I have to start by thanking Doreen de Pinner for taking the trouble to write me a letter, buy a postage stamp and send it. A rarity these days and it’s great to get feedback from readers, whether in person, via email or even a smoke signal. Writing is by nature a solitary task, so it is very rewarding to realize that people are actually reading.
It was very sad to hear that Dennis Waterman passed away after a two year battle with lung cancer and it was good to see the amount of media coverage as he had been retired for a few years.
I only met Dennis once in the 1970s, when he helped me get a showbiz football team together for a charity game. The only other member of the team that I remember is Patrick Mower, who is fortunately still with us.
I have just returned from a dance performance featuring Giovanni from the hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, which is filmed at Elstree Studios. I was accompanied by my former showbiz mate, Brian, who was the film officer for Warner Bros and Disney in London and is a huge live theater fan. I had actually booked this show two years ago but it had been canceled twice due to Covid.
Giovanni Pernice and Rose Ayling-Ellis on Strictly Come Dancing. Picture: BBC
Read more: Giovanni and Rose’s silent dance made me a Strictly fan
We had the chance to go backstage and meet Gio a few minutes before the show, which was a treat. He looked slightly shorter than I imagined and very lean in an athletic way. He came across as charming. A member of staff kindly took the obligatory photo of us together and now we are allowed to hold each other’s shoulders and shake hands. Interestingly, almost no one wore a mask.
The show was excellent and the level of energy displayed is incredible, especially when they do two shows a day. It was a full house, but Brian and I probably outnumbered the ladies nine to one. Gio works the audience well, playing in his image of Latin eye candy and the ladies usually cheering, clapping or shouting. It reminded me of when I was a baby magnet.
You know the old showbiz saying…
Gio asked me if I had seen Strictly at Elstree due to my past relationship with the studio and was surprised I hadn’t but I was never asked and anyway the tickets are like gold dust. As we were leaving Gio, I turned around and said “break your leg”, which is an old stage expression wishing a performer a good show, but he looked at me a little puzzled and said “I hope it’s not Paul”. In retrospect, that might not have been the best thing to say to a dancer from another country.
- Paul Welsh MBE is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree studios
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This notice was published: 2022-05-22 17:00:00