Howzat! Night when Blowers and Backers bowl 'em over
BBC Test Match Special commentary has become the stuff of legend. Its stars are now on tour, as Sarah Colston reports.
HENRY Blofeld and Peter Baxter – stalwarts of BBC Test Match Special – are used to being on tour, following England cricketers around the world.
But now Blowers and Backers are the stars of a brand new show which is visiting Derby.
The audience can expect to hear humorous tales and name-dropping anecdotes garnered from all over the world over four decades of commenting on international cricket.
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Henry says: "We wanted to produce something like this for a very long time. The idea behind it was to use humour to tell our stories. People like a good belly laugh, it makes them feel better.
"It has so far been non-stop laughter and, might I add, very lady-friendly – the ladies love it."
Henry is one of international cricket's best-loved broadcasters.
He says: "I have 42 years of experience and a good sense of humour and I laugh at a lot of things, but I don't know why I'm reasonably well-liked. People just enjoy listening, maybe they were dropped on their head as children!"
His immediately recognisable voice, for which Henry received "no training at all", embellishes an ability to paint pictures with words. At 73, he is still on the Test Match Special team and will broadcast from Lord's and Trent Bridge in May.
Henry shares the stage with his close friend, Derby-born Peter Baxter, who was the producer of BBC Test Match Special from 1973 to 2007. Peter frequently shared commentary duties and worked with the revered, and now sadly deceased, pairing of Brian Johnston and John Arlott. Earlier this year another luminary, Christopher Martin Jenkins, also passed away.
"Test Match Special is as much fun to be part of in the commentary box as most people seem to think it is to listen to," says Henry. "But, in the box itself there are two different perspectives and, with Blowers and Backers on stage they will come together with, we hope, gales of laughter.
"Backers produced the show for 34 years, for all of which he was my boss. He brings the behind-the-scenes adventures he had in the production process to join my in-front-of-the-microphone stories and high jinks.
"Our blend of stories will be hilarious and Backers had better watch it as now, at long last, he is no longer my boss!"
Henry says the show will appeal to all cricket fans.
"All ages, and backgrounds can take something from it, we have some wonderful stories which are often terribly funny," he says. "I wouldn't take very young children though, they wouldn't understand. It is filled with stories and anecdotes about TMS at home and abroad, but it features many celebrated characters, and we also talk about the crowd, and about life.
"I have loved touring, and sharing these stories. And, for the last 20 minutes, we will answer some of the questions which the audience prepare prior to the show."
WHAT: Blofeld & Baxter: Test Match Special
WHERE: Derby Theatre
When: Tuesday, 7.30pm
ADMISSIONS: £18.50 (£17 concessions)
TICKETS: Call the box office on Derby 593939 or visit www.derbytheatre.co.uk.