Blofeld and Baxter bring outrageous anecdotes to The Capitol

Blofeld and Baxter. Picture by Steve Ullathorne
Blofeld and Baxter. Picture by Steve Ullathorne

Don’t expect too much chat about the cricket as Blofeld and Baxter team up for Rogues on the Road.

Yes, the cricket will be mentioned in passing, but the duo will be much more interested in sharing their outrageous reminiscences of life touring the far-flung corners of the globe covering the cricket for radio.

Henry ‘My Dear Old Thing’ Blofeld is one of Britain’s best-loved broadcasters while Test Match Special producer Peter Baxter corralled lost passports and errant broadcasters for more than 34 years.

The England cricket team are off to the UAE this autumn; Peter and Henry are touring the nation’s theatres, with a date at Horsham’s Capitol on Friday, October 23 (01403 750220).

Peter started with the BBC in 1965. He first worked on Test Match Special the following year and produced the programme for 34 years until 2007.

“The game has changed so much. Helmets came in, obviously. The whole thing has a very different feel to it. One of the big changes was the arrival of coloured clothing.”

Essentially the role was to be an observer: “But I must admit I was slightly horrified by the coloured clothing. As the old saying goes, it was just not cricket. Part of the appeal was the whites, but I was actually converted a bit in Australia at a sell-out game at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), this huge arena, and it was all part of the spectacle.”

Since then, T20 cricket has also come in: “When it first came in, we were promised face-painting and all the other things going on, but actually the cricket proved the main thing with it, and I think they were quite surprised about that!

“But maybe now they are in danger of killing the golden goose a bit. They might be overdoing it. But at the height of T20, I went along to see Northampton, and the place was packed, with everyone thoroughly enjoying a chilly evening.”

And it brings in the money, crucial to support the game at county level so it can support the game at national level…

At international level, Peter certainly has his concerns, though: “What concerns me most is the three-way carve up at the ICC (cricket’s governing body), which is just appalling, with India, England and Australia together. They have decided that they will deal with all the rights. These three are the ones that make money in Test cricket, and the others don’t.”

Meanwhile West Indies Test cricket continues to decline: “The West Indies are very important to world cricket. They hold the cultural balance between the western countries and the Asian countries. The trouble is their finances have always been a bit shaky. But you never know. Things are fickle. If they suddenly come up with a couple of star batsmen and star bowlers, things might turn around.”

It’s all part of the rich experience Peter brings to the show: “I am privileged to say that I worked with two of the greatest broadcasters on any subject in any era: Brian Johnston and John Arlott. A lot of it is to do with the voices and also with the intellect. John Arlott was a brilliant man, and to a certain extent it was a golden age.

“I do sometimes listen to the commentators now, and I think you can tell they have grown up in a TV age whereas before the commentators had grown up listening to the radio. They knew they had to paint a picture. Sometimes you might hear a (radio) commentator these days, and it feels they have forgotten that the listener can’t see the game.”

Click here for tickets.

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