Spotlight on… Casualty’s Cath Shipton 

​Charlie (Derek Thompson) and Duffy (Cath Shipton) are finally heading for the altar, so far we’ve seen Charlie insist on planning the whole shebang and Duffy looking none too impressed about where the direction of Mr Fairhead’s plans. I chatted to actress, Cath Shipton who told me all about the impending nuptials…

Hi Cath, thanks for talking to Break A Leg, what can you tell me about Charlie’s attempts to plan the wedding of the year?

Charlie is out of his depth, he’s got a folder which contains all of his wedding plans – he’s decided to manage the wedding and hasn’t cleared any of it with Duffy. It’s a bit like Don’t Tell The Bride and he wants to surprise her on the day. 

Does Duffy put her foot down?

She’s had enough, she hasn’t got a dress because it’s assumed that Charlie’s managing the dress. Considering it’s supposed to be her big day, she’s being excluded. Charlie is trying to please Duffy but he’s going about it all the wrong way. 

Does this spell disaster for the wedding?

Charlie cancels all the plans and decides that they’ll get married within the next 24 hours, in the hospital!

How does Duffy react to that? 

She loves the fact that she’s got to turn it around in 24 hours and it will be their choice and about them. 

Does this leave time for a stag do and hen night? 

Charlie goes off on a mad stag do and they even have t-shirts printed. Meanwhile. Duffy is pulling the wedding together so she has a little hen do in the staff room! However, meanwhile Charlie has gone AWOL and her colleagues are trying to keep it from her.

The trailer shows Duffy on her own at the altar, does that mean that things are not set to run smoothly?

Duffy has been unable to get hold of Charlie while he’s on his stag do. You’ll have to wait and see if he turns up or not!

So, will they? Won’t they? All will finally be revealed in the episode on Saturday 4 February 2017 on BBC One. 

Many of you will have seen the change of wedding plans that Cath discusses, here ~ but you may or may not know that her other half (Chris Guard) is the front man of a band called Leapfrogtown. Chris wrote this track, Love You More, for Cath and it seems an appropriate time to share it with you all:

https://soundcloud.com/leapfrogtown/love-you-more

Another fantastic track from Leapfrogtown is this next one, How You Feel. Apt lyrics with wedding bells in the air in Casualty. Enjoy!

https://soundcloud.com/leapfrogtown/how-you-feel

If you like what you hear, make sure you visit: http://www.leapfrogtown.com/ where you will find more tracks and the latest news from the band. 

Photo Credits: BBC

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Eastenders Weekly Round-Up ~ Week Commencing 23rd January 2017

Albert Square and disaster seem to go together. It’s been some time since the residents worked together on a large scale. What better way to encourage this community spirit? A bus crash? Why not! Here are a few of my personal reflections on the week that brought us horror, chaos and a sign of things to come for two unlikely parties, maybe?


Picture Perfect
~ The Carter girls go off out on a trip to have a photo shoot. Tina (Luisa Bradshaw-White) is over-excited and desperate to have a photograph with her mother and sister. Shirley (Linda Henry) is not at all impressed and keen to scupper the idea. Sylvie (Linda Marlowe) is in her own bubble as usual. It’s got the makings of a comedy outing and becomes even more eventful when the tube comes to a stand still and Sylvie needs the toilet! At least they do get a half decent selfie together.

Unknown Character Death ~ The hype around the bus crash after-math, which was the result of the (previously unseen on screen) driver having a heart attack at the wheel was misleading. We were led to ponder whether Denise’s (Diane Parish) departure was looming when she lay unresponsive and bleeding, inside the bus. Martin (James Bye) was trapped underneath the vehicle and the residents clubbed together (rather like Bluto from Popeye) to lift the weight off the victim. It was a slightly unbelievable move and Martin has escaped relatively unscathed, considering. So, the only character to exit the soap was the random bus driver. It felt a rather misplaced plot. Although, Lacey Turner who plays Stacey, certainly proved again why she deserved her recent National Television Award.

Bully Boy on Board ~ Keegan (Zack Morris) boards the bus of doom and takes delight in filming Louise (Tilly Keeper) as she has a major meltdown when she is required to exit the top deck of the wreckage via the back window. With the intent of bullying her to an even worse extent with his footage, of course. He really is a nasty character, I despise the sight of him, but kudos to Zack Morris, must be doing the job right!

Mick’s mixed up? ~ The keen ear of Mick (Danny Dyer) picked up on the ring tone of Whitney’s mobile phone which alerts the extra-strong crowd to Whitney’s (Shona McGarty) close proximity to the bus which Martin had also come a cropper beneath. Miraculously, Whitney also escaped with minor injuries, but failed to escape from the lips of her father-in-law as they landed smack on her mouth. She didn’t seem to mind either – oh dear me, I foresee trouble!

Shirley ~ Needs no more introduction than that, I think that Shirley is one of the lynchpins of the Square and I can’t imagine the place without her. She is unintentionally funny, says it all with one flick of an eyebrow and Linda Henry plays her so naturally, I can’t fault her. Now that Pam (Lin Blakley) has long gone, Shirl’s my favourite female character. Long may Queen Shirley reign!

Photo credits: BBC 

Casualty ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ ~ Episode Review

Love was most definitely in the air in various guises in this week’s instalment of the National Television Award winning drama, Casualty. It’s wedding bells for Charlie and Duffy next week, so my highlights are going to mostly focus on my favourite couple – although it was all going on in Holby…

Bad Girls Reunited ~ The return of Tracey Wilkinson and James Gaddas filled me with unmitigated joy. They were my favourites in Bad Girls, many years ago and they are a dream team as Alicia’s (Chelsea Halfpenny) parents. When they previously turned up to ruin their daughter’s day, mumsy had an STI… awkward! In this episode we discovered why she did, it seems daddy is gay! He has been hiding that fact for nine years. So, not only does he arrive in the ED having suffered a heart attack, but his ex gay lover follows in his wake. The news horrifies Alicia, plus her mum almost winds up in the bed beside her cheating husband.

Meanwhile, Cal (Richard Windsor) is on hand to save the day when daddy takes another turn for the worse. Alicia’s issues definitely stem from her parents, but she loves them both, that much is clear. The tale about why she is nicknamed Scooby also became clear. Cute!

Curious Cal ~ Cal has been brazenly scrolling through Alicia’s phone in the hopes of uncovering her mystery lover to whom the rogue cufflink belongs. When Max’s (Jamie Davis) phone was the one ringing during a set up job by Cal and Ethan (George Rainsford), Ethan was the first to lay into him. With Cal standing by assuming his brother was merely beinv protective of his interests. Wrong! Alicia arrives to clear up the misunderstanding, she has been texting and sexting Max pretending to be someone else. Naughty naughty… so Ethan remains in the clear…


Have I Told You Lately That I Love You? ~ It wasn’t looking promising for Charlie (Derek Thompson) after his catastrophic attempts to plan a Don’t Tell The Bride kind of a wedding. He’s forgotten the wedding dress, for starters. Then Louise (Azuka Oforka) comes on board as wedding planner, with disastrous consequences. She uses Max and Noel (Tony Marshall) as models for two bridal gowns she’s snatched up from who knows where which are vito’d by Duffy (Cath Shipton). Duffy wanted a more remarkable dress and Louise felt she probably wouldn’t as her colleague has been around the wedding block a couple of times.

Cue Duffy’s angry eyes and Charlie even further in the dog house than he already was. Plus, I wanted to have strong words with Louise for that bit of cheek! However, all is not lost and following a heart to heart which is brief and to the point which is a manner of communication that the love birds are adept at, the planning folder is binned and Louise is ‘sacked’.

24 Hours From Wedded Bliss ~ Charlie’s next plan, while he has his bride to be back on side? Book the hospital chapel for the ceremony, the pub for the reception and oh, by the way… it’s all happening tomorrow! Duffy takes on that challenge and in a scene that melted the hearts of Chuffy fans all over the countrt, there’s a ‘first dance’ to Have I Told You Lately. They also serenade one another in the process. Did I mention they’re in their uniforms in the staff room? Brilliant! What’s more, they attract an audience and Dylan (Will Beck) wanders in completely obliviously, going about his business!!

The stag do is also going ahead that very same night and they’ve had time to make t-shirts. It all looks lovely, except that Cal comes to a realisation before he jumps on the stag bus, after Ethan re-claims his cuff link…. uh oh….

Noel Knows! ~ Noel has to face the panel who are making decisions about the self-service machine in Reception. This has become a soul destroying piece of technology for Noel and he has suffered hugely as a consequence. Louise saves the day when she barges in, rudely, but necessarily and reveals that Noel was instrumental in saving a boy’s life. The technology had been a failure in this case, with the patient’s father struggling to use it. Things are looking up for the cheeky chappy. Hooray!

Hope you’ve all got your hats for the wedding of the year, next week. 

Photo credits: BBC

National Television Awards 2017 ~ Winners Round-Up

This year’s National Television Awards, hosted at The O2 and presented by the ever-enthusiastic Dermot O’Leary, was an evening full of deserved winners in my humble opinion. It was a glitzy, star-studded night, peppered with entertainment and emotional speeches. Here are a few of the highlights:

Casualty marks 30 years in style ~ Best Drama, I admit, was a category I had my eye on and the eagle-eyed among you who are likers of Break A Leg’s Facebook page and followers on Break A Leg’s Twitter page will have spotted our very obvious plug for votes. The award was collected by a number of members of the cast and the speech shared between Break A Leg Critic’s Choice Special Recognition 2016 Award Winner, Amanda Mealing and Break A Leg’s Patron, Cath Shipton. Cath has returned to the show as Duffy after a lengthy break, and Amanda previously played the role of Connie in sister show, Holby City, before joining the cast of Casualty. The girls made a wonderful speech which covered all bases and the look of sheer amazement on all of the cast members’ faces was quite something. It’s been a long time coming and I hope there will be more where that one came from. Yes, I’m biased!

nta-1
Casualty win Best Drama

Walford Wins ~ Although they missed out on the Serial Drama award (which was a surprise to me…), the Eastenders cast bagged a trophy when Lacey Turner (Stacey Fowler) scooped Best Serial Drama Performance. I admit my vote went to Lacey, as I think that she plays the role of Stacey amazingly well and I can’t imagine life in the Square without her. Lacey is notoriously shy and shocked whenever she wins a prize for her marvellous efforts, but I thought she gave a very confident speech, this year. A cracking actress with such a bright future ahead of her, in and out of Walford.

lacey-nta
Lacey Turner with her much deserved trophy!

More glory for Mrs Brown’s Boys ~ And the award for the most members of one family on the O2 stage goes to… this gang are always so infectious when they win an award and Mrs Brown’s Boys have won more than can be mentioned in this humble article (they also have the Break A Leg Critic’s Choice Award for Best Comedy… by the way!). It was obvious early in the evening that Mr O’Carroll was in a mischievous mood when the camera caught him and his wife, Jennifer Gibney snogging!! His winner’s speech was a joy, as always and I wonder if there will be another sitcom to rival their winning streak anytime soon? The Christmas and New Year’s specials were among some of my favourite episodes of the show, so I feel that they are still flying high!

nta-2
Mrs Brown’s Boys win again!

The Dales Dominate ~ Emmerdale ran away with the Best Serial Drama trophy and from the vibe in the room, I suspect it came as quite the surprise to many, not least the triumphant cast an crew. With so many episodes a week and a loyal fan base, perhaps it’s not quite so hard to believe that the back-runner has stormed it this time.

Special Recognition ~ Graham Norton always very (un)graciously accepts that both his good self and his programme are likely to come second place to serial winners, Ant and Dec – who swept the board yet again, as it happens. Therefore, his Special Recognition award was a mighty good idea and long overdue, too. I enjoyed the reel that had been compiled, not least because I had forgotten he had starred in Father Ted. Norton’s list of credits is pretty incredible and if O’Leary were to hand over the baton as Presenter of the National Television Awards, I think there would not be far to look for a replacement.

nta-4
At last! Well done, Mr Norton!

What’s New Pussy Cat? ~ I can’t not mention Tom Jones and his fablas opening number which set the programme off in style. I am over the moon that I have seen the legend sing live, and it wouldn’t have gone a miss if he’d popped back on for another number or two and started a party in the O2! Good choice!

tom-jones-nta
What a treat to be entertained by this legend.

The full list of nominees and winners can be found here: http://www.nationaltvawards.com/

 

Spotlight On… Star of The Tommy Cooper Show, Daniel Taylor

As part of an extensive UK tour, which has attracted praise from critics and audiences alike, The Tommy Cooper Show returns by popular demand to Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn on Sat 4 Feb 2017, 20.30pm & 7.30pm. Book your tickets here.

Break A Leg are delighted to welcome Daniel Taylor from the show, so, just like that….

Hi Daniel, thank you for talking to Break A Leg. Tell me about the production and what the audience can expect.

The show is really a celebration of the great man’s life and the events that led him to television stardom – not to mention the people who shaped him. Of course, there’s plenty of the one-liners that Tommy is famous for, and the misfiring magic tricks that really made him unique. It’s loads of fun, and has something for all the family.

It really all begins at the travelling Army concert party where he first met his wife-to-be Gwen, affectionately known to Tommy as ‘Dove’. From there, we also follow Tommy’s relationship with his long-suffering manager Miff Ferrie. Miff is a very interesting character, a dour Scotsman who doesn’t give much away – he’s definitely more of a businessman than a showman, and he never really saw eye to eye with Tommy. I suspect the problem was that Tommy was often a bit of a handful!

Despite the tough times in Tommy’s life and the impact his actions had on those around him, the show is in no way negative. We acknowledge the darker times, but that’s not what the play is about. It’s about bringing Tommy back to life as best I can, and celebrating the rise to fame of a remarkable, and incredibly funny, man.

What are your memories of Tommy Cooper?

I simply remember him being absolutely hilarious – even if he was just standing there and not saying very much. It’s that innocent look of mania on his face, as though he can’t quite believe where he is. I thought he was truly hilarious – And I still do.

I also think of Tommy doing his acts while I’m playing him, which is sometimes a bit awkward. He just makes me laugh out loud, so I’ll just end up having a moment to myself on stage, thinking about him. It’s ridiculous!

Any personal favourite gags or skits of his?

There are so many, I don’t know where to start – Everyone loves the ‘Glass Bottle, Bottle Glass’ routine. And of course, I love ‘Spoon Jar, Jar Spoon’. The ‘Hats’ routine – I love doing the ‘Hats’ routine, because it’s just chaos. I love the chaos of it!

As for jokes…

I backed a horse at 20:1. It came in at 20 past four.

I went to see the doctor today, I had to – he’s not been well.

I went to see the doctor today and said ‘doctor, I’ve broken my arm in three places’. He said ‘Well stay away from those places.’

What is your personal highlight of this show?

The End. No! When I walk into the pub… Haha, just kidding!

There’s this wonderful moment where Tommy starts talking about the fez – and he goes into why he starts wearing it. His wife, Gwen, has knocked the hat off his head, annoyed at him. He quietly picks up fez and starts talking to audience – breaking the fourth wall, of course – and it’s the only time he ever talks in this way to the audience. The rest of the time Tommy is ‘performing’, but this allows you to see the really man behind the act.

What does the impersonation process involve for you as a performer?

I wouldn’t really say this is an impersonation, instead we try to make it as though Tommy is back in the room. We want the audience to feel like they are seeing the real thing. So, he needs to be a real person on a stage, complete with vulnerabilities and quirks. When you start out playing a figure like Tommy, to some extent, you are doing an impersonation. But that’s not what we’re trying to do in the show. We’re trying to – dare I say – ‘bring him back to life’.

Finally, sell the show to me, why should people buy a ticket?

Come and have a good laugh with us – it’s a great night out. Tommy’s humour is timeless and suitable for all ages, so bring the kids. It’s also an opportunity to reminisce for all the oldies (like myself!). It’s good light-hearted entertainment for the whole family, and we aim to make you laugh from the beginning to the end.

Thanks to Daniel for a great interview, can’t wait to see the show on 4 February!

 

Not Going Out ‘Babysitting’ ~ Episode Review 

As a parent, keeping expletives in your ‘head voice’ are a must. This side-splitting instalment of the latest series of Not Going Out explored what happens when your kids pick up on certain rude words and repeat them! With the best possible cast to portray this hilarious story line, it made for a cracking episode.

Lee’s dad (Bobby Ball) is drafted in to babysit when Lee (Lee Mack) and Lucy (Sally Bretton) have the chance to go to the ballet. Yes, the ballet! Much more Lucy’s thing than Lee’s but he’s willing to give it a go. Booze is hidden in the cupboard away from the temptation of their errant babysitter, every caution is taken. They return to a tidy house and it looks as though a great time has been had by all playing pirates! It’s not until the F word is heard from the mouth of Benji (Max Pattison) that Lucy and Lee fully regret their choice of sitter. Especially when it’s revealed that Grandpops uttered the rogue word.


Hilariously, it’s Geoffrey (Geoffrey Whitehead) who has made the gaff, having been overheard on the telephone. So, Wendy (Deborah Grant) and Geoffrey are relegated in the babysitting pecking order. Although, maybe Geoffrey has been a bad influence on more than just his grandchild as his daughter starts a lengthy expletive-ridden rant which all the children bear witness to.

This series just gets better, I hope a ninth one will follow sharpish!

Eastenders Weekly Round-Up ~ Week Commencing 16 January 2017

There has been the usual share of highs, lows and bizarre behaviour that we all expect from the residents of the popular Square. So, here’s a taste of what last week had to offer:

Babe’s on borrowed time ~ Babe (Annette Badland) has been behaving like the spoilt and petulant child of the Carter family of late, and her schemes caught up with her this week – leaving Mick (Danny Dyer) with yet another death stare opportunity. Mick has been under a black cloud since Linda (Kellie Bright) went on her my dash to stay with her mum. I think Babe’s days truly are numbered now that she has rocked the boat in such spectacular fashion.

Lee loses it (again!) ~ Just the week before, Babe was blaming Whitney (Shona McGarty) for Lee’s (Danny-Boy Hatchard) misfortunes, but now the man himself has turned on Whitney and blames her, too. I can’t be alone in thinking that a percentage of Lee’s troubles may have been spurred on by his unsuspecting wife, but surely only because of his state of mind at the time. Either way, their relationship seems to be on a downward spiral with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Glenda ~ Just that, Glenda! I love Glynis Barber and all that she brings to the role. Now that we’re without her two daughters, I think the way is clear for her to stir things up and become a prominent part of the Square again. Good decision!

Facing the Funeral ~ Jack (Scott Maslen) has played the bereaved husband so believably that it’s broken my heart. When we finally said our goodbyes to Ronnie (Samantha Womack) and Roxy (Rita Simons) it was such an emotive episode that I almost couldn’t watch. I’m not going to wax lyrical, the scene with Jack and the children summed it up for me, haunting.

Stacey’s Shoulder ~ Has anyone else noticed that Stacey (Lacey Turner) has turned into the shoulder to cry on and the voice of reason? What a turn around from her Puerperal Psychosis – who’d have thought it? Although I still think she might run back into Max’s (Jake Wood) arms before long. Just a hunch.

Photo Credits: BBC 

 

 

 

Casualty ‘Little Sister’ ~ Episode Highlights

Here’s this week’s episode highlights from another amazing instalment of Casualty, I think that this series of the show is one of my favourites to date…

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 17/01/2017 - Programme Name: Casualty 30 - Series 31 - TX: 21/01/2017 - Episode: Casualty 30 19 (No. 20) - Picture Shows: Gemma Dean (REBECCA RYAN)  - (C) BBC - Photographer: Alistair Heap
Picture Shows: Gemma Dean (REBECCA RYAN) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

The Love of Charlie’s life ~ The best part of this episode had to be Charlie (Derek Thompson) telling Connie (Amanda Mealing) how much he loves the Hospital and that he has met the woman of his dreams, there! That’s Duffy (Cath Shipton), in case you’re wondering. No, not Baz (Julia Watson) – wash your mouth out! Chuffy fans everywhere went on full meltdown and even I had a little smile on my face. All together now… awww!

Trouble when she walked in ~ Iain’s (Michael Stevenson) little sister, Gemma (Rebecca Ryan) burst onto the scene with a cracking storyline, quite literally having cracked the head of her mean supervisor. Oh and there’s also the small matter of the pneumothorax that she incurs after taking a fall and chooses to ignore. I am already enjoying the fact that someone from Iain’s family has made an appearance and that she’s a bit spunky too.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 17/01/2017 - Programme Name: Casualty 30 - Series 31 - TX: 21/01/2017 - Episode: Casualty 30 19 (No. 20) - Picture Shows: Gemma Dean (REBECCA RYAN) Dr Lily Chao (CRYSTAL YU) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Alistair Heap
Picture Shows: Gemma Dean (REBECCA RYAN) Dr Lily Chao (CRYSTAL YU) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

It just got interesting ~ Lily (Crystal Yu) involves herself in Gemma’s business, thus adding another dimension to Iain and Lily’s ever-growing and will they/won’t they relationship. The result of Lily’s interference on this occasion sparks a tantrum from the troubled Paramedic, but that spark could be lit and go all kinds of crazy if you ask me! Looking forward to it!

Lean on Me ~ The time has come for Robyn’s (Amanda Henderson) next baby scan and who is there to hold her hand? Charlie boy of course… Like a surrogate grandfather to the unborn baby, the dependable stalwart eases the anxious mum-to-be’s worries, which allows her to enjoy looking at her baby on screen. Bless! It looks like he will need to be purchasing pink baby clothes if he’s thinking of going on a shopping excursion with Duffy anytime soon. I had a feeling the baby was going to be a girl, hooray!!

Derek
Good old Charlie!

Light at the end of the tunnel ~ Who for? Elle (Jaye Griffiths) as she finds out that Connie’s (Amanda Mealing) case against her has been dropped. Whether this means there’s light at the end of the tunnel for Jacob (Charles Venn) remains to be seen. Although Connie continues to sport a face like a smacked backside and continues the battle for territory with Elle – her light is well worth waiting for when she returns home to find Grace making progress she has longed to see. I hope we see a happy Connie, now, although it’s much more interesting to see her on the rampage!

 

 

 

 

The Wild Party ~ The Hope Theatre

The Wild Party runs at The Hope Theatre until 28 January 2017 and you can book tickets here: http://www.thehopetheatre.com

Star Rating: *****

A poem performed as a 65 minute play and in the most innovative and inviting way imaginable, as a nifty two-hander interspersed with postmodern jukebox-style songs. Joey Akubeze and Anna Clarke made a stunning job of engaging the audience in Joseph Moncure March’s piece. The minimalist set, well chosen props and intricate direction (courtesy of Rafaella Marcus) added impetus to a play which drew me in from the outset and left me with a solitary complaint, I wanted more!

The story focuses on a party thrown by a vaudeville dancer, it’s laden with alcohol, scandal, sex and the common bi-product of this potent concoction, violence. Tight choreography moves the action along and the chemistry between the actors was perfect. Which, for me is a key factor to the success of the engagement of the audience. Every nuance of the story resonated as a result of the combination of the intimate space and the audience interaction that the duo executed effortlessly.

Anna Clarke and Joey Akubeze in full flow!

Both Clarke and Akubeze narrated, performed as a variety of characters and also sang their way through the apt selection of musical numbers superbly. We were treated to renditions of Toxic (originally by Britney Spears), Shot Through The Heart (Bon Jovi’s popular hit) and Call Me Maybe (Carly Rae Jepsen) all with a 1920’s flavour to them which befitted the theme.

Slick transitions ensured that I felt that costume changes went almost unnoticed and both actors could convincingly take on the roles of both genders regardless of whether they were both sporting suit and tie, flapper dresses or shorts and t-shirt.

It’s a fruity little number which deserves a wide audience, and there is no better place to see this at than The Hope Theatre. There’s a week left, go and see for yourselves!

 

 

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