Letchworth Arts Takeover: A whale of a time as visitors including Red Dwarf’s Norman Lovett drop in

Letchworth Arts Takeover: The giant whale in the middle of town, pictured early in the morning while

Letchworth Arts Takeover: The giant whale in the middle of town, pictured early in the morning while everything was getting set up. Picture: Steve Brewer - Credit: Archant

A 50ft inflatable whale was among the many attractions in Letchworth town centre at the weekend – with performers including the comedian behind the Red Dwarf computer.

Letchworth Arts Takeover: Aquabatics in Leys Square on Saturday. Picture: JP Asher

Letchworth Arts Takeover: Aquabatics in Leys Square on Saturday. Picture: JP Asher - Credit: Archant

Norman Lovett – who appeared in four series of sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf, playing the eponymous ship’s “senile computer” Holly – gave an intimate stand-up performance at the Garden City Brewery as part of Saturday’s inaugural Letchworth Arts Takeover.

He had been set to appear on the comic stage further up The Wynd, but heavy rain late in the day forced a change of plan.

Norman’s surrealist observational comedy ranged from the topics of fire safety and receding hair lines to his admiration of pop group the Sugababes.

He said: “Wouldn’t it be good for people if when they put on weight, the first thing to get fat was the tongue? Then you couldn’t put anything else in your mouth, so that stops you until you lose some weight.

Comedian and former Red Dwarf actor Norman Lovett performs at the Garden City Brewery in Letchworth.

Comedian and former Red Dwarf actor Norman Lovett performs at the Garden City Brewery in Letchworth. Picture: JP Asher - Credit: Archant

“On second thought, that could kill people through asphyxiation, so perhaps not such a good idea. But I’ll keep trying.”

Speaking to the Comet afterwards, he said: “Letchworth – it almost sounds like something you’d call someone. ‘You’re such a Letchworth!’

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“The joke that got the biggest laugh was quite rude, which perhaps shows what people are really like deep down.

“Today didn’t quite go as expected but it’s still worked out OK. Everybody still had a good laugh, it’s just the weather. Wasn’t it the warmest summer we’d had for such a long time? But not today.”

Letchworth Arts Takeover: sculptor John W Mills and town centre manager Tom Hardy cut the ribbon to

Letchworth Arts Takeover: sculptor John W Mills and town centre manager Tom Hardy cut the ribbon to open the event. - Credit: Archant

As well as Norman, the Garden City Brewery hosted an al fresco performance from Edinburgh Fringe regular Thom Tuck, one third of the Penny Dreadfuls troupe that has appeared on BBC Radio 4.

Attractions in the town centre during the day included storytelling inside the giant whale and at David’s Bookshop in Eastcheap, street dancing and music on the main stage at the end of Leys Avenue, and demonstrations in sculpting, weaving and more at the Digswell Arts Studios in Openshaw Way.

Town centre manager Tom Hardy – who cut the ribbon to open the takeover alongside sculptor John W Mills, who lives at Hinxworth Place – said the atmosphere on the day had been superb.

He said: “The takeover highlighted to me how much there is to see and do in the town.

“ICAS Vilas Fine Art in Leys Avenue pulled out all the stops by bringing in John W Mills – they laid out of a red carpet and organised a meet-and-greet marquee area in front of their shop.

“The 50ft whale in Leys Square was a great success and attracted huge numbers of children to climb inside and experience a storytelling performance.

“I am delighted that we have managed to engage so many great businesses in this event to highlight not just the arts in Letchworth but the growing business community in our fantastic town centre.”

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