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Hit the road: life with the Banff tour

Banff presenter Rosie offers an insight into life on the road with the Banff touring team…

“Do you get to travel around with the tour?” is the question I'm most commonly asked on the road, and the answer is a resounding yes! We have more than 100 shows between January and May for the Banff UK & Ireland tour, split between two two-person touring teams, so that’s a lot of travel. It’s brilliant, and hard work.

We normally tour from Tuesday to Saturday, giving the teams Sunday afternoon and Monday to put in the washing back home and re-stock the van – so Sunday night is my Friday night. The longest outing I’ve had so far was a solid 1.5 weeks on the road, including Inverness which is one of our biggest drives (we’re based in the Midlands). That week, I completed on a house while driving from Inverness to Whitley Bay (surprisingly I had to send someone else to go and get the keys). It was also the day that John Bercow forced MPs back to work after Parliament was prorogued, which made for some memorable van radio.

Standard timings are: arrive at a venue at 3.30ish; build the screen; then the Banff technician will set up the sound and projectors while the presenter sets up our front of house stands. After putting on the show and packing down we generally leave a venue at just before 11pm and, if the next day's show is somewhere else, we’ll drive an hour or so in the direction of tomorrow’s show. One thing about being on tour – we’re on a slightly different time zone to the rest of the country, about two hours behind GMT.

So there are a lot of Premier Inns and not much time for exploring the beautiful locations we visit, but what we miss in sightseeing is made up for by some of the stunning theatres we work in. One of my favourites is the spectacular King’s Theatre in Portsmouth, which still has different outside entrances for all four levels of the auditorium. In the olden days, this was so the plebs, who sat on wooden benches in the gallery, didn’t have to mingle with the gentry sitting in the stalls. But I love slogging up to the cheap seats for an amazing view of the whole theatre. The King's Theatre in Glasgow, above, is similarly glorious.

Sometimes we have two, three or four shows in one place (or even two weeks in London), which is the dream: an early night, and time to explore the next day. I like to check out a local parkrun, although Ashton Court parkrun in Bristol just about finished me off. Who knew Bristol had mountains?

I love the lifestyle, but it’s not conducive to forming ties or getting involved with hobbies back home. I generally spend my summers getting back into climbing, or running, or theatre… and come September it’s back on the road for the Ocean Film Festival to undo all the hard work!

But for everything you miss out on at home, there are so many rewards of being on the road. One of my favourite parts of an evening is meeting audiences, hearing what they think of the films and what adventures they have been on. It’s a privilege to inspire people to get outdoors. And when you have been to a venue a few times, the venue staff and our fantastic bunch of Trail Team volunteers become like old friends. It’s a treat and, again, a privilege to work with this network of people all around the UK and Ireland.

That’s pretty much it – life on the road with the Banff tour. And one final thing… whoever is touring with me has to put up with a LOT of 1990s' radio in the van…

From all of us at the Banff UK & Ireland tour, we can’t wait to see you when we get back out on the road.


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