THE irrepressible Henry 'Blowers' Blofeld, at 73, shows little signs of slowing down or relinquishing any aspect of his exuberant lifestyle. He once famously said that he would never retire… he'd drink himself to death first. After a busy Ashes summer dipping in and out of the Test Match Special commentary box in between solo theatre performances of his one-man show Shaken not Stirred, he embarks, this autumn, on a strenuous tour with erstwhile colleague and former TMS producer Peter Baxter, in a brand new show entitled Blowers & Baxter; memories of Test Match Special. Ahead of the Exeter performance at the Corn Exchange later this month we spoke to Blowers about his musical tastes… his guilty pleasures…
1. What was the first record/CD you bought?
My dear old thing! I'm old enough to remember skiffle and that's a very long time ago. I think it would have been Lonnie Donegan's Rock Island Line and it was probably on one of those old 78 'gramophone records', as we used to call them…
2. Who was your first musical crush?
George Formby. Not too sure about 'crush' or 'role model' but certainly a wonderful performer. A real one-off.
3. What's the best gig you have enjoyed?
That has to be Noel Coward at the Café de Paris in Regent Street. I met the great man when I was on honeymoon in Jamaica in 1961. He was incredibly modest… but he never stopped talking. He said 'Dear boy, you must do me the great privilege and honour of visiting me at my little house at Port Maria… don't worry, I'll give you a ring. You've got better things to do than ringing dirty old men like me on your honeymoon!' The following day the phone rang and it was Noel: 'Can I speak to Henry Blofeld? I don't know if you remember but we met at lunch yesterday at Ian Fleming's place…' which I thought was a rather marvellous throwaway line.
4. What is your guilty music pleasure/cheesiest CD?
High Society. A rather wonderful musical comedy with Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby… sadly none of whom are still with us… great loss.
It's the film I've probably seen more times than any other, and the song from it that I absolutely love is Well Did You Ever? when both Bing and Frank were really rather well oiled… It's GLORIOUS!
5. Who are you listening to now in the car or on your iPod?
As much of the Sixties as I can get!
6. What is your favourite karaoke song/song to sing in the shower?
Maurice Chevalier singing Thank Heaven for Little Girls from Gigi.
It very much reminds me of the excitement of the Sixties and also it reminds me of the fact that I saw Maurice Chevalier in person at his last performance in England at the time of The Twist and the old boy of 80-something was twisting better than any of them.
Blowers & Baxter; Memories of Test Match Special comes to the Corn Exchange on Friday, September 27, and tickets are available from the box office on 01395 665938 or on-line at www.intelligent-tickets.com