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Entertainment, News, Sport, Wales Rally GB

Social media, fast cars and theatre

As the Online Producer at ITV Wales, I spend most of my time with my nose at a computer monitor (or in lieu of that, a smart phone) fervently typing away on the blog or editing extended interviews while firmly attached to some form of social media (Twitter, Facebook and Flickr being three big favourites).

Interviewing Adam Pettigrew and Princeton from Avenue Q (Photo: Nia Jones, WMC)

I also spent a lot of time talking to would-be guest bloggers and talking to correspondents and reporters about extra content and blogs for online.

But the last few weeks have been a bit more packed, and varied, than usual at ITV Wales.

An Online Producer in the fresh air: Rallyfest, Avenue Q and the Sherman Theatre

As a self-confessed geek girl with a penchant for all things tech and internet-based, I’ve been out in the fresh air a surprising amount in the last couple of weeks.

An avid motorsport fan, I drove up with the excellent Ephraim Lewis (and his camera) to Builth Wells on Saturday 4 June to find out more about November’s Wales Rally GB route.

I met the legendary Welsh World Champion co-driver Phil Mills at the event, as well as up-and-coming rally drivers Sara Williams and Elfyn Evans.

Phil was there to talk about the new north-to-south route for the rally, which this year will start in Llandudno, North Wales, before drivers race their way through stages down through Powys to finish in Cardiff.

Slowly Sideways aims to keep vintage racing and rally cars moving - rather than have them gathering dust in museums

Ever the pint-size adventurer, I also took a spin in an 81 Ford Escort with Alan Watkins from Slowly Sideways. Having never been in a car with a roll-cage, let alone one with quite that much power in it, it was certainly an experience.

Whizzing about the track – drifting here there and everywhere in the sweltering heat – was not anywhere near as nerve-wracking as I thought it would be.

But as Alan said: the idea isn’t too go fast, but to make the cars drift, showing the general public how these vintage vehicles would have looked on a rally track in their heyday.

What can I say – I was certainly sold on the idea.

Onto matters more theatrical. This week I’ve been out meeting Broadway stars and Hollywood legends – very glitz and glam.

I met the slightly jet-lagged but ever lovely Matthew Rhys outside what was the Sherman Theatre on Thursday

I met a slightly jet-lagged Matthew Rhys outside the now half-demolished Sherman Theatre building in central Cardiff.

It wasn’t exactly a glamorous setting, with most of the building already taken down and now a hard hat area, but Matthew still managed to bring a bit of glitz to the proceedings.

The A-list actor is throwing his support behind fundraising efforts for the redevelopment of the site. He spoke to me about visiting the theatre as a small child, and how the Sherman had helped him on the road towards Hollywood.

I can certainly empathise – with his affinity for the theatre at least, rather than a blooming film and television career. The old ‘70s building and its auditoriums have been host to a myriad of brilliant productions that I’ve had the pleasure to watch over the years growing up and living in Cardiff.

I also spoke to trustees Elinor Williams and Emma Goud about how the new theatre will look and what sort of productions people in this part of Wales can look forward to seeing. It’s certainly an ambitious project, and I look forward to seeing the finished project early next year.

As I said, it’s been a slightly glitzy week – on Wednesday I jumped in the car and drove down to the Wales Millennium Centre.

Avenue Q at the WMC from ITV Wales on Vimeo

In the wake of Avenue Q’s 150th show in the UK, I met some of the stars at the Wales Millennium Centre to find out more about the ethos behind the successful Broadway satire.

For those unfamiliar with the musical, most of the cast are puppets…

And I can tell you, trying to interview actors skilled in the art of improv like Rachel Jerram and Adam Pettigrew, with their misbehaving puppets is not the easiest of tasks – that is if you’re desperately trying (and largely failing) to keep a straight face.

It’s been a bit of glitz and glam, a bit of adventure, and a lot of tweeting these last couple of weeks.

Storify, Flickr and changing blog themes

Some of you may have noticed that we’ve been experimenting with Storify in recent weeks – we’ve used it to map and mark a number of big unfolding stories and events recently – notably Swansea City’s promotion to the Premiership (Well done to the Swans – from a Cardiff girl!) and the Queen’s visit to Cardiff for the Royal Opening of the Assembly’s fourth session.

Our new theme allows pictures from the ITV Wales Flickr group to show up on the front page - like this great image of Borth from Steve Wainwright

It’s a great tool, which has worked well because of great input from ITV Wales readers and viewers on Facebook and Twitter.

We’ve also had a bit of a theme redesign on the blogs, courtesy of our new web team member Joni Alexander – we’ve opted for a slightly ‘newsier’ layout, which I hope you all enjoy.

The new theme also allows us to pull in more of your content, with pictures from our flickr group now showing on the front page.

They’re a great set of images from you, our readers and viewers, and we really enjoy seeing them uploaded.

If you’re a keen photographer who hasn’t already signed up to the ITV Wales group, you can join it here: ITV Wales Flickr Group 

VIDEO: Taking a spin with Slowly Sideways

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