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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA


previews, reviews, interviews, and recommendations

with Steve Cooke


REVIEW by Steve Cooke

Memoirs of an Irish Comedian – The Jimmy Cricket Story

I recently had the honour of being asked to write the Forward to Jimmy Cricket’s autobiography.

“You are about to enter the world of the wonderful human being that is Mr James Mulgrew.

Hear about his childhood years growing up in Northern Ireland and his days spent in the holiday camps. The tough times touring the North of England club circuit as a stand-up comedian and his big break into television culminating in his own series for Central television in the eighties and his radio series in the nineties.

Join him, his family and those well-known and unknown to the wider world, on a journey that will fill your heart with joy and laughter and also tug at its strings.

Jimmy shows us what true celebrity can be as he provides a much-needed alternative to the meteoric rise and burn of our ‘look at me’ culture.

Memoirs of an Irish Comedian – The Jimmy Cricket Story is life affirming! After reading it I felt better about the world of showbiz and the world in general - ENJOY!’”

I truly believe that Jimmy should be celebrated far and wide for keeping alive the tradition of Variety and providing joyous family fun.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Available from Amazon at £11.99 and worth every penny.

PREVIEW by Steve Cooke

The Octagon Theatre announce a very welcome stellar and varied new programme set to entertain audiences this autumn and in to 2024.

Featuring unmissable new adaptations of a gripping classic drama, a sensational musical adventure, a hilarious comedy, and a timeless novel, in what promises to be a must-see line-up.

Opening the season is a cutting-edge new version of Arthur Miller’s powerful drama,

A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE (Fri 8 – Sat 30 Sep) in a co-production with Headlong, Chichester Festival Theatre and Rose Theatre. This timeless masterpiece explores family honour, desire, and relationships and how they can ultimately unravel, in Miller’s gripping and profoundly moving drama. Directed by rising star Jaz Woodcock-Stert (Electric Rosary, Royal Exchange & the Olivier Award nominated Paradise Now, Bush Theatre)

The Octagon will then present JEEVES & WOOSTER IN PERFECT NONSENSE (Wed 4 – Sat 21 Oct) - a dazzling and inventive new comedy adapted from the works of P.G. Wodehouse. Expect twists, turns and mishaps aplenty from this iconic double act when this fast-paced comedy comes to Bolton, in a co-production with Wiltshire Creative. Directed by Marieke Audsley, fresh from her acclaimed recent production of Ladies’ Day at the Octagon Theatre.

Next up is a rip-roaring musical adventure in the world premiere adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic, AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (Thu 16 Nov 2023 – Sat 13 Jan 2024), from the brilliant writing team of previous Octagon festive productions, A Christmas Carol, and Treasure Island. Travel through fascinating and exotic lands with eccentric entrepreneur Phileas Fogg and go on a wild dash across the globe in this sensational family adventure. Directed by Kash Arshad following his recent success directing the Octagon production of Vinay Patel’s epic drama An Adventure.

This is followed by a compelling new production of George Orwell’s iconic classic drama, ANIMAL FARM (Thu 1 – Sat 24 Feb 2024), adapted for the stage by Ian Woolridge. This enduring and devastating satire about equality and the corruption of power will be brought vividly to life in the Octagon’s co-production with Derby Theatre and Hull Truck Theatre.

The season will also include a huge array of exiting family entertainment for audiences of all ages.

M6 Theatre Company return with brand-new family show NEST (Sat 30 Sep) filled with clowning, wonderful original songs, and beautiful shadow play. Compete in games, puzzles, and quizzes in the brilliant interactive live comedy gameshow WIFI WARS (Sat 7 Oct).

Two wonderful children’s book will transfer from page to the Octagon stage this season: the acclaimed WOW! SAID THE OWL (Fri 13 & Sat 14 Oct) is brought to life through a blend of beautiful storytelling, puppetry, and music, from Little Angel Theatre; then a fin-tastic musical featuring all 3 adventures from the SHARK IN THE PARK series (Mon 23 Oct).

Join Mr Bubbles for THE BUBBLE SHOW (Tue 24 Oct), promising a unique blend of magic, storytelling, science, and bubble art. Cracking comedy for ages 6 and up with COMEDY CLUB 4 KIDS (Sat 28 October) featuring the best UK and international comedians doing what they do best– but without the rude bits. Rounding off the family entertainment is a wonderful yuletide festive treat for ages 2+ with, ALFIE THE ELF’S CHRISTMAS RESCUE (Wed 13 – Sat 23 Dec) in our Studio Theatre. Alfie the Elf has been stranded with no way back to the North Pole – join him as he brings his fabulous festive stories to life and gives a peek inside how Christmas really works in Santa’s workshop.

There is also a fantastic selection of comedy and entertainment this season.

The Octagon’s sell-out COMEDY CLUB (Fri 14 & 28 Jul, Fri 1 & 15 Sep, Fri 6 & 20 Oct, Fri 3 & 17 Nov and Fri 1 Dec) will return for even more hilarity. Due to such incredible demand, there will now be double the laughs with two comedy nights per month, showcasing the best names on the comedy circuit. Local comedian JUSTIN MOORHOUSE (Sat 28 Oct) will make a return to our main stage in a brand-new show.

SHAKESPEARE’S FOOL (Sat 21 Oct) is a bittersweet tale told by an idiot. Join Will Kempe in his final performance as he recalls what really happened between him and William Shakespeare in this captivating show from Tortive Theatre. Dyad Productions present a twenty-first century take on Virginia Woolf’s A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN (Fri 27 Oct) - a wry, amusing, and incisive trip through the history of literature, feminism, and gender. Then the uplifting, all-female, gig-theatre show JOY UNSPEAKABLE (Fri 27 & Sat 28 Oct) that is both all about food and nothing to do with food, explores disordered eating through real life testimony.

The Octagon’s Artistic Director, Lotte Wakeham, commented:

“I am thrilled to announce the full details of our autumn/winter season which has something on offer for audiences of all ages.

“Our audiences have expressed their love of classics and adaptations of novels, and we have some really exciting productions for them in the coming season. From really meaty dramas including a gripping new production of Arthur Miller’s visceral drama A View from the Bridge and Orwell’s iconic story of tyranny and rebellion in Animal Farm, to our world premiere musical adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days which promises a visual spectacular as we take audiences on a journey around the globe, there will be something for everyone. “The season also has a feast of family entertainment – we are really passionate about encouraging younger audiences into the Octagon and giving them their first experience of live theatre, so I am thrilled we have such a varied programme for families.”

“I cannot wait to bring this line up of world class theatre to our audiences in Bolton and beyond in what promises to be a stellar season at the Octagon.”

The best way to see shows will be with the Octagon’s Season Saver packages– with audiences getting the best seats at the best prices, saving up to 20% off tickets with individual tickets on sale NOW.

For more information or to book tickets visit or call the Box Office on 01204 520661.

Octagon Theatre, Howell Croft South, Bolton BL1 1SB


Wednesday 17 May

Wednesday Art Group

The weekly Art Club will regularly explore a variety of topics using collage, drawing, painting, and mixed media drawing from Touchstones Rochdale’s current exhibitions and the borough’s collections. All materials will be provided.

The sessions are designed to reduce stress, build confidence, and meet others through creativity.

Creative Health and Well Being Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation based in Rochdale. They run art sessions that are informal and relaxed whilst ensuring the topics are informative and help participants to build skills.




Touchstones Gallery Rochdale, The Esplanade, Rochdale OL16 1AQ

Wednesday 17 May

Toad Lane Concerts - Rochdale's Weekly Music at Lunchtime

This week we have Music from Dimitra Ananiadou violin (Univ of Greece, York & Manchester) Richard Whalley piano (Univ of York & Harvard).

The concert series has been held at St Mary’s since 2001 and was granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2020… during the pandemic!

Running every Wednesday, Music at Lunchtime is a weekly live classical music concert series that has been going since the 1960s. The sessions were initially run at the old Rochdale Art Gallery by the local authority, but since May 2001 have been run by volunteer-enthusiasts and artistic director, Dr Joe Dawson.


Phone: Dr Joe Dawson 01706 648872

Doors open 12noon, concert starts 12.30pm - 1.30pm

St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane/St Mary's Gate, Rochdale OL16 1DZ

Wednesday 17 May

Spring Concert

A concert of mainly light-hearted music with the Coronation of King Charles III in mind played by the Rochdale Light Orchestra conducted by Graham Marshall. Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks and Bach's 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring' along with 'Derby Day' by Robert Farnon, 'By the Sleepy Lagoon' by Eric Coates and 'Red Sky at Night' by Graham Marshall.

Appropriate interval refreshments will be served, and there will be a retiring collection in aid of the Orchestra and St. Michael's church.


Phone: Graham Marshall 01706 642139



St. Michael's Church, Bamford, Bury and Rochdale Old Road Bamford, Rochdale OL10 4BB.

An oasis of positivity supporting individual and community wellbeing.


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