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A God of Business: Brian Butterfield

Brian Butterfield

Calling all professional types, mark 27 June in your desk calendar or even your Filofax. Business impresario Brian Butterfield is coming to town to share his expertise with Oxford. Is it a seminar or is it a comedy show, devised (and performed) by actor, writer and comedian Peter Serafinowicz? We got our ducks in a row before reaching out and drilling down so we could circle back and bring to the table his core competencies.

What can we expect from your show, The Call of Now?

As the old saying goes, “expect the expected”. Which means you should expect adequate seating, some sort of roof or ceiling plus the requisite number of walls to support such a structure. I won’t give too much away about the seminar itself, partly because I don’t want to give away any surprises and partly because, to be honest, I’ve forgotten. I’ll promise to try my absolute best to remember the show’s contents before I get to Oxford.

Will you tailor the content to an Oxford audience?

Yes, I will. The main thing I will tailor for the Oxford audience is at the start of the evening, I will change the line from “Good evening Cambridge!” to “Good evening Oxford!” (I’ve remembered the first line at least, so that’s good.) I wouldn’t want to offend the people of Oxford by referring to them as Cambridge as I know the rivalry between the two cities can erupt into arguments and even rows - Oxford versus Cambridge rowing is world famous.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?

Yes, I have a set of vocal warm-ups - as well as aural warm-ups (listening to different sorts of sounds) and ocular warm-ups (looking up, looking down, looking left, looking right, looking up and right, looking down and left, etc). Immediately before going on stage, I like to say a little prayer to the Gods of business. Praise be to Branson, Gates and Bezos.

And, what’s on your rider?

I’m sorry, but I think perhaps you’ve confused me with a famous race horse or a vintage motorcycle. Either way, I’d imagine that the one thing on my rider is some form of protective headgear. Just to be clear though, I – Brian Butterfield - won’t be wearing any protective headgear during my seminar. And, in all likelihood, no one in the audience should feel the need to either. Unless the roof caves in again, as it did in Guildford.

Have you ever been approached for a TV role – I’m thinking of Sir Alan and the Apprentice, Sir John Harvey Jones? What would Brian Butterfield bring to the screen?

This question is actually a bit of a sore point. You see, back in the 1970s Lord Sir Alan Sugar was my apprentice. I took him under my wing and taught him every single thing I knew about business. Then, at our mid-morning coffee break on that first day, he fired me. It was justified. He went on to take over my computer company Brianstrad, dropped the ‘Bri’ and changed the ‘n’ to an ‘m’. Strictly speaking, his TV show should be called ‘The Apprentice’s Apprentice’.

You have a marked resemblance to the comedian, Peter Serafinowicz. Has that ever held you back, professionally?

I’m afraid I have no idea who or what that is. I will look it up when I get back to my office using “Ask Jeeves”.

The Call of Now with Brian Butterfield is currently touring the country and will be at New Theatre Oxford on 27 June. For tickets and further information visit

Image credit: Rory Lindsay


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