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THE EAGLE'S OPENING NIGHT - Jane Peel at the Alban Arena, St Albans
Friday May 26, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards has kicked off his UK theatre tour and PlanetSKI was there on the first night. We met him backstage before hearing his account of a remarkable life.

He is Britain's only Olympic ski jumper and needs no introduction.

There are just 45 minutes before he is due on stage, and Eddie is munching a healthy fruit salad and looking as relaxed as ever.

This is despite telling me that he hasn't had a full rehearsal - "I'm going to wing it" - and that he will do the entire show, in two 50 minute halves, without the help of notes - "It's all in my head".

He reassures me that, although this is his first ever one-man theatre performance, he's been telling his story for 25 years and practised his presentation on a cruise in January.

"It went really, really well," he says.

Jane Peel & Eddie EdwradsWith Eddie before the show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nevertheless, he admits he is "slightly nervous".

He needn't be.

From the moment he steps onto the stage carrying a pair of his enormous skis, he has the audience (a real mix from schoolkids with their parents to pensioners) in the palm of his hands.

"It's the hottest day of the year and I'm talking about winter sports..... I've timed that a bit wrong."

It's the first of many laughs.

Everyone is here to see a legend.

His only props are his skis and a big screen on which to show photos and the occasional video clip.

Eddie Edwards on stage in St AlbansEddie holding court

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eddie asks if we have seen the Hollywood film about his journey to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

Most of us have.

"It's 29 years since I plummeted off the end of that ski jump and became Britain's first - and last - Olympic ski jumper."

He came 58th, he informs us. There were 58 finishers but Eddie insists he didn't come last.

There were 59 jumpers, but a Frenchman broke his leg in a practice run and couldn't compete.

More laughs, at the expense of the unfortunate Frenchman.

And, anyway, he might have come 58th, but he broke his own British ski jump record in the process.

1988 Winter Olympian Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards at the 1988 Winter Olympics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


- Eddie The Eagle film hits the cinemas

- 29 years on Eddie jumps again at Calgary

- PlanetSKI interviews Eddie at the launch of National Schools Snowsport Week


Eddie is at his funniest when he is being self-deprecating.

He speaks of being drug-tested at a competition at which he came 148th: "I was told anyone who jumps that badly and keeps jumping must be on drugs."

He relates how a young Swiss coach once told him there was only one thing wrong with his jumping: "You land too close to where you take off."

The audience is laughing with him, not at him, and there is plenty in this performance to illustrate the hardships and pain (literal, with multiple broken bones on multiple occasions) he suffered on his journey from self-taught poverty-stricken novice jumper to darling of the Calgary games.

His rejection by the skiing establishment, which put paid to his dreams of competing at a second Olympics, is met with tuts and sympathetic aaahs from his captivated audience.

Eddie Edwards Signing photos for a long queue of fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are plenty of quirky side stories to enjoy, too: how he was helicoptered into Devon to open a tourist office in Clovelly, dressed as a chicken; how he became an unlikely pop star in Finland singing a song in Finnish that he didn't understand a word of.

This show could easily be much longer to do justice to his extraordinary life.

There is only a passing mention of his law degree, his marriage, his two chlldren, his divorce, his victory in the first series of "Splash", the TV diving competion.

In my judgment, Eddie puts only one foot wrong.

He ends with a video compilation of some horrific looking crashes - not him, but other ski jumpers.

It's too shocking to close the show with and ruins the mood.

I want to leave the auditorium feeling uplifted.

Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards has had a life of highs and lows, but ultimately he has triumphed over adversity.

Eddie Edwards posing with fanSmile for Dad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fan at Eddie Edwards showHappy fan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on the tour and links to the theatres to book, visit www.speakersfromtheedge.com

TOUR DATES

May

Sat 27 - CHELTENHAM Town Hall

Sun 28 - PORTSMOUTH Kings Theatre

Wed 31 - NEWTOWN Theatr Hafren

Sun 4 -  EXETER  Northcott Theatre

Tues 6 -  LEAMINGTON SPA Royal Spa Centre

Thurs 8 -  MALVERN Malvern Theatres

Fri 9 -  SALE  Waterside Arts Centre

Sat 10 -  PRESTON Guild Hall

Sun 11 -  BUXTON Opera House

Mon 12 -  BARROW-IN-FURNESS The Forum

Tues 13 -  DARLINGTON Dolphin Centre

Thurs 15 - STIRLING Albert Halls

Sun 18 -  ABERDEEN  The Lemon Tree

Mon 19 -  INVERNESS Eden Court

Tues 20 -  LEEDS City Varieties

Wed 21 -  ST IVES (Huntingdon) Burgess Hall

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news 

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