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'Grumpy' comedian backs culture bid

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:49 01 July 2010

Comedian Arthur Smith

Comedian Arthur Smith

Peter Walsh

He might be renowned for being a grumpy old man but this alternative comedian and writer said he is happy to support Norwich in its bid to become the first ever UK City of Culture.

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Official Norwich 2013 bid website

He might be renowned for being a grumpy old man but this alternative comedian and writer said he is happy to support Norwich in its bid to become the first ever UK City of Culture.

Arthur Smith, a regular on the BBC TV series Grumpy Old Men, might have been born in London, but he still has an affinity for Norwich - a city he got to know during his time as a student.

He attended the University of East Anglia between 1973 and 1977 where he studied a pioneering creative writing course run by Malcolm Bradbury and has fond memories of this “fine city” and said he is happy to add his support to the bid.

Mr Smith said: “I had a fabulous time. I come from London so it's good to see a small city.

“There's something about Norwich - in a way it's quite detached, a long way away which lends its own unique charm.

“Norwich is an old town with great traditions and on the other hand it's a happening place too. Norwich is a fine city.”

Mr Smith said there was a frisson between “town and gown” in the city which made it an ideal candidate as the UK's first ever city of culture.

He added that the “flatness of the landscape”, which is such a characteristic of Norwich and Norfolk, gave rise to the possibility of “high thinking”.

Mr Smith was one of many stand-up performers on the alternative comedy scene in the 1980s. He still performs today in much the same manner, and has regularly attended the Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival since 1977.

He has also written a body of serious or semi-serious work, including stage plays such as An Evening With Gary Lineker and is also narrator of the TV series Life of Grime.

Mr Smith's endorsement of Norwich's credentials to be the UK's first ever UK City of Culture in 2013 comes just days after the city had to submit its final bid alongside other shortlisted cities Birmingham, Sheffield and Derry/Londonderry.

The final presentation will be made next month which, if successful, could bring prestigious events from the Brits to the Turner Prize to Norfolk and attract thousands of new visitors to the region - as well as netting around £215m for the city.

Mr Smith's thumbs up for the city follows in the footsteps of the likes of Stephen Fry, Simon Callow, Christopher Biggins, Delia Smith, Marco Pierre White and Cathy Dennis, who have all so far pledged their support to Norwich's bid.

To find out more about the City of Culture bid, or how to get involved, log onto www.en24.co.uk/culture

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Official Norwich 2013 bid website

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