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Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is – it’s Xmas theatre for all the family in Bedford!


Our theatre elf (Paula Walker) has put together the Bedford Clanger’s pick of the best of the season’s family theatre. From Roald Dahl to jazz-loving reindeer with a dash of panto thrown in for good measure. Merry Christmas!

Bedford Pantomime Company present: Sleeping Beauty

The Bedford Corn Exchange

28th December to 3rd January.

Family tickets £40; Adults £15; children £10

This traditional family pantomime is brought to you by the double-award winning Bedford Pantomime Company, now in its ninth year.

xmas theatre

After last year’s sell out success, this year’s Sleeping Beauty is given the magic treatment in a show featuring fabulously comical costumes, spectacular sets, luscious lighting, superb special effects and magnificent music provided by a live band.

As an added thrill every child in the audience will be invited on stage to join the cast in a sing-a-long making it a special experience for everyone. With the usual gags and slapstick, plenty of chances to cheer the goodies and jeer the baddies and shout ‘its behind you’, this really is a show not to be missed.

All profits are split between funding next year’s show and local children’s charities –  over  £18,000 has been raised so far. All involved in the show are volunteers, who are just crazy enough to love bringing laughter and joy to Bedford at Christmas year after year.

Tickets are available from the Central Box Office  01234 718112, Number13, next to the Corn Exchange 01234 718044 or online at

Novus Theatre presents: Fantastic Mr Fox

Sharnbrook Mill Theatre

16 – 20 December 7pm; 20 December 2pm

Tickets: Adults £7; Children £6

After the huge success of last year’s production of ‘The Twits’, Novus Theatre would like to invite you to their 2014 Christmas show, Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl.

Fantastic Mr Fox poster

Mr Fox steals food from the horrible farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean – one fat, one short, one lean. These three crooks concoct a plan to dig Mr Fox out of his home, but they don’t realize how truly fantastic Mr Fox is, or how far he’ll go to save his family….

Through a combination of live performance and puppetry, Novus Theatre will bring this timeless tale to life, so come along and join Roald Dahl’s enduring hero on this amazing adventure.

Tickets available from Central Box Office Bedford, 01234 718112


Goblin Theatre presents: The Ballad of Rudy

The Place Theatre

25 November – 30 November  and 2 &3 December 10.30am and 1pm; 4 & 5 December 1pm and 4.30pm

In this story Rudy doesn’t have a red nose; it’s his talent for new and exciting music that sets him apart from the other Reindeers. Together with a magical Jazz Penguin he goes on an adventure that teaches him that life isn’t about following the herd.

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Funny, warm and with a big heart, this show features live music, original songs and lots of imagination that is guaranteed to have children mesmerised from start to finish. Sing the blues with a Polar Bear, jam with the Puffins and beat-box with an Arctic Fox. It all happens at the North Pole Jazz Lounge!

Perfect for pre-school children and young people this magical, musical, fun-filled piece will captivate and entertain children and adults of all ages. With a beautiful jazz music score and a positive message this show will help ease you into the festive spirit.

Tickets available from Central Box Office 01234 718112 or online from


Rise to Bedford’s Culture Challenge


The Bedford Clanger is dedicated to spreading the word about the rich and diverse cultural activities that are available in our town.  We are so lucky to have some great museums, theatres and galleries on our doorstep as well as inspirational artists, poets, makers, crafters and performers making great art happen in Bedford. Therefore, we are totally LOVING The Culture Challenge – an initiative to encourage more young people to access art and culture in Bedfordshire.

Through consultation with young people, cultural leaders and teachers, Bedford Culture Network has developed the ‘Culture checklist’.  The list provides an aspirational checklist for young people, and a practical tool for schools to identify opportunities for cultural learning.

Think you’re cultured?? Then why not have a go at the Culture Checklist yourself here.

Research identified by the Cultural Learning Alliance shows that engagement with the arts improves attainment across all areas (you don’t say? – Ed) and has the potential to improve the future prospects of young people. In support of these aims Bedford Culture Network have developed The Culture Challenge. Both a call to action and a directory, The Culture Challenge aims to increase the number of young people accessing, enjoying and making great art and culture by providing clear information to all schools about the cultural provision available.

The Culture Challenge website is

The website is a brilliant and comprehensive directory of a host of cultural practitioners and venues in Bedfordshire. The directory is searchable in a number of ways including by theme, art form and location.

It has been developed by Kayte Judge at Bedford Creative Arts in collaboration with head teachers, young people & cultural practitioners. It is currently being tested by 12 development partner schools, namely Lincroft, Mark Rutherford Upper, St Josephs RC Lower School, Aspley Guise Lower School, Hazeldene Lower School, Beauchamp Middle School, Goldington Academy, Shortstown Primary, Putnoe Primary, Biddenham Upper School, Rushmoor School and Greys Education Centre.

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“It is with great pride that we are launching the Culture Challenge in Bedford – the wealth and quality of the cultural provision here is really quite astonishing and we hope that this initiative will enable more young people and schools to access the fantastic opportunities available to them.” says Kayte Judge, Associate Producer Bedford Creative Arts. “We hope to encourage teachers to use this resource to find quality cultural provision to support the school curriculum.”

The Culture Challenge is funded by the Royal Opera House BridgeThe Harpur TrustBedford Borough Council and The RSA Catalyst Fund.

The website

For more info please contact

Top Poet at The Place

Andrew Motion by Charlotte Knee

by Ian McEwen of Ouse Muse

On 11th December Andrew Motion, one of the leading poets writing today, is coming to The Place Theatre. Andrew was Poet Laureate 1999-2009 and is Professor of Creative Writing at Royal Holloway College, London. He has also been knighted for his services to literature. His most recent book of poetry is The Customs House which the Guardian called ‘Lucid, brilliant….Motion’s most achieved collection’. (You can read the full review here).

He answered a few questions for The Clanger:

Andrew, you introduced the idea that the Poet Laureate could serve a time limited term – ten years (and nothing off for good behaviour). The Customs House is your first poetry collection for some time to escape from the shadow of office. Has that changed your writing?

Probably. I’ve certainly felt less constrained, in terms of my approach to subjects (I’m naturally inclined to be more oblique in my treatment of things than ‘public poetry’ finds it easy to be), and in my approach to formal questions (in the sense that I find myself moving towards free-er forms as time passes). Then there’s the whole question of being completely at liberty to chose what I do and don’t write about… .

TCH book cover

One of the main departures in the book is the extensive use of found texts, that is to say things that others have already written. This technique is particularly evident in the opening section of war poetry, Laurels and Donkeys: why did you take that turn?

Found poems have always interested me, and I thought there was a particular use for them when I was writing Laurels and Donkeys. However well-intentioned non-combatant poets might be, there’s always a risk they’ll seem like grandstanders when they write about war. Using the words and witness of people who were ‘really there’ is a way round this problem. In other words, I hardly want to be in these found poems as my ‘self’. I want instead an almost ego-less kind of poetry, with a minimal amount of subjective interference in the subject.

You have been a major supporter of Poetry Out Loud, the recitation competition for schools. What does an audience gains from hearing your poems read aloud?

As co-founder of the Poetry Archive and of Poetry by Heart I have tried to make manifest in the most practical ways my belief that the pleasure (let alone the ‘meaning’) of poetry has as much to do with the way it sounds aloud as it does with its patterning and sense on the page. The ear, as Robert Frost reminds us, is ‘the best reader’.

Why is it, after all the subtle, careful poems, it is the earworm of ‘Magpie’ that stays with me ‘along with glass and pins/and other shining things.’?

I’m glad you like that poem, which is the most elliptical of all the poems in the book. I’m inclined to think that’s why you remember it. Because whatever it means keeps flying ahead of you.

What next, more of the same or something different?

A new collection is being published next June; I’m just putting in and taking out the last commas at the moment. It’s called Peace Talks. Is it ‘new’? More like a development I’d say, including some more poems for the Laurels and Donkeys sequence – among them a longish sequence based on conversations I’ve had with soldiers returning from Afghanistan (more information about the Radio 4 broadcast on November 11th here).

Catch Sir Andrew Motion reading from The Customs House at The Place, 7.30pm on 11th December.

Tickets £12.50/£10 concessions from You can find out more about his poetry and other books at

Ian McEwen

Clanger review: Oxjam Takes Over Bedford


voby Oxjam Takeover Manger, Jonny Farrow

The local music scene is looked on with great pride by many in Bedford, and rightly so. Despite the fact that no massive bands have come from the town, which has given a boost to some towns, (Don Broco are getting big, but are not superstars…yet) it has a vibrant and varied scene the likes of which I’ve never seen in any other place I’ve lived. I’ve been backed up on this opinion countless times, and it was with great pride I looked on a lot of the local bands of the town on Saturday 18th October. This is because this was the day that the Oxjam Takeover came back to Bedford, and these bands were giving up their time for free to play a show raising money on behalf of Oxfam.

This year it was slightly smaller than in previous years, for various reasons, but this is mainly a sign of how large it was in 2013. Starting at midday in St Cuthberts Hall with a delightfully charming acoustic performance by Marisa Straccia, and ending in the early hours of Sunday morning with a jam session featuring Mat Roberts and his large stable of musical friends, there was a lot of music packed in between, featuring performances from some of the local talent we all should be so proud of.

For those that don’t know me, I’m John/Jonny and I was Takeover Manager in 2014. I didn’t see everyone, as I was constantly between venues, and this are some of my thoughts on what glimpses of acts I did see.

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My day started with Marisa in St Cuthberts Hall, and then the next artist I saw was Chris Hepworth when he opened in Dannys Bar, quickly followed by Samantha Hughes. Chris is an acoustic singer-songwriter, who I saw a couple of times, whilst Sam Hughes in an acoustic performer of songs from the 1950s and 60s. The next band I saw was a complete departure, being Henry & The Bleeders. H&TB are a psychobilly band, providing a modern and heavier twist on the rock and roll sound of 1950s America, complete with double bass player, which I always like to see.

Kastaphor were in The Bear and provided a funky section to the day in the high street pub, whilst my friend raved about Hand, Josh Johnson & Amy Mason who started the day in The Bear. The next time I was in the Bear was for The Tendons, with the local legends headlining the venue with their tight punk sound and NSFW lyrics. After here, I was back over to St Cuthberts Hall where I was able to some of the always wonderful Jonny Mudd.

One of the regrets I have is the amount of bands I was so enthusiastic to see, but missed, such as Brass Knuckles (formerly The Bell End Brass Ensemble), The Darling Mundaring, The Ouse Valley Singles Club, Paul Hegley Band, Feedback Aftermath, Michael Green, Ashley Falls and The Reformers, to name a mere few. This was always to be the case, and it gives me a reason to keep heading out to catch these bands. Back over in Esquires, Sunsinger were beautiful, Healyum & The Metatrons were very impressive, Robed In Desire were brooding, dark and awesome whilst Olivia Rose’s country show was great.

Up on the Main Stage, Silver Tongue Bandoliers were maybe the highlight of my day, whilst Doghouse Roses & Tequilla Mockingbird get better every time I see them. The main stage was headlined by the fantastic The Whybirds, whilst I got a chance to check out one of my favourite local bands headlining Holy Molys in Fishwife’s Broadside. Paul In The Hat & Cicero Buck were beautiful over in St Cuthberts whilst May Contain Nuts were last on in Dannys Bar, but the night was not even near over in this corner of Esquires, as Mat Roberts et al and the famous jam were only just getting ready to start.

I know I am not an unbiased view, but the artists on show really were at the top of their game, and I believe that people who missed us this year missed a hell of a show. We’ll keep trying to keep you informed of any gigs going on at our twitter page, but we just want to finish by saying a huge thank you to everyone who helped us this year. Everything we raise goes direct to Oxfam, and I can’t say thanks enough to anyone who turned up, donated, photographed, volunteered or got involved with our social media pages, amongst everything else. It’s at times like this I am proud of the little town we live in and thankful I moved back to Bedford in my late 20s. Being able to see bands like Sunsinger, Henry & The Bleeders, Kastaphor and Silver Tongue Bandoliers, amongst countless others, is something we should be championing and long may it continue!

If you enjoyed the Takeover, or missed the show but would like to donate towards Oxfam’s life-saving work, you still can by texting JAM0054 to 70066.

The Delines – Ent Shed, Castle Road 8th November


The Delines play the Ent shed on Castle Road 8th Nov .

The Delines photo good band

Described as New Country meets Soul, they have a very well-received new album out called ‘Colfax’. Led by American author and musician Willy Vlautin, previously the kingpin of Richmond Fontaine, their sound occupies the time just before falling asleep after a hard day and, as you would expect from an author, the songs are stories, telling tales of characters somewhere between the American dream and destitution.

Tickets are £12 from

Heaven 17 Live – Bedford Corn Exchange 7th November


Heaven 17 first hit the charts in the early 80s, having formed from The Human League. Everyone and their mum knows their biggest hit ‘Temptation’, a classic tune that has endured, but they also released two electronic pop masterpieces with the albums ‘Penthouse and Pavement’ and ‘The Luxury Gap’. New pop fox La Roux is a big fan and they’re hitting the Bedford Corn Exchange on November 7th, co-headlining with Blancmange! (Living on the Ceiling, Don’t Tell Me).

We spoke to singer Glenn Gregory about what he’s been up to…



Glenn on the left with the hat, and fellow 17’er Martyn Ware

Clanger: Have you been to Bedford before?

Glenn: Yeah, a long time ago, with Terry…(?)

C: Have you Toured with Blancmange before?

G: No, this is the first time but Martin had produced the demo for ‘Living on the Ceiling’ back in 1980, so there is a connection.

C: What are Heaven 17 listening to at the moment?

G: Well, I’ve been doing a tour called the Man Who Sold the World with Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey, amongst others and that entailed learning 22 Bowie songs, so that took up my time recently. Plus we’re working on our own material for the new Heaven 17 album…

C: Sheffield is a hotspot for musical talent, what could you put that down to?

G: When we were young and started out there was just nothing to do! With the collapse of the Steel industry and the cutlery companies, there were a lot of empty buildings and factories. We’d rent them cheap and use them for studios and have parties. People are still producing good stuff there, I think Sheffield people are ‘do-ers’.

C: Did you have any other names lined up before Heaven 17?

G: Yes, There were about 7 names, can’t remember all of them, though some were from the book/film ‘Clockwork Orange’, including; Goggly Gogol, Wordmaster, Monolith (metal?!) That’s where the name Sparks & Moloko come from as well…

C: Fave 80s bands ?

G: Lots of electronic stuff, Kraftwerk, Utravox, Duran Duran…..

C: Any clues what direction the new tunes are going in ?

G: This is the first time we’ve been in the studio for 14 years, previously we’d work separately and send files and bits back and forth. We’re using some original synths as well as new technology, with the similar electronic, dance and funk influences as before.

C: Anyone you’d like to work with?

G: Well I ticked that box 6 months ago with the BEF 3 project (British Electric Foundation) with collaborations with Sandie Shaw, Boy George & La Roux, amongst others…I also performed with La Roux recently, really rate her work.

C: Any interesting experiences filming Top of the Pops?

G: They were interesting experiences, a very small studio, with about 20 people in the audience shuffling from stage to stage. The best thing was at home Christmas Day round the dinner table with my mum to watch myself on Top of the Pops!

C: Any cheese you find a temptation?

G: Ah, that’s left field!. Er, cheese…which cheese? Gouda!

C: Good choice!

Pad Presents: Heaven 17 with Blancmange at Bedford Corn Exchange on Friday 7th November.

Check for more info…

Theatre Choice: What Then Was War


Saturday 8th November 2014. 7.30pm. St Peter De Merton Church, De Parys Ave, Bedford. MK40 2TX

We’re really looking forward to seeing the latest collaboration that Bedford based No Loss Productions are involved in. They are teaming up with the Royal British Legion, Bedford and District Branch to present What Then Was War?, a poetry and music evening to mark the Centenary of the First World War.

What Then Was War flyer 2

The evening will feature readings from the War Poets by local actors, music of the period and specially commissioned pieces by local composer Sophie Viney.

Sophie Viney photo

Sophie told us why she got involved:

I was drawn to this event as it provided a platform through the medium of spoken word and music to reflect on the changes in attitude toward the Great War, from the initial stages of patriotism through to its swift and utterly devastating reality. The opportunity to create new music in collaboration with local artists in response to this legacy has been an inspiration. It has been fascinating sourcing text via local historian Richard Galley for one of the original compositions To The Seaforths – a poem written by an anonymous Bedford woman in 1915 about 5th Battalion (Territorial) Seaforth Highlanders stationed in Bedford. I have also set Jessie Popes’ war time poem ‘Socks’ – an intimate and poignant work giving a female perspective on war time experience. The music also comprises contemporary arrangements of songs sung by soldiers in the trenches – songs that highlight brutal truths, often though the use of humorous lyrics and parodies of songs and hymns of the time.”

Also taking part will be Bedford Arts Choir under the direction of Roger Illingworth and Bedford Choral Society Chamber Choir under the direction of Ian Smith.

The evening is part of a larger project ‘The Legacy of the 1914-18 War’, in Bedford. The project provides a series of educational and cultural experiences that engages the population of Bedford and the surrounding district in the centenary of the commencement of the 1914-18 War.

Along with the Poetry and Music evening a series of Lectures featuring speakers from Bletchley Park, the British Museum, the Imperial War Museum, University of Bedfordshire, local military historians and Bedford Gurdwara  are planned over the next few years. At the core of these lectures will be an examination of the ways in which freedoms, relationships and technologies we take for granted today stem from developments which occurred during the war. This will include the role of women, the contribution of the Indian army and Bedford Regiment, technical advancements and an understanding of ancient civilisations as a result of archaeological finds.

Thanks go to Bedford Creative Arts, Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England for support of this project

Tickets are on sale at the Central Box Office, Tourist Information Office,

Tel: 01234 718112 £8 full price (£6 Concessions)


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