Normal service resumed as Henry sits down for night of relaxed, thoughtful poetry that’s easier on the legs at Selby Town Hall

In the red chair: Poet, storyteller and comedian Henry Normal

ARMED only with a chair, a microphone, stories, jokes and poems, Henry Normal takes on the world at Selby Town Hall on October 22, looking for a win-win situation.

Writer, poet, TV and film producer, Manchester Literature Festival founder and BAFTA-winning BBC Radio 4 perennial, Normal will be delivering his Sit Down Poetry show at 8pm.

“Henry Normal is a magnificent, idiosyncratic chronicler of the quotidian,” says Selby Town Council arts officer Chris Jones. “He delivers understated, wryly observed yet incredibly powerful poems from the heart with a wonderfully warm and easy style. We’re honoured to be hosting one of just a handful of tour dates he’s undertaking across the country this autumn.”

Labelled “the Alan Bennett of poetry” by the Scotsman newspaper, Normal has written and presented nine of his own comedy, poetry and storytelling shows for BBC Radio 4, the latest being this summer’s series A Normal Community.

For television, he co-wrote and script-edited The Mrs Merton Show and the first series of The Royle Family. Alongside Steve Coogan, he co-wrote the BAFTA-winning Paul And Pauline Calf Video Diaries, Coogan’s Run, Tony Ferrino, Doctor Terrible and all three of Coogan’s live tours.

In 1990, Normal set up comedy production company Baby Cow, executive producing the entire output while at the helm, with highlights including Gavin And Stacey, Alan Partridge, Marion And Geoff, Nighty Night, The Mighty Boosh, Red Dwarf and the Oscar-nominated film Philomena. In 2017, he was honoured with a special BAFTA for services to television.

Born in St Anne’s, Nottingham, Normal now lives in Fairlight, near Hastings, with his wife, screenwriter Angela Pell, and their artist son, Johnny. He performs at literature festivals across the UK and has published 11 poetry collections, while his memoirs, A Normal Family, were an Amazon best seller.

He has been given honorary doctorates by both Nottingham and Nottingham Trent universities and has a beer and a bus named after him in the city, where he founded the Nottingham Poetry Festival.

Praised by the Guardian for work that is “succinct, heartrending and peppered with gentle punchlines”, “stuff of proper substance, marrying the suburban beauty of Beatles ballads with the blunt candour of the kitchen sink”, Normal describes new show Sit Down Poetry as being “like stand-up poetry but more thoughtful and relaxed and easier on the legs”.

“I’ve been looking forward to this one for a good while,” concludes Chris Jones. “It’s definitely a highlight of our autumn programme.”

Tickets cost £15 on 01757 708449 or at

Who’s better? Picasso or Warhol? Here’s the verdict of acerbic New Yorker Fran Lebowitz in arts podcast Two Big Egos…

Fran Lebowitz: Opinions aplenty at Grand Opera House, York

CULTURE vultures Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson mull over American writer and Netflix documentary acerbic wit Fran Lebowitz’s night with bite at the Grand Opera House, York, in Episode 98 of Two Big Egos In A Small Car.

Under discussion too are Steve Coogan and Hugh Grant talking politics, The Smile’s detour from Radiohead and the new Suicide compilation.

Final thought: is the writing on the wall for Eng. Lit studies at university? To listen, head to:

Rob Brydon to take the trip to York Barbican for night of songs and laughter

Brydon and band: Rob Brydon’s poster for next year’s Songs & Laughter tour

WOULD I lie to you? Actor, comedian, impressionist, presenter and holiday-advert enthusiast Rob Brydon is to play with a band in York. It’s…true!

Yes, Brydon and his eight-piece band will take to the road next year for 20 dates with his new show, Rob Brydon: A Night of Songs & Laughter, visiting York Barbican on April 14 on his second tour to combine songs and music with his trademark wit and comedy.

Expect Brydon interpretations varying from fellow Welshman Tom Jones to Tom Waits, Guys And Dolls to Elvis Presley, and almost everything in between, plus a visit or two to his famed gallery of voices. 

“I’m so excited to get back on stage with this show,” says Brydon, 55. “Touring with this incredible band of musicians is such a delight. I’m looking forward to getting around the country next year and bring some much-needed music and laughter.”

Brydon’s varied career began with the television comedy shows Marion And Geoff and Human Remains in 2000, bringing him a British Comedy Award. Since then, he has made his cheeky mark in Gavin & Stacey, Black Books and Little Britain and as the host of Would I Lie To You?, as well as trading insults with fellow humorist Steve Coogan on The Trip mockumentary travel shows, whose fourth series, The Trip To Greece, has been confirmed as their last.

Last Christmas, he starred in the biggest ratings hit of the season, the one-off return of Gavin & Stacey, and voiced the BBC One animated special The Snail And The Whale.

“People often say to me, ‘I didn’t know you could sing’, and yet I have sung a lot,” says Rob Brydon

Brydon has appeared in such dramas as Oliver Twist, Heroes And Villains: Napoleon, The Way We Live Now, Murder In Mind and Marple and the films 24 Hour Party People, MirrorMask, A Cock And Bull Story and Swimming With Men.

In 2009, he joined Gavin & Stacey co-star Ruth Jones, Robin Gibb and Sir Tom Jones on the number one hit Islands In The Stream in aid of Comic Relief.

Past tours include the 87-date Rob Brydon Live stand-up itinerary and nationwide travels with Would I Lie To You? team captains Lee Mack and David Mitchell. On February 26, he set off on his sold-out Rob Brydon: Songs And Stories tour, only to be stopped in his tracks by the Coronavirus lockdown.

Before setting out on a tour that featured songs by Stephen Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Paul Simon et al, Brydon said of that show: “It will take some people by surprise. There are so many media outlets nowadays that some people might only know me from Gavin & Stacey and Would I Lie To You?.

“Those people often say to me, ‘I didn’t know you could sing’, and yet I have sung a lot. I hope this show is a very pleasant surprise for audiences.” The same sentiment surely will apply to next year’s An Evening Of Song & Laughter tour that will take in further Yorkshire dates at St George’s Hall, Bradford on April 12 and Sheffield City Hall on April 23.

The 5ft 7inch Brydon last appeared at York Barbican for two nights of his improvised stand-up show, I Am Standing Up, in October 2017. Tickets for his return are on sale at; Bradford, 01274 432000 or at; Sheffield, 0114 2 789 789 or