By damekor, Aug 8 2014 11:49AM

27/09/2013 12:42

There’s something very alluring about the Southbank for me, (not just because as a kid I used to bunk off school and find myself there, but...) I got my first proper full time job there, working for LWT (London WeekendTelevision). I loved it! There will always be a place in my heart for the South Bank. It’s vibrant and has so much going on. Always busy, always things to do and see, home to ITV the Oxo Tower, IBM, The National Theatre, the BFI, the second hand book stall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, The South Bank Centre, The London Eye and a Salvador Dali Gallery AND the Undercroft skateboarding and Urban Arts space. Southbank has been around for donkeys!

This week I found myself at the South Bank three times. Once to see Amen Corner by James Baldwin at the National Theatre, starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste, who’s career shot to fame as Hoertence in Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies, opposite the wonder that is Brenda Blythen. Jean-Baptiste has an amazing career, receiving nominations for a Golden Globe, Academy Award and a Bafta as best supporting actress. She then went to France to work with Peter Brook and had many an invite to the Big Apple, which of course she accepted and spent seven years working on Without a Trace.

She got to show off her singing talent in this show too, and said in a materclass held at the Haymarket Theatre last week, in response to a question from an audience member about her preparation, that ‘the rest of the cast get enough of her, as she blasts Gospel music from my dressing room each night before going on stage.’ I caught up with Erik Kofi Abrefa Who plays David’s (Jean-Baptiste’s character Margaret Alexander the Pastor) 18 year old son, who plays piano during his mothers church sermons and desperately wants to leave and live his own life, he has enrolled in music school and secretly goes to a Jazz club.

Erik Abrefa And boy is that man fit! I couldn’t help but admire his biceps when he was on stage, but up close wooh my legs nearly gave way! Everyone who know me well, know...I do like a man with muscle!

Well it turned out to be a great day for me, because who then do I see but the beautiful actress that is Anne- Marie Duff currently playing Nina in Strange Interlude (which I am yet to catch). Duff smashed it as Fiona Gallagher in Shameless. Anne-Marie is a fantastic actress with four BAFTA nominations under her belt.

Anne- Marie

She is super friendly and willing to have her picture snapped, she said I’ve “got no make up on and I’m with my shopping bags!” I said “Anne-Marie that’s what is all about”. It just goes to show how down to earth this top class actress is.

My second visit of the week was to the to BFI to see Heaven’s Gate.

The definitive final cut restored and back on the big screen. It received five stars from Time Out.

And my third visit was in passing, I stopped as I often do to watch the guys (and some times gals) in the skate park, on skateboards, BMX bikes and younger ones on scooters all practicing their skills, doing their tricks. Brilliant.

Then I see a table set up in front of the skate park for signatures – why? This I can’t believe. There has been a proposal by the South Bank Centre to demolish the skate park’ve guessed it, put up ‘apartments’ and restaurants. Apparently a £120 Million redevelopment. Nice one South Bank Centre, right on, just what we need! What a stupid idea, and of course all for money, it’s certainly not for the people.

Yes, we need more housing, but lets put it this way, I’m sure an ‘apartment’ on the river bank in that exact

location will be for the rich. And if the buffoon that Boris Johnson is, pulled his finger and got on with

doing what he said he would, you know, like bringing back thousand of empty properties into commission, there would be more homes available.As if there aren’t already enough resultants and places to eat on that stretch. Not only is the skate park a great place for people to hang out and practice, it looks like such a cool little spot with great graffiti, adding real colour and energy to the area.

And it’s not just for the ‘youth’ to get them off the streets – (which of course is amazing), there are also

older guys there practicing, I see parents stop with their children to look and marvel at what’s going on, it’s

a cool place to hang out, where people learn the art of skating and graffiti artists can throw up their

designs, AND it has a lot of history to it. I remember when it was ‘cardboard city’ before the skaters really took over. It is now a well-established part of the Southbank. So, who’s campaigning? Long Live Southbank. A non-profit organisation comprised of people; skateboarders, activists, academics, local residents and artists who want to see the skate park preserved in its current location. They have applied for the space to be recognised as a village green under the Commons Act 2006 and their application has been granted to protect the area as an asset of community value.

Go to for more info

What else can you do? Go down to the skate park and like me, sign the petition!

By Kathryn O’Reilly

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