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Notes from the underground: The Space

The Space is billed as Brighton’s unique arts and media event and unique it certainly is. Where else would revered BBC Four Controller Richard Klein and renown actress Clare Grogan appear on the same stage as they are this Wednesday?

Boasting of bringing together the creative community with high calibre guests The Space more than lives up to the claim. It certainly did the night I went to check out the event with a line-up that could easily fill a room four times the size, and charge at least twice as much: Barry Norman, Frank Skinner.

It is inspiring to note that everybody, including the guests give their time for free. This really adds to the sense of the community, the evening as an opportunity for creative collaboration. Not only is networking actively encouraged but the guests offer genuine and valuable advice.

When asked for the secret of his success and what advice he would offer, Barry Norman who has enjoyed a long and illustrious career as a journalist and critic was open and heartfelt: ‘Telling the truth. If I thought it was good I would say so and if I thought it was bad I would say so and you had to believe that I meant that. There are no absolutes with reviewing. Don’t pretend to be something you aren’t and write like you believe it. Keep it simple. Be as informative as you can and if you can think of something amusing to say, well that’s always useful.’

Of course, above all the night is about entertainment and I was thoroughly entertained. Barry Norman regaled the audience with tales of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and the golden age of Hollywood. His potential for name dropping, John Wayne, Laurence Olivier, read like a list of who’s who of revered actors and the anecdotes were always amusing.

Even a brief interlude of a spiel about deformation and the legalities of copy write from the sponsors Acumen Media Law; which could have been one of those awkward promotions, sponsored events are often tainted by was hilarious, providing excellent fuel for Frank Skinner who repeatedly returned it as fodder for his jokes.

Presented as ‘in conversation with Biggy Smales’, it was a welcome chance to see Frank Skinner interviewed in such an informal manner with contributions also taken from the floor. Intimate questions were answered honestly and self deprecatingly and not just for comical value. However describing his ‘alternative comedy’ as ‘basically swearing’, Skinner’s joke about swearing on TV ‘as being a bit like anal sex. It’s alright as long as you give them a warning – give them a chance to turnover’ had everyone laughing. Frank as his name, Skinner was on top form.

Providing a spacious opportunity to get up close and personal with celebrated guests for just a £5 concessionary rate, The Space is well worth it.

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