Jo Brand Stands Up At Birmingham Press Club

Award-winning comedienne, actress and writer Jo Brand is to top the bill at Birmingham Press Club.

The nation’s best known funny lady will be special guest at a not-to-be-missed Press Club lunch on Thursday, May 2, when she will be awarded Lifetime Membership of the world’s oldest Press Club.


Jo worked for ten years as a psychiatric nurse before taking to the stage in a glittering career that has seen her win four British Comedy Awards, most recently last year as “The Best female TV comic.” This followed the accolade of a BAFTA in 2011 for “The best female performance in a comedy role.”

Jo is a well-known performer on television and radio, appearing in shows such as The Brain Drain, Jo Brand Through the Cakehole, Getting On and QI. And she is equally known for her forthright views on social and political issues, and her charitable interests in mental health and animal welfare issues. Currently, Jo is one of the judging panel on ITV’s celebrity diving series, Splash!

Press Club Chairman Ed James said: “Jo Brand is a star of showbiz and we are delighted that she has been able to take time out of her busy schedule to address the Press Club.” Booking details will be announced later.

It's Take Off Time For The Surfing Squids

Television journalist Mark Gough is creating a new chapter to his award-winning career – this time as a rhythm guitar-playing co-founder of a surf band. And later this year, instead of facing the cameras that beam him into millions of viewer’s homes, he will be performing at a music festival before an audience of 65,000 cheering fans!

Playing alongside Mark as “Los Calamares” - the surfing squids - take to the stage will be his ITV colleague Frazer Sheppard.


Press Club member Mark, a former young scribe on the Birmingham Evening Mail, is now a rather more mature business correspondent for ITV Central – our very own “Robert Peston” of the Midlands! Last year, he scooped the accolade of Television Journalist of the Year at the Midlands Media Awards.

Frazer, who is the talented lead guitarist with the group, is a TV producer/director whose credits include ITV’s Countrywise and Countrywise Kitchen series.

Surf music was born in the 1960s and was the type of music that the surfers of Southern California danced to and listened to. Still none the wiser? You will be when you hear such tunes as Hawaii Five O, Wipe Out and themes from Pulp Fiction and James Bond movies. Especially if you are anywhere near the band’s studio in Kings Heath, Birmingham – where Duran Duran recorded their early material.

Mark explained: "Frazer's been in bands for years and is a fantastic guitarist. After teaching himself flamenco guitar he wanted to play popular music which was as challenging - and that is surf music.

"People look a bit quizzical when we tell them it's surf music, but think Pulp Fiction, James Bond with a bit of Batman and Munsters thrown in for good measure and I swear - you'll know every track we play. And you won't stop dancing. 

"Frazer said to me: 'Goffy, we're forming a band. Here's a list of 40 songs. Get 'em learnt.'

"So I got my Fender Telecaster out of the loft and started driving the neighbours mad learning 40 new tracks. We're now gigging regularly and hopefully will soon start wowing the corporate events in the Midlands with Los Calamares - aided by Pablo on Sax, Rafael on bass and Sergio on the skins.

"Frazer and I could have formed any old covers band, but frankly, you can go into any pub on any Saturday night up and down the land and someone's playing Mustang Sally or The Commitments. We wanted to do something no one else was doing. We are Birmingham's best surf band. In fact, we're Birmingham's only blinkin' surf band!” added Mark.

In July, Los Calamares will be playing at the Americana International Festival in Nottinghamshire. Mark said: "It’s a mega event – with dozens of bands lined up to play over three days. We’re booked on the main stage – and can’t wait to get there! Over 65,000 people went there last year.”

If you want to sample the band’s music, visit

Faber Calls It A Day At E&S

The editor of Britain’s biggest selling regional newspaper, the Express & Star, which was voted Newspaper of the Year at the 2012 Midlands Media Awards, is to step down after eleven years at the helm.

Adrian Faber will leave the Wolverhampton-based title on 29 March. He will be succeeded by Keith Harrison, his former deputy at the Express & Star, who has edited sister evening title, the Shropshire Star, since August 2011.

In his newspaper career, Birmingham Press Club member Adrian has been in charge at no fewer than five regional dailies over the course of more than two decades. Adrian joined Express & Star publisher, the Midland News Association, in 1998 as editor of the Shropshire Star before moving to his current role four years later.

Adrian Faber

Adrian Faber

Previously, he had edited the Gloucestershire Echo, the Bristol Evening Post and the Evening Argus in Brighton. “It has been an honour and a privilege to have been editor of Britain’s biggest regional newspaper for more than a decade. It’s never been dull. There have been some tough times but some unforgettable moments when we have been dealing with breaking news. I’ve been lucky to work with such a great team.” He said.

Managing director Phil Inman, paying tribute to Adrian for his contribution to the Express & Star’s success, said: “Adrian has set a high editorial standard throughout his editorship, ensuring the Express & Star remains the first choice for readers in the region.” He added: “Adrian informed me of his decision to step down in October but agreed to stay to play a lead role in some important projects.

Using his considerable experience, he has contributed to the industry’s response to the Leveson Report. He has also made a major contribution to plans for the development of our portfolio.” Keith will become the tenth editor in the Express & Star’s 128-year history when he takes over on March 30 and will also become the editorial representative on the MNA board. He said: “I am extremely proud to have been asked to take over from Adrian, who has been a fantastic editor to work alongside.