Liam Rudden: Joan Collins keeps it real

Joan Collins on stage
Joan Collins on stage
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DYNASTY may have passed me by, yet somehow the name Alexis Carrington-Colby is one that wormed its way into my consciousness somewhere along the way - I blame the other half, a massive Joan Collins fan.

On the other hand, as I never miss Benidorm, I’m no stranger to the name Crystal Hennessy-Vass, again played by Dame Joan, who to cinema-goers of a certain age also instantly conjures up memories of movies such as The Stud and The Bitch.

Until recently, however, I’d never have called myself a fan.

Then, Dame Joan sashayed onto the stage of the Festival Theatre and the audience went wild - that was all it took. There’s certainly no denying it, the Hollywood icon knows how to make an entrance.

She may no longer be as agile as in the home-movies that played before her arrival, but still brings grace and elegance to every perfectly considered gesture, whether that be a nod, a smile, a cross of the legs, or simply a sip from the glass sitting to her right... “Not Champagne”, she doesn’t like Champagne, she declares, “Although everyone thinks I do.”

Sir Roger Moore, Michael Palin and John Cleese, more and more entertainment legends are discovering that ‘An Audience With...-style’ shows are the ideal way to connect with fans.

Armed with a few carefully selected film clips, a lifetime of memories and perhaps an interviewer to help jog the memory, they can effortlessly fill a couple of hours without breaking sweat.

After all, talking about themselves is what actors do best, isn’t it? Insert a cheeky winky face here.

John Cleese, made it personal in 2011 when he toured solo in his ‘Alimony Tour’, an eccentric evening of often acerbic wit that had Monty Python fans delirious.

Palin, on the other hand, announced, “I’m going to show you 25 years of holiday snaps” at the start of his ‘Travelling To Work Tour’ in 2014, and did just that, juxtaposing slides with anecdotes.

Sir Roger adopted a more refined approach. With an interviewer on stage, he discussed his life and career with charismatic good grace, charming his audience with his modesty and self-effacing humour.

Likewise, Dame Joan appears with a side-kick in the shape of hubby Percy, and what an inspired double-act they make.

The easy chemistry they share creates a far more intimate experience than you might imagine.

Where ‘Joan Collins Unscripted’ differs from others shows of its ilk is that it starts where most finish, with the audience asking the questions.

For two hours, with Percy playing moderator, Dame Joan fields questions from the bizarre to the predictable, the outrageous to the down right rude, with a razor sharp ripostes and private insights.

Witty, charming and wonderfully down to earth, an evening in the company of Dame Joan proved an unexpected delight. Converted then, Joan has a new fan.