No Nimmos Twins show this Christmas

JON WELCH Their annual shows poking fun at Norfolk life have become a Christmas tradition. But this year comedy duo The Nimmo Twins will not be performing their Normal for Norfolk show at Norwich Playhouse.

JON WELCH

Their annual shows poking fun at Norfolk life have become a Christmas tradition.

But this year comedy duo The Nimmo Twins will not be performing their Normal for Norfolk show at Norwich Playhouse.

There will be a hole in festive social diaries as the pair, Karl Minns and Owen Evans, take time off while Karl works on radio and TV scripts - though they may perform some shows at smaller venues instead.

Normal for Norfolk began life in 1996 as a handful of sketches performed to a few dozen friends and acquaintances in the corner of a bar.

Since then it has grown into a huge box-office success, largely through word of mouth. Last year's show Normal for Norfolk 10: Topless Mardling, ran for 16 sell-out nights, bringing 4,500 people to the Playhouse.

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Karl said: “We basically just needed to take some time off. We'd got to Normal for Norfolk 10, and it's been six years of doing it at Christmas.

“We thought we'd do what they do at Glastonbury: pick up the litter, let the cows graze, and then come back even better.”

Karl is developing a comedy series he has written for BBC Radio 4 and is also involved in some TV projects for the BBC. He said these commitments would make it difficult to write and perform Normal for Norfolk, a process that usually begins in September.

“In Norfolk we fear change - and I fear change as much as anybody - but if I didn't take this chance now I would regret it,” he said.

“We're not splitting up. We were very nervous about what the reaction would be but we've had people stop us in the street. That makes us realise we will miss it, and hopefully audiences will miss us, so it doesn't become relentless and nobody takes us for granted.”

“We already have plans for Normal for Norfolk 11, so it's simply us taking a breather.”

Karl, Owen and the “third Nimmo Twin”, sound and lighting engineer Nigel Woolston, have been in talks with the Playhouse about returning next year, although not necessarily at Christmas.

The show has been a major money-spinner for the Nimmos and the Playhouse. Karl said that on telling theatre management there would be no show this year, “there was an intake of breath and colour drained from faces”.

He added: “Financially, for myself, Owen and Nigel it's a huge risk, but we don't do it for the money - we do it because we love Norfolk.”

Meanwhile, they are considering putting on some lower-profile, one-hour shows featuring old and new sketches at venues around the city at Christmas.

A Nimmo Twins website is due to be launched shortly, and a live album, recorded during last year's run, is scheduled for release.

Jane Moloney, administrative manager at the theatre, said: “We are disappointed. The Nimmos have been stalwarts of the Playhouse but we're wishing Karl all the best with his endeavours and are hoping they will come back in 2007. We dearly love having them here. It's certainly one of the most popular shows and it's grown as the Playhouse has grown. We have had to look at ways of programming that can equal what they bring in.

“It certainly has an impact on us because they are a guaranteed sell-out, so we're both missing out on that.

“They will be returning - it's just a case of when, where and how many shows, but they will be back.” The gap in the programme will be filled by caricaturist Ennio Marchetto, Circus of Horrors and play The Vagina Monologues.

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