Tv’s Fifth GearPresenter, Tiff Needell, likes going to the Harbour Lights Picturehouse cinema, Southampton, with his wife and their three sons

Tiff Needell:
Tiff Needell

We’ve interviewed racing driver & Tv’s Fifth Gear Presenter, Tiff Needell. He often goes to the cinema with the his family. His favourite theatre is the Harbour Lights Picturehouse, Southampton

«There’s no fixed pattern to our cinema-going – Tiff Needell says. – Sometimes we’ll go a few times a month, or perhaps just every few months. For the big action blockbusters, the boys will insist we head off to the Odeon IMAX. Otherwise my wife, Patsy, will head us to the family favourite that has to be the Harbour Lights Picturehouse.

It’s in Ocean Village, on the Southampton Marina, just 20 minutes’ away. With the car park right outside its striking glazed entrance, it’s most conveniently situated. The views are good too since the bar lounge overlooks the boats in the harbour – actually, the seats in the lounge area are very nice too, but we always seem to arrive too late to enjoy this».

Small but various

The Harbour Lights only has two screens. What is good is that it still manages to play a lot of variety as well as throwing in a few oddballs, like Trance, recently, which I really enjoyed. Patsy also occasionally goes there for the live ballet – for the stuff they stream in via satellite. But that’s not quite my thing.

It’s a relaxing cinema

The bar staff always seem cheerful. Moreover, you’re allowed to take drinks into the auditorium with you. The seats are comfortable enough. Howevere, because they lack adequate legroom, I tend to go for an aisle seat ‘where you can stretch a tall man’s leg out’. Sadly, the seats also lack cup-holders, so there’s nowhere to put my pint of Boddingtons. But, by now, maybe I’m referring to the ‘old’ Harbour Lights. In fact the cinema is soon to reopen after a recent refurb.

One of the things I think I miss about going to the pictures is having someone show you to your seat by torchlight, like they did in the old days. That was such a nice touch. Of course, at some of the bigger chains there are tiered seats – premium and standard – and you’ll always wonder if someone’s already in your seat, playing the scam. They’ll have paid for the standard seat, of course, but will then try it on in the more expensive ones until you arrive and they have to leave. Not so at the Harbour Lights.

The Harbour Lights Picturehouse, Southampton
The Harbour Lights Picturehouse, Southampton

Going to the cinema is a family matter

Because there are five of us, going to the cinema can prove to be a major event by the time we’ve all debated and picked which film. Unfortunately, my poor wife is one girl against four boys. However our eldest son, Jack, now studying Film at university, will often be on her side. At least we can buy the tickets online.

With the family growing up, we’re now getting to see more adult oriented films, having seen all of the the Toy Stories. The big action stuff, like Man Of Steel, I always find a bit disappointing. I mean, just how many times can you watch a man punch a hole through a building and still be impressed by all of the CGI? Not after the 43rd time. Nor do I care that much for the Lord Of the Rings-type genre. I can’ts stand all the interminable battle scenes and never really quite knowing who’s fighting who.

Instead, I prefer to be [pleasantly] surprised by films. Deliverance and Blade Runner are just a couple of classics that spring to mind.

The Harbour Lights always seems to attract an appreciative audience as well as its fair share of film-buffs. And often there’ll be applause at the end if the film was good.

Tiff Needell’s autobiography, Tiff Gear, is now available in paperback.



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