BBC Children in Need Dine and Disco 2016

Wow, what can I say about Saturday nights job?  Sometimes I have to pinch myself, I am just so lucky! On Saturday I was at Chris Evans pub, The Mulberry near Chiddingfold to photograph the 10th and final Dine and Disco for Children in Need.  Places at this event were auctioned during the Radio 2 Breakfast Show earlier in the year and raised over £2 million for the charity which is quite extraordinary.  Chris and his team had put on the most spectacular event and to be a part of it was a total pleasure.

The evening began with an introduction from Chris, followed by a Q and A session with the five chefs, James Martin, Mark Sargent, Tom Kerridge, Giorgio Locatelli and Natasha Evans as well as wine expert, the lovely Olly Smith.  Much hilarity ensued as the chefs were joined by the brilliant Dawn French who had me crying with laughter!  The guests then made their way in to the pub for an absolutely scrumptious meal prepared by the chefs.  I had an access all areas pass so spent a lot of time in the kitchen photographing the chefs at work.  For the guests there was a starter of Scotch Egg and Choux Buns stuffed with Truffle Chicken Liver and Fig Chutney prepared by Natasha Evans, Ring shaped pasta with monkshoods, samphire, dry capers and lemon (Giorgio Locatelli), poached salmon with wild watercress mayonnaise, asparagus and caviar (Mark Sargent), Whole roast baby chicken with oak gravy, caesar salad and cheesy truffle triple cooked chips (Tom Kerridge and Chris Mackett) and finally desert of vanilla and vodka panna cotta with sugar doughnuts, fresh raspberries and jelly (James Martin)  As someone who considers opening a tin fancy cooking, I was blown away by the food they were producing.  Fortunately for me there were sample on offer so I was able to indulge in Tom Kerridge’s triple cooked chips, Tash’s scotch eggs rounded off with James Martin’s desert to keep me going!

As if five courses of the best food in England was not enough, the entertainment moved outside to the teepee of love in the pub garden.  On the Breakfast Show last week, Dawn French promised a mystery guest who was first on stage and she was revealed to be Mel C who belted out two songs for the guests.  Next up was Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbot.  As a massive Beautiful South fan, I had been really looking forward to seeing them and I was not at all disappointed – they were just brilliant!  Being the final ever Dine and Disco the surprises kept on coming for Chris and next on stage was Sharleen Spiteri (who had been hiding in the pub rooms all afternoon) and she introduced Seasick Steve who had driven all the way from Norway for the evening!  It was clearly a huge surprise for Chris who seemed quite emotional at the effort people had gone to to make this happen.  The highlight of the evening was the appearance of Paul McCartney, who had also returned from Norway with his crew and kit to perform (they were then heading out to Denmark for another tour show two days later!)  Unfortunately Paul requested no photography so I am unable to share any but I can say his performance was something I won’t forget.

Following the main acts on stage, Chris took to the DJ booth with jumping Jimmy Flash and the dance floor was full with people just having the best time!  Just when I thought things would be winding up, the human jukebox, Phil Holbird took to the stage and the karaoke got underway!  At 2am I called it a day and left the party in full swing.

I would like to thank Camilla Hansen (landlady of The Mulberry and organiser extraordinaire!) The Frothy Coffee Man, Hiten, Lel Hurst who second shot for me, Nicola who recommended me for the job, Stu, MJ and security guy 1 and 2 from Paul McCartney’s crew for the laughs!  Anyway enough words, here are the photos.

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