Sir Derek Jacobi and Pat Jones

Sir Derek Jacobi CBE and BLT’s Pat Jones (Photo: Dan Sands)

On Sunday 12th October 2014, BLT members donned posh frocks, dinner jackets and black ties for a gala charity fund-raising evening with none other than Sir Derek Jacobi CBE, interviewed on the BLT stage.

The evening began with a champagne and canapés reception, after which we all took our seats in the theatre and waited excitedly for the great man to appear. He did not disappoint.

The evening took the form of a conversation with our very own Pat Jones, who was also the prime mover in organising the event. Without being armed with so much as a clipboard and displaying a relaxed, easy interviewing style that would put Michael Parkinson to shame, Pat quizzed Sir Derek on his career.

His autobiography (which was also on sale on the evening) is entitled As Luck Would Have It and, as he himself pointed out, this title is particularly apt since he professed himself to be probably “the luckiest actor ever”. To illustrate this, he treated us to some delicious anecdotes from his fascinating career, starring such luminaries as Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir Ian McKellen and a hilariously scurrilous one involving Noel Coward.

As the evening progressed we were reminded that while luck may well have played a small part in Sir Derek’s early success, the majority of it can be attributed to his skill as a performer. His masterful storytelling held the audience spellbound for well over an hour and, as you might expect from one of our most illustrious actors, he certainly knows how to spin a yarn!

The evening was held in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, which was particularly fitting as this disease recently robbed us of two erstwhile BLT stalwarts, Howard Wilson and Fred Ridgeway. A grand total of £2,760.79 was raised for the MNDA, with Sir Derek generously giving his time free. Indeed, he was kind enough to contact Pat later to say how much he had enjoyed the evening and to send his thanks.

Grateful thanks are also due to Pauline Pead, Andrew Newbon, Jess and Tony Jenner, Howard Binysh, Phil Buckland and all the other behind the scenes ‘crew’ who helped to make the evening such a success – but chiefly to Pat Jones, who worked so tirelessly to make the whole event happen.

We wait with bated breath to see which illustrious theatrical knight she will coax onto the BLT stage next!

– Paul Campion

“I had a very enjoyable time. Well done and thank you. I was delighted with all the thanks and comments from your members which Pat sent to me. Derek.”