Our resident movie critic Andy Oliver is fresh back from a trip to the Odeon to see Stephen Spielberg’s big screen production of Roald Dahl’s much loved children’s book The BFG. This is what he thought of it.


The sound of a falling bin in the dead of night usually alerts us to the midnight hunger of the neighbourhood cats or the occasional urban fox, but for young, insomniac orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), there is something far, far larger that disturbs her wee small hours. A giant stalks the London night and, once seen, he has no choice but to kidnap the curious youngster for fear that she will reveal his existence to a world he secretly fills with dreams and wonder.

A relationship that begins with fear and suspicion blossoms into a warm and loving friendship, the giant and the little girl finding in each other that which they are both missing in their lonely existences. The Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) lives in a world where he is bullied and threatened by bigger giants, he needs a friend as much as Sophie needs a family, they are two halves of one greater whole and, together, they are an unstoppable force for everything that is good and brave and decent. Together, the BFG and Sophie must figure out how to stop the larger, more vicious giants from eating children and how to live in a world where both are exceptionally sensitive to the pain of others.

As much as Sophie and the BFG are bound by their kindred spirits, so are Roald Dahl and Steven Spielberg: Two of the greatest storytellers ever to grace their respective, artistic fields. Dahl is one of the treasures, if not the crowning jewel of children’s literature and Spielberg the undisputed master of a cinema that speaks to the child in all of us. Forget Batman and Superman or The Avengers, this is the team-up to beat all team-ups.


Working from a script by the late Melissa Mathison (who wrote ET), based on the Dahl’s favourite of all his stories, Spielberg creates a vision that, although narratively slight, is a beautiful love letter to both writers and, also, a statement of his own body of work. The BFG takes Sophie to a magical realm where he harvests the dreams that flit around like technicolour fireflies, remixes them to his own recipe and distributes them to the world of slumbering human beans (sic). If that’s not metaphor for the work of the writers and of himself, then I don’t know what is. A lesser director might have mined their back catalogue for nods and winks, but Spielberg is way too savvy to use obvious (and over-used) Jurassic Park tumbler of water/approaching footsteps gags or overplaying the giants’ fear of going in the water.

The film is a mixture of live action and wildly inventive computer effects, the giants and their world standing just on the right side of cartoonish. The opening scene, a sweeping, descending shot of London at night and the production design (especially of the idealised architecture) both recall Mary Poppins, a live action/animated classic that also perfectly nailed this mix. The effects are seamless and carry you on a journey that enters through wide eyes and nourishes the soul, it is a landscape of wonders beautifully realised.


Mark Rylance, who brings the BFG to life through motion capture performance is wonderful. He delivers his Dahl-isms with a charming, and occasionally heart-breaking, bumpkin accent (“Use your titchy little figglers”) and slowly brings you into the head of a character that you initially distrust to that of someone suffering crushing loneliness and a desperate need to connect. Whilst in Ruby Barnhill, Spielberg has found another natural gem of a young actress, she’s sassy, tough, smart and caring as Sophie and has charisma to spare. The Flight of the Conchords’ Jermaine Clement is marvelously evil as the movie’s big bad, Fleshlumpeater and Penelope Wilton puts in a wonderfully understated performance as The Queen.


The BFG is squarely aimed at children but there’s much to enjoy for mums and dads too, though Spielberg doesn’t throw in any sideways winks of adult humour. There’s fun and scares and wonder and fart gags aplenty (three of the Queen’s corgis realising, in unison, that an explosive exhalation of bottom-gas is on its way is going to take a lot of topping in the laugh stakes this, or any, year). Yes, there’s a bit of a pacing issue (the film occasionally dips) but you’d have to be a World-class cynic not to enjoy anything The BFG throws at you. Unless it’s a Snozzcumber.

Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver

Pete Hope & GO4 Enterprises

Pete Hope, co-founder of GO4 Enterprises who run the GO4 Market Café in Holy Trinity Church, Trinity Street, and Café on the Rec in Old Heath, tells Colchester 101 readers about himself, how he came to found the social enterprise, and the challenges they face.

I was born in 1952… I’ll let you do the maths, Al Martino, “Here is My Heart” topped the embryonic music charts, not that I can remember ever hearing it.

I guess I am very fortunate to have lived through the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and having a good go at enjoying the new millennium.

When I left school there was no such thing as a NEET (Not in Employment Education or Training).  That was how you dressed for an interview.

Gay was a brightly coloured article.

I wasn’t a major success at school and obviously suffered from some form of juvenile amnesia as I often forgot to go.

Lack of qualifications didn’t hinder my progress into work, I learnt three good things at school – how to bunk off without getting caught, how to type and do shorthand – I told the school I had aspirations to be a journalist… the truth was a little different.

Wherever I worked I ended up typing and taking notes. Employers seemed to be surprised that I could type, and quickly, but also that I was a male who was able to touch type.

I often wonder how things would have panned out if I had learnt woodwork or metal work, but Lyndon Croney the love of my life, didn’t do woodwork or metalwork she did RSA Stage 1 typing and shorthand… it was a no brainer.

My first job was at Stratford Magistrates’ Court, where my typing skills were used daily. I moved out of the area for a while to take a better paid job in Dunstable Magistrates’ court.

After phaffing around I managed to get arrested for TWOC of a motor vehicle – it’s a long story – fortunately charges were dropped but I lost my job.

I applied for and joined the London Fire Brigade at 19 years old. I loved it and it was a

childhood dream to follow my dad as a firefighter. I served over 16 years, but incurred a due to service injury that pensioned me out of the Brigade.

The effect of that was quite devastating, a loss of income, identity, leading to boredom and dissatisfaction… I learnt then about the Black Dog of depression. It wasn’t a nice time, with three young children, large mortgage, and no qualifications, and having to fight the Home Office over pensions rights – which resulted in a precedent being set for future fire-fighters in my position.

The FBU were fantastic throughout this period supporting me even though I had left the service. Anyone who knocks Unions has no real knowledge of the depth of work they do.

Once I had recovered from the injury I got involved with voluntary work in the Probation Service, and ended up getting paid work supervising and managing offenders on Community Service (now called Community Payback).

It was during this time that I could see the real obstacles that young men with criminal records would have in obtaining work, and by now technology was replacing manual labour, reducing the amount of work available.

The Probation Service was starting to do less rehabilitation and was turning into a more punitive government organ, so I left.

That process has continued even more so, and the on-going privatisation of Prisons and Probation Service is proving very unsatisfactory.

I joined an organisation called Frontier Youth Trust and was invited to develop a youth work amongst young offenders. We concentrated on establishing a housing/mentoring project in Colchester called Out4Good, and this is still running.

However, we came back to the old chestnut of lack of employment opportunities for ex offenders, so I left that organisation to form GO4 Enterprises, this happening in 2010.

Myself and another founding Director started the Enterprise with a £100 investment.

GO4 is a Community Interest Company, a Social Enterprise with the aim of providing work/training/support for long term unemployed, ex-offenders, people with learning difficulties, and disabilities.

In 2010 One in Five young people were categorised as being Not in Employment, Education, or Training, so we broadened the remit from ex-offenders to any person out of work. My experience of being out of work through no fault of my own was a major spur in trying to do something positive benefitting both the community and individuals involved. My involvement with the criminal justice system, both as a Court Clerk, and then from the wrong side of the Dock, gave me a real understanding of what it was like to be on the wrong side of the law.

If I had gone to prison for the offences I had committed, my life would have taken a completely different direction.

I had a family who backed me and spoke up for me. Many young people don’t have that support.

In 2013, after three years of undertaking voluntary projects with a whole range of individuals, with little funding, we took over Holy Trinity Church and turned it into an indoor market and café.

GO4 Enterprises Colchester

We were also undertaking a gardening contract for a local housing association, and employing three ex-offenders supervised by a paid manager.

Our young people were now getting paid, and we saw a marked difference in their attitude and a subsequent drop in criminal activity, and one lad who is still with us overturned a crippling heroin addiction as well as shedding his tag as a Persistent Prolific Offender.

We face many challenges as we journey with our staff and small group of dedicated volunteers whose support is vital in maintaining our work

Currently we are assisting several young people with learning difficulties, helping them to get work ready, giving them training and work experience. We now work with people with physical and mental illnesses as well as entrenched unemployed whatever their age.

Our two main businesses are GO4 Market Café in Holy Trinity Church and Café on the Rec in Old Heath. We are engaged in a voluntary project on Jaywick.


The challenges of Holy Trinity Church are that it is cold and poorly lit.

It is owned by Colchester Borough Council and they have said they have no resources to improve the facilities.

We have a short lease and because of this have been unable to secure funding to improve the heating and lighting, but we feel a broader feasibility study should be undertaken by the council to ascertain what improvements can be made under the Church’s Grade 1 listing

We do not have the expertise or time to invest in a major fundraising bid on the building as this would distract us from the work we need to be doing with our staff/volunteers.

At the moment, because of a council staffing issue, we have been unable to meet with the CBC Estates team to discuss options and a way forward but unless we get a clear message from CBC it will be difficult for us to maintain or improve our position.

The “café on the rec” presents itself as a clear opportunity to train more people, but again without the support of volunteers to assist us in our aims this work could be hampered through lack of investment.


We have other out of borough opportunities presenting themselves and we will explore these in greater detail if momentum is lacking within CBC.

GO4 is governed by 5 Directors and we are all unpaid.

We have a share issue whereby staff can be involved, and independent investors.

We have 18 independent traders in the Market/Café, 6 staff on the payroll and 20 individuals on either work experience or volunteering.

So including the Directors there are nearly 40 people who have a stake in GO4.

The future is uncertain, much depends on whether we are able to draw in extra investment to branch out and concentrate on developing training in catering, with less emphasis on the market/café.

I would expect over the coming months that there will be some closures of small independent cafes as consumer confidence reduces. A nearby competitor has closed recently.

Our margins have been reduced because of increased operating costs, with a slackening of footfall, and we cannot pass increased costs onto our customers

There are plenty of coffee houses in Colchester, so as a company we need to always be considering what options we have to diversify and increase our capacity.

Pete Hope




It’s been a busy summer at the town’s Odeon cinema for 101’s movie reviewer Andy Oliver who is freshly back with this review of the Ghostbusters remake for you.


It’s difficult to talk about the new Ghostbusters movie without first addressing the elephant in the room: that small but vocal group of misogynist internet dweebs who have taken it upon themselves to down-vote this movie on ratings sites; shout down anyone on social media who “dared” to defend the choice to switch the gender of the titular team; shout down anyone who rightly insisted that you cannot judge the quality of the film until you have seen it; they’ve even gone as far as to claim the original is an out and out horror movie with comedic elements and that turning it into an all-out comedy is somehow “Sacrilegious”, or that it is, in some bizarrely twisted-logic way, disrespectful to, and ruins, their childhoods.

Quite frankly, I have no time for these people or their hateful, whining rhetoric and empty threats. I’ve already had death threats on Twitter for not only defending the build up to this movie and accused of receiving cash for giving Batman vs. Superman a bad write-up (I wish). My response? The one that hurts them the most: I ignore them. They are the film fan equivalent of ISIS: hiding their identities behind false names and avatars; their hatred/ resentment of women in anything other than submissive roles; they want their “sacred” favourites to be the only ones that exist and think that their views are the only ones that should exist.


Now, for the sake of transparency I would just like to say that I in no way receive any payment or favours or special treatment for writing these reviews. I take every film I see on face value and never review a film without having seen it first. I try to give my honest opinion and am in no way biased in favour of any company. I just love movies and I love writing about them.

So, now that’s out of the way, the reason you’re reading this: Is Ghostbusters any good?

Actually, yeah, it’s pretty good. Not great, I’ll admit, but a perfectly good Summer movie that compares very favourably to the original. It’s funny in all the right places and scary in all the right places and makes for a very enjoyable evening at the cinema.

Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is about to receive a tenure as a professor of physics at prestigious, if snooty, Columbia University, when she discovers that a book about ghosts she co-wrote twenty years earlier has been re-issued by her co-author and former childhood friend, Abby Bates (Melissa McCarthy).

Abby is still working on paranormal research and technology with Jillian Holtzmann at a rinky-dink college that has, quite frankly, forgotten they are still there. Erin goes to persuade her friend to withdraw the offending book from sale but finds herself helping Bates and Holtzmann in an investigation in to the sighting of a ghost at a New York mansion/tourist destination. A few gallons of ectoplasmic goo later and it’s “a-ghost hunting we will go” for the three women as the investigate and battle spooky goings-on around the city. They pick up more help along the way in the form of street savvy subway worker Patty (Leslie Jones) and thick-as-excrement receptionist Kevin (played with comedic excellence by Chris Hemsworth).

The veil between the living and the dead, it turns out, is being scratched away by angry nerd (ahem) Rowan North (Neil Casey) who wants to bring about the apocalypse in revenge for a life of being bullied and overlooked.


Ghostbusters works really well for maybe its first three-quarters and there’s plenty of great laugh-out-loud moments and a couple of genuinely scary moments. It’s in the climax that it falls a little flat, the laughs and scares kind of fall flat and it lacks somewhat in excitement drifting off into the generic. It’s okay but it never really has you sitting on the edge of your seat or falling off it with laughter, which is a shame because the journey getting there is so much fun.

There’s some really great comedy performances, Wiig and McKinnon are especially good and Leslie Jones nails all her moments. Melissa McCarthy plays a much more subdued, almost straight, role which, although she’s good, fans of her usual foul-mouthed mania might find a little disappointing. Chris Hemsworth is terrific as the good looking, but dim, Kevin and Andy Garcia makes a welcome and very funny appearance as the mayor. There’s cameos from virtually all the original cast, Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Ernie Hudson, even the late Harold Ramis is in there or, at least, his likeness is. Oh, and don’t worry, Slimer is in there too. The cameos are nice on the whole but nothing more, they add very little to the movie and an appearance by Ozzy Osbourne is downright embarrassing.

Those cameos are not the only things that hark back to the original, there are far too many nods and winks to it as well. These Easter-egg references, whilst entertaining enough for the more forgiving fans of the original, tend to hold Ghostbusters back from being its own film, they anchor it too closely and, as such, the remake never quite escapes the shadow of the Bill Murray et al classic.


Writer/director Paul Feig keeps the fun moving at a cracking pace but lacks the action credentials to hold the climactic battle together. Feig is a terrific comedy director and sets up a couple of truly unexpected jump-scares I just wish he’d got that third act nailed, then I might be watching a movie that really annoyed the Ghost Bros.

I hope Ghostbusters does well enough to demand a sequel, I enjoyed being in the company of this gang and look forward to an adventure unshackled from the chains of the original. It’s a movie made for a mainstream audience, not for a vociferous few who believe they are entitled to a movie just for them, it’s not a feminist movie as the Ghost Bros. would have you believe, it’s a movie where the main protagonists happen to be smart, brave and funny women.

How can that be a bad thing?

Andy Oliver

Andy Oliver

Colchester Classics – Classical Music Picks for July



On Friday July 15 sees the first night of the 122nd season of the world’s greatest Classical Music festival, the BBC Proms, offering opportunities to explore Classical Music through the BBC Proms with a diverse season of live concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, on BBC TV and BBC Radio 3.

The BBC One Show, Tuesday 12 July at 7pm, should broadcast a film with Gyles Brandreth interviewing Patrick McCarthy, a local musician about how he saved Andre Previn’s live televised performance Orff’s Carmina Burana at the BBC Proms in 1974.

Last month we were treated to many Music Festivals in our musically rich region. This month the Roman River Summer Festival and more is happening! Feast your ears and eyes on festivals and concerts in our musically rich region.

Colchester’s Roman River Festival recently published its main brochure detailing events, talks, walks and, of course, concerts for the main Festival (16 September – 2 October) which will feature world-renowned musicians including Nicola Benedetti.  In addition to the Autumn concert series, there is also a mini-festival (8 – 10 July) with musicians Tom Poster, Elena Urioste, Orlando Jopling and others in informal concerts in Mistley, Wivenhoe and East Mersea.
Box Office (07759 934860) for further information on all events for both festivals

Saturday evening (9 July) Chris Phelps will be conducting the Colchester Symphony Orchestra in an all-Russian programme including Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 with young soloist, Erdem Misirlioglu, piano category winner of the 2008 BBC Young Musician of the Year. The Third Concerto is often over-shadowed by No.2 , but received greater recognition when featured in the Oscar-winning film, Shine.  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 July 9 at 7.30pm in St Botolph’s Church, Colchester . (Both the second and third concertos were heard in the same venue performed by international pianists Noriko Ogawa and Philip Smith at St Botolph’s Music Society’s 50th Anniversary Gala concert)

Tickets. £14 (01206 271128)

On Sunday 10 July Chris Phelps will be guiding The Kelvedon Singers through arrangements of well-known English songs in the beautiful setting of The Coach House at Marks Hall Gardens. The evening includes a glass of wine, canapés and complimentary access to the Gardens and Arboretum in Coggeshall.

Tickets: £15 (01376 563796)

Also on Saturday evening at 7.30pm James Davy, Organist & Master of the Choristers at Chelmsford Cathedral and conductor of The Chelmsford Singers, presents an organ recital at St Peter-ad-Vincula, Coggeshall.

Tickets: £7.50 on the door

The final concert in the current season at Studio Music at Brightlingsea begins at 3pm on Sunday 10 July with Trio Goya presenting chamber works by Haydn.

Tickets: £15

The East Anglian Single Reed Choir, an ensemble of clarinets and saxophones, presents its summer concert including music by Holst and Rimsky Korsakov on Sunday July 10 at 6pm, St Mary’s Church, Little Bromley. Tickets on the door by donation.
Tickets: 07425 1450222 or

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


Wellies & Black Tie Ball

* Sponsor * Enjoy * Participate * Dance * Laugh * Share * Learn *

The 10th anniversary celebrations of Wellies-On Community Interest Company and Colchester Classics will be held on the 22nd of July at Wivenhoe House Hotel with a Wellies & Black Tie Ball.

In order to ensure the success of this key fundraising event, we are seeking contributions to help defray the costs associated with the event so that all funds raised can go directly to the community.

It’s only with support from generous donators such as yourselves that we are able to continue to provide local individuals and families in need with innovative intervention, therapeutic services and education.

We hope that we can count on your support, enabling us in our work to build confidence and improve skills within the people that attend Wellies-On Care Farm.

Our service helps individuals to see their inner strengths, giving them skills and resilience to help them to cope with the things with which they struggle.

We will, of course, make it known from where the prizes for the silent auction and sponsorship have been donated with plenty of media opportunities, thereby also raising the profile of your company locally.

This year Colchester Classics are celebrating 10 years as a multi-award-winning Classical Music CD service to clever collectors and also  those starting their love affair with music.  Additionally, they offer CDs at concerts, festivals and rehearsals and preview and review concerts in Essex Life, Essex County Standard and Colchester Gazette. Not only are they helping us to celebrate with some fantastic music but they are also providing a huge amount of support to make the evening a success.

Why not treat yourself and your team to this glamorous night out whilst helping a worthy cause? You can request booking information and sponsorship opportunities from

I hope very much to hear from you, and that you will be able to help to support us and our event.

Book your tickets HERE.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Gold Package  – £500

Purchase of table center pieces

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Social Media Coverage with Web Links

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Silver Package No.1 – £300


Logo on Tables

Logo on Pre-event Marketing

Social Media Coverage with Web Links

Ball Sponsors Listing

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Silver Package No.2  – £300

Purchase of Chair covers

Logo on Tables

Logo on Pre-event Marketing

Social Media Coverage with Web Links

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Bronze Package – £150

Essex Life Photography and associated acknowledgment

Logo on Pre-event Marketing

Social Media Coverage with Web Links

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The Legend of Tarzan

When Colchester 101 asked for a review of The Legend of Tarzan our resident movie critic Andy Oliver swung into action.


Tarzan is a character out-of-time. In a post-colonial world, the “Slayer of beasts and many black men” is an anachronism, a throw-back, a hero for then and not for now. As much as I loved the Tarzan novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs as a child, it was always difficult not to notice the underlying racism and misogyny that pinned them firmly to the era they were written in: the natives were invariably cannibalistic, mean and destroyers of the nature that surrounded them; women were either damsels or riches/power-hungry manipulators of men.

So how does a film-maker approach Tarzan in the twenty-first century? Very carefully, it would seem. And it is that very carefulness that is at the centre why The Legend of Tarzan does not work as a piece of entertainment, though, unfortunately, it’s not its only failing.

Set some years after Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) has returned from his jungle upbringing to claim his hereditary title of Lord Greystoke, the film begins with a character still uncomfortable with his gentrification and his wife, Jane (Margot Robbie) still uncomfortable with the constraints of society and city life after her childhood of freedom in the Congo. It is with little persuasion that the Greystokes return to Africa, initially to investigate British access to The Congo and subsequently to investigate claims that King Leopold of Belgium is building his empire on blood and toil of slaves. This second reason to return arrives in the form of George Washington Williams (Samuel L. Jackson) before you can say, “British Colonial crimes against humanity”!


Once back in Africa, Skarsgård (and the film) can’t wait to get his shirt off and start swinging, swimming and running about with his old jungle chums: apes, lions and simple, jolly natives. Conflict comes in the shape of Belgian emissary, Leon Rom (Christolph Waltz doing his usual, kooky bad-guy turn) who has some convoluted plan to hand over the lord of apes to his mortal enemy, Mbonga (played with super-baddie charisma by Djimon Hounsou). The story of Mbonga’s enmity is told in flashback which also charts Tarzan’s already well recorded origin.

Director David Yates, who directed the fun (but increasingly dark) last few episodes of the Harry Potter franchise, struggles to maintain any pace and interest in a movie that looks increasingly like it was written by committee (inasmuch as that old joke about “a camel is a horse designed by a committee”). There are moments where, tonally, the movie is all over the place and Jackson (despite giving his best with a more than clunky script) sometimes seems little more than the movie’s “Get out of jail free” card (an intelligent black character, based upon a real person, whose expositionary speeches about fighting in the American Civil War and killing Native Americans are supposed to remind viewers of America’s own patchy record of human rights, but in reality feel flat and simperingly apologetic).


The action, when it comes, is efficiently filmed and never feels like it packs any punch, for example Tarzan battles a gorilla, but the confrontation lacks excitement and edge-of-the-seat thrills, yes it’s noisy but it’s all a bit, “Yeah. So that just happened”. The stunt work is under-realised and the computer generated animals never look anything but computer generated. Judging The Legend of Tarzan’s effects against this year’s other child-in-the-jungle movie, Disney’s The Jungle Book, is like judging a meal at The Ivy against a micro-wave dinner for one: it fills a hole but it won’t impress your friends when you tell them about it. Having said that, the climactic stampede is pretty good, but it’s a case of too little, too late.


The cast do their best but they are shackled by a script that is never quite sure what it wants to be: too comic-booky to be Hugh Hudson’s Greystoke, too earnest to be a Jonny Weismuller action/fun-fest. Belgium’s legacy of horrors in West-Africa sit uneasily within an action movie framework and add little to the overall tone, a return to the source material might’ve provided a more fun, if problematic, experience. Like The Lone Ranger before him, Tarzan feels like a character who has had his day and now seems like as good a time to retire him and hand the vines to new heroes as any.

There’s little to recommend about The Legend of Tarzan unless you’re a fan of male abdomens, if you are you’ll probably love it, for the rest of us though it’s an ill-fitting wig that daren’t move too fast lest it fly up and reveal what lies beneath.

(BBFC 12)

Andy Oliver







Andy Oliver