The Jewish Chronicle

Tea, biscuits and antiques with Cher

- A taste of showbiz life by Jonathan Shalit

It’s sometimes hard to remember the ‘old’, preCovid normal. A nostalgic glance through my diary reminds me of a happy whirl. Just over a year ago, my week included a night at The BRITS catching up with the likes of Ellie Goulding, Emily Atack, Kelly Brook. Mark Wright, Ronnie and Sally Wood and the ever charming Harry Styles who asked if I was still wearing red socks which indeed I was.

Then it was lunch at C London, with two of the most charming, generous, and kind philanthro­pists you will ever meet, Sir Lloyd and Lady Dorfman. That afternoon I popped into the grandeur of the London Palladium for the judges deliberati­ng which acts had made it to the live Britain’s Got Talent shows.

The next day it was the Military Wives film premiere hosted by Lorraine Kelly . Choirmaste­r Gareth Malone confided in me about his next TV show.

That week also saw me attend the GLOBAL Awards celebratin­g the stars of music, news, and entertainm­ent, preceded by the ARIAS, self-described as the Oscars of UK radio. There I met for the first time the extraordin­ary Emma Barnett, one of our finest broadcaste­rs.

We then filmed at the Clapham Grand The Emily Atack Show, ITV2’s highest new series of 2020, last week recommissi­oned for a second series.

Yet within a week the music suddenly stopped as Boris told us all ‘From this evening I must give the British people a very simple instructio­n —you must stay at home.’

We work predominan­tly with creative people who are often emotionall­y driven. Their generation of new ideas relates to the state of the environmen­t around them. So, the impact of Covid and enforced isolation has been mind-blowing for much of this community. Whilst we have seen exciting examples of those who have risen to the challenge, we have also spent many hours emotionall­y supporting people who have severely struggled. It is a testament to the human spirit that so many have emerged with strength and vision.

Last Friday, sheer joy, standing at the back of the London Coliseum stage looking out onto the vast auditorium to support West End star Janie Dee’s inaugural concert for the London Climate Change Festival.

Standing on this magnificen­t stage reminded me of my work with Katherine Jenkins, Dame Judi Dench, and Cher.

Some years back I met with the ENO artistic director and suggested they work with Katherine. A year later she was starring in Carousel produced by my friend Lord Michael Grade, to ecstatic reviews.

I will always remember producing Dame Judi Dench reprising her performanc­e of Send in the Clowns in A Little Night Music. I had to gently ask Judi to repeat her performanc­e when a key member of the orchestra missed their cue!

Another memory is of recording Cher singing Gershwin at Air Recording studios with the LSO and Sir George Martin. Cher was so brilliant that we finished two hours early. With time to kill before her evening flight to New York, Cher wanted entertaini­ng! She loved antiques and I was able to introduce her at short notice to my friend Martin Miller co-founder of Miller’s Antiques Handbook. Unable to reach him by phone, we went round and knocked on his door. Wearing his silk dressing gown he gave Cher and me a cup of tea, chocolate biscuits and the most fascinatin­g tour of his collection.

Two weeks ago, I was at London’s Television Centre in White City for the live broadcast of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. Our own Nathan Evans, whose Wellerman Sea Shanty is now the official UK number one top selling single, starred in their epic End of The Show along with Dame Joan Collins and legendary Queen guitarist Brian May. This followed NBC’s Saturday Night Live’s own Wellerman Sea Shanty skit a few weeks earlier.

Now as restrictio­ns lift, I can look forward to celebratin­g my birthday at the River Cafe. Last year it was just Katrina and me dancing to songs from our youth with daughter Sofia looking on disdainful­ly at her embarrassi­ng parents.

My charity shout-out this week is prompted by an elderly relative’s fall in last week in her kitchen. Family were there within half an hour to assist. Sadly, so many old people without family close by have to rely on the NHS care services and, of course, charities. So please think of Jewish Care who support and assist 10,000 people every week. And, The Care Workers’ Charity, as I think it is so important to also remember those who are so stoically doing the caring.

 ?? PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES Professor Jonathan Shalit OBE is chairman of InterTalen­t ?? Harry Styles
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES Professor Jonathan Shalit OBE is chairman of InterTalen­t Harry Styles
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