A Rendezvous With Jacqui Somerville, Canal Cafe Theatre, 25 August 1992

A rare, indeed mysterious visit to the Canal Cafe on a Tuesday.

I recall this only vaguely. The diary helps just a little.

When I dropped off my Woody Allen & Mia Farrow lyric the week before, I think I ran into Jacqui Somerville herself at the Canal. Either that, or I ran into Harriet Quirk who had a message that Jacqui wanted to meet me. In any case, Jacqui and I arranged to meet on a non-NewsRevue evening.

Jacqui had been directing the early spring run of NewsRevue – that was the first show I saw. I shall write up the story of my early correspondence and visits in the fullness of time. Jacqui had her own ideas about the show, including her own pet writers, some of whom were cast, which went down very badly with the regular writers.

Indeed, at the first NewsRevue writers meeting I attended, some told me not to bother submitting for a few weeks, others simply suggested that I don’t lose heart and resubmit material that had longevity for the subsequent run; which was in fact the John Random run that first used my stuff.

So I do remember Jacqui’s rendezvous request sort-of feeling like an assignation. What would the other writers think if they found out about it? Was she going to try and recruit me into the comedy writing dark side? Or to spy for the Russians or something?

In fact, I recall finding Jacqui quite delightful company, very encouraging and full of good advice/ideas for my writing. I had a little burst of creativity over the subsequent bank holiday weekend, which I’m sure was somewhat inspired by that Tuesday evening chat.

I don’t know whether Jacqui met up with any of the other regular NewsRevue writers over that summer to build bridges, but she certainly won me over and used plenty of the regular writers’ material (not least mine) in future runs she directed, not least the 1992 Christmas run.

I also recall running into Jacqui and her more serious theatre work in subsequent years.

I wonder whether Harriet remembers much about this tiny incident or indeed whether this short piece might be a magnet with which to re-establish contact with Jacqui, as part of our “class of ’92” reunion project?

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