Tag Archives: starman

Louie Spence’s Showbusiness: Return to Pineapple Dance Studios

I’ve only seen half of the first episode of Louie Spence’s Showbusiness (I’m forbidden, on pain of death, from watching it without PLA Jr, and she had to go to school) – but I’ve seen enough to know we can safely file it under the Pineapple Dance Studios category. “Change is good,” says Louie in his introductory spiel, “I like change.” But in fact this really is PDS Series 2, so little has actually changed. Even the opening credits are the same(ish).

Whether this turns out to be a good thing (the first series of PDS was, generally, brilliant) or a bad thing (the first series of PDS was flagging badly by the end of the run) we’ll have to wait and see.

So far in this episode we’ve been reacquainted with Louie’s nephew, the hunky Lotan, who is now one of the Dreamboys (ie he’s a male stripper, but at least it’s showbiz!).

Talking of showbusiness, did you know that it’s 90% business and 10% show? This information was brought to us by the eternally sparkly Andrew Stone, who provides the 10% while Starman’s manager Rob is the man charged with supplying the other 90%. No wonder Rob looks permanently about to cry, though he leaves the actual crying to Andrew, who is so much better at it. I can’t help loving Andrew, who could come across as a monstrous ego but has a charm and a vulnerability that come through at the same time.

I also love his bandmate Jesus (second from left in the photo), who is Spanish, sulky and has great rock & roll legs.

Posted by PLA       (posts about the first series of Pineapple can be found here)

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Pineapple Dance Studios: The grand finale

If any of our lovely readers attended the Pineapple Dance Studios grand finale show at the O2 I’d love to hear from you about what it was like.

Judging from what we saw on the telly, it all looked a bit shambolic and cheap. Fun, though. Where else could we enjoy a man who feels a particular empathy to lobsters leading a crowd in a pincer-waving dance? Or Louie Spence running around in his underpants (ok, just about everywhere on that one)?

The sets were almost non-existent and the costumes were of school panto standard. Andrew Stone was bedecked in spiky shoulder pads that looked like they’d been knocked up by year 5 with polystyrene and Bacofoil. The rest of Starman were rocking the Clockwork Orange look, though (I think I’ve fallen a tiny bit in love with Jesus as a result).

We didn’t get to see the whole show. “Highlights” were stitched together with clips about the preparations for the event, including such disposable moments as Tricia Walsh-Smith pretending to be in dispute with rap combo Wizard Sleeve for the privilege of an en suite dressing room rather than a curtained-off cubicle in a tent.

I can’t actually believe that the O2 only has three proper dressing rooms, but it’s pointless really to carp about details. Pineapple Dance Studios has never been a straightforward documentary. It’s been camp, frivolous and funny.

And, occasionally, it’s been properly emotional. Last night we saw Louie Spence rehearsing a dance that he wanted to perform in the O2 show to Elton John’s ‘Your Song’, to be dedicated to his husband. As we’ve seen previously, Louie is amazingly flexible and a very lyrical dancer, but he’s not as young as he was, and I think we saw genuine frustration when his rehearsals didn’t go as smoothly as he hoped. But in the show itself the dance was beautiful and moving.

I’m going to miss Pineapple (though Sky1 is already showing “Best of” shows), but I’m sure we’ll see Louie popping up everywhere for some time to come. As for Andrew Stone and Starman, they still haven’t given up on mega-stardom. Not while there’s breath in Andrew’s body.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: Don’t frighten the fans

I think I’ve finally overdosed on Pineapple. The first episode of Pineapple Dance Studios that I saw was so funny and different that I distinctly remember thinking it should be on at least once a week for the rest of time. 11 episodes in out of a series of 12, and the novelty is wearing off.

My enjoyment is always in inverse proportion to the amount of screen time dedicated to the obnoxious Tricia Walsh-Smith, and the frankly dull Debbie “I am Pineapple” Moore. Last night’s episode featured too much of both. Tricia was filming yet another in a seemingly endless supply of music videos. This one involved her pretending to jump off a cliff. My thoughts were not charitable.

Debbie was busy with yet another in a seemingly endless supply of events to mark the umpteenth year since Pineapple opened. This time she commissioned a portrait of herself. I don’t know how much she paid for it, but my friend Christine’s son William (aged 12) could have knocked up a superior work for nothing more than his bodyweight in pick & mix. The best thing about this portrait was the reaction of Louie and Debbie’s daughter Lara. They’d agreed that if the picture was rubbish, Lara (who uses a wheelchair) would have a spasm. “It makes me feel… twitchy,” she commented, as Louie mugged for the camera.

Louie is always good value and he’s emerged from this series as a proper star, turning up on almost every light entertainment show apart from the election debates. But I can’t help loving the psycho-drama that is Andrew Stone.

Following last week’s “humbling” visit back to his Norwich roots, Andrew continued to spread the love this week by performing at an old peoples’ home, along with Starman keyboard player Craig. Andrew belted out some George Michael favourites to a couple of dozen elderly fans, some of whom were actually awake. He even got some of them clapping along to one of Starman’s greatest hits.

Andrew, who oozes sincerity like Cliff Richard on sincerity gas, was moved by the response. He’d also love to perform to children in hospital, he admitted, though of course when you’re dealing with people with such a tenuous grip on life, you can’t get them over-excited. Andrew thinks about things like that. He plans ahead.

He made more plans for the fame which he knows is just around the corner, by interviewing a personal security firm. They were fully aware of the dangers of superstardom, and quizzed Andrew as to whether he’d ever been mauled by a fanatical mob. “No,” he told them, but seemed quietly confident that such a mauling was an inevitable step in his career trajectory. It’s best to be ready.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: Knowing me Alan Partridge, knowing you Andrew Stone

Andrew Stone went back to his roots. It’s only fair, when you’re a “pop idol in waiting”, to touch base with the folks who nurtured you when you were less famous than you are now. Plus there was a private pressing of his CD to inspect.

Andrew filled up a bit when he saw Starman’s new CD (available today! Get your copy while you still can!), and then duly lugged a box of them to his local shopping centre. He sat signing copies for handfuls of adoring fans, and even stopped to give a special rendition of Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Hello’ to one very lucky lady. We’ll forget the fact that he asked for a round of applause afterwards.

With apologies to the good folk of Norwich – when Andrew pitched up at a local hospital radio station, I couldn’t help but be reminded of that other son of Norfolk, Alan Partridge. Alan Partridge and Andrew Stone don’t just share a birthplace, they share the same desperation to be loved and admired, and that same quality of making it so obvious that they need to be loved and admired that it’s almost painful to watch.

Louie Spence also craves the spotlight, but it’s his anyway by sheer force of his personality. This week he danced in high heels, licked a carpet and gave his nephew Lotan some dancing tips. Louie’s job title is “artistic director”, but he seems to spend most of his time inspecting the toilets and rolling up blinds. It’s all just an excuse to show off to the cameras, and accompanied by Louie’s relentlessly funny commentary, it’s hilarious.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: Much highlier trained

Andrew Stone’s tips for enduring beauty: (1) A little bit of what you fancy does you good and (2) Aloe vera applied after shaving acts like a face-lift. Not that Andrew needs a face-lift.

What Andrew needed was a backing singer, following the departure of Rosalee. New bezzie mate Cleo Rocos trawled through her address book looking for likely duetting partners. “Lily Allen?” she pondered. Andrew was thrilled – Lily Allen would be perfect. Cleo disagreed. “Robbie Williams?” was her next suggestion, and Andrew was more than willing to countenance the Robster adding a few shoo-wops and aahs to the Starman sound (presumably as long as Mr Williams stayed at the back of the stage and didn’t hog the spotlight).

Cleo, however, had a better idea. David Van Day. You know – superstar David Van Day. He was in Dollar, and made a real arse of himself on I’m A Celebrity. Cleo felt he was rather like an older Andrew, and would be a splendid mentor. And once they met, Andrew had to agree. What a spiffingly brilliant, loving, giving chap David was (even though he criticised Andrew’s fashion sense and tried to get him to wear a suit, which Andrew felt would be a bit too Spandau Ballet). Yes, David’s a great guy, and very, very similar to Andrew himself. “Only I’m much highlier trained in dancing,” Andrew said. Of course he is. That’s a given.

This week we met Louie Spence’s nephew Lotan. He’s a 21 year old window cleaner, but he can do the splits almost as well as his uncle. In fact Lotan could be a pretty good dancer if only he could be faffed. Turning up at Pineapple for his first dance class in three years, Lotan found it hard to keep up with the people who – gasp – train there regularly. He wanted Louie’s partying with celebs lifestyle but wasn’t prepared to put the sweat in first, apparently.

Louie was meanwhile showing off his pirouetting skills while taking the piss out of a man who wanted to run a swordfighting class at the Studios. “I’m a fully trained baton twirler!” Louie chirped, spinning his wooden sword expertly round.  The swordfighting teacher didn’t share Louie’s sense of humour, and told him off for brandishing his weapon inappropriately.  He was never going to last long at Pineapple with that attitude.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: Flexible friends

It was a very Andrew Stone-centric episode this week. Even Louie Spence was sidelined, confined to a bit of (very funny) schtick with a plumber’s toolbag (this is not a euphemism, though I expect Louie wouldn’t have minded at all if it was).

Following last week’s shock revelation that a record company exec deemed backing singer Rosalee to be Starman’s “wow factor,” rather than Andrew, something had to give. Andrew despatched youthful manager Rob to give Rosalee the news that she was being “let go” from the electro pop powerhouse that is Starman.

Rob gave an object lesson in how not to sack someone, but Rosalee wasn’t all that bothered as she was under the impression she’d already told him she was leaving. So exit Rosalee, and the hunt was on for another backing singer.

Posters were hurriedly printed (so hurriedly that Rob’s name was mis-spelled and they forgot to stipulate it was a female they were looking for) and distributed around Pineapple. Andrew felt the toilet doors would be a good place, so the ladies would see them while spending a penny. Someone suggested the inside of the doors would be a better option than the outside.

They weren’t looking for just anybody, mind. They had to be female, able to sing, under 5’7″ tall (guess how tall Andrew is?) and be prepared to dye their hair blonde. Band member Jesus sat in on the auditions and sulked throughout because he felt that no-one could replace Rosalee. Andrew sulked because Jesus was sulking.

Andrew has got a new haircut. Give it a few weeks and it’ll be the old haircut again (ie basically short but with some long bits on top) but it’s a lovely shade of grey with purple streaks in it. Louie watched the remodelled and refurbished Andrew taking a dance class and commented that he  looked like an old lady. A very, very flexible old lady.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: Lemons for Andrew

You’ve got to admire the resilience of Andrew Stone. Life gives him lemons and Andrew makes lemonade. A few more lemons, and he makes a nice lemon drizzle cake. More lemons and – well, you’d think eventually he’d just get sick of lemons.

This week Starman’s youthful manager Rob had some good news and some bad news for Andrew. The good news was that a hotshot music bigwig was prepared to back Starman, and someone who’d produced Kylie (in the musical sense, I don’t mean the Minogue parents) was happy to come on board as producer. Hurrah! Surely that Brit award could be just months away now?

Sadly, Mr Bigwig was only happy to do this as long as Andrew (“He’s not gay? Well, I’m… surprised”) was no longer sole frontman. He wanted backing singer Rosalee front and centre with Andrew.

Well, Andrew wasn’t having that. Invoking dreadful X Factor losers Same Difference, he declared that cheesy pop duetting was not what he was about. Rob agreed, and turned the offer down. So it’s back to square one for Starman. Or is it? Andrew, whose showbiz talents are only exceeded by his ambition, took Rosalee to one side. He’d had an idea. She was so talented, why didn’t she come more to the forefront of the proceedings? Rosalee seemed unsurprised by this about-turn (last week he was conspiring with Louis to keep her mainly in dark corners where she wouldn’t upstage him).

Andrew isn’t the only super-ambitious person on Pineapple Dance Studios. There’s also the dreadful Tricia Walsh-Smith, a woman with no discernible talent, the charisma of a three pin plug and eyes that have apparently been so surgically enhanced that they won’t close on their own. The big difference between her and Andrew is that he has charm and a sort of sweet vulnerability, and you end up rooting for him.

So what of Louie Spence this week? By his standards, a bit of a low-key episode, enlivened by some cake sabotage (only Louie would contemplate decorating a cake with some highlighter pens and a photo of himself) and clearing up some (human) poo from the fire escape. The poo was pixelated but I think we could discern that it couldn’t have been left by a ballet dancer, because, as we’ve learned previously, they don’t eat enough to produce solids.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: Electro-pop royalty. And Andrew Stone

What did we learn in this week’s Lycra-clad episode of Pineapple Dance Studios?

For one thing, we discovered that, when Louie Spence was 20, he was bloody gorgeous. What a face! Louie came face-to-face with his former face when he visited his old dance school to give the students a bit of a masterclass. As well as confronting the fact that, in your 40s, Mother Nature needs the help of Father Science (in the form of Brother Botox), Louie also found he wasn’t quite as fit as he used to be. Participating in a warm-up routine with the students, he found himself slumped in a sweaty heap while the perky teenagers were still bending themselves into inhuman postures. But, whatever Louie had lost in bendability and stamina, he’d gained in life experience and sheer pizzazz, and he still had plenty of breath left to impart this to the students.

Louie of course has an opinion on everything, including Starman. Andrew Stone’s band were doing a showcase show to try and impress industry bigwigs. One of them was Martyn Ware. Martyn Ware, from The Human League/Heaven 17! Electro pop royalty! Well, I was impressed. And he was a bit impressed by Starman, too, so maybe things are looking up for Andrew.

Louie took Andrew aside after the gig to have a word about backing singer Rosalee. Andrew’s been worried that she hogs too much of the limelight, and Louie confirmed this. Make her stand a bit further back, was his advice.

Elsewhere the Pineapple Dance Group were shooting a promotional video, which at one point involved them stripping down to almost naked, oiling up and writhing together in a very small trench. I wasn’t quite sure where the “dancing” element came into this, but it certainly looked like fun.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: It’s not easy being fabulous

In last night’s sparkle-tastic Pineapple Dance Studios, we learned that Andrew Stone is absolutely serious about his plan for musical world domination, Starman.

As he perched in the make-up chair prior to his debut gig, the man who’s previously been an ego on a stick looked decidedly nervous. He admitted he had “a lot riding on Starman. I’ve sold my house for this,” (which explains why the “crib” he showed us round last week was a very tiny flat). “I’ve lost possibly everything I’ve ever owned to make this happen, and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. I felt for him, I really did.

But then this was coming from the self-proclaimed “triple threat,” the man who is a brilliant singer, dancer and actor – so was he acting? This is the problem when you’re fabulous.

Another problem is dealing with the more unsavoury aspects of life. One of Louie Spence’s jobs, as he tells us each week, is inspecting the Pineapple toilets. This week he gave us more of an insight than we might actually have wanted. “Honestly, it wasn’t nice in there,” he complained, retreating swiftly from a cubicle. “Ballet dancers, you know. All Coca Cola and yogurt, it can get very messy in there. There’s nothing to make you solid.” Apparently this is a problem confined to ballet.  “We get more solid when it’s more jazz and evening people from the offices,” Louie says. “More on their solids. Toasted cheese sandwiches and things, binds everything together. When you’re on a ballerina’s diet, or a ballerina’s wage you haven’t got time for solids.”

Louie is a natural comedian, but I’m finding that at this point in the programme’s run, it’s only the bits with Louie and Andrew that I really enjoy. This one focused a bit too much on “internet sensation” Tricia Walsh-Smith, who shows what dogged ambition and a knack for self-promotion looks like when it isn’t served up with a massive side-order of Andrew Stone-like charm.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: My talent is my costume

Pineapple Dance Studios seems to be love-it-or-hate-it TV, but I reckon anyone who hates it must have had their sense of humour removed at birth.

This week, Louie had a lot on his plate. Andrew Stone’s band, Starman, were filming their video at Pineapple, and their smoke machine kept setting off the fire alarms. Louis rushed up and down about seven staircases and along maze-like corridors to retrieve his high-visibility tabard, before confronting the future pop superstars. They could absolutely not do anything that would set the smoke alarms off, he told them.

Then he showed us another studio that they could have used, along with a variety of ways that a piece of polystyrene could be used as a prop.   “There’s an effect!”  he said, scraping off a shower of polystyrene balls.  “It could be snow, it could be dandruff, it could be skin from being burnt in the smoke under the electrics.”

Even before the smoke incident, the video shoot wasn’t going perfectly for Andrew. Backing singer Rosalee had ended up with a far better costume than the painter’s overall he and the rest of the band were given. Andrew had been promised mirrors on his. The video’s directors appealed to his vanity, and Andrew knew exactly what they meant.  “What you want is for my talent to speak out,”  he said with his trademark modesty,  “and not to look different because that talent will be seen as the costume. I’m cool with that.”

Andrew generally comes across as totally up himself, but there was a neat sequence in this episode where he showed us round his  “crib”  (a very modest little flat) and happily took the piss out of himself.

Back at Pineapple, Louie informed us that a member of  JLS (“the biggest boy band in the country – apart from Take That”) was in the building.  “I know his name,”  he said (it was Oritse),  “but it’s got an S in it, so I’m not going to push it out this early in the morning.”  As well as dealing with his lisp, Louie also had a power cut to contend with. He toured the building flicking useless light switches on and off, and every time music started up he broke into a possessed-looking dance routine. He really is astonishingly flexible.  “It’s a form of epilepsy. I hear these drums and I just… go!”

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