THEATRE: Murder For Two, Theatre Royal Windsor, Thu 1 – Sat 3 Nov
I reviewed the brilliant Murder For Two when it premiered at The Watermill Theatre last year, and after a run in London’s West End, this hilarious high-energy whodunit is back in Berkshire. Starring Ed MacArthur and Jeremy Legat, it’s a madcap murder mystery with a twist, a hysterical blend of music, mayhem and murder. Originally a massive off-Broadway hit, it’s directed by Luke Sheppard, winner of Best Musical Olivier for In The Heights.
THEATRE: The Think Drinker’s Pub Crawl, South Street Arts Reading, Thu 1 – Sat 3 Nov
Any show that involves a pub crawl, had me at hello. The Thinking Drinkers are back on tour with a brand-new, intoxicating bar-hop through history. Enjoy five free drinks as the award-winning experts take you from the symposiums of Ancient Greece to the classic British boozer via Wild West saloons, Victorian gin palaces and the secret Speakeasy. You’ll learn a lot, you’ll laugh a lot and, don’t forget, you get five free drinks.
COMEDY: Croft & Pearce Double Take, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Fri 2 Nov
If you missed there show in Reading, get yourself down to Maidenhad! Croft & Pearce are back on tour with a brand new show and, if it’s anything like the others, it’ll be a sell out. So hurry. Stars of BBC Radio 4’s The Croft & Pearce Show and Sketchorama, winners of the Mervyn Stutter Spirit of the Fringe Award, recipients of the official Edinburgh Fringe ‘Total Sell-Out Show’ laurel and WhatsOnLondon Comedy Award nominees 2017. The list goes on and on. Buy a ticket and see why everyone loves these gals.
EXHIBITION: A Royal Wedding: Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Windsor Castle, now – 26 Jan 2019
Better late than never, but we’ve all been invited to Windsor Castle to get up close and personal with newlyweds Harry and Meghan. OK, so they won’t actually be there but a new exhibition will display Meghan’s Givenchy bridal gown designed by Artistic Director Clare Waight Keller is, her 5m veil embroidered with flora symbolising the 53 Commonwealth countries and the 1932 Queen Mary diamond and platinum tiara loaned to the Duchess by the Queen. It’s not all about the bride (even though we known it is really), Harry’s Blues and Royals frock designed by Dege & Skinner on Savile Row will also be standing to attention.
EVENT: Spookfest & Sparkle, Royal Windsor Racecourse, Sat 3 Nov
It doesn’t get much bigger than this. Windsor’s epic fireworks display – courtesy of British Fireworks Championship double award-winners Fantastic Fireworks – is set to music from spooktacular movies like The Addams Family, Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo and Psycho. But it doesn’t end there, once you’ve been wowed by the fpretty explosives, you can head over to the drive-in outdoor cinema to watch the original 1984 Ghostbusters. How cool is that? Book up, it’ll be a sell out.
EVENT: Fireworks Spectacular Family Raceday, Ascot Racecourse, Sat 3 Nov
Why not make a day of it? Ascot Racecourse is offering a full day of National Hunt racing, white knuckle fun fair rides and gentler ones for littlies (free until 4pm, then £1 per ride), they’ll also be showing The Greatest Showman in the Ascot Pavillion, finishing with an enormous fireworks display. Under 18s go free and all proceeds go to local charities. Talk about bang for your buck. Fnar.
Other fireworks displays: Sat 3 Nov: Sparks In The Park, Swallowfield Park Reading; Wellington College Charity Fireworks 2018; Upton Court Park Fireworks, Slough; Boyn Hill Cricket Club Fireworks Display, Maidenhead; Pangbourne Fireworks Fiesta 2018, Pangbourne Primary School. Sun 4 Nov: Thameside Firework Extravaganza, Mapledurham Lock Purley On Thames. Mon 5 Nov: Chieveley Fireworks, Chieveley Recreation Ground. Sun 10 Nov: Lions Fireworks Spectacular, Newbury Racecourse
Read about Berkshire’s biggest and best displays, here.
KIDS: There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, South Hill Park Bracknell, Sat 3 Nov
Kids love nursery rhymes that takes a macabre twist – an antidote to the saccharin sweet storytelling of Peppa Pig. To celebrate the 45th anniversary of Pam Adams’ classic There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly the People’s Theatre will bring the story to life. Suitable for ages 2yrs+. Meet the characters after the show for a book signing and photos.
MUSIC: BR James, South Hill Park Bracknell, Sat 3 Nov
When you’re described as the John Legend of the UK, that’s putting a whole heap of expectation out there. But that’s what music peeps are saying about BR James – Berkshire’s finest soul singer. Not only can the man sing, he’s also pretty nifty on the piano. You can see him perform at South Hill Park in Bracknell. Check out and let me know what you think.
DRINKIES: Gin Club, Corn Exchange Newbury, Sat 3 Nov
First rule of Gin Club, you do not talk about Gin Club. We don’t everyone tucking into our favourite tipple, now do we? A monthly shindig at the Corn Exchange, you’ll get to sample four different premium minis, tonics and garnishes with like minded lovers of botanicals. Drinks o’clock is 8pm, and I’m happy to be ruined.
FILM: Scream @ WBB, West Berkshire Brewery Yattendon, Sun 4 Nov
Arrrrrrrgggh! Ditch the kids, they’ve had their fun this week and head out for your very fright night at the movies. West Berkshire Brewery will be showing the 90s classic, Scream, starring Drew Barrymore, Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox, poking fun at every horror cliche in the book. Entry is £5 and includes a pint of WBB beer plus the Kitchen will be be serving hotdogs (veggie & vegan options available) & popcorn.
FAMILY FUN: Morgan & West Unbelieveable Science, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sun 4 Nov
Kaboom! Time-travelling magicians Morgan & West are back with a brand new ‘Work In Progress’ show. Their magical extravaganza was a massive hit, but these boys have been hiding another talent they are genuine, bona fide, legitimately qualified scientists, and now are bring their love of enlightenment to the stage! Expect explosive thrills, chemical spills and a risk assessment that gives their stage manager chills.
ACTIVITY: Festive Floral Roadshow with Mig Kimpton, Corn Exchange Newbury, Tue 6 Nov
A floral roadshow? Scratches head. But yes, the theatre of floral design is coming to a stage near you. Multi award-winning Mig Kimpton combines his theatrical past (he’s worked with Elton John, Ian McKellan, Kevin Spacey, to name drop a few) with his floral know-how (10 shiny Chelsea Flower Show gold medals). The live show will see Mig create from scratch some amazing festive designs for the home using fresh flowers and unusual materials.
ART: Stanley Spencer: Friends and Family, Stanley Spencer Gallery Cookham, Thu 8 Nov – Mar 2019
Not a loyalty scheme, but the latest exhibition at the brilliant Stanley Spencer Gallery on Cookham High Street. Although more famous for his local landscapes, his portraits are world class – in fact one on his first self portraits hangs in the Tate Britain. This new exhibition is an intimate snapshot of the artist’s private life, demonstrating his immense talent at capturing the mood and character of those closest to him.
SHOPPING: Donna Ida Denim Clinic, Jax Jeans Hungerford, Thu 8 Nov
Shopping for jeans can be as painful as root canal treatment. Not any more, denim queen Donna Ida will be running a VIP clinic at Jax Jeans in Hungerford, to help you into the perfect shape, size and fit. You’ll have a one to one personal consultation with Donna herself (possibly the loveliest, most glamorous woman on the planet) all helped along with a glass of bubbly. Plus owner and pro stylist Jax will be on hand to pull your whole look together. It’s fun event – 10am-5pm.
DANCE: 10, Corn Exchange Newbury, Thu 8 Nov
Something a bit different… contemporary dance. If Strictly’s got you in the mood to see more, don’t miss the opportunity to the see the Company Chameleon’s inspiring new triple bill, 10. It’s athletic, emotive and the muscles will one rippling on stage. Dance critics have raved about it, so plie this way and book up.
TALK: An Evening With Michael Parkinson, Cliveden House Hotel Taplow, Fri 9 Nov
If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would choose? Parky would definitely be at mine (whether he liked it or not). The man is a legend with more showbiz miles on the clock than the Rolling Stones tour bus. He’s interviewed over 2000 of the most important cultural figures of our time and won awards for journalism, radio and broadcasting. So Cliveden’s evening with Sir Michael is a bit spesh. Quaff Champers. scoff canapés, listen to Sir Michael talk, followed by a delicious 3-course dinner in the Andre Garrett Restaurant. Tickets £150pp.
TALK: Ayesha Hazarika – Girl on Girl: The Fight for Feminism, South Street Arts Reading, Fri 9 Nov
‘Phew! After Weinstein and #MeToo, women of the world have finally united… Who cares about smashing the patriarchy when you can go full-on Prisoner: Cell-Block H? So, what happened to feminism? Is it too posh? Too white? When did Germaine Greer become Richard Littlejohn? Whose feminism is it anyway?’ Political pundit Ayesha Hazarika tackles the F word.
ARTS: Contemporary Arts Fair, Windsor Racecourse, Fri 9 – Sun 11 Nov
If you’ve got blank walls and you’re looking for something cool, get yourself down to Windsor Racecourse for the 14th Contemporary Arts Fair for artwork that’s accessible and affordable. London’s Reem Gallery – an urban art gem – will be exhibiting for the first time this year showcasing the brilliant work of emerging artists alongside global household names.
FESTIVAL: Berkshire Christmas Festival, Newbury Showground, Sat 10 – Sun 11 Nov
It’s Christmaaaaaas…OK, not quite, but if the Berkshire Christmas Festival doesn’t get you in the spirit, I’m not sure what will. There’s a circus, Santa, panto, Great British Bake Off 2017 star Julia Chernagorova, a Victorian Market featuring local food and drink producers and artisans, choirs, bell ringers and more more more. There’s even a Dog Show Christmas Pawty. It’s a one-stop festival of festive fun. Who needs the John Lewis Christmas ad, when you’ve got this. Tickets: £8; concessions £6, kids £4, Under 5s FREE.
DANCE: Beauty And The Beast, South Hill Park Bracknell, Sun 11 Nov
If you’ve seen The Nutcracker a gazillion times (guilty as charged m’lud), why not try Beauty and The Beast. A stunning gothic production by Ballet Theatre UK is coming to South Hill Park in Bracknell. I think we all know the story by now, but I’m got Christmas party inspo right here and I’ll always be perfectly lit by carrying my own candelabra.
THEATRE: A Christmas Carol, Theatre Royal Windsor, Mon 12- Sat 17 Nov
The perfect time of year to see the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol – and this one has been adapted by Broadway heavy hitters Alan Menken (Disney’s Beauty And The Beast & The Little Mermaid) and Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime & Seussical). So don’t expect the same old, same old. Plus if you’re teen’s studying it at school, drag him away fro YouTube and see the story come alive.
MUSIC: Jools Holland Rythem & Blues Orchestra, Hexagon Reading, Wed 14 Nov
If New Year’s all about getting smashed and watching Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenany, then this might just prise you off the sofa before the end of year sit in. The legendary Jools and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are touring the UK and hitting the Hexagon in Reading this November. Plus they’ve smuggled Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond onto the tour bus to belt out a few numbers too. Room for one more?
THEATRE: Robin Hood, Watermill Theatre Bagnor, Thu 15 Nov – Sat 5 Jan 2019
The Watermill Theatre is renowned for its high quality bookish Christmas shows – and this year it’s Robin Hood. It’s a superb alternative if you’re not a fab of panto. So don’t expect a camp, thigh slapping Robin. Funny, fearless and brilliant family entertainment, it’s always a treat at Crimbo.
THEATRE: Withering Lunatics, Corn Exchange Newbury, Thu 15 Nov
Britain’s favourite literary lunatics are back with their cult Brontë spoof, Withering Looks. Specially reworked for the 200th anniversary year of Emily’s birth, the classic comic duo couldn’t resist the urge to dust off their crinolines and sit at rain-lashed windows in a pale and decorative manner.
SHOPPING: Christmas Market, Douai Park Upper Woolhampton, Sun 18 Nov
Save yourself the airfare to Europe, a brand spanking new Christmas market is coming to West Berkshire. The Douai Park – in the stunning location of Upper Woolhampton – will be turned into an alpine marketplace with mini chalets popping up with gifts galore from cool local indies like Turtle Dove Living and Rosebourne, Lala and Bea, Cotton & Gems, BAE plush food hampers, Xmas trees and more. Grab yourself a mulled wine and sit yourself on Santa’s knee (yes, there’s a grotto), its going to be a cracker. Free entry.
ACTIVITY: Windsor On Ice, Alexandra Gardens Windsor, Sat 17 Nov
Windsor On Ice is back for the winter and whether you’re Olympic standard or a ‘cling on’ like me, they’re great for a family day out, or a fun slippy-slidey Christmas party. There are two rinks here. The main one is under cover and there’s a smaller open-air rink. There’s also food and other attractions including an ice bar and grill. Sessions are for 45 mins. See you in A&E, I mean on the ice.
FAMILY FUN: Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest Ascot, Sat 17 Nov
Good news, kids, Santa’s quit the North Pole, perpetual darkness and Northern Lights, to set up shop in the UK. The big man heard post-Brexit Britain will be a tax haven. Anyhoo, they’ve only gone and set up shop in Berkshire. Journey through snowy enchanted forests, to Santa’s chalet, where he and his elves need a little assistance in preparing for the 25th December. It’s a four-hour immersive experience so pack the tramadol and Kendal Mint Cake.
Lapland UK, Whitmoor Forest, Swinley Road, Ascot SL5 8BD
THEATRE: The Fir Tree, Norden Farm Maidenhead, 20 Nov – 30 Dec
If you have young children the Norden Farm Christmas Show will give you all the warm and fuzzy feels of the festive season. This year, the Moomin Family will be heading to Maidenhead to tell the tale of The Fir Tree – an innocent take on Christmas featuring live puppetry and music – set in peaceful Moominvalley. Suitable for 3+. Keep yours eyes peeled for the review
FOOD: Michael Caines MBE and Robby Jenks Supper, The Vineyard Stockcross, 21 Nov
Recognise this fella? It’s only Michael Caines MBE. For one night only, Michael will be joining his former protege Robby Jenks for an almighty cook off at The Vineyard Stockcross. Set to be a unique and exclusive food experience, the old friends will battle it out over 7 courses – each dish paired with a wine from the 30,000 bottles snuggled up in the cellar. This is a total one off, with a price tag to match –£229 per person. It’s all happening on Wednesday 21 November. Sell a kidney, max out your credit card and book up. Now put the knives down, boys, and play nicely.
COMEDY: Ian Stirling: U OK Hon?, Corn Exchange Newbury, Thu 22 Nov
The Voice of reality series Love Island, Iain Stirling is on stage with a stand-up show, discussing how he’s come to terms with attending all of the posh dinner parties with big names. He also dives into the lives of millennials – the ups, the downs and the ridiculous headlines. Take your teen if they’re in need of something ‘#relatable’.
COMEDY: Larry Dean – Bampot, Norden Farm Miadenhead, Thus 22 Nov
Heard of Larry Dean? If you haven’t you should. The Scottish comedian is just back from a sell out international tour, smashed his Live at the Apollo debut and has been picking up awards at Edinburgh Fringe since his was 23 (he’s only 28 now). The critics love him too for his high joke rate, funny confessional storytelling and silliness. What’s not to love?
PANTO: Dick Whittington, Theatre Royal Windsor, 23 Nov – 6 Jan
Filed under ‘classic cheesefest’, the Theatre Royal’s celebrating 80 years of panto with Dick Whittington. The Governess,, Anne Hegerty, will be in da house – you know the stern matronly one off The Chase – alongside resident. dame Steven Blakeley. Fans of ’80s nostalgia will be thrilled to hear that Basil Brush will once again co-stars alongside DJ Mike Read. Booooom booooooom!
MUSIC: The Vinyl Frontier: My Favourite vs Your Favourite, Norden Farm Maidenhead, Sat 24 Nov
Think your musical tastes are good enough to win a play off? New to the awesome The Vinyl Frontier, six challengers play their favourite in a specific category against the host Jeff Lloyd’s choice. Music has just got personal, sure my 80s cheese fest is quite up to it. But I’m game if you are.
THEATRE: National Theatre Live Screening, The Madness of King George, UK live broadcast, Tues 20 Nov
The multi-award winning National Theatre production written by Alan Bennett will be screened live from Nottingham Playhouse and you can see it in the comfort of Aylesbury Waterside’s Second Space. Mark Gatiss (of Sherlock, Wolf Hall, NT Live Coriolanus fame) plays the most powerful man in the world (at the time) who, as his mind starts to unravel, is at the mercy of scheming politicians and a Prince of Wales waiting to snatch power.
See it at Corn Exchange Newbury, Norden Farm Maidenhead, South Hill Park Bracknell and Vue cinemas.
TOUR: Christmas at Stonor, Stonor Park Henley, Thu 22 Nov – Sun 9 Dec
The historic house at Stonor Park has been decorated with the theme Star of Wonder for the festive season. Each room has been individually designed and transformed with lights and decorations in keeping with the family antiques and portraits, and holly, larch and mistletoe have been used from the park. New for this year, you can book a candlelit tour of the house where you can see many of the rooms by twinkling lights and candlelight. Drinks and dinner are also on offer in the Pantry in the Medieval Hall.
SHOPPING: Spots & Stripes Skincare Launch, Jax Jeans Hungerford, Thu 22 Nov
Hallelujah! The skincare brand all parents of tweens and teens have been waiting for – Spots & Stripes! Created by former glossy mag beauty editor Charlotte Ann Fidler (she’s worked for them all – Vogue, Elle Glamour and more) Spots & Stripes is skincare with a conscience that looks good, smells amazing and is packed with quality natural ingredients that tackles teen skin and hair problems. It’s brilliant. Don’t take my word for it, meet the lady herself at the Jax Jeans launch.
PANTO: Dick Whittington & His Cat, South Hill Park Bracknell, Fri 30 Nov
Like an X Factor finalist, Dick Whittington is everywhere this season seeking fame and fortune. Dick and his Cat will be taking to the gold plated streets of Bracknell battling with Simon Cowell, sorry King Rat, getting flirty with the groupies and belting a few toe-tapping tunes along the way. Always brilliantly staged, you’ll love the panto bants.
WALKS: Illuminated Woodland Walk, Basildon Park, Thu 1 Nov – 31 Jan 2019
Wrap up, wellies on and trudge through the woods to see the trees in all their glory – preferably before the leaves get blown off. Now that we are spending most of our time in darkness, we might as well get something out of it. In this case, an enchanting woodland walk, twinkly lights and all the Winter wonderland magic that goes with it. No need to book.
ART: Approaching Thunder, River & Rowing Museum, Henley, 5 Oct – 13 Jan
With Remembrance Sunday approaching, now’s a good time to visit the River & Rowing Museum to see their exhibition of 1940s prints and drawings by leading 20th Century British artists. With materials strictly rationed and a stagnant art market, artists including Edward Bawden, John Piper and Vanessa Bell turned to paper to record their experiences of life in wartime Britain.
TOP MOVIE RELEASES
Christmas is coming – so are the family films… so grab the kids and a jumbo bucket of popcorn. Dodgy green face paint is no more as Dr Seuss’ The Grinch gets a remake, released on Nov 9, in 3D computer animation. The trailer, where we get a first glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch in the starring role, already has over three million views on YouTube, no doubt a million from my kids – they’re desperate to see it. The Nutcracker will make the leap, or should I say sauté, from ballet to big screen with The Nutcrackerand the Four Realms. The film’s got an all-star cast of Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Richard E Grant and Morgan Freeman, released Nov 2. If you’re looking for something a little more thrilling, but still suitable for tweens, dark magic will be creeping into cinemas worldwide as the highly anticipated new Fantastic Beasts film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. is released on Nov 18. Johnny Depp will be reprising his role as the oh-so-evil, bleach blonde Grindelwald alongside good guys Eddie Redmayne and Jude Law. Last up looks like a proper feel-good festive film and comes in the form of everyone’s favourite flying lady- Mary Poppins. The film will follow on from the original with Poppins floating back in to the lives of grown up Micheal and Jane Banks. The umbrella baton has been passed to Emily Blunt who will star alongside Muddy favourites Julie Walters and Meryl Streep. Mary Poppins Returns hits cinemas just in time for Christmas on Dec 21.
Huddled by the fire? Don’t blame you – we’ll be round in five mins with a massive box of Maltesers so get the telly on. Darkly delicious political thriller House Of Cards returns to Netflix on 2 Nov with its sixth and final season, which was hastily rewritten after Kevin Spacey, who played the President, detonated his career. First Lady Claire Underwood makes a power grab – we can’t wait to see what the excellent Robin Wright does with the role now she’s going solo. Back on this side of the Atlantic, series 5 of London police drama Luther is imminent. The BBC are being cagey about the start date but they’ve just made the first four series available on iPlayer so we reckon it’ll be this month. Welcome back Idris Elba – we’re swooning at the very thought of you returning to moodily stomp around the city fighting crime in your swishy wool coat. This time Hermione Norris will be joining him, playing a psychiatrist. On a lighter note, people are going barking mad on social media about Dogs, a new Netflix documentary which drops 16 Nov. It tells six stories of unconditional love between pooch and owner, including one involving a beloved pet being trapped in a Syrian warzone. It looks like a total tear-jerker. Finally, need a compelling new read? We’ve got six stonkers for you this month – check out the reviews here.
CULTURE: Bacterial World, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, 19 Oct – 28 May 2019
It might not seem the most interesting subject but the excellent Museum of Natural History has pulled out all the stops to excite visitors about their new Bacterial World exhibition by installing a giant (92 feet long) inflatable E.coli bacterium, hanging from the ceiling. The sculpture by Luke Jerram is just one of the exhibits aiming to educate people about the oldest form of life on earth. Bacteria are remarkable organisms and scientists are convinced they will help us tackle environmental problems so we really should learn to love ’em.
THEATRE: True West, Vaudeville Theatre, London, 23 Nov 2018 – 23 Feb 2019
Head to town for the West End Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winner Sam Shepard’s ferociously funny, modern classic, True West, which opens today. Directed by Matthew Dunster, an Olivier-nominated director, playwright, actor and Associate Director at Shakespeare’s Globe, and starring Kit Harington (of Game of Thrones fame) and Johnny Flynn (Genius) as warring brothers, this sure sounds like a goodie.
CULTURE: Month of Sundays Festival, Royal Opera House, London, Sun 4 – Sun 25 Nov
The Royal Opera House is opening itself up for a month of interactive fun. They’ll be live demos from technicians and craftspeople who work on the ROH productions, you can take guided tours and learn new moves in a dance class, sing tunes from opera classics and make something crafty to take home. The Royal Ballet and the Royal Opera artists will be performing in the public areas and there’s a sound installation that explores the history of the Opera House.
ART: Whistler and Nature, Compton Verney, Warks, 20 Oct – 16 Dec
Warwickshire’s Compton Verney is casting a new light on the work of the great late-Victorian master, James McNeill Whistler, in Whistler and Nature (Sat Oct 20 – Dec 16), curated in partnership with The Hunterian at the University of Glasgow. The exhibition, which includes 90 oil paintings, explores the artist’s revolutionary attitude towards the natural world.
THEATRE: Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida, RST, Stratford-upon-Avon, now – Sat 17 Nov
Directed by RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran, this is the company’s first gender-equal production of Shakespeare’s “most testosterone-fuelled” play. Set in a futuristic dystopian Troy, it will involve close collaboration with the virtuoso percussionist, Evelyn Glennie.
ART: Edward Burne-Jones, Tate Britain, London, now – Sun 24 Feb