I’ll be the first to confess, when it comes to Hugh Bonneville, I was VERY late to the party. I hadn’t really seen anything with him in it until Christmas 2019, when my much younger half siblings declared me “the worst” as I wouldn’t let them watch Paddington 2 as I had not yet seen Paddington. Traveling to work the next day, I downloaded Paddington to watch, and after seeing Mr Brown thought ” oh, hello, he’s a bit good, wonder what else he has been in”. Of course, Downtown Abbey was the obvious answer, so roll forward 3 weeks, and I had watched every single episode, Christmas special, and the first movie. Since then there has been Notting Hill, The Viceroys House, The Silent Hour, To Olivia, and the exquisitely creepy I Came By.
Imagine my excitement then, when I heard a book tour was coming! I immediately sent out group messages to the gang, and all was booked.
After what seemed like an eternity, 15th October rolled around. After a few scares (emergency X Rays, COVID outbreak at work and potential train strikes, to name a few), we find ourselves in a beautiful theatre off Sloane Square .Cadogan hall is one of my favourite venues, and the perfect size for something like this.
After a faux pas in the introduction “Sir” Hugh Bonneville, (and would that be such a stretch!?) enters the stage, and immediately owns it. He is not Lord Grantham, Mr Brown, or , mercifully Hector Blake. He is Hugh, warm, funny, and just so intensely likeable. You feel as if you are old friends having a cosy catch up in a small coffee shop.
This man was born to tell stories, from being a child digging a grave for his sister, to a Roman soldier facing the wrong way(!), we hung on every word, not noticing the time flying by. For me, working with those living with dementia, his stories of his father struck a particular cord.
His passion for his work and career are evident, when talking about Judi Dench, Michael Gambon, or the misbehaving dogs of Downton, he frequently left his seat to re enact one scene or another and we lapped it up. Very rarely do we get to see a star of his stature so up close and personal, so every single second was a dream.
The Q&A session in the second half was revealing, hilarious and charming, and the night was over far too soon.
The ticket I purchased included a signed copy of his book, Playing Under The Piano. And, I am so glad it did. Hugh writes like he speaks, funny, passionate and down to earth. Some of the stories he told on the night are in there, as well as many, many, more. To be fair though, the book is worth it for the pictures alone!!
To anyone wondering if you should get a ticket, or buy the book, I say do it, and do it now, as tickets appear to be selling fast
Now, I’ve just realised he is speaking at Alleyns in Dulwich, where my friend is a teacher..off to make a phone call…..