September 26th, 2016

BBC newsman Nick Owen stars in satirical football play featuring Coventry’s Ricoh Arena

Updated: 4:27 pm, Jul 08, 2015

A forthcoming satirical play about football featuring Coventry’s Ricoh Arena and the Sky Blues has landed a major new celebrity signing.

The writers of ‘One Year Off’ have announced BBC Midlands Today news presenter Nick Owen is to star – as himself.

The play – hitting the stage in Birmingham next week – features short spoofs of BBC television and radio news in a fictional year when all football has been banned by the government.

Co-writer Olly Forrester said: “A local report was written to feature Mr Owen who, being an all-round good sport, kindly agreed that FRED Theatre could record him speaking the lines written for his fictional self, and then use the recording in the production.

“We are extremely grateful to Nick, and all the other ‘names’ who’ve given their time to the project!

“Want to know who else has contributed? Come see the show…!”

‘One Year Off’ runs as part of Birmingham Fest 2015 at the Old Joint Stock Theatre July 16-18 at 7pm, with a matinee on Saturday 18 July at 2pm.

As the Coventry Observer reported last week, the play satirises commercialism in sport and football.

It was researched and written when the then Ricoh Arena owners including Coventry City Council were embroiled in a legal dispute with Coventry City Football Club’s hedge fund owners Sisu.

The ‘comic dystopia’s character ‘Ricoh’ – played by ex-Nuneaton Town player Benjamin Thorne – performs one of four 20-minute monologues.

The Ricoh Arena is portrayed as yearning to be a far more important ‘American-style’ commercial, sporting and cultural ‘multi-purpose venue’, rather than a mere football stadium for the struggling local football club.

The Ricoh character longs to host the ‘higher class’ sports of rugby and even cricket from the ‘public school tradition’, fine arts exhibitions and to be a vast social and commercial enterprise.

Research by co-writers Olly Forrester and Dom Fletcher included attending a sparsely attended Sky Blues game at the Ricoh.

Olly says they were also struck by the aspirational commercial language of stadium management company Arena Coventry Limited’s website and its lack of reference to Coventry City FC, as well as its tweets about anything from Coldplay concerts to activities for Valentine’s Day.

The Sky Blues had temporarily moved to Northampton Town at the height of the dispute before the stadium company was sold by the council and the Alan Edward Higgs Charity last October to Premiership rugby club Wasps, historically from London.

More details about the production can be found here: http://www.oldjointstock.co.uk/whats-on/one-year-off

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