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Barbara Nice's Christmas Cracker at Birmingham MAC - Interview and Preview

Home > Birmingham > Theatre | Shows | Performing Arts | Comedy | Christmas
by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
Event: -
Kings Heath housewife's seasonal comedy spectacular
It's a Christmas party like no other as 'Kings Heath's most famous housewife', Mrs Barbara Nice, hosts her annual festive shindig at Birmingham MAC on December 17 and 18.

As well as her famous raffle and tombola there will be mince pies, rib-tickling comedy and special guests, including Josh Pugh, Lorraine Bowen (on December 17) and ukulele group Moselele (on December 18). As at any Barbara Nice event, expect the unexpected – she's been known to do a spot of stage-diving, crowd-surfing and sliding down stairs on a tea tray.

Barbara Nice, Janice Connolly, Christmas Cracker, Birmingham MAC, Christmas Shows, Coronation Street, Phoenix Nights


Barbara Nice is the creation of Stockport-born comedienne Janice Connolly who now lives in the Birmingham suburb of Kings Heath. Well known around the Second City, the wider world may recognise her for her television roles in Coronation Street and Phoenix Nights and on stage in Anita & Me.

She reveals that Barbara Nice made her first appearance at Birmingham's Gag Club, near the Hippodrome Theatre.

''I was compering there but wanted to do some stand-up so I worked out a character that I thought would survive in clubs - she's very robust, she's good fun, she does unusual things. She's been very successful. I was trying to devise somebody everyone could identify with, a mother figure.''

Barbara Nice, Janice Connolly, Christmas Cracker, Birmingham MAC, Christmas Shows, Coronation Street, Phoenix Nights


Janice had moved to Birmingham to study for a teaching degree and was enticed by the city's vibrant arts scene. She was in a couple of punk bands, The Evereadies and The Surprises.

''We were going around at the same time as UB40 and The Beat,'' she says. ''It was a very exciting time. I enjoy music very much and Barbara uses a lot of music in her show.''

For the past 32 years Janice has been artistic director of Women & Theatre, a company she co-founded that is committed to social change through new theatre and drama. They perform in a variety of settings including schools, health centres and conference halls.

''We did a project a couple of years ago to celebrate 30 years of Women & Theatre, looking at women who had been doing their jobs for 30 years. A lot of the work Women & Theatre does is based on research, we talked to women who had been doing their jobs for 30 years. Then we thought it would be a good idea to have a niche project so we've been talking to young women who are trying to get onto the career ladder in 2016. We've commissioned writers, myself included, to write pieces based on the research. It will be kind of looking at the challenges for young women finding jobs and careers in 2016.''

Barbara Nice, Janice Connolly, Christmas Cracker, Birmingham MAC, Christmas Shows, Coronation Street, Phoenix Nights


Janice had two short stints in Coronation Street playing Dolly Gartside and Sheila Wheeler.

''It was fantastic,'' she says. ''Would I have liked to have spent longer in the show? It would be a big commitment to have a full time job in one place. I get quite a lot out of dipping my foot into different places because I think they all impact on each other.

''I'd like there to be more comedy in Coronation Street. When I see it I think, Oh, where are all those fantastic comedy characters? There's Norris Cole, but there are not as many comedy characters now and I think that's a shame. We don't want to see people being murdered and jumping in and out of bed with each other. It's more interesting to hear about barm cakes and a quarter of boiled ham – that's the kind of talk we want!''
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Why? Laughter guaranteed at annual Christmas cracker.
When: December 17 & 18, 2016
Phone: 0121 446 3232
Where: MAC, Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham
Cost: From £11
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