Max & Ivan

Round & About

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Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominees Max & Ivan, as seen in BBC One’s W1A and heard on BBC Radio 4’s The Casebook of Max & Ivan bring their show Commitment to Reading tomorrow (6th February).

Peter Anderson caught up with the hilarious duo…

Q. How did you both discover your talents for comedy & improv?

Ivan: “ Max grew up listening to, watching and reading comedy from an early age – he always dreamed of becoming a performer and through dedication and devotion he got to where he is now.”

Max: “ As for Ivan, we’re both hoping he’ll discover his talents soon…”

Ivan: “ Fingers crossed! That’s one of my talents, incidentally.”

Q. You met while studying at Royal Holloway. Does that mean acting and comedy is to some extent at Plan B?

Max: “ We both studied theatre, so this is Plan A! The fact that we don’t have a Plan B is what worries our parents the most (and us to be honest….).”

Ivan: “ Getting a real job is Plan B! And I’ve no idea what the next letter of the alphabet is, so let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Q. How well did you know each other before you came together at the radio station?

Ivan: “ When we met at an audition for a play (in the first week of university) we got talking about comedy and within a couple of weeks we started working together.”

Max: “ Our friendship and working partnership are one and the same and we look forward to it continuing (until the eventual day it falls apart in bitter, furious litigation).”

Q. Who are your inspirations?

Max: “ The League of Gentlemen, Brass Eye, Little Britain, Key & Peele, French & Saunders, Julia Davis.

Ivan: “ Max.”

Q. What can the audience at South Street expect from the show?

Max: “ If you come to see us at South Street you’ll witness the TRUE story of how I attempted to reform Ivan’s teenage band for one final gig on the night of his stag. It’s an incredible story that has to be seen to be believed, filled with an array of embarrassing photos and videos from our childhood.”

Ivan: “ It also made a number of publications’ Top 10 lists for best comedy shows of 2019 – so we can guarantee that it’s FUNNY! We won’t name those publications out of respect to the Round & About magazine, but feel free to Google – sorry, use a prominent search engine of your choice – if you don’t believe us.”

Q. I know Kieran has performed there before have either of you?

Ivan: “ We haven’t! However when we asked Kieran Hodgson (our director) what to expect, he said: ‘Reading South Street is one of my favourite venues, with a discerning clientele and access to a really good canalside Pizza Express for post-show nosh. You’re also under directorial orders to see the weird muscly lion statue during the afternoon. Break a leg! Kieran. X’

Max: “ His directorial brilliance knows no bounds!”

Q. How do you go about writing/creating the framework for the show?

Max: “ With our previous shows, it’s always been a torturous process involving far too many hours spent in a small room drinking lots of coffee and scribbling on hundreds of Post-it notes.”

Ivan: “ We thought that seeing as Commitment is based on a real story it’d be different this time round… but unfortunately not.”

Q. If you had free rein to pick another actor to join you, who would you pick?

Max: “ We have a running joke with James Acaster that he’ll one day appear halfway through our show as a neighbour, saying his catchphrase of ‘hello boys’ – it’d have to be fulfilling that weird dream I guess!”

Ivan: “ You never know – he might turn up in Reading!*”

Q. How do you relax away from acting?

Ivan: “ We write an eight-part geo-political comedy thriller podcast of course!”

Max: “ Why not give it a listen: it’s called Max & Ivan: Fugitives and it’s nothing like our live show…”

Q. I guess there is a lot of driving between gigs, what do you listen to; music, audio-books?

Max: “ John, our tour manager and driver extraordinaire** is actually a trained musical director, so we’ve actually spent most of our travelling time together learning three-part harmonies to songs…”

Ivan: “ We’re quite tempted to spend our final tour date performing some rousing folk songs instead of Commitment (although we’re not sure what the good people of Norwich would think of that).”

 

* he won’t.

**John’s driving is actually quite dangerous and when we’re not learning harmonies we’re reminding him how roundabouts work, or warning him that he’s about to crash into a parked car.

Banff film festival

Karen Neville

Ascot

Picture credit: Ben Tibbetts

Celebrate the great outdoors with exhilarating stories and intrepid characters as the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour returns for 2020. 

The tour features two different collections of films from the world’s best film makers, with super-human challenges, inspiring journeys and stunning cinematography from the four corners of the globe.

The tour’s films are chosen from hundreds of entries into the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which is held every November in the Canadian Rockies. The UK and Ireland tour visits 60 locations along the way. As well as thrilling films, each event features a free prize draw for exciting outdoorsy goodies from the tour partners.

UK tour director Neil Teasdale said: “We can’t wait to share the latest inspirational films from the world’s most prestigious mountain film festival on our biggest tour yet.

“As well as exhilarating stories starring intrepid characters and pioneering journeys, an evening at Banff is a celebration of the great outdoors, with a vibrant atmosphere and a real sense of community. And we guarantee audiences will leave inspired to have an adventure of their own.”

For more information about the films and to book tickets visit www.banff-uk.com

The tour comes to Oxford’s New Theatre on28th January; The Hexagon, Reading on 29th January and 18th March; Abingdon’s Amey Theatre on 5th February; Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe on 11th February; Cheltenham’s Town Hall on 12th February and 28th April; Wyvern Theatre, Swindon on 19th February

Oxford, Reading (29th Jan), High Wycombe, Swindon and Cheltenham (12th Feb) are showing the ‘red’ series of films – Charge, Danny Day Care, The Flip, Home, Up to Speed, The Imaginary Line, The Ladakh Project and Thabang

Abingdon, Reading (18th March) and Cheltenham (28th April) are screening the ‘blue’ series of films – A Nordic Skater, Return to Earth, The High Road, Spectre Expedition – Mission Antarctica, The Frenchy, The Long Rover Home and The Running Pastor

All programmes may be subject to change.

Health research study

Round & About

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People in the Thames Valley can now find more than 100 research studies taking place in the NHS, public health and social care using a new interactive online map.

The map, at thamesvalleyresearch.nihr.ac.uk, features pins that show where studies are taking place at locations including hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes.

Users click on the pin to browse studies at that location. They can also search all studies in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire by medical speciality, location, keyword (for example diabetes), postcode and study name.

After finding a study they are interested in, users visit a webpage for more information including a summary of the study, health inclusion and exclusion criteria and contact details.

The website lists studies supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands.

Prof Belinda Lennox, Clinical Director for the NIHR Clinical Research Network Thames Valley and South Midlands, said: “Health research is vital for developing new treatments in the NHS and improving the quality of the care that we provide.

“We rely on the public to take part in this research, which can range from filling out a questionnaire or giving a blood sample to trialling a new medication or treatment.

“This map provides people with the opportunity to actively seek out studies that they could take part in.”

Participating in health research helps develop new treatments, improves the NHS, public health and social care services and save lives.

Studies are offered to NHS patients that are relevant to their condition. Healthy people can also take part so results can be compared to those with a condition.

We rely on the public to take part in this research

Cat’s whiskers

Round & About

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Peter Anderson chats to Roy Marsden, producer of the classic thriller Cat and The Canary at The Theatre Royal, Windsor, 15th – 25th January

Staying sane seems so simple, until 20 years after the death of Mr West, his descendants have to gather at a remote mansion to learn who will inherit his vast wealth and the hidden family jewels. When the heir is revealed, the heritage hunters turn to prey and a chain of macabre events is set in motion. Will the heirs dare to face the haunting presence toying with them? When the cat prowls, the flock takes fright…

The Cat and The Canary, the original chilling country house thriller comes to the Theatre Royal Windsor next month. Peter Anderson caught up with the producer, Roy Marsden perhaps known to many as the PD James detective, Adam Dalgliesh.

What can we look forward to with this play?” We are looking forward ourselves as rehearsals start. This is a play written in 1920s America which has seen a number of versions including a silent movie and a comedy thriller written as a vehicle for Bob Hope. Sadly, some of the play adaptions have been lost. We have moved the setting of the play from the Louisiana swamps to perhaps our most chilling of locations – Bodmin Moor.”

When did you discover your love for the theatre? “I grew up in the East End of London, and I was about eight years old when I discovered at that age you could easily travel on the Underground and nobody asked for tickets. I also found I could sneak into the gallery at the Victoria Palace Theatre. I watched the Crazy Gang, Flanagan and Allen, and the rest of them every night I was hooked. When my parents realised where I was going and what my interest was, they sorted out a kids’ drama school for me. “

Does coming to the Theatre Royal bring back happy memories for you? “I remember asking my Dad why he preferred the Theatre Royal, in Stratford East near where I grew up, to the National Theatre. He said that when you walk into the National Theatre it is the same ambience as a library, everyone talking in hushed tones. But in the Theatre Royal, if someone recognised you in the bar, they would call out and welcome you from the other side of the room.

“I love coming to the Theatre Royal – there is such a warm and welcoming atmosphere. You always get the impression that all the staff who work there are all part of one big happy family, and it is that atmosphere that really makes an audience member feel welcome when they come in to watch something.”

More info

The Cat and The Canary runs from 15th to 25th January. For tickets & more information

Driving force

Round & About

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Can you help local people in need this winter by joining Twyford Volunteer Drivers?

Mike joined Twyford Volunteer Drivers 10 years ago. “Now that I’m semi-retired I can make some space in my diary. This enables me to offer help to people who otherwise might have to rely on taxis – at some expense and probably some inconvenience. It is satisfying to be able to help people in need and who are usually very grateful. Who knows, I may need similar help in the future.”

Passengers must be able to travel without assistance. They contact the office to book lifts in advance and then driver volunteers, who are paid a mileage allowance for using their own cars, volunteer for the jobs that fit in with their schedule.  This can be as many or as few as they want.

Additional drivers are needed to ensure the service continues to run smoothly. Karen joined the volunteer drivers three years ago

“I was worried when I first began volunteer driving that I might have taken on something too time-consuming but nothing could be further from the truth. I can choose the job that suits me and there is never any pressure to do anything more. The people I meet are so interesting and I’ve learnt a lot of local history and driving shortcuts, I would never have discovered any other way. For me it has been a brilliant way to give back and it really feels like a win-win”.

Bob, who chairs a seven-strong committee which runs the charity, said: ‘We have approximately 270 people depending on us – and demand is growing.’

More info

Please call 0118 934 3010 or email [email protected]

Wintry wonders

Round & About

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Head to the River & Rowing Museum to enjoy The Snowman™ and The Snowdog Exhibition until 19th January

This year the River & Rowing Museum’s magical festive programme of activities has been inspired by the much-loved animated film The Snowman and The Snowdog, the sequel to Raymond Briggs’ classic picture book The Snowman, first published in 1978 and then adapted for screen in 1982.

The museum invites you to continue the adventure of the UK’s favourite festive characters with a beautiful exhibition and special screenings of both animated films.

Follow the wonderous adventures of The Snowman and The Snowdog, in a stunning exhibition displaying over 40 original original illustrations and sketches from the animation.  This celebration of the innocence and magic of childhood adventure will appeal to all generations. The detailed hand-drawn artwork and charming characters are universal and timeless. Together they reveal the wintery wonder and warmth that make the season special.

Take a selfie with The Snowman, dress up as your own character from the animation and join The Snowman’s party in this interactive exhibition.  Put on your own puppet show or enjoy the opportunity to curl up with a book in the story corner and dive into the magical world of The Snowman.

Screenings of the animations and an appearance from The Snowman™ will last for an hour, with an opportunity to take photos with the festive icon, making delightful memories that will last a lifetime. The perfect family festive outing.

More Info

Go to  http://rrm.co.uk and www.thesnowman.com

Charity champions 

Round & About

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Photo: Winners, judges and sponsors of the LBCA Berks 2019

Berkshire businesses have been rewarded for their work to support local charities at the Local Business Charity Awards (Berkshire).

The winners were revealed at a ceremony held at SportsAble in Maidenhead with three awards handed out – the Jelf Award, the A-Plan Insurance Award and the Individual Award.

To enter,  Berkshire charities had to nominate a Berkshire business or individual who had done an outstanding job supporting them.

The finalists in the Jelf Award were Convatec nominated by Berkshire Youth; Gardner Leader nominated by Swings & Smiles; Nationwide Building Society nominated by The Dash Charity and Penguins Events nominated by Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Services which won the Jelf Award.

Mike Owen, CEO South, Jelf, said: “Penguins Events have been the most incredible supporter of the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice. Their expertise in events management, providing audio visual and lighting at the charity’s annual balls and other special occasions, has allowed the charity to put on first-class events and raise significant amounts of money.”

The finalists in the A-Plan Insurance award were A Twist of Lime nominated by Baby Bank; Bisham Abbey Sailing & Navigation School nominated by Rivertime Boat Trust; The Swift Group nominated by Newbury Soup Kitchen and TSB (Reading Branch) nominated by Babies in Buscot Support (BIBS). The Reading branch of TSB picked up the A-Plan Insurance Award

Richard Easterbrook, Group Head of Commercial Insurance from sponsor A-Plan Insurance said: “For a business to take on a charity with which they have no personal relationship is quite rare and makes the efforts made by the small team of staff from the TSB in Reading even more impressive.
“From bike and bake weeks to promoting awareness of the charity’s work by having an incubator on display in the branch, the team have really put their heart and souls into supporting this vital Berkshire charity.”

The finalists in the Individual award were Adrian Smith from The Swift Group nominated by Newbury Soup Kitchen; Carol Irwin from Sainsburys nominated by PALS (West Berkshire); Ken Navin from Innovate Services nominated by Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Services and Lisa Chaffey from Action Coach Reading nominated by Berkshire Vision.

The Individual Award was won by Adrian Smith.

Jeffrey Branch, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Berkshire, who presented the award said:
“Two years ago Meryll Praill set up Newbury Soup Kitchen without any knowledge or experience of homelessness or the myriad of problems that leads to a person losing their home. The day she met Adrian Swift, Managing Director of the Swift Group was highly fortuitous; from the outset he has offered her guidance, support, introductions to relevant businesses and even the donation of a van to deliver the food to the homeless.  Berkshire is a better place because of men like Adrian.”

For more information about this year’s awards visit

Santa cruise

Round & About

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Hop aboard for a Father Christmas cruise on the Rose of Hungerford 

There are a whole host of Santa’s grottos popping up at this time of year but there won’t be many chances to meet the man in the red suit on a boat. 

Hop aboard the Rose of Hungerford and meet Father Christmas and his elves on the Kennet & Avon Canal on selected dates in December.  

The Rose of Hungerford is a purpose-built 55ft long wide-beamed passenger trip boat owned by the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust.  

Public trips have been running all year round and now it’s time to celebrate the festive season – there’s a gift for every child and refreshments for all and all for just £9. 

In 2017, The Rose of Hungerford undertook more than 200 trips, carrying around 6,000 passengers. She travelled about 660 miles and through 772 locks as she toured the canal.  

Father Christmas cruises are on 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 24th December from 11am-noon and from 1-2pm from Hungerford Wharf. 

Tickets

Tickets must be pre-booked from Fare Wise Travel, High Street, Hungerford or by calling 01380 721279. 

For more information about the Rose of Hungerford

 

National Carers Rights Day

Round & About

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People in Reading who provide unpaid care for a friend, relative or neighbour can access support and information at an event to mark National Carers Rights Day 2019 today, Thursday 21st.

The free event aims to reach out to people who might not access all the support they are entitled to and also to recognise the vital role unpaid carers play in the wellbeing of the community.

In Reading, an estimated 12,000 people provide unpaid care for someone who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction, cannot cope without their support.

The event is hosted by the Reading and West Berkshire Carers Hub with support from Reading Council, local voluntary care sector providers, carers and charities. The event runs from 2pm to 6pm at Wycliffe Baptist Church, 233 King’s Rd, Reading.

The theme of the national campaign this year is ‘Helping you find your way’ with the aim of encouraging people to think about how caring might affect them now and in the future and what support they might need.

Reflecting this theme, advice and information will be provided at the event, which will also feature a series of presentations relating to health, benefits and carer assessments.

The event organisers are also keen to reach unpaid carers who also work and may not be aware of their rights and the support they are entitled to from their employers.

Information stands manned by community groups and charities will run throughout the event for people who cannot stay for the whole event. Light refreshments will also be available.

Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s lead member for health and wellbeing, said: “Carers play an essential role in our community and they deserve the best advice and support in their role as well as help in maintaining their own independent lives.

“Most of us will care for or be cared for at some point in our lives. Support for a loved one who is older, ill or has disabilities can be a source of great joy and satisfaction but without the right financial and practical support in place it can also be tough. We’re encouraging people to think about what support they might need so that they don’t miss out now or in the future.”

Cllr Tony Jones, Reading’s lead member for adult social care, said: “This Carers Rights Day, we hope to reach as many carers in Reading as possible with information and advice about the range of support they are entitled to – whether that’s certain benefits or practical help, like getting adaptations in the home.”

Although there is no need to book for the event, people will need to book in advance for advice sessions including Health MOTs and Power of Attorney.

Book a session

To book an advice session appointment or for any queries, please contact Carers Hub on 0118 342 7333 or email [email protected]