Henry Normal and Nigel Planer

12th Sep 2024 3:00pm
Book Now

A special one-off performance of poetry, stories and thoughts celebrating the sea, the coast and edges of things.

Henry Normal as lived by the sea for over 30 years and been inspired by it for twice as long.

Nigel Planer is a comedy legend, an actor, writer and more importantly for this show he's a great poet. He joins Henry Normal, BBC Radio 4's 'poet in reticence' to reunite a team that entertains, educates and informs (but mostly entertains it must be said).

Expect poetry, stories, jokes, Q & A, fun, knitwear and a few surprises.

The Sea and me, Nigel Planer
From Nigel Planer’s poem; On Finding Someone

“…there is no turning back no turning and I am massively stable now in the swirling
there is no reminiscent story we can tell that will not fit
no neurosis possible no other route but this no miscegenation
since we are one and this is it
and the sea in its furious deafness confirms the certainty of us and the wind sings this coupling since Egypt and the Flood
if each ripple were a hint of other maybes if each star a window to a doubt
the water would lie glassy still around us, naked, and the lights would be out

I have a wary relationship with the sea. It’s terrifying and dangerous and yet exerts a magnetic pull. It’s almost as if I’ve spent my life trying to get away from the sea and its “Tumbling in Harness” as Dylan Thomas put it. From hopeless student days in a freezing Brighton, through to diving in the Pacific Atolls of Polynesia, the sea has had its unwelcome hook in me. Robert Louis Stevenson escaped from the North and spent the last 8 years of his life in the south seas, his poor health improving with each month spent on the waves. Following in his adventurous path, I was able finally to come to terms with the sea and face my own fears of it”. NP

Nigel will read poetry from his collection ‘Making Other Plans’ as well as some passages from the memoir he is working on, including the story of the extensive research into Robert Louis Stevenson that he did in order to write his play, ‘Death of Long Pig’

Henry Normal Biography

Henry is a writer, poet, TV & Film producer, founder of the Manchester Poetry Festival (now the Literature festival) and co-founder of the Nottingham Poetry Festival. In June 2017 he was honoured with a special BAFTA for services to Television.

He co-wrote and script edited the multi-award winning Mrs Merton show and the spin off series Mrs Merton and Malcolm. He also co-created and co-wrote the first series of The Royle Family. With Steve Coogan he co-wrote the BAFTA winning Paul and Pauline Calf Video Diaries, Coogan's Run, Tony Ferrino, Doctor Terrible and all three of Steve's live tours and the film The Parole Officer. Setting up Baby Cow Productions Ltd in 1990, Henry executive produced all and script edited many of the shows of its 17 and a half year output during his tenure as MD. Highlights of the Baby Cow output during his time include the Oscar nominated film Philomena, I Believe in Miracles, Gavin and Stacey, Moone Boy, Uncle, Marion and Geof, Nighty Night, The Mighty Boosh, Red Dwarf, Hunderby, Camping and Alan Partridge.

Since retiring in April 2016, Henry has written and performed 10 x BBC Radio 4 shows combining comedy, poetry and stories about family. His 11th BBC Radio 4 show 'A Normal Journey' will be recorded this autumn.

Born in St Anne's, Nottingham in 1956, Henry now lives in Fairlight, Nr Hastings with his wife and screenwriter Angela Pell and their son Johnny.

In April 2018, Two Roads publishers released his book of memoirs 'A Normal Family' which was written with his wife Angela Pell, drawing on his family experience. It immediately became a best seller on Amazon and has already been reprinted. The paperback was released on 21st March 2019.

Henry performs poetry at Literature Festivals around the UK and has eleven poetry books available from Flapjack. On 15th August this year Henry’s 12th poetry book entitled 'Collected Poems Volume 3' will be released, Henry’s 13th book 'A Moonless Night ' is also set for release on 28th February 2024. He was recently given an honorary doctorate of letters by Nottingham Trent University, another by Nottingham University and has a beer and a bus named after him in Nottingham!


'Succinct, heartrending and peppered with gentle punchlines’ Hannah Verdier, The Guardian

'Shove up National Treasures. We need to make room for Henry Normal' Simon O'Hagan - Radio Times

'the Alan Bennett of poetry' The Scotsman

'Dovetails bittersweet poetry with a sublimely observant wit' The Guardian

'A mixture of the absurd and downright wacky...a gentle giant of stand-up poetry' The List

'The poetry itself is stuff of proper substance, marrying the suburban beauty of Beatles ballads with the blunt candour of the kitchen sink' The Guardian

'Witty and uncannily accurate with his observations' The Stage

'Distinctly funny' Time Out

'It’s a rare and lovely thing: half an hour of radio that stops you short, gently demands your attention and then wipes your tears away while you have to have a little sit down' The Guardian

'It's a real treat to hear a seasoned professional like Henry taking command of this evening comedy spot to deliver a show that's idiosyncratic and effortlessly funny'

'Not heard anything that jumps from hilarious to moving in such an intelligent, subtle way as Henry Normal's show' Radio Times

Nigel Planer Biography

Nigel Planer was an original member of the comedy groups at the centre of the ‘Alternative Comedy’ movement in the 1980s and starred in the seminal TV series The Young Ones, and The Comic Strip Presents.

As well as novels, plays and TV and Radio scripts, he has been writing poetry for over fifty years.   Now he’s collected almost all of the poems into one volume, called Making Other Plans, as in, ‘poetry is what happens when you’re busy making other plans’ https://flapjackpress.co.uk/

His poetry has been published in the Guardian and in numerous anthologies as well as the 1997 collection ‘Unlike the Buddha.’

Also out this summer is his latest book, Jeremiah Bourne in Time – a strange and funny take on time-travel.