A NEAR 50-year-old caravan that once housed chickens on a Welsh smallholding has hosted the premiere of a new movie by the band Madness.

The group, fronted by lead singer Suggs, contacted Swansea-based 'Sol Cinema' which describes its converted 1972 caravan as Britain’s smallest cinema. 

The mobile movie house usually toured around festivals and community events to showcase independent films, often mixing vintage footage and modern music, along with a team of street performers.

Already the holder of a Digital Hero award for best use of sustainable technology, the Sol Cinema has won a Network Wales award for best communication project.

With lockdown restrictions currently meaning cinemas are closed, Madness went one step beyond and contacted the mobile cinema’s co-founder and projectioist, Paul O’Connor, to book the eight-seater picture house. It was just up Suggs' street.

With a deal done, the cinema then headed up the M4, andtowed into London’s Leicester Square to host the red carpet premiere of "Before We Was We: Madness by Madness", a three-part AMC UK original docuseries.

The film receives its UK TV premier on BT TV today, and O’Connor says he's keen to see the full film – especially as he is a longtime fan of the Our House band, who he jokes, he and co-founder and builder of the Sol Cinema, Jo Furlong, have hosted in “our cinema”.

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“Being sited in Leicester Square outside the 1,600 seater Odeon was funny as it showed the largest cinema in the UK with the smallest,” said Paul.

Sol Cinema had been due to celebrate its tenth anniversary last year, during which time the tiny theatre with plush seating, LED lighting and a projector, combined with surround sound, has entertained more than 80,000 people.

But the pandemic put touring on hold - including a trip to the Glastonbury Festival. 

“We expected to celebrate our 10 years at Glastonbury but the Madness guys sort of made up for that.

“I’ve loved Madness for years, since the '80s, and I brought down a couple of albums to get them signed. It was quite surreal to be sat there having a beer with Suggs. You couldn’t make this up.”

The National Wales: Suggs and Chris Foreman outside the Sol Cinema in Leicester Square. Photo: Ian West/PA ImagesSuggs and Chris Foreman outside the Sol Cinema in Leicester Square. Photo: Ian West/PA Images

The docuseries tells the origins of the iconic London band who first found fame with their take on ska music:

“It was the 40th anniversary of when we made our first record," said Suggs. "We thought it might be nice to do a book, one that wasn’t just about when we became successful, but about before we became successful, although we were all successful as kids in our own right, which you will find out watching this fantastic series."

“The premise of the book was that we all got interviewed individually, and we thought maybe it would be nice to do the documentary like that, because not all of the members of the band get to say their own bit, and I think that’s what made it interesting is that we all contradicted each other.”

"Before We Was We: Madness by Madness” will air in the UK on AMC, exclusive to BT TV at 9pm on Saturday, May 1, and on the next two Saturdays at 9pm, with all episodes also available to stream on BT Player.