Jonathan and Emma Agnew are one of the Melton borough’s most famous couples and on Friday they will be taking to the stage to talk about their lives. He is, of course, a national treasure as BBC cricker correspondent and lead commentator on the iconic radio cricket show, Test Match Special, and she has a lofty media career of her own as editor of BBC East Midlands Today. They’ve just emerged from a seismic change in their relationship as Emma fought a successful battle with breast cancer.
The Agnews will give an insight into their personal and professional lives, with plenty of humour thrown in, during Beyond The Boundary at Melton Theatre, at 7.30pm.
All proceeds will go to the Rotary Club of Melton Aurora to replace funds lost when a tree fell on the village hall last year in the Agnews’ home village of Scalford and caused the cancellation of the club’s popular annual Olympecks fundraising event, where hen and duck racing are among the highlights.
News reporter Nick Rennie spoke to Jonathan, affectionately known as Aggers, to find out more about Friday’s show.
Nick Rennie: How did the idea for the show come about and what can audience members expect?
Jonathan Agnew: I was asked to do it by the rotary club and I thought it would be a great idea. Emma has never done anything like this before but she will be very entertaining. She has some great stories from travelling around the world with me and meeting celebrities. I will present the first half of the show and then she will be interviewed in the second half by the son of the comedian Dick Emery, who lives locally. I’m prepared for Emma giving me plenty of stick throughout the night.
NR: You have both had a tough last couple of years following Emma’s battle with cancer. Can you explain what it was like and how it has changed you as people?
JA: “She will be talking about what she went through so it will be interesting for anyone else who has also been through it. Emma really did have an extraordinary 18 months. She’s been inspirational the way she’s handled it. We’ve met lots of lovely supportive people who have helped her and lots of people who have not been so lucky such as dear Rachel Bland, the BBC radio newsreader who sadly passed away. I hope the experience has made us more considerate as people. It’s given us a different perspective on what is important. We were really close as a couple but this has made us very respectful of each other. It’s not a place you want to go to when you or a partner has cancer. The day she was told it had gone was the most wonderful feeling I can remember. We went out to get some food and I said ‘just remember how this feels’. I have taken wickets for England but nothing comes remotely close to the feeling we had that day.
NR: You’ve both lived in the Melton area for many years, What do you enjoy about living in this part of the world?
JA: We are both country people and we love the way of life out here. We are both the children of farmers and the countryside is in our blood, you could say.
Emma loves riding horses and I enjoy walking the dog and I really I can’t imagine living in the city. I love my job and working at Lord’s or The Oval, for example, but it’s always nice to get back on the train at the end of the day. We’ve got our favourite places to go out to in Melton. Jasmine House (Chinese restaurant) and the Spice Club (Indian restaurant) are two of our favourites. We also love the country pubs. We’ve been over to Stuart Broad’s new one at Upper Broughton (the Tap and Run) which is really nice.
NR: You have been on stage many times in recent years with people like Geoff Boycott, Tuffers and Blowers. What do you enjoy about doing this type of show?
JA: I love the response from the audience when you come out with one or two amusing lines. When I am commentating on test matches you don’t get any feedback at all from the listener but in theatre shows you get that lovely wave of laughter back. When I first started doing them I was quite nervous but I’ve been doing them for getting on for 20 years now and I’m quite relaxed about them. I’ve started doing them on my own now and I actually prefer that.
NR: You played cricket for England but how does commentating on the sport compare to playing it?
JA: I enjoy it as much as playing. It’s a pleasure to work on a programme like TMS. Dear old Brian Johnston was my mentor without trying to be. If I hadn’t worked alongside him at the start I would never have been the broadcaster I am today. We were quite similar people in a lot of ways despite being 50 years apart in age. Henry Blofeld was an extraordinary colourful man. He was unique. The voice, the enthusiasm and his powers of description. I miss Henry but his eyesight was going so he couldn’t continue unfortunately.
NR: There is a very exciting summer ahead with the World Cup and the Ashes taking place in England. Are you excited about it?
JA: It’s unprecedented. It’s huge. What an amazing opportunity for English cricket to promote the sport. I am just hoping we get a summer like last year. If England can win the World Cup it really would be something. They will have the home support and they are favourites and I just hope, for the good of cricket, that England win it.
Go online at www.meltontheatre.co.uk/event/beyond-the-boundary to order tickets for the show or call the box office on 01664 851111.