ABC go orchestral at York Barbican on Saturday to glory in The Lexicon Of Love

HOW does Wikipedia describe ABC’s iconic, chart-topping 1982 debut album The Lexicon Of Love?

New pop. Pop. Sophisti-pop. New Wave. Disco. Dance-pop. Blue-eyed soul. Synth pop.

On Saturday at York Barbican, one word will suffice: orchestral. That night, as part of the Sheffield band’s now extended tour, Martin Fry and co will be joined by the Southbank Sinfonia, conducted by longtime collaborator Anne Dudley, who played such a key role along with producer Trevor Horn on the original recording sessions.

They will perform the million-selling album in its entirely, complemented by further ABC hits such as the two-hour set-opening When Smokey Sings, Be Near Me and The Night You Murdered Love.

Fry, now 65, first dusted off his trademark lamé suit for a one-off orchestral performance of The Lexicon Of Love at the Royal Albert Hall, but such was the reaction that a 2009 tour ensued, and 15 years later, the Fry-Dudley partnership is off on the road again.

“When we first did it in 2009, it was a novel idea, and we spent a lot of time getting the arrangements right, not a band with an orchestra in the background but a full show,” he recalls.

Anne beavered away on the orchestral charts, filling two suitcases for the 36 members of the Southbank Sinfonia. “It’s cast of thousands on stage, more than 40 people, for these shows,” says Fry.

What a contrast with the peace and quiet of his location for this Zoom interview (on January 11). “I’m in Barbados. It’s 8.30 in the morning over here,” he says. “In the Tropics, I get up every day at about five or six. It’s really nice! Running on the beach each day.”

The cover artwork for ABC’s 1982 debut album The Lexicon Of Love

Soon he would be heading to London for the tour rehearsals with Dudley and the orchestra, but Fry spends “quite a lot of time” in Barbados, as well as going to Miami and “being in Yorkshire quite often”.

Yorkshire was where it all started for Stockport-born Martin Fry and ABC, the band that grew out of his original group, Vice Versa, in Sheffield in 1980. “I think a lot of it came from the double dejection of knowing there were no outlets unless you were a footballer or a hairdresser. It was a very depressed area,” he says.

The result was a debut that was both velvet and steel, fuelled by the romantic longing of Motown soul and a post-punk attitude that chimed with the South Yorkshire industrial decline and strife of the time.

“We were from an experimental background, rehearsing in an old steelworks building, where I cleaned out the building for [Sheffield band] Clock DVA, but we wanted to make a record where we’d compete on an international level.”

Fry and ABC were driven by a “combination of ambition and experimentation”. The look, the suits, came from “jumble sales where widows took their husbands’ clothes”, evoking B-movie films stars, while the sound was driven by the dancefloor and the possibilities brought on by technology changing all the time.

“I loved Pere Ubu and Joy Division, but we wanted to make music that was more polished, like Gamble & Huff and Motown, mirroring what was happening in the car plants, producing something every day.”

Living in Sheffield’s Hyde Park flats [later demolished in 1992-93], Fry did not want to patronise anyone by writing “Coronation Street dramas” in song, but instead he would showcase the counterpoint: the nightlife.

“Going to Pennys; the people that would go into Sheffield city centre in zoot suits. Very aspirational. Looking incredible,” he says. “It was that romance we were capturing – and the idea that we might one day play Las Vegas.” A dream that would indeed come true.

Martin Fry with Anne Dudley and the Southbank Sinfonia

Released on June 2 1982 and topping the charts a week later, The Lexicon Of Love and its quartet of single, Tears Are Not Enough, Poison Arrow, The Look Of Love and All Of My Heart, felt like pop perfection from the city of Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA and The Human League.

How could ABC and the king of the clever couplet follow it up? “We didn’t want to Xerox it but go off in a different direction with Beauty Stab and How To Be A Zillionaire,” says Fry. “But The Lexicon Of Love has never felt like a burden…no, it’s a blessing.”

He continues to write songs. “It was great to do The Lexicon Of Love II; all new songs. That came out of playing on the road with the orchestra,” he says. “It’s just therapeutic when you stumble across something good in a song.”

The thrill of “creating a new moment” still delights him as Younger Now, Older Then joins the list. “I’m too stubborn for writing songs to become a grind,” he says.

On Saturday, York can enjoy The Lexicon Of Love once more, not only the sharp suits and sharper words of Fry, but also the orchestral arrangements of Anne Dudley.

That skill was first exhibited when producer Trevor Horn wanted to do more than merely replicate strings on synthesisers on the recording sessions. Dudley was ostensibly there to embellish the keyboards, but such was her precocious talent, she said, ‘let me come up with some string arrangements’.”

“I think they were the first ever ones she did,” says an admiring Fry. Strings reattached, those songs bloom anew this weekend.

ABC: The Lexicon Of Love Orchestral Tour, York Barbican, Saturday, doors, 7pm. Box office:

A Way With Media’s promotional picture for the launch of Martin Fry’s memoir A Lexicon Of Life

MARTIN Fry will perform ABC hits and share personal stories from more than four decades in the music industry in his ABC – An Intimate Evening With Martin FryTour.

Yorkshire dates will be at King’s Hall, Ilkley, on November 21 2024 (box office:; Dewsbury Town Hall, May 8 2025 (; Scarborough Spa on Saturday, May 10 2025 (; Northallerton Forum, May 11 2025 (; Harrogate Theatre, May 21 2025 ( and Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, May 23 2025 (

“I have been very lucky in my career to have played venues around the world from massive arenas in the States to Sheffield Town Hall in my hometown, where we marked 40 years of The Lexicon of Love,” says Fry. “However, this tour really is something a bit different; an opportunity for stripped-back music and conversation with my fans. It will be really special, I can’t wait.”

Fry will be promoting his upcoming autobiography, A Lexicon Of Life, now available for pre-order in two formats ahead of its summer publication. The first is a signed, numbered edition of 2,500 with an exclusive CD featuring newly recorded acoustic versions of ABC hits and two new tracks .

The second, a deluxe edition, is limited to 350 signed and numbered copies, including the autobiography, hand-bound in the gold Savile Row fabric used for Fry’s iconic jackets, an exclusive gold vinyl record featuring Fry’s new acoustic versions and a rare bonus CD of ABC’s Traffic album.

The featured songs will be Tears Are Not Enough; Ten Below Zero; Poison Arrow; The Look Of Love; When Smokey Sings; How To Be A Millionaire; Never Get To Be The King; All Of My Heart; Be Near Me and The Luckiest Man Alive.

Head to:

Kurdish comic Kae Kurd to play Leeds City Varieties on Oct 27 on Kurd Immunity tour

British-Kurdish comedian Kae Kurd: Leeds City Varieties gig on October 27. Picture: UTC Group

BRITISH-KURDISH stand-up comedian Kae Kurd plays Leeds City Varieties Music Hall on October 27 on his Kurd Immunity tour.

Born Korang Abdulla, Kae came to Great Britain at six months old when his parents, who were part of the Kurdish resistance movement against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi government, were forced to flee.

“At my age, my father was running at tanks”, says Kae, 33. His parents first fled to Iran, where he was born. Partly as a result of his father being injured in a poison gas attack in Iraq, his family were accepted as refugees in Britain, settling in Brixton, South London, where he still lives.

Focusing on issues of race, identity and growing up Kurdish in the UK, Kae started out on the comedy circuit in 2011. As someone from a nation without an independent state, “your whole existence is about trying to find an identity or to speak up for your identity,” he says.

Signed to Mo Gilligan & Babatunde Aleshe’s management team, Kae mounted his sell-out debut national tour, The Spoken Kurd, in 2021 and took part in Celebrity MasterChef in 2022.

He has written for Cunk On…, Death To 2020, A League Of Their Own, Have I Got News For You, Charlie Brooker’s Antiviral Wipe and Crouchy’s Year-Late Euros. He has appeared on Mock The Week and Richard Osman’s House Of Games and presented the BBC’s Live At The Apollo for the first time at the start of 2023.

In response to the world being turned on its head, Kae is trying to be the best man he can possibly be and working out what that requires in this day and age. Society now demands we should be better versions of ourselves and even more so in the future, leading to Kae “having to take a good long look at himself”.

Tickets for his 8pm gig in Leeds are on sale on 0113 243 0808 or at

Kae Kurd: “Having to take a good look at himself” in Kurd Immunity tour show. Picture: UTC Group

Soul singer Kenny Thomas to play rediscovered songs on Him Tour 2024 at Grand Opera House, York, next May

Kenny Thomas: Playing Grand Opera House, York, as the only Yorkshire date on next spring’s Him Tour, preceded by Leeds gig in October

ISLINGTON soul singer-songwriter Kenny Thomas will front his all-star band at the Grand Opera House, York, on May 19 on his nine-leg Him Tour 2024.

He will showcase songs from his “lost” third album, Him, for the first time alongside his greatest hits, soon to feature on a Best Of compilation, out on November 3.

By then Thomas, 55, will have opened this autumn’s Brit Soul Ascending Tour at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall on October 31 at 7.30pm, his first Leeds show in more than 20 years.

“Live gigs are one of the most enjoyable aspects of being a musician and it’s where my fans come together for a night of soul music and serious partying. So, to announce the Him 2024 Tour is really exciting for me and the band, and it’s an opportunity for us to play songs from my third album Him, which was never commercially released,” says Londoner Thomas.

“Over three decades on from when I first started out, this tour demonstrates that soul music is here to stay.”

Kenny Thomas’s poster for his Him Tour 2024 date at the Grand Opera House

Thomas’s Best Of, released on vinyl and CD, will feature all his hits, such as Thinking About Your Love, Best Of You, Outstanding and Trippin’ On Your Love, plus fan favourites and thought-to-be lost masters from the rediscovered Him.

He sold 600,000 copies of his platinum debut album for Chrysalis Records, 1991’s number three-charting Voices, and his 1993 follow-up, the gold-selling Wait For Me, peaked at number ten en route to Thomas notching eight Top 40 singles and receiving two Brit Award nominations for Best Male Vocalist and Best Newcomer. He later released Crazy World in 2006 and Breathe in 2011.

In lockdown, Gary Barlow invited Thomas to sing Thinking About Your Love on his Crooner Sessions, which became a viral hit. In 2021, Thomas’s autobiography, Baring My Soul, was published, leading to a feature on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops documentary after performing on the show nine times.

In April 2022, he headed out on a club tour. Now come two theatre tours, Brit Soul Ascending in November and December, then the Him 2024 next spring. Box office: Leeds, 0113 243 0808 or, on sale now; York,, on sale from Friday morning.

Rosie Jones delivers her Triple Threat to Leeds City Varieties and York Theatre Royal

“People find comedy really disarming and they underestimate the power it can have,” says comedian Rosie Jones

COMEDIAN Rosie Jones is undertaking her first ever British tour with Triple Threat.

Join Bridlington-born Rosie, 33, at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall tonight and York Theatre Royal tomorrow as she ponders whether she is “a national treasure, a little prick, or somewhere in between” in a show full of unapologetic cheekiness, nonsensical fun and unadulterated joy.

A patron for Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, and campaigner for disability rights, she has two Channel 4 travelogue series to her name, Mission: Accessible and Trip Hazard, as well as her hard-hitting documentary Am I A R*tard, her response to online disability hate crimes, brought on by her having cerebral palsy.

Rosie has appeared on Live At The Apollo, The Jonathan Ross Show, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, The Last Leg, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, Mock The Week, Hypothetical, The Ranganation, Jon Richardson’s Channel Hopping, Dating No Filter, The Last Leg Tokyo and Question Time too.

Rosie has written for the Netflix series Sex Education and wrote and starred in Disability Benefits, commissioned by Channel 4 for its 2022 Comedy Blaps collection. As an actor, she made her prime-time debut in Silent Witness and had a recurring guest role as Paula in BBC One’s Casualty.

2022 saw the release of her second children’s book, The Amazing Edie Eckhart: The Big Trip, published by Hachette Children’s Group.

Rosie Jones: A triple threat of unapologetic cheekiness, nonsensical fun and unadulterated joy

Here Rosie discusses her debut tour show, Triple Threat

Why is the show called Triple Threat?

“It’s the first joke in the show, so let’s keep that secret for anyone who might not know already. The whole show is about me, my life, my career and whether or not I’m on my way to being a national treasure or whether I’m hurtling down the road to becoming a national liability.

“I’m an optimistic person so I’m still fighting to be a national treasure, but it hasn’t happened yet, maybe because I keep accidentally talking about my boobs. National Treasure Judi Dench doesn’t talk about her boobs. Maybe she should.

“The show is also about how I branched out and started writing children’s books. People think of me as a disability activist and that’s lovely, but the show is about wondering whether I deserve that title. The secret is I don’t know anything about disability. I only know what it’s like to be me. So when they talk about getting awards and opportunities, I’m a bit like, ‘do I deserve them?’.”

Do you have any pre-show rituals? Are you very rock’n’roll on the road?

“I’m not rock’n’roll, you won’t see me throwing TVs out of windows. All I need is stuff to make a cup of tea and some Doritos, because I absolutely have to have my fix of crisps before I go on.”

How important is live performance to you?

“It was really lovely to start this year with my first love and where it began, writing new stand-up material, gigging around the country. I can’t believe that this is my first ever tour. In the last few years I haven’t been able to go out and meet people and do what I hope I do best, simply stand in front of an audience and make them laugh.”

Before you were a stand-up, you worked on shows such as The Last Leg. Were you always itching to be in front of the camera?

“I think the desire to be on the other side actually came quite slowly. When I was a researcher, I did a diploma at the National Film and Television School in writing and production and when I was writing jokes I thought, ‘you know what, if I write jokes and I genuinely believe in them, it doesn’t feel like a scary jump from that to performing’.

“The first time I did it I thought, ‘I won’t like it but I know I’ll be annoyed at myself if I never try it’. So I did it and obviously it was love at first sight.

“But on some level I’ve been performing my whole life because when I entered any room of any size I always had to have jokes in my back pocket and have the confidence to go, ‘hi I’m Rosie, how are you? Don’t worry, I’m disabled, I’m not drunk. Actually I am a bit drunk but don’t tell anyone’. Every time I went to a party or a pub I needed to do this comedy routine for people to be like, ‘oh right, I get you’.”

“Ableism isn’t taken as seriously as other minorities,” says Rosie Jones, who has cerebral palsy

What else are you working on?

“I’m writing more children’s books. Two more in the Edie Eckhart series and the other is a non-fiction book called Moving On Up, which is for nine to 12-year-olds navigating that awkward time moving from primary school, when small changes feel like your entire world has fallen apart.

“Hopefully, when that happens, they will have my silly guide to lean back on, like an older sister saying, ‘don’t worry, I’ve been through it’.”

Talk about Am I A R*tard, your documentary about online abuse and ableism – prejudice against people with disabilities – shown on Channel 4 in July.

“Having cerebral palsy and being in the media means I receive online abuse pretty much every day. 95 per cent of Twitter comments are lovely but it’s that five per cent that keeps me up at night and makes me doubt myself, so for my own mental health I pay a social media company to go through my tweets so I don’t have to read them.

“Ableism isn’t taken as seriously as other minorities. When we were filming, I went into central London and asked people what ableism was and only one in 20 knew.”

You have been described as an “accidental activist”…

“As my career was building, I recognised that I was a disabled person with a platform and could use it to make a difference. I’ve always spoken up for what I believe in, but it happened organically. I’m in a very privileged position where people listen to me and unfortunately a lot of disabled people still go unheard, so if I can change that and alter things then absolutely I will.”

Can comedy change the world?

“Billy Connolly is one of my heroes and he said the most intelligent people in the world aren’t politicians, they are comedians. We can tell jokes and at the same time we can tell everyone what it’s like in the world right now. People find comedy really disarming and they underestimate the power it can have.”

Have you considered a career in politics?

No, I think I can make more of a difference as a comedian.”

Rosie Jones: Triple Threat, Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, tonight (13/9/2023), 8pm; York Theatre Royal, Thursday, 8pm. Box office: Leeds, 0113 243 0808 or; York, 01904 623568 or 

Wang In There, Baby, Phil will play York twice in his silliest, Philiest show yet

Florabundant: Phil Wang is in full bloom in 2023 as he extends his Wang In There, Baby! tour to take in autumn as well as spring dates

BRITISH Malaysian stand-up comedian, writer, sketch troupe performer and podcaster Phil Wang is promising his silliest show yet in Wang In There, Baby!, where he will discuss “race, family, nipples and everything else in his Philly little life”.

Nipples, Phil? “The problem with my shows is it’s a string of different material I like to discuss, so when I’m asked, ‘what are the themes?’, I have to think quickly of the topics.

“I’m always talking about race, but this year I also have a routine about nipples and why we censor women’s nipples, but not men’s,” he says, ahead of Friday’s Grand Opera House gig in York, where he will return in the autumn for a September 23 show at York Barbican.

Family? “I talk about my relationship with my father. I’ve always talked about him as being this Asian foil,” says Phil [full name Philip Nathaniel Wang Sin Goi], who was born in Stoke-on-Trent to an English mother and a Chinese-Malaysian father of Hakka descent.

“Hopefully I’ll have some extremely York observations to make,” says Phil Wang

One week after his birth on January 22 1990, the family returned to his father’s home town of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, where Phil was was taught in Malay, Mandarin and English, studying at the Jerudong International School in Brunei.

Anyway, back to Wang senior. “During the pandemic, he was in Malaysia where they were very strict about people coming in and out of the country. For two years I didn’t see him, but we don’t have a sentimental relationship, so we’re not very good at expressing our feelings towards each other,” Phil says.

On the phone from Peckham, South London, where he was tucking into noodles and a fried egg, Phil is looking forward to his brace of York gigs. “Yeah, hopefully I’ll have some extremely York observations to make.

“I always enjoy freshening it up with local references. For audiences it shows that you’re present in the moment and not just rattling off a script. You’re taking notice – and British humour can be summed up as ‘our town sucks but the next town over there is even worse’.

“There are more comedians than ever,” says Phil Wang. “That means you really have to be present to make an impact”

“I was actually up in Yorkshire in February with a couple of friends on a gastronomical trip to the Star Inn at Harome – it’s so popular we had to book at the end of last year – then walked on the moors and had the best pint of beer I’ll ever have in my life.”

Phil was the first British comedian to tape and release a Netflix Original stand-up comedy special during the pandemic, revelling in the title Philly Philly Wang Wang, and the only non-American act to be spotlighted on Netflix’s That’s My Time With David Letterman, and he has appeared in a recurring guest role in Amy Schumer’s comedy-drama series Life & Beth for Hulu/Disney+ too. 

Then add USA tours, appearances at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Montreal’s Just For Laughs Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe, and the September 2021 publication of his debut book Sidesplitter: How To Be From Two Worlds At Once, his comic memoir and observational essay on being a Eurasian man in the West and the East.

He is spreading his Wang wings, as it were. “I think we’re lucky to be living in these times: as a comedian, it’s not that we have to do so much, it’s just that we can – and there are more comedians than ever. That means you really have to be present to make an impact,” says Phil. “You never get bored because you’re always doing different things.”

The cover artwork for Phil Wang’s debut book Sidesplitter

Race, or more to the point, being of mixed race as a Eurasian – or “the two majorities, white and Chinese” as he puts it in one routine – has been a double-edged sword for him. “On the one hand, I don’t have that familiarity with an audience, whether a British or Malaysian one. That is my disadvantage,” he says.

“But, on the other hand, my advantage from the start was being the only Asian on the bill and often I still stand out. I accept I will never completely fit in anywhere; that’s not something I need to change. It’s perfectly OK to be in that position.”

Especially for a comedian, with its role of being the outsider looking in and commenting on the world around him. “Comedians live an observational life,” says Phil. “I’ll often not be able to live in the moment because I’m observing it and over-thinking it, but that lends itself to being a stand-up. Growing up mixed race, that forced me to be an observer too.”

Phil Wang, Wang In There, Baby!, Grand Opera House, York, Friday, 7.30pm; York Barbican, September 23, 7.30pm. Box office:; Further Yorkshire dates:  Leeds City Varieties, Thursday, 7.30pm, sold out; Sheffield City Hall, April 30, 7.30pm;

Malone will be anything but alone at Sing-Along-A-Gareth-Two at Grand Opera House

Gareth Malone: Time for a sing-song

SING up! Song sheets at the ready, choir master Gareth Malone is bringing his 2023 tour, Sing-Along-A-Gareth-Two, to the Grand Opera House, York, on Bonfire Night.

Tickets for his November 5 concert and further Yorkshire dates at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall on November 6 and Sheffield City Hall on November 19 go on sale tomorrow (24/3/2023) at 10am at; York,; Leeds, 0113 243 0808 or; Sheffield, 0114 256 5593 or

Malone, his band and singers will be on the road with his uplifting, joyous new show from November 2 to December 11.

“Following the barnstorming, whirlwind success of Sing-Along-A-Gareth in 2022, I‘m back, new and improved, with Sing-Along-A-Gareth-Two! Featuring a whole new list of classic tunes for you and your friends to sing your hearts out to. I’ll be up and down the nation warming your larynxes in a feel-good evening of fun that will leave you with a song in your heart.”

Playing piano, guitar and bass, Londoner Malone, 47, will “create songs on the spot and help the audience to write their own songs too, discovering hidden talents along the way, in a feel-good evening of upbeat fun tracks we all know and love, which everyone can easily sing along to”.

The song list will be available to download in advance for those wanting to practise. Whether you are coming with a choir, friends or solo, all are welcome to join Malone in this celebration of community and song.

Audiences will “get to enjoy a whole evening of new classic songs that Gareth will select to raise the roof of every theatre. Prepare your vocal cords for a night of pure joy that will uplift your spirits and bring everyone together through the power of song”.

Malone again naturally: Gareth is all smiles on his return to Sing-Along duties

Advance notice: Gareth Malone is assembling a new setlist for his 2023 tour. Songs may include:

9 to 5 – Dolly Parton

We Are The Champions – Queen

Losing My Religion – R.E.M.

Superstar – Jamelia

Eye Of The Tiger – Survivor

Take On Me – a-ha

Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival/Tina Turner

You Got A Friend – Carole King

I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons

Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty

Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol

Plus a few surprises, including a unique medley of party songs created by Malone.

The tour poster for Sing-Along-A-Gareth-Two

Gareth Malone: The back story

EDUCATERD at Bournemoth School, the University of East Anglia, Norwich, and Royal College of Music, London.

Malone’s achievements as choir master, presenter and populariser of choral music include three number one singles, two BAFTA awards and countless television shows over the past 15 years, such as The Choir and The Choir: Military Wives.

He was the pioneer of Great British Home Chorus, wherein thousands of people across the country sang with Malone from their kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms during the pandemic lockdowns.

Mark Thomas isn’t mucking about as he puts the need for change in black and white

No hidden meanings: Everything is in black and white in Mark Thomas’s new show. Picture: Tony Pletts

MARK Thomas, the grouchy godfather of British political comedy, is taking down politicians, mucking about, offering new ideas and finding hope in his new tour show, Black And White.

At Leeds City Varieties Music Hall tomorrow night (3/11/2022) and The Crescent, York, on Tuesday, he asks: How did we get here? What are we going to do about it? Who’s up for a sing-song?

“After lockdowns and isolation, this is a show about the simple act of being in a room together and toppling international capitalism,” says Londoner Mark, veteran alternative comedian, television and radio presenter, satirist, journalist and purveyor of political stunts on Channel 4’s The Mark Thomas Comedy Product.

He is heading out on the road after this summer’s sold-out Edinburgh Fringe run at The Stand Comedy Club elicited such reviews as: “seething, righteous and largely evidenced anger”… “incandescent critique of UK and world politics”… “his ire is something to behold”.

Here comes doubting Thomas, putting everything in Black And White in a turbulent world, but why give the tour that tagline? “Because it matches the tour poster!” he reasons. “A mate of mine took the photo, and then an artist called Tracey Mobley put it through a computer that turned it into a drawing. It looked amazing!

“So, when they said you need a name for the show – where I’m just going to muck about – I thought, let’s call it ‘Black And White’. But if you want to go for an ideological understanding of it, I guess it’s got to the point where it’s all of us against the one per cent, where this economic Ponzi scheme isn’t working for us and it’s got to change.”

Mark is up and running now. “Liz Truss espoused the free market, as a willing supporter of the Tufton Street think tanks, which means big responsibilities for human beings, but no responsibilities for businesses. Now she’s gone, Sunak is in, but it’s not even a U-turn.

“It’s like, ‘how much s**t do you want to take? 100 per cent or 99 per cent?’, then 99 per cent is what it will be. What communities need to do is build up resistance.”

How, Mark? “I wouldn’t want to tell people how to do it because they’re the ones doing it,” he says. “There are loads of people doling stuff. Some are doing food banks. There’s a brilliant centre in Sheffield that helps asylum seekers and refugees, The Sanctuary.

“They do English classes, IT classes, help with legal matters, as well as hot meals and advice. It’s a fantastic place just doing its best to help the community.

The poster image of Mark Thomas that prompted his tour title, Black And White

“Then there are community pubs. They’re the things that’ll keep going. That’s the kind of stuff I love, that really excites me. Like my football club, AFC Wimbledon, winning the community club of the year award, making sure it’s embedded in the club. Trade unions, communities, that’s what we have to support.”

In past shows, Mark has discussed visiting the West Bank and Jenin; lobbying Parliament; walking in the footsteps of the highest NHS officials; playing at the Royal Opera House; “making stuff” for TV, radio and newspapers and going undercover.

Black And White promises “creative fun”, or mucking about, if you prefer. “My favourite playwright is Bertolt Brecht, dear old Bertolt Brecht [the 20th century German theatre practitioner, playwright and poet]. I went to his house…he wasn’t in,” says Mark.

“What was fascinating about him, I remember seeing his play The Caucasian Chalk Circle at 15, and it changed my mind, which is one of the cornerstones of theatre, that you can go to a show and have your mind changed.

“Brecht always talked about creative fun, creative dissent, like those climate protestors throwing soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting at the National Gallery. The point being that people were really, really shocked by it, and it was only afterwards that they realised nothing was destroyed.

“It led to more thinking about how we need to have discussions about climate change, how we discuss it and how we may bring about change. In 100 years, no-one will remember a petition, but they will remember dangerous and creative acts because that’s the stuff that’s genuinely upsetting.

”Look at the Suffragettes. They burnt buildings, smashed windows, went on hunger strike. It was a mass movement with masses of acts of defiance. Women were being force-fed when they were on hunger strike. They brought about change.”

What new ideas for change is Mark proposing. “Nationalising the banks,” he says off the cuff. Unlikely, surely? “It doesn’t matter if it’s likely now. It’s about starting the conversation and then it might become reality,” Mark asserts.

“We need to have much more devolved power, given to communities. Proportional representation. Voting at 16. Why shouldn’t someone of 16 have the right to vote? Politics and history are the things that give people agency.”

Mark Thomas: Putting forward new ideas and finding hope in his new comedy tour de force. Picture: Tony Pletts

Where might we find hope, Mark? “Hope is a precious commodity, but there’s a difference between optimism and hope. Just don’t give me false optimism,” he says. “Defiance is the bedrock of hope.

“If you destroy a statue, you can get ten years in jail. That means a statue has more rights of protection than women. That’s nuts.”

Mark is on a roll again. “I voted Remain for one reason, and that’s because I thought a vote for Leave would increase racism and I won’t vote for that,” he says. “But once the vote has happened, that’s the vote, that’s it. Now we need to have a conversation about Brexit, how it’s working out , and what we might do about it in the future.

“Now everyone is feeling the pinch of stagnation and austerity, but all Brexiteers will stand up to say is they’re for sovereignty.

“I hope what we’re going through is the high water mark and this is our time for change. It might not be the high water mark, but one thing is for sure: I love that Bob Crow quote: ‘If you fight, you won’t always win, but if you don’t fight, you will always lose’.”

That fighting spirit permeates through Black And White: “The show is about being rude,” says Mark. “Shouting, mucking about, looking at what communities can do, celebrating us and defiance.”

As ever, Mark Thomas promises “I’ll be around, I’ll help” with his political ire, his zeal for change. How will he mark turning 60 on April 11 next year. “I’ll get my London bus pass and go on the longest route I can,” he says.  

Mark Thomas: Black And White, Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, tomorrow, 8pm; The Crescent, York, November 8, 8pm; King’s Hall and Winter Gardens, Ilkley, November 9, 8pm. Box office: Leeds,; York,; Ilkley, Age guidance: 16 plus.

‘I’m a nice bloke doing a terrible job with care and compassion,’ says pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd, ahead of York talk

Dr Richard Shepherd: Pathologist, professor, lecturer, author, apiarist and aviator, presenting Unnatural Causes at York Theatre Royal on Thursday and Leeds City Varieties on Friday

FORENSIC pathologist Dr Richard Shepherd is unearthing Unnatural Causes on his 22-date autumn tour, visiting York Theatre Royal on Thursday and Leeds City Varieties the next night.

Already this autumn, his latest true crime television series, The Truth About My Murder, has been running on CBS Reality since September 21, wherein he revisits high-profile cases from Great Britain and the United States of America.

“I know how the living send out signals which are designed to appeal to our hearts. But the dead can only tell the unadorned truth. I listen to their stories,” he says.

Now retired, Dr Shepherd, 69, has worked for the Home Office on multiple cases and was the forensic expert for the Bloody Sunday inquiry, the Hungerford Massacre and the death of Princess Diana, also advising on the management of British fatalities following 9/11 in New York.

He has performed more than 23,000 autopsies and is a detective in his own right,solving the mysteries of countless sudden and unexplained deaths. He has faced serial killers, natural disasters, perfect murders and freak accidents. 

His evidence has put killers behind bars, freed the innocent and turned open-and-shut cases on their heads. Yet all this has come at personal cost, having been diagnosed with diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after suffering flashbacks.

Heading out on tour from Wednesday (12/10/2022) to November 11 with Unnatural Causes, a title shared with his book that spent ten weeks on the Sunday Times bestseller chart, Dr Shepherdtells the stories of the cases and bodies that have both fascinated and haunted him the most.

Additionally, he will explain his admiration for the complexities of the human body and examine how he has lived a life steeped in death. This week’s York and Leeds audiences can take part in solving a real-life crime scene mystery too when he invites their involvement.

Why pick pathology as a career choice, Dr Shepherd? “Really, it’s quite simple,” he says. “It was a Damascene moment. A schoolmate’s dad was a GP and when he smuggled a book on forensic medicine into the classroom, like any curious 14-year-old boy, I thought that’s amazing and took it home,” he recalls.

“My dad was quite an ‘anorak bloke’, and instead of saying ‘that’s disgusting, you shouldn’t be interested in that’, he said, ‘you have to work hard if you’re interested in that’, and I ended up going to medical school. All because of that moment at Watford High School.” 

Dr Shepherd trained as a doctor at St George’s Hospital medical school from October 1971, qualifying in 1977. It was a great place to be, at that time a very small school at Hyde Park Corner – it’s since moved to Tooting – with a very forensic component to it.

“I oscillated a bit around pathology. Bizarrely, I really liked obstetrics, but came back to qualifying in forensic pathology.”

Thirteen years later, in 1984, he was fully qualified, studies completed in Gower Street. “Most of those years, you’re being paid, remember, which makes it easier to study,” says Dr Shepherd, who took up a post at Guy’s Hospital in 1987. “It’s important to say that though I studied for 13 years, that’s the usual time for most consultants, but you do have a clear finishing point of a fellowship at the Royal College of Pathologists.”

Pathologist, author, professor and lecturer, Dr Shepherd spread his wings into television presenting (The Death Detective, Autopsy: The Last Hours Of…, Murder, Mystery And My Family) and theatre tours.

“I always did a lot of lecturing, mainly to medical student groups, but also to Rotary groups sometimes, and then did The Death Detective. It was going to be called Dr Dick, bit it was pointed out, ‘No, that might not be appropriate’!

“I wanted to not only tell the story of a case, putting the jigsaw pieces together, but also to say, ‘here is the face of forensic pathology’,” says Dr Shepherd. “I’m a nice bloke doing a terrible job with care and compassion.”

Looking back over the years, Dr Shepherd says: “I think society has changed. Often people don’t talk about ‘death’ now but about ‘passing’ and ‘passing on’, and we’re beginning to fudge the process; I suspect it’s becoming more hidden,” he says.

“I had to have my 14-year-old Jack Russell put down in my arms, and I thought it was important to feel that emotion in death, whereas now people are turning funerals into a bit of a media presentation with My Way and You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Dr Shepherd does not watch such series as Silent Witness. “Not because I dislike them, but because they are so far from what I know to be the truth, like not showing bits of a brain. The reality is not there, but then people think that what they see on TV must be close to reality, but then it happens to them and it’s not like it is on the TV,  and it’s a double blow. Deaths are sanitised, even in Casualty,” he says.

“A lot of people love how the forensic pathologists looks very clever on Silent Witness, and it all looks very exciting, but the reality is I don’t go around arresting people.”

How does he transfer his forensic expertise to the theatre stage? “I can talk about how I see things in my profession, but I can also talk about more about emotions; how the body has failed; how I can detect injuries and how they’ve been caused,” says Dr Shepherd.

“I have to be very careful for it not to be like a forensic lecture that I would give to students about how they would deal with injuries. On this tour, I’ll bring an imitation ‘body’ on stage with a knife sticking out of the chest. It’s a theatrical moment, and it’s always great to hear the audience gasp, so it’s close to reality, with no fudging. It’s the truth, but not the absolute truth because that’s too hard. The reality is, it’s that thing of life and death and going from one to the other.”

You may have seen Dr Shepherd contributing to Channel 4’s documentary Investigating Diana: Death In Paris on the 25th anniversary of her death in August. “It’s one of those deaths that I can feel viscerally, as many of us do,” he says, but he does not buy into any conspiracy theories. “She should have put her seat belt on.”

This month, his forensic mind is on his Unnatural Causes tour. “It’s the starting pointy of every report I’ve written: ‘Death is not due to natural causes’. ‘Death is due to unnatural causes’. It’s a phrase I have used all my professional life.”

Dr Richard Shepherd, Unnatural Causes, York Theatre Royal, Thursday; Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, Friday, both 7.30pm. Box office: York, 01904 623568 or; Leeds, 0113 243 0808 or .

CBS Reality’s The Truth About My Murder is available on Freeview (67), Sky (146), Virgin (148) and Freesat (135). From a state-of-the-art laboratory, with ground-breaking digital technology, viewers will hear directly from the victim as Dr Shepherd uncovers the truth behind these perplexing crimes as told through the victims’ bodies.

These victims’ narratives are often re-written, hidden, manipulated, weaponised and concealed by their evil killers. In each case, Dr Shepherd will “separate fact from fiction and ensure the truth always prevails”.

Did you know?

Dr Richard Shepherd is an apiarist (beekeeper) and aviator (with a private pilot’s licence since 2004).

Did you know too?

His latest book, The Seven Ages Of Death, explores what death can teach us about living.

Comedian Maisie Adam’s Harrogate homecoming has her buzzing on first tour

“The hair is fun, the live performance is way funnier,” said the London Evening Standard of Maisie Adam’s haircut, the one to rival David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane for multiple choices across one barnet. Picture: Matt Crockett

MAISIE Adam took her first stage steps in youth theatre sessions in the Harrogate Theatre Studio.

Born in Pannal just outside the spa town, this former head girl at St Aidan’s High School would later return to the top-floor Studio in her fledgling days on the comedy circuit to perform at the Harrogate Comedy Festival.

Now, comedian, actor and writer Maisie is looking forward to tomorrow’s homecoming when she graduates to Harrogate Theatre’s main stage on her first UK tour, Buzzed.

The gig has sold out, as has tonight’s date at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall, although tickets remain available for The Leadmill, Sheffield, next Thursday.

“It’s super-exciting,” says a suitably buzzing Maisie, 28. “It’s wonderful any time I go back, but going there with this show, in that specific venue, will be special. Whenever I’ve performed there, it’s always been in the Studio, but this time, being in the big room, feels very touching.

“I’ll be channelling Tim Stedman,” says Maisie Adam, who every winter visits Harrogate Theatre’s pantomime, led by the boundless comic buffoonery of Stedman’s village idiot, pictured here in Snow White

“Me and my family go to the pantomime every year to watch Tim Stedman. He is pantomime! He’s fantastic. That’s the level of comedy you have to bring to the stage, so I’ll be channelling Tim Stedman!”

Post-Harrogate Youth Theatre and the National Youth Theatre, Maisie trained at East 15 Acting School in Southend, graduating with a BA in Acting and Community Theatre. However, after initial plans to act and write, including a Laurence Marks sitcom-writing mentorship in 2015, a return home to Yorkshire and temp jobs led to her comedy road-to-Damascus conversion in 2016.

Wholly inexperienced, Maisie did a full hour’s set in her stand-up debut gig at Ilkley Literature Festival as her first show took shape under the title of Living On The Edge.

Acting involves subsuming yourself to play another character, sometimes using it as a shield for shyness, in a team environment, whereas stand-up comedy is all about being yourself on stage, on your own, maybe even playing an exaggerated version of you, performing your own words.

“I think it’s that whole thing of fear,” starts Maisie. Not in comedy, but in theatre. “When you’re doing comedy, you’re in control. If it goes well, you get all the cheers. If it goes wrong, you can’t blame anyone else.

“If you’re continually doing the same play, you can get bored, but with stand-up, it’s different every night,” says Maisie. Picture: Matt Crockett

“But with acting, you could be a really good actor, but if the script isn’t good, or the other actors aren’t particularly good, or the director isn’t, or the show just isn’t working, you’re not in control.

“With comedy, there’s definitely that thing of being an extension of yourself, and there’s loads you can do with that, because it’s a chance to improvise.

“The more you do comedy, the better you get at it – and it’s fun as well! If you’re continually doing the same play, you can get bored, but with stand-up, it’s different every night, the venue, the audience, the interaction.”

Maisie made rapid advances on the comedy circuit with her anecdotal material and convivial manner. Within months of that Ilkley debut she won the UK’s largest stand-up contest, So You Think You’re Funny?, followed a year later by the Amused Moose National Comic Award for Vague, her 2018 debut Edinburgh Fringe show about being diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy at 14.

Television appearances on Have I Got News For You, A League of Their Own, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Mock The Week and The Last Leg have piled up, and a podcast with fellow comedian Tom Lucy, That’s A First, has been running since 2019.

“The worst thing that can happen with comedy is that you feel safe and secure,” says Maisie. “If that happens, you’re not doing it right.” Picture: Matt Crockett

She loves the unpredictability of stand-up, the need to stay on her toes and keep her comedy radar tuned. “The worst thing that can happen with comedy is that you feel safe and secure. If that happens, you’re not doing it right,” says Maisie.

“You should want anything to happen on the night, and as long as you have a loose structure, knowing that ‘x’ and ‘y’ will be happening, then you can move things around and be open to anything.”

Buzzed, her follow-up to her 2019 show Hang Fire, has been extended from the regulatory 60-minute maximum at the Edinburgh Fringe – or 70 minutes as the Guardian review said – for the 2022-2023 tour. “It was 60 minutes,” says Maisie. “It was just that when you have other shows going on before and after you every day, that day the shows were running ten minutes late.”

Buzzed now opens with a 30-minute “very spontaneous, anything-can-happen” first half, then a break, followed by the full Buzzed show. One that the Guardian reviewer said was “bursting with puppyish pleasure”.

“Don’t tell me about reviews,” steps in Maisie. “I don’t read them. You’re being judged by someone who’s never done comedy but just goes and watches. That would be like me ‘reviewing’ Wimbledon. I mean, I enjoy watching tennis but why would I need to review what was good about someone’s tennis performance?!”

Leeds United: One of the two great loves of Maisie Adam’s life

While on the subject of sport, Wikipedia’s Maisie profile sums up her personal life as: Lives in Brighton. Engaged to Mike Dobinson as of December 2021. Also a Leeds United fan.

Mr Dobinson or the maddening LUFC, Maisie, who do you love more? “I think they’re of equal status! They’re the two loves of my life. 100 per cent.” One is much better for her mental health, however, she adds.

Her relationships, whether in love or with houseplants, feature in Buzzed and so does the footballing aplomb of 5ft 11inch Maisie. “I played at a relatively high standard as a kid. I got to county level,” she says. “I still play in a league in Brighton, but more of that in the show.”

Why settle in Brighton, Maisie? “I just needed to be nearer London, but the idea of living in London filled me with dread.”

Maisie Adam: Buzzed, Leeds City Varieties, tonight, 8pm, sold out; Harrogate Theatre, tomorrow, 8pm, sold out; The Leadmill, Sheffield, October 13, doors 7pm; Pocklington Arts Centre, February 17 2023 and The Wardrobe, Leeds, March 3 2023. Box office: Sheffield, 0114 272 7040 or; Pocklington, 01759 301547 or; Leeds, 0113 3838800 or

More Things To Do in York and beyond: The Mirror Crack’d and other cracking ideas. Hutch’s List No. 100, from The Press

On the case: Susie Blake’s bandaged Miss Marple and Oliver Boot’s Detective Inspector Craddock in the Original Theatre Company’s production of The Mirror Crack’d. Picture: Ali Wright

COINCIDING with Miss Marple’s arrival, Charles Hutchinson  applies his investigative skills to to pick out the best prospects to see, whether usual or unusual.  

Mystery of the week: Original Theatre Company in Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d, York Theatre Royal, Tuesday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2pm, Thursday; 2.30pm, Saturday

SUSIE Blake’s Miss Marple, Sophie Ward and Joe McFadden lead the cast in Rachel Wagstaff’s stage adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1962 psychological thriller, a story of revenge and the dark secrets that we all hide.

In the sleepy village of St Mary Mead, a new housing estate is making villagers curious and fearful. Even stranger, a rich American film star has bought the Manor House. Cue a vicious murder; cue Jane Marple defying a sprained ankle to unravel a web of lies, tragedy and danger. Box office: 01904 623568 or

On the move: Dance time for the Barbara Taylor School of Dancing at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre

Every body dance: It’s Dance Time 2022, Barbara Taylor School of Dancing, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, today, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

IT’S Dance Time is “a festival arrangement of dance, infused together to arrange a variety of dance styles”, featuring the whole Barbara Taylor School of Dancing intake.

From tiny toes to fully grown, this song-and- dance parade through the years takes in Commercial Ballet, Tap, and Freestyle Jazz, finishing off with excerpts from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Box office: 01904 501935 or

Bingham String Quartet: Playing the first Saturday evening concert of the new York Late Music season

Season launch of the week: York Late Music presents Jakob Fichert, today, 1pm, and Bingham String Quartet, today, 7.30pm, St Saviourgate Unitarian Chapel, York

ON the first weekend of its 2022-2023 season, York Late Music returns with its regular format of a lunchtime and evening concert. First up, pianist Jakob Fichert marks the 75th birthday of American composer John Adams by performing his works China Gates and American Berserk.

Later, the Bingham String Quartet play string quartets by Beethoven, Schnittke, LeFanu and Tippett, preceded by a talk at 6.45pm by Steve Bingham with a complimentary glass of wine or juice. Tickets: or on the door.

Graham Norton: Discussing his darkly comic new novel, Forever Home, at York Theatre Royal

Novel event of the week:  An Evening With Graham Norton, York Theatre Royal, Monday, 7.30pm

BBC broadcaster, Virgin Radio presenter and novelist Graham Norton is on a promotional tour for his new book, Forever Home, published this week by Coronet. Set in a small Irish town, it revolves around divorced teacher Carol, whose second chance of love brings her unexpected connection, a shared home and a sense of belonging in a darkly comic story of coping with life’s extraordinary challenges.

In conversation with author and presenter Konnie Huq, Norton will discuss the novel’s themes and how he creates his characters and atmospheric locations, share tales from his career and reveal what inspired him to pick up a pen and start writing, with room for audience questions too. Tickets update: sold out; for returns only, check

Sax to the max: Jean Toussaint leads his quintet at the NCEM

Jazz gig of the week: Jean Toussaint Quintet, National Centre for Early Music, York, Wednesday, 7.30pm

SAXOPHONIST Jean Toussaint, who came to prominence in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in 1982, after his Berklee College of Music studies in Boston, has released 12 albums since moving to London in 1987.

His latest, Songs For Sisters Brothers And Others, reflects on the turbulent Covid-19 years. “The pandemic caused me to focus on the fragility of life and the fact we’re here one moment and gone the next,” he says of penning songs as a “tribute to my wonderful siblings while they were still around to enjoy it”.

Joining him in York will be Freddie Gavita, trumpet, Jonathan Gee, piano, Conor Murray, bass, and Shane Forbes, drums. Box office: 01904 658338 or

Feel like dancing? Leo Sayer steps out at York Barbican on Friday

The rearranged show must go on: Leo Sayer, York Barbican, Friday, 7.30pm

DELAYED by the pandemic, Leo Sayer’s York show now forms part of a 2022 tour to mark his 50th anniversary in pop.

Sayer, 74, who lives in Australia, is back on home soil with his not-so-one-man band to perform a setlist sure to feature  One Man Band, Thunder In My Heart, Moonlighting, I Can’t Stop Loving You, More Than I Can Say, Have You Ever Been In Love, When I Need You, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing and, yes, The Show Must Go On. Box office:

Buzzing: Maisie Adam heads home for Harrogate Theatre gig. Picture: Matt Crockett

Homecoming of the week: Maisie Adam: Buzzed, Harrogate Theatre, October 8, 8pm

BORN in Pannal and former head girl at St Aidan’s in Harrogate, anecdotal stand-up Maisie Adam heads home next Saturday on her first full-scale British tour to discuss relationships, house plants, her footballing aplomb, hopefully her beloved Leeds United and that haircut, the one to rival David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane for multiple choices across one barnet.

Adam played her first gig at the Ilkley Literature Festival in 2016 and won the nationwide So You Think You’re Funny? Competition in 2017. Now she pops up on Mock The Week and Have I Got News and co-hosts the podcast That’s A First. She also plays Leeds City Varieties on Friday. Box office: Harrogate, 01423 502116 or; Leeds, 0113 243 0808 or

Digging the digital: The poster for Foto/Grafic’s Human After All digital-media exhibition at Fossgate Social and Micklegate Social

One exhibition, two locations: Foto/Grafic, Human After All, at Micklegate Social and Fossgate Social, York, today until November 27.

TWO sister bars that “show a bit of art every now and then championing local and innovative creativity” present Foto/Grafic’s group show from this weekend.

Human After All features digital-media artwork by young and early-career artists in celebration of their “leap from physical earthbound creations to the stratosphere of the unlimited digital toolbox”.

December Morning, by Judy Burnett

Exhibition launch of the week outside York: Judy Burnett, Time And Tide, Morten Gallery, High Street, Old Town, Bridlington, today until November 13; open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm

YORK artist Judy Burnett’s latest show of paintings and collages at Morten Gallery winds its way across the Wolds from the River Ouse in York to the sea.

Over time, water in all its forms has created the East Yorkshire landscape, firstly as a melting glacier at the end of the Ice Age, gouging out deep valleys and folds on its way down to the Vale of York.

The River Ouse then connects with other Yorkshire waterways to spill out into the North Sea at the mouth of the Humber and return on the tide to crash onto the cliffs of the Wolds coastline.

Judy lives by the Ouse in York, with a view from her studio window directly onto the riverbank, leading to the changing effects of light on moving water being an inspiration for her work. The colours and rhythms of the water alter with the weather, the time of day, the seasons and the frequent floods.

This interest in the luminosity and movement of water is also reflected in Judy’s many paintings of the Yorkshire coast, most particularly at Flamborough Head and Bridlington.

During the past year, she has made many trips across the Wolds, observing the rich tapestry of the countryside that links the river to the sea.

Her sketches are completed on-site in varying weather conditions. Back in the studio, they are developed in a range of media, utilising hand-printed collage paper and paint. The aim is to keep all the mark-making fresh and spontaneous, to echo the power of the elements at the time of observation.

 A Meet The Artist event will be held on October 22, from 1pm to 3pm, when “you are welcome to join us for a glass of wine and to enjoy the 30 pieces of work, together with Judy’s sketchbooks on display,” says gallery owner Jenny Morten.