Dave Johns to play two Laugh Out Loud gigs at The Basement at City Screen tomorrow. Tony Burgess on first bill too

Dave Johns

LAUGH Out Loud Comedy Club will play host to two shows tomorrow at The Basement, City Screen Picturehouse, York, both featuring I, Daniel Blake film star and comedian Dave Johns.

Joining him on the 5pm bill will be BBC sitcom star Tony Burgess, Ben Silver and master of ceremonies/promoter Damion Larkin. Simon Wozniak will take over from Burgess on an otherwise unchanged 8pm line-up.

North Easterner Johnshas been part of the stand-up scene since 1989, playing all the major comedy clubs and comedy festivals in the UK and beyond, such as the Kilkenny Comedy Festival, in Ireland, Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and the Adelaide Fringe and Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia.

He has worked on stage too in the Middle East, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Johannesburg, Sydney, New York, Amsterdam and the Arctic.

As a scriptwriter, his credits include his stage adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Shawshank Redemption, co-written with Owen O’Neill.

He has acted on the West End stage with Christian Slater in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and appeared in Twelve Angry Men, at the Assembly Theatre, Edinburgh, where he also performed in The Odd Couple alongside Bill Bailey and Alan Davies.

Johns played the title role in Ken Loach’s 2016 film I, Daniel Blake, winning that year’s BIFA for Best Actor and a BAFTA too. He is a regular guest on comedy panel shows Never Mind The Buzzcocks (BBC Two) and 8 Out Of Ten Cats (Channel 4).

Tony Burgess played DJ Troy, Moz’s crazy, vinyl-obsessed brother, in the cult BBC3 comedy Ideal and starred in his self-penned, seven-part BBC One/BBC Three sitcom The Visit. His stand-up comedy has brought him the City Life Comedian of the Year, the runner-up’s place in So You Think You’re Funny and nominations for best stand-up and writer at the North West Comedy Awards.

Founder member of the topical MEN At Work team at the Comedy Store in Manchester and regular compere of the Frog and Bucket Comedy Club, he is a playwright too, his plays Fire Salad and Doorway being premiered at the Royal Exchange Studio Theatre in Manchester.

He wrote for the first two series of Ideal and co-wrote the Sony Award-winning BBC Radio 4 comedy The Nightclass with Johnny Vegas, along with writing for Steve Coogan’s Paul And Pauline Calf’s Cheese And Ham Sandwich, Vegas’s Who’s Ready For Ice Cream, John Bishop’s series John Bishop’s Britain and Lily Savage.

He has a writing credit for Wallace And Gromit’s The Curse Of The Were Rabbit, to the delight of his children who consider he now has a proper job.

Cheerfully self-deprecating, unpredictable Scouse comedian Simon Wozniak has had a meteoric rise from the bowels of the comedy industry to headline the premier British comedy clubs.

Ever modest, he says: “Not much to say really. I have two pairs of jeans for all purposes, work and recreation, mix and match. I’m a part-time contact lens wearer, full-time glasses wearer. I’ve got no thigh gap and I still drink Capri-Suns.”

Ben Silver once crowd-surfed a gig he was hosting, so prepare for anything! He has gigged all over the world, is a regular at London’s clubs, has written for BBC and Comedy Central shows and taken six solo tour shows to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Tickets can be booked at lolcomedyclubs.co.uk. Further shows at The Basement are booked for April 6, May 4 and June 1.

Make It At Market glass makers Allister Malcolm and Alison Vincent to appear at Comfort And Joy show at Pyramid Gallery

Allister Malcolm and Alison Vincent making their appearance on BBC One’s Make It At Market. On Friday, they  will be at Pyramid Gallery, York

PYRAMID Gallery, in Stonegate, York, will hold a second opening of its festive show, Comfort And Joy, on Friday (17/11/2023), when award-winning glass maker Allister Malcolm and Alison Vincent will be in attendance from 3pm to 7pm.

“We’ll be serving drinks and nibbles in celebration of their work and their success following being on BBC One’s Make It At Market, which was first aired in January,” says gallery owner Terry Brett, ahead of the show’s repeat airing on BBC One on November 24 at 7.30pm.

“As part of Allister’s mentorship with Alison, he arranged for her to have an exhibition of her work here at Pyramid. We’re very grateful for the mention of Pyramid on the show and for the continued success of our relationship with both Allister and Alison.”

Terry adds: “We’ll also have former teacher-turned-artist Jo Kenny here for Friday’s special event. Jo and her colleague Caroline White have created Joy Jars for our Christmas show, and Jo will be here to talk about her processes and inspirations.”

Comfort And Joy, a celebration of art and sculpture all made by hand in the UK, will run until January 20 2024, featuring ceramics, glass, prints and paintings. 

“From the affordable to the aspirational, we have curated a very joyful show for the festive period filled with fantastic art for sale for presents or for your own home,” says Terry. 

Artists include: Lesley Birch, paintings; Emma Whitelock, paintings; Dinny Pocock, needlefelt sculpture; Helen Martino, ceramic sculpture; Anita Klein, linocuts and paintings; Paul Smith, sculpture; Peter Hayes, sculpture; Joy McMillan, glass sculpture and jewellery; Tracy Knowles, stained glass; Jo Kenny, blown glass, and Sarah Williams, paintings.

Hilke Macintyre, paintings, prints and ceramics; Eva Mileusnic, ceramics; Eliza Southwood, prints; Hannah Gibson, glass sculpture; E&M Glass, glass sculpture; Morag Reekie, glass sculpture; Fidelma Massey, bronze and ceramic sculpture; Louise Connell, mixed media sculpture; Kate Buckley, porcelain origami, and many more. Jewellery by more than 75 makers features too.

Lovely jubbly! Only Fools And Horses The Musical will be cushty in York next October in Grand Opera House run

The poster for the 2024-2025 tour of Only Fools And Horses The Musical, bound for York next October

DIRECT from a four-year sold-out West End run, Only Fools And Horses The Musical will head to York next autumn in Paul Whitehouse and Jim Sullivan’s show, based on John Sullivan’s record-breaking1980s’ BBC comedy.

Running at the Grand Opera House from October 14 to 19, it features a script and original score by John’s son and Whitehouse, bringing lovable Peckham rogues Del Boy, Rodney, Grandad, Cassandra, Raquel, Boycie, Marlene, Trigger, Denzil, Mickey Pearce, Mike the Barman and the Driscoll Brothers to the stage with wide-boy humour and 20 songs.

Directed by the originating West End director Caroline Jay Ranger, the tour will kick off in September 2024 and then travel to more than 30 theatres across the country, concluding in June 2025. Casting will be announced in early 2024.

Co-writer Whitehouse says: “Following four amazing years in the West End, I’m thrilled we are announcing today that Only Fools And Horses The Musical is going on tour.

“I’ve long been asked by many fans when this might happen, so I’m delighted to confirm that the show will be coming to a theatre near you from September next year. All of the characters we know and love from the Only Fools television series will be live on stage, as we take Peckham on the road! Bonnet de douche!”

Paul Whitehouse: Comedian, actor, writer and television presenter has co-written Only Fools And Horses The Musical with Jim Sullivan, John’s son

After playing more than 1,000 performances at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket, this home-grown musical, featuring cherished material from the TV series, takes a trip back in time, “where it’s all kicking off in Peckham”.

While the yuppie invasion of London is in full swing, love is in the air as Del Boy sets out on the rocky road to find his soul mate, Rodney and Cassandra prepare to say “I do”, and even Trigger is gearing up for a date. Meanwhile, Boycie and Marlene give parenthood one final shot and Grandad takes stock of his life and decides the time has finally arrived to have his piles sorted out.

Co-writer Whitehouse says: “Following four amazing years in the West End, I’m thrilled we are announcing today that Only Fools And Horses The Musical is going on tour. I’ve long been asked by many fans when this might happen, so I’m delighted to confirm that the show will be coming to a theatre near you from September next year. All of the characters we know and love from the Only Fools television series will be live on stage, as we take Peckham on the road! Bonnet de douche!”

Musical contributions from London legends Chas & Dave and the beloved theme tune as never heard before combine with an array of new songs full of character and Cockney charm, guaranteeing a right ol’ knees-up!  

“Only Fools And Horses The Musical is a feel-good family celebration of traditional working-class London life in 1989 and the aspirations we all share,” rolls out the publicity machine. “So don’t delay, get on the blower, and get a ticket for a truly cushty night out. Only a 42-carat plonker would miss it!”

Tickets are on sale at atgtickets.co.uk.

Traitors winner Hannah Byczkowski to play fun and Games in At The Mill comedy gig

“I don’t want to shock in my shows, I just want to entertain people,” says Hannah Byczkowski

JOIN The Traitors winner Hannah Byczkowski as she delves into the game that changed her life in her Games gig, opening At The Mill’s theatre season in Stillington, near York, tonight (10/6/2023).

Deemed a comedy goddess by the hit BBC show’s presenter, Claudia Winkleman, Hannah shared the £100,000 prize with her fellow Faithful contestants Aaron Evans and Meryl Williams in the game of skullduggery.

Now Byczkowski (pronounced Bitch-Cough-Ski, should you be wondering) is back on the comedy beat full time, wearing her heart on her sleeve and making sure everyone has a good laugh with it as she dips into her observational and relatable material and store of unbelievable stories.

Regularly performing as an MC in and around London, in addition to performing stand-up sets nationwide, she heads to Stillington for the first time this weekend. “My agent books the other stuff; my sister books the live shows,” she says.

“I won’t be debuting the Games show fully until 2024 but I will do shows at the Free Fringe in Edinburgh this summer, and I’ll be doing live podcasts from Edinburgh with my Ghost Huns co-host Suzie Preece, telling ghost stories and trying to contact the dead at the end of each show.”

Why pick Games for a title, Hannah? “Mainly because of going on The Traitors. It’s that vibe,” she says. “It’s not explicitly about my experience on that show but it does have references to it, about how I ended up on it, how I was recruited.”

 Hannah, you may recall, was a Faithful contestant throughout this year’s debut series. “I am faithful by nature, but I really wanted to a Traitor because it looked more fun. Being a Traitor gives you permission to behave in a way you couldn’t in the real world – though people will resonate with you being a good person.”

Her television exposure has been hugely beneficial. “Definitely it’s helped me to change my career very quickly, having been a comedian before the show for two years, though it felt like I’d only been doing it for two minutes,” says Hannah, 32, originally from Lightwood, Stoke-on-Trent, and now based in London.

She revels in being a stand-up. “Who can tell sex jokes to a room full of strangers except for a comedian, where you can get away with a lot? I can be utterly and completely who I am on that stage,” she says.

“I just don’t take anything seriously, except that I did work in palliative care and that makes you realise you shouldn’t take anything else seriously. Now I won’t do anything I don’t want to do.

“I don’t want to shock in my shows, I just want to entertain people while I have them in the palm of my hands.”

Palliative care, by contrast, required a serious disposition. “I don’t think anyone would be able to carry on in a job like that if that were not the case. I quit my job before I went onto The Traitors, and I had to make the decision to give up regular income, but I don’t want to have any regrets, to not do things in my life.

“I ended up assessing in the palliative care field, getting up in the morning, doing the job and thinking, ‘is this it?’. I decided ‘, ‘this is not what I want’. I’d get up seven, work till five, and then be out till 1am because of doing a gig in the evening, working on the London circuit. Not a lot of sleep.”

The Traitors has enabled Hannah to travel further for her gigs, playing up north more often. Like tonight in Stillington. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/913281

Is Michael McIntyre playing York? Yes, but both Grand Opera House gigs have sold out

Michael McIntyre: New material next week in York

COMEDIAN Michael McIntyre has sold out next week’s two Work In Progress shows at the Grand Opera House, York, in only eight minutes.

The 46-year-old Londoner will be “trying out brand new material” on February 16 and 17 at 8pm on his return to the Cumberland Street venue, where he last road-tested new gags on February 28 last year.

McIntyre’s big break came on the televised 2006 Royal Variety Performance, since when his tours have sold four million tickets. He holds the record for the highest-selling artist at London’s O2, Britain’s biggest arena, where he sold out 28 shows.

McIntyre hosted Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow from 2009 on BBC One, winning the National Television Award for Best Entertainment Programme in 2012.

In 2016, he began hosting Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, again on BBC One. Now in its sixth series, the show has won several awards, such as a BAFTA for Best Entertainment Performance.

In 2020, McIntyre devised and hosted the BBC One gameshow Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel. Nominated for BAFTA and NTA Awards, the show has returned this year for a third series. Soon McIntyre will host the American version on NBC.

Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals adds second York Barbican date, but when?

Strictly Come Dancing: The ten professionals in the tour line-up

TICKETS sold out in 12 hours for the Strictly Come Dancing – The Professionals show at York Barbican on May 12 2023, prompting the addition of a second performance on May 31.

In the line-up of ten of the world’s best professional dancers from the BBC’s hit show will be Strictly pros Dianne Buswell, Vito Coppola, Carlos Gu, Karen Hauer, Neil Jones, Nikita Kuzmin, Gorka Marquez, Luba Mushtuk, Jowita Przystal and Nancy Xu.

“Don’t miss your chance to see these much-loved dancers coming together to perform in a theatrical ensemble that will simply take your breath away,” says the tour blurb. Box office: ticketmaster.co.uk/strictly-come-dancing-the-professionals-2023-york.

Big show news! Michael McIntyre to play Work In Progress show at Grand Opera House, York. Ticket rush, 10am, Tuesday

Michael McIntyre: New material on trial in York

COMEDIAN Michael McIntyre will try out brand-new material at the Grand Opera House, York, in a Work In Progress show hastily arranged for February 28.

Tickets for the 8pm warm-up gig go on sale on Tuesday, February 15 at 10am, priced from £25 at atgtickets.com/York. Bookings are limited to four per household and the age guidance is 14 upwards.

The 45-year-old Londoner is noted for his observational comedy, wherein he turns everyday situations into outpourings of startled exasperation.

McIntyre’s big break came when he performed on the televised 2006 Royal Variety Performance. His tours have since sold four million tickets and he holds the record for the highest-selling artist at Britain’s biggest arena, London’s O2, where he sold out 28 shows.

He hosted Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow on BBC One from 2009, winning the National Television Award for Best Entertainment Programme in 2012.

In 2016, he began fronting Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, now into its sixth series on Saturday nights on BBC One, with a BAFTA for Best Entertainment Performance among its awards. He has chaired two series of BBC One’s Saturday game show The Wheel too. Last year he penned his autobiography, A Funny Life.

McIntyre previously played a three-night run of Work In Progress gigs at the Grand Opera House from July 2 to 4 2012.

UPDATE 17/2/2022

MICHAEL McIntyre’s Work In Progress show at the Grand Opera House, York, on February 28 sold out within two hours of going on sale on Tuesday morning.

Oh, the scandal! Adrian Lukis plays Pride And Prejudice’s Mr Wickham again, 30 years on from Jane Austen’s novel

Adrian Lukis: Being Mr Wickham again, 30 years on from Jane Austen’s novel

ADRIAN Lukis played George Wickham in the BBC’s television adaptation of Pride And Prejudice 26 years ago this very month.

Time, he says, to set the record straight about Jane Austen’s most charmingly roguish character in his one-man play Being Mr Wickham, co-written with Catherine Curzon.

This is the chance to discover the vilified Wickham’s version of some very famous literary events. Such as? What really happened with Darcy? What did he feel about Lizzie? What went on at Waterloo? Not to mention Byron.

Directed by Guy Unsworth and designed by Libby Watson, the Original Theatre Company’s 75-minute touring production visits York Theatre Royal from Thursday (14/10/2021) to Saturday.

From the company that brought Ben Brown’s political drama A Splinter Of Ice to the Theatre Royal in July comes Being Mr Wickham, wherein Lukis’s Mr Wickham is on the eve of his 60th birthday and wants to lift the sheets on exactly what happened 30 years on from where Jane Austen left him. 

“I’m thrilled to be reunited with my old friend, George Wickham,” says Lukis, who starred with Colin Firth’s headline-grabbing Mr Darcy in Andrew Davies’s adaptation of Austen’s 1813 novel.

 “Having spent years defending Wickham’s dubious reputation, I look forward to finally setting the record straight, with the assistance of the immensely talented Original Theatre Company.”

Rarely off the small screen, Lukis’s TV credits take in Channel 4’s Feel Good, the 2019 mini-series A Christmas Carol, Vera, Poldark, Bulletproof, Collateral, The Crown, Red Dwarf, Grantchester, Black Mirror, Blair Toast in Toast Of London, Downton Abbey, New Tricks and Death In Paradise.  

He also stars in the new Netflix series Anatomy Of A Scandal, set to be streamed this year, and has had film roles in Judy, Dolittle, City Slacker and Bertie & Dickie.

“I’ve made up stories based on the historical facts and imagined an entire life for Wickham above and beyond the book,” says Adrian Lukis

Now he is touring Being Mr Wickham after theatre parts inThe Price(Theatre Royal Bath), The Seagull (Chichester Festival Theatre/ National Theatre) and Versailles (Donmar Warehouse).

Here, Adrian Lukis gives CharlesHutchPress the inside track on Being Mr Wickham.

What inspired you to revisit the character of Mr Wickham?

“When I turned 60 a few years ago, I started to wonder what it would be like for a man such as Wickham, who has been a rake and a ne’er-do-well, surviving on his looks and his wits, to have to deal with getting older.

“I started to look at it with Catherine Curzon, who is an expert on the historical side of things, and read everything about Wickham and Pride And Prejudice I could get hold of. I found myself discovering how much I enjoyed the process of researching and writing. Once I started, it just went like a storm.”

Given that the details of Wickham’s life are sketchy in the novel, how did you fill in the blanks?

“Firstly, I looked at the way he is described. For example, Darcy says he has led a dissolute life in London, so I thought, ‘well what really happened?’. I’ve also made up stories based on the historical facts and imagined an entire life for him above and beyond the book.

“At one stage, he enters a private club and gets into a punch-up, but it’s based on a real place called Watier’s Club in St James’s [London]. I also wanted to explore things such as what he really thinks of Elizabeth Bennet; what he really thinks of Lydia. These questions were really interesting to me.”

” I was 17 I wrote my first play. At the time I thought I might be a playwright, so it’s nice I’m finally getting a chance to do it at 64,” says Adrian Lukis, actor and now writer too

Austen depicts him as such a rogue, was it therefore important to fight his corner in the play?

“Absolutely. My premise was that people don’t tend to see themselves through a bad lens, and there are always two sides to a story. I could have written him like Flashman – an out-and-out bounder who just doesn’t care – but something I took very strongly from the book was that Wickham is plausibly a nice man.

“He is always described as being charming and amiable, rather than someone who’s constantly plotting and twirling his moustache. He admits he does some bad things, but turns it on the audience and asks, ‘have you led a blameless life?’.

“Also, he makes the point that life would be very dull without any rogues. I’d much rather spend an evening with him than with Darcy!”

How would Wickham be thought of in today’s society?

“It’s an interesting question. He would probably be labelled in contemporary terminology a bit of a ‘player’, and I think we all know men like that, but you have to view him in the context of his time. In Austen’s day, men who were not the first son had to set their cap at a wealthy heiress.

“That was a social pressure that we don’t really have today, so for a man with looks and charm, like Wickham, it made sense to try his luck with women, rather than going into the clergy.

“It would certainly be different today, although I think we are living through a very moral period, much more so than when I was growing up in the 1970s. So perhaps he would still be considered a scoundrel.”

What are your memories of playing Wickham first time round? Did you have any idea that the BBC series would become such a phenomenon?

“No idea at all; I don’t think any of us did. We knew it was a big production, and I thought the script was terrific, but we had no inkling of whether it would be a success. In that sense it was just another job.

“We are living through a very moral period, much more so than when I was growing up in the 1970s,” says Adrian Lukis. “So perhaps Wickham would still be considered a scoundrel”

“I remember writing to Colin Firth shortly after it came out, when he’d gone off to do some filming in South America, and saying words to the effect of ‘you have no idea what’s going on back home, this series has gone through the roof and you’re famous’.

“That being said, a few weeks later we went for a pint together in London, and I thought we would get absolutely mobbed – Darcy and Wickham out together -but nobody recognised us!”

Were you always drawn to acting and what about writing?

“My father was in the Royal Marines and I was initially brought up in Australia, where I didn’t have much chance to try it out, but when I came to England in the 1960s and was sent to public school, suddenly theatre was available to me and it was like being struck by a thunderbolt.

“I fell in love with it. My whole life soon became about being in school productions and when I was 17 I wrote my first play. At the time I thought I might be a playwright, so it’s nice I’m finally getting a chance to do it at 64!”

While on the subject of writers, what might Jane Austen have made of your reimagining of George Wickham?

“That depends on how you view her politics. She has been called all sorts of things, from a radical feminist to a staunch Methodist, but I think it’s safer to assume she was something of a small ‘c’ conservative.

“So, she probably would have disapproved of Wickham and seen him as being a rather weak and vapid young man, but I hope if she were to see this production, she would say, ‘good for you, you haven’t consigned him to the scrapheap and have found mitigating factors for his behaviour’.

Original Theatre Company presents Being Mr Wickham, York Theatre Royal, Thursday to Saturday, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Thursday’s performance will be followed by a 15 to 20-minute question-and-answer session. Box office: 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk