The Leicester venue guide

After a tumultuous year and a half, venues need your support like never before. Here are some of the best places to see live music, theatre, comedy and more in the city

De Montfort HallDe Montfort Hall
Leicester’s grand civic concert hall sits on the shoulder of Leicester University, like Steve Ovett in the 1500m. Or maybe a more up-to-date reference.
In the past it’s played host to acts ranging from Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra, to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, to Led Zeppelin and Iron Maiden, to the The Clash and U2, to Amy Winehouse and Adele, to … oh, loads more. It welcomes all manner of good touring stuff, from crowd-pleasing theatre shows to top TV comedians to major gigs.
Coming up: Laura Marling, Paloma Faith, Kasabian, Alan Carr.

Curve - photography by Hitz RaoCurve
Leicester’s striking ‘inside-out’ theatre, which was designed to pull back the architectural curtains of a playhouse to allow audiences to get an idea of what goes on behind the scenes. Don’t leave Leicester without visiting at least once. The Exchange bar over the road is good too.
Coming up: Simon Amstell, Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell, Tokyo Rose, Derren Brown, A Chorus Line.

O2 Academy LeicesterO2 Academy
Two gig venues (capacity 1,400 and 500) built into Leicester University’s Students’ Union as part of a multi-million refurb of the 1950s building back in
2011. The SU had another major makeover this summer.
Coming up: The Libertines, Beastwang, The Skints, British Sea Power, Gary Numan.

The Y Theatre
The oldest surviving theatre in Leicester, with a programme that takes in comedy, music and more. Find it near the railway station.
Coming up: Gary Delaney, Comedy of Black Origin, Iain Stirling, Sukh Ojla, Slim.

The Little Theatre
The stage where a young Richard Attenborough took the first steps of his acting career is home turf for the Leicester Drama Society. The Little Theatre – find it off Granby Street – puts on a panto each year, and also hosts gigs for the Comedy Festival.
Coming up: Six Feet Away, My Mother Said I Never Should, Cinderella.

The Big Difference
Royal Blood, George Ezra, Blossoms, Wolf Alice, Russell Howard, Romesh Ranganathan, Katherine Ryan and Tom Allen … you’ve missed them all at this cafe/bar/venue on Leicester’s High Street previously known as the Cookie.
It’s recently been taken over by the charity behind the Leicester Comedy Festival.
Coming up: Olga Koch, Black History Month Comedy Night, Rachel Fairburn, Kae Kurd.

The Musician
A little bit hard to find if you don’t know Leicester that well: a small-but-perfectly-formed venue that punches well above its weight, bringing critically-acclaimed American roots artists – among others – to the East Midlands.
Coming up: Trials of Cato, Alice Robbins, Alabaster DePlume.

The Soundhouse
Independent venue a short walk from the railway station that specialises in rock gigs.
Coming up: Hanya, False Heads, Beans on Toast

Bar and 100-capacity venue, near to the DMU campus, in the old Gas Offices building on Horsefair Street, which has hosted gigs by Foals, Frank Turner and Frightened Rabbit and comedy shows by Stewart Lee, Russell Howard, Josie Long and more as part of the Bottle Rocket comedy night and Leicester Comedy
Top tip: it does slap-up breakfasts at the weekend too, and they don’t start serving them until midday.
Coming up: Echobelly, Gender Roles and Sound of the Sirens.

The Shed
Seedbed venue that first opened its doors in the mid-1990s. Home to the Ambush alt-club night, with past guest DJs including Enter Shikari, IDLES and more.
Coming up: Miss Bowie, Ohana, Oceans Apart.

2Funky Music Cafe
West End – no, not that one – venue, just off Braunstone Gate … so really handy for the DMU campus.
Club nights and tribute acts galore, and it’s recently had a major refurb.
Coming up: Sicaria Sound, Carroll Thompson, And Still I Rise, Polski Stand-Up w Leicester.

Attenborough Arts
Leicester University’s public arts venue, which offers a mix of performances, exhibitions and courses.
Coming up: Chief Springs.

Upstairs at the Western
Leicester’s only pub theatre – just 42 seats above one of the city’s best-loved neighbourhood boozers.
Coming up: Too Pretty To Punch, Doomscroll.

The Phoenix
Leicester’s independent arthouse cinema, with an ace cafe. Well worth the schlep to the other side of town.


Cinema de Lux
Your nearest – and swishest – cinema. All the big new releases, and pretty much right on your doorstep. Fancy seats available too.

Kurupt to the core: Bafta-winning People Just Do Nothing star Steve Stamp gets set for the BBC TV sitcom’s big screen debut

It’s been seven years since People Just Do Nothing first aired, and in that time this niche, rather underrated BBC Three mockumentary has steadily gained a devoted cult following, writes Fin Kettle.

“It was a few things that just came together at the right time,” says star and writer of the show Steve Stamp.

Seven years on from its pilot, the Kurupt FM guys have almost done it all, they’ve toured as their musical alter egos to the likes of Glastonbury and Ibiza, had a failed US remake, made a highly anticipated spin-off film releasing this summer and have even won a BAFTA for best scripted comedy in 2017.

Stamp is well known for his role as the creatively named DJ Steves, whose drug-fuelled antics and all-round obliviousness lead to some of the funniest moments in the show. Such as his anecdote on his relationship with drugs. “I wouldn’t say I’ve got a drug problem, I’ve got the opposite of a drug problem to be honest. I’ve got no problem with drugs whatsoever. I’ll try anything!”

“I’m quite lucky in many ways, but people seem to love Steves. He’s a soft, sensitive character that people are genuinely really nice when I see them in the street,” he says.

While many know him from his screen persona, he often goes under the radar in terms of his writing talent. After all, it was the script that ultimately got them the BAFTA win, but Steve explains that their writing process is uniquely collaborative.

“Because all of us work on the script, we sit down and talk about it, but I was basically given the role of main writer although it is very collaborative, which isn’t unique to our show, but the fact that all the lead actors are so involved in the writing is quite special,” he says.

“I’d say I’m most proud of the Valentine’s day episode, where Steve’s nan dies. I think that was like the big emotional moment. That is the one we won the BAFTA for as well.”

It is safe to say the BAFTAs were a surreal moment for the Kurupt boys, being surrounded by childhood heroes and red carpets, but Steve says it was just like a fancy wedding.

“It’s surreal man, it’s a bit like going to a wedding, like everyone’s in suits and there’s all this champagne knocking about,” he says.

“At first it was a bit stiff and awkward, like I don’t think I really belong in a place like that. It’s also nerve-racking being nominated because deep down you want to win but you know if you do you’ve got to get up in front of everyone.”

Steve reveals that he isn’t into the whole celebrity culture and rarely gets starstruck, but there were a few ‘pinch me’ moments at the BAFTAs.

“I remember seeing David Mitchell and I don’t really get starstruck, but he’s Mark from Peep Show!”

“Steven Graham came up to us and was just saying that ‘you lot are all so funny,’ that was mad for me,” he says with an excited grin on his face.

People Just Do Nothing, a sitcom about the hapless crew who run a pirate radio station in West London, had simple origins: just a group of friends messing around trying to make each other laugh with a bit of MC’ing on the side.

“It started with me and Hugo (Chegwin) MC’ing over these beats and doing these characters, trying to make each other laugh,” he says.

“Then I met up with Seapa (Grindah) in Thailand while I was travelling and we would do these characters that we’d seen in these pirate radio documentaries and just make each other laugh. When we got back, I thought there was potential for it, so we filmed some of it just to showcase that we were funny.”

Eventually they were picked up by BBC producers who saw potential, but Steve says it wasn’t an instant process.

“We had a little bit of YouTube fame, which in those days wasn’t really a thing as it is now. It kind of naturally evolved after that. It wasn’t like the next day we were on telly or whatever,” he says.

“Originally we were scared of those TV people, like we didn’t want them to ruin our authentic idea, but actually they developed it more and encouraged more of the drama and family elements.”

In terms of what it’s like on set, you may think it would be relaxed with improv encouraged but that isn’t always the case.

“None of us really know our lines a lot of the time,” he laughs.

“Most of the talking head portions are 80% improvised, whereas the other scenes are 80% scripted. You have to be careful with improv as there is a rhythm to each episode and you have to stick to that and make sure the viewer is carried along with it.”

“Improv is fun to do, but sometimes it can sort of take away from what’s important.”

People Just Do Nothing was clearly influenced by classic British sitcoms like The Office and Peep Show, but it was also just as much inspired by documentaries. This was the case when it came to finding a story for the much-delayed spin off film, People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan.

“When you’re writing a film, things have to be more cinematic in that you have to have scenes that feel bigger with more impact, otherwise it will just feel like a long episode,” he says.

“We had a lot of ideas like going to a festival or Ibiza, but they seemed obvious and cliched. So we started talking about their song becoming famous in Japan and it kind of made sense and felt believable. That came from this documentary we’d seen about a Grindah-esque music manager being completely lost trying to get his client a gig in Japan.”

The film was scheduled to release last year but with the rise of the global pandemic it was decided to delay the release till August 2021.

It is safe to say that Steve’s career in the entertainment industry is only just beginning. He has various other comedy projects being commissioned at the BBC written by and starring himself but says he wants to take more of a backseat from acting, instead focusing more on his skills as a writer and maybe even directing. The sky is the limit for the multi-talented Steve Stamp.

“I’ve got a couple projects lined up, mainly writing jobs and some acting gigs with the PJDN crew. Honestly, I mainly see myself as a writer.  I’ve done acting but I want to write and who knows maybe go into directing.”

People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan is due to be released on August 18.

Review: Frozen II – should we have just “Let It Go” after the first film?

Frozen II: Review by Emily Barker

With Jenifer Lee and Chris Buck directing once again, Disney are back with Frozen II six years after the original movie was released, and boy are they back with a bang.

Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven the reindeer (voiced by the originals from the first film) all return to our screens throughout the UK, this time to find out the origin of Elsa’s snow powers in order to save the kingdom of Arendelle.

Pexels Frozen 2

(SOURCE: Pexels)

This film opens with a flashback of the girls’ Mum singing a lullaby to All is Found, singing “can you face what the river knows?” in which we first hear the soprano, whistle-like noise that will become all the more apparent and more substantial throughout the rest of the film.

The sequel follows Elsa on her journey to follow this sound, leading her through the ancient, permanently-autumn Enchanted Forest to the Ahtohallan River to get the answers she so desires, even touching briefly on climate change issues, a big issue in today’s society, keeping the film current and up-to-date.

Pexels Frozen 2 2.jpeg

(SOURCE: Pexels)

A battle between the Northuldra soldiers and the soldiers of Arendelle however, means that the forest has been sealed off for decades by some form of magical fog. Elsa and her clan discover those people who are trapped within, the Northuldra soldiers and the Arendelle soldiers.

This time not featuring Let It Go in any form, the song in every child and parent’s head for a solid year or so (never actually reaching number one in the charts), but Into the Unknown, which is a more mature song about Elsa and her struggles, showing that the audience has in fact grown up with the characters themselves. Kristoff also gets a ballad in this film, Lost In The Woods about his struggle with finding himself and what to do about the one he loves. The cute snowman Olaf also gets a number about growing older, simply called When I Am Older. Anna sings about the first step for change in The Next Right Thing.

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(SOURCE: Pexels)

Frozen II was everything I expected it to be, and more, and it’s nice to see the directors have realised that the audience have grown up with the film by putting in mild adult humour whilst still keeping it family friendly, and that the songs are a lot more mature than in the original. I love that it has kept its family-friendly appeal.

Frozen II is in cinemas throughout the UK now, and you can watch the trailer below.

Joker review: The joke’s on you

By James Cannell



The grimace that says a thousand words


Gotham city provides a grim reflection of the modern society we live in today, where the rich can prey upon the poor and get away with it. Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of the ‘Clown Prince of Crime’ is a modernised telling of one of DC’s most iconic villains, but where the only true villain is society. But it is not the eerie reality of this film, nor the incredible performance by Phoenix that make it a hands down film of the year. It’s the fact it strays away from the classic narrative and places the story right in the hands of its audiences.

There are other adaptations of the Joker, such as Heath Ledger’s chaotic evil version which won its Oscar for his troubling and exaggerated representation. However, Phoenix’s should win his for the complete opposite reasons. His version gives a name to the character and provides the audiences with everything they need to empathise with the character without giving them a single reason to want to. Phoenix’s devotion to the role allow for an accurate depiction of mental health and the effects society can have.

Mental health is an important aspect of Joker, Arthur Fleck suffers from a variety of illnesses, however none are as disturbing as the Pseudobulbar affect. The illness causes the character to burst into laughter in inappropriate moments which provides unsettling moments that provoke awkward laughs from audiences’ members in an attempt to break the tension. This interaction with the audience is a perfect example of how the film demands the attention of its audience.

The main criticism of the film is ironically the entire idea of the film. The Joker originally is a character without a past, an enigma, whose sole purpose is to cause chaos for his nemesis, Batman. The character himself explained in the comic The Killing Joke that: “If I am going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!” However, this doesn’t mean that director Todd Phillips has simply binned the origins of the character. The film itself is a multiple choice, with audiences picking and choosing which aspects of it are reality or in Arthur’s head. The idea that the whole film could potentially be one big joke played on the audience by the Killer Clown is just one of hundreds of debates over the continuity of the film.

Credit is due to Cinematographer Lawrence Sher, whose ability to breathe life into the dead corpse that is Gotham city provides little need for dialogue as the bleak grimness of the world speaks a thousand words. However, scriptwriter Scott Silver seems to have taken a much more simplistic approach to the dialogue, and it surprisingly links arms with every other aspect of this film and walks into the not-so-bright, garbage-filled sunset.

Pro wrestling promoter thrilled to train actors in Fighting With My Family

By Luke Norman

A Leicester wrestling promoter has found it a surreal but thrilling experience to train the actors and actresses starring in the new film Fighting With My Family that is now on cinema screens.

Wrestling promoter Gareth Harris has built his own Leicester-based company From the Ground Up Wrestling.

He has also helped to train the actors and actresses in the new wrestling feature film Fighting With My Family that focuses on the story of WWE superstar Paige and her family and is based on a documentary by the family that was shown on Channel 4.

FTGU logo

Harris runs his own wrestling company From the Ground Up Wrestling

Harris trains the majority of the wrestlers that appear on his show and most of them appear on every show that he runs.

He said: “I have loads of fantastic up and coming stars, most will be unknown to the wrestling scene, that’s my gain and their loss.”

Many fans of professional wrestling believe that in recent years the British scene has been revitalised thanks to companies like Progress wrestling and ICW and the recent interest by WWE in UK wrestling with the setup of their new UK brand NXTUK, plus ITV is now taking a re-interest in wrestling with the return of World of Sport wrestling.

Harris sees this a bit differently and while he is very happy for the fact that many opportunities are now open for wrestlers in the UK to get exposure and experience to improve their work, the British wrestling scene has always been good in the 17 years he has worked in it, for many promotions.

He said: “Promotions would sell out every time I worked for them, they would have houses of up to 2,000 and ran hundreds of dates a year, way more than any promotion does nowadays.”

Harris has now also ventured into the film industry as he helped to train the actors and actresses of the new film produced by Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson and put together the matches that were used in Fighting With My Family.

He said “It was a great experience, surreal to be a part of the film world, they all picked it up well. Nick Frost had it down in minutes, I think it helped that he was a wrestling fan.

“I think the film did a fantastic job of portraying the Knights [Paige’s family]. I was very happy with how the film turned out, it’s a funny film which has a great story and somehow manages to add in a lot of heart, and what you have is a truly unique film – there’s nothing else with this mix.”


Harris with Fighting With My Family director Stephen Merchant

Harris and his company From the Ground Up Wrestling run events around Leicestershire that are intended to be enjoyed by the whole family, including on March 24 in Wigston, Elms on April 28 and Birstall on May 10.

For more information on upcoming FTGU wrestling events visit and for the school of professional wrestling visit