Stop the artificial suppression of East Colchester and Hythe Station

Colchester 101 is pleased to support the campaign for Hythe Station to be recognised as a Colchester station by operator Abellio to ensure the future growth and prosperity of the east side of the town.

Hythe Station

Last year, campaigners successfully secured a ticket machine at Hythe Station which has already increased the useage of the station. Unfortunately, a problem still remains. Abellio does not currently list Hythe Station as a Colchester station.  They consider that the Hythe is merely a suburb of Colchester and, when you search the ticketing websites for Colchester stations, the Hythe Station does not appear at all which is having a negative impact on attracting investment into East Colchester. It has been recognised that it is more profitable for Abellio not to recognise Hythe Station as a Colchester station. It unsatisfactory that a corporate entity should be allowed to suppress a community purely for monetary gain.

The Hythe Station Campaign started in early 2015 when, led by the Hythe Business Network,  residents, businesses, councillors, and community groups in the Hythe recognised that Abellio’s stance on Hythe Station was detrimental to transport, safety,  growth, and the regeneration of the Hythe.  The Hythe Business Network began to correspond with Network Rail and Abellio and issued a press statement in the Gazette.  Sir Bob Russell, Councillor Tim Young, and Will Quince promptly declared their support for the campaign and Councillor Julia Havis took a motion to Colchester Borough Council which was passed unanimously across party lines to lobby Abellio to have the Hythe Station regrouped as a Colchester Station and to be renamed Colchester Hythe Station. Will Quince has generously offered to help lead our group of petitioners and has committed to providing us with 4000+ petition letters and pre-paid envelopes that can be sent back to the House of Commons by anyone who is supporting our cause.

The benefits of Hythe Station being grouped as a Colchester Station

  • Increased use of Hythe Station as a direct result of increased passenger numbers
  • More business relocating to the Hythe and increased business investment as a result of higher passenger volumes
  • Improved safety and investment at Hythe Station as a result of increased use
  • Increased usage of Hythe as a commuter station, due to its direct rail link to London
  • Many more university students becoming aware of the station’s existence and using it to travel to Colchester
  • Reduced road congestion as more people travel by rail from Hythe Station
  • Better retention of residents and business as a result of better transport infrastructure in the Hythe

What’s next?

On the 20th February 2016 a committed team of petitioners including Hythe residents, community groups, councillors, and businesses got together to increase the pressure on Abellio to convince them to acknowledge Hythe Station as a Colchester station and to have it renamed as Colchester Hythe so that East Colchester can start getting the investment it deserves to improve transport, safety, and infrastructure for all residents and commuters alike.

Members of the team who are already committed to the cause include: Hythe Business NetworkWill Quince, local residents, Hythe ForwardSource Christian Community, The Hythe Community Centre, Theresa Higgins,  Colchester in BloomTim Young, Julia Havis, Colchester 101


Can you join us to help improve the Hythe? If yes, please email your name and contact number to or call us on 01206 700 123.  You can also search for us on Facebook “Hythe Colchester – Stay in the know”.

Let’s make East Colchester great again.



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