Simply the Best – Totally TINA

She’s 76 now, so if you haven’t already, you may never get a chance to see the real Queen of Rock & Roll, Tina Turner, in the flesh. But you can see the next best thing, Totally TINA at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre in April.

Totally Tina

Having headlined the 2015 Glastonbudget Festival last year (the biggest tribute festival of the year), Totally TINA comes to Colchester – Mercury Theatre on Monday 25th April!

Totally TINA is an award-winning tribute to the Queen of Rock and Roll, Tina Turner, being given the “Official UK number one” honour by the Agents Association of Great Britain.

Currently touring the UK theatres in a full production version with live band, dancers and our leading lady Justine Riddoch.

Rather than being a biography, this show focuses on Tina’s live concert career, replicating scenes from various tours over the last 50 years with custom twists and turns created by Justine and her cast.

Totally Tina

Justine has been singing professionally for over 22 years now and has worked extensively in theatres and on national TV, she is also a much sought after session vocalist for some of the biggest record labels in the UK.

In her early career she could be seen treading the familiar cabaret scene as a dynamic vocalist and could boast knowing over 5000 songs, becoming a human jukebox at venues.

Totally Tina

But it was in 2002 that her career would change direction. After winning ITV’s “Stars in their Eyes” as Anastacia, her tribute show “Justine is Anastacia” was in great demand and she spent the next 6 years performing as her around the world, enlisting a live band to create more of a show feel. When Anastacia stopped releasing albums and her popularity waned, it was time to change direction again.

Having been told on many occasions she really sounded like Tina Turner, Justine set herself the challenge to become the closest copy she could be. But this was going to take some transformation. After hours of scrutinising video footage, watching mannerisms and movements, hand making the all important wig, deciding which costumes to copy, listening to patter and hundreds of versions of the same songs from different decades, the band and Justine created Totally TINA.

Totally Tina

The boys in the band were informed that girls would have to be a big big part of this and surprisingly no one complained! A troupe of professional dancers were hand-picked, choreography based on Tina’s live shows and our own unique creations were created and the whole production was rehearsed, tweaked and rehearsed again.

So get ready to Shake your Tailfeathers, with the Queen of Rock and Soul, Live from Nutbush and Simply the Best!

Monday 25th April

Time: 7.30pm

Tickets are available from the Mercury Theatre box office.

Box Office No: 01206 573948

Book online

For more information on Totally TINA:

Official Website



2016 Video Promo Trailer

Totally Tina




The Domesday Murders

Former literature lecturer at Essex University, Val Morgan, who lives in the Colchester area, has just released her next book in her Aefled and Eleanor series, The Domesday Murders, continuing the story set in the time of William the Conqueror and the time of the Domesday Survey. Nicola Pool has reviewed it for Colchester 101.

The title of this unusual book is somewhat misleading, as it suggests an Ellis Peters’ Cadfael-esque whodunnit set in the post-Conquest era.  Although two men are murdered, and a portion of the plot does hinge upon the events surrounding their deaths, the novel is something else entirely.

Domesday Murders

The book centres around an English village twenty years after the Norman Conquest, and uses its cast of characters to illustrate the socio-political changes that have taken place. There is Aefled, the main character – an unusually educated English ‘village girl’ forcibly married to Robert the Norman Lord of the Manor- who now finds herself mother to the next generation of Anglo-Normans, with more influence than she had previously dreamt of and a hope to bring some unity to the next generation through educating Norman and English boys together.  Mother Ethel, the local wise woman and seer who had enjoyed wealth and status pre-Hastings; Linseed and his band of silvatici freedom-fighters who find themselves increasingly disunited as the reality of Norman dominance bites.

Morgan is gifted in depicting the sights and smells, but above all the precarious and violent nature of life in the eleventh century.  Sexual violence is not shied away from, although more disturbing is the way in which the lives of the English villagers hang on the whim of the Normans – arbitrary punishments and retributions run throughout the book.

The main issue with the book is that it is feels like it is trying too hard to be educational.  At times, the historical context is over-explained at the expense of the pace. This also impacts on the characters – who feel like each only exists to represent some aspect of the time period.  Aefled, her maid Maria, balladeer Edmund and the outlaw Linseed are characters whose depths and backgrounds are barely touched on, other than to fit them into the chronology of the recent socio-political changes.  The villain of the piece, Ralph, is satisfyingly nasty, but again is meant to represent wider changes in the power of the church so we learn very little of his motivations. There is romance – between local girl Acha and the dashing Edmund –  treachery, and tension at various points in the novel and the plot is well-woven – it is just that the reader is left wishing for a little less education and a little more character.

Nicola Pool

Val will be giving a talk at Colchester Library in Trinity Square tomorrow, Friday, February 26, at 2pm entitled Domesday: Fact and Fiction at which she will also talkabout the book and signing copies.

The Domesday Murders is out in paperback for £8.99 and £14.99 in hardback in all good bookshops, and on Amazon.



Tollgate Village

A lot has been said in the past four days about Colchester Borough Council’s decision to reject the planning application for the Tollgate Village retail and leisure development near the existing Tollgate shopping centre. There has been a storm of protest and genuine anger on social media, and the Daily Gazette newspaper readers’ comments, from Colchestrians who clearly believe that it is just the kind of development the town needs and feel wronged that it was rejected.

Tollgate Village

Enough has already been written, and is still being written, about the how’s and why’s of the council rejecting the development at their planning meeting last Thursday evening so I don’t want to go back over that and point fingers again because when I had the idea for Colchester 101 a few years ago, originally in print form but now online, my vision was that it should be a vehicle for positivity about Colchester, its people, its organisations and clubs, music and arts scenes, and events. If you want to see my personal ‘no holds barred’ opinion though you can see it on my own blog HERE. A staggering 3000 of you have already read it in the three days since I posted it.

Looking at this from a positive Colchester 101 perspective, and now throwing our hat into the ring to join the online debate, this town needs Tollgate Village. It also needs Northern Gateway. And it needs the town centre to be dragged out of its current decline. I’m not in the business of knocking Colchester, I think it’s a fantastic place, but we have been slipping behind our neighbours in recent years and it’s about time we played catch up.

So many of us jump in our cars these days and head to Ipswich or Braintree to go to the cinema, and Lakeside, Bluewater, Chelmsford and Braintree to shop. Why? Because they offer something we don’t have here… ease of parking, variety and choice.

Colchester is expanding at breakneck speed but with little in the way of real infrastructure to accommodate the town’s rapidly growing population. The General Hospital is collapsing under the strain of the pressure it is being placed under, our road network can’t cope, and yet the town centre on a Saturday never seems as busy as I remember it years ago even with all these extra people that live here now, and everywhere there are casinos, nail bars and charity shops where there used to be retailers.

Colchester isn’t the shopping destination I remember it to be when I was growing up that people came down the A12 from Chelmsford to shop in. We once had Marks & Spencer’s UK flagship store, but not anymore. Now it’s the other way round, they head to Chelmsford and other retail destinations. But with Tollgate Village, and the council’s own preferred scheme Northern Gateway, we could become a major regional leisure and retail destination, and get some of that money that is currently spent in Chelmsford etc spent here instead, and attract people to come here from across Essex and Suffolk. The town centre can benefit from that too with a bit of joined up thinking. Look at how Chelmsford reinvented itself when it pedestrianised its high street a few years ago, creating a pleasant shopping environment that people from all over the surrounding area want to visit, along with its two indoor shopping malls and covered market. This pedestrianised shopping area is home to the town’s outdoor market stalls, spread along the street rather than huddled together on one side like in Colchester, and during warmer weather it plays host to community and charity events, local brass and silver bands, and street performers.

We could have the same. Look at the success of the Light and Shades Family Fun Day on Halloween when the High Street was closed for the day. The street was packed all day. In my opinion we need to find a way to permanently pedestrianise the High Street and emulate what Chelmsford has done. I know the Roman wall might cause some problems, and there are the issues of disabled access, buses and deliveries to contend with, but other towns find ways of solving problems and we can too. Instead of finding reasons why we can’t do it we should be looking for ways we can do it. In my business Media48 we don’t say to our customers “We can’t do that, there’s obstacles in our way” we get on with it and find a way to make it happen. Colchester Borough Council needs to start – and I apologise for the cliché – thinking outside the box. No correct that, thinking like there isn’t a box. Oh, and reduce the extortionate cost of parking in the town centre because if you want people to shop here then don’t rob them blind to park their cars.

Tollgate Village

We could have Tollgate Village, Northern Gateway AND a vibrant and prosperous town centre. We need to play to our strengths and use our unique history to full effect in the town centre. Market this old town of ours properly as a tourist destination instead of just focussing on the castle, as awe-inspiring as it is. Get people coming to our town to shop, and compete with the likes of Freeport and Chelmsford, whether that’s for our town centre experience, or leisure and retail with choices like Tollgate Village and Northern Gateway.

Putting our town firmly on the leisure and retail map could also have a knock on effect. It would make it more attractive to potential major employers looking for a location for new headquarters, regional offices, manufacturing plants etc, because these are what their potential and future employees are looking for before considering relocating to a new town. You never know, we could one day actually replace the likes of Royal London and Guardian Direct, creating more jobs and bringing more money into the town.

I don’t want to be writing in another ten years about how much further this town has slipped behind our neighbours, I want to be living in the town that, just like when I was growing up here, our neighbours want to come to because it has the best shopping and leisure facilities around. We can become a regional force to be reckoned with, but to achieve that we need developments such as Tollgate Village. If you feel the same way as I do and you haven’t already done so, then please sign the petition that was created by Twitter user and champion of this town @colchesterviews. We can’t force this development to happen, but if the petition gets over 1800 signatures it should force a full council debate to discuss the matter.

You can find the petition HERE.






Simon Crow




A Thoroughly Modern English

I met up with Robbie Grey late last year for a coffee and a catch up just before he returned to his home in Thailand for the winter, but I’ve been keeping this interview under wraps until now because the band, on the surface at least, seemed to be enjoying a something of a break at the time, playing only a handful of dates in Italy, Belgium, Holland, Germany and France that year. But were they really? No. Plans were already afoot for a very busy time indeed in 2016. Perhaps one of the busiest yet in their career that has spanned four decades.

Modern English

Born out of the UK’s punk scene, and originally named The Lepers, Colchester’s post punk legends Modern English found fame in the USA in the early 80’s with their single I Melt With You from their Hugh Jones produced 1982 album After the Snow. The song became a favourite on the newly launched MTV music television station, and reached a very impressive number 7 on America’s Billboard Top Tracks chart in 1983. They also found further fame when it was also used in the ending titles of Nicholas Cage’s breakthrough movie Valley Girl that same year as well as numerous television commercials.

After several line-up changes over the years, four of the original members, Robbie Grey, Mick Conroy, Gary McDowell and Steve Walker have now been back together for the past few years and are as busy, if not busier, than they were all those years ago when it all first began.

“There’s a lot of work going on for a bunch of blokes from the 80’s,” Robbie jokes.

It certainly is, and it’s great to see them still going strong, still enjoying what they do, and giving so many of us, especially those of us from Colchester, a link back to own our teens and 20’s.

Robbie Grey
After a brief respite to settle into the year the band are off to Florida where, on February 28th, they set sail from Fort Lauderdale on The 80’s Cruise, a themed cruise where will they be joined by drummer Roy Martin and will be starring alongside other beloved artists of that decade including Kool and the Gang, Huey Lewis and The News, Tiffany, A Flock of Seagulls and many others.

The full line-up can be seen here, and if you fancy a bit of winter sun combined with some 80’s tunes there are still cabins left to book.

Robbie tells me more about it: “The 80’s Cruise is going to be hilarious. I don’t know if we just going to be stuck in our quarters and not allowed to go anywhere because I know there’s one part of the ship just for the artists. It must be a bloody big ship, that’s all I can say! There seems to be a lot of does and don’t in the contract too, including about getting drunk, so a few of us will have to watch that one!”

I tell him I have visions of Gary riding up and down the ship’s corridors on his Harley Davidson, “That might still happen!”


In May they are back across the Atlantic again, this time for the Mesh and Lace tour, a marathon coast to coast North American tour comprising over 20 dates (at time of publication) taking in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, Dallas and Los Angeles to name but a few, and also heading up into America’s northern neighbours Canada for dates in Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto.

 You can see all the tour dates on Modern English’s official website.

Modern English Dallas

Robbie explains: “There’s some songs from Mesh and Lace like Grief and The Token Man that I don’t think we’ve ever played live, so it’s going to be great to play some of the old stuff, and the early singles like Swans on Glass, and possibly even earlier stuff than that.”

Modern English
We chat about how the band are mainly known in the US for I Melt With You, “Over here they don’t know it, they want Gathering Dust and Sixteen Days. It’s a really split audience. When we play in Europe they don’t want to hear it. They want Sixteen Days and Swans on Glass, not the pop stuff, which is fair enough.”

Moving on to the current music scene I mention my surprise that I Melt With You has recently been covered by Australian singer, and ex Neighbours Star, Natalie Imbruglia on her Male album on which she covers tracks made famous by male-led acts. “There’s definitely been a resurgence, Robbie tells me. “People are just bored with all this modern music, so even the kids are looking for something a bit edgy or different that they can listen to. Back in the day Alison Moyet was going to cover it. Nouvelle Vague covered it.”

I mention the version by Mest used at the end of Not Another Teen Movie: “A lot of American pop rock bands have done versions, there’s been three or four of them over the years. Fred Durst did it. Loads and loads of people do it.”

I ask Robbie what it feels like to be having another crack at what they were doing 30 or so years ago: “We never thought we’d get to feel like that again. It’s amazing. We did a few gigs in Europe over the summer, in Paris, trendy Berlin, and all these other cities, Brussels, Frankfurt, Hamburg. We were kind of going back to our early stuff. We’d decided to give America a rest for a while as we’d played so much there over the years and to go back to our roots in England and Europe. It’s been great for Modern English to play in cities we haven’t been to in for over 30 years. It’s been really good fun.”

Gary McDowell

Meanwhile, in the background, the band have quietly been recording an as yet unnamed new album, produced by Martyn Young from Colourbox and MARRS: “It’s a varied sound on there because a lot of it was Mick writing bits of music and sending them to me in Thailand, me putting vocals on and Gary adding guitars, and Steve adding keyboards. So it’s a different flavour to us all standing in a room together, it’s got a different feel to it, but there’s some really good songs on there, some good music, some exciting music. It’ll be interesting to see what people make of it. I can imagine it being played on Radio 6, let’s put it that way, it’s got that flavour to it. Quite a lot of it is a bit leftfield, which is what we were always about.”

“It’s been brilliant over the last few years,” Robbie continues, “we’ve just finished recording the new album, we’ve got some really good songs and we’ve started writing new songs for the next album. So we’re busy, we’re not shirking, we’re doing lots and lots of stuff”

Fans pre-ordering the new album, will get behind the scenes access including footage from the studio, and sneak peeks of the new songs along with the stories behind them. To order, head over to Pledge Music, where you will also find other exclusive offers including a guitar lesson with Gary or a bass lesson with Mick, limited edition band merchandise, and signed CDs and lyric sheets. Fans can even book the band to come and play a gig in their front room for their family and friends. Yes really!

You can find out more at Pledge Music.

Modern English

Could another Colchester gig be on the cards? “It would be nice to play in Colchester again, so who knows?”

With a band that’s been around as long as Modern English it seems that anything is possible.

Official Modern English Facebook

Official Modern English Twitter






Simon Crow

Keep the Green Clean

Keep The Green Clean is a local community project which aims to create and maintain Greenstead Slopes and Ghost Wood as a litter-free environment for all to enjoy. Karen Waddy tells Colchester 101 more about it.

It all began several years ago when a few dog walkers began picking up other people’s rubbish while they were out with their pets. When I first became involved the stream (Porter’s Brook) which runs behind the wood was full of old mattresses, empty paint tins and even a rusty old motorbike frame. The wood was full of ‘dens’ created from broken bits of furniture and were a magnet for anti-social behaviour. We contacted Colchester Borough Council about the larger items, which they removed for us; something we still have to request but thankfully not as often nowadays.


We’re incredibly lucky to live on a large council housing estate and yet have this remarkable natural area literally on our doorsteps. In the spring we’re treated to a wonderful display of buttercups in their millions across the bottom of the slopes, before the wood is covered in a carpet of fabulous bluebells. The wildlife is incredible, with a natural meadow full of butterflies, bees and grasshoppers and trees filled with a wide array of birds; from tiny sparrows to large jays, as well as grey squirrels. Since ridding the stream of junk we now have the water running freely; something which hasn’t happened in years.


I started writing a couple of blogs about the project two years ago in an effort to engage local residents in the scheme and to attempt to get others to help out with the ongoing task of keeping the green spaces tidy, and to advertise events which we organise. We held a Dog Awareness Day during June 2013 in order to tackle the thorny issue of irresponsible owners allowing their dogs to foul the area, and October 2015 we held a Planting Day, when a group of us, assisted by the Community Payback Team, planted hundreds of snowdrop, crocus and daffodil bulbs around the trees and at the edges of the field. We’re hoping to see a lovely display in the spring.

dog awareness day


February 2015 Keep The Green Clean and Ghost Wood / Greenstead Slopes were both given prestigious RHS Neighbourhood Awards from Colchester in Bloom.

On 23rd September we were awarded the Trinity House Trophy in the Best Community Project 2015 category by Colchester in Bloom. November 2015 we were nominated for an award from Colchester Borough Homes for Action Against Anti-Social Behaviour.


We’re very lucky to have the support of our local Street Warden along with Colchester Borough Council.

The Woodland Trust have kindly said they’d donate 30 saplings for us to create a small copse adjacent to Ghost Wood; 10 silver birch, 10 rowan and 10 wild cherry. This is in keeping with our long-term plans of leaving a legacy for future generations to enjoy. The saplings are due to arrive in March, when we’ll hopefully be able to arrange a few volunteers to help with the planting. If anyone has any saplings they’d like to donate towards the new copse, or if anyone would like to help with the planting or offer ongoing support, our email address is

Keep the Green Clean – Blogspot Blog

Keep the Green Clean – WordPress Blog

Karen Waddy




Karen Waddy


Ryan Reynolds’ motormouth antihero Deadpool finally gets his own movie which opens at Colchester’s Odeon Cinema on 10th February. To get you in the mood, our intrepid movie reviewer Andy Oliver has been along to a preview and has this exclusive review for Colchester 101’s readers. We get the impression he rather liked it!


After just a single viewing of the new Ryan Reynolds vehicle (though that’s grossly underselling the term), Deadpool, I can confidently say that this is going to be massive to a certain demographic: It may well be the ultimate movie of the “Lad Bible” generation. It will launch a million internet memes and be quoted endlessly wherever 15 to 30 year-old boys gather.

For the rest of us? It teeters on a very thin line between entertaining and insufferably smug.

Created in the early nineties by comic book writer/artist Rob Liefeld and writer Fabian Nicieza, Deadpool first appeared in Marvel’s X-Men spin-off series The New Mutants. Originally designed to be an antagonistic character he soon became one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe, an antihero with spectacular healing powers and a tendency to fill the panels with his verbose wit (earning himself the appellation, “The Merc with a Mouth”). His other “super-power” is his meta-awareness: an ability to break the fourth wall; he’s the only character who actually realises he’s in a comic book and frequently aims his quips and asides directly to the reader.

This is the second time Reynolds has played the character, Deadpool was first seen in the universally panned X-Men Origins: Wolverine but was so woefully handled that the actor (a fan of the character) campaigned long and hard to get a second chance to play him and, more importantly, to play him exactly as he’s written in the comics, to get it right.

The movie is basically a revenge tale scattered with, sometimes over-long, “Origin story” flashbacks. Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a mercenary soldier with a heart of gold who falls for the prostitute, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) who services the “needs” of the customers at his favourite Merc’ bar. When he is diagnosed with inoperable cancer he volunteers for a treatment that will awaken his latent, mutant super-healing power. Unfortunately, the experiment is a cover for a torture chamber and when his power finally surfaces it leaves him horribly disfigured. Unwilling to let Vanessa see him in this state, he dons the persona and costume of Deadpool and vows to track down the villain responsible for his misfortune, Ajax (Ed Skrein).

And, uh, that’s it. To say this plot is thin is an understatement, it’s practically skeletal, even for a comic book movie it’s under-nourished. But that’s not the point of Deadpool, the plot is secondary to the gags and the action. It’s in these aspects that you will either love or hate this movie, if you ever wanted the scattershot comedy of Airplane! to be crossed with stylish ultra-violence of The Matrix or 300, then Deadpool is definitely the movie for you. For everybody else, Deadpool is a wobbly, flat-pack wardrobe overladen with designer great-coats and “wacky” shirts that you’ve only ever worn once and are, quite frankly, past their return date.


The structure of the film is both its strength and its weakness, the flashbacks allow us to get straight into the super-suited action, rather than the usual interminable wait to see the hero you actually paid to see, but tend to go on a bit too long and the action sequences tend to head downhill after the first set-piece. Rather than build the tension, the movie almost feels like it’s tailing off, like a balloon blown up to bursting point and then the air is slowly released in a squeaky-fart that’s initially funny but grows increasingly tiresome. Unfortunately, the best action scene in the movie not only comes right at the beginning, but the chances are you’ve already seen it – it’s been available on the internet for ages, it’s the highway battle released as test footage on YouTube. The final action scene is good enough but it’s all a bit generic and unsatisfying.

There’s probably fifty percent of the jokes that hit home, which is a pretty good ratio when you look at the majority of comedies released in the last twenty years, but when they miss they come across as smug and annoying. Deadpool is a lot like Bugs Bunny, he’s obnoxious, but you kind of enjoy his cruel antics, then again, five minutes of Looney Tunes is a lot more bearable than an hour and fifty of Deadpool. For me, the constant breaking of the fourth wall became very tiresome very quickly and I began questioning many of the “meta” gags as too knowing without any awareness at all. For instance, he references Green Lantern (Reynolds’ other high profile superhero appearance – and flop) but never questions the thinness of the current movie he’s appearing in, I would have been more invested in the film if his thoughts on his story echoed my own: “I know this is weak, but wait for the sequel”, uttered just once might’ve worked in its favour.


Ryan Reynolds is genial enough, though sometimes his delivery comes across as a little smarmy, and overall he hits the right note. Morena Baccarin looks like she’s just on the edge of doing something good if only the script let her, but mostly she’s just another damsel in distress, a sadly generic role that points to the sensibilities of the film’s target demographic. Ed Skrein is okay, I really can’t say anything other than that, he’s not bad but he’s not a great villain. TJ Miller, as Wade/Deadpool’s buddy, Weasel, steals it as the best secondary character and really nails the majority of his gags. There’s a few other comic book cameos: Colossus (Stefan Kapicic) a motion captured steel man, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) a surly teenage powerhouse and Angel Dust (Gina Carano) who’s… well, she’s in it. Karan Soni is funny as an Indian cab driver but Wade’s flatmate, a blind old black lady called Al (Leslie Uggams) feels like a wasted opportunity for some good laughs.

First time director Tim Miller shows more of his weaknesses than his strengths (he came from a background of video games and special effects, and it shows), whilst the scattershot script by Zombieland scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, mostly, delivers what the fans want.

Deadpool is an utterly juvenile experience, but that’s the point. It’s difficult to criticise a movie that so joyfully embraces its own immaturity. I didn’t hate it, Deadpool is diverting, at times fun, at times very funny and at times annoying and how much you enjoy it will depend on how many of those jokes hit home for you. There are worse ways to spend a couple of hours. Fantastic 4, anyone?

Andy Oliver






Andy Oliver


Bringing Back the Bucks!

If you like to get your nostalgia groove on once in a while then the Mercury Theatre has the perfect night coming up for you when Cheryl, Mike and Jay formerly of Bucks Fizz will be bringing the 80s back to Colchester.

Make Believe Tour

It is 35 years since Bucks Fizz stormed to the top of the charts around the world after winning The Eurovision Song Contest for the UK with the skirt ripping song “Making Your Mind Up”!

The Band’s line up is classic Eurovision – two boys, two girls, dance routines, harmonies and extravagant  outfits.

Originally put together as the perfect winning act, Bucks Fizz went far beyond their original Eurovision remit and as one of the biggest selling bands of the 80’s became a global phenomenon.  “Making Your Mind Up” became a number one hit across the world selling more than four million copies.  The legendary skirt-ripping routine propelled them to overnight success charting at No. 1 in 9 countries beyond the UK.

Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and Jay Aston are joined by Bobby McVay, himself a Eurovision veteran having represented the UK in 1983  with the band, Sweet Dreams, singing “I’m Never Giving Up”, which came a credible sixth in the competition.

Cheryl says, “I cannot believe it is 35 years since we won The Eurovision Song Contest!  We are looking forward to celebrating with fans old and new.  We recreate our familiar hits both vocally and visually which takes the audience on a nostalgic journey back to the 80’s.”

Bucks Fizz

Like a good champagne, their performances have matured, and they still manage to hold all the fun, vitality and passion of performances of the record breaking tours of the 1980’s. Recent appearances at the nostalgia festivals, including Here and Now, Rewind and Let’s Rock, have reminded the Great British public of the power of The Fizz, as every person in the crowd finds themselves singing along and dancing to hits of their youth, and on 21st March fans young and old have the chance to catch them on their Make Believe Tour at the Mercury Theatre.

The once 10 year old screaming fans of the 80’s are now 40 year old mums who bring their own 10 year olds – The Fizz’ appeal spans the generations!

Bucks Fizz2=

This year will also see the release of their most recent album Fame & Fortune on vinyl in a collector’s presentation box.  They are also in the studio with a world-renowned producer recording yet another album – a collaboration that the fans will be thrilled about.


Monday 21st March

Mercury Theatre, Box Office  01206 573948


For further information on CHERYL, MIKE & JAY formerly of BUCKS FIZZ, check out the following website/social media links below:

Official Website



Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for February

Our Classical Music columnist Liz Leatherdale, founder and owner of Colchester Classics, brings you her pick of February’s Classical Music events in, and around, Colchester.


Rachmaninov Piano Concertos

This month St Botolph’s Music Society begins its 50th anniversary anniversary celebrations in a Gala Concert with two international pianists Noriko Ogawa and Philip Smith performing two Rachmaninov Piano Concertos. The society was founded by Colin Nicholson, former Head of Music at Colchester Royal Grammar School, who continues to be active within the society and at the church.

Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto, often described as the greatest ever written, will be performed this month by international pianist Noriko Ogawa accompanied by the St Botolph’s Music Society Orchestra. This music is virtuosic and lyrical for both soloist and orchestra.  The main theme from the sublime second movement has been used elsewhere including the modern ballad ‘All by Myself’.

Philip Smith will be the soloist in Rachmaninov’s most technically challenging third Piano Concerto. This work is  often over-shadowed by No.2 but  received greater recognition when featured in the film, Shine.  The Oscar-winning success of the film ensured a new audience  became aware of this Romantic work. The movie told the true story of the Australian concert pianist David Helfgott, who suffered a mental breakdown and abandoned his career for many years.   Saturday 6 February 2016 at 7.30pm, St Botolph’s Church, Colchester.

Tickets: £15 (01206 823662)


Colchester Bach Choir and Orchestra

The same venue will also host the 24th annual concert performed by the Colchester Bach Choir and Orchestra in aid of the Mayor of Colchester’s Charities. Over the years these concerts have raised many thousands of pounds for good causes. As well as Bach’s Magnificat, the concert includes Vivaldi’s most famous choral work, his Gloria in D.  This popular piece is characteristic of Vivaldi’s style with distinctive rhythms, joyful choral writing and bright orchestral accompaniment. Saturday 20 February 2016 at 7.30pm.

Tickets: £12 (01206 282206)


Teddy Bears Musical Picnic

This year Colchester Arts Centre hosts the annual Teddy Bears Musical Picnic concert with the Colne Valley Youth Orchestra  offering children with teddies a chance to try conducting the orchestra and to play percussion instruments and sing!  The orchestra will perform a variety of suitable orchestral music including arrangements of the concert’s namesake “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” and the popular poem “We’re going on a Bear Hunt” set to music. Sunday 7 February 2016 at 2.30pm, Colchester Arts Centre. See for further details.

Tickets from £3 


The Kingfisher Ensemble returns to Colchester on Sunday 7 February performing Dvorak Sonatina in G and his Piano Quintet No.2 in A and Schumann  Piano Trio No.1 in D minor. This concert is in the Lion Walk Church in Colchester and start at 2.45pm. Admission is by programme at the door.

£12 for adults; £10 for concessions (senior citizens); and £2 for those in full-time education. You may also reserve tickets for collection just before the concert by contacting .


Puffin Ensemble

Later in the month the Puffin Ensemble performs  a programme including Haydn’s Symphony No.83, Mozart’s popular Sinfonia Concertante and Schubert’s Symphony No.5 in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester. Tickets available on the door or call 01206 271128. Adults £14 – Concessions £11 – Full-time education £3


If you have a forthcoming concert of classical music, you would like previewed, contact Liz Leatherdale on 0800 999 6994.

Start your love affair with Classical Music at and take a minute to watch their company video:

Liz Leatherdale







Liz Leatherdale


Sylvester Stallone’s Italian Stallion is back for the seventh film in the Rocky series, but the first neither written nor directed by Stallone. Colchester 101’s Andy Oliver reviews the Colchester Odeon’s latest January offering on the big screen.


If you have loved the Rocky movies, as bad as some of them became, then you, like myself, may find yourself wiping a grateful tear from your eye at some of the wonderfully respectful moments that appear in Creed. The sight of Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) pulling his folding chair out of a tree in a cemetery; the crudely painted ‘Eagles’ graffiti daubed on a bridge; a pair of sneakers hanging from an overhead telephone cable; Cuff and Link, Rocky’s turtles, the only friends he has left now that even the incorrigible Paulie has died. Creed shares many of the same beats as the original Rocky, but it’s sly and canny about them, never letting the previous six movies hold sway over it. Creed is its own movie and, quite honestly, it is absolutely terrific.

So, what if you’ve never seen a Rocky movie before or maybe you’ve only seen a couple, do you need to do a marathon catch-up session to bring you up to speed with Creed? Absolutely not, Creed easily stands alone for the newcomer and everything you need to know is skilfully worked into its exhilarating script. Just sit down and enjoy. If you love it, there’s a six whole movies (of varying quality, it must be said) for you to dip into at a later date.

Adonis Johnson has never known his father and his mother has died whilst in his formative years, the movie begins with a young Adonis in juvenile detention, segregated from the general prison population for fighting. When Mary Anne Creed arrives at the detention centre, young Adonis discovers that he is the illegitimate child of former boxing world champion, Apollo Creed, who died in the ring before he was born.


Having been adopted by Mary Anne (Phylicia Rashad), ‘Donnie’ (Michael B. Jordan) grows up in privileged comfort, but the fighter inside him still rules the quieter side of him that has carved out a successful career working in finance, he fights in semi-professional bouts in Mexico by night and the office by day. He has ambitions to be a fighter, like his father, but when he finds that his Los Angeles gym have no interest in training him he moves to Philadelphia to find Apollo’s former-adversary and greatest friend, Rocky Balboa, and convince him to become his trainer.

Although initially reluctant, Rocky decides to help his friend’s son achieve his dream and, when an opportunity to fight for a world title reveals itself, finds that the young man’s life is mirroring his own and rediscovers the fighter within himself.

One of the great appeals of Rocky (the original movie) was not in the fighting but that it’s a really sweet love story about lonely people taking a chance, it’s about taking a leap of faith and trusting that strong arms are there to catch them. Creed also has a great love story that’s not tacked on but is integral to the plot. ‘Donnie’ meets and falls in love with Bianca (Tessa Thompson), an aspiring musician with degenerative hearing loss. The fact that both are pursuing careers that they both love and both understand will ultimately destroy them is what gives this love a remarkable power and an underlying tragedy. Neither ever questions the other’s love of their respective paths and there are no interminably angsty moments where either pleads the insanity of the other’s choice, it’s just an incredibly sweet and supportive love, beautifully imagined and played.


Jordan is magnetically great as the driven and internally confused ‘Donnie’ Johnson/Creed; he has an explosive temper and an expansive smile and quietly brings the character through a host of emotions; he has a confident swagger, but never comes across as cocky; he has his father’s sense of showmanship and Rocky’s humility. It’s difficult not to love his character.

Tessa Thompson, as ‘Donnie’s’ girlfriend, is sharp and funny and is full of righteous, take-no-prisoners, suffer-no-s**t attitude. She’s as driven as her boyfriend and this is a major part of his attraction to her. She’s no shut-in like Adrian, the love of Rocky’s life, Bianca is her own person, she doesn’t need ‘Donnie’ but her life and her music is enhanced and made greater with him in it.

Rounding out the trio is Sylvester Stallone, reprising the role that first brought him fame nearly forty years ago, and you have to ask, “Where has this Stallone been?” He is superb as the bumbling, shy, lost former world-champion. He has lost everyone he loved and is ready to just fade away until this young man enters his life, in health and in sickness Stallone manages to bring tears to your eyes. It’s a great performance, subtle, funny, heartbreaking and makes you wish you could have seen more of this Stallone rather than the violent, muscle-bound hero roles that seem to have padded out his career to date.


Fans of the Marvel super-hero Universe will, no doubt, be overjoyed that director, Ryan Coogler, has signed on to make that studio’s Black Panther movie after watching Creed. Coogler keeps the camera moving and, during the fight scenes, gets up close and personal with the boxers, weaving around and between them so that the viewer truly understands the brutality of each hit and the physical intimacy of the combatants. There’s even a single shot during one of the fights that lasts so long that when you finally notice it it leaves you reeling at its pure audacity. These aren’t camera set-ups for the sheer flashy, “Look-how-smart-I-am” bravura of them, Coogler uses his shots to serve the story not to make the viewer appreciate his style, it’s refreshingly honest and effective.

While that camera floats like a butterfly, it is in the emotional honesty that Creed stings like a bee. Whether or not you’re a fan of the Rocky movies, there is almost too much to enjoy in Creed and you may find yourself involuntarily shedding a tear and punching the air by turns.

Andy Oliver





Andy Oliver

The Hateful Eight

Whilst Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to break box office records, Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie, and his second western, The Hateful Eight, has begun its run at the Odeon. Colchester 101’s Andy Oliverwas one of the first to see it and has written this review.

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Without beating around any bushes I’m stating this right at the start of the review: The Hateful Eight is a difficult, brilliant and, sometimes, frustrating movie. It’s a movie that is a hard watch, there’s almost too much going on beneath the brutally harsh surface; it’s a scathing indictment of America not just then, but now; the language shoots bullets at the characters and the audience; the violence is shocking and extraordinarily bloody; and, yes, it’s way too long, some scenes drag out for ages and add nothing to your understanding. The Hateful Eight is Quentin Tarantino at his best and, occasionally, at his most indulgent worst.

Oh, and it’s really, really funny (in a twisted kind of way).

Set during the Reconstruction period following the American Civil War, The Hateful Eight begins with bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) flagging down a ride from a passing stagecoach in the snowbound landscape of Wyoming. The passengers in the stagecoach just happen to be fellow bounty hunter, John Ruth (Kurt Russell) and his ‘bounty’, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). As the party look to stay ahead of an advancing storm they pick up a second hitcher by way of Sherriff-to-be Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) but find they’ll have to take shelter at a frontier trading post, Minnie’s Haberdashery. It’s here that the majority of the movie’s action plays out in a kind of Agatha Christie one-set stage play, except this is not a Whodunnit as it is a who’s gonna do it?

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Also sheltering in Minnie’s are yet more weird and disparate characters, effete Brit, Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), cowboy, Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), aged Confederate General Sandy Smithers (Bruce Dern) and a Mexican called Bob (Damian Bichir), who may, or may not, have been left in charge of the trading post by its proprietors. As suspicions grow between all those sheltering from the blizzard, it becomes obvious that one, or more, may be there to try to rescue Domergue from imminent demise at the end of the hangman’s noose.

The Hateful Eight is probably Tarantino’s talkiest script since Reservoir Dogs, and the dialogue crackles back and forth as these despicable characters start to engineer the deaths of each other as secret grudges and new recriminations boil to the surface. There will be blood. Lots of it.

The casting of the movie is absolutely en pointe, there’s not a poor performance amongst the ensemble and Jennifer Jason Leigh is standout incredible as the maniacal, terrifying Daisy Domergue. At the start of the film you’ll be shocked and possibly upset by the violence meted out on her character, but there’s a reason she’s in chains: the screen probably hasn’t seen such a dangerous, unhinged and manipulative character since Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. She’s terrific.

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The Hateful Eight feels like a response to Tarantino’s last two movies, Inglorious B*****ds and Django Unchained, both revisionist revenge movies in which the Jews finally get to take a proper revenge on Hitler and a freed slave delivers an explosive two fingered salute to the wrongs exacted upon black plantation workers during the Reconstruction. Where white audiences could feel good about siding with the black man in Django, there is a huge finger pointing us down in The Hateful Eight. A viciously racist Confederate terrorist is raised to the position of lawman, you only have to watch the news or pick up the papers to understand where this is coming from and we, the white audience, are the ones watching from a distance and doing little but tutting. Tarantino has been accused of constantly and flippantly using the “n” word in his movie, here he uses it to devastating effect, it’s as deadly as the bullets that copiously fly in the final act. There’s also a conceit involving a letter that I won’t go into, I’ll let you discover it yourselves, anything I were to say about it would be a major spoiler.

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The more cine-literate of you won’t help but notice Tarantino’s homage to John Carpenter’s The Thing, there’s an unused part of Ennio Morricone’s score to begin with. All these characters are trapped in a snowy waste and one, or more, may be hiding a secret, an infection of hate that continues to plague western society to this day. It’s an incredible use of homage to put across a thematic message that few film-makers working today would even consider, let alone have the skill to pull off.

And, yes, it’s too long. Probably half an hour and this is bound to give ammunition to nay-sayers of Tarantino and, even as a fan, I would agree that he can sometimes be too verbose in his scripts and linger too long on a shot he deems perfect. Brevity, thy name is not Quentin.

The Hateful Eight is not a film that will be universally loved, but it’s not asking to be. It is asking questions of the audience that the audience will not always enjoy finding the answers to. And that is its power.

Andy Oliver




Andy Oliver

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