Monday, 27 June 2016

Lucy Porter, Screaming With Laughter at the Balham Comedy Festival

Lucy Porter. Picture credit Steve Ullathorne

AS any parent will tell you, when you first have kids your social life and indeed any life you had beforehand can go out of the window.
Babies can mean a treadmill of nappies, feeding, winding, baby massage and singing songs endlessly. The term baby brain was surely born out of this situation.
But in a bid to bring some semblance of normality - not to mention a bit of humour - back to parents’ lives, comedian Lucy Porter came up with a comedy club designed especially for those with kids aged 12 months and under.
Screaming with Laughter is held regularly in pubs in and around South London including at the Bedford Pub in Balham.
Lucy is bringing it there on Wednesday, July 13 as part of the Balham Comedy Festival and tells me she couldn’t be happier about it.
“It’s our third year at the Balham Comedy Festival and I really enjoy it,” she enthuses. “It’s such a fantastic festival always with great acts on throughout the week and a brilliant atmosphere.
"I love the Bedford so much and I love Balham so it’s always a joy to be there.
"I’m South London born and bred too so it’s like coming home.”
The idea for the club came about when Lucy herself had kids - now aged four and five - and it has proved to be very popular.
"With babies most of the stuff you do is all about them - baby massage and singing songs like Wind The Bobbin Up millions of times," she chuckles.
“But there comes a point where you’ve had enough and want something for you and so that’s where this club comes in.
"I began doing it when mine were babies as I wanted to see my comedy friends and after speaking to other mums about the idea it just grew. It's a nice gig and we aim to lift the spirits."
The idea is simple, parents and babies of up to a year old are welcome, the doors open at about 12 and Lucy as compere introduces the comedians who each do about a 20 minute set.
The acts - all of whom are regulars on the comedy circuit - won’t make fun of any parent who needs to move around, whip out a boob or bottle, or if the baby’s just having a meltdown.
Indeed, as all the acts are seasoned club performers used to rowdy stag and hen night crowds at the weekend a bit of noise or the odd bare breast won’t phase them.
"It’s nice for everyone really and a really relaxed atmosphere with mums, dads, grandparents and friends," says Lucy.
"We open the doors at 12noon and they can have lunch and then we do the show and finish at about 2.30pm just in time for the school run. It’s a win win!"
And refreshingly Lucy says it is just like going to see a regular gig which is why it's aimed at babies not children.
"We want it to be like a proper comedy night and so we don't want to be responsible for the first word out of a baby's mouth to be a swear word," she laughs.
"It’s a wonderful, confusing and scary time when you are a parent particularly with your first child. When I’m comparing I normally talk about the horror of the early months and the birth plans that go out of the window.
"But some of the acts don’t have kids so they talk about other stuff which is also nice especially when you are stuck in a baby bubble. So it’s a little bit of baby chat and little bit of filth and a chance for us to take parents away from it."
And she admits being in a room with so many babies, she gets a bit broody although she says it took her a while for any yearnings to have a child herself to kick in.
“I never wanted any, never had a maternal feeling at all,” she chuckles. "I used to be on stage and talking about not wanting children but when I was 37 I crumbled at the last minute and I love it.
"I did find it hard when they were very little but my husband is amazing and we split the work 50 50.
"I’m much more relaxed and now I have zero stage fright which is odd. Compared to child birth being on stage is a doddle!
"It’s also nice for me doing this club as I would have loved a third child," she adds. "I’m desperately broody so it’s lovely for me to be in a room with 40 or 50 gorgeous babies.
"It gets very loud though and sometimes it freaks out the acts who don’t have kids - especially when the babies cry in unison. It’s like a Mexican wave of crying,” she giggles.
"It’s a different type of rowdy to what goes on in clubs on a Saturday night. Babies are the cutest hecklers!"

Lucy Porter's Screaming With Laughter takes place at the Balham Comedy Festival on Wednesday, July 13. Tickets cost £9. Visit or for full listings.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

FOUR STAR REVIEW A Midsummer Night's Dream, Southwark Playhouse

ANARCHIC, fun, hilarious, fast paced, bonkers, brilliant, chaotic, riotous, imaginative and irreverent. These are just some of the many words you could and should use to describe Go Theatre People's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
On at the Southwark Playhouse, it is the latest in a long line of productions of Shakespeare's classic which are being staged this year and it is like nothing I've ever seen.
It has a cast of just seven who delight in telling us right from the off that they will be doubling and trebling to fill the 17 roles in the original text as they try to stage the play in a little under two hours.
The cast assemble around a table on a plywood floor on the traverse stage and discuss the allocation of roles before the play begins proper.
There is plenty of bluster not least between Freddie Fox and Freddie Hutchins which spills over in their roles as Demetrius and Lysander respectively.
They have no set, there is no special lighting, no music and the bare minimum of props. So they rope in unsuspecting members of the audience and persuade us to use a tonne of imagination to tell the stories of the young lovers and the fairies in the forest.
It is all tongue in cheek and full of laughs although there are a few times when the essence of the play gets lost and it all feels a bit much and a case of trying too hard.
But these are few and far between and in truth it is a pretty glorious production with some hilarious moments where the comedy is ramped up to the max - Freddie Fox morphing into the ass being a case in point.
Other priceless scenes include those with the audience members - so if you don't want to get involved I'd advise against sitting on the front row.
Starring Lucy Eaton, Freddie Fox, Melanie Fullbrook, Maddy Hill, Ludovic Hughes, Freddie Hutchins and Suzie Preece it is a joyful and riotous take on this iconic play.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is on at the Southwark Playhouse until July 1. Tickets cost £20. Visit or call the box office on 020 7407 0234  

INTERVIEW Derek Fowlds

WHEN he was about 18 Derek Fowlds made a pact with his mother that if he won a scholarship to Rada he would pursue a career in acting. If he didn't he would go back to being a printer.
Fortunately he did win the scholarship and has been entertaining us ever since he left drama school in a career spanning six decades.
And fans of the Balham-born actor can hear all about his life on stage and screen at a special show to be held at the Museum Of Comedy on June 25.
Derek Fowlds: Yes Prime Minister and Me will see the 79-year-old in conversation with journalist Sam Westerby about his long career.
And what a career he’s had. From Mr Derek in Basil Brush Show to Bernard Woolley in the phenomenally successful Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister, not to mention Heartbeat which he was in for 18 years, he’s not been idle.
And in a chat ahead of the show he tells me he’s really looking forward to coming to the Museum of Comedy, somewhere he’s not been to before.
"It promises to be quite an evening, " he says warmly. "My autobiography was published at the end of last year and this is part of its promotion. My publishers asked if I’d like to be interviewed at the Museum of Comedy.
"It’s where relics go so it will be nice if there are more than 10 people in the audience,” he adds chuckling.
“Sam has read the book and talks about the book. I talk to the audience and if they want to ask me anything that’s great.”
Chatty and cracking plenty of jokes throughout, if my conversation with Derek is anything to go by audiences at the evening will be in for a treat.
He’s extremely entertaining and engaging company and as you might expect has a wealth of anecdotes and stories to regale me as he talks with fondness about his long career.
“I’ve been at it for years, in fact it seems like a life time, and done a lot yet most people only believe I have had three jobs - Basil Brush, Yes Minister and Heartbeat," he says.
“Yes Minister was a joy and I'm so pleased they still show the programmes. It was wonderful to be part of.
“I was sent the script and I thought it was about vicars initially,” he chuckles. “When they said it was about politicians I didn’t think it would work. But when I read the script I realised what a hoot it was - fun and very brilliant and was actually ground-breaking.
“I saw a repeat the other day and I laughed at myself - I looked about 12! Mind you the others looked about 20.
“It was a total joy and I did 40 programmes over seven years. And then I went to Heartbeat for 18 years. I was going to leave after six as Nick Berry and Niamh Cusack were going to leave and I wanted to leave to go back to the theatre but I was seduced into it.
"They paid me good money and so I ended up staying another 12 years. It was a great time and I made so many friends.”
But as Derek tells me, that’s not all. He’s done 14 plays in the West End over the years and trod the boards on stages all over the world including in Broadway and Canada. He’s also done numerous TV shows and more than a dozen films including Hotel Paradiso with Alec Guinness which he describes as “great” and even a couple of horror films.
“You see I’ve been around the block,” he laughs. “But I have enjoyed it all and really love working in all mediums and I remember all the people I’ve worked with.”
And the roll call of names is as impressive as you might expect - Dirk Bogarde, Alec Guinness, Alastair Sim.
“I have wonderful memories of all the people and moments that this profession is made up of," he says. "I consider myself very lucky to work with them.”
And he shows no sign of slowing down and says he's looking forward to the show later this month.
"I have had a great career so far - I have been a lucky boy,” he says.

Derek Fowlds - Yes Minister and Me is at the Museum of Comedy on Sunday, June 25. Tickets cost £17. Visit for full listings. Derek’s autobiography A Part Worth Playing is available from

INTERVIEW with Stephen K Amos

STEPHEN K Amos is a cheerful soul, hilariously funny - both on and off stage - and has an almost permanent cheeky glint in his eye.
However the South London comedian admits that there are a few things that get his goat, and social media is one of them.
And it is this that has inspired his latest show which he will bring to the Balham Comedy Festival on July 9.
“It’s all about the horrible and inflamatory things that people are prepared to say online despite the threats of legal action,” he says.
“People can be incredibly horrible. They use abuse to enter discussions with people they don’t know.
“They create a faceless profile just to have a go and give an opinion, thinking they have the right to say this stuff. And they always seem to stay just on the right legal side of being offensive.
“I find it fascinating but also concerning that this kind of thing goes on and I feel I need to challenge the view that it’s OK to do this stuff - and get away with it.”
Obviously rather than join in Stephen prefers to stay very much on the sidelines and says he just likes to watch it all unfold. And although he has a Twitter account he says it is run by a team on his behalf.
“I have no desire whatsoever to get involved in discussions with people I don’t know and who don’t know me,” he stresses.
“I think social media has become an unfortunate way people get sidetracked by nonsense. By all means have an informed opinion but not a knee jerk reaction to something. Things should all be based on truth.
“It’s just a marketing tool,” he adds. “The glory for me is that there is block button.”
So has he ever had to use it himself? He chuckles again.
“Once or twice perhaps. I did something on TV last week and certain people didn’t like the show but when they complained about it they included me in the tweets. That was annoying!”
I suggest it sounds like a serious subject on which to base a comedy show and Stephen acknowledges it with a chuckle.
“Yes true, but there is of course a flip side to all this and there are positives to be gained and things to learn from social media,” he says.
“In the show there will be numerous, hopefully funny and amusing anecdotes as a way of highlighting the issues, and so if you come and see the show I hope you may think about it perhaps in a different way.
“It actually took shape when I was in Australia for a three month tour and I’ve been tweaking it since then. So for those who come and see it will get a sneak peak at what will be in my forthcoming UK tour so it’s very exciting.”
And he says he's very happy to be bringing the show to the Balham Comedy Festival, an event now in its fifth year and one he has performed at before. Indeed he speaks with a real fondness for it.
“It’s a great festival and I don’t live far from there so that’s a real bonus,” he says warmly. “I’ve done it before and loved it, it’s so well organised. They always put on a great event and I had a great time last year.
“It’s also a venue I’ve known for many years. The people here are great and it’s one of the best comedy rooms in the country.
“So it’s a joy to be coming back and I’m looking forward to seeing what people think about the show,” he adds chuckling.
“It’s also nice to play intimate venues. You don’t necessarily want to see the whites of peoples eyes but you learn good skills when you do smaller venues.
“I like the audience to be tentative and wonder what I'm going to do or say next. I also like the banter with the audience - it lets the audience know I'm in the moment.
“In a smaller area you can explore different things and hear the happiness in the room.
“And of course you can have fun and be a bit more playful than you can in a larger venue where you really just need to get the audience on side as soon as possible!
"So I'm sure we are going to have a good time at Balham!"

Stephen K Amos is at the Balham Comedy Festival on Saturday, July 9. Visit for full listings.

INTERVIEW Warwick Davis

HE'S been an Ewok, a leprechaun, starred in TV sitcoms, hosted quiz shows and has performed in pantos. But Warwick Davis has yet to take on the challenge of musical theatre. That is until now.
And as he tells me, as he's not one to pass up an opportunity to do something new the 46 year old has taken the plunge with new show, Eugenius! The Musical, which will have a special premiere on June 29 at the London Palladium.
It has been written by Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins and features a stellar cast including Warwick, who also produces it, alongside David Bedella, Summer Strallen and comedian Marcus Brigstocke.
Set in the 1980s Eugenius! is a classic love story of two teens - Eugene and Janey. She is in love with him but he doesn’t notice as he has his head buried in his comic books. In fact he loves them so much that he decides to write his own comic about a superhero.
And in true fairytale fashion, Eugene finds that his creations take him to Hollywood and he becomes the unlikely hero of his own intergalactic battle.
It is, says Warwick, a musical of fun and laughter with “brilliant” characters, a “cracking script” and a fantastic score and when it was offered he was immediately hooked.
“I have been working on this for about a year now and it’s brilliant,” he tells me. “Ben and Chris have done a terrific job with it and have created something brilliant and when they approached me about it I knew it was something I wanted to be involved with.
“What’s great is that it’s a proper musical - not a juke box musical - all the songs are original and there is a real mix - from big noisy numbers to very intimate beautiful love songs. And all of them are instantly hummable and hits in the making.
“There is a lot of humour and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s also got characters who you can relate to and care about - and you will want to see what happens to them. And if you are a child of the 80s like me you will love the music, the references and the jokes.
“I’m also a huge advocate of live theatre and think we need to do as much as we can to support it so I’m really excited by it.”
But he admits that despite his excitement and enthusiasm for the project - not least because his character was written for him - he was somewhat nervous about the singing.
“I am the evil one of the piece,” he laughs. “I’m the evil Lord Hector. It’s a great name isn’t it? He thinks he’s really nasty and he talks about how nasty he is but really he’s not as bad as he thinks he is.
“Ben and Chris saw a horror movie I had done in the 90s called Leprechaun and wanted a villain and so wrote the character for me. They had seen me do a bit of singing in Spamalot and asked me to come and record a demo.
“I think they could see I wasn’t really a singer but I spent a day recording and it was so much fun, just brilliant. They did a good job and made me sound great!”
However, it was Warwick’s son Harrison who really persuaded him to be part of the show. Indeed Warwick credits his family and his two children in particular, with helping him make his career choices - most of which he's happy to report have been good enough to propel him from being recognisable and familiar to now properly famous.
“Many of the decisions I have made have been based on my kids and I've been really lucky in my career,” he says.
"With Eugenius, my son Harrison heard the tracks I had done for the show and was really taken by them. I thought if this was resonating with him, then I should think seriously about it. So here we are.”
It’s not the first time Warwick has produced a stage play. He did one three years ago and he admits it was a challenge but he says he is up for another go even though he concedes the success rates of new West End shows hasn't been that great in recent years.
“I make no bones about it, last time I produced a play it was a challenge - physically, emotionally and financially too," he chuckles. "But I learned a lot from doing it and I wanted to take this on as I believe in it so strongly.
“The Palladium a big place to put on a show but we thought we wanted the world to sit up and listen so what better place.
“It’s also one of my dreams to be able to say that I trod the boards at the London Palladium.”
Although the show will be on for one night only initially, Warwick is confident it will lead to the musical coming to the West End next year.
“It will be a premiere concert performance,” he explains. “Musically you will get a full show with an amazing cast of some of the very best West End performers but there won’t be sets or full costumes.
“It is just to get a sense of the show and get feedback from the audience.
“I am confident though,” he adds. “I have got so much faith in it and I’m really excited about it. I urge people to come along and support it.
“Besides imagine being able to see it before it was put on the stage proper and being able to say that you heard me sing - that’s got to be worth the ticket price alone!”

Eugenius! The Musical is on at the London Palladium on Wednesday, June 29. Visit for full listings.

FOUR STAR review for Sunset at the Villa Thalia at the National Theatre


THE impact of American influence and intervention - both wanted and unwanted, planned and unplanned - on people and countries is the undercurrent of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s new play Sunset at the Villa Thalia.
The production is currently playing at the National’s Dorfman stage and it’s a fascinating piece.
Charlotte (Pippa Nixon) and Theo (Sam Crane) have retreated to a small island in Greece in search of peace and inspiration. He's an aspiring playwright and she an actress. They are staying in a typical Greek villa that has been owned by the same family for several generations and that has seen better days.
They have not long arrived when into their lives come Harvey (Ben Miles) and June (Downton's Elizabeth McGovern), an American couple who ingratiate themselves on the young couple.
While June is pleasant enough, Harvey is bombastic and full of his own self importance. He works for the government and seemingly has his fingers in a great many pies. He’s also a bit of an emotional bully and has arrogance in spades.
With the rumblings of political turmoil in the background, over the course of an afternoon Harvey persuades Charlotte and Theo to make a decision that has profound repercussions for all involved.
This all comes to light 10 years later when we revisit the Charlotte and Theo who have by now got two kids and Theo is a successful playwright.
All seems OK until back come Harvey and June for a visit and it's not long before their lives begin to unravel.
With a tight script that is both emotionally charged and hilariously funny by turns, this is a strong production that is also beautifully acted by the nine-strong cast.

Sunset at the Villa Thalia is on at the Dorfman, National Theatre until Thursday, August 4. Tickets from £15. Visit or call the box office on 020 7452 3000.

INTERVIEW Phoebe Eclair Powell

SOUTH London has provided Phoebe Eclair Powell with the inspiration for her second full length play. Kate Gould spoke to her to find out more.

IT must be a tough gig to have to come up with a second play that is at least as good as your first, especially when the first was so so successful, but that is what Phoebe Eclair Powell has had to face in the last 18 months.
When her debut play Wink was staged at Battersea’s Theatre503 early last year it was rightly praised by the critics.
But instead of basking in the glow she got back down to work pretty quickly to come up with her second play - Fury - and is about to see it have its premiere at the Soho Theatre.
“I fretted over Wink for so long,” she tells me. “It was my first and I still love it. I was at my most free writing it as it wasn’t done for anyone, just me. But with Fury it’s been really tough.
“I wanted to challenge myself and do something politically verbose, something that the audience would react to viscerally and intellectually - and I wanted to ruffle a few feathers too.”
And that she might as the play tackles the thorny issues of class, social culpability, gentrification, social injustice and the abuse of power.
Phoebe describes it as a modern day Greek tragedy, set against the backdrop of a Peckham council flat. It takes an unapologetic look at Sam, a young single mum that society has forgotten and whose life spirals out of control after a neighbour sets off a chain reaction of events.
And although as the daughter of award winning comedian Jenny Eclair, she doesn’t have direct experience of growing up in a council flat, she drew inspiration for the piece from her time living in Peckham with some friends in a flat above a young single mum.
“We were all really loud 20 somethings, always having a great time and to her we must have been complete brats,” she says. “Emotionally I never thought about this woman and what her story was.
"It was only when we got priced out of the area and had to move that I began to think about it more.
“I was born and bred in South London, I grew up in Camberwell and I’m now 27 and over the years I've seen the whole area change so much - some for the better and some for the worse.
"I want to be part of the community in Peckham but had to leave as I couldn’t afford it.
"I've also seen a lot of cruelty and selfishness around me and in myself that stems from being stressed about time and our own fragility.
“So it all got me thinking and I thought again about this young woman, how she lived and what her reality was.”
But it wasn’t until she went to Soho Theatre and was accepted on to their Young Writer’s programme that Phoebe began to write and develop the play.
“We were encouraged to write about something based on a family saying and one girl said ‘don’t mug yourself’ and that’s where Sam’s character came from,” she says.
“It sounds a cliche but I wanted to explore why we still have this thing about single mums and how do we treat them.
“It’s like a modern Medea - she has a lot thrown at her and through her we see how society fails those who need help the most and how we punish them when they need help. It’s about how we are not giving people the tools to make their lives easier.
"Sam doesn’t have a safety net like I do, or anyone to pick up the pieces. And although I have not experienced Sam’s life I was witness to it when I lived in Peckham.”
Phoebe acknowledges that her life has been very different to the Sams of this world but says she hopes audiences will go away with a different view and inspired to be “more sympathetic” to our fellow human beings.
“It’s been really exciting and I’ve loved creating this play,” she says warmly. “It’s darker and more satirical than Wink but I wanted to show I can write about different things.
“It will be really interesting to see what people think. These are real issues that are happening to people every day in South London so I hope it is a play that keeps up the argument in the bar afterwards and encourages people to have discussions and debates."

Fury is on at the Soho Theatre, Dean Street from Tuesday, July 5 until Saturday, July 30. Tickets from £10. Visit or call the box office on 020 7478 0100 for full listings.

FOUR STAR REVIEW - Taming Of The Shrew at Shakespeare's Globe

THE second offering in Emma Rice’s inaugural season as artistic director at the Globe is The Taming Of the Shrew.
Directed by Caroline Byrne it features an all Irish cast who take on Shakespeare’s “problem play” head on.
It is a spirited production which is set against the backdrop of the 1916 Easter Rising, when demands for equal status for women were being made. The fact that these demands were subsequently ignored gives the historical context and highlights the brutal "taming" of Katherine by her husband.
Aoife Duffin, who stepped in at the last minute to play Katherine, does a wonderful job in showing her defiance, pain, and strong character. This is a woman who is at first strong, independent, spirited, angry and up for a fight and rails against those who would tame her.
But over the course of the play she shows how worn down she becomes, physically, mentally and emotionally by the relentless onslaught of Edward MacLiam's Petruchio to whom she is forced to marry.
By the end of the play she is a shadow of her former self and her humiliation is devastating to watch.
Despite this Petruchio shows at times a softer side, almost as though he just wants to love her and not demean her.
It is an incredible production, gripping and intense and full of themes that will resonate today - equality, domestic abuse and sexism.
And although Kate's final speech is devastating in that we see how much she and her spirit have been crushed, it is tinged with a ray of hope and a message of how we should carry on the fight for equality and against domestic abuse.

Taming Of The Shrew is on at Shakespeare’s Globe until August 6. Tickets from £5. Visit or call the box office on 020 7401 9919 for full listings.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

INTERVIEW Chris White, The Dire Straits Experience

IT was almost 40 years ago that Dire Straits got together, playing their first gig in Deptford back in 1977.
For the next 20 years the legendary band enjoyed phenomenal success selling more than 120 million albums worldwide, playing to packed out gigs across the globe including a set at Live Aid, and winning plenty of awards.
By the time they split in 1995 they had left a back catalogue of some of the finest musical compositions rock had ever produced.
However, despite the split, demand for their songs did not wane - in fact it grew stronger, and in 2011 original members Chris White and Alan Clark were persuaded to get a band together to perform Dire Straits songs at a charity show at the Albert Hall.
They recruited singer songwriter Terence Reis to front the band, gave themselves a new name - The Straits - and such was the success of the gig, were then persuaded to do a small UK tour which included a show at the Albany in Deptford.
By the time The Straits ended, three and a half years later, the band had played more than 150 shows in 25 countries around the world.
And now they are back - with a new seven strong line up and a new name - The Dire Straits Experience - and are gearing up for a gig at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley on Sunday, June 12.
And in a chat ahead of the show, saxophonist Chris White says he can't wait to be back in South London.
"We are all really looking forward to it," he says cheerfully. "It's a venue I never played in with the group back in the day as by the time I had joined we were playing all the big stadiums like Wembley and Earl's Court. So it's actually lovely to be playing smaller and more intimate venues where you can see the audience and see them singing along with you!
“Besides it is going to be great being back in South London where it all began for us.”
Modest and softly spoken, Chris says he is still amazed at the fans who have not stop clamouring for the group to carry on touring and playing their music. But he says he is grateful for the chance to continue to do so - and introduce their musical genius to new generations.
"I am always amazed that we still get asked to perform these wonderful songs," he says warmly.
"When we did the Albert Hall concert, we thought it was just going to be a one-off. We had no idea it would lead to all this! But it went so well, we got lots of invitations to do more gigs and it went from there.
“We are blessed because Dire Straits has a huge and loyal fan base and their reaction has been heart-warming and humbling. It's been fantastic to see there is still such an appetite for those big songs like Romeo & Juliet, Telegraph Road and Brothers in Arms.
"I think there is a nostalgia element to it but I think the songs were so well written and they resonate with people even now so I guess that's why people still want to come and hear us play - and we really enjoy playing them.
"It's pretty bewildering though!"
And whether they are old fans or new, Chris says the music at the Bromley show will be recognisable but to expect a few twists.
"There are certain things that will be different but the joy is that we have been able to delve into the back catalogue and put some early songs such as Lady Writer on the set list," he says.
"That's going to be really exciting because we will introduce those songs to a whole new generation as well as evoke memories for those who heard them when they first came out.
"I do feel very fortunate to be able to still play them."
But what of the new line up? And will there be any new material?
"After the Deptford gig and that tour, some of the band had other stuff to do so they moved on," says Chris.
"But now we have a solid line up and over the last two years we have been really busy touring - in fact we get requests to play all over the world as well as the UK of course which we love - we are off to Australia later this year - so we are always really really busy!
"It's great though because it's really about the live performance for us and about people coming out to see us."
But times have changed and the world with it and Chris admits that although he loves touring, decisions to go to far flung places have to be done carefully given the unsettled nature of some countries.
"I do still enjoy touring and although it doesn't get any easier with age it is still a lot of fun and I still get a real kick out of it," he says.
"But we have to be mindful of the situations in some of these countries.
"There are parts of the world where in the past we would say 'great let's go' and now we have to think about whether it's safe to do so.
"I'm going to Turkey tomorrow for a festival and back in the day would not have thought twice about going there.
"But if you don't go you just stay at home and then what happens? You would never go out so I think let's get on with it."
All the touring has meant that Chris has been living out of a suitcase for much of the year but he hints that a move to South London could be on the cards in the future.
"I spent years living in Sydenham and Brockley before moving to Berkshire," he says. "But it's great to be back albeit temporarily and I think I'd like to move here at some point but it's changed so much.
"My son, who is also a musician, lives in Brixton and when I went to visit him I was shocked at how much it has changed over the years.
"I remember how it used to be and it's all so different! It still feels great and alive though - there is still the most amazing buzz about Brixton that hasn't got lost thankfully.
"It's also so much easier to get around now - it wasn't this good when I lived here! I still have lots of mates in South London and I love being here so it's on the cards."

The Dire Straits Experience is playing The Churchill Theatre Bromley on Sunday, June 12. Visit or call the box office on 020 3285 6000 for tickets.

FIVE STAR REVIEW for Cuttin' It at the Young Vic

THE difficult subject of FGM is the focus of Charlene James’s new play, Cuttin’ It, currently on at the Young Vic.
Directed by Gbolahan Obisesan and played out in the Waterloo theatre’s Maria studio stage it is dramatic, intense, compelling and heartbreaking - and really packs a punch.
It tells the story of Iqra and Muna. Although both originally from Somalia, the girls have had very different upbringings.
Both are about 15 years old and go to the same school, but neither is what they appear at first.
Iqra has recently come to live in the UK having lost her entire family in Somalia. Shy and quiet, she is now living with an “auntie” on the ninth floor of a huge grey tower block where the urine soaked lift is always out of order. But she has a secret - why are there lots of chairs in the living room and why does the flat smell of disinfectant?
Muna meanwhile is a streetwise teen who has lived in the UK for a while and for whom the daily routine of school is a bit of a drudge. Although excited about her younger sister who is about to celebrate her seventh birthday, Muna holds her own secret - that of trying to protect her sister from FGM and her own wounds that she got when she was mutliated at seven.
Muna and Iqra’s worlds collide one fateful day when they meet on the bus. But as they find out more about each other they see that they have more in common than they at first thought.
Adelayo Adedayo as Muna and Tsion Habte as Iqra are superb in this gripping piece of theatre, which is something everyone should go and see and be horrified that FGM is still happening, often behind closed doors, devastating the lives of young girls.
And then we should try and do something to stop it happening anymore.

Cuttin’ It is on at the Young Vic, Waterloo, until Saturday, June 11. Tickets from £10. Visit" or call the box office on 020 7922 2922.