Kenwood concerts cancelled: Even Alf Garnett star laments the demise

18:17 20 January 2012

Actor Warren Mitchell, who played Alf Garnett, has campaigned against the concerts for many years

Actor Warren Mitchell, who played Alf Garnett, has campaigned against the concerts for many years


Organisers of Kenwood’s lakeside concerts have cancelled this summer’s programme - leading one of the event’s fiercest critics, Alf Garnett actor Warren Mitchell, to lament its demise.

English Heritage who own the house, and concert managers IMG, have announced they will not be working together this year after they failed to renew a contract.

This brings to an end the high-profile concerts which have run almost continuously since 1951 and in recent years have attracted stars such as Tom Jones, Liza Minnelli, Blondie, and James Blunt.

Mr Mitchell, the TV actor best known as cockney Alf Garnett, has campaigned against the concerts for many years but said the decision was nonetheless a “bloody shame”.

He said: “I’m not opposed to the fact of the concerts just them being noisy and impossible.

“It’s a bad thing to take people away from the arts. Good music is part of life.”

He lives in Stormont Road, one of the streets closest to Kenwood House, and has in the past complained about “noise levels” and the “commercialisation” of the 50-year long tradition

His protests together with other residents helped put a stop to the concerts for the duration of the 2007 season.

The concerts were once famous for bringing alfresco classical performances to Hampstead.

But ten years ago English Heritage brought in professional event organisers to increase revenues, with mixed reviews to revamped programmes that included high profile pop stars and moved away from the concert’s classical roots.

Michael Hammerson, of the Highgate Society, welcomed the cancellation as an opportunity to reconsider the “whole rationale and content” of the concerts.

He said: “There has been a big debate. Some people thought it was a shame to lose the old style classical concerts because that’s what made them special.

“Maybe in the future it would be nice to consider a mix of the old format classical concerts and the popular concerts.”

But he said the timing was “unfortunate” and that Kenwood risked “missing out” on the opportunities of the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics.

Paul Griffiths, London area manager at English Heritage, said the time was right for a break in the concert programme. He said: “The summer picnic concerts at Kenwood will take a year off in 2012. Next year, 2013, will be an exciting one for Kenwood as following the vital repairs to the roof, the house will reopen - revived and refreshed.

“This year therefore is a good time to pause and see if the concerts can be done differently in 2013 and beyond.

“It’s timely too as our contract with IMG, which successfully organised the concerts between 2000 and 2011, has come to an end.”

An English Heritage spokesman added that the decision to cancel was not connected to the London 2012 Olympics and that the tender process to find a new concert organiser would reopen later this year.


Latest News Stories

Khayerul Miah, pictured, and his brother have joined IS in Syria

The Camden school where two Islamic State (IS) recruits were pupils has released a statement to parents.

Police cordoned off the pavement outside the Vodafone store in Finchley Road

The pavement outside a parade of shops on Finchley Road has been cordoned off after knife raiders threatened staff at a branch of Vodafone and made off with thousands of pounds worth of mobile phones.

Carl Ryan, who is charged with misconduct in a public office, outside court (Picture: Central News)

A Camden-based detective accused of hampering investigations into six sex cases made a female colleague feel “uncomfortable, alienated and isolated”, a court heard.

Patrick Fitzgerald Shaw

A woman who was subjected to repeated violent rapes by a man who threatened to kill her and post sexual images of her online has spoken out to encourage other rape victims to come forward.

Traders and Highgate Neighbourhood Forum members Jane Wiles, Rachel Allison, Louise Lewis, Allan Rapley and Emine Gokturk  launch Highgate's first live advent calendar. Picture: Nigel Sutton

For adults and children, the suspense of waiting each day to find out what is underneath the window of your advent calendar is one of the joys of the Christmas season.

The Friends of Parkland Walk has released its own set of Christmas cards, all using images of the leafy nature reserve

These tranquil, snowy scenes look as if they were photographed in the depths of the countryside, rather than in the middle of a capital city.

Save Autism Services Haringey protesters outside Haringey Civic Centre in Wood Green. Photo: Martin Ball

Families of vulnerable adults believe that dementia and autism services can still be saved – if council tax is increased.

Most read news

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


MAC Makeup

MAC are renowned for their flawless, fabulous make up that is used worldwide by the stars. You too can have the chance to have the perfect makeup to suit your needs with £1,000 to spend on all the glam goodies you like!


You are never far from an Argos, wherever in the country you may be. They are like a magical cavern where whatever you need they seem to have it out the back behind the counter. So why not put them to the test with this great MyOffers competition to win £1000 to spend in-store.

Digital Edition

Read the Hampstead & Highgate Express e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder