Lee announced to the audience of his Christmas concert at London's Garrick Theatre on 7 December that he had been asked to record a radio show for BBC Essex for broadcast on Christmas Day. He was hoping to record it the following week, adding that if it went well they might look at a more regular show, before cautioning "Don't get ahead of yourself, Lee!"
The show, billed as "Lee Mead's home for Christmas, bringing you special guests and festive music", was broadcast from noon until 2pm on Christmas Day. For those able to tune in on the day, it provided a wonderful backdrop to a family Christmas - festive tunes, including a few from Lee's own Christmas concert at the Garrick on 7 December, a chat with his lovely Mum reminiscing about Mead family Christmases past and interviews with several people he had known and worked with over the years.
First up was Paul Driscoll, now Marketing Manager of Southend Theatres, which operates both the Palace Theatre and the Cliffs Pavilion which houses many of Lee's early theatre memories. It was Paul who interviewed a 15 year old Lee for a two-week work experience placement at the Cliffs and saw potential in his youthful enthusiasm. During those two weeks, he also met another of his interviewees, Joe Pasquale, who took the time to speak to Lee about the business at a time when he was considering whether that might be where his future lay.
Another person who played an important role in Lee's early forays into show business was Penni Bubb, his first dance teacher and the founder of the Mushroom Theatre Company, of which Lee is patron, and its associated charity, Equal People. Tales of dance groups and knee slides followed, accompanied by much laughter, before they spoke of their shared passion for Mushroom, which after 10 years of fund-raising and making-do moved into a new fit-for-purpose home just days before Christmas.
Lee's final guest was great friend and colleague, Stephen Rahman-Hughes, who he first met in 2012 when they joined forces with Matt Rawle for the first series of West End Men concerts. With a further UK tour (and one-off Singapore concert) involving Ramin Karimloo later that year and a month-long West End residency in 2013, the two have had plenty of time to cement their friendship and have often shared a stage since, most recently at several dates on Lee's sensational 2014 tour.
The show is well-worth a second listen, or a first if you were otherwise engaged on Christmas Day, and if you're listening BBC Essex, more please!
BBC Radio Essex - Lee Mead
DOWNLOAD (full show - 2 hours) or LISTEN (edit - 74 mins, excl non-Lee songs) below:
Last updated: 06/02/2015