Alexander Armstrong on recording an album and hosting the Summer Concert at Folkington Manor
PUBLISHED: 15:56 04 June 2015 | UPDATED: 15:56 04 June 2015
Alexander Armstong, actor, comedian and Pointless presenter, will come to Sussex this month to host a Summer Concert at Folkington Manor. He tells Jenny Mark-Bell why recording an album this summer is the fulfilment of a lifetime dream
“The recurring nightmare I’ve always had,” says Alexander Armstrong, “is turning up to choir practice and everyone just saying ‘Where have you been? What time do you call this?’”
Alexander recently announced that he would be releasing an album through Warner. A classically trained baritone, Alexander has been a singer all his life, but decided against pursuing a career in music after Cambridge University. “I was too lazy, frankly, because it’s bloody hard. It’s immensely physical and they work so hard. Friends of mine who did go into classical music, their lives are spent in budget hotels, behind concert stages and in dressing rooms. And that’s if you’re successful.” Alexander has presented a Saturday afternoon programme on the radio station Classic FM since September 2014 and says that he’ll be recording the kind of music he likes to listen to: English pastoral songs by Vaughan Williams, Gerald Finzi and George Butterworth.
Alexander first came to public notice as one half of the comedy duo Armstrong and Miller. When we speak, he is starting a 136-show marathon of Pointless. “I don’t think it’s our longest stretch actually, we tend to do them in quite big chunks like that.” One of the game show’s charms is that Alexander and his co-host, Richard Osman (who grew up near Haywards Heath) seem to be having a riotously good time. He says it is every bit as fun as it looks. “I think that’s genuinely because it’s a good game. You get carried along by the drama of it.”
On 27 June, Alexander will be coming to Sussex to host a charity concert at Folkington Manor, in aid of Friends of Sussex Hospices. International bass-baritone Jonathan Veira will co-host. “I think he is going to be singing in the main, but who knows, maybe I might do a little bit of singing too…” he teases.
Alexander became involved through Emma Brunjes – “the daughter of the house”, he says laughingly, “who works in our industry. She is on the dark side,” he says, adopting a scary voice.
The performance will begin at 7pm, with gates opening at 4pm so guests can picnic, Glyndebourne-style, in the grounds. “It is just the most wonderful thing,” says Alexander. “I have been to Glyndebourne once, and I am now just longing to go again. It’s a very Sussex thing I think, particularly in full summer, in that lovely hazy time where everything’s just dripping with loveliness. All the trees are as green as they’ll ever be. This will be the same, so I can’t think of a more magical place or event to be a part of.”
The man has many talents and seemingly boundless enthusiasm: when I ask which discipline he finds most daunting and which most fulfilling, he talks for a while before apparently deciding that he loves them all. But he says: “Singing is quite daunting, but it’s also incredibly liberating, because you can’t really hide behind anything when you’re singing. So many things come together, and you have opened up in a very complete way.
That is quite unnerving before you start, but once you’re into it it’s a wonderful release.”
And that recurring nightmare?
“I have a lovely feeling that I am laying that ghost to rest.”
Summer Concert at Folkington Manor, Saturday 27 June, 4pm – 10pm
• Sussex celebrities and personalities share what they love most about the county - Some of Sussex’s best known personalities have revealed in the magazine what they most love about the county. Here, we compile their stories, favourite restaurants, pubs, shops, views and places to visit
• 29 famous people who went to school in Sussex - Celebrities and other famous figures who went to school in Sussex