Colors: Red Color

1980’s pop superstar, Rick Astley, is set to play a huge, one-off concert after he posted details of the massive gig, which is due for the Manchester Arena, on social media.


In a video message, the singer, probably best known for his greatest hit; ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’, said that it is the very least he could do to say ‘Thank You’ for all the NHS and Emergency Services who are working on the frontline in the fight against the worldwide epidemic.


He said: “I promise you that my band and I will give it our all to give everyone there a great night out”.


Shows and concerts have been called off around the world and venues have been forced to close for week, possibly months, - or, even longer – due to the pandemic.


Astley’s concert is due to take place on October 28.



New research has revealed the secret education behind some of today’s biggest stars, showing there may be more to certain celebrities than meets the eye.


With awards over for another year adult education charity, City Lit, has researched the topics and qualifications the big winners studied before they were famous, to showcase how education can help prepare you for life on the big stage.



Hip hop, pop and R&B star Lizzo, who recently took home a Grammy for Best Pop Solo Performance, studied Classical Music at the University of Houston, where she also developed her craft as a flute player.



Similarly, Nora Lum, the actress also known as Awkwafina, who scooped a Golden Globe for Best Performance in a Motion Picture in Music and Comedy, majored in Journalism and Women’s Studies at the University of Albany in New York, before turning her attention to acting and comedy.


Roger Deakins

Experienced and acclaimed cinematographer, Roger Deakins, the winner of the Critics’ Choice Award for his work on the film 1917, was originally on a different path altogether. After studying to be a Graphic Designer at the Bath Academy of Art, Roger’s persistence and dedication to photography on the side eventually saw him admitted to the National Film School and his career took off from there.


Boon Joon Ho

It’s a similar story when looking at the reigning Critics’ Choice Best Directors. Parasite director, Boon Joon Ho, who shared the award with 1917’s director Sam Mendes. He has a degree in Sociology from the University of Yonsei in South Korea, whilst Mendes achieved a first-class degree in English from the University of Cambridge.


Renée Zellweger

Renée Zellweger, who scooped the Oscar for Best Leading Actress for her starring role in Judy, boasts an English degree from the University of Texas, again flying the flag for those in the showbiz industry who were very accomplished before becoming a global star. 

While some of these international stars benefitted from seeing out their education to the end, some of this year’s big players made a huge success of themselves through more unorthodox routes.


Billie Eilish

Pop artist, Billie Eilish, is a prime example. The young American musician is currently dominating the music industry and was recently crowned Best International Female Artist at the Brits without pursuing any further education. In fact, the global superstar was largely home-schooled in her youth and was taught the basics of song writing by her mother from a young age.

Chris Jones, Director of Sales and Marketing at City Lit, said: “From seeing the broad spectrum of educational journeys some of the very best in film and music went on before realising their fame, it is clear that the skills and knowledge you learn through school, college and university can help you to achieve huge success.

“At City Lit, we pride ourselves on the huge range of courses we offer, with more traditional subjects available alongside a variety of subjects and skills to suit anyone’s interests and desires to learn.”

City Lit also has its own share of famous faces gracing its corridors, with David Bowie, actors Steven Berkoff and Richard Wilson, authors Jake Arnott and Jenny Colgan, comedian Jimmy Carr and Britain’s first female Muslim comic, Shazia Mirza, all attending the college.



Award Win

Further Education Pursued


Golden Globe - Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture [Musical and Comedy]

Journalism and Women's Studies/Mandarin - University at Albany, SUNY

Bong Joon Ho

Oscar - Best Director

Studied Sociology at Yonsei University, Seoul


Brit Award - Album of the year for ‘Psychodrama’

Studied Law, Philosophy and Ethics at Richmond Upon Thames College


Grammy - Best Pop Solo Performance [Truth Hurts]

Studied classical music focusing on flute at the University of Houston.

Renee Zellweger

Golden Globe, Critic’s Choice, Bafta, Oscar - Actress in a leading role

BA (Hons) in English Literature at UT Austin

Hildur Gudnadottir

Golden Globe - Best Original Score - Motion Picture [Joker]

Composition and New Media, Iceland Academy of Arts, Berlin University of Arts

Greta Gerwig

Critic’s Choice Award - Best Adapted Screenplay [Little Women]

Graduated from Barnard College with a degree in English and Philosophy

Roger Deakins

Critic’s Choice Award – Best Cinematography [1917]

Deakins applied to the newly-opened National Film School, but was denied admission as his photography was considered not "filmic" enough. He spent the following year wandering the countryside, photographing rural life in North Devon, before finally being admitted to the National Film School in 1972.



International movie superstar, Idris Elba, spent the time playing his guitar whilst he, and his wife, Sabrina, revealed that they passed their coronavirus quarantine.


The star of Luther, Mandela, Fast, Pacific Rim and Thor: The Dark World, spent two weeks in isolation after testing positive for the Covid-19 virus while shooting in New Mexico for a new film due for Netflix.


They kept themselves entertained whilst housebound as they got involved in the latest Tik Tok challenge – dubbed ‘Bored in the House’.


Idris, 47, made the most of the lockdown as he played his guitar whilst he was chilling out on the sofa.


Although they both passed their coronavirus quarantine period, they are currently stuck in the US awaiting a flight back to the UK.

To mark World Theatre Day (Friday 27 March), the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) invited people to join a live ‘watch along’ from their living rooms on Saturday 11 April of a recording of their 2017 production of Shakespeare’s comedy ‘Twelfth Night’, featuring Adrian Edmondson as Malvolio and Kara Tointon as Olivia.

The production will premiere on Marquee TV on Saturday 11 April, with the watch-along starting at   (UK time).

Marquee TV, the international multi-genre performing arts streaming service, working with the RSC and other arts organisations, is responding to the current closure of theatres by offering everyone a no obligation free 30 day trial to watch some of the best in theatre, dance and opera.  There are already 17 RSC productions available to stream, including ‘Richard II’ and ‘King Lear’ with, respectively, David Tennant and Antony Sher in the title roles.

Marquee TV will also be streaming ‘premieres’ of productions that are new to the platform, including ‘Twelfth Night’, each Saturday. 

The RSC is inviting everyone to join the ‘watch along’ by posting their comments live on Twitter during the performance. People can get involved by following the RSC - @theRSC - and by using the hashtag  #AlmostLiveFromTheRSC

Directed by Christopher Luscombe and set in 1890s England, ‘Twelfth Night’ originally opened in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon in November 2017. As with all of its Shakespeare productions since 2013, the RSC also broadcast Twelfth Night into cinemas across the world and into schools for free.

Christopher Luscombe, director of ‘Twelfth Night’, said: “In these testing times it’s wonderful that theatres are sharing such a range of their productions online. I do hope Twelfth Night will help to keep everyone entertained. As the play centres on two lost souls trying to find their way in an unfamiliar world, it may well speak to us all as never before! I was blessed with a fantastic cast and production team on this show, and I’m thrilled that their work is being celebrated - especially at a time when live theatre has had to be put on hold. A ‘watch along’, with the audience commenting on Twitter, sounds like a great idea to me - it’ll be fascinating to hear what everyone has to say!”   

Marquee TV’s Susannah Simons said: “Twelfth Night is just the right play to lift the spirits, and this is a wonderful production.  We are thrilled to be able to bring it to a wider audience, cross garters and all.”

Living his life with his own personal mantra of; “Let music build a bridge and let dance help you cross it” Dhol King Gurcharan Mall BEM, CEO, is the epitome of ‘If music be the food of life, then play on’.


The multi-award winning internationally renowned dhuol drumming master is a living legend in his relentless drive to promoting Dhol and Bhangra music throughout the world for over 52 gold-laden years.


The only recognised Asian artists of note, in the world, to hold three world recordsand who also received 8 ‘Lifetime Achievements Awards’ – including one from The Phoenix Newspaper three years ago.


A Bhangra historian, artistic director, organiser, teacher, singer, music producer, writer, choreographer and ambassador, Gurcharan, best known affectionately as King G, has not only been ‘banging the drum’ for the dhol drum, he has, since 1963, been promoting his home city, Birmingham, around the world to highlight the vast musical and cultural diversity his UK hometown has to offer the world.


And only recently he was further recognised; this time awarded with the “biggest honour for my 52 years of hard work sacrificing my family life in the pursuit of introducing the Dhol drum and making it popular worldwide”, as he put it.


At the Professional University, he was blessed and honoured to receive a special award for introducing the Dhol and making popular around the world, which was presented to him by RandeepSingh Kohli, president of World Book of Records – London, at the University, in Punjab, in India.


In addition to that he was presented with another ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ (his 8th L.A.A) for introducing the Dhol worldwide by Joginder S Jogi from Punjab Youth Club Origination at the Punjab Press Club Jalandhar and became the only Asian performing artists in the world to receive three world titles:- the Dhol Guinness World Record from 315 to 632 – the Bhangra Guinness World Record from 2,167 to 4,411 – and for introducing and making the Dhol drum popular worldwide (World Book of Records London) – 2 great titles on 1 certificate.


King G says: “God is great for blessing me that I am the ONLY Asian artists in the world who got 3 World Records and also who received 8 Lifetime Achievements Awards & 1 of them is yours 3 years ago”.


A founder member of Apna Sangeet and founder of:- Nachdey Hasdey, Nachda Sansaar, Hard Kaur, Dhol Blasters, Bhangra Blasters and Band Baja, King G Mall, a living legend within our midst, is stopping at nothing to spread the love of his musicical gift – the Dhol Drum – throughout the world.


Winners of two prestigious BBC Young Musician competitions will play for free to global audiences, from the centre of Birmingham’s cultural heart, when Lauren Zhang and Xhosa Cole each perform concerts in a brand-new initiative from Town Hall Symphony Hall (THSH) Birmingham.

THSH is closed but the iconic concert halls cannot be silenced and, in the coming weeks, performances by Xhosa and Lauren will be broadcast on Facebook, enabling audiences to come together in the safety of a digital space.

Nick Reed, Chief Executive of THSH, said:

Music has the power to bring people together.  Our Facebook Watch Parties are ensuring that audiences can do just that. Self-isolation does not need to mean people are isolated from their communities. Town Hall Symphony Hall is committed to bringing live music to our city and beyond and these Facebook Watch Parties will provide an opportunity for our friends to continue their discovery of the best of Brum’s musicians.”

On Monday 30 March, experience the ‘total phenomenon’ that is Lauren Zhang on the Watch Party.

Lauren Zhang began studying piano at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire while attending Birmingham’s King Edward VI High School, and is now considered as one of the world’s finest musicians. When she won the BBC Young Musician 2018, Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, said: "I can honestly say that Lauren is up there with the best – she is a total phenomenon”. Lauren is soloist with the BBC Orchestra, the BBC Proms and Proms in the Park, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the London Mozart Players and the European Union Chamber Orchestra.

Toks Dada, THSH Classical Programme Manager, said:

At just 16-years-old, Lauren Zhang won BBC Young Musician 2018 at Symphony Hall. Almost two years on, I'm delighted that the Birmingham pianist continues to visit and work with our halls. It seems entirely appropriate that Town Hall Symphony Hall has turned to a member of Generation Z, who has grown up in a digital age, to perform classical music to an online audience – encouraging global connectivity at this time of self-isolation.”

On Friday 10 April, join the Watch Party for Xhosa Cole’s Quintet.

Saxophonist Xhosa Cole, described by The Daily Telegraph, as ‘one of the hottest properties in British jazz’, won the BBC Young Jazz Musician 2018 with his ‘heartfelt’ performance. Handsworth-born Xhosa first played the tenor at Andy Hamilton's Ladywood Community Music School and joined the Jazzlines Ensemble as part of THSH’s Talent Development Programme. He regularly performs around Birmingham and teaches the city's next generation of talent.

Mary Wakelam Sloan, Jazz Programme Manager, said:

Throughout its history, jazz has connected with communities across the world. And this performance by a musician as creative and inspiring as Xhosa will reach out to thousands of people. I’m immeasurably proud that the Jazzlines Talent Development Programme has risen to these challenging times with this innovative response, and we thank Arts Council England and PRSF for their support, enabling us to support Birmingham’s freelance musicians during these testing times. This Watch Party will show how jazz has the power and the passion to bring us all together digitally, wherever we are.”

Jazzlines is a unique programme of creative jazz music and talent development from the charity that runs THSH. It offers performance opportunities to emerging and established contemporary jazz musicians as part of a thriving, artistically excellent programme in venues across the city and commissions cutting-edge new work, providing support to ensure future performances and a legacy for new projects.

Jazzlines’ FREE Friday jazz gigs will be performed in Symphony Hall’s brand-new performance space when it opens this autumn. This unique space, for talented local artists to have even more opportunities to perform as part of a daily programme with free and affordable performances, is part of the £13.2 million redevelopment of the world-renowned venue’s foyer.