Wednesday 30 September 2015

Showstopper! moves to West End via crowdfunding

Showstopper! The Improvised Musical has been a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe for nearly 10 years but, for the first time, it will play a full-length run at a West End theatre, having been partly crowdfunded.
More than 600 performances across the world and several short stints in London theatres begs the question: Why has the show - which sees the cast make up an on-the-spot musical based on audience suggestions - taken so long to get a coveted West End run?
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical
"The West End is a totally different ball game, the Fringe is amazing and is huge every year," explains cast member Ruth Bratt.
"To have grown from a tiny 70-seater Portakabin in what is essentially a car park most of the time - it's taken a long time to grow the show.
"The idea for Showstopper! - which is improvised - is that it should be as good as a West End musical, so we've always had aspirations to be in the West End but it takes a long time to raise the money and get the backing to get here."
And so, for the first time, the company has turned to crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise money towards putting on the three-month run.
Donations were rewarded with perks including personal performances and songs to front row seats.
But Bratt says it's about more than simply raising money.
"You are also raising awareness of what you are doing and building excitement plus it was a good way for us to reward people who have watched the show for years.
"People come back time and time again to see the show in Edinburgh so we do have a lovely loyal support group and it was nice to be able to give something back so that they would definitely get seats."
In a notoriously competitive, often overcrowded market which has left the West End littered with failed shows such as Stephen Ward, I Can't Sing and Dr Zhivago, even an established Fringe and touring audience doesn't guarantee success.
Showstopper! The Improvised MusicalImage copyrightIdil Sukan
Image captionThe company improvise an entirely new show every night and have more than 600 performances under their belt
"What we have noticed is that the audience is slightly different in the West End because there are a lot of tourists here. But there are people who just love coming to West End shows, so hopefully there is a new audience there, too.
"It's very much a gamble, any West End run is, and we just hope the word gets out."
With more than 600 performances, Bratt says she is confident that the company has never, knowingly or otherwise, repeated any songs or themes with the show being different every night, based on the suggestions thrown at them.
"The bit of your brain that you use to memorise isn't the same part of your brain that you use to improvise, it's quite difficult to do. Sometimes people will say, 'Oh I saw you do a show about this', and you have no recollection of it at all.
"You do worry about repeating yourself but even if you do a love story one night and again the next night, the story will be completely different and the characters will be completely different so its actually quite hard to repeat things," Bratt explains.
However some people remain unconvinced that the show is improvised, she admits.
"There's nothing you can say, in a way it's quite flattering. There are times when you say, 'Really? You thought that story wasn't improvised. When it's about dinosaurs?'
"No-one would have written that, you would be laughed out of town."
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical runs at the Apollo Theatre Shaftesbury Avenue until 29 November.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

Madame Tussauds – Priority Entrance


  • Madame Tussauds has been making wax figures for over 150 years
  • The oldest figure on display is ‘Sleeping Beauty’ sculpted in 1763
  • See Madame Tussauds’ legendary Chamber of Horrors
  • Get Up Close To Your Favourite Celebrities Including Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and Adele
  • NEW Super Hero starring in Marvel Super Heroes 4D as Captain America joins the line up
  • Measure up to amazing new wax figure re-creating Chris Evans’ portrayal in Marvel Studios’ Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Check Availability - Book Tickets


Filled with 14 exciting, interactive zones and the amazing Marvel Super Heroes 4D movie experience, Madame Tussauds London combines glitz and glamour with incredible history.

Walk down the red carpet and strike a pose with Kate Winslet, before challenging your favourite sportstars like David Beckham or Lewis Hamilton. Start your royal experience with an audience with the Queen, before planting a kiss on Prince William’s cheek.
For the brave, get face-to-face with scary serial killers in our live fear experience SCREAM. After a sneaky behind-the-scenes look at how our World-renowned sculptors create the figures, relax in our taxis and relive the rich history of London.
Then step up to your favourite Marvel Super Heroes before getting ready to experience the spectacular and exclusive Marvel Super Heroes 4D movie, where our Marvel Super Heroes battle it out to save London from impending doom.
Did You Know?
  • Madame Tussauds has been making wax figures for over 150 years. Each masterpiece takes four months, and a team of 20 dedicated sculptors, to create.  Over 500 precise body measurements are referenced and real head hairs are inserted one by one - all to achieve the kind of astonishing realism that has kept Madame Tussauds world renowned for over two centuries.
  • Some of Madame Tussauds’ original work and earliest relics are still on display in London, including the death masks she was forced to make during the French Revolution and the Guillotine that beheaded Marie Antoinette. The oldest figure on display is ‘Sleeping Beauty’, a breathing likeness of Louis XV’s sleeping mistress Madame du Barry sculpted in 1763.

The London Time Tour Bus with Free Guide Book


  • Set out on an adventure through time with Professor Quantum
  • Travel in style on a genuine 1960s Routemaster bus
  • Take in the incredible sights of London including the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
  • Speak to famous people from the past using the Professor’s Time Phone
  • Learn about the past, present and future of London!
  • On-board actors and technical trickery combine to create a full theatrical experience.
  • Fun for all ages
  • Free Guide Book
  • Check Availability - Buy Tickets


The London Time Tour
Join Professor Quantum on an incredible journey through time and see the beautiful sights of London on a genuine 1960s Routemaster bus. Learning unbelievable facts about the capital along the way; see the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street, St Paul’s Cathedral, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge and London Bridge. Entertaining and educational, the time tour uses a mix of live actors, on-board theatrics and an air of mystery to create a riotous adventure that is perfect for all ages. 

During the tour, hear tales of the Professor’s adventures through time, see some of his personal footage of historical events and interact with actual historical figures using the Professor’s Time Phone. This fun sightseeing tour is fun for all the family and the perfect way to learn about the city’s past present, and future!

Click to view the Route Map

Welcome to London - London Tour


  • The ideal beginning to your trip to London
  • Tour London’s best sights on an open top bus with an expert guide
  • Set off from Victoria with a friendly expert onboard, guiding the way
  • Witness the colourful Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace
  • Get back onboard for a guided journey to the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral
  • Includes entry to the Tower of London
  • Check Availability - Book Tickets


A Guided Tour of London
Led by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide, this excellent tour is the perfect introduction to the city! Starting in Victoria, board a Hop On Hop Off bus and travel around the city, visiting some of the London’s most famous sites with your guide informing and entertaining the entire way.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is the first stop, the main home of Her Majesty the Queen and the biggest working palace in the world. With full commentary from your guide, witness the Changing of the Guard, a vibrant and colourful ceremony that combines dramatic display and British pageantry.

St Paul’s Cathedral 
When the Changing of The Guard finishes, get back on the bus and take an enlightening guided trip to the awe-inspiring St Paul’s Cathedral, Christopher Wren’s architectural masterpiece. While entry isn’t included there’s lots to see outside and the opportunity to buy tickets if you want to enter. This is also a good moment to get a bite to eat if you’re feeling peckish.

Tower of London
Next up, take a short ride to the imperious Tower of London, the last stop on the tour. Entry is included, so take your time exploring this incredibly imposing and historic castle. Visit The Crown Jewels, The Yeoman Warder Towers, The White Tower and see the famous inhabitants, the black ravens that live in the fortress.

Hop On Hop Off

Your bus ticket is valid for the rest of the day, so take full advantage and travel to wherever you want to go in this magnificent city!

EH Shepard: An Illustrator’s War - House of Illustration 9 October – 24 January 2016

An exhibition of never-before-seen original artwork from one of the 20th century’s greatest illustrators

Ernest Howard Shepard is one of the most significant illustrators of the 20th century, best known for his drawings of Winne the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows as well as his regular work as lead cartoonist for Punch.

EH Shepard: An Illustrator’s War is the first ever exhibition to show Shepard’s illustrations from the trenches during his time as a Royal Artillery officer in the First World War.

The exhibition brings together over 100 original artworks – many never seen before – including personal sketches from the pocket books Shepard kept throughout the war and unpublished correspondence between Shepard and his wife Florence, which he often illustrated with portraits and pictures of his sleeping quarters. It will also include personal items including his paintbox, articles of his uniform, his maps of the trenches and photographs from his family collection.

As well as recording his experiences Shepard continued to work as a commercial illustrator throughout the war – even while serving as an officer on the front line and taking part in the battles of the Somme and Passchendaele, where he was awarded a Military Cross for bravery.EH Shepard: An Illustrator’s War will feature work produced and sent back from the trenches for Punch and other publications.

Shepard’s skills as a draughtsman were also put to use during his service. He made precise topographical drawings for strategic use by his battery – including one that measures 1.5 metres long and depicts sites of battle in the Italian mountains.

All of this wartime work will be placed within the context of Shepard’s lifelong career in illustration, beginning with his early life and work. A proficient artist from an early age, as a young boy he mostly drew colonial battle scenes and scenes from theatrical productions. Both themes would remain important in his later work; he went on to draw real battles from observation, while the theatre remained a big influence on his later work as a political cartoonist (using the body and gesture to convey meaning).

By the time war broke out in 1914, he had established himself as a cartoonist and illustrator, and even after joining up he continued to produce cartoons, which displayed his characteristic light humour despite the horrific things he was witnessing.

Because of his work throughout the war, he slid comfortably into a career as an established illustrator on his return from the war in 1919. In the five years after returning he worked as a cartoonist at Punch magazine and illustrated the first Winnie the Pooh book. The exhibition features early rough sketches for Winnie the Pooh and illustrations for other books by authors including Kenneth Graeme and E.V. Lucas.

Colin McKenzie, House of Illustration’s director, said: “It is exactly one hundred years ago that a man who became one of our best loved illustrators volunteered for active military service.  We are delighted to able to present, for the first time, a body of work that shows not just the way in which EH Shepard used his talents to provide humorous and wry observations for general consumption, but also the way in which he illustrated and recorded the world around him for his family and for the military.”

The exhibition at House of Illustration will coincide with the publication Shepard’s War by Michael O’Mara books on 1 October 2015.

EH Shepard: An Illustrator’s War
9 October 2015 - 24 January 2016
House of Illustration, 2 Granary Square, London N1C 4BH. Open Tuesday-Sunday 10am-6pm. Closed Mondays. Admission: £7/£5/£4. Information: 020 3696 @illustrationHQ.

“CARE Then and Now” Interactive exhibition

Wednesday 21 - Sunday 25 October (inclusive), 11:00-18:00, admission free gallery@oxo, Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London SE1 9PH

Did you know that people in the UK were among the first recipients of international aid? When World War 2 ended 70 years ago, hardship in the UK and across Europe was far from over. Food shortages and rationing continued for several years – and many thousands of families in the UK benefited from ‘CARE packages’ containing food and other essential supplies, sent through the charity CARE by people in the USA who wanted to help us in our hour of need.

This exhibition tells the story of CARE packages THEN and NOW – showing how the same concept of ‘the kindness of strangers’ still underpins the help that people in the UK give to people in need across the world. Through hands-on exhibits and interactive installations, you can explore the evolution of international aid, reliving the memories of some of the original recipients of CARE packages in the UK and Europe after World War 2, and finding out more about the modern-day CARE packages that bring much-needed help to people in need – from Syrian refugees and families in South Sudan fleeing from war, to women across Africa coming together to save money, start businesses and work their way out of poverty.

Nearest tube: Southwark

Contact details: Daina Rudusa 02070916137,

Description: Join the search for the original recipients of CARE packages

Monday 28 September 2015

Museum of London - Win tickets to the European premiere of SUFFRAGETTE

To celebrate our exhibition Soldiers and Suffragettes: The Photography of Christina Broom at the Museum of London Docklands, we’ve teamed up with SUFFRAGETTE to offer you a money-can't-buy prize!
To celebrate the forthcoming UK release of the acclaimed new film SUFFRAGETTE on 12 October, starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Anne-Marie Duff, Ben Whishaw and Meryl Streep, we have a pair of exclusive tickets for the star-studded European Premiere of SUFFRAGETTE up for grabs.
You might also like...
SuffragetteMuseum of London
23 Oct – 6 Dec 2015

If SUFFRAGETTE inspires you to find out more about women's suffrage, visit a new display in t
he Museum of London's Show Space which features exclusive material from the movie alongside the museum's latest suffrage acquisitions.


Serpentine Galleries Preview Pour Mémoire: Jimmie Durham and Rachel Rose - Wednesday 30 September 6.30-9pm

Royal Museums Greenwich - Major new exhibition opening at the National Maritime Museum

Major exhibition opening at National Maritime Museum
Immerse yourself in one of the most vibrant and chaotic periods of our history with Samuel Pepys and his witty, irreverent diary as your fly-on-the-wall guide. Explore a period of revelry and rebirth, revolution and catastrophe, which saw kings fighting for their crowns and London transformed into a world city following the devastation of the Plague and the Great Fire.

Exclusive 15% ticket discount 
Book your tickets now and get a 15% discount until 12 October 2015 - watch the trailer below to get the offer code.

Find out more

See what's in store and enjoy an exclusive discount
Pepys Show: Late
Party like it’s 1669

26 November
Join us for a night of fun and frivolities. There'll be plenty of drinks and dancing along with tours of the exhibition, talks from our curators, a pub quiz and more. Open mic act Cringe will also be joining us as people read out their own embarrassing teenage diaries. 
Join the party
Samuel Pepys Lecture Series
29 October  3 December 2015
Our Maritime Lecture Series returns with a special Pepysian focus.
Historians, curators and experts will delve deeper into the life of Samuel Pepys and the times in which he lived. Topics include Stuart London, beauty spots, diary writing and the 17th-century Navy. 
Enjoy a talk
Pepys Walking Tours
December –
Pepys' London was a chaotic place surviving fire, plague and revolution. Using his own accounts, our experts will lead you on walking tours of the capital to relieve these tumultuous moments. Join our Plague TourGreat Fire Tour or explore local history in our Greenwich Tour.
Explore the city

Lunar eclipse 2015: Londoners' incredible images of Super Moon

Londoners stayed up until the small hours of this morning to catch a glimpse of a rare 'super blood moon' over the capital. The spectacle, which was the first of its kind in more than thirty years, was visible in the skies above the city just before dawn.

Crimson: The super blood moon behind the clock tower in Crouch End (Andy Mayfield)

Dramatic pictures have captured the bright crimson moon lighting up the London skyline.
The so-called 'super blood moon' occurs when a supermoon and lunar eclipse occur at the same time.

Dramatic: The red moon hangs above the clock tower in Crouch End (Andy Mayfield)

During a lunar eclipse,  the moon turns a deep rusty red after sunlight is scattered by the Earth's atmosphere, and a supermoon occures when the moon is at its shortest distance from the Earth.
Last night's mood was just 226,000 miles away, when it appears 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than when it is at its furthermost point.
The last time a supermoon coincided with a lunar eclipse, when the moon is covered by the Earth's shadow, was in 1982 and the event will not be repeated until 2033.
Stunning: The supermoon over Westminster (Andrew Steele)
Conditions were good for moon-gazing last night and this morning, with relatively cloudless skies giving a clear view of the moon.
The lucky few who were awake to catch a glimpse of the spectacular sight said it was worth losing out on sleep for.
Illuminated: The moon over the London Eye (PJP photos/REX)
On twitter, Kate Crawford said: "Super blood moon beautiful. view from Streatham as clear as London sky gets. Worth the pre dawn alarm."
And Zack Goffe tweeted: "Love the supermoon it was so bright in London amazing..."
Atmospheric:  The supermoon rises behind Glastonbury Tor (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
The skies were painted red by the moon not just in London, but around the UK, and right across the world.
An image of the super moon taken in Hackney
he unusual celestial phenomenons have been feared throughout history, as they were feared to bring bad luck.
And some religious groups are convinced that last night's eerie sight is a sign that the End of Days is approaching.

Sunday 27 September 2015

Win a Champagne Hamper From Harrods

.Enter this competition for a chance to win a fantastic champagne hamper from Harrods worth over £350.

Friday 25 September 2015

Museum of London - October enews: Halloween horrors, new walks and exhibitions

The Crime Museum revealed

Opening on 9 October, objects from the Metropolitan Police's Crime Museum will go on public display in a major new exhibition at the Museum of London

Get the inside scoop with talks and workshops inspired by the exhibition, including opportunities to hear from exhibition curators and meet experts from the Metropolitan Police.

What's new in October
October walksGet out into the city with an expert guide this autumn. New walks invite you to explore the Isle of Dogs, find peace with a City green spaces walk or learn more about London's criminal past on a Crime Uncovered walk.

Suffragette at the Museum of LondonSee film storyboards and props from Suffragette. The film starring Carey Mulligan, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson and Meryl Streep, tracks the inspiring story of the foot soldiers of the movement (in cinemas 12 October).
London's night owls sleepoverRoam the galleries by torchlight this half term at a children's sleepover on Saturday 24 October. Meet Romans, Victorians and award-winning illustrators, and solve puzzles in the dark at the Museum of London.

>  Book now

Come with us this Halloween into rarely accessed areas of a 200-year-old building to scare yourself silly with haunting tales of the docks. A spooky season of grizzly ghost tours at the Museum of London Docklands kicks off after dark on 31 October, and includes a midnight tour that night.