Saturday, 20 September 2014

Example of work: Press Release

Here is an example of a press release I put together for a client as part of my work with them:


AlanDick Communications is delighted to announce the acquisition of AIB Wireless, the purchase of which was completed on 28 March 2014.  

With over 25 years experience in the Business Wireless Sector, AIB is synonymous with outstanding service, consistently trusted by a diverse range of companies to carry out wireless solutions. Renowned for their resource of quality RF Design skillsets across the mobile PMR and rail sectors, as well as for their specialist tunnel coverage design solutions, AIB have worked closely with AlanDick Communications on projects across the breadth of the rail sector over the last 18 months. Their consistently high level of expertise, together with a first-class reputation has proven a perfect fit to AlanDick Communications, and this latest move consolidates that partnership.

This strategic acquisition gives AlanDick Communications complete end-to-end skillsets, encompassing RF design, testing, installation & commissioning as well as ongoing maintenance.
AIB's extensive expertise in designing in-building coverage solutions for mobile operators will also allow ADC to offer an end-to-end solution in this sector.

Managing Director of AlanDick Communications, Jason Pearce, lauded the acquisition of AIB. "This purchase not only consolidates our position as a leading player in the sector, but by acquiring the addition skillsets, we now have talented, experienced technicians working at each stage of the mobile telecoms process.  This comprehensive approach will prove crucial as AlanDick Communications looks towards future growth and diversification within the communications sector and we look forward to achieving continued success in for all of our customers."



AlanDick Communications is a privately owned company, which specialises in providing end-to-end telecoms-based services across a range of infrastructure and applications, with specific focus on the transportation and mobile telecoms sectors.

AlanDick Communications has considerable experience with both RF and fixed line telecoms and has a history of delivering solutions for some of the world’s largest companies and owners of telecommunications infrastructure.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Archive - The Social Network Review - Vue Cinema

Review from Doncaster Free Press (October, 2010)

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Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire in America, wholly due to a website he created whilst a student at Harvard University. That invention went on to become Facebook, and The Social Network, the new film from Fight Club director David Fincher tells the story of the site’s foundation. The tale is told through subsequent multi-million dollar lawsuits brought against Zuckerberg; these serve as a way to structure the story in flashback form as the evidence is heard.

It is rare that a modern film focuses on such flawed and dislikeable characters. The strength of this film is that it doesn’t shy away from doing this, yet still emerges as an engaging story. Zuckerberg and his ilk may be the academic cream of the crop but few of them are portrayed as people with whom you’d like to spend a lot of time. Jesse Eisenberg gives his best performance to date as Zuckerberg, and whilst his portrayal of social awkwardness may help explain how Facebook came about, it is far from endearing and there’s a streak of unsavoury misogyny which is shared by several characters in the film.

The dialogue from Aaron ‘The West Wing’ Sorkin is as intelligent as you’d expect from one with his track record. Not only is it quick-witted, it’s also simply… quick. I’m not sure there’s been a film with such fast dialogue since Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell traded verbal punches in His Girl Friday. It takes a minute or two to adjust to the rhythm but once you’re used to it, you’re left wishing that all of life’s conversations could be scripted by Sorkin.

The unfussy direction by Fincher serves the story and creates an intelligent yet absorbing film. Arguments will continue as to the veracity of some of the events depicted in the film but as a piece of entertainment, it’s spot on. And thus ends a review without resorting to corny facebook references. In summary I ‘liked’ it. Oh, so close!

Archive - Two-way Mirror - Doncaster Little Theatre

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (February, 2011)

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Arthur Miller was one of the great modern American playwrights and created some of the finest dramas of the last century. Doncaster Little Theatre celebrated his work with Two Way Mirror, a double bill of two of his lesser known one-act plays.

Elegy of a Lady, a short piece set in a boutique sees a man looking to buy a gift for his dying mistress. He quickly finds himself unburdening his secrets onto the young shop owner and their conversation becomes increasingly intimate. There’s plenty of ambiguity; is this simply a conversation between strangers or is there more to this encounter than it seems? The actors do justice to the material, convincing throughout, as we witness two characters sharing a moment of closeness. A minor complaint was that the background music at times almost drowned out the speech, but apart from this, it was an enjoyable half hour of drama.

Some Kind of Love Story, the second, longer play includes nods to film noir as a detective visits a prostitute with an involvement in a long-running case. Frustration and passion rise to the surface in their self-destructive relationship as each tries to find in the other the answers they are seeking. Tension crackled in the theatre and frequent violent outbursts showcased fine acting again, especially from Rea Dolan as Angela, the troubled prostitute with multiple personalities. David Davis also does well as the worn down detective, despite being too young for the role of a man who has been in the force for over 20 years. The play is admittedly a little incoherent at time and is certainly one of Miller’s more confusing works. However the material is handled skilfully by all involved and one could admire the craft, if not always grasp the totality of the piece.

Archive - The King's Speech Review - Vue Cinema

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (January, 2011)

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The King’s Speech is the latest home-grown film that’s been making waves on both sides of the Atlantic, garnering Golden Globe nominations and raising Oscar hopes for those involved.

There is always a worry that critical acclaim and awards’ talk does not necessarily guarantee an entertaining film (yes, I’m looking at you, The English Patient). However that scepticism is rapidly washed away as the film proves equally as entertaining for the public as for the critics.

Colin Firth will surely be clearing a space on his mantelpiece, owing to his magnificent portrayal of the future George VI, struggling with a severe stammer that hampers all attempts at public speaking. When a country needs a King to speak for them, what use is a King without a voice?

The future Queen Mother (Helena Bonham Carter) enlists the services of unconventional speech therapist, Geoffery Rush to aid her husband. It is this relationship that the film focuses upon, as the ‘commoner’, Rush begins an uneasy friendship with the future King, much to the latter’s initial discomfort.

The film encompasses wider events; from the relationship between Edward and Wallis Simpson; to the rise of Hitler and the build up to World War Two; the director Tom Hooper convinces in his depiction of this time, and elicits exemplary performances from his actors (a miscast Timothy Spall as Churchill is the sole exception).

At its heart the story is not so much about royalty, but rather a universal tale of friendship and a man’s attempt to overcome adversity. That he happens to be the King naturally gives the story added weight, and will undoubtedly help in the American market, but even for those who are not ardent monarchists, it is still a moving, funny, and inspirational tale and highly recommended.

Archive - Skyline Review - Vue Cinema

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (December, 2010)

As an old-style alien invasion B-movie, Skyline enjoys the benefit of spectacular visuals, utilising computer-generated effects that would have been unthinkable on the same low budget just a few years ago.

The effects, however, remain the film’s high point. The human characters that populate the story are cardboard thin, fairly unpleasant, and so undeserving of our empathy that you find yourself siding with the marauding intruders.

The film itself feels derivative. You spend half the time thinking “There’s a bit from Independence Day, a bit from District 9” and so on. However, the filmmakers do nothing new with the genre, and the resulting film feels like watching a firework display in the company of thoroughly objectionable spectators.

If you want a thought-provoking, character-driven drama, steer away from Skyline. If, however, you want to turn your brain off for 90 minutes for some effects-laden schlock, then it’s diverting enough for a Friday night.

Archive - Rhod Gilbert Review - Doncaster Dome

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (November, 2010)

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Rhod Gilbert brought his new show, the succinctly titled Rhod Gilbert and the Cat that Looked Like Nicholas Lyndhurst to a sold-out Dome last week.

If you’ve seen Gilbert’s routines before, it’s essentially more of the same which is either a good or bad thing depending on your tastes. He spends two hours venting his spleen at the annoyances in his life – overcomplicated washing machines, the nightmare of trying to buy a simple vacuum cleaner, and the newspaper reviewers who accuse him of getting overly frustrated over life’s trivialities.

You have to admit the reviewers do have a point about the trivialities but Gilbert can be very, very funny in his anger. Flailing about on stage, taking out his anger on the stage furniture, and with the omnipresent can of lager in his hand, he expels his frustration with so much vigour, it’s tiring just watching him. The pneumonia that he was still recovering from seems to have done nothing to quell his energy

The funniest sections of the show were those when Gilbert interacted with the audience – his bewilderment at there being a ten year old boy in the audience was a highlight, as was his frustration at inappropriate suggestions from the audience when he opened a topic up for discussion.

The ranting does get a bit repetitive at times; he even reprises the duvet buying sketch from his last show and at times it’s a little bit Rhod Gilbert by numbers. One could argue that he’s found a winning formula and is sticking with it but it does cross the line of credibility: whereas we believed his frustration on trying to buy a duvet in previous shows, we don’t believe that he actually ended up buying 27 vacuum cleaners as he claims here

Nevertheless the show is expertly wrapped up with all the strands weaving together in the finale in an entertaining fashion. Venting his fury over life’s frustrations is still proving fertile material for Gilbert and whilst the formula may soon wear thin, this time it was a successful return to Doncaster for the Welsh comic.

Archive - Paranormal Activity 2 Review - Vue Cinema

Review written for the Doncaster Free Press (November, 2010)

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This sentence is a bit dull and…BOO! This sentence is also a bit dull and...BOO! This sentence is also a bit….well you get the idea. But if you found that frightening and you also enjoy extended periods of tedium followed by loud sudden shocks, then there’s a chance you may enjoy Paranormal Activity 2, the wearisome prequel to the low-budget surprise hit of 2007. For everyone else however, disappointment is likely.

The story revolves around a seemingly happy family of whom the mother is the sister of the female lead in the original Paranormal Activity. Following a mysterious burglary, video surveillance is installed throughout their house (it is this footage along with hand held home-movie pictures that constitute the film); and then we wait. And wait. And wait some more.

There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with scenes of normality where little happens. Used effectively these can give bursts of action greater impact and this technique has been used with great success by heavyweight directors such as Kubrick and Hitchcock. Here however it is as if the director has a vague idea of what makes a good horror film, but not realised that the periods of inactivity must serve a purpose. Too often it appears that footage is shown simply for the purpose of filling time

Eventually, after a whole lot of waiting, there’s a shock. And yes, it makes the audience jump. But you could achieve the same effect by forcing a friend to watch dull CCTV footage and randomly bursting a balloon just behind their ear. It’ll give them a start, but it’s not exactly subtle and won’t linger long in the memory.

There’s no real involvement here; it’s difficult to care much about what happens to the characters and none of them say much of any interest. Admittedly the film improves slightly in the last act when the atmosphere becomes more sinister and we lurch towards some sort of conclusion, but by then your attention may have wandered to much better horror films than this. After all, there’s plenty to choose from.

Archive - Megamind Review - Vue Cinema

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (December, 2010)

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What’s the point of being bad if there's no good to stop you? That question forms the crux of Dreamworks’ new animated film, Megamind.

You see, Megamind is not a superhero. Voiced by Will Ferrell, he’s actually the nefarious enemy of the superhero Metro Man (Brad Pitt) but it’s the villain’s story we follow. And after Metro Man departs, what is there for Megamind to do without life seeming rather dull? Where’s the fun in being evil if there’s no-one on the side of good to stand in your way?

Admittedly it’s derivative; The Incredibles and the Austin Powers films weaved similar paths with their superheroes and villains suffering from existential angst, but it’s done with charm and most importantly, humour.

Whether it be the pithy one liners, the incongruity of a villain developing a heart, or the enjoyable parody of the Superman story, replete with Marlon Brando lookalike, there are plenty of laughs to be had.

Tina Fey voices the part of the hot shot reporter, clearly based on Lois Lane, who causes Megamind to rethink his ways. But the course of true love will, as ever, be far from smooth, especially when an even more villainous character (Jonah Hill) emerges.

Whilst the film won’t win prizes for originality, and some of the in-jokes may be lost on the very young, the animation is as well crafted as you’d expect from Dreamwoks. And despite the rather distracting soundtrack of 80s rock songs, the film manages to sustain the entertainment levels until the final credits roll.

Archive - Made in Dagenham Review - Vue Cinema

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (October, 2010)

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The term “feel-good film” is a poisoned chalice in cinema; the expression can evoke thoughts of romantic comedies that insult the viewers’ intelligence and include contrived obstacles to overcome, before happiness is predictably achieved in the final frames. However, put those prejudices to one side; Made in Dagenham is a genuinely feel-good film – in all the right ways.

The picture, set in 1968, tells the true story of a group of female machinists working for Ford in their Dagenham plant, and their battle to achieve equal pay to their male counterparts. An excellent Sally Hawkins leads the line as the women resort to industrial action that would change women’s employment rights throughout the world. Bob Hoskins gives as reliable a performance as ever in the role of the union shop steward, one of only a handful of men throughout the film to support the women. The supporting cast is outstanding, especially Rosamund Pike in a pivotal role, and the tremendous Miranda Richardson as Barbara Castle, the Secretary of State for Employment. The only misfire is Andrew Lincoln playing an arrogant teacher in an unconvincing plotline which appears tacked on in order to service the plot.

Made in Dagenham continues a tradition in British cinema of depicting a community uniting against adversity; think of the unemployed steel workers in The Full Monty or the miners’ band in Brassed Off. Here, Nigel Cole constructs a film just as engaging as these aforementioned films, and one that outshines Calendar Girls, his previous entry into this oeuvre. He skilfully injects entertainment into what could be a dry subject and whilst a criticism of the film may be that it is a slightly glossy version of events and is at times in danger of descending to cliché, this is perhaps understandable in order to gain a mainstream audience for this very important story. Be warned however - it’s not all smooth sailing as the strain of the strike begins to toll on the workers and their families, and as well as laughs, there will also be tears before the final credits roll.

Archive - Due Date Review - Vue Cinema

Review written for Doncaster Free Press (November, 2010)

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Due Date, the new film from The Hangover director, Todd Phillips, has been labelled as this generation’s Planes, Trains andAutomobiles. This being the case, you’ve got to feel sympathy for the new generation at being saddled with this pale imitation of the earlier film, lacking its humour and with none of its heart.

The plot sees Robert Downey Jr’s passive-aggressive architect trying to get home from Atlanta to Los Angeles where his wife (Michelle Monaghan) is preparing to give birth to their first child. This attempt is hampered by an encounter with oddball Zach Galifianakis (previously also seen in The Hangover), resulting in them both being ejected from an aeroplane and placed on a no-fly list. Consequently the mismatched pair is thrown together for an obstacle-ridden car trip across the width of America.

A lack of believability permeates the film, both in the plot and also in how characters behave. This results in us not really investing ourselves in the film, not helped by the rather clumsy more serious moments that are presumably supposed to be emotional but are difficult to swallow.

Whilst scenes such as that where Downey Jr inappropriately punches a child or spits at a dog in a face are momentarily funny, they are also a sign of the film increasingly relying on shock and gross-out humour to cover its lack of imagination.

All this could be forgiven if the film was funny enough. However, two or three amusing moments are a poor return over 90 minutes. Brief highlights are a lively cameo from Juliette Lewis, and a perhaps unintentionally funny line where Downey Jr’s character states “I’ve never done drugs in my life” –anyone with a knowledge of his real-life wild side will appreciate the irony there.

There’s some picturesque views of the American landscape too, but it’s probably obvious here that I’m clutching at straws in trying to find aspects of the film to recommend. It’s almost not worth getting annoyed about the film because it’s not entirely dreadful, but there’s frustration at a film that’s just so lazy and instantly forgettable.

Archive - Column written for Doncaster Free Press

Column written for Doncaster Free Press (February, 2011)

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Numbers and statistics - funny things, really.

Florence Nightingale’s greatest achievement was actually her statistical work in the aftermath of the Crimean war, figuring out trends and publicising the vast number of avoidable deaths through lack of cleanliness. Thousands, perhaps millions of lives were subsequently saved through the power of statistics.

So yes, numbers are important and I’m a bit of a numbers geek. And so it was that this week I found myself on the communities and local government website ( examining the spreadsheet showing proposed funding settlements for councils throughout the UK. Well, it’s a hobby!

Doncaster’s there of course, with an 8.9% funding drop - nearly a tenth in old money. Quite a reduction, especially when you turn arbitrary figures into real jobs and service cuts affecting all our lives.

But I suppose we’ve all been told that cuts are needed and the burden has to be shared. And although it may seem a bit odd that we’re joint highest in terms of cuts when we’re in one of the poorest parts of the country, I guess we can’t expect to escape unscathed.

At least we’re all sharing…oh hang on, what’s this. Richmond Upon Thames has escaped with cuts of less than 1%.

That’ll be the Richmond Upon Thames with local MPs of Zac Goldsmith and Vince Cable. That’ll be Richmond Upon Thames, home of some of the most affluent areas of the country. Encompassing Richmond Park, Kew Gardens and Hampton Court. That’ll be Richmond Upon Thames that gets away with a less than 1 % cut, whilst Doncaster, desperately in need of funds and with sadly well-reported social problems has to bear the burden of a near 9% cut.

Still, at least we’re all sharing fairly in these cuts.

Like I said, funny things numbers.

Archive - Burke and Hare Review - Vue Cinema

Review for Doncaster Free Press

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The real life exploits of the 19th century grave-robbers turned murderers, William Burke and William Hare seem ideal source material for a cinematic thrill. Sadly, Burkeand Hare, the new film from AnAmerican Werewolf in London director, John Landis does not do their story justice and at first glance it’s difficult to see why.

In the lead roles, Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis are more than capable as the eponymous duo and Jessica Hynes provides decent support as Serkis’ bawdy wife. In a true celebration of British talent, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry, and Ronnie Corbett all enjoy substantial roles, and there are brief cameos from horror stalwart Christopher Lee and director Michael Winner. Landis’ recreation of early 19th Century Edinburgh is convincing and his direction never seems less than that we’d expect from a veteran of his standard. The production is brought to us from Ealing Studios and harks back to that studio’s golden age where films such as KindHearts and Coronets and TheLadykillers dealt with murder in a wickedly funny and subversive way.

So why doesn’t it work? The main problem is the screenplay. Ultimately, no matter how hard the cast try, if the script isn’t up to scratch, the end product is unlikely to flourish. The film is pitched at the humorous end of the market – no danger of gritty realism here - but the laugh count simply isn’t high enough. Making an audience care about two murderers is a tough sell and this is accomplished but beyond that, there’s a feeling of a lost opportunity. The tone is confused; starting out slightly macabre and then introducing an awkward romantic subplot involving Isla Fisher (who has startling perfect teeth for a 19th century ex-prostitute). There’s nothing wrong with mixing genres but the film doesn’t seem confident enough in its own identity and unfortunately falls between two stools; neither funny enough for a comedy, nor dark enough for a dramatic horror.

I was really looking forward to this film and maybe that those high expectations led to the disappointment. It’s certainly not dreadful but you just feel it could have been so much better.

Archive - Armstrong and Miller Review, Sheffield City Hall

Review for Doncaster Free Press (October, 2010)

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Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller brought their comedy show to the Lyceum last week for the Sheffield leg of their nationwide tour. The comedy duo have found success separately (both have ventured into acting and Armstrong has carved out a niche as a presenter) but it is as a partnership - now into its 18th year – that the duo remain more comfortable. The third series of their BBC sketch show airs this autumn, but before that, there’s the matter of an ambitious 60-plus date tour, their first time on the road since 2001.

The show opens with the duo’s most recognisable creations, the WW2 “chav” RAF pilots, who are disturbed to find themselves parachuting in to a place even worse than wartime Germany – yes, Sheffield! The airmen reappear throughout the show, proving that A&M know what the audience like, and are happy to deliver it in spades. They make the airmen not only funny but also touching in a final scene reminiscent of Powell and Pressburger’s A Matter of Life and Death,

Most of the TV show’s regular characters are transferred to the stage, generally with great success, although a sketch involving Miranda and Pru, a pair of seemingly placid old ladies whose disagreements invariably end in violence seemed a touch underdeveloped and below A&M’s usual standards; the sketch’s conclusion of the audience being pelted with buns was a bit pantomime-esque and not in good way.

The best of the sketches are saved for the second half of the show and audience participation is involved, showing the duo are just as capable of ad-libbing, as they are at scripted performances. Highlights include the marvellously silly “How many Hats?” gameshow, which basically does what it says in the title, and the brilliantly lewd Brabbins and Fyffe, the Flanders and Swann take off, who are as hilariously rude as ever

Ever the entertainers, the show concludes with a mass sing-a-long which had all the audience on their feet, concluding a thoroughly enjoyable evening’s entertainment. The performers remained behind after the show to sign autographs, proving just as personable in the flesh as they appear on screen.