Drawing: Chiwetel Ejiofor

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Many say Chiwetel Ejiofor is “one of the best British actors of his generation”.

He has been recognised by the British Academy and Hollywood’s Foreign Press with BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations. Word is he may ad an Oscar nod to that impressive collection.

He had to leave his studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts after one year for a role in Stephen Spielberg’s Amistad. Not a bad foundation to launch a career that includes Love Actually, American Gangster and Dirty Pretty Things. Rumour has it he even turned down the role of Dr Who, with Matt Smith becoming the 11th Time Lord in 2009.

He is currently headlining Joe Wright’s sold out production of Aimé Cesaire’s A Season in the Congo at London’s Young Vic. He plays Patrice Lumumba – “a beer salesman who became the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Congo in June 1960. Seven days later the country gains independence from Belgian colonial rule. By January 1961. Lumumba was dead – executed in murky circumstances, involving Congolese dissenters and foreign powers. It’s a “decolonisation drama”chronicling a vibrant nation’s turbulent first years of freedom.

It marks Chiwetel’s return to the boards since he reprised his role as Othello (previously at the Bloomsbury Theatre in 1995) at the Donmar Warehouse with Ewan McGregor as Iago in 2007. Chiwetel won the Olivier Award for his performance.

His latest film 12 Years A Slave has attracted Oscar buzz. The historical drama, directed by Steve McQueen, is based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in Washington DC in 1841 and sold into slavery for 12 years. Brad Pitt plays his part as well – producing and acting in the film.

Chiwetel signed my sketch at the Young Vic last Thursday before the evening performance.


Drawing: Lenny Henry in Fences

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Lenworth George Henry, known as Lenny, and better known as a comedian and co-founder of Comic Relief is now a ‘serious actor’.

Back in 2009 he dived in the classical deep end, taking on the titanic role of Othello as a Shakespearean novice to critical acclaim. He now takes on the massive lead role in the Pulitzer Prize winning drama, Fences in the West End.

Fences is the sixth in a series of ten plays by August Wilson on the Pittsburgh Cycle, that explore the African American experience in each decade of the twentieth century.

The story centres around 53 year Troy Moxson and his struggles with providing for his family and cheating death. He was a great baseball player in his youth but couldn’t make a living due to the colour barrier. Imprisoned for an accidental murder during a robbery, he now has a menial, but respectable job as a garbageman.

It previewed in March 1987 on Broadway at The 46th Street Theater and ran for 525 performances. James Earl Jones played Troy and won a Tony Award, along with Best Play, Best Direction and Best Actress (Mary Alice) nods. A revival in 2010 at The Cort Theatre featured Denzel Washington and Viola Davies in the lead roles. Both won Tony Awards for their performances and the productions won Best Revival of a play, after receiving an impressive 10 nominations.

In early 2013 Fences was revived by Theatre Royal Bath in the UK, starring Lenny in the lead role and directed by Paulette Randall, before transferring to the Duchess Theatre in London in June. Critical reception has focused on Lenny’s performance which has attracted wide acclaim. Paul Taylor from The Independent said, “the performance cements Henry’s status as a serious actor.”

Charles Spencer from The Telegraph said of Lenny, “He is, and I don’t use the word lightly, magnificent.”

Drawing: Shane Warne

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Test cricket’s two greatest wicket-takers are ‘spinners’ and aggressive lower order batsmen. Australia’s Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan (he prefers to spell it ‘Muralidaran’ because in Tamil the ‘t’ and the ‘d’ sound the same) from Sri Lanka are widely regarded as the greatest bowlers in the history of the game. ‘Warney’ was a right-arm leg-spin bowler who had the ability to turn the ball prodigiously with unnerving accuracy and variation. His signature delivery was the ‘flipper’ – a back spin ball squeezed out of the front of the hand with the thumb and first and second fingers. It drops slower and travels farther, with the extra pace and change of trajectory causing it to ‘pop’.

‘Murali’ was an off-spinner and a leading exponent of the ‘doosra’, spinning the ball in the opposite direction to a normal off break. His career was plagued with controversy and accusations of illegal bowling with his unique delivery style – an unusual hyperextension of his congenitally bent arm. In plain English, straightening the bowling arm during delivery.

Although the ICC cleared him of any illegality, based on biomechanical analysis, many remained unconvinced, including former Australian PM, John Howard, who called him a ‘chucker’. Australian crowds continually taunted him, yelling “No Ball!” after every delivery. It lead to a statement from Murali that he might skip future tours of the country. A ‘Spin Summit’ in July 2009 decided not to use the ‘doosra’ when teaching young bowlers because it was an illegal delivery.

However, this ‘doosra’ delivery was found to exceed the ICC’s elbow extension five degree limit by nine degrees. After research found that almost 99% of bowlers exceeded the limit, the ICC revised it to 15 degrees, allowing Murali to continue using it in his repertoire.

In spite of that, he became the highest wicket taker in both Test and ODIs, taking his 534th wicket in the latter in April 2011.

He took his 800th Test wicket with hi very last delivery against India in Galle in July 2010. Going into the game he needed 8 wickets to reach the milestone. With seven secured and the last two Indian batsmen at the crease, Murali had Pragyan Ojha caught by Mahela Jayawaedeue to take the final wicket and win the match. He ended taking the most 5 (67) and 10 (22) wicket hauls in a match and is the only player to do so against all Test playing countries.

‘Warney’ finished his Test career with 708 wickets at an average of 25.42 in 145 Tests between 1999 – 2007. In ODIs he took 293 scalps in 194 matches, including a man-of-the-match performance of 33-4 to win the World Cup against Pakistan at Lords in 1999. His career was not without controversy either, but for a number of off the field misdemeanours, including a on year ban from the game for taking a banned diuretic just before the 2003 World Cup.

He was one of five, and the only bowler, to be named in Wisden’s ‘Cricketers of the Century’ (2000). The others were Don Bradman,  Sir Jack Hobbs, Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Viv Richards. ‘Murali’ didn’t make the list, however in 2002 Wisden named him the greatest ever bowler based on statistical analysis. In 2007, the Warne-Muralidaran Trophy was unveiled for future test series between Australia and Sri Lanka.

Murali narrowly escaped death when a Tsunami struck Sri Lanka on Boxing Day 2004, arriving late to a prize giving ceremony in Seenigama. He immediately established the Foundation for Goodness to raise funds to help survivors rebuild homes, schools, sports facilities and computer centres, raising US$4million in the first three years. The ‘Tsunami ODI Cricket Series’ was one of the fundraising events. Shane Warne captained a World XI which included Murali. They played three games in New Zealand against the Black Caps. Both signed my sketches at the Christchurch match on 22 January 2005 and naturally I made a donation to the Appeal – a small price to pay to see the two greatest wicket-takers blowing in tandem.


Drawing: Jess Ennis

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Jess Ennis, or Mrs Jessica Ennis-Hill, as she likes to be called, since her nuptials in May this year, was one of the stars of London 2012 and the poster girl of British Athletics.

After the disappointment in 2008 when she was forced to miss the Olympics in Beijing due to a stress fracture in her right foot, Jess won the Heptathlon gold in London on what has been called “Super Saturday” (4 August) when three Team GB athletes became Olympic Champions in one night. Long jumper Greg Rutherford claimed gold only minutes after Jess destroyed the field in the 800m before Mo Farah powered to 10,000m glory.

It was Great Britain’s best day in the 104 year history of Olympic Competition, with six gold medals and a silver.

The ringmaster himself, Lord Coe said it was, “the greatest day of sport I have ever witnessed.”

Jess, a former European and World champion was awarded the CBE in the 2013 New Year honours and was named World Sportswoman of the Year at the Laureus World Sport Awards.

Unfortunately, she will not be able to regain the world title in Moscow this month due to an achilles injury but plans to compete at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – a competition she has yet to win.

Jess signed my drawing in London while promoting her autobiography in November 2012.

Drawing: Sebastian Coe, Lord of the Olympic Rings

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After heading the successful London bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics Sebastian Coe became Chairman of the London Organising Committee and not only the head but the ‘face’ of the Games.

Along with fellow Brits Steve Cram and Steve Ovett, they dominated middle distance running during the 1980s. He won four Olympic medals, including successive golds in the 1500m at Moscow (1980) and Los Angeles (1984). The other medals were successive silvers in the 800m at the same Olympics.

Lord Coe is actually colour blind, so I guess they all look the same to him. He also held eight outdoor and three indoor world records and in 1979 he broke 3 world records in the space of 41 days.

After retiring from Athletics, Seb was elected to Parliament as the Tory MP for Falmouth from 1992-1977. In 2000 he was made a Life Peer for services to William Hague, the then Leader of the Opposition, as his Chief Of Staff.

I mailed this caricature to his Parliamentary office in 1994 and he returned it, signed.

Drawing: Charlton Heston


With his larger-than-life roles in The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur, Charlton Heston became identified with Biblical epics more than most actors. The Hollywood legend made over 100 films over a sixty year career, winning the 1959 Best Actor Oscar for his title role in Ben Hur – a role originally turned down by Marlon Brando, Burt Lancaster, and Rock Hudson.

Born John Charles Carter, ‘Chuck’ (as most called him, except his wife of 64 years who always used the moniker ‘Charlie’) chose his stage name from the surname of his mother (Charlton) and his stepfathers surname (Heston).

In 1996 he made  a flying stop tour of New Zealand’s three main cities to promote his autobiography In The Arena. I found out late that he would be signing copies at Whitcoulls in central Christchurch for 30 minutes.

The book didn’t interest me, but Chuck’s siggy did. I went to the local public library, flicked through a few more publications and found the iconic image Charlton as Moses in The Ten Commandments and quickly sketched it on an A4 sheet of paper. In my haste I wrote his name as ‘Charllton’.

Now to get it signed, in person, without buying a copy of the book looked unlikely, so I needed some assistance from the big man above… not in the biblical sense, the Whitcoulls store manager, whose office was situated above the store. I did try and ask a shop assistant if she could get Charlton to sign it, but she referred me to the boss. Fair enough. Nothing to lose. I put my request to him, he said he would mention it to the minders, and if ‘Moses’ wanted to sign and had the time, so be it. It was in the lap of the gods.

In due course, Charlton arrived, took up his position, signed copies for the crowded congregation and headed to the door and my holding position. I wasn’t alone. Non-buying ‘graphers had gathered. Moses moved quickly, but I managed to stop him with the sketch. He looked at it, turned it sideways, took out his pen and corrected the spelling. Oops. He turned it back and signed it, then into the car and away.

Got him. Next time, remember one of the Ten Commandments – thou shalt spell the celeb’s name correctly.

Drawing: Glen Campbell

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Country music legend Glen Campbell visited my home town of Invercargill on the southern coast of New Zealand in March 1991. An ideal opportunity to get Glen’s ‘graph. As usual, I left it late and in my haste, stuffed up!

In 50 years in show business, Glen has recorded 70 albums with 45 million sales, including hits such as Galverston, Gentle On My Mind, Rhinestone Cowboy and Wichita Lineman. He made history in 1967, winning 4 Grammys in both country and pop categories. He also tried his hand at acting. In 1969 he was personally selected by John Wayne to play alongside ‘the Duke’ in True Grit.

I was a member of the City Council which managed the Civic Theatre, where Glen was performing that evening. I wasn’t able to get it in person due to a Council meeting – just wasn’t PC to ask for leave to get Glen Campbell’s autograph. So I enlisted the help of the theatre manager, who left the drawing in his dressing room with a request note.

Just before I went into the meeting, I quickly sketched Glen’s head, based on a photo in the ticket office, then attached a body and guitar without reference to reality. I went into the meeting, a lengthy public submission hearing that went long into the night. After the meeting, one of the theatre staff bought me an envelope with the signed sketch enclosed… and the mistake in the drawing noted – obviously using his right hand!

Drawing: Luciano Pavarotti


Luciano Pavarotti was one of the finest tenors of the 20th Century known for the brilliance and beauty of his tone, especially into the upper register.

He achieved worldwide fame as one of The Three Tenors and his rendition of Puccini’s aria Nessun Dorma from Turandot, which became the theme song for the BBC TV’s coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. It achieved pop status and remained his trademark piece. At the end of the Cup Final in Rome, he was joined by the other two tenors, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras for a concert, which was recorded and became the biggest selling classical album of all time.

He was also known for his humanitarian causes, especially his Pavarotti and Friends charity concerts in his home town of Modena, for several UN projects, with the likes of Eric Clapton, Celine Dion, Elton John, Queen, Sting and George Michael participating.

He signed my caricature after his Sydney concert in March 1994. Sadly, he passed away from pancreatic cancer after an international farewell tour in 2007.

Drawing: Victor Borge

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Victor Borge was considered one of the world’s great comedic geniuses. Dubbed ‘The Clown Prince of Denmark,’ he had no significant rivals in a career that spanned more than 7 years. His comic persona and stage routine was tailored to his personality quirks, musical gifts and extraordinary sense of humour.

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people,” he would say. Victor publicly ridiculed Adolf Hitler in his native Denmark just before WWII. When the Germans invaded, he managed to escape to America, obtaining a visa due to his American-born wife. He learnt to speak English and gained an understanding of American humour by watching movies; quickly rising to prominence with The Victor Borge Show on NBC from the mid 1940s. At one time he was the highest paid entertainer in the world.

Victor’s Comedy in Music one man show on Broadway reached 849 performances – the largest solo run in the Great White Ways history. It was based on a routine that became synonymous with his style, announcing that he was going to play a piece, but seldom actually getting around to doing it because of his hilarious interaction with the audience.

Ironically, his most famous pieces aren’t musical. Phonetic Punctuation recites all of the punctuation marks as exaggerated onomatopoeic sounds. Inflationary Language uses the incremented numbers embedded in words such as “once upon a time” becoming “twice upon a time”, “wonderful” – “twoderful”; “tennis” – “elevenis” and so on.

He toured New Zealand on many occasions. I can’t recall the exact year, but I sent him this caricature and some copies at Dunedin’s Regent Theatre either in the late 1980s or the early 1990s and received these two copies back signed. He kept the original. Not sure what the inscription is all about…

Victor performed to the end. After returning to his Greenwich, Connecticut home from a December 2000 concert in Copenhagen, he died the next day aged 91.

Drawing: Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick

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Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David are amongst the greatest composing duos of all time. One of their most memorable songs was Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, for which they won the Oscar, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Grammy Awards.

A number of their hits were written especially for Grammy winner Dionne Warwick, including Walk On By, Alfie, I Say A Little Prayer and Do You Know The Way To San Jose. She ranks amongst the 40 biggest hit makers of the entire rock and pop era. She’s second only to Aretha Franklin as the most charted female vocalist of all time, with 56 of her singles making the Billboard Hot 100 between 1962-1998.

In September 1995 she performed in New Zealand, including Auckland’s Aotea Centre, where she signed my sketch. Burt Bacharach was scheduled to do a New Zealand tour in early 2007 with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, but broke his collar bone and was unable to travel. Dionne Warwick replaced him, saying “That’s what friends are for”.

It was to be her final performance visit to the country. Burt rescheduled for July later that year, the ‘ultra cool cult hero of the contemporary music set’ played a number of gigs, including Auckland’s Vector Arena with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra.

I was in Auckland at the time, but couldn’t go to the concert. I was, however, very keen to get his ‘graph, but only had half and hour, so did a lightning fast sketch based on a poster pic of him at the Vector Arena and left it at the stage door with a note and a return envelope. It was returned, signed, along with a signed copy of his “At This Time” CD.

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