Archive for the TV Category

RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch 2018

Posted in birdlife, Didcot, Family life, TV, wildlife with tags , , , , , , , on April 3, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

The house sparrow was the most popular bird seen on this year’s RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch (BGBW) and that was the top spot when me and my son did our bit for the BGBW. Not far behind though were blue tits and long-tailed tits in numbers spotted.

Interesting article on how to help encourage wildlife in your garden here.

No more ‘Car Share’ :(

Posted in News, TV with tags , , , , on May 2, 2017 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

I don’t watch much TV, however I really enjoy anything Peter Kay does and ‘Car Share’ was really funny. Sadly Peter Kay has meant there is no more shows planned, “There’s not going to be a series three…”

However, he does say some more ‘Phoenix Nights’ could be made in the future. The second series of ‘Car Share’ has a great ending and in the other episodes do catch the one where they go to the work’s fancy dress with a ‘Harry Potter’ theme 🙂

Interview with Mister Maker

Posted in Cbeebies, News, theatre, tours, TV with tags , , , , , on March 21, 2016 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Mister Maker is currently touring the UK with the Shapes and you can get tickets here.

Mister Maker tour 2016

How is the mammoth tour you have just embarked on going?

Actually we had a two month stint last year, which actually launched in September and went through until November. Weekends, half-terms that sort of thing and that ran until the end of November, then I went into a pantomime the next day. Then straight of the pantomime into the Mister Maker tour. It has been pretty full and lots of fun.

We were in Lowestoft yesterday and got back just after midnight so just catching-up today on interviews and phone calls today.

What can people expect in the show? I know the Shapes will be joining you onstage.

I think expect the unexpected is the answer I have given on this before. What we’ve done with the theatre shows is take what the CBeebies audience expect, both the children and adults, the creativity and the heart of it, then transferred it quite literally onto a bigger stage. We have turned it into a live event, it is a but like a party, a bit like a pantomime and it is much bigger in its production value than the TV show can be because of course a lot of the TV show is filmed in close-up and carefully directed. We show in close-ups so the kids at home can watch and learn.

We make everything bigger, so we have a huge set and big wooden shapes that are pushed and spin around onstage. We have a massive screen at the back of the stage, which looks like a big picture frame. In the middle of that something is always happening, be it  shape puzzle or a live camera feed. We have a camera operator onstage who beams everything that is happening onstage onto the big screen.

It is hard to turn a TV show into a stage production as it is a totally different environment?

Definitely, you are absolutely right. I think that was the biggest challenge, a couple of years actually when I sat down and thought about putting this into a live show, how do you make it enjoyable and watchable for a small child who may be sitting in the very back row of the theatre. Normally they it at home watching on TV or a tablet.

We use the big screen and the camera, plus we make things bigger on the stage for the Big Makes. We want the kids to feel encouraged to be part of the show, no matter what seat they are in. We ask for volunteers to come up on stage, the kids and also the grown-ups which is fun as well. Every single person who comes and sees the show will make something on the stage I won’t give too much away about how we do this. It is quite a simple idea in essence but quite complicated sometimes when you have a 1,000 people in the audience. It is a tricky thing to carry off, but great fun.

You are playing fair sized venues like the Blackpool Grand and the Victoria Hall in my home town of Stoke-on-Trent.

We were in Blackpool last weekend and a real honour to be there. To walk out on that stage, a beautiful theatre. We are playing a lot of beautiful Frank Matcham theatres. Went to Belfast a few weeks ago and that was absolutely beautiful as well. Back in my home town, I am from Kent.  I don’t live there at the moment but I consider Canterbury as home town and I went to university there as well. I am playing the Marlow theatre there and have played pano there for the past few years. It is a fairly new 1,200 seater and we are doing five shows there which are nearly all sold out. Its amazing what we are doing and so proud what we are doing.

I was surprised at how popular you are in Australia. Obviously we import over some of their TV shows but you have played the Sydney Opera House?

To be perfectly honest nor did we until we went. It is sold to the ABC there and it on every day after school. When did the live shows last year we did two trips and I am fortunate to be going back this June and New Zealand for the first time. This time we are playing the Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House. That is just beyond my wildest dreams. It is a real honour to travel to all of these places, like Australia and New Zealand, plus the UK. It is nice to visit the towns and cities where previously only been there for a football match, where all you do is go to the ground or the services on the way.

Blackpool was great the other weekend. As a cast we stayed up an extra night and had a great time at the theatre. The next day we walked up to the Pleasure Beach and the tower.

My son has a question for you – what has been the most enjoyable project you did or thing you made?

You might not like this answer being a dad! It is very difficult to choose as I have made over a 1,000 things now on Mister Maker. But the most enjoyable one was a splat picture where I dipped a tennis ball into a gloppy, paint mixture and then bouncing it a blank canvas. It was great fun and one of those days when I had to stop and think I am so lucky to be doing this as my job.

Who comes up with all these makes?

We have a fantastic production team on the TV show of Mister Maker. It is only  a small tea, there are four in the art team and I write the scripts for the show. There is the producer of the show as well. The art team come up with so many ideas and when I come on board I am really lucky as I get to pick from all these great ideas. It is about a couple months before we start filming and I work with the art team and we work out the best way to put these ideas onto the TV. I then work through the stages and write the scripts for them, then work out the best way to present them. A lot of stuff I have to make upside down or from the side, as I have to make it the best way the cameras can see it.

Even the Minute Make ones I have to practice not only to do in a minute, but also have to make them in a certain way, like gluing from the side and I can’t see what I am gluing! It is  to show it easily for the children at home.

For the live show it is just me and the show’s producer who come up with the makes which will work on the stage.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

Because I am so busy with Mister Maker I don’t have free time as such. Mister Maker has taken over my life and I am so happy about that, so proud. Last year we were filming the new series of ‘Mister Maker’s Arty Party’, as well as doing the tour, so I was literally working seven days a week for six months. Monday to Friday in the TV studio, then Friday evening through to Sunday evening doing live shows. My mum gets very worried about me not taking much time off.

I also remember as I started of twenty years ago in kids TV at the bottom of the ladder as a work experience boy. Then a runner’s job for a year doing everything from getting peoples’ lunch to making and painting props. It is one of those things where I gradually worked my way up the industry and now twenty years later to be fortunate enough to put on a live tour and do something I love doing.

The perfect thing for me is to make a nice cup of tea at home just the way you like it. I will put my feet up and watch an episode of ‘Friends’ or ‘Frasier’. They are the shows I chill out and catch up with my family. I love to see my mum and dad and catch up with them.

Message for your fans…

All the mini-Makers in the UK  I am very pleased you watch the shows on CBeebies. Come and see the live show, it is lots of fun. My main message is to make some noise. That is the theme of the show and the opening number in the show. Because we are all about arts, crafts and making things, but the live show is about making noise and have some fun. Not just the children but the grown-ups to and have some fun, plus dance with the Shapes of course.

A really nice person and a pleasure to interview. Do go & see one of the shows, be you young or old!

Marvellous – Neil Baldwin aka Nello this Thursday 25th Sep BBC2

Posted in News, Stoke City, Stoke City FC, TV with tags , , , , , , on September 23, 2014 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

‘Marvellous’ is shown on BBC2 on Thursday September 25th at 21:00GMT and stars Toby Jones (a Stoke fan too!) playing the role of Nello

Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin was kit man at Stoke City when Lou Macari was in charge (he makes a cameo appearance along with Gary Linekar) and a clown at Zippo’s Circus. He can still be found at Keele University (where he was awarded an honorary degree). It looks like a good piece of TV, part drama/real life and part musical/fantasy.

My claim to Nello fame is that I took him home to his mum’s back in 1987 when he was a volunteer at the Theatre Royal, Hanley where I was a volunteer too. He was only around for the panto ‘Mother Goose’, which starred Ken Dodd, whom Nello was friends with. Nice bloke although only being nineteen at that time was slightly worried when he said he had a suitcase full of letters to various members of the royal family (mostly to Prince Charles) I was welcome to read. I politely declined that one as I could have been reading those for days on end!

The Nello Macari clip is priceless…


Dr Who is back for a new series starting on Arpil 23rd

Posted in Dr Who, News, TV on April 7, 2011 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Here is the CBBC trailer…

The new series will be split in two, half in the spring with a massive cliffhanger promised and the second part in the autumn.

I am warming to the new Doctor although my daughter still can’t stand him…

Best of 2010

Posted in AOR, Authors, Books, Classic rock, Folk rock, Get Ready To Rock!, Heavy metal, Melodic rock, Modern rock, Pop rock, Power metal, Progressive rock, Queen, Stoke City, Stoke City FC, TV on November 16, 2010 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

 Here is my selection, not in oder (possibly subject to slight change when I remember a good album I’ve forgotten!)…

             1. FREEDOM CALL ‘Legend Of The Shadow King’ SPV/Sony

    Power metal how it should be done. Gloriously OTT.
    2.      GIANT ‘Promise Land’ Frontiers
    First of three albums this year to feature vocalist Terry Brock and although it may not quite meet the band’s classic debut album it certainly deserves the Giant name.
    3.      BRIAN HOWE ‘Circus Bar’ Frontiers
    Former Bad Company singer comes good with a solo album ideal for lovers of melodic hard rock.
    4.      FOREIGNER ‘Can’t Slow Down’ Ear Music/Edel
    Although the US were lucky enough to get this album last year it was well worth waiting for. Not a duff song in sight and good to see the band tapping into their more rockier side.5.      FM ‘Metropolis’ AOR Heaven
    FM are back and with possibly their strongest album of their career. Happily gone  is the plodding blues rock of the Andy Barnett era and instead we get a mix of top notch melodic rockers and blues rockers.6.      BELLOWHEAD ‘Hedonism’ Navigator Records
    A band recommended for those who think they won’t like folk but will be converted by this album. Good mix of ballads and sing-a-longs all backed by their wide musical instrumentation including brass, accordion and some stunning sax.

    7.      ARK ‘ Wild Untamed Imaginings’ ProgRock Records
    Ark comeback with a wonderfully diverse album that encompasses then 80’s neo-prog sound, folk and more modern proggers like Kino.

    8.      NELSON ‘Lightning Strikes Twice’ Frontiers
    Billed as follow-up to their smash hit 1990 album ‘After The Rain’ (they have released albums in-between times but sadly not with much success sales wise). The harmonies and radio friendly tunes are here.

    9.      PHIL CAMPBELL
    Singer/songwriter who recorded most of this album himself, which surprises the listener given how much is going on musically. ‘Vodka Milk’ and ‘ are two of the songs of the year.

    10.     DOWN ‘N’ OUTZ
    Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott hooks-up with some of the Quireboys to produce an album of covers from Mott, Ian Hunter and British Lions. Quite possibly the best things Joe Elliott has sung on since the glory days of Def Leppard. Great songs and great fun.

    11.     AVANTASIA ‘The Wicked Symphony’ Nuclear Blast
    Tobias Sammet gathers together another all star ensemble and this time it is spread over tow albums. Bob Catley and Jorn Lande are amongst the vocal highlights.

    12.     ASIA ‘Omega’ Frontiers
    Easily the best album they have done since reforming.

    13.     MASS ‘Sea Of Black’ Escape Music
    Another 80’s band producing some of the best music of their career. They have turned up the guitars and rock out big time.

    14.     GLYDER ‘Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow’ SPV
    If this is indeed the band’s swansong it is a strong way to finish.

    15.     PRETTY MAIDS ‘Pandemonium’ Frontiers
    They don’t release albums that often but when they do they are essential. This new one is no different and they are one of the few bands who can successfully meld classic metal riffs with their more melodic rock side.

    16.     GRAND ILLUSION ‘Brand New World’ AOR Heaven
    So good to have this band back! The pomp and vocal harmonies are still in place as ‘157th Breakdown’ proves.

    17.     LAST AUTUMN’S DREAM ‘A Touch Of Heaven’  Escape Music

    Amazingly the band’s seventh album in as many years and easily one of their best.

    18.     CHRIS SINGLETON ‘Lady Gasoline’ Indie
    ‘Twisted City’ was a great album and this new one pips it. A delightful pop rock journey from start to finish.

    19.     STAR ONE ‘Victims Of The Modern Age’ Inside Out
    Arjen Lucassen is always a busy man and good to have the second studio album from Star One. More straight ahead metal than Ayreon with a SF background.

    20.     TONY HARNELL & THE MERCURY TRAIN ‘Round Trip’ Frontiers
    Ex-TNT vocalist Tony Harnell revisits some of the TNT classics he recorded plus songs from his
    other bands including Westworld. All are redone in an acoustic setting and the songs take on a whole new slant.


    1. JACKDAW4 ‘Retrospectables’ The band’s first two albums and a veritable aural delight for those who like their pop rock with a barbed edge.

    2.      RICK SPRINGFIELD ‘Venus Exploding’ Frontiers
    Quite possibly his best album to date and great to see it get a full release.

    3.      SAVATAGE ‘Still The Orchestra Plays – Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2’ Ear Music/Edel
    Never tried Savatage before? There is no excuse now with this best of and you can see where the massively popular Trans-Siberian Orchestra got some of their musical ideas from (along with band members!).

    4.      URIAH HEEP ‘On The Rebound: Best Of’ Universal
    Like Motorhead and Saxon there are many ‘best ofs’ littering the market by Uriah Heep but this one is the best for successfully straddling the band’s classic 70’s Byron fronted era, through to the underrated n80’s line-up featuring Pete Goalby on vocals and bang up to date with the Bernie Shaw years.

    5.      JIMI JAMISON & JIM PETRIK ‘Extra Moments’ Melodic Rock Records
    The two Survivor pals present an album of ‘demos’, whose production puts many ‘finished’ albums to shame. Needless to say this is a ‘must have’ for fans of Survivor and it includes the song Jimi Jamison used in his Survivor audition back in the day.

    They blew Europe of the stage at the ITunes gig. Kelly Hansen is the consummate frontman – like a younger version of Steve Tyler minus the big lips.

    They are back and sounding on top of their game.

    First time I had heard anything by this band – female fronted blues/classic rock. A must see live.

    A name I knew a lot about but not heard much by before. She has lost none of her powerful voice and one of the gigs of a lifetime, never mind the year!

    An acoustic gig backed by a very talented band including Tommy Denander this gig combined his newer solo material plus some Dan Reed Network classics. His rendition of ‘Rainbow Child’

    I watched a few this year but ELO’s ‘The Early Years’ (Eagle Vision) wins hands down as it shows the band just about to hit the big time. It also features the late Mike Edwards and of course Kelly Groucutt who sadly passed away last year.

    Let downs…

    A fair few albums failed to deliver…Strangeways (tried to appeal to fans of both styles of the band but failed), Allen/Lande (good album but mushc too similar to what had gone before), Y&T (a couple of cracking songs but the rest is pretty average by this band’s high standards).

RIP – Ray Alan

Posted in Family life, News, TV on May 26, 2010 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Another piece of my childhood bites the dust 😦

His puppet Lord Charles was a legend and both were often seen on TV shows throughout the 70’s and 80’s.