Advertisements

Tag Archives: crew

Poignant show told through Take That songs the fans call their own

The Band

The Alhambra

A GROUP of teenage girls are perched on a rock, their northern town sprawled below. Bonding over boyband wristbands, they vow to stay fans – and friends – forever.

Returning to that rock 25 years later, via a European city break, the forty-something women reflect on friendships lost and found.

It was this poignant scene in lively new musical The Band that reminded me of The Girls, the glorious stage show about the Yorkshire WI whose nude calendar went global. Both shows are written by Tim Firth, and share his trademark blend of warmth, pathos and northern humour.

In The Band, he visits teenage friendship – the intense bonds we make in adolescence that are unlike any other friendships we ever have.

The setting is the industrial North West, and binding the action together is the music of Take That – from Do What You Like to These Days, their songs are the soundtrack to the lives of five friends – lives which change forever the night they go to a gig by their beloved boy band.

Does the title of the show refer to the band, or the wristbands linking the girls together? I guess you decide. What’s clear is that this is not a show about Take That. As co-producers, they let their songs tell the story – and, along with Tim Firth’s sparkling script, they tell it beautifully.

Naturally, a show featuring Take That’s music is going to attract Take That fans, and the packed audience at last night’s opening Alhambra show dutifully sang along, whooped and threw up their arms for the anthemic Never Forget. This largely female audience is the obvious demographic, but I found their enthusiasm one of the most moving aspects of this theatrical experience. These were the girls – now women, many with daughters of their own – who had Take That posters on their bedroom walls and still know every word to every song. It’s very much their show.

The nostalgic tone is set before the curtain rises, with Ceefax (remember that?) unfolding on a giant screen. We’re back in 1993; Jurassic Park has stormed the Oscars, President Bill Clinton is in office, and Thursday night is Top of the Pops night. And five 16-year-old friends are in love with ‘The Band’.

We’re just getting to know the teenage pals – each so distinctive they’re practically the Spice Girls in school uniforms – when tragedy strikes, and suddenly their youthful lust for life is in pieces. A quarter of a century (and a Million Love Songs) later, we meet them as middle-aged women, whose lives have taken paths none of them expected.

This is a bittersweet homage to female friendship, which could have been twee in the wrong hands. Thankfully, it’s in Tim Firth’s safe hands – just when you think it’s about to dip into sentimental cliche, he pulls out a knowing one-liner that has the audience in stitches. “Has the band got a song for a moment like this?” one of the girls asks, at a crucial point. “No,” comes the reply.

An excellent cast played younger and older versions of the friends, with particularly strong performances from Faye Christall and Rachel Lumberg

as central character Rachel. A particularly touching highlight is Back For Good, sung as a duet between the women and their younger selves. This familiar love song took on a whole new meaning in the context of regret and the folly of youth.

The songs come thick and fast, performed largely by Five to Five, the band put together on BBC1’s Let It Shine. As the girls’ cherished boy band, they take on a Greek Chorus role; appearing in various guises, from fountain statues to cabin crew. It’s an effective device and a witty touch. On stage practically the whole time, with a bewildering array of costume changes, Five To Five were fabulous. Slick performances of numbers such as The Flood let them shine as a group, but their dancing and comic timing showcased impressive all-round skills too.

This is a hugely entertaining show, both funny and moving, which pays homage to female friendship – and it’s told by the songs the fans call their own.

* Runs until October 28.

Advertisements

REVIEW: Take That’s The Band – A poignant show told through songs the fans call their own

The Band
The Alhambra

A GROUP of teenage girls are perched on a rock, their northern town sprawled below. Bonding over boyband wristbands, they vow to stay fans – and friends – forever.

Returning to that rock 25 years later, via a European city break, the forty-something women reflect on friendships lost and found.

It was this poignant scene in lively new musical The Band that reminded me of The Girls, the glorious stage show about the Yorkshire WI whose nude calendar went global. Both shows are written by Tim Firth, and share his trademark blend of warmth, pathos and northern humour.

In The Band, he visits teenage friendship – the intense bonds we make in adolescence that are unlike any other friendships we ever have.

The setting is the industrial North West, and binding the action together is the music of Take That – from Do What You Like to These Days, their songs are the soundtrack to the lives of five friends – lives which change forever the night they go to a gig by their beloved boy band.

Does the title of the show refer to the band, or the wristbands linking the girls together? I guess you decide. What’s clear is that this is not a show about Take That. As co-producers, they let their songs tell the story – and, along with Tim Firth’s sparkling script, they tell it beautifully.

Naturally, a show featuring Take That’s music is going to attract Take That fans, and the packed audience at last night’s opening Alhambra show dutifully sang along, whooped and threw up their arms for the anthemic Never Forget. This largely female audience is the obvious demographic, but I found their enthusiasm one of the most moving aspects of this theatrical experience. These were the girls – now women, many with daughters of their own – who had Take That posters on their bedroom walls and still know every word to every song. It’s very much their show.

The nostalgic tone is set before the curtain rises, with Ceefax (remember that?) unfolding on a giant screen. We’re back in 1993; Jurassic Park has stormed the Oscars, President Bill Clinton is in office, and Thursday night is Top of the Pops night. And five 16-year-old friends are in love with ‘The Band’.

We’re just getting to know the teenage pals – each so distinctive they’re practically the Spice Girls in school uniforms – when tragedy strikes, and suddenly their youthful lust for life is in pieces. A quarter of a century (and a Million Love Songs) later, we meet them as middle-aged women, whose lives have taken paths none of them expected.

This is a bittersweet homage to female friendship, which could have been twee in the wrong hands. Thankfully, it’s in Tim Firth’s safe hands – just when you think it’s about to dip into sentimental cliche, he pulls out a knowing one-liner that has the audience in stitches. “Has the band got a song for a moment like this?” one of the girls asks, at a crucial point. “No,” comes the reply.

An excellent cast played younger and older versions of the friends, with particularly strong performances from Faye Christall and Rachel Lumberg as central character Rachel. A particularly touching highlight is Back For Good, sung as a duet between the women and their younger selves. This familiar love song took on a whole new meaning in the context of regret and the folly of youth.

The songs come thick and fast, performed largely by Five to Five, the band put together on BBC1’s Let It Shine. As the girls’ cherished boy band, they take on a Greek Chorus role; appearing in various guises, from fountain statues to cabin crew. It’s an effective device and a witty touch. On stage practically the whole time, with a bewildering array of costume changes, Five To Five were fabulous. Slick performances of numbers such as The Flood let them shine as a group, but their dancing and comic timing showcased impressive all-round skills too.

This is a hugely entertaining show, both funny and moving, which pays homage to female friendship – and it’s told by the songs the fans call their own.

The Band runs until Saturday, October 28.

Chard Carnival worker seriously injured

Chard CarnivalImage copyright Avon and Somerset Police
Image caption The member of the road crew became trapped under one of the carnival carts on Saturday night

A woman was seriously injured when she fell under a cart at a carnival in Somerset.

The road crew member became trapped under a cart at the end of the parade at about 22:00 BST on Saturday during the Chard Carnival.

Avon and Somerset Police said the woman suffered life-threatening injuries and was airlifted to hospital.

An investigation has been launched and the Health and Safety Executive and the local authority has been notified.

Avon and Somerset Police Ch Insp John Holt said: “We believe this to have been an unusual and exceptional incident which happened at the end of the carnival parade.

“We will be looking into the circumstances, but do not anticipate it will have any impact on other carnivals planned over the next few weeks.”

Men escape electrical heater house fire

THREE men escaped a house fire which started when an electrical heater was knocked over in a bedroom.

The portable electrical heater, which was plugged in, was knocked over and caught fire in a third floor bedroom of a terraced house in Harlow Road, Lidget Green, at around 2am today.

The three men in the house at the time managed to get outside the property before a crew from Fairweather Green Fire Station attended the incident.

The fire damaged the bedroom carpet and caused smoke damage to the rest of the house.

The blaze did not spread to any other properties, Watch Commander Peter Hanson, of Fairweather Green Fire Station, confirmed.

MPs urged by families to help Britons jailed in India

The 'Chennai Six'
Image caption (From top left, clockwise) Nick Dunn, Paul Towers, Nick Simpson, Ray Tindall, John Armstrong and Billy Irving

Relatives of six British seamen jailed in India four years ago have lobbied MPs to demand the government do more to help secure their release.

The six were arrested in October 2013 for taking weapons into India‘s territorial waters. They were convicted and jailed for five years in 2016.

The men deny any wrongdoing, saying the weapons were properly licensed.

A 405,000-signature petition calling for the “wrongly imprisoned” men to be freed has been handed in at Number 10.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Yvonne MacHugh, fiance of Billy Irving, and her two-year-old son, William delivered the petition with other relatives of the Chennai Six

Indian coastguards boarded their vessel, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, while the men were working as security guards to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean.

Charges against them and 29 other crew members were initially quashed when the men argued the weapons were lawfully held for anti-piracy purposes.

However, a lower court reinstated the prosecution.

body-width”>

The British men – all former soldiers – are:

Nick Dunn, from Ashington, Northumberland

Billy Irving, from Connel, Argyll

Ray Tindall, from Chester

Paul Towers, from Pocklington, East Riding of Yorkshire

John Armstrong, from Wigton, Cumbria

Nicholas Simpson, from Catterick, North Yorkshire

body-width”>

Joanne Thomlinson, the sister of John Armstrong, said: “My fiveyear-old son hasn’t seen his uncle John since he was a baby, he only really remembers him from pictures.

“My brother tries to take one day at a time, he spends his days walking, he’s learning a foreign language, that’s how he gets through each day, he gives himself little milestones.”

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption A number of other guards on the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, mainly Estonians, have also been jailed

Prime Minister Theresa May has raised the matter on a visit to India and Britain’s High Commissioner in India has visited the men in jail in Chennai, but the families say Foreign Office diplomacy is not working.

Speaking to the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme, Mrs Thomlinson added: “We know they’ve raised this case over 50 times at ministerial level with Indian counterparts, but we want them to put more pressure on in these discussions.”

Lawyer Stephen Askins, who represents the imprisoned men, said: “It is extraordinary that it is the fourth anniversary of the arrest and the initial detention of these men.

“I can’t believe that any of us would have thought we would still be here, four years later, dealing with this.”

Four taken to hospital after kitchen fire

FOUR people were taken to hospital this morning following a kitchen fire at a house in Otley

Fire crews from Otley, Rawdon, and Shipley were called to the blaze at the property in Maylea Drive just before 6am. 

The occupants of the house, which was fitted with working smoke detectors, were said to have suffered smoke inhalation and were transferred to hospital for treatment

A fire investigation officer attended the scene, and a spokesman for the Shipley fire crew said while the cause of the fire was still under investigation, the incident was not being treated as suspicious. 

Cargo ship runs aground near Margate Harbour

Cargo ship in MargateImage copyright Twitter: @kidders78
Image caption The Islay Trader is carrying a cargo of broken glass

A recovery operation is under way after a cargo vessel carrying broken glass ran aground off the Kent coast.

The 75-metre Islay Trader became stuck near Margate Harbour about 30m (98ft) from shore shortly after 03:00 BST.

A coastguard spokeswoman said the fuel tanks had not been damaged and the risk to the environment was “very low”.

The six crew are still on board and are preparing for an attempt to refloat and tow the vessel to safety with the assistance of a tug from Medway.

The Islay Trader, which had been heading to Antwerp, in Belgium, is stuck just a few feet away from the life-size Antony Gormley cast iron sculpture, which becomes visible about three hours before low tide in front of the Turner Contemporary gallery.

‘Like a communist regime’

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Michael O’Leary is chief executive of Ryanair

Cabin crew reduced to tears, pilots refused days off even for their weddings, and workers “left in exile” thousands of miles from their homes and families.

After budget airline Ryanair was forced to cancel thousands of flights – repeatedly blaming a rostering error rather than an alleged pilot shortage – chief executive Michael O’Leary has written to pilots offering them better pay and conditions.

Here, a long-serving pilot explains why the offer is “too little, too late”, and explains why his colleagues are leaving the airline.


‘Perfect storm’

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ryanair said it had “messed up the allocation of annual leave”, but pilots claim their colleagues are leaving to fly for other airlines

Ryanair’s chief executive Michael O’Leary is partly right to say the cancellations have been caused by problems accommodating pilots’ leave, says the pilot.

But this has been exacerbated by unhappy staff seeking new jobs with rival airlines, he believes.

“The Irish Aviation Authority has changed the rules where pilots cannot fly more than 1,000 hours in a rolling year, and the flight hours have to be taken from January to December, whereas Ryanair were using April to April.

“Ryanair have been given two years’ notice but the company have left it to the last minute,” the pilot says.

“It’s been the perfect storm because, at the same time, other airlines are hiring crews, so they are leaving for pastures new.

“If it wasn’t for the crews’ goodwill I think this crisis would have come sooner, because for a long time now they’ve been asking people to work days off.

“Pilots are being used as the scapegoat to cover for incompetency in the upper management, and it’s just totally disgusting.

“Instead of O’Leary standing up and taking the blame he’s directing the problems and the blame at pilots and saying it’s because we’re taking leave and holidays.

“That’s simply not true. It may be true in a very few cases, but people are working harder now than ever to try to make up this shortfall in crewing levels that we have.”


‘Toxic atmosphere’

Image copyright AFP / Getty Images
Image caption Ryanair staff have been sharing memes among each other that compare the management of Ryanair to the North Korean regime

The pilot said he and many other newly-qualified pilots joined Ryanair following the recession of 2008 when it was one of the few airlines still recruiting.

“A lot have remained here ticking along, but now that the market has become a lot more buoyant and there are other competitors offering much better terms and conditions. They’ve had enough and they are leaving,” he said.

“On a local level the company is fantastic and I’m very fortunate to work with some very highly-skilled individuals.

“Then you have the management at the upper level and it’s run like a communist regime in some respects. It’s dictated from the top and you are just expected to get on with it.

“I know of colleagues that have had leave denied to get married and then these pilots rely on the goodwill and conscience of other pilots to cover their rostered flights so they can get married.

“This company will happily fire pilots to quell any uprising, even to the point where they would close a base or multiple bases to send a message to the rest: ‘You just get on and do your job and keep doing what we tell you to do’.

“We have some memes that have been doing the rounds which we feel accurately portray the situation and feelings of the crew – comparing the company to the North Korean communist regime.

“The way they treat the staff is not much better, if not worse, than the way they treat their customers.

“People have just had enough of the toxic atmosphere that’s been created here.”

The BBC contacted Ryanair with these claims and a spokesman said it was “untrue” there was a toxic atmosphere among staff.


Working hours

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has said he would “challenge any pilot to explain how this is a difficult job or how it is they are overworked”

Mr O’Leary has said pilots fly for no more than 18 hours a week. However, the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) has said this “does not seem to have any basis in reality”.

The pilot echoed the Balpa view.

“In reality our hours are much longer than that,” he said.

“[Mr O’Leary] has divided the maximum amount of hours a crew can fly in a year, which is 900 hours, by 52 weeks.

“I myself typically fly between 30 to 40 hours a week. This is what is called ‘flight duty’ and starts from reporting to work to when we set the parking brake at the end of the day.

“This does not include turnarounds and post-duty paperwork, which we are not paid for.

“If Ryanair advertise to their customers that the flight leaves at five o’clock and arrives at seven o’clock then we only get paid for those two hours.

“We are not paid for the time spent getting back to base either. Sometimes it’s a case that you can’t get back on the same day and you are having to pay for a hotel out of your own money, then catch a flight the following day to get home or catch multiple flight connections if the base isn’t particularly well connected.”

Ryanair declined to comment on whether pilots are paid only for the advertised length of the flight. It has said previously that pilots receive “great pay and industry-leading terms and conditions”.


Cabin crews

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption There is a lack of basic benefits such as crew meals and drinks, the pilot said

“Cabin crew are employed under similar conditions, on agency contracts, and the things I’ve seen are pretty disgusting,” said the pilot.

“They are given unachievable sales targets, and if they’ve not reached sales targets they will be berated in a debriefing afterwards by a base supervisor, who is acting as a minion for Dublin.

“It’s known for cabin crew to cry after their debriefings. I’ve seen them lined up almost like a military parade before being inspected, having their bags searched and all kinds of things.

“These people are not earning very much money – around £1,000 a month.

“In some bases the cabin crew even have to rent one room together, and sleep in the same bed – maybe one person who works early shifts and one person who works late shifts – because they are not paid enough to even afford their own accommodation in those particular areas.

“It’s quite common for them to be threatened to be moved to a less desirable base, further away from home, unless their sales improve.

“There is also a lack of basic benefits – no free bottles of water, coffee or tea and no crew meals. All of this needs to be brought to work by the pilot and it’s the same for cabin crew.

“They provide a water dispenser at every crew room, where you need to take an empty bottle to fill up. You also pay for your own uniform through a Ryanair-approved supplier.”

The BBC asked Ryanair to comment on cabin crew being threatened and berated for not meeting sales targets, not being able to afford accommodation and sharing beds with colleagues. Ryanair responded: “These claims are untrue.”


‘Mass exodus’

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) has “urged Ryanair to do more to encourage pilots to stay with the airline”

“Some competitors do have similar work arrangements, but nothing to the extent that Ryanair do,” the pilot said.

“They’ve copied the low cost business model from Southwest Airlines [in the United States] but gone to the extreme.

“Southwest make good profits and it’s been ranked as one of the best airlines in America to fly for, as they take good care of crews and pay them well.

“However, Michael O’Leary seems to have taken enjoyment from taking the low road and taunting his customers and crews because he knows he can get away with it.

“Passengers want a British Airways service, but ultimately when it comes to booking they will book with Ryanair because he’s offering a 10-euro seat.

“However, the tactics of ruling by fear and divide and conquer are outdated in the pilot market we’re in now.

“Now, with the invention of WhatsApp people are openly discussing what’s going on, and people are starting to see that there is more unity coming together.

“If there’s no improvement here, and the management continue to bury their head in the sand, many people will continue to leave and the mass exodus will just continue.”

The pilot said Mr O’Leary’s offer of better pay and conditions “does not come across as sincere and genuine”.

“People want to stay, they want to work and do a good job, but management are treating us like the enemy when we are the assets of the company,” he said.

“We are an airline and without pilots and cabin crew the aircraft go nowhere.”

In his latest letter to pilots, Mr O’Leary said he had interacted with many pilots over 30 years. “Over this period I have always tried to be courteous, respectful and grateful for the outstanding job that you do, and this will remain my approach.”


The rise of Ryanair

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Michael O’Leary, pictured outside a British Airways travel shop in 1998, has taken cost-cutting culture to the extreme, said the pilot
  • Ryanair began operating in 1985, originally flying daily from Waterford in Ireland to London Gatwick
  • In the early 1990s, the airline’s founder Tony Ryan sent Michael O’Leary, an accountant by training, to Texas to find out how Southwest Airlines was making profits with lower fares
  • Mr O’Leary, now chief executive, took cost-cutting culture to the extreme, even telling his staff to take pens from hotels and legal offices instead of buying them
  • Ryanair now has 4,200 pilots flying a fleet of 400 Boeing 737-800 aircraft between more than 200 airports in 33 countries
  • It reports carrying 131 million passengers a year, more than any other airline in Europe, and operates more than 2,000 flights a day

Read more – Ryanair and Easyjet: The history of the peanut airlines


The BBC agreed not to identify the pilot.

Stolen car left to burn out after firefighters unable to access blaze

FIREFIGHTERS had to let a stolen car burn after it was set on fire on a track that was inaccessible to their fire engine.

At 4pm today a crew from Keighley were called to Hainworth Road after reports of a car fire. When they arrived they found out that it was a stolen Toyota urban cruiser that had been abandoned and set alight.

Because of the nature of the narrow, unmade track, which links Woodhouse Road to Hainworth Lane, they were unable to reach the car, and decided to let it burn out. Nothing else was damaged in the fire.

Police are now investigating the incident.

Southend fire crew suspended for cling film ‘joke’

Southend Fire StationImage copyright Google
Image caption The children’s mother said it “was intended as a joke”

A fire crew has been suspended from community work after a firefighter wrapped two children in cling film.

The incident, which involved the children of a crew member, was caught on camera at a fire station in Southend.

Essex Fire Service is investigating after the BBC notified it of photographs sent by a concerned party.

The chief fire officer said the images had “raised concerns” and a “thorough investigation” was under way.

The service said the crew had been put on “core duties only”, meaning it cannot carry out community work.

The children’s mother said what happened “was intended as a joke” and the youngsters enjoyed it.

Image copyright Essex Fire Service
Image caption Chief fire officer Adam Eckley said it was believed no harm was done to the children

The incident happened two weeks ago. Five people, including the two children, were present when the photographs were taken and their mother later posted them on Facebook.

The youngsters were wrapped in plastic by a colleague of their father.

Their mother, who is not being named in order to protect the privacy of the children, said it was joke.

She added: “I can see that this was not an appropriate activity, and we should not have played around like this at the fire station.”

‘Embarrassed and regretful’

Chief fire officer Adam Eckley said although he encouraged “family spirit”, stations were still “a workplace” where behaviour “must reflect our service values and exemplify professionalism”.

He said: “The photos we have seen have raised concerns, we have liaised with the appropriate statutory agencies and a thorough investigation and process has now started.

“The firefighters involved are embarrassed and regretful of how this event has been interpreted.

“It does not give the right impression to our public, and it is not who we are.”

Roger Hirst, the police, fire and crime commissioner for Essex, said: “I am clear that the behaviour shown in these photos is inappropriate and requires a thorough and robust investigation.”