King of the jungle and pantomime Christopher Biggins raises money for KidsCan at The Lowry Hotel in an exhilarating, laughter-filled affair.
A glass of sparkling champagne and smiling faces are the welcoming gesture in the glamorous but small and personal room of Manchester's five star Lowry Hotel. A beam of sunlight entered through the wide windows and played colours with the champagne. Cheerful laughers harmonised with the sound of clinking glasses. A perfect tuning of what was to come – An Afternoon with…Christopher Biggins.
He was the first star appearance in a series of the celebrity-filled afternoons organised by Salford-based charity KidsCan. The events are aimed at raising money to support research for children with cancer and develop leading treatment that is less damaging to the body.
Manchester-born Biggins, who has been involved with the charity for some years now, said: “I am thrilled to be here, to help this fantastic organisation. And I love afternoon tea. This is better than the Ritz.”
The iconic pantomime actor and winner of I’m celebrity…Get me out of here! was anxiously awaited by 36 people neatly packed at four tables. Biggins chose a nomadic approach to the afternoon as he moved from table to table to entertain and inform to guests.
It could not be more personal than this. It was emotional and thrilling to spend an afternoon drinking tea, eating cakes and scones and talking casual with a celebrity as interesting as Christopher Biggins.
By the time Mr Biggins reached our table, the champagne had already reached the blood stream and the mood was high. The initial stiffness of realising that the King of the Jungle was sitting next to us was quickly overcome, and everyone felt at ease.
The afternoon-tea talk started with a heated discussion about the correct way of eating a scone. Make sure you put the jam first and then cover it with cream – not the other way around, or the comedian will scold you.
The conversation, occasionally interrupted by the groups’ uncontrolled laugh bursts, went on with a detailed analysis of TV series and shows – X Factor, Call the Midwife and more. It turned out that Mr Biggins is a fan of Sky and never misses any episode of Dexter.
It was also exciting to learn the serious side of the actor and his involvement with Calcutta Hope – an Indian charity for homeless children. He shared memories and thoughts about his visits to Calcutta to support the charity.
The personal and intimate chat was followed by insights into what was going on behind the scene of I’m a celebrity…Get me out of here! The King of the Jungle, or as he put it Queen of the Jungle, shared his experience of eating ‘indigenous food’, his frustration with Janice Dickinson and the rat in his bed. Mr Biggins said it was ‘the most wonderful experience’ and one he would never repeat.
Stories continued about filming Porridge and Celebrity Come Dine With Me and how it feels to sit next to Frank Sinatra – his repertoire seemed endless. Inevitably, the sunny afternoon started and ended with the exhilarating laugh of Mr Biggins that could brighten even the grimmest face.
Talking to MM after the event, Mr Biggins said: “Children are so vulnerable and need a lot of help. It is wonderful that one is able to do things for children. The fact that children have cancer and die at a very your age is appalling because they have not had a life. I don’t really mind so much people having cancer when they are 80 because they have had a life. But a child has not experienced anything. That is why it is very important to do as much as you can for children.”
What does Manchester mean to the King of the Jungle?
“Well, it means something because I was born here. Although I was only here for three weeks I do enjoy it and I think what they have done with Manchester is fantastic.”
The ‘Afternoon with…’ series continues with celebrity nutritionists Jeannette Jackson appearing the last Friday of March followed by Apprentice star Ruth Badger. The afternoons will be a prelude to a much bigger event – KidsCan 10th anniversary when the charity will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest Can Can dance.
For more information about the future events and the work of KidsCan please contact Holly Bond on 0161 295 3864 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.