Countdown’s Queen of Dictionary Corner, Susie Dent explains the surreal origins of words and relates her funniest TV moments on 15 January. There’s lots more chat from Marian Keyes (15 February), Lady Glenconner (23 February), Roddy Doyle (15 March), John Challis in Only Fools and Boycie (4 April), Brian Blessed (14 April), Gyles Brandreth (11 May) and Trevor Eve(31 May).
Tickets for comedy events sell out very quickly, but (at the moment) there are still seats available for Rich Hall’s Hoedown (4 March), Kojo Anim (18 March) and Ian Ashpitel & Jonty Stephens as Eric & Ern (19 March).
If you’ll miss your fix of Strictly Come Dancing, you can see some of the artists in all their glory; Kristina Rihanoff in Dance to the Music (28 January); Graziano Di Prima (10 March); Ian Waite & Vincent Simone (2 May); Giovanni Pernice (1 & 2 June); andNeil Jones (29 June).
The multi-award-winning son of blues legend Muddy Waters, Mud Morganfield plays charismatic Chicago blues on 14 January;blues-rockers King King return on 6 April; Fish pays a visit on 24 March; and Lloyd Cole on 13 April.
The longest serving member of The Drifters, Roy G Hemmings brings the sound of Motown and Philadelphia on 15 February, and there’s funk and soul from Brother Strut on 11 April. There’ll be more chances to dance at Showaddywaddy (6 March) andAltered Images, still led by Clare Grogan (7 March).
You can hear two of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos, Shostakovich’s stunning chamber symphony and two beautiful pieces by Arvo Pärt on 19 January, courtesy of Britten Sinfonia. Jon Boden, ex-frontman of folk-giants Bellowhead, joins the Sacconi Quartet on 27 February, for a reprise of The Juliet Letters, Elvis Costello’s 1993 collaboration with the Brodsky Quartet. Aurora Orchestra bring another one of their extraordinary memorised performances - Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony – on 23 March.
Direct from London’s world-famous jazz club, The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars take to the stage on 26 January; Brubecks Play Brubeck hits such as ‘Take Five’ and ‘Blue Rondo a la Turk’ on 11 March; Pete Long’s All-Star Goodmen Orchestra bring all the repertoire from Benny Goodman’s famous Carnegie Hall Concert on 10 February; The Jive Aces Big Beat Revue explode onto the stage in their trademark yellow suits for an exciting mix of hot jive and swinging' rhythm and blues on 20 February; andThe Syd Lawrence Orchestra are Live and Swinging on 26 March.
Fans of country music should get on down to Nathan Carter and his band on 6 February and Honky Tonk Angels on 21 February. While folkies will enjoy traditional music from Scotland’s Highlands and Islands from Blazin’ Fiddles (3 March); “Britain’s fiddling supergroup” Feast of Fiddles (29 March); and folk duo Ninebarrow with their band (25 March).
There’s also a host of top tribute acts and many other gigs and concerts to help brighten the long dark nights. See www.theapex.co.uk or ring 01284 758000 for more information or to book tickets.