Elton John’s Glasses, Watford Palace Theatre, Fri 29 Sept – Sat 21 Oct
Watford Palace Theatre has a wonderful reputation for creating its own productions. I went to see I Capture the Castle earlier in the year and it was brilliant. This is written by David Farr, who you may remember as the person who brought The Night Manager to life. It’s the tale of two brothers who are about to meet for the first time in years. It’s 1996. Dan is chasing his dream of musical stardom. Bill is brooding over the death of Watford FC’s hopes of glory at the infamous 1984 Cup Final – all thanks to a certain notorious pair of glasses. A comedy about sibling rivalry, football and unlikely friendships.
The Garden City Postcard Project, Broadway Gallery, Letchworth – Mon 25 Sept – Sun 5 Nov
I absolutely love this gallery and I’m looking forward to seeing this exhibition. It’s a celebration of the world’s first Garden City through its postcards from 1905 to 2017. You can look at the collection of Letchworth postcards from the Garden City Collection, and in addition, people have been donating cards that you can also admire. Local artists, illustrators, designers and writers have also created brand new postcards, including poems and short stories. If you don’t know the Broadway Gallery, you absolutely need to make a date. There’s a wonderful café, with loads of light, delicious cakes, and a grand piano.
The Tiger Who Came to Tea, Hertford Theatre, Fri 29 Sept – Sun 1 Oct
The Tiger Who Came to Tea brought down the house during its West End season and now the tea-drinking tiger is on tour. It’s a musical, so be prepared to sing along. David Wood has adapted Judith Kerr‘s tiger tale so you’re in good hands. He also directed BFG and The Witches. Part of the Hi-jinks festival in Hertford which is supported by loads of fab businesses and locations: Leaf Books, Courtyard Arts, the museum and library.
Phill Jupitus, Hertford Theatre, Sat 30 September
You’re never that far from Phill Jupitus: he’s all over television and radio with QI, I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, and of course, Never Mind the Buzzcocks. But blow me down, on Saturday night he’ll be in the county town. Stand up, poetry, and who knows what else. Hertford Theatre warns: ‘Adult themes and situations, but delivered childishly’. 8pm.
Chamber Music Festival, Hatfield House, Fri 29 Sept – Sun 1 Oct
This is a bit fancy. Chamber Music Festival in the Marble Hall at Hatfield House, with a Creation theme, and all thanks to cellist Guy Johnston, the festival’s artistic director. Four days of beautiful music in a beautiful place. The programme includes the Aurora Orchestra with Ian Bostridge, and the Navarra, Endellion and Elias String Quartets. Here’s the full programme.
Mrs Shaw Herself, Palladian Church, Ayot St Lawrence, Sat 30 Sept
Charlotte Payne Townshend was the wife of George Bernard Shaw and she lived with him at Shaw’s Corner in Ayot St Lawrence while he hid in his revolving writing hut at the bottom of the garden and completed works including Pygmalion and Mrs Warren’s Profession. In between penning plays, GB Shaw was a notorious philanderer, while Charlotte eschewed intimacy. She was a wealthy heiress and she was able to support her husband’s writing. This is her story, based on letters and diaries. The evening should be fun, and it’s in a beautiful place, a few minutes’ walk from Shaw’s Corner. There’ll be a talk from a National Trust volunteer, a harp, drinks and possible a walk in the dark back to your car after the performance so do bring a torch. Free, with retiring collection. 7pm.
St Albans Beer & Festival, Alban Arena, Fri 29 Sept – Sun 1 Oct
Bars, beers, ciders and food stands. And a Saturday afternoon quiz. You can pay on the door and it’s free to CAMRA members. Fill your boots.
W1A, BBC2, 10pm, Mon 18 Sept
Oh happy day. Head of Values Ian Fletcher is back, and so is Siobhan from Perfect Curve. If you’re a fan of the programme that reveals what really goes down at Broadcasting House every day, I would tune in. It’s the last series. Allegedly. Monday eve, BBC2, 10pm.
Head of talent when it comes to illustration is Cressida Cowell, creator of the How to Train Your Dragon series. Cressida will be at St Francis’ College, Broadway, Letchworth, talking about her new children’s novel, The Wizards of Once. This is an event organised by the marvellous David’s Bookshop. St Francis’ College, SG6 3PJ. 4:30pm.
Back to the Books, Bibliomaniac, Harpenden Arms, Thurs 20 Sept
Don’t you just love Rowan Coleman? And do you know Katherine Sunderland also known as BiblioManiac? She’s a fab book blogger, based in Harpenden, and is always up to something good. This event is at the Harpenden Arms, and the guests are Rowan Coleman, Angela Clarke, Anna Mazzola and Tammy Cohen, all talking about their latest books. 8 -10pm. £10. Ticket includes one drink, and a goody bag. 188 High Street, Harpenden, AL5 2TR
Dahlia Festival, Anglesey Abbey, until 1 Oct
I absolutely love Anglesey Abbey and don’t get there often enough. This week there is a host of dazzling dahlia events that sound simply marvellous, from floating dahlias, to sculptures and workshops where you can make your own dahlia pom poms. Quy Road, Lode, CB25 9EJ.
London Design Festival, V&A, Mon 18 – Sun 24 Sept
King Lear, live from The Globe, Hertford Theatre, Thurs 21 Sept
Here we go. On Thursday at Hertford Theatre, King Lear (played by Kevin McNally) will be broadcast live from Shakespeare’s Globe. You know the story: King Lear divides his kingdom between his three daughters but of course the story unfolds as we see the consequences of his decision. 7.30pm.
Villa Walala, Broadgate, London Design Festival, Mon 16 – Sun 24 Sept
This is one of the installations created for the London Design Festival and I don’t quite know what these office lunchers are doing sitting around when they could be climbing on top of this and bouncing off the walls. Perhaps that’ll be an after-work activity. Villa Walala is an inflatable sculpture by textile designer Camille Walala and if you work near Liverpool Street you can pop along and have a look at it. It’s in Exchange Square, Broadgate. Camille says: ‘I think that, to turn a corner into Broadgate, and find a huge, bouncy, pink and patterned house will be hugely entertaining.’ If you’re in the area, keep your eyes peeled.
Hubcap Moon, The Carpenters Arms, Harpenden, Sat 23 Sept
Look how happy these musicians are! OK, so I admit that sun and beer and being outside can put a smile on most people’s faces. But these merry minstrels are high on life thanks to making sweet music in Harpenden. On Saturday they’ll be tuning up and getting down to business in The Carpenters Arms. The gig is to support The Royal Marsden cancer charity. Music includes Cajun, skiffle, bluegrass. Expect mandolins, accordians and rich voices. 8pm. 14 Cravells Road Southdown, Harpenden AL5 1BD
The Magic Flute, Vyne Theatre, Berkhamsted, Sun 24 Sept
More live action and this time it’s The Magic Flute broadcast live from The Royal Opera House at the Vyne Theatre in Berko. The perfect escape on a Sunday afternoon and this production by David McVicar is magical, with dancing animals and flying machines. 2pm. Northbridge Road, Berkhamsted. HP4 1EH
Open morning, Bishop’s Stortford College, Sat 23 Sept
There are many similarities between choosing a school and house hunting. You get do have a good nosey around and have a peek in the cupboards. Bishop’s Stortford College is a truly inspiring day and boarding school for students 4-18 years and has 130 acres of grounds with facilities are far too numerous to list here. You can read the Muddy review, and then go along and see for yourself on Saturday. 9.30am – 1pm.
Penny Bird’s Prosecco Party, Harpenden, Thurs 14 Sept
Get ready to party! The fab Harpenden photographer Penny Bird is unveiling her unique portrait experience for women. The evening will include demos from local sparkling businesses: Captain Tortue, Catherine Batour Makeup and Beauty, Edits Styling and Visage Dental Spa. Prizes include a luxury portrait with Penny, and nobody will leave without a goody bag. 8pm. Tickets: £10. AL5 4PH
Open House London, Sat 16 and Sun 17 Sept
Open House London! And this year, for the first time in its 25-year history, every London borough is taking part. There’s free entry to more than 800 of the city’s most compelling buildings. Highlights include the recently revamped New Scotland Yard; London’s latest iconic tower, nicknamed ‘the vase’; an urban farm in Waterloo; an exhibition by Norman Foster and the gargantuan Francis Crick Institute at King’s Cross. Take your pick!
The Producers, Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage, Fri 1 – Sat 9 Sept
Broadway comes to Stevenage with this well known musical based on the film by Mel Brooks. A plan goes wrong and a show that should flop turns out to be a hit. Paul Easom plays Max Bialystock and Ali Bastian (Hollyoaks, Strictly) is Ulla. The Gordon Craig has issued warnings that this musical is not for the easily offended so fasten your seatbelts. It’s a short run, just over one week, so be quick.
Shopping in Letchworth Garden City, Fri 8 and Sat 10 Sept
This Letchworth shopping exhibition is open each week from Thurs to Sat until the end of September. It’s interactive, but don’t panic, there’s no role play involved. But you can immerse yourself in old style retailing and inhale the aromas of Victorian lavender and carbolic soap. The exhibition is displayed in one of the shops in Letchworth’s Arcade. Loads of amazing photos and wonderful inspiration for anyone who is interested in local history and garden cities. 11am – 4pm. Thurs – Sat until 30 Sept. Community Museum, The Arcade, Letchworth SG6 3ES
Grape harvest, Frithsden Vineyard, Sat 9 – Sun 10 Sept
Do you know Frithsden Vineyard? It’s a fabulous place. This weekend, the owners, Natalie and Simon, are asking for help with grape picking. You’ll need to email or call them first, and there will be other opportunities to help this month, depending on numbers of people and grapes. There’s a great cafe here, too. HP1 3DD
Pretty Woman and Rocky Horror Picture Show, Knebworth House, Fri 1 and Sat 2 Sept
Two more screenings from The Luna Cinema at Knebworth House this weekend. Bring blankets, picnics, you know the drill. Doors open 6.30pm; screening 8pm.
London Folk Festival, Cecil Sharp House, Sat 2 Sept
A day of music, dance and workshops at the magnificent Cecil Sharp House in Camden. Headlining are Lady Maisery and Jim Moray, with The Askew Sisters, Kim Lowings and The Greenwood and loads more. Free parking on Saturdays. 2 Regent’s Park Road, NW1 7AY.
Goblins Peter and the Wolf, Hertford Theatre, Fri 1- Sat 2 Sept
More end of school holidays fun with this interpretation of Peter and the Wolf. Goblins is a theatre company described as offering ‘wild creativity with a dose of anarchy’ and the message of this show is kindness. Bring it on. Expect real vegetable instruments and a rocking wolf. 11am and 2pm each day.
Berkhamsted Food Festival, Sun 3 Sept
The Berko Festival is loved by all. Lots of well known names and new ones too. Puddingstone Distillery with Campfire Gin, Crockers Chef’s Table and Zims Tribe and loads more with a choice selection of tastes and great stuff for kids. Perfect Sunday fodder. Ashlyns Hall Field. 11am – 5pm.
Dr Foster comes to Hitchin, BBC 1, 9pm, Tues 5 Sept
I realise that you’re more than able to choose what to watch when you’re at home of an evening, but during the last series of Dr Foster, I loved spotting all the familiar Hitchin locations. If you live in Hitchin, and if you watched the first series, I imagine you enjoyed seeing Suranne Jones sitting in the marketplace opposite Phase Eight at the very end of the story. Well, we thought it was the end of the story. I also loved seeing the view from Windmill Hill, and various other landmarks that make Hitchin the dream town that it is. And, if you’re already warming to Prue Leith, I’ll leave it up to you how you juggle this one with GBBO.
50 years of Mr Benn, Illustration Cupboard, until 16 September
Mr Benn and the big 5-0? Say it isn’t so! No idea how this has happened, he doesn’t look a day over well, 50, but if you’d like to see original sketches and artwork of the bowler-hatted Mr Benn of 52 Festive Road, then get on down to the wonderful Illustration Cupboard at 22 Bury Street, St James’s in London. There’s a fab exhibition of original sketches and artwork by Mr Benn’s creator, David McKee. I think that Mr Benn was the original portfolio worker, who could turn his hand to anything from astronaut or chef to wizard and gladiator.
Laurel and Hardy short, with John Connolly at the Broadway Cinema, Weds 6 Sept
This is the story of how a lost hat inspired a fictional reimagining of the story of Stan Laurel. He is by John Connolly, and I’ve heard him talking about the book on the radio a couple of times this week and it sounds absolutely brilliant. The evening starts with a Laurel and Hardy short followed by a talk by John Connolly and a book signing.
Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? Wellcome Collection, Euston Road, opens Thurs 7 Sept
This looks really good. 200 objects from posters to illuminated pharmacy signs, chosen to explore the role of graphic design in communicating healthcare around the world. Handy for anyone who uses Euston Station. Or Kings Cross. 183 Euston Road, NW1 2BE.