on July 20.


Frankie Howerd was one of Britain’s best loved comedians for many years but he had a secret life nobody knew about. The story of his clandestine life with Dennis – which lasted from the 1950s until Frankie’s death in 1992 – is told in Howerd’s End, a new play at the Playhouse on May 26.

The year also promises interesting “Evenings With…” including one with Andrew Cotter and his two labradors, Olive and Mabel.
The sports broadcaster added a new string to his bow during lockdown when his online contests between his dogs captured the heart of the internet. All three will be at the Theatre Royal on May 9.

May 15 sees Gill Sims – the woman behind the hugely popular Peter and Jane Facebook page – being interviewed on stage.
Dates have also been set for some 2023 performances, including Rambert Dance’s Peaky Blinders: The Redemption of Thomas Shelby from January 17 to January 23 and the eagerly anticipated Broadway and UK smash-hit musical Sister Act, which will run from January 9 to January 14.

Tickets are on sale now and can be bought from the Norwich Theatre box office on 01603 630000, or visit www.norwichtheatre.org where you will find more details of the performances.

Thass suffun wuff seein

REVIEW
The Nimmo Twins
Norwich Playhouse

Twenty five years is a long time, hintut?
And that is precisely how long Norfolk’s beloved Nimmo Twins have been entertaining us.

Their current show – A Load of Old Squit – is a celebration of that milestone and mixes old favourites with some new work which will be shown in its full glory in August.

Councillors Vern Gurney and Ken Steggles keep us up to date with goings on “up See Hall” and single mum and cultural icon She-Goo fills us in on her latest activities (Destiny Aguilera is 18 – can you believe it?) as well as joining forces with Professor Newton Flotman for a phonetic guide on how to understand the “looguls”.

Karl Minns brings She-Goo to life…

That would have been handy for “incomers” if they hadn’t already been shown the door by Cyril and his heartfelt message to Londoners, who will need to set their sat-navs to comply.

Keen poet Anne makes a return with her haikus and sonnets and there’s a useful recap of a special sex guide for Norfolk men… Grab your copy of the Cromer Sutra and head for Cley to look for tourists, apparently.

As always, the main brunt of the jokes are Norfolk people ourselves, and Karl Minns and Owen Evans spare nobody their rapier wit.

And the good folk of Eaton and Cringleford have their turn in the genius observations in the old classic Newmarket Road Blues…

As always, local news stories and celebrities take a hit – Mike Liggins appears to be loving his ride on the snails – and Ipswich is in line for its usual battering.

A lot of it is undeniably near the knuckle, and often below the waist, but it is clever and very funny – so funny, in fact, that we lose Karl to laughter at one point where, he admits, he came across material he hadn’t actually seen before… And this honesty and warm rapport is precisely why we love him.

He admits to having had a hard two years during the pandemic, which makes this return even sweeter.

Owen tends to be the less flamboyant of the two, but his poignant lament to The Prince of Wales Road and flawless delivery prove two halves make the perfect comedy pair.

There are still tickets available for the current show, which is at Norwich Playhouse until January 23 and Holt? Who Goes There? will run from August 3 until August 21.

Festive pier show is a cracker

REVIEW

by RICHARD BATSON

Variety is the spice of life – and it is also giving us a bonus covid “booster” this Christmas.

For the Cromer Pier’s festive cocktail of comedy, music, magic and dance serves up a real tonic as the coronavirus lingers on.

It is a selection box of tasty treats that opens with a flurry of snowflakes, feathers, glitz and dancers signalling the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

The finale is an all-singing, all-dancing, all-clapping Sister Act routine. Sandwiched in-between is a slick slideshow including rock and roll, Christmas classics, ballet, illusion, fire-eating and laughter.

Magician Taylor Morgan. Picture: WILLIAM JARVIS

There is something for all tastes – whether you like hard-centre stand-up gags and pulsing dance music, or soft-centre seasonal sentiment in the shape of haunting harmonies and gentle but gasp-inducing tricks.

The glue holding it all together is resident compere Olly Day, whose cheeky banter with the audience, dad and cracker jokes, conjuring and crooning put him in the role of favourite uncle at the Christmas party.

His sidekick is pocket rocket 4ft 8in comic Jo Little, another pier returnee, who has an endless pot of quick-fire gags, many of them man-baiting, some self-deprecating. Her slightly edgy comedy is combined with a powerful singing voice shown in an impressive Edith Piaf song,

The main vocalists are a well-matched pairing of pier favourite Rob McVeigh, a versatile all-round performer  who also directs the show, and newcomer Hayley Moss – best known as the busking “street soprano” from Norwich but whose debut at the venue shows another  dimension to her talent.

As well as an angelic classical voice, she joins in the pop and rock numbers showcasing her dancing moves, too. Katherine Jenkins and Kylie Minogue in one package.

A sprinkle of magic comes from Taylor Morgan, who mystifies with cards, rings, balls and a disappearing lady; his performing partner Rebecca Foyle who fire eats in one stunning routine that combines her flaming sticks with cool ballet.

The cast in full festive feathers.
Heavenly voices sing Hallelujah.
Olly Day with Jo Little. All Pictures: WILLIAM JARVIS

But there is also magic in another show newcomer, a giant video wall where projections ranging from snowy mountains to Santa’s factory provide a stunning backdrop. Top marks to backstage crew member Will Jarvis for creating it.

A six-strong ensemble of dancers and singers add extra energy, atmosphere and spectacle, with musical direction from pier legend Nigel Hogg, stunning costumes from Rachel Dingle and some fantastic lighting, including some “performing icicles” from Amanda Hill.

Other highlights for me included spellbinding versions of Leonard Cohen’s Halleluiah, and a song I had never heard before, Light of the World by Lauren Daigle.

It’s a cracker of show that is a super seasonal  gift for all ages. No need to keep the receipt.

Cromer Pier Christmas Show runs until December 30. Tickets and timings at www.cromerpier.co.uk

The Pier summer show will open on July 2.  

Omicron case confirmed in north Norfolk

One of the eight cases of the new Omicron covid-19 variant announced yesterday has been confirmed as being in north Norfolk.

While the exact location of the case has not been revealed, officials said they had been in contact with the person who had tested positive and their household. Louise Smith, Norfolk’s director of public health, said the case was linked to known travel to South Africa.

She told the BBC that finding a case in the county was not a surprise.

“While new information is still coming in on this variant, the early evidence has clearly shown a high level of transmissibility, and as such we can expect positive cases to be identified across the country, including in our county,” she said.

She urged people to get vaccinated “as soon as possible” and to take up booster offers, which she said would help to “break the chain of transmission”.

The UK Health Security Agency says this brings the total number of confirmed cases of the new variant in England and Scotland to 22.

Ready for your close-up?

Fancy your five minutes on the silver screen?
Well you could have your chance as a new film being shot in Sheringham is looking for extras.

Norfolk-born film director Ella Glendining will be filming her BFI-funded short film in the town next Wednesday and Thursday (September 8 and 9) and is on the look out for extras for a couple of scenes.

Would-be actors of all ages are sought to for funeral scene and those in their 20s and 30s are needed to appear at a beach party.

Ella was named among Screen International’s Screen Stars of Tomorrow in 2020 and her new project tells the story of a disabled woman returning to her sleepy seaside hometown for a friend’s funeral.

Ella said: “I grew up in Elsing, near Dereham, but spent a lot of time in Sheringham in my late teens and early 20s as one of my best friends lives there. I am interested in telling regional stories about growing up in small towns and villages as ‘other’. I am disabled and all my work is somewhat linked to the disabled experience.

Ella Glendining is shooting a film in Sheringham.

“I adore Norfolk and Sheringham and, although I live in Brighton now, I am always looking for excuses to return.
“I am very inspired by the beauty of the Norfolk coast. The film is about a new mother feeling torn between her old life and her new, trying to discover her identity as a parent, and it’s also about love.”
Extras will not be paid but Ella hopes they will enjoy the experience of being on a film set.
If you’d like to be involved you can email ellaelsing@gmail.com

Sean’s going home after covid ordeal

Sean Hunte has spent almost the whole of 2021 in hospital after suffering serious covid-19 complications. And now, after 203 days in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, he has left hospital to continue his recovery at home.

Sean, from Eaton received a guard of honour from the team on Docking ward and critical care staff after starting his treatment on 3 January.

Sean, who works as a cover supervisor in schools, was on critical care for 120 days and has been on Docking ward for the last five weeks.

He praised the care and support he received during his seven month admission.

“The care I received has been fantastic and the staff have gone beyond what I expected,” he said.

“The nurses and physiotherapists have been really friendly and when I was feeling down they really supported my mental health and the staff being nice to me has got me through the dark times. I had six nurses around my bed singing happy birthday to me last Thursday when I turned 58. Some of the staff I do not know because I was out of it, but Skye and Ross have been brilliant and are really good people.”

Sean has had adaptations made to his house to help with his mobility, said he was looking forward to continuing his rehabilitation at home.

“I have had dark times being in hospital for seven months and I want to get home to see my wife and two boys. I am looking forward to my wife’s cooking and having some good Caribbean cooking. I could not keep much food down, but I’m now ready for some good Jamaican and Antiguan food.”

And he said his experience meant he was urging people to get vaccinated.

“Covid is deadly serious and it is definitely the best thing to do is to get the vaccine,” he said. “The general feeling of being wiped out was horrendous, I was experiencing horrible hallucinations and it was very difficult not being able to talk when I had my tracheotomy. I used to play tennis three days a week and went to the gym, but I still cannot walk without an aid.”

Sam Higginson, NNUH Chief Executive, said: “It is fantastic to see that Sean is well enough to go home, which is testament to the great care he received from our teams and we wish him all the best with his ongoing recovery.”

A video of the guard of honour can be viewed here https://youtu.be/-eU6YM2TAuU

Cromer’s peerless pier show is back and flying high!

Oh, Cromer Pier show – it’s good to have you back, writes Richard Batson

After a lost summer laid waste by lockdowns, this cocktail of seaside stage tradition has returned in all its glory – with a few new twists to add to the flavour.

Animated backdrop projections add another dimension to an already multi-faceted masterpiece. And instead of two alternating shows, this year there are different guest performers every week to keep the show fresh through the whole season, which finishes on October 2.

Opening night kicked off with Tucker – a firm favourite of show fans returning with his brand of warm cheeky humour. He is a perfect foil for headliner host Phil Butler, another returnee whose talents as a comedian, magician, singer and dancer make him the perfect man to lead this traditional but modern variety show.

Show host Phil Butler. Picture: William Jarvis.

Vocalists Rob McVeigh and Marina Lawrence-Mahrra take the lead on pop and show songs including rousing numbers from the Greatest Showman and a pulsing Cuban sequence.

But the cast is most powerful when the team comes together during the big musical numbers such as Mary Poppins, Masquerade, and Les Miserables, which fill the stage with song, a talented team of dancers, stunning sets and colourful costumes adorned with feathers and sequins.

A very colourful Mary Poppins. Picture: William Jarvis.

Special mention must go to this year’s specialist act Duo Fusion UK – Connor Byrne and Tiffany Gaine – whose circus style aerial and acrobatic routines are mesmerising. The pair flew in unison over the front rows of the audience, and some of their contortions on stage drew audible gasps from the crowd.

There are no local children joining the cast this year, to lessen the covid-19 risk, and the “bubbled” stars are not doing their usual after-show mingling for the same reason, which is a shame because many feel like family friends we have known for years and enjoy catching up with. But they hope that will change as things progress.

Make sure you don’t arrive late – because the opening sequence on the projection screen taking us from a closed theatre to the current show’s revival is poignant and powerful – and a reminder of how glad we should be to have live variety back at the end of the pier.

For tickets and show details, including the line-up of guests, visit www.cromerpier.co.uk