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Fri 15 – Sun 17 Sept

Victoria & Abdul, Broadway, Letchworth, and on general release, from Fri 15 Sept

One minute we’re reading about Dame Judi Dench talking about her new chap, the next, she’s playing Queen Victoria, who, it turns out, in late life, formed a friendship with a young chap, Abdul Karim (played by Ali Fazal), an Indian clerk. Controversial, naturally, but fascinating. I’ve watched an interview with Judi Dench talking about this film and she says that Queen Victoria at this time was feeling old and tired, and this friendship perked her up. She started studying the Koran and learning Urdu. Eddie Izzard plays Bertie who later becomes Edward VII. I can’t wait to see this film. Large parts of it were filmed in Osborne House but some scenes were shot in Muddy Herts land – at Knebworth House. I think the beautifully reburbished, art-deco Broadway cinema would be the perfect place to watch this film. Other cinemas are also available. Opens Friday 15 Sept.


Gin Festival, Alban Arena, Fri 15 and Sat 16 Sept

This gin festival has been on tour and is hugely popular. It arrives in St Albans on Friday 15 September. You need to buy your ticket in advance to book your session: there’s an evening session on Friday 6.30 – 11pm, and two on Saturday: 12.30pm – 5pm and 6.30 – 11pm. You’ll be given a gin glass and gin guide on arrival. Gin is paid for with tokens. Over 100 gins to taste, Fever Tree tonic and jazz band.

Gin festival

Sundown Cinema, Top Gun and Mary Poppins, St Nicholas School, Letchworth, Sat 16 Sept

The very popular and local Sundown Cinema is still popping up the big screen, this time at St Nicholas Primary School in Letchworth. Mary Poppins will be singing at 3pm on Saturday, followed by Big Tom in Top Gun. BBQ, bar, popcorn. No rain. St Nicholas, Norton Road, Letchworth, SG6 1AG. Tickets from David’s Music Shop.


One Night Only art fundraiser, Wild at Heart Foundation, London, Sat 16 Sept

Nikki Tibbles is the amazing florist and founder of Wild at Heart who now rescues dogs and is an ambassador the the ‘adopt don’t shop’ movement. This is an art fundraiser for the Wild at Heart Foundation. Proceeds will support animal welfare projects all over the world. Josh Lilley Gallery, 44 – 46 Riding House St, Fitzrovia, London W1W 7EX. 6pm.


Open House London, Sat 16  and Sun 17 Sept

Francis Crick Institute, Kings Cross.                                                      Photo: Paul Grundy

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!

Open House London

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.

Illustration Cupboard

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