Wight connections and mingling with the stars of showbusiness

Josh Barry with, from left, actor Brian Murphy, comedian Phil Reid and TV and West End star Bonnie Langford. <i>(Image: Josh Barry)</i>
Josh Barry with, from left, actor Brian Murphy, comedian Phil Reid and TV and West End star Bonnie Langford. (Image: Josh Barry)

In February 2018, Melvyn Hayes and John Hannam took the stage at the Renown Pictures Film Festival in Rickmansworth Hertfordshire organised by Talking Pictures TV.

Since 2015 Talking Pictures creator Noel Cronin has been running the hugely popular satellite channel which reunites its audience with classic film and television from the past and I was delighted to attend the annual television festival this year.

The Isle of Wight connections continued with a screening of a 1930s documentary on the Island railway.

With no music or narration, this stand alone short film captures life on the Island almost 90 years ago.

The film was of its time and poor camera quality proved difficult to decipher the exact locations in question but the shots of Sandown seafront made me realise how little the area had changed in almost a century.

While certain things looked the same, at 35, I have no recollection of the Islandwide network service and therefore have never seen the Island as a rail service.

For more information on this film and similar archive material please visit the Talking Pictures website where you’ll find contact information for the film archive.

Beyond the Wight connections, my highlight of the weekend was when my hero Sir Michael Parkinson stepped out to a packed theatre alongside his son as he celebrated his legendary chat show.

The 88-year-old broadcasting legend looked frail as he made his entrance following a flattering introduction from host Mike Read.

As the conversation began, his insightful, analytical tone returned with the stage presence to rival any guest.

Revisiting moments which form part of the fabric of popular culture was emotional for the talk show great who has spent the past few years touring the country with his live conversational show.

As the curtain fell, Parkinson took a bow in front of a standing ovation which provided the festival with an emotional moment.

I had already arranged to interview icon Susan Hampshire but hoped for more.

This was aided by my good friend: the comedy writer Colin Edmonds who, after persuasion, agreed to pose Susan questions on my behalf.

As the host of the podcast Behind The Scenes, Colin and I have since enjoyed a banterous relationship so it provided amusement when he found himself presenting an episode of Beyond The Title on my behalf.

Having cerebral palsy, I type with my nose on an iPad which has been a robust system until I’m required to do something urgently and am unable to locate a suitable surface.

Bonnie Langford accepted my invitation for a short interview but with no time to prepare, this would test my journalism like never before.

It seemed pertinent that my debut entertainment column should feature the late great John Hannam whose absence is still felt throughout the whole showbiz fraternity and events such as this cements the huge void that now exists.

Yet if I can just have a tenth of his success and reputation in local media then I’ll be doing something right.

See more of Josh's work at beyondthetitle.co.uk