More Things To Do in York and beyond when it ‘definitely won’t be boring’! Here’s Hutch’s List No. 9 for 2024, from The Press

Wise Children “open the bloody door” to Emma Rice’s beguiling but disturbing Blue Beard at York Theatre Royal from Tuesday. Picture: Steve Tanner

PANTO dame tales and a comedian’s first-time memories, a classic thriller and a feminist fairytale, a community choir festival and a prog-rock legend make Charles Hutchinson’s list of upcoming cultural highlights.

Play of the week: Wise Children in Emma Rice’s Blue Beard, York Theatre Royal, February 27 to March 9, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

BLUE Beard meets his match when his young bride discovers his dark and murderous secret. She summons all her rage, all her smarts and all her sisters to bring the curtain down on his tyrannous reign as writer-director Emma Rice brings her own brand of theatrical wonder to this beguiling, disturbing tale.

Applying Rice’s signature sleight of hand, Blue Beard explores curiosity and consent, violence and vengeance, all through an intoxicating lens of music, wit and tender truth. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rick Wakeman: Last return of the Caped Crusader at York Barbican

Catch him while you can: Rick Wakeman, Return Of The Caped Crusader, York Barbican, tonight (24/02/2024), 7.30pm

PROG-ROCK icon and Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, 76, is to call time on his one-man shows to concentrate on composing, recording and collaborating, but not before playing York. “I always planned to stop touring by my 77th birthday,” he says. “For those of you who wish to send me a card, it’s 18th May!”

Saturday’s show opens with Wakeman’s new arrangements of Yes material for band and vocalists, followed after the interval by his epic work Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. Box office for returns only: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Robin Simpson on dame duty in York Theatre Royal’s All New Adventures Of Peter Pan

Pantomime revelations of the week: Robin Simpson: There Ain’t Nothing Like A Dame, Rise, Bluebird Bakery, Acomb Road, Acomb, York, tomorrow, 6.30pm

ALREADY confirmed for his return for Aladdin from December 3 to January 5 2025, York Theatre Royal’s resident dame, Robin Simpson, takes a peak behind the wigs into the glitz and glamour of life as a pantomime dame.

Simpson provides an insight into the origins of the character, backstage antics and classic cheeky panto humour as he reveals “what it’s really like to frock up and tread the boards”. Expect cheesy gags, naughty nonsense and even a silly sing-song.

“I’ve run this event before and it was mostly for slightly older children and adults. Ages 7/8 and above really,” says Robin. “The show includes stories, song-sheet sing-alongs and silly poems. It’s not at all serious!

“It’s fun to approach storytelling from the perspective of the dame. It’s a little more anarchic. I also start with a brief history of the pantomime, from Roman times to the modern day.

“I do this while getting dressed and made up into the dame with the idea that, by the time I’m talking about Dan Leno and the Victorian dame, I’m completely changed. There’s room for questions and chat too about being in a panto and what happens on stage and backstage. Like I say, it’s for KS2 and adults really.”

Earlier in the day, at 4.30pm, in an interactive one-hour event for children aged three to six, Robin and Susanna Meese will be spinning the Storywheel to reveal much-loved nursery tales. “It’s a wheel of fortune-style story generator where random fairytales are told and there’s lots of dressing-up, musical instruments, songs, props, puppets and play,” says Robin.

Afterwards, children can delve into story bags full of goodies and stay and play with the hosts, who will have everything needed for the children to tell the tales, including puppets, props, and costumes. Box office: bluebirdbakery.co.uk/rise

Maura Jackson: Public speaker, charity boss and now comedian, playing Theatre@41 tomorrow

Storyteller of the week: Maura Jackson: More O’ Me, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

AT 53 Maura Jackson cannot decide if she is a keynote speaker, charity CEO or comedian. Thanks to “the recklessness of menopause”, she is all three.

After living a life and a half and taking up stand-up in 2022 on a whim, storyteller Jackson takes tomorrow’s audience on a humorous rollercoaster of life-defining moments, good or bad. Despite her professed aversion to drama, she is surrounded by it. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Neil McDermott, left, and Todd Boyce in Sleuth, “the thriller about thrillers”, at the Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Jack Merriman

Thriller of the week: Sleuth, Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday

TODD Boyce, best known for playing Coronation Street’s notorious baddie Stephen Reid, will be joined by EastEnders soap star Neil McDermott in Anthony Shaffer’s dark psychological thriller about thrillers, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.

What happens? A young man arrives at the impressive home of a famous mystery writer, only to be unwittingly drawn into a tangled web of intrigue and gamesmanship, where nothing is quite as it seems. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Rob Auton: Star of The Rob Auton Show, full of firsts, from memories to girlfriends to jobs

Comedy gig(s) of the week: Rob Auton, The Rob Auton Show, Burning Duck Comedy Club, The Crescent, York, February 28, 7.30pm; Mortimer Suite, Hull City Hall, February 29, 7.30pm; The Wardrobe, Leeds, March 1, 7.30pm

ROB Auton, Pocklington-raised stand-up comedian, writer, podcaster, actor, illustrator and former Glastonbury festival poet-in-residence, returns north from London with his self-titled tenth themed solo show.

After the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleep, hair, talking, time and crowds, Auton turns the spotlight on himself, exploring the memories and feelings that create his life on a daily basis. Box office: York, thecrescentyork.seetickets.com; Hull, hulltheatres.co.uk; Leeds, brudenellsocialclub.seetickets.com.

Skylights: Lighting up York Barbican in November

Gig announcement of the week: Skylights, York Barbican, November 2

YORK band Skylights will play their biggest home-city show yet this autumn, with tickets newly on sale at ticketmaster.co.uk in a week when latest release Time To Let Things Go has risen to number two in the Official Vinyl Singles Chart.

Guitarist Turnbull Smith says: ‘We’re absolutely over the moon to be headlining the biggest venue in our home city of York, the Barbican. It’s always been a dream of ours to play here, so to headline will be the perfect way to finish what’s going to be a great year. Thanks to everyone for the support. It means the world and we’ll see you all there.”

In Focus: York Community Choir Festival 2024

Jessa Liversidge: Directing Easingwold Community Singers’ performance at the York Community Choir Festival

York Community Choir Festival 2024, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 25, 6pm; February 26 to March 1, 7.30pm; March 2, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

THE 8th York Community Choir Festival spreads 31 choirs across eight concerts over six days at the JoRo. On the opening evening, Easingwold Community Singers will be premiering director Jessa Liversidge’s arrangement of The Secret Of Happiness from the American musical Daddy Long Legs, with permission of composer and lyricist Paul Gordon.

“Festival organiser Graham Mitchell wanted a choir to perform this song,” says Jessa. “I bought the music but couldn’t find a choral arrangement, so I chanced my arm on contacting the composer to ask if there were any arrangements or could I do one, and he said, ‘yes, you can’.

“It’s a lovely gentle song. Hopefully it will go well, and I can then send Paul a recording.”

Choirs range from York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir to The Rolling Tones, Sounds Fun Singers to York Military Wives Choir, Selby Youth Choir to Track 29 Ladies Close Harmony Chorus. Six choirs from Huntington School perform next Friday, taking up all the first-half programme. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

York Community Choir Festival: the programme

Sunday, 6pm

Selby Youth Choir, Bishopthorpe Community Choir, Eboraca, Easingwold Community Singers.

Monday, 7.30pm

Community Chorus, York Celebration Singers, Euphonics, York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir.

Tuesday, 7.30pm

Jubilate, Some Voices York, Sounds Fun Singers, Abbey Belles Chorus.

Wednesday, 7.30pm

Stagecoach Youth Junior Choir, The Garrowby Singers, In Harmony, Stamford Bridge Community Choir.

Thursday, 7.30pm

York Military Wives Choir, Harmonia, Spirit of Harmony Barbershop Chorus, Heworth Community Choir.

Friday, 7.30pm

Huntington School Choirs, Vivace! Aviva York Choir, Main Street Sound Ladies, Barbershop Chorus

Saturday, 2.30pm

Singing Communities, Fairburn Singers, Daytones Harmony Chorus,

The Rolling Tones.

Saturday, 7.30pm

Headlands Primary School, York Sing Space Musical Theatre Choir, Track 29 Ladies Close Harmony Chorus, The Wellbeing Choir.

More Things To Do in Ryedale, York and beyond when comedy bites. Here’s Hutch’s List No 3, from Gazette and Herald

Deaf comedian Steve Day: Playing on the Hilarity Bites bill at Milton Rooms, Malton

A DEAF comedian and history-charting musicians, a classic thriller and a feminist fairytale, a community choir festival and a prog-rock legend make Charles Hutchinson’s list of upcoming cultural highlights.

Ryedale comedy gig of the week: Hilarity Bites Comedy Club, Steve Day, Ashley Frieze and Carl Jones, Milton Rooms, Malton, Friday (23/02/2024), 8pm

THE first Hilarity Bites bill of 2024 will be headlined by Steve Day, who describes himself as “Britain’s only deaf comedian and if there are any others he hasn’t heard them”! Actually, a couple of others have started since he wrote that joke, but it is only a joke after all.

On the bill too are guitar-toting funny man Ashley Frieze, with his charming, daft and warm brand of music-infused stand-up, and Midlands storytelling comedian Carl Jones, a football fanatic who interviews comedy cohorts for his ​Premier League nostalgia podcast When Football Began Again. Box office: 01653 696240 or themiltonrooms.com.

Chris Green and Sophie Matthews: 600 years of music crammed into 90 minutes at Pocklington Arts Centre

Musical tour of the week: Green Matthews: A Brief History Of Music, Pocklington Arts Centre, Friday, 8pm

STRING player Chris Green and woodwind player Sophie Matthews take in 600 years of musical history in 90 minutes, spanning the Middle Ages to the 20th century in a whistle-stop tour of Western music.

Featuring long-forgotten songs, tunes and jokes too, Green and Matthews paint a vibrant and vivid picture of our musical DNA, mixing the familiar and the obscure, the raucous and the reflective and the courtly and the commonplace. Box office: 01759 301547 or pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Skylights: Lighting up York Barbican in November

Gig announcement of the week: Skylights, York Barbican, November 2

YORK band Skylights will play their biggest home-city show yet this autumn, with tickets going on sale on Friday at 10am at ticketmaster.co.uk in a week when latest release Time To Let Things Go has risen to number two in the Official Vinyl Singles Chart.

Guitarist Turnbull Smith says: ‘We’re absolutely over the moon to be headlining the biggest venue in our home city of York, the Barbican. It’s always been a dream of ours to play here, so to headline will be the perfect way to finish what’s going to be a great year. Thanks to everyone for the support. It means the world and we’ll see you all there.”

Rick Wakeman: Return Of The Caped Crusader at York Barbican

Catch him while you can: Rick Wakeman, Return Of The Caped Crusader, York Barbican, Saturday, 7.30pm

PROG-ROCK icon and Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, 76, is to call time on his one-man shows to concentrate on composing, recording and collaborating, but not before playing York. “I always planned to stop touring by my 77th birthday,” he says. “For those of you who wish to send me a card, it’s 18th May!”

Saturday’s show opens with Wakeman’s new arrangements of Yes material for band and vocalists, followed after the interval by his epic work Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. Box office for returns only: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Jessa Liversidge: Directing Easingwold Community Singers’ performance at the York Community Choir Festival

Choirs galore: York Community Choir Festival 2024, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 25, 6pm; February 26 to March 1, 7.30pm; March 2, 2.30pm and 7.30pm

THE 8th York Community Choir Festival spreads 31 choirs across eight concerts over six days at the JoRo. On the opening evening, Easingwold Community Singers will be premiering director Jessa Liversidge’s arrangement of The Secret Of Happiness  from the American musical Daddy Long Legs, with permission of composer and lyricist Paul Gordon.

Choirs range from York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir to The Rolling Tones, Sounds Fun Singers to York Military Wives Choir, Selby Youth Choir to Track 29 Ladies Close Harmony Chorus. Six choirs from Huntington School perform next Friday, taking up all the first-half programme. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Todd Boyce, left, and Neil McDermott in Sleuth, on tour at Grand Opera House, York. Picture: Jack Merriman

Thriller of the week: Sleuth, Grand Opera House, York, Monday to Saturday, 7.30pm; 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday

TODD Boyce, best known for playing Coronation Street’s notorious baddie Stephen Reid, will be joined by EastEnders soap star Neil McDermott in Anthony Shaffer’s dark psychological thriller about thrillers, directed by Rachel Kavanaugh.

What happens? A young man arrives at the impressive home of a famous mystery writer, only to be unwittingly drawn into a tangled web of intrigue and gamesmanship, where nothing is quite as it seems. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Emma Rice: Writer-director of Wise Children’s Blue Beard, playing York Theatre Royal from next Tuesday

Play of the week: Wise Children in Emma Rice’s Blue Beard, York Theatre Royal, February 27 to March 9, 7.30pm plus 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

BLUE Beard meets his match when his young bride discovers his dark and murderous secret. She summons all her rage, all her smarts and all her sisters to bring the curtain down on his tyrannous reign as writer-director Emma Rice brings her own brand of theatrical wonder to this beguiling, disturbing tale.

Applying Rice’s signature sleight of hand, Blue Beard explores curiosity and consent, violence and vengeance, all through an intoxicating lens of music, wit and tender truth. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rob Auton: Star of The Rob Auton Show, full of firsts, from memories to girlfriends to jobs

Comedy gig(s) of the week: Rob Auton, The Rob Auton Show, Burning Duck Comedy Club, The Crescent, York, February 28, 7.30pm; Mortimer Suite, Hull City Hall, February 29, 7.30pm; The Wardrobe, Leeds, March 1, 7.30pm

ROB Auton, Pocklington-raised stand-up comedian, writer, podcaster, actor, illustrator and former Glastonbury festival poet-in-residence, returns north from London with his self-titled tenth themed solo show.

After the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleep, hair, talking, time and crowds, Auton turns the spotlight on himself, exploring the memories and feelings that create his life on a daily basis. Box office: York, thecrescentyork.seetickets.com; Hull, hulltheatres.co.uk; Leeds, brudenellsocialclub.seetickets.com.

More Things To Do in Ryedale, York & beyond as arts take to the bike & beach. Hutch’s List No. 2 from Gazette & Herald

Don (John Lister) and Carol (Kate Caute) share a cycle but not political views in Paris in 1812 Theatre Company’s production of John Godber’s Scary Bikers

BIKERS divided by Brexit, beach encounters with Orpheus, a joyful mess in art, an Eighties rom-com revisited, Ukrainian opera and a big summer signing for Scarborough brighten Charles Hutchinson’s days ahead

Ryedale play of the week: 1812 Theatre Company in Scary Bikers, Helmsley Arts Centre, February 21 to 24, 7.30pm

HELMSLEY’S 1812 Theatre Company stage their first John Godber comedy next week, his 2018 two-hander Scary Bikers. Outwardly, redundant miner Don (John Lister) and former private school teacher Carol (Kate Caute) have little in common, but beneath the surface their former spouses are buried next to each other. Soon widowed Don and Carol will bump into each other.

An innocent coffee leads to a bike ride through the Yorkshire Dales, then a bike tour across Europe to Florence. All looks promising for a budding romance, but their departure date is June 23 2016 and Don and Carol are on the opposite sides of the Brexit fence. Box office: helmsleyarts.co.uk or in person from the arts centre.

Grace Long as Ella Grey in Pilot Theatre’s A Song For Ella Grey. Picture: Topher McGrillis

York play of the week: Pilot Theatre in A Song For Ella Grey, York Theatre Royal; February 20 to 24, Hull Truck Theatre, March 5 to 9

IN Zoe Cooper’s stage adaptation of David Almond’s novel for York company Pilot Theatre, York Theatre Royal and Newcastle’s Northern Stage, Claire and her best friend, Ella Grey, are ordinary kids from ordinary families in an ordinary world where modern teenagers meet ancient forces.

They and their friends fall in and out of love, play music and dance, stare at the stars, yearn for excitement, and have parties on Northumbrian beaches. One day, a stranger, a musician called Orpheus, appears on the beach and entrances them all, especially Ella. Where has Orpheus come from and what path will Ella follow in this contemporary re-telling of the ancient Greek myth? Box office: York, 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk; Hull,  01482 323638 or hulltruck.co.uk.

Displayful artists Luke Beech, Wendy Galloway, Kate Fox and Liberty Hodes, exhibiting at Scarborough Art Gallery. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Coastal exhibition of the season: Displayful, Scarborough Art Gallery until May 7

DISPLAYFUL celebrates happy accidents and joyful mess, aiming to brighten the winter months by inviting visitors to enjoy uplifting contemporary artistic responses to objects from the collections of Scarborough Museums and Galleries.

The show combines new work by five regional artists, Luke Beech, Kate Fox, Wendy Galloway, Liberty Hodes and Angela Knipe, alongside historical artefacts, and asks audiences to consider new possibilities for the lives of objects.  

Grant Harris: Making connections at Milton Rooms, Malton

Messages from beyond: Grant Harris: Medium, Milton Rooms, Malton, tomorrow (15/2/2024), 7pm

MEDIUM Grant Harris returns to the Milton Rooms to “connect with your loved ones to provide messages of support, reassurance and much needed clarity at times we require it most”.

“There are things we don’t fully understand about life and death but what I do is bring some peace to those who need it,” says Harris, whose shows promise humour too. Tickets: 01709 437700 or 01653 696240.

Amber Davies’s Vivian and Oliver Savile’s Edward, centre, in Pretty Woman The Musical, on tour at the Grand Opera House, York

Musical of the week: Pretty Woman The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, February 20 to 24, 7.30pm, plus 2.30pm Wednesday and Saturday matinees

BILLED as Hollywood’s ultimate rom-com, live on stage, Pretty Woman: The Musical is set once upon a time in the late 1980s, when Hollywood Boulevard hooker Vivian meets entrepreneur Edward Lewis and her life changes forever.

Amber Davies plays Vivian opposite Oliver Savile’s Edward; 2016 Strictly Come Dancing champion Ore Oduba, last seen at this theatre in fishnets in March 2022 as Brad Majors in The Rocky Horror Show, has two roles as hotel manager Barnard Thompson/Happy Man, and  Natalie Paris will be Vivian’s wisecracking roommate Kit De Luca. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

The poster artwork for Dnipro Opera’s Madama Butterfly at York Barbican

Opera of the week: Dnipro Opera in Madama Butterfly, York Barbican, February 20, 7pm

DNIPRO Opera, the Ukrainian National Opera, returns to British shores after last year’s visit to perform Puccini’s favourite work, Madama Butterfly, sung in Italian with English surtitles.

Set in Japan in 1904, this torrid tale of innocent love crushed between two contrasting cultures charts the affair between an American naval officer and his young Japanese bride, whose self-sacrifice and defiance of her family leads to tragedy. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Comedian Chloe Petts heads for York with her If You Can’t Say Anything Nice show

Comedy gig of the week: Burning Duck Comedy Club presents Chloe Petts, The Crescent, York, tomorrow (15/2/2024), 7.30pm

BUOYED by her Edinburgh Fringe run and Soho Theatre sell-out debut in London, Chloe Petts serves up her follow-up hour, If You Can’t Say Anything Nice. Everyone complimented her on how polite she was with big issues in the last show, so now she is cashing in those points and plans on being really rude. “Expect routines on wedding dancefloors, the footie and calling you all a bunch of virgins,” she says. Box office: wegottickets.com/event/588889.

Look out too for Burning Duck’s 8pm show at Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, on Friday: the debut tour of northerner Paddy Young: Hungry, Horny, Scared..and “in the gutter but looking down on all of you”. Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

James: Returning to Scarborough Open Air Theatre in July. Picture: Lewis Knaggs

Gig announcement of the week: James, supported by Reverend & The Makers and Girlband!, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, July 26

MANCHESTER band James play Scarborough Open Air Theatre for the fourth time on July 26, the night when Leeds lads Kaiser Chiefs finish off the evening card at York Races.

“If you haven’t been there before, then make sure you come,” says James bassist and founder member Jim Glennie. “It’s a cracking venue and you can even have a paddle in the sea before the show!” New album Yummy arrives on April 12. Box office: James, ticketmaster.co.uk from 9am on Friday; Kaiser Chiefs, yorkracecourse.co.uk.

REVIEW: Paul Rhodes’s verdict on Steve Mason and Pictish Trail, The Crescent, York

Steve Mason performing at The Crescent as part of Independent Venue Week. All pictures: Paul Rhodes

Independent Venue Week presents Steve Mason and Pictish Trail, The Crescent, York, January 30 2024

A LIGHT end to the darkest month. Steve Mason is a colourful and welcome visitor to The Crescent, a venue that he seems very comfortable in.

Mason was performing with his band, Calie Hough on drums and his long-serving keyboard maestro, Darren Morris, channelling everything else. The trio clearly means business, and the set has been well road tested.

Compared with his recent York concerts (December 2022 at the same venue and a December 2021 solo set at Stockton on the Forest Village Hall), there were few slower, sadder songs, resulting in a more dynamic set that also included a wholesome number of Beta Band favourites from his earlier days.

Steve Mason: “Conga playing was a towel-wearing nod to his inventive use of percussion in his work

While young people will never study Mason’s words as English literature, he is a master at driving home a repeated message or a melody. No More being the most obvious, but Upon My Soul was an unexpected soaring highlight.

Throughout the 80-some minutes, Mason was in motion, all eyes fixed on him as he commanded the stage. His guitar playing reflected his energy, vigorous and strident, while his conga playing was a towel-wearing nod to his inventive use of percussion in his work. The trio more than did justice to the clever, adventurous settings from his Brothers And Sisters album, with seven numbers played.

Supporting Mason was his friend and fellow sonic adventurer, The Pictish Trail, the non de plume of Johnny Lynch. Hailing from the Scottish Isle of Eig, Lynch has a wonderful left-of-centre view of the world.

A natural performer, he was warm and funny between songs; even bringing some levity to the near-death car crash that inspired him to write In Heaven Tonight. Lynch’s set drew most from his most recent album, 2022’s Island Family, with the title track memorably conjuring a bonfire night on the island with the many dead souls also present.

Pictish Trail: “A wonderful left-of-centre view of the world”

His clever, animated use of beats and effects sometimes offset some pretty forgettable melodies. Lynch’s mistake-defying hand-eye coordination while wearing a large mask is an image few will forget, unlike the song he was performing.

Mason’s songs are all cut from a similar melodic cloth, but at his best, his tunes have stood the test of time. His feted work with The Beta Band was an early purple patch – tuneful but never towing any conventional line (Dry The Rain of course, mid-set this time, finding room for Squares, also excellent and the soulful Dog Got A Bone).

It was his wonderful King Biscuit Time song I Walk The Earth that brought the house down as the first encore; arguably his best tune to cap another fine Crescent night.

Review by Paul Rhodes 

Pictish Trail’s “mistake-defying hand-eye coordination while wearing a large mask is an image few will forget”

Kirk Brandon, Jake Burns & The Ruts’ Segs Jennings and Dave Ruffy team up for Dead Men Walking gigs in York, Hull & Leeds

Dead Men Walking: Striding into York, Hull and Leeds

KIRK Brandon follows up his December 6 appearance fronting Spear Of Destiny at The Crescent with a return to the York community venue on February 6, this time with Dead Men Walking at 7.30pm.

Group founding member Brandon will be joined by The Ruts’ rhythm section of Segs Jennings and Dave Ruffy on acoustic bass, percussion and vocals, along with Jake Burns, legendary frontman of Belfast punk band Stiff Little Fingers, who will be bringing his guitar, songs and stories.

All members of the touring band contributed to Dead Men Walking’s 2021 album Freedom – It Ain’t On The Rise. Their 15-date January and February tour will be their first live fixtures since the release, taking in further Yorkshire gigs at The Social, Hull, on February 1 and Leeds Irish Centre on February 8.

The set will feature raw, stripped-back interpretations of the repertoire of Brandon’s bands Theatre Of Hate and Spear of Destiny, The Ruts and Stiff Little Fingers, complemented by a few surprise cover versions and a song or two from DMW’s album.

Tickets for Dead Men Walking’s 2024 Part 1 Tour, Acoustic & Live Songs & Stories are on sale at deadmenwalkingband.com.

Charles Hutchinson’s review of the year of culture & art in York & beyond in 2023

Sleuth and sidekick: Fergus Rattigan’s Matthew Shardlake, left, with Sam Thorpe-Spinks’s Jack Barak in Sovereign at King’s Manor. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Community show of the year: Sovereign, King’s Manor, York, July

YORK Theatre Royal’s best show of the year was not at the Theatre Royal, but across Exhibition Square in the courtard of King’s Manor, the setting for C J Sansom’s Tudor sleuth yarn, adapted typically adroitly by the golden pen of York playwright Mike Kenny.

Henry VIII was given the Yorkshire cold shoulder by a cast of 100 led by Fergus Rattigan and Sam Thorpe-Spinks, complemented by Madeleine Hudson’s choir.

Livy Potter in Iphigenia In Splott at Theatre@41, Monkgate

Solo performance of the year: Livy Potter in Black Treacle Theatre’s Iphigenia In Splott, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, March

GREEK myth is smacked in the chops by modern reality in Gary Owen’s scabrous, “horribly relevant” one-woman drama Iphigenia In Splott, a stark, dark 75-minute play, played out on a single blue chair, with no props, under Jim Paterson’s direction.

Livy Potter kept meeting you in the eye, telling you the bruised, devastating tale of Cardiff wastrel Effie, and her downward spiral through a mess of drink, drugs and drama every night, with shards of jagged humour and shattering blows to the heart.

Crowded in: Comedian Rob Auton’s artwork for The Crowd Show

Comedy show of the year: Rob Auton in The Crowd Show, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, February 24

COMEDIANS tend to play to a room full of strangers, hence the subject matter of Rob Auton’s The Crowd Show, with its discussions of crowds, people and connection.

Except that the crowd for this (London-based) York comedian, born in Barmby Moor and educated in Pocklington, was made up of friends, family, extended family, and loyal local enthusiasts. The home crowd, rather than the in-crowd, as it were. Auton revelled in a unique performing experience, even more surreal than usual.

Honourable mention: Stewart Lee, Basic Lee, York Theatre Royal, March 20. Serious yet seriously amusing dissection of the rotten state of the nation and comedy itself.

Christmas In Neverland at Castle Howard. Picture: Charlotte Graham

Exhibition of the year: Christmas In Neverland, Castle Howard, near York, running until January 7

IS it a Christmas event, an installation or an exhibition? All three, in that Charlotte Lloyd Webber Event Design makes an exhibit of the 300-year-old stately home at Castle Howard each winter.

This time, the theme is a Peter Pan-inspired festive experience, transforming rooms and corridors alike with floristry, installations, props, soundscapes, and projections, conjuring a Mermaid’s Lagoon, Captain Hook’s Cabin and the Jolly Roger with new innovations from Leeds company imitating the dog.

Honourable mention: Austrian artist Erwin Wurm’s absurdist sculptures in Trap Of The Truth, his first UK museum show, at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, bringing a whimsical smile until April 28 2024.

Kevin Rowland leading Dexys through The Feminine Divine and old hits sublime at York Barbican

Favourite gigs of the year?

SPOILT for choice. At York Barbican: Suzanne Vega, vowing I Never Wear White in droll delight on February 22; James, bolstered by orchestra and gospel choir, hitting heavenly heights, April 28; Dexys’ two sets, one new and theatrical, the other laden with soul-powered hits, September 5; Lloyd Cole’s two sets, one ostensibly acoustic, the other electric, both eclectic, on October 22.

At The Crescent: The Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster, performing with his son; March 14; Lawrence, once of Felt and Denim, now channelling Mark E Smith and the Velvet Underground in Mozart Estate, October 7; The Howl And The Hum’s extraordinary, deeply emotional three-night farewell to the York band’s original line-up in December.

The long-dormant Pulp’s poster for their This Is What We Do For An Encore return to performing live

Outdoor experience of the year: Pulp, Scarborough Open Air Theatre, July 9

THE rain swept in on the Eighties’ electronic nostalgia of Being Boiled at the Human League’s Music Showcase Weekend at York Racecourse on July 28 too, but that was a mere watering can by comparison with the deluge that befell the Open Air Theatre half an hour before fellow Sheffield legends Pulp took to the Scarborough stage. “Has it been raining?”, teased Jarvis Cocker, but huddled beneath hastily purchased sheeting, the night was still plastic fantastic.  

Cherie Federico: At the helm of all things Aesthetica in York

Driving force of the year in York: Cherie Federico, Aesthetica

2023 marked the 20th anniversary of Aesthetica, the international art magazine set up in York by New Yorker and York St John University alumna Cherie Federico. The Aesthetica Art Prize was as innovative and stimulating as ever at York Art Gallery; the 13th Aesthetica Short Film Festival, spanning five days in November, was the biggest yet. On top of that came the Future Now Symposium in March and the launch of Reignite to bolster York’s focus on being a fulcrum for the arts, media arts and gaming industry innovations of the future.

A star performance: Andy Cryer in The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less) at Stephen Jospeh Theatre, Scarborough. Picture: Patch Dolan

Best Shakespeare of the year: The Comedy Of Errors (More Or Less), Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, April

THE SJT teamed up with Shakespeare North Playhouse, Nick Lane paired up with co-writer Elizabeth Godber, and Eighties’ pop guilty pleasures rubbed shoulders with Shakespeare’s rebooted comedy as Yorkshire clashed with Lancashire and everyone won. This Comedy Of Errors got everything right. Not more or less. Just right. Full stop. 

Nuno Queimado and Rumi Sutton in Gus Gowland’s Mayflies at York Theatre Royal

New musical of the year in York: Mayflies, York Theatre Royal, May

YORK Theatre Royal resident artist Gus Gowland deserved far bigger audiences for the premiere of the intriguing Mayflies, as confirmed by no fewer than nine nominations in the BroadwayWorldUK Awards.

O, the app-hazard nature of modern love under Covid’s black cloud, as two people meet up after two years of tentative communication online. In Tania Azevedo’s flexible casting, you could pick any configuration of Rumi Sutton, Nuno Queimado or Emma Thornett for the couple of your choice. Better still, you should have seen all three; the songs, the nuances, the humour, grew with familiarity.

Leigh Symonds’ engineer Winston and Naomi Petersen’s automaton house maid ED in Alan Ayckbourn’s Constant Companions. Picture: Tony Bartholomew

Still delivering the goods in Yorkshire

ALAN Ayckbourn’s visions of AI in Constant Companions, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough; John Godber’s Northern Soul-powered Do I Love You?, on tour into 2024; Barnsley bard Ian McMillan’s Yorkshire take on The Barber Of Seville, St George’s Hall, Bradford; Robin Simpson’s dame in Jack And The Beanstalk, York Theatre Royal.

Copyright of The Press, York

More Things To Do in York in 2024…and beyond. Here’s Hutch’s List No. 1 for the New Year, from The Press, York

Shed Seven: Launching new album with meet & greet at HMV, York, on Friday

WHAT lies ahead in the New Year? Charles Hutchinson picks his path through highlights across the city’s venues.

It’s only A Matter Of Time before: Shed Seven release their new album

YORK band Shed Seven will mark the January 5 release of their sixth studio album, A Matter Of Time, on new home Cooking Vinyl with a meet & greet/signing session that day at HMV, in Coney Street, York, at 4.30pm (tickets: shedsevenn.lnk.to/instores). Their midday appearance and stripped-back performance on the same day at Vinyl Whistle, in Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, has sold out.

In the summertime, when the weather is hopefully fine, The Sheds will celebrate their 30th anniversary with a brace of outdoor concerts in York Museum Gardens on July 19 and 20, supported by Peter Doherty, no less. Both have sold out already. Box office: seetickets.com.

Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company cast members peer out through and beneath the JoRo curtain in Curtains

It’s Curtains for…Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, February 7 to 10, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee

WHEN the leading lady of a new musical mysteriously dies on stage, a plucky local detective must solve this 1959 case at Boston’s Colonial Theatre, where the entire cast and crew are suspects in Kander & Ebb’s musical with a book by Rupert Holmes. Cue delightful characters, a witty and charming script and glorious tunes in the Joseph Rowntree Theatre Company’s staging of Curtains. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Steve Mason: Independent Venue Week gig at The Crescent. Picture: Gavin Watson

Beta times ahead: Brudenell Presents Steve Mason, The Crescent, York, January 30, 7.30pm 

SCOTTISH indie songwriter Steve Mason, founder of The Beta Band, returns to The Crescent as part of Independent Venue Week. Combining a rare melodic gift with an itch to experiment, as heard on his 2023 album Brothers & Sisters, he investigates where the boundaries lie between the craft of songwriting, technology and free expression.

Taking part in Independent Venue Week too will be Leeds band English Teacher, whose January 28 night of dreamy pop and post-punk noise has sold out already. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Monster show: The Apatosaurus in Jurassic Live, bound for York Barbican

Dinosaurs take over York: Jurassic Live 2024 World Tour, York Barbican, February 16, 5pm; February 17, 11am and 3pm; February 18, 1pm

LIFE-SIZED monstrous beasts roar into York in an interactive all-star theatrical spectacular featuring the world’s only Tylosaurus in a giant tank (new for 2024), the last flying Pterodactyl, a Tyrannosaurus Rex called Suzie and more dinosaur species than any other show on Earth.

Join little Amber, Ranger Joe, Ranger Nora and the rest of the Jurassic Live rangers on  a musical journey to help save the day from an evil man who is trying to shut down the Jurassic facility. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Amber Davies’s Hollywood prostitute Vivian Ward and Oliver Savile’s wealthy businessman Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman: The Musical at Grand Opera House, York

Most anticipated touring musical: Pretty Woman: The Musical, Grand Opera House, York, February 20 to 24, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm, Wednesday and Saturday

BILLED as “Hollywood’s ultimate rom-com, live on stage”, Pretty Woman: The Musical is set once upon a time in the late 1980s, when Vivian (Amber Davies) meets Edward (Oliver Savile) and her life is changed forever.

Strictly champ Ore Oduba’s Happy Man/Mr Thompson and Natalie Paris’s Kit De Luca will be in the cast too for a musical featuring original music and lyrics by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance and a book by Garry Marshall and the film’s screenwriter, J.F. Lawton. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

The tour poster for Wise Children’s Blue Beard, opening the bl**dy door at York Theatre Royal from February 27

World premiere of the season: Emma Rice’s Wise Children in Blue Beard, York Theatre Royal, February 27 to March 9, 7.30pm and 2pm Thursday and 2.30pm Saturday matinees

BLUE Beard will be Wise Children’s fourth visit to York after Wise Children, Malory Towers and Wuthering Heights, this time in a co-production between Emma Rice’s Bristol company, York Theatre Royal, Birmingham Rep, HOME Manchester and the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh.

Rice brings her brand of theatrical wonder to the beguiling and disturbing folk tale of Bluebeard meeting his match when his young bride discovers his dark and murderous secret. Summoning all her rage, all her smarts and all her sisters, she vows to bring the curtain down on his tyrannous reign. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Rob Auton: At his most Rob Auton in The Rob Auton Show at The Crescent, York

Welcome home: Rob Auton, The Rob Auton Show, Burning Duck Comedy Club, The Crescent, York, February 28, 7.30pm

AFTER nine Edinburgh Fringe shows on themes as diverse as the colour yellow, the sky, faces, water, sleep, hair, talking, time and crowds, York writer, comedian, artist and actor Rob Auton delivers his most autobiographical work, exploring the memories and feelings that create his life on a daily basis. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Rhod Gilbert’s poster for his tour show with a Giant Grapefruit at York Barbican

Comedy comeback : Rhod Gilbert & The Giant Grapefruit, York Barbican, June 20, 8pm

IN his last show, The Book Of John, firebrand Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert dealt with “some pretty pungent life citrus” and an idiot called John. Little did he know that things were about to turn even more sour.

Gilbert, 55, required surgery for metastatic cancer of the head and neck as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, receiving his first clear cancer scan in October after undergoing treatment.

“Not bitter, he’s bouncing back and feeling remarkably zesty”, returning with a dark, passionate and way-too-personal tour show that squeezes every last drop out of life’s latest curveballs…with a little help from an old adversary. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Jason Donovan: Doin’ fine at York Barbican in…wait for it…2025

Even further ahead: Jason Donovan, Doin’ Fine 25 Tour, York Barbican, March 8 2025, 8pm  

IF 2023 was the year of Kylie, all that attention on Tension, Padam Padam and ITV’s An Audience With, then 2025, yes 2025, promises a York date with her Neighbours beau, Jason Donovan, in celebration of his “incredible ride” through 35 years in music, theatre, film and television.

His long-awaited sequel to Doin’ Fine 90 will feature Jason’s most beloved songs from his stage shows, nods to his TV times in Neighbours and Strictly Come Dancing and his biggest pop hits. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

In Focus: York Actors Collective in Beyond Caring, Theatre@41, Monkgate, York, cleaning up from February 6 to 10

Neil Vincent, left, Clare Halliday, Chris Pomfrett, Victoria Delaney and Mick Liversidge in rehearsal for York Actors Collective’s February production of Beyond Caring

YORK Actors Collective follows March 2023’s debut production of Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane with Beyond Caring, a play that highlights the social damage inflicted by zero hours contracts. 

Devised by Alexander Zeldin and the original Yard Theatre cast in East London in 2014, later transferring to the National Theatre, the story of agency cleaners at a meat factory will be directed in York by Angie Millard, working with a cast of Victoria Delaney, Clare Halliday, Mick Liversidge, Chris Pomfrett and Neil Vincent.

Over 90 unbroken minutes, Beyond Caring follows two women, Becky and Grace, and one man, Sam (replacing Sarah from past productions in a directorial decision), as they confront the reality of low wage, zero-hour contract employment, never sure of how many hours they have to work, when they will be paid and whether their ‘job’ will continue.

Director Angie Millard says: “This play is remarkable in its structure and power. It totally represents 2024 where many workers are on the breadline, trapped in employment with no guarantee of further work and no way to improve their position. 

“What drew me to the play, however, is the message it conveys about people surviving and keeping a sense of humour. I loved the intensity of the piece with its silences, its disappointments and its determination to get pleasure out of the smallest things. It gave me hope.”

Stage managed by Em Peattie, Millard’s production will play nightly at 7.30pm, Tuesday to Friday, followed by Saturday shows at 2.30 and 5.30pm. “Ticket sales for our first production indicated that a Saturday matinee was very popular,” says Angie.

“We thought that having two early Saturday performances would give the audience an opportunity to see the show and still have time to go for a drink or meal afterwards, making a night of it.” Box office: tickets.41monkgate.co.uk.

Chris Pomfrett and Victoria Delaney in rehearsal for Beyond Caring

More Things To Do in York and beyond as the bells ring out 2023 and ring in 2024. Hutch’s List No. 52, from The Press, York

Jake Lindsay’s Robinson Crusoe and Berwick Kaler’s dame, Dotty Dullaly, in Robinson Crusoe & The Pirates Of The River Ouse at the Grand Opera House. Picture: Charlie Kirkpatrick

HEADING out of 2023 into 2024, Charles Hutchinson’s recommendations are not out with the old just yet, but definitely in with the new too.  

Still time for pantomime: Robinson Crusoe & The Pirates Of The River Ouse, Grand Opera House, York, until January 6; Jack And The Beanstalk, York Theatre Royal, until January 7

DOWAGER dame Berwick Kaler goes nautical in Robinson Crusoe for the first time in his 43rd York panto and third at the Grand Opera House. Jake Lindsay takes the title role alongside the Ouse crew’s regulars, Martin Barrass, David Leonard, Suzy Cooper and AJ Powell. Box office: atgtickets.com/york.

Robin Simpson’s Dame Trott, in Clifford’s Tower attire, takes centre stage in York Theatre Royal’s pantomime, Jack And The Beanstalk. Picture: S R Taylor Photography

Nina Wadia’s Fairy Sugarsnap waves a magical artichoke wand over York Theatre Royal’s fourth collaboration with Evolution Productions, wherein CBeebies’ James Mackenzie’s villainous Luke Backinanger takes on returnee Robin Simpson’s Dame Trott, Anna Soden’s Dave the Cow, Mia Overfield’s Jack and Matthew Curnier’s very silly Billy in Jack And The Beanstalk. Box office: 01904 623568 or yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

James Lewis-Knight and Emily Chapple, a teddy bear and a Dickensian ghost in Badapple Theatre Company’s tour of Farmer Scrooge’s Christmas Carol. Picture: Karl Andre

Last chance to see: Badapple Theatre Company in Farmer Scrooge’s Christmas Carol, Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe Village Hall, near Sutton Bank, Hambleton, December 27, 4.30pm; East Cottingwith Village Hall, near YorkDecember 29, 4pm

A GRUMPY farmer? From Yorkshire? Surely not! Welcome to Kate Bramley’s rural revision of Dickens’s festive favourite, A Christmas Carol, now set on Farmer Scrooge’s farm and in his bed in 1959 as Green Hammerton company Badapple Theatre put the culture into agriculture.

York actors James Lewis-Knight and Emily Chattle play multiple roles in a tale replete with local stories and carols, puppets and mayhem, original songs by Jez Lowe and a whacking great dose of seasonal bonhomie. Tickets: Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe, 01423 331304; East Cottingwith, 07866 024009 or 07973 699145.

Navigators Art & Performance’s poster for A Feast Of Fools at the Black Swan Inn

Twelfth Night celebrations: Navigators Art & Performance, A Feast Of Fools, Black Swan Inn, Peasholme Green, York, January 6, 7.30pm

DEVISED by York arts collective Navigators Art & Performance with White Sail, A Feast Of Fools: Folk Music and Words to Celebrate Old Christmas & Twelfth Night is billed as “the final festivity, when lords become servants, beggars rule and convention goes to the dogs. Summon the Green Man! Hail the Lord of Misrule!”

Taking part in this “seriously different and seriously good” gathering will be: Wiccan singer-songwriter Cai Moriarty; experimental neo-folk band Wire Worms; leftfield story and song dispensers Adderstone; poet, architect and musician Thomas Pearson and multi-instrumental alt-folk legends White Sail. Box office: TicketSource at bit.ly/nav-feast or on the door if available.

Roxanna Klimaszewska: Creative director of Be Amazing Arts

Audition time: Be Amazing Arts, Disney’s Beauty And The Beast, for staging at Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, April 11 to 13, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm Saturday matinee

MALTON company Be Amazing Arts will hold open auditions for the spring production of Disney’s Beauty And The Beast at Huntington School, Huntington Road, York, on Thursday, January 11 from 5.30pm to 9.15pm, when performers aged seven to 18 are invited to attend.

For more information or to book your child’s place, visit beamazingarts.co.uk. “We can’t wait to bring this tale as old as time to life with some of the best young talent in York and beyond,” says creative director Roxanna Klimaszewska. Box office for April tickets: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Album showcase: One Iota, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, January 13, 7pm

YORK indie band One Iota return to the JoRo to showcase new album Shadows In The Shade. Expect strong melodies, rich harmonies, soaring guitars and epic soundscapes from a full band line-up, including a string section, topped off with a light show. James Merlin supports. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

John Otway, right, and Wild Willy Barrett: Reuniting at The Crescent

50th anniversary cartwheels: Mr H Presents John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett, The Crescent, York, January 13, 7.30pm

TWO “unlikely lads” from Aylesbury reunite for John Otway & Wild Willy Barrett’s Half A Sentry Tour, sure to feature Cor Baby That’s Really Free and Beware Of The Flowers (Cause I’m Sure They’re Gonna Get You Yeh), number seven in a poll of the best lyrics ever, one place behind Paul McCartney’s Yesterday.

Barrett, 73, will be equipped with acoustic and electric guitars, fiddle, balalaika and brown wheelie bin; singer and somersault enthusiast Otway, 71, will still be scampering around like an untrained puppy. Box office: thecrescentyork.com.

Robert Gammon: Playing at three Dementia Friendly Tea Concerts in 2024

New season: Dementia Friendly Tea Concerts, St Chad’s Church, Campleshon Road, York, January to December 2024

AFTER raising £2,159 for the Alzheimer’s Society in 2023, the dates for next year’s 45-minute Dementia Friendly Tea Concerts are in place, beginning with organist Chantal Berry on January 18 at 2.30pm.

Further dates are: February 15, Isobel Thompson, trumpet, and Grace Harman, piano; March 21, James Sanderson, piano, and Friends; April 18, Alison Gammon, clarinet, Maria Marshall, cello, and Robert Gammon, piano; May 23, Flaute Felice, flute ensemble; June 20, David Hammond, piano.

Then come: July 18, Hannah Feehan, guitar; August 15, Robert Gammon, piano; September 19, Lucinda Taylor, harp; October 17, Billy Marshall, French horn, and Robert Gammon, piano; November 21, Giocoso Wind Ensemble, and December 12, Ripon Resound Choir. No charge but donations are welcome.  Organiser Alison Gammon will be trying out new cake recipes alongside old favourites.

Ben Elton: Warning of the dangers of Authentic Stupidity at York Barbican

Looking ahead: Ben Elton, Authentic Stupidity, York Barbican, September 1, 7.30pm

BEN Elton returned to the live comedy circuit in 2019 after a 15-year hiatus, playing York Barbican that October. Next year, the godfather of modern stand-up will return with his new show, Authentic Stupidity.

“Since my last live tour, a whole new existential threat has emerged to threaten humanity! Apparently Artificial Intelligence is going to destroy us all!” he says. “Well, I reckon our real problem isn’t Artificial Intelligence, it’s good old-fashioned Authentic Stupidity! Forget AI! It’s AS we need to be worrying about.” Box office: ticketmaster.co.uk.

In Focus: Kestrel Investigates, Christmas Eve episode of online paranormal comedy with York connection

O Holy Fright: The Christmas Eve episode of Kestrel Investigates

YORK filmmaker Miles Watts, of Zomlogalypse zombie movie fame, is producing the Christmas Eve episode of paranormal comedy Kestrel Investigates.

Entitled O Holy Fright, this festive special edition of the cult web series will feature a guest appearance by Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe, himself a cult icon from Channel 4’s 1990s’ show Fortean TV.

“The web series began screening online in 2018 and is now between its second and third season,” says Watts. “It follows inept paranormal investigator Agravain Kestrel (Stephen Mosley) and his reluctant documentarian, Mike, played by writer-director Oliver Semple.”

The pair worked previously on the fantasy comedy film Kenneth, directed and co-written by Peter Anthony Farren, now streaming on Amazon.

Reverend Fanthorpe, now aged 88 and retired, became involved after the idea of A Christmas Carol-style story was pitched to him by the creators. “Filming with the Kestrel team brought me as much fun and excitement as working on Fortean TV – and it made me feel 20 years younger!” says Fanthorpe, who hosted Fortean TV from January 29 1997 to March 6 1998 on Channel 4.

Filmmaker Semple and producer Watts – whose own web series Zomblogalypse has just been given the film treatment – will release online teasers ahead of the Christmas Eve episode that follows  Kestrel and cameraman Mike as they are dragged unwillingly through a series of Scrooge-like visions.

Kestrel Investigates on Shambles in York

Semple says: “Kestrel is thinking about quitting his paranormal investigations until he is visited by three ghosts, kicked off by a zoom call from Lionel Fanthorpe in place of Marley’s ghost, with each ghost trying to convince Kestrel that for the good of mankind, he must not give up.

“Kestrel Investigates is very British in that it follows in the footsteps of classic sitcoms like Steptoe & Son or Only Fools And Horses: humour mixed with working-class misery and pathos. I’m also a huge fan of Christmas, so this is our take on the classic Dickens tale.

“Working with the Rev Lionel Fanthorpe has been a dream come true for us, as we were all huge fans of Fortean TV back in the day – and he was an absolute gentleman to work with.”

Both filmmakers have written a slate of feature film scripts and created a new film company, Outward Films, joining forces with producers to pitch a number of film projects for production from 2024 onwards. These include an action-horror, a creature feature and eventually a Kestrel movie.

Reverend Fanthorpe lauds the show’s blend of humour and the paranormal. “It has the same consequences as putting a drop of rum in a mince pie: it produces pleasure and excitement,” he says. “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to Kestrel – and the very talented team who created him!”

Watts concludes with a piece of advice: “You can subscribe to watch the episode on the Kestrel Investigates YouTube channel, and by searching for Kestrel Investigates on all social media outlets.”

More Things To Do in York and beyond, deep amid the Christmas show-storm. Hutch’s List No. 51, from The Press

The York Waits: In Dulci Jubilo at the double in Beverley and York this weekend

CHRISTMAS, Christmas and more Christmas events stop Charles Hutchinson from staying by a winter fire as writing cards must wait.

Christmas collaboration of the week: The York Waits & Ebor Singers, In Dulci Jubilo, St Mary’s Church, Beverley, today, 12 noon; St Olave’s Church, Marygate, York, tomorrow, 7.30pm

SEASONAL music from Renaissance Europe for choir and period instruments, celebrating the Christmas story in the grand works of Michael Praetoius, Schutz, Eccard, Lassus and William Byrd.

Twenty voices of the Ebor Singers combine with the sackbuts, curtals, recorders, flutes and violin of The York Waits. Additional religious and secular instrumental items will afeature the Waits’ Noyse of Shawms, crumhorns, bagpipes and hurdy gurdy. Box office: ncem.ticketsolve.com.

100 snowmen – count them! – created by Slingsby Primary School pupils for the Oak Bedroom at Nunnington Hall

Last chance to see: Christmas Through The Ages, Nunnington Hall, near Helmsley, today and tomorrow, 10.30am to 4pm; last entry at 3.15pm

NUNNINGTON Hall plays host to Christmases past on a Yuletide journey through the ages, immersed in the rich tapestry of festive traditions. Step into the opulence of the Georgian era, savour the splendour of the Victorian golden age, see a Tudor feast fit for a king, or relive the exuberant 1980s’ parties. Tomorrow, carol-singing sessions start at 12 noon and 2pm.

Younger visitors can discover a riddle trail in the garden and a new 1940s’ display in the West Bedroom details the story of a rationed Christmas. Slingsby Primary School has created a winter wonderland of 100 snowmen in the Oak Bedroom. Normal admission applies. Tickets: nationaltrust.org.uk/nunnington-hall.

Richard Kay: Perfoming at Showtime With Don Pears At Christmas

Pears, but no partridge, for Christmas: Showtime With Don Pears At Christmas, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, tomorrow , 7pm

NOW a JoRo Christmas tradition, legendary York musician Don Pears performs an evening full of cheer in his Christmas Showtime Concert. Celebrating 30 years of making music and fundraising for the Haxby Road theatre, Pears will be joined by regular cohorts Arnold Durham, Graham and Richard Kay, John Hall, Steve Cassidy, Carol Richardson and Beth Winteringham.

York choir Singphonia make a guest appearance, along with The Tuesday Singers and York Ladies. Sweet Caroline, Memory and You Raise Me Up join multiple festive favourites on the set list. Meanwhile, Shepherd Group Brass Band’s 7.30pm concerts on December 22 and 23 have sold out. Box office: 01904 501395 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Two shows in one day for Steve Cassidy: Performing at both York’s Annual Christmas Carol Concert at York Barbican and Showtime With Don Pears At Christmas at Joseph Rowntree Theatre tomorrow

Long-running festive fixture: York’s Annual Community Carol Concert, York Barbican, tomorrow (17/12/2023), 2pm

FOR 65 years, this concert has heralded York’s festive season with favourite Christmas carols and songs. Join Shepherd Group Youth Band, Badger Hill School Choir, Track 29 Ladies Harmony Chorus, York Stage School and Steve Cassidy for a Christmas singalong under the baton of musical director Mike Pratt.

Community Carol Concert favourites Adam Tomlinson and Rev Andrew Foster return as hosts. Proceeds go to the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of York’s Christmas Cheer Fund and The Press’s nominated charity. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk

The Howl & The Hum: Last hurrah for the York band’s original line-up in three-night Christmas run at The Crescent

Ho-ho homecoming for Christmas of the week: The Howl & The Hum, supported by Fiona Lee, tomorrow, Before Breakfast, Monday, and Bar Pandora, Tuesday, The Crescent, York. Doors: 7.30pm. Stage times: support acts, 8.15pm; headliners, 9.15pm

YORK’S supreme swoony rockers return to The Crescent for three festive shows with the original line-up of Sam Griffiths, vocals and guitar, Bradley Blackwell, bass, Conor Hirons, guitar, and Jack Williams, drums, who play together for the last time.

“The Howl & The Hum are a band who we grew up with; their shows here at The Crescent have always been special since our – and their – early days through to the way-pro Christmas gigs they’ve played here more recently,” says the website. “Cheers guys, look forward to what is next!”. Sold out, alas. For returns only: thecrescent.co.uk.

Green Matthews: Returning to the NCEM for A Christmas Carol In Concert on Tuesday night

Dickens of a good idea for a Christmas folk concert: Green Matthews: A Christmas Carol In Concert, National Centre for Early Music, York, Tuesday, 7.30pm

CHRIS Green and Sophie Matthews are joined by Jude Rees for a retelling of Charles Dickens’s redemptive Christmas tale exclusively through song with voices and traditional and modern instruments in authentic musical arrangements.

Modern-day balladeers Green Matthews take this nocturnal festive adventure back to its Victorian fireside roots with a magical blend of new lyrics, midwinter English folk tunes and carol melodies to illustrate the transformation of flint-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge into the epitome of the Christmas spirit:  warm hearted, generous and loving. Box office: 01904 658338 or ncem.co.uk.

The Carpenters Story At Christmas at York Barbican

Tribute show of the week: The Carpenters Story At Christmas, York Barbican, Tuesday, 7.30pm

IN this special festive show, Carpenters’ classics such as Top Of The World, Close To You and We’ve Only Just Begun are paired with festive selections from Richard and Karen Carpenter’s  1978 album Christmas Portrait, from Merry Christmas Darling to The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire). Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Jools Holland: Back at York Barbican for his traditional winter appearance on Wednesday

Recommended but sold out already: Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, York Barbican, Wednesday, 7.30pm

BOOGIE-WOOGIE piano maestro Jools Holland and his big band will be joined by special guests Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrick, from The Selecter. “This magnificent addition will amplify our Ska music credentials and bring an extra razzy dazzy spasm to our dance capabilities,” reckons Jools.

Boogie queen and enchantress Ruby Turner and Louise Marshall will be singing too, as will Sumudu Jayatilaka, who joined Jools for the first time in 2022.