x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Henry Blofeld's familiar voice hits Dubai

We meet the famous UK cricket commentator in Dubai, where he's performing his stand up comic act at The Fridge tomorrow night.

Henry Blofeld at his home in West London.
Henry Blofeld at his home in West London.

For almost four decades, Henry "Blowers" Blofeld's distinctive upper-class tones and charmingly archaic turns of phrase have boomed out of radio sets in the UK as part of the BBC's Test Match Special cricket programme.

Hence, with the England cricket team touring the country for their series against Pakistan, Blofeld's been providing on-air commentary for the bat-on-ball action.

During his stay in the Emirates, he'll be taking time off from his microphone duties to put on a performance of his one-man theatre show, An Audience with Henry Blofeld, at The Fridge in Dubai.

However, after England cricketers' abject displays in their recent games, fans of the team will be relieved to hear Blofeld's monologue is not solely about the sport.

"It's not a cricket show at all," assesses Blofeld. "Even if somebody's not at all interested in cricket or has never heard of me, they should come along and I guarantee they'll have a laugh."

Instead, the audience will be treated to anecdotes from Blofeld's highly eventful life, touching upon his eccentrically old-fashioned parents, his education at Eton School and Cambridge University, and the twists of fate that steered him towards a career in broadcasting.

Also, expect a dose of name-dropping, as Blofeld reels off tales about the great and good whom he's been on convivial terms with over the years, including the likes of Noël Coward, Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness.

There's also an explanation into how his family name was appropriated by the James Bond author Ian Fleming for his disfigured, white-cat stroking villain.

Blofeld says: "People often ask, is there a connection between James Bond's nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and me? In the show I reveal that of course there is, as Ian Fleming was a great friend of my father's, and cribbed our name deliberately."

Due to his advancing years, as well as the success of his stage career, the 72-year-old now devotes more time to his theatrical enterprises than he does to cricket, only commentating on a handful of England's home games and rarely working overseas.

However, he's agreed to work on these games in the UAE, partly because of his affinity with the country, where he used to make regular sorties in his role as the honorary president of the Emirates Palace's Gentleman's Cricket Club. This relationship ended in the middle of last year, when managers of the opulent hotel decided to shut down the club, at least temporarily.

Nevertheless, Blofeld admits he's keen to continue his sojourns to the Gulf, especially in his capabilities as a thespian.

"It would be fantastic to also perform my show in Abu Dhabi or Qatar, or anywhere, really, where there's a substantial number of expats," he says. "I don't know why it is, but thankfully I'm quite popular over here. Maybe it's because I've been around so long, I evoke memories for [British expats] of their homeland."

hberger@thenational.ae

  • An Audience with Henry Blofeld is showing at The Fridge, Dubai at 8pm tomorrow. Tickets cost Dh50. Visit www.thefridgedubai.com or call 04 347 7793 for more information

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