Caro Meets Children's Show Interview Comedy Interview

Basil Brush: The Stage In The Park

By | Published on Friday 16 July 2021

I’m very much interested in stuff we can take in outside this summer, as I know many people still feel nervous about being part of an indoor crowd. So I was keen to have a look at what to expect from The Stage In The Park, which will be operating from 23 Jul-8 Aug in Watford’s Cassiobury Park.

As it turns out there are lots of TW favourites set to perform: the likes of Showstoppers, Comedy Club 4 Kids, Adam Kay and ‘This Is Your Trial’, featuring two former TW Editors’ Award winners, Tim FitzHigham and Andrew Maxwell.

Another star of the line-up, one that’s entertained almost every living generation, is Basil Brush. He’s doing two shows, one for families and one for adults. I spoke to him to find out more about the shows and his future plans.

CM: You’re appearing in two shows as part of The Stage In The Park line up. Can you tell us about ‘Basil Brush’s Family Fun Show’?
BB: Appearing in two shows means I have to make sure I have the correct hat on! Don’t want to mix them up of course… So we have our family show, about forty minutes of a four dimensional experience! That is to say: some of the audience may get a bit wet, and that’s not from the weather… shall I mention the word super-soakers?

We have lots of laughs, some even in the right places…! Lots of audience participation, lots of boom booms, and some terrible jokes. It’s a family show with something for every age group – young kids right up to the grown-up kids – and although some of the little ones may not know of the Brush, they will by the end, and become followers… check out my shows on YouTube!

CM: What can audiences expect from your second show, ‘Basil Brush Unleashed’?
BB: ‘Unleashed 2’ is a different beast altogether. We did sell out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019! It’s Graham Norton meets Harry Hill meets ‘Have I Got News For You’: a little bit naughty, saucy and lots of fun, cos we need a good laugh at the moment, and you can be safe with the Brush pushing the limits a little further than usual… all good, clean, um, slightly naughty fun.

We will have two guests as well, who will be providing some variety fun too. All this with my trusty side kick Martin Cabble-Reid, who was on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ as Kevin Cruise and got to the finals …he’s brilliant ! Don’t want to give it all away, you will have to come and check it out – send the kids off home to bed and carry on with the fun!

CM: Are you planning to see any of the other shows taking place in Cassiobury Park? Do you have any tips for us?
BB: Doing the two shows means that I don’t have much time – what, with setting up and taking the set down, and there’s only me and Mr Martin – but the wonderful Katy Ashworth from Cbeebies is going to be there the same days as us, and there are loads of other great things going on. Check out the website, there’s almost too much to choose from!

CM: You’re obviously a veteran performer, and you’ve probably racked up vastly more experience than many of the other acts who will be appearing – do you have any advice for them?
BB: I always say to all performers, as long as you love what you are doing you’ll never do a day’s work in your life! I just laugh all the time and say “Boom! Boom!” A LOT! So I have had a great time… never worked. Be yourself, make a lot of noise, and enjoy yourself… BOOM! BOOM!

Of course when you get to my age, people start thinking you’ve had a facelift, but they’re talking out of their Botox… I try to look younger by putting lettuce on my head, tomatoes on my nose and cucumber over my eyes. Doesn’t do any good but reminds me of my salad days! Ha ha! Boom! Boom!

CM: These events are, of course, taking place outside, so we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed for good weather. Are you used to performing outside? Does it change the dynamic of a show?
BB: Having performed at Glastonbury in rain and hail, I can perform anywhere as long as I can sleep in the hotel and not a tent afterwards… We Brits can cope with anything The British Weather can throw at us, and if it rains hard, I get out the shampoo and wash my brush!

It’s weird outside sometimes cos there can be many distractions: dogs take a fancy to me and want to chase me if they see me, closely followed by men in red coats, although that’s normally when I don’t pay my bill at Butlins… ha ha, Boom! Boom!

CM: As previously mentioned, you’re a veteran performer with a long and illustrious career to look back on. What would you say have been the highlights?
BB: I’ve had more highlights than lowlights ! Although I’d have to ask my hairdresser… Oh, I see what you mean, well, performing at Kensington Palace for Prince William’s fifth birthday was a major highlight, and the cup of tea Princess Di made for me.

Returning on CBBC in 2000, and working with the likes of ABBA and Lulu on my original Basil Brush show in the 70s. So many wonderful times! Royal Variety shows, big pantomimes from the Palladium to Theatre Royal Windsor, where I have been resident for the last seven years, hosting the comedy proms at the Royal Albert Hall, and trips to Australia and New Zealand…

I could go on, and I sometimes don’t… oh, but then there was ‘The Celebrity Chase’ – a major highlight beating The Vixen!

CM: What about the future? Do you have any ambitions left to fulfil?
BB: I don’t look too far in the future and I think the last eighteen months has taught all of us the benefits of that. I live more for today and hope all is happy and funny.

I hope we can get back to touring, performing at big festivals like Edinburgh and Glastonbury, and really I hope that folks stay well and can get back to some sort of normal. I’ve been jabbed twice and once for mange…so I’m covered totally.

But before I ever consider hanging up my brush – which is probably never – I’d like to get back onto Saturday night telly with ‘The Basil Brush Show’ and bring some joy back to the country…

CM: What’s coming up for you next after your appearances in Watford?
BB: After Watford it’s a lie down, a massage, a natural jacuzzi – eat several cans of beans and get into a bath and let nature take its course… Then we’ll be doing the shows at the Underbelly Festival in London’s West End, panto at the Theatre Royal Windsor in ‘Jack And The Beanstalk’, and maybe a holiday somewhere hot like… Cleethorpes! Ha ha! Boom! Boom! See you on the stage!

Basil appears in ‘Basil Brush’s Family Fun Show’ and ‘Basil Brush Unleashed’ at Watford’s Stage In The Park on 24 Jul. Stage In The Park takes place from 23 Jul-8 Aug, see listings for all events here.

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Photo: Steve Ullathorne