Tag Archives: London

ITV…Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway to go on nationwide tour

10 Nov

Ant and Dec together with ITV are taking the successful primetime Saturday night entertainment show “Saturday Night Takeaway“on tour around the country for their next series. The tour starts in Cardiff on the 6th of August and runs through to the 12th of September when it ends at London’s Wembley Arena.

If you fancy being part of the show tickets are now available for the following dates and venues.

Cardiff - Motorpoint Arena (Wednesday 6th August)

Birmingham - LG Arena (Saturday & Sunday 9-10th August)

Leeds - First Direct Arena (Tuesday 12th August)

Manchester - Phones 4U Arena (Friday & Saturday, 15-16th August)

Nottingham - Capital FM Arena (Tuesday 19th August)

Belfast - Odyssey Arena (Friday 22nd August)

Glasgow - The SSE Hydro(Tuesday 26th August)

London - The 02 (Friday and Saturday 29-30th August)

Sheffield - Motorpoint Arena (Tuesday 2nd September)

Newcastle - Metro Radio Arena (Friday – Saturday 5-6th September)

Liverpool - Echo Arena (Tuesday 9th September)

London - Wembley Arena (Friday 12th September)


Tickets for the shows go on sale on 8 November at 9am. Visit itv.com for details

The Secret of Pickpockets….Channel 4

26 Feb

Okay it is official I am not going to use a cash point in London any more!!!. Last night’s documentary on Channel 4 -The secret of Pickpockets –  was shocking.

Not so much the Eastern European gangs targeting drunken revellers, they were brazen and the victim’s unfortunate, but it is arguably an avoidable situation. Or even the pocket or hand bag “dip” on the underground, more worrying but it is always on the back of my mind when I enter a crowded tube.

No, what really shocked me was the ATM scams. The barely noticeable card skimming devices  and cameras that thieves fit to the ATM machines allowing them to steal details of tens if not hundreds of bank cards. Digital age pickpocketing, that scared me.

The skimming device looked just like a normal ATM card slot where you would insert your credit  or debit card, and the mini cameras were equally imperceptible to the untrained eye.  Really Scary stuff. I am not sure how widespread this practice is, but I will be making a note to use ATM inside banks as often as is practicable.

On a lighter side was the travails of one Constatine Radu. The 6ft-something pickpocket from Romania has almost certainly been put out of business by the programme, caught twice on by the Police owing in no small measure because his physique means he has no chance of blending into the crowd, a key ability of a successful pickpocket.

I doubt if anyone who watched it will forget his very distinctive face, described by the one of the police officers as something you find at the end of a witch doctors stick.

Hopefully after his 22 weeks prison sentence he look for a change in profession or at least seek pastures far from the UK for his nefarious activities.

BBC2…Lunch is Av-Ant Garde at Claridge’s!

18 Dec
Claridge's Hotel in Brook Street, London, Engl...

Claridge’s Hotel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Should the Big Yellow Box be worried? Apparently Claridge’s offer long term storage for their customers, particularly if you spend a reasonable time at the hotel. Say maybe 30 days a year for last 10 years and insist on a suite that sets you back £3,500 a night.

Welcome to another edition of BBC Two’s fly on the wall Documentary – Inside Claridge’s. Although being Claridge’s it probably more aptly termed rare Tibetan turquoise tiger beetle on the wall rather than some common domestic fly.

We start off with a visit from Jose ‘Pepe’ Fanjul. A billionaire with interest in sugar companies across the world including Tate and Lyle. For Pepe Claridge’s is a home away from home. In between jaunts to Scotland for a bit of shooting and trips across the world he likes to come back to the familiar luxury of Claridge’s.

He is in and out so frequently that the hotel stores clothes, furniture and presumably pretty much anything else he wants stored to ensure every night stayed there is as stress free as possible. At £3,500 a night it is the very least they could do.

The big theme tonight was the Olympics. The episode was filmed over this year’s London summer Olympics and Claridge’s was heaving under the weight of delegations from over 30 countries  If you ever wondered where some of the billions that the Olympics cost went, a fair sum seemed to have been spent here. With Rooms at £5,000 a night you would need an Olympic sized budget to cope which Seb Coe obviously had.

We saw entourages from across the world checking in, a team of 16 from Malawi staying for 11 nights, team of 9 from Gabon for 8 nights, the Attorney General of New Zealand and many more. Prince Andrew also popped up, although it was unclear if he was there as part of the Olympic jamboree.

As a special celebration of the Olympics, Claridge’s had teamed up with what is supposedly the best restaurant in the World – Copenhagen based Noma  - for a two-week special event.

Noma’s specialty menu for the event included amongst other things foraged greens, Juniper oil and live ants all for the princely sum of £195 a sitting.

I often find when people have to explain or justify why a particular dish is great you do come away with the sense that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors under pinned by great marketing rather it being simply great food.

That was the sense I came away with watching all the to and fro’ing as they set our recreating the spartan Scandinavian feel of Noma in Claridge’s ballroom. Maybe I am just a food pleb with an agrarian palate but it seemed that everyone shown ‘enjoying’ the food for this event had to ‘like’ it irrespective of what their faces portrayed as they nibbled of a selection of live ants.

I did warm a bit to Noma head chef Rene Redzepi though when asked about Prince Andrew and his quizzical response was “Who’s he?”.

The Olympics clearly looked like a winner for Claridge’s but it came at a price as the hotel was invaded by vast numbers of what can only be described as the hoi polloi, congregating in the lobby in numbers and even going as far as resting their feet on footstools. You get the feel that Claridge’s could not wait for the hotel to return to its traditional luxurious gentility.

BBC…Panorama “Britain’s Hidden Housing Crisis”

15 Dec

Even with the global economic crisis Britain still remains one of the richest countries in the world.  I am not an expert of government finances by any stretch of the imagination,  but when the government announce that despite the recession they have found money to spend a million pounds a day over almost a year in an operation to remove the former Libyan dictator we can’t be that broke.

So if as a country we are still relatively rich why the hell do we have disproportionately so many homeless people? BBC  flagship current affairs programme took a look at this in its episode “Britain’s Hidden Housing Crisis”.

First off  I am not sure why the title refers to a “hidden” crisis? In the larger cities of the UK there is a real and very visible crisis, what  is not in dispute is that there is a crisis.  Identifying a crisis is one thing, working out the solutions is another but one way is to take a look at how people end up homeless which is what this edition of Panorama did.

It followed a number of individual and families and over 5 months documented  their experience of being or becoming homeless.

There was the case of Kevin Browne an investment banker who in good times lived in America running his own business, come the credit crunch it all fell apart and he ended up being repatriated to the UK.

His immediate problem seemed to stem from another of things. Firstly he seemed to have no social network he could rely on in the UK for support on his return, no willing family or friends. Secondly having being away from the UK for a while the local council, in this case Croydon, had to assess whether he was a UK resident and eligible for benefits. Thirdly being a single man he was way down the priority list for emergency housing. The end result was many nights in local park.

He was eventually given support and moved into accommodation  His story ended, somewhat ironically, with him looking for employment back in the investment banking industry.

There was also the case of the 52-year-old Dagenham Grandmother Patricia Taylor who after a battle with breast cancer and a marriage breakdown fell  behind with her mortgage payment to Barclays Bank to the tune £9,000. She was evicted from her home of fifteen years.

The council offered her emergency accommodation which she accepted without having seen it. When she did eventually see the property it was dire and insecure, but there the reality of the housing bureaucracy hit.  As she had already accepted it, if she now refused to move in she would be in effect making herself “intentionally homeless” removing from the council any further obligation to house her.

The phrase “intentionally homeless” was one that came up repeatedly in the programme,  and sadly it is becoming heavily relied upon by hard pressed councils across the country to trim down their waiting lists by proving people are knowingly putting themselves in that position.

The debate over being “intentionally homeless ” came up again in the case of  Nick Bull and his family of six. Employment problems had led to mortgage arrears. The Council argued that by failure to make regular rent payments for their Council flat  and also to file paper work to maintain housing benefit meant they had made themselves “intentionally homeless”. This resulted in protracted fight with the council and the family being moved from one emergency accommodation to another.

At the end council upheld their initial ruling and family were ultimately left to fend for themselves.

Successful businessman Lee his wife Sharon and his kids were a victim of the recession. His engineering business collapsed and their income plummeted,  they tried to negotiate with their mortgage lender the Bank of Scotland, but bank rejected offer and they were evicted. Their case was illustrative how over the years the government support for home owners with mortgages who are caught out in a crisis has been rolled back to virtually nothing now.

Four different stories, different reasons and different outcomes, some had questions of self-responsibility others just ill-luck but all reveal that beneath the veneer of affluence is a very dark and depressing world into which an increasing amount of people are being pulled into.