Michael Portillo helps conduct Norfolk brass band for BBC Two series Great British Railway Journeys

PUBLISHED: 14:12 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:45 03 January 2018

Norfolk Wherry Brass and Michael Portillo. Pictures: Mick De' Ath

Norfolk Wherry Brass and Michael Portillo. Pictures: Mick De' Ath


Michael Portillo helped a Norfolk brass band hit all the right notes for a performance on BBC Two.

Norfolk Wherry Brass and Michael Portillo. Pictures: Mick De' AthNorfolk Wherry Brass and Michael Portillo. Pictures: Mick De' Ath

Norfolk Wherry Brass was visited by the presenter for an episode of the Great British Railway Journey, which aired on New Year’s Day.

The Neatishead-based group performed a rendition of Lord Nelson for the show, with Mr Portillo briefly helping to conduct the band.

Filming took place in July at the Wroxham headquarters of Wherry Yacht Charter Charitable Trust.

But the group has only now been able to publicise their experience after the episode, entitled ‘Cromer to Cambridge’ went out on TV on Monday.

Mick De’Ath, the band’s vice chairman and publicity officer, said: “It was a great experience for the band working with Michael Portillo and a truly professional film crew.

“He [Mr Portillo] actually conducted the band at one point, although that was not shown on TV.

“He really enjoyed himself.”

During the episode, Mr Portillo also learned the ropes of an Edwardian Wherry on the Norfolk Broads and joined a variety performers to tap dance on Cromer Pier.

The group, which was formed in 2004, consists of 25 brass players and up to three percussionists, with the youngest aged 14 and the oldest in their 80s.

Mr De’Ath said the band was filmed for around an hour by the TV crew, but only appeared on screen for less than a minute.

“It looked really good on TV and we were really pleased with the end result,” he said.

“The filming took place on July 3 and we have been itching all this time to show our pictures.

“It was amazing to see the hard work that went into the filming of around an hour to finish up with less than a minute on screen.”

He said the performance also marked a “very successful” debut of the band’s then newly appointed director of music, Eddie Baker.

“It was a brilliant start to 2018 for us,” Mr De’Ath added.

It is not the first time the group has been in the spotlight.

In 2012 it was crowned 4th Section champion of the National Brass Band Championships.

Is your group going to be featured on TV? Email or call 01603 772684

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