Just before Easter I spent the weekend with an old friend of mine who’s supporting the 26 Miles 4 MND project. He happens to be a successful actor these days, and the husband of Kim Wilde.
Here’s a picture of Hal and I relaxing in the jacuzzi that’s in their back yard –
Hal Fowler was my best mate during our teenage school years. At the time our lives felt very creative, quite chaotic and we enjoyed breaking the rules. In truth though it was all fairly innocent and we never actually went too far: We ended up in hospital just once due to too much “high spirits” and although we had a few encounters with the police, we were never actually arrested!
The best months were the ones we had off school to revise for our “O” and “A” levels. Not much revision got done – They were sunny summers and we spent most of the time getting pissed, pushing boundaries and pulling girls. Needless to say Hal and I both ended up “qualification challenged”, though in our individual ways that hasn’t held either of us back in life.
To be honest it was mostly Hal who did the pulling girls. He seemed to have the knack. It was a knack that continued after school, through his time at drama college and then onto the West End stage. Whilst acting in The Who’s musical Tommy, Hal “pulled” Kim Wilde. At that precise moment his pulling career ended. They fell in love and the rest, as they say, is history.
Apart from going to each others weddings, there was little contact between Hal and I in 27 years. Then I sent Hal a text about the “26 Miles” project raising money for the MND Association and he agreed to get involved. It’s resurrected our friendship which happily these days is a bit less hedonistic.
Hal regularly appears on stage, TV and the big screen. He’s acted in West End musicals and is currently playing Cheshire Cat in wonder.land at the National Theatre.
Years before Hal’s professional performing career we’d perform together in our home city of Oxford – busking – I’d sing and play guitar, Hal would sing and accompany on his double bass. We were good at it too! We’d get there and back in a battered Citroen 2 CV with the neck of Hal’s bass sticking through the open sun roof. All of the money was spent in the pub later. Fun times!
There are no pictures of us in that 2 CV, but here are some behind the scenes shots from the morning Cristian and I spent at Hal and Kim’s taking their 26 Miles portraits. We resurrected our busking duo for the day – I think you can see that we still have “it”… whatever “it” is….
(Click on the first picture to enter the gallery)
Cristian and I are having fun on our “26 Miles” journey and we hope you enjoy following us on this blog, but the reason we are doing it is deadly serious. We are trying to raise £2,600.00, or more, for the Motor Neurone Disease Association – the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland focused on MND care, research and campaigning.
MND is a terrifyingly cruel disease that can leave people locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk, swallow and eventually breathe. It kills a third of people within a year and more than half within two years of diagnosis.
We’ve been sent a message by a follower of our twentysixmiles blog. He said why do “you keep me hanging on” Miles? What happened to the portrait shoot with Kim Wilde?
The shoot was in October and it’s true, we’ve not published a post about it yet. The sad fact is that a few days after the photography Miles’s wife told him she wanted them to separate. Sadly the stress of living with MND has (at least in part) made Miles’s marriage another victim of this wretched disease.
This is why we’ve got behind with our marathon photo project, but like all true charity marathon runners we will get to the finish – and we’re “Another Step Closer” to the finishing line with this post because… just for you Terry Brown (and all the many other Kim Wilde fans out there), here are some “behind the scenes” photos from our portrait shoot with Kim taken at her beautiful house in Hertfordshire last October. (Click on the first image to enter the gallery).
“just move your bum to your left a bit”
Getting the gear ready
Cristian does work hard
“Let me show you how it’s done Miles”
I never thought I’d ever get to play guitar with a pop legend!
Kim gives Miles the respect he deserves
Cristian setting up in Kim Wilde’s beautiful house
Half a million Kids in America
The day was in danger of turning into a pet photo shoot
“Good girl!” (the dog that is)
THAT famous tune that went gold
The main portrait of Kim and Miles will be published on 26Miles4MND once we’ve confirmed the date of Cristian’s marathon run.
A person’s lifetime risk of developing MND is up to 1 in 400. That’s one person in an average size cinema screen.
Motor neurone disease kills a third of people within a year and more than half within two years of diagnosis.
MND can leave people locked in a failing body, unable to move, talk, swallow and eventually breathe.
So it’s a deadly serious thing. If you’d like to help us raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, click here to go to our Just Giving site or you can donate via your mobile phone – Text ‘mmnd99 £5.00‘ (or whatever you can afford) to 70070
Any amount of money helps and will be greatly appreciated by everybody who has to live with this awful, cruel disease.
After that we’ll be interviewing and photographing Sarah Ezekiel for another of our 26 MND portraits. We are slowly but surely getting closer to our target (and nearer to Cristian having to run 26 miles – the poor git!).
Here’s a link to Sarah’s website. She creates amzing art using Eye Gaze technology. Well worth a look if you are already thinking about Christmas – http://sarahezekiel.com/#/eyegaze-art/4562566580
TV personality and supporter of the “26 Miles” Motor Neurone Disease Association campaign Nick Owen will be appearing at the Palace Theatre in Redditch this week – on Thursday September 24 – talking about his experiences interviewing stars from the world of sport, entertainment and news. Tickets are nearly sold out so hurry if you want one!
Rumour has it that co-stars from his past may be in the audience (including Suzanne Virdee)! I worked alongside Nick (and Suzanne) a great many times during my 17 year career as a TV cameraman and director.
Here’s what happened as I was reunited with Nick when we visited the BBC studios in Birmingham to take his “26 Miles” portrait recently.
(click on the first image to enter a slide show of all the pictures)
The door to BBC Birmingham’s Midlands Today news studio
Cristian setting up – that’s my mobility scooter in the foreground
Cristian, James and a cardboard cut out of Nick!
James as Nick’s stand-in model
The great man arrives!
Nick prepares for his portrait
It was great to be back at the BBC alongside Nick
Laughing at one of his “classic” jokes
Cristian “in the zone” taking our portrait
Cristian still “in the zone” taking our portrait
The view from behind the camera
The view from in front of the camera
All the portraits will be taken in front of this background showing lots of the area around it
A glimpse of what the final portrait might look like
It takes a lot of concentration, this photography thing!
It was so great to meet him again. If you can get to his show on Thursday, you’ll find him as warm and witty in the flesh as he is on TV.
Nick’s portrait will be amongst pictures of a group of celebrities who are supporting the “26 Miles” Motor Neurone Disease Association campaign. These will be published during the final 26 MND portraits in the days leading to Cristian’s marathon.
Please help us to reach our target of £2,600 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. The MND Association is the only national charity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland focused on MND care, research and campaigning and is the charity “26 Miles” is fundraising for. Please help them to help more people affected by MND by DONATING to our Just Giving page or donate via your mobile phone – Text ‘mmnd99 £5.00‘ (or whatever you can afford) to 70070
I used to work closely with Nick Owen for 17 years! He’s one of the nicest people I had the pleasure of working with and in real life is as warm and friendly as he appears on TV.
Yes, that was his silhouette in my previous post (as if you didn’t know), but I thought I’d add a bit of “cheese” of the variety that used to be served at tea time on BBC regional news programmes….after all, Nick became the main presenter for Midlands Today the BBC regional TV news in the Midlands just a few years before I started at Pebble Mill.
Here’s a snap of the 2 of us having our picture taken by Cristian at the Birmingham BBC studios.
and this is a snap of me on a snowy day working for BBC news when I worked with Nick –
I never thought I’d get something terrible like MND. In fact, like a lot of people, I’d hardly heard of it – Just goes to show it can happen to anyone….
Keep coming back, I might just give away a few secrets of behind the scenes life at Midlands Today and BBC News……perhaps I could auction a few saucy secrets to raise cash for this campaign????hmmmm good thought 😉