Go beyond the boundary with legend 'Blowers'
By The Bristol Post | Wednesday, June 13, 2012, 05:00
THE tales and titillation from BBC radio's Test Match Special have become a British institution – and people can experience them first hand in Bristol this weekend.
Peter Baxter, left, and Henry Blofeld, right, of Test Match Special; above, West Indies playing England at Trent Bridge last month
Providing ball-by-ball coverage of the England cricket team at home and abroad since the 50s, its presenters have built up a cult following.
But it is not just cricket that has made the Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra show so popular.
People will be able to enjoy the humour, quintessential Britishness and story-telling qualities of the show at St George's in Clifton.
One of Test Match Special's most familiar and popular voices, Henry "Blowers" Blofeld, and former producer Peter "Backers" Baxter are starting their UK tour in Bristol on Saturday night.
With four decades of broadcasting under his belt, Mr Blofeld has more tales to tell than hours in the day.
"There are so many really good stories that crop up, goodness knows what we'll be talking about," said the 72-year-old, who has an OBE for services to broadcasting.
"Saturday will be the first show proper. We did one show for charity in front of about 150 people and it was a great success."
His work in the sport has seen many visits to Gloucestershire's cricket ground on Nevil Road, but he has never performed in the city.
"I've played in Bath and Weston-super-Mare, but never Bristol so I'm very much looking forward to it," Mr Blofeld added.
"Bristol is the most wonderful city and there's nowhere in the country I would rather visit.
"Test Match Special is as much fun to be part of in the commentary box as most people seem to think it is to listen to.
"But, in the box itself there are two different perspectives and with Blowers and Backers on stage they will both come together with, we hope, gales of laughter.
"Backers produced the show for 34 years, for all of which he was my boss. "He brings the behind-the- scenes adventures he had in the production process to join my in-front-of- the-microphone stories and high jinks.
"Our blend of stories about TMS at home and abroad will be hilarious and Backers had better watch it as now, at long last, he is no longer my boss."
In his much-loved, Old Etonian tone, Mr Blofeld said it was not just a show for cricket fans.
"It's a comedy show more than a cricket show. And it's all unscripted, so every show on the tour will be different. The show is more a story of our lives and it's lady friendly. I think everyone will enjoy it.
"We live in a very gloomy world where we don't laugh enough, so any time you hear or see something that gives you a great, big belly laugh, it's great.
"On Test Match Special laughter is compulsory. It's not just about cricket and cakes. There are more serious discussions and we do go beyond the boundary, if you like."
Mr Blofeld commentated on England's Test match victories against the West Indies at Lords and Trent Bridge last month.
Mr Baxter was the organising brain behind, and producer of TMS, from 1973 to 2007.
He was frequently part of the commentary team and while he enjoyed many amusing moments over the years, being locked out of the ground at Galle, Sri Lanka, in 2001, and having to watch the action from a nearby fort was not one of them.
He said: "Test Match Special has always been like a family and the listeners are part of that family. And like all families, there are so many stories of the characters in it.
"The two of us have been having a lot of fun talking about all the funny things that have happened during our 35 years together on the programme and we're really looking forward to sharing that fun with audiences round the country."
â Blofeld and Baxter: Memories of Test Match Special is at St George's, Great George Street, on Saturday, June 16, at 8pm. Tickets cost £19.50. Call the box office on 0845 4024001.
â Don't miss Friday's Weekend magazine in the Post for more ideas on days out ideas for Father's Day