3,000 homes? Give us more Peter!

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, May 16 2013

The KM Group brings the people of Kent important news about housing developments, council decisions, murders and schooling issues.

Yet when Peter Andre arrives, our website, Facebook page and Twitter accounts go into meltdown.

Is it not a sad indictment of our society that readers are most engaged with their local media when they are on the hunt for a minor celebrity?

Last week's Herne Bay Gazette included five pages of coverage of the draft Local Plan, to a modest reception.

If approved it could mean nearly 3,000 houses are built around the town. It received a respectable 23 comments on the Gazette Facebook page in its first day, although after a week it had not been shared once.

In less than 24 hours, the Gazette’s story on Peter Andre had been shared 82 times.

That is not to mention the countless photos and videos posted, depicting a tiny figure in the distance or an orange blur sweeping past rain-soaked fans.

As scores of people gathered to try and catch a glimpse of the reality TV ‘star’, no one questioned whether it was worth all this fuss for a bloke whose biggest – and only – hit single came out in 1995.

For heaven’s sake, he stayed at the Premier Inn. Some perspective, please.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Showbiz | TV

Inbetweeners reunite for film screening in Gravesend

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, January 28 2013

The cast of the Inbetweeners gave an ironic thumbs up when they were asked what they thought of Gravesend, as they attended a screening of the movie at the town’s Woodville theatre.

“I love Griggs bakery, which is surely just a copy of Greggs” joked a bearded Simon Bird, known to fans as Will McKenzie, at the event promoting the new cinema at the venue.

A near sell-out crowd sat for an hour as actors Simon, Joe Thomas, James Buckley, Blake Harrison and co-creator and writer Damon Beesley answered audience questions on Friday.

They posed for photos and signed various items of memorabilia from the show, which were auctioned to raise money for new seats at the theatre.

A signed poster of the Inbetweeners Movie – the highest grossing British comedy film – was bought for £200, while t-shirts and a jumper worn in the film and series sold for more than £100.

The four stars agreed to attend the screening as a favour to writer Damon, who grew up in New Barn and went to Longfield Upper School.

The audience laughed as Damon confirmed, unfazed, that the Woodville itself was the real-life setting for one particularly hands-on scene in the series, involving character Simon and a young girl at a school disco.

Damon himself agreed to attend thanks to a childhood friend who works at Gravesham Borough Council, who asked him to come along.

The Q&A got off to a spluttering start, as a couple of the mics did not work and the panel were flummuxed with some bizarre questions.

Damon, 41, confirmed there would be no more series but hinted a few ideas were being floated around between himself and co-writer Iain Morris about making a second film.

Just as the cast warmed up, the Q&A came to a close, almost too soon, with the film screened shortly after to roaring laughter from fans.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Film | Gravesend | Gravesham | Showbiz | TV

Put a sock on it

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Wednesday, January 23 2013

The greatest pleasure of interviewing Inbetweeners co-creator and writer Damon Beesley was finding out that the stuff viewers didn’t see on camera was just as funny as what made it onto TV in the Bafta-winning show.

Ahead of talking to fans at a Q&A and screening of the Inbetweeners Movie, Damon revealed his sense of humour was still equally as juvenile as that of Will, Simon, Jay and Neil.

As well as his own adolescent experiences, the 41-year-old, who grew up in New Barn, near Gravesend, revealed his cast were such good sports that he could use their moments of embarrassment for comic scenes.

“Over the course of three series we have managed to get all four of them partially naked,” he said with glee, pictured below, right, with co-creator and writer Iain Morris.

“We have seen all their bottoms, which Iain and I are very proud of.

“Joe [Thomas, who plays Simon] gets the brunt because he is most pliable. There are a lot more rude bits just for Simon because Joe is just so up for it.

“When we were filming on the boat for the field trip episode and Joe had to stand naked, there was a quite a lot of concern for him because it was freezing cold in January.

“In the scene, he falls into the water and they have to take all his clothes off because he is going to get hypothermia and at one point he stands up naked, to wave back at the land.

“We asked costume to give him some coverage to go over his front parts, to save his embarrassment, but what wardobe didn’t tell us was that instead of putting a box on, for some reason they put a sock over his bits and it looked mental.

“As James Buckely [Jay] pointed out, they may as well have covered him with a condom because it was so tight. It wasn’t saving anyone from any embarrassment at all.

“We all fell about laughing and because it was so funny, during the edit we wrote in a few lines to the script that Neil [played by Blake Harrison] had put a sock over his parts – why would you do that?

“But it was brilliant and it made a good joke.”

As all four stars arrive with Damon at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls for the Q&A and screening – which is drumming up support for the new cinema which launched at the theatre this month – many will wonder what other behind-the-scenes gems will be unveiled.

The Inbetweeners Movie is shown on Friday, January 25, at Gravesend’s Woodville Halls with a pre-screening Q&A with writer Damon Beesley and the four stars. 

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Film | Gravesend | Showbiz | TV

Vote plea for Kent's Strictly pair

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, December 20 2012

Pick up the phone is the plea from the parents of Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer James Jordan.

The ballroom expert, who grew up in Walderslade, has made it to the final of the BBC1 show with his celebrity partner Denise Van Outen, who lives in Biddenden, near Tenterden.

However James' father, Allan Jordan, 60, who lives on St Mary's Island, Chatham, is worried his son's home county are not getting behind him, after the pair found themselves in the bottom two in the last two shows.

The pair face Tracy Beaker actress Dani Harmer, Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh and Olympic gymnast Louis Smith in the final.

Allan said: "He's a local lad and she's a fantastic dancer but they are not pulling in the votes.

"Denise has had a lot of bad press saying she is a trained dancer but she only went to stage school until she was 13, plus Kimberly Walsh and Dani Harmer also went to stage school.

"Louis Smith's training regime must have prepared him for something like this too.

"Denise is the best dancer on the show without a doubt and she works tirelessly. 

"They are training for 12 hours a day and that is why she is so good.

"She is 100% committed."

The final is decided entirely on the public vote, with the judges unable to save Denise, 38, and James, 34, like they have done in the last two weeks.

There is added pressure to win the coveted Glitterball for James, who lives near Maidstone, as his wife Ola won the series in 2009 with another Kent lad, BBC presenter Chris Hollins, who went to school in Tonbridge.

"It would be lovely for James to win and put another Glitterball alongside Ola's," added Allan.

"It's put James under a lot of pressure to do well because Denise is so good."


Shortly after signing a record deal with Sony, X Factor contestant Ella Henderson celebrated with a gig in the county.

The 16-year-old performed for 300 people at the Lounge in Chislehurst on Sunday, December 16. 

The Grimsby-based singer had been at the centre of a bidding war between Simon Cowell’s Syco label and his fellow Sony imprints Columbia, Epic and RCA.

Lounge co-owner James London said: “When news first spread that we would be hosting a night with Ella, tickets sold out in less than two hours. 

“She was over the moon with the news of her Sony contract, and spent hours chatting with guests, signing autographs and taking pictures.

“She is undoubtedly one of the most talented contestants to come out of this year’s X Factor.”

Despite her shock exit in week seven, many in attendance would be willing to bet she has more hit singles in 2013 than show winner James Arthur. 

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Showbiz | TV

When the Olympic dart strikes through the heart

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Thursday, July 26 2012

I thought I’d been there, done it, and bought the t-shirt.

My Olympic Torch Relay party at my flat on Friday went without a hitch as the flame which began burning on Mount Olympus passed through Gravesend on its way to the London 2012 Games.

A dozen or so cups of tea were made for family and friends, who piled in to my flat at the normally highly unsociable hour of 9am, ready to claim our spot on Saddington Street in plenty of time, to see the procession pass in and out of the Gurdwara.

We got two bites of the cherry and barely had to walk any distance at all to see such a momentous occasion in British sporting history.

Job done I thought. I’d taken a couple of pictures, waved and cheered like I was at a football match (everyone was doing it so I felt ok) and even seen the torch bearer trip on a sleeping policeman – although thankfully he had kept his balance.

Yet none of that compared to the excitement when Julia Chilcott from Maidstone came into the office for an interview with my colleagues at kmfm about her torch bearing experience.

Julia carried the flame into Leeds Castle and lit the cauldron at the end of Thursday’s run from Deal to the county town.

She walked in almost hugging the golden beacon and its appearance quickly gained more attention than when a newborn baby is brought into the office.

I’d tried to play it cool and watch from afar as colleagues gathered around the torch but before I knew it, I was up there like a wide-eyed schoolboy asking for my picture to be taken with the little piece of history.

As with every torchbearer I’ve met or read about, Julia was delighted to tell everyone her story and more than willing for everyone to get their moment with her treasured possession.

More than seeing the flame, more than cheering and even more than my faultless Olympic Torch Relay party (honest!), this was the moment when the cupid of the Olympic Games drew his arrow and fired it straight through my heart.

There’s a magic to how the torch relay brought everyone in the county together and how it has demonstrated so simply the power of sport.

Boy I cannot wait for the Games now.

  • For daily updates on what is going on at the Olympic Park, follow our man Alex Hoad’s blog. He will be following Kent athletes’ performances throughout the Games. You can follow him on Twitter @KentOnline2012.


The Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 27 will be too big to watch in your normal, comfy armchair in your uninspiring living room (oh, that’s just me then.)

A large open-air screen will be at Rochester Castle Gardens showing the event live from the Olympic Stadium for free.

A similar big screen will show the ceremony at Gravesend Community Square. Then after watching the spectacular coordinated by film director Danny Boyle – the man behind Slumdog Millionaire – party into the night at a silent disco on the upper Community Square. Tickets are £8 from the Woodville on 01474 337774.

The ceremony will also be shown on the big screen in Dover’s Market Square from 9pm for free, with a Zumbathon getting the atmosphere going from 7pm to 8pm.

Categories: Entertainment | Gravesend | kmfm | Media | Medway | Olympics | Rochester | Sport | TV

Fab-u-lous! A-ma-zing! Watch-this-panto!

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Wednesday, December 14 2011

Craig Revel Horwood and Ann Widdecombe are certainties to be the panto hit of the year.

Not a soul in the audience of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Dartford's Orchard Theatre last night would disagree.

After Craig's brutal judgements of Ann's exploits as a contestant on the Strictly Come Dancing last year, the pairing had already prompted sales of 25,000 tickets before a single "oh no it's not" had even been uttered.

As a result the run was extended by a week to Saturday, January 7, a triumph for panto-lovers everywhere as this is a show you should really take the time to see.

Without giving away any of the script, Ann's political quips and Craig's Strictly-themed banter was superb. Both were more than willing to send themselves up to the highest degree and the absence of a traditional dame and gunging was of no consequence.

Undoubtedly they are most unexpected panto duo of the year but that is a big part of their charm. It made me wonder which duos could inspire next year's pantomime line ups.

After a very strange morning of conversation in the What's On office, here is what we came up with:

--- Fatima Whitbread and Antony Cotton - their barneys over the cooking, tasks and just about everything on this year's I'm A Celebrity were legendary and made the show essential viewing. Plus I think Fatima would make a fearsome Abanazar in Aladdin.

--- Katie Waissel and Frankie Cocozza - they say the success of a pantomime is judged by the loudness of the boos and these two could certainly break some records in that department.

--- Smokey Robinson and Richard Bacon - The partnership's gags might dry up after the first minute but they could make for some very interesting promotional posters.

--- Alex Reid and Paddy Doherty - one would love dressing in his ugly sister's outfit, the other would punch the other one's lights out... but who is who?

--- Pippa Middleton and "Monkey" - Not my choice but one of my esteemed What's On colleagues insists the combination of the perfect rear and an irritating puppet has a certain poetry to it that could inspire comedy genius. Riiiigghhhtt...

--- Ant and Dec - come on.... they would be awesome.

--- Harry Derbidge from TOWIE and Polar Bear from Frozen Planet - come on Polar Bear, do us all a favour.


Little Mix won the X Factor, saving us from the blandness of Marcus sneaking to victory.

It would have been a bit rubbish if someone had won the show because they fitted the bill for the floating mum and nan voters.

However, I'm not blown away by the choice of song for Little Mix's inevitable Christmas No1 single. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Damien Rice's Cannonball but I groaned at the girl group's generic pop treatment of such a tender song.

Had my preferred choice of X Factor victor, Kitty Brucknell, not been voted off weeks ago I think we would have had a much more authentic treatment of the track. But people don't vote for talent on X Factor. They vote for sweet, inoffensive, pretty faces and banish anyone with even a hint of edge to turning on Christmas lights at Bluewater.

Something which Kitty did a very good job of last month, ACTUALLY!

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Showbiz | TV

We need a bigger name for the new Marlowe Theatre pantomime

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Tuesday, April 12 2011

As the email dropped in announcing who the acts were for the inaugural panto at the new Marlowe Theatre, my head sunk.

Seriously? No, you're joking. Oh seriously? Really?

Christian off EastEnders aka John Partridge and Stephen Mulhern from Britain's Got More Talent, the presenter of Britain's Got Talent's back up show on ITV2.

Let's start off by being fair. John Partridge, pictured left, is a brilliant actor who has made himself one of Albert Square's most emotionally complex and often amusing characters.

Stephen Mulhern is not only a very funny presenter but he was a kids TV legend back in his CITV days and is also a favourite at the Marlowe, appearing in panto at the old theatre twice before.

But I don't think anyone can argue that when I expectantly opened that item in my inbox this morning, I had good reason to expect to see a bigger name staring back at me on my computer screen.

After all, this is the first big panto production at the new Marlowe, a theatre renowned across the country for the quality of its pantomimes.

In the past two years it has attracted Cold Feet and Fast Show hero John Thomson and the equally legendary Bottom and Young Ones star Ade Edmondson.

John and Stephen are both great additions but I'm sincerely hoping that the as yet uncast parts of Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother draw a huge star who will do justice to the grandeur of the occasion that the new Marlowe's first panto deserves.


Remember you can get quick updates on what is happening in Kent's entertainment world by following What's On on Twitter. We are on @kmwhatson. You are also welcome to follow my ramblings on @TheChrisPrice.

Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Showbiz | TV

Sound of 2011 could have more welly than Kent's Ellie

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, December 6 2010

The BBC have released the long list for their Sound of 2011 and boy are they trying to add some edge.

The success of former University of Kent student Ellie Goulding, pictured, who was made this year’s winner, shows this is an award worth paying attention to. This is true even though the synth-pop that won Ellie the prize is a million miles from the single which has put her at no.2 in the singles charts for a second week running - her simple, beautiful, almost naked sounding cover of Elton John’s Your Song.

 But if you want to know where I’m coming from, just take a look at the video for Do It Like A Dude by 2011 nominee Jessie J. BBC Radio 2 she is not, with her spike covered lipstick and gyrating dance moves. Yet eye-catching she most certainly is. She is billed as a fiery pop diva but there seems to be some humour thrown into her songs too. Her voice is certainly loud enough to make her punch lines heard.

After a year in the shadow of synth-laden pop acts and good-honest folk music, this long list implies guitar bands could be on their way back in.

The Vaccines show what indie acts have been lacking, with simple poppy choruses played with that slight bit of abandon needed from a proper indie band.

Mona, pictured, add the small-town American rocker element and the Nashville quartet will hopefully make it at least to the shortlist with high-power guitar tunes like Trouble On The Way. 

Clare Maguire is perhaps closest to what has been seen before. Her powerful vocals and penchant for bat-winged sleeves will draw comparisons to Florence Welch yet she owns a stage in exactly the same way as the flame-haired leader of Florence + The Machine. She proved it when she supported Plan B at Margate Winter Gardens back in October.

 Anyone who wnts to check out the long list should head to The top five and winner will be announced in January.


I have to give a little mention to Ann Widdecombe, who finally made her exit from Strictly Come Dancing yesterday (Sunday, December 5.)

It amazes me how the British public will follow an underdog no matter how bad they are, which in Ann’s case was truly exceptional. This weekend she broke her fifth record for receiving the lowest ever score in a dance genre, this time for the American Smooth, which was about as smooth as a journey home along the A2 during last week’s wintry conditions.
Yet she has always drawn a smile and her Titanic-themed rumba with Anton Du Beke will forever go down in Strictly history as the funniest 90 seconds the BBC programme has ever aired.I’m just glad the public knew when the joke was over. If she had gone through at the expense of one of the truly talented “big four” of Kara Tointon, Matt Baker, Pamela Stephenson or Scott Maslen, then her popularity might have struck an iceberg.


Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Showbiz | TV

A Creep? No, we’ll be addicted to Wagner!

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Monday, November 29 2010

Does anyone else feel a little bit sorry for Wagner?


It is typical that he waited until his doomed sing off with Mary Byrne last night (Sunday, November 28) to make his best performance of the X Factor series.



Wagner actaully put in a good performance on this week's X Factor - honest!



His rendition of Nat King Cole’s Unstoppable was actually rather good, as was his Saturday night performances of Radiohead’s Creep and Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love. 


Even Cheryl Cole, whose relationship with him can be described as frosty at best, told him “that was your best performance” after his Radiohead rendition kicked off the Saturday programme.


So many contestants have done the same. Katie Waissel, who also went out last night as part of a double elimination, was told more than once by Simon Cowell that her sing off performance was better than her one on the Saturday show. Paije Richardson, who wowed crowds at Liquid in Maidstone on Friday night in his debut UK gig (Friday, November 26), delivered an amazing version of Sam Brown’s Stop for his save-me song which many thought he should have performed a few weeks earlier.


Perhaps it is down to the judges trying to influence the public vote by giving certain acts songs that do not play to their strengths in the Saturday night shows? In Wagner’s case, it seems more likely it has been an attempt to create a spectacle out of someone who should know better at their age.


Frankly it did not matter what Wagner did in the sing off because the judges have been waiting for their chance to get rid of him for a long time. Refreshingly though, it meant his mentor Louis could afford to give him the freedom to perform a sing off song that would remind viewers why he won their affections for his endearing audition of Florence + The Machine’s You Got The Love. A nice touch I thought. 


He is the lovable idiot. We all know that Wagner should not really have got as far as he did and that more talented singers went out too early because of his public support.


Yet the judge’s war against him for doing so well was unfair. If they didn’t want him to have the chance to go this far, they should not have given him a wildcard entry to the live shows. 


His legacy will be as the man who entertained millions with his barmy crack of the whip at the fame-game with a command of English which was adequate if not absolute.


He will no doubt fade from our memories eventually but now he should bask in the glory of what he has achieved. When he makes his debut UK performance at Maidstone’s Liquid nightclub on Friday, December 3, I get the feeling 1,000 or so people give him the chance to do just that.








Categories: Celebrities | Entertainment | Showbiz | TV

Don’t believe the hype

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Tuesday, November 23 2010


Believe it or not, Aiden Grimshaw is a cheerful, happy-go-lucky chap.

When he was booted off the X Factor two weeks ago he understandably looked a broken man. The dark, Twilight-esque persona the programme makers created for him didn’t help people’s perceptions of him as a monosyllabic oddball.

 Aiden performing at Liquid on Friday, November 19. Picture:  Neil Holroyde

Imagine the relief then, when I found a typically cheeky 18-year-old lad on the other end of the phone this week. I called him for a chat about Paije Richardson’s exit from the show but all he wanted to discuss was making it onto the X Factor live tour next year and the good times he has with best pal in the X Factor house Matt Cardle.

Granted, this was before the criticism of him by OK! magazine columnist Kerry Katona about him needing to “get his act together” (a saying about glass houses and stones comes to mind). Somehow, I think I know what his reaction would have been from his words about seeing himself in the tabloids when he was on the show.

"It has always been quite funny to me” he said. “I’ve never been in a newspaper before. All of a sudden you see your picture in the paper for something that’s not true and it’s quite hilarious. I’m just a normal guy with a quiff and I’m in the paper.”

Brilliant I hear you say? Or is there a cynic at the back crying out that ‘of course he would say that. They are told to ignore the press.’ Read on.

He said: "Whenever’s there’s a funny story about Matt being some kind of weirdo - which isn’t ever true because he’s the nicest guy in the world - I get the paper out and read it really loud to him.”

Banter about newspapers going on in the X Factor house from Aiden? Some critics thought hell would freeze over first but Aiden is a normal teenager who likes winding up his mates. Okay so he’s not going to beat Little Miss Chatterbox at the vocal Olympics but he is bright and pleasant and certainly not from the Edward Cullen School of Social Etiquette (I accept I have lost a few man cards for this Twilight reference gentleman.)

On that note, it has to be said how good he was at Liquid on Friday. He threw in a few upbeat numbers that he didn’t perform on the programme and the crowd loved him.

It was also nice to hear X Factor have seen sense with the news Aiden has been included on the X Factor tour, despite original plans only allowing for the top eight acts.

"It was amazing when I heard I’d made it” he said. “I get to spend time with the crew and cast again. There are 50 to 60 venues and I’m honoured to be a part of it.”

For the record, this is what he had to say about Paije’s exit from the show and the former cinema worker’s upcoming gig at Maidstone’s Liquid nightclub on Friday, November 26:

"Someone had to go. I was more surprised that Cher was in the bottom two. She is absolutely phenomenal.

“Paije is awesome and proved how good he was in the sing off. He will put on a great show at Maidstone.”

If it is anything like the energetic performance Aiden put on for us last Friday, it certainly will be.


Read the full interview with Aiden in this week’s What’s On inside your local KM Group paid-for newspaper.


Categories: Celebrities | TV

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