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Frequently Asked Questions, Help and Advice

Firstly, select the entertainment you’re interested in and either submit an online enquiry or give us a call on 0845 108 5500. We’ll discuss your requirements and get a confirmed quote directly from the artist. Once you’re 100% happy that the artist is right for you, we’ll issue a booking contract to you and the artist. You then pay a small deposit which can be made by credit/debit card, cheque, BACS/CHAPS or internet transfer.

In most cases, the remaining balance is payable directly to the artist on the day of the event. You can make payment in advance to Alive Network if you prefer and we hold your payment for security in our ‘client’ account, releasing payment to the artist only after the event.

You can pay your deposit by credit/debit card, cheque, BACS/CHAPS or internet transfer. Please note, we do not accept American Express (AMEX).

In most cases, the remaining balance is payable directly to the artist on the day of the event. You can make payment in advance to Alive Network if you prefer.

The following information is based on a standard rock and pop function band

If the band has good access to your venue (EG: no lifts or stairs, no more than 100ft to wheel their equipment) they should be able to load in, set up and sound check within 90 minutes.

The exact set-up time required by each artist that we represent is shown when you get an online quote, and will also be confirmed on your booking contract.

Setup and sound check involves the following important steps:
1. Unloading all the band's equipment from their van and wheeling it into the venue
2. Unpacking the equipment from flight cases and putting it in the correct part of the room, arranged as the band need it to be positioned in order for them to be able to perform.
3. Connecting up the power and all the cables and checking everything is working
4. Sound checking - balancing the volume and equalisation of each instrument in the bands PA system so that:
a) everything sounds good in your room (every room sounds different and some instruments require careful attention so that the sound isn't too boomy)
b) each instrument is balanced against the other instruments so that you hear the songs clearly
c) the band can hear each other clearly 
d) the overall volume level is set as you / the venue requires.
5. Packing away empty cases, moving the van to a permenant parking spot, and getting changed into stage clothes for their performance.

If your event is running late and you’ve arranged for the band to set up after speeches, they will still need the same amount of time to set up. This allocated set up and sound check time is vital for the band to properly connect their equipment and get a good sound in advance of their performance. Please be respectful of the fact that the band can't physically complete the steps listed above any faster than the time they've already indicated when you booked them, and any attempt to make them feel pressured to hurry is only going to stress them out and put them on edge before they entertain your guests!

Please also be mindful of the fact that sound check is inherently loud and cannot happen at the same time as speaches or dinner unless you've got the band performing in a different part of your venue.

For Weddings, we usualy advise that set-up and sound-check happens in the gap after the wedding breakfast, whilst your venue turns the room around for the evening party. For this reason, you might want to speak with your venue to find out if there's another space where your guests can go after dinner away from the band setting up. It's not a problem if this isn't possible, but bear in mind the louder 'sound check' part can take up to 20 minutes. Often guest sing along!!

Alternatively, bands can arrive earlier in the day to be set up and sound checked before your wedding breakfast, but there will be an additional cost to cover the extra time on site.  


As an approximate guide to the amount of space required by rock and pop function bands:

3-piece band: 3 x 3 meters

4-piece band: 4 meters wide by 3 meters deep

5 and 6-piece band: 5 meters wide by 3 meters deep

7-piece and bigger: 5/6 meters wide by 4 meters deep.

Simply speak to or email your Alive Network coordinator and they will arrange any changes to your booking. In some circumstances, EG: requesting the artist perform for longer or arrive earlier, additional costs may be incurred.

It’s important that any amendments are reflected on your contract and this can only happen by Alive Network re-issuing it (we don’t charge a fee for this). Do not agree any amendments with the artist themselves otherwise they will not be covered by your old contract and there is a possibility amendments will be forgotten.

Cancellations
Sometimes clients are faced with an unfortunate situation where they need to cancel a booking. We are sympathetic to the fact that the reason for cancellation might be distressing and difficult to discuss. Please be assured that if you need to cancel a booking, we will always treat you with respect and consideration for your circumstances.

Re-arranging a booking
Re-arranging a booking is possible but it is still technically a cancellation. The difference is that often an artist won't charge a cancellation fee to re-arrange a booking providing they're available on the date you want to swap to and you're not re-arranging with such short notice that they have no chance of re-filling the old date.


If you need to cancel or re-arrange a booking please speak with your Alive Network coordinator as soon as possible. If you don't have your coordinator's number to hand please call reception on 0845 108 5500
In order to ensure we get your message right away, please try to speak to your coordinator on the phone. If you really can't speak with us in person please email us, highlighting the reasons for cancelling / re-arranging. If you try to cancel a booking by email you must make sure your email is received as sometimes emails get blocked by spam filters. Please don't try to cancel a booking at short notice by email as we might not pick it up before the artist travels to your venue.

Once we know you need to cancel or re-arrange a booking we will contact the artist to inform them, and we'll liaise with you to start the cancellation process, including calculating whether any cancellation fees are due, and if so how much.


Consequences and costs of cancellation
All bookings are secured with a legally binding contract and so there are consequences to you cancelling. A cancellation fee will be due from you to the artist if the reason for you cancelling your booking is not covered by a 'force majeure event', and if the artist is unable to secure another booking of equal value for your event date. If the artist is able to secure another booking of equal value for your cancelled event date, you will not owe any cancellation fees.

A force majeure event is described in our contracts as .........

A "Force Majeure Event" occurs where a party is unable to comply with its obligations under this Contract for a reason outside of its control (such as war, fire, death, illness or other capacity certified by a properly qualified medical practitioner, epidemic, accident, civil commotion, national calamity, order of Government or Local Authority having jurisdiction in the matter, changes in law, foreign government policy, act of God) and which is not attributable to any act or failure to take preventive action by the Artist or Client.

In simple terms, you can only cancel the booking without penatly if you suffer an unforseeable disaster (often referred to as an act of God) such as falling seriously ill, your venue getting burned down or some other national calamity.

The amount of money owed as a cancellation fee is always a percentage of the artists NET fee, not including travel or costs. The artist can only charge you for losses incurred, and in your case, this would be loss of earnings.

For example, if you booked an artist for £1200 who was based 100 miles away from your event, then chances are a percentage of the total fee (maybe £100 - £200) would be money towards their travel time and costs. They can't claim back costs they haven't incurred, so we will calculate the cancellation fee due based on their minimum local fee, excluding all travel.

The closer to the event date that you cancel, the higher the cancellation fee you pay. This is because most function artists get booked 12 months + in advance of an event, and re-filling a date a short notice is quite difficult.

Currently, the cancellation fee thresholds are as follows:

a) if you cancel a booking within 48 hours of confirming it, as long as you didn't book within 7 days of the event, you pay no cancellation fees.
(Once this initial 48 hour period has passed, even if you haven't paid anything or signed your contract, then cancellation fees become payable as bookings are often confirmed verbally over the phone and they take place immediately due to the fact that the artist blocks out their diary. We will have informed you of this when we took your booking.)
b) if you cancel up to 90 days before your event then 50% of the remaining balance owed on your contract would be due, and you would lose the deposit already paid. 
c) if you cancel up to 61 days before your event then 75% of the remaining balance would be due, and you would lose the deposit already paid.
d) if you cancel within 60 days before your event then 100% of the remaining balance would be due, and you would lose the deposit already paid.

Please bear in mind that if you cancel a Saturday event far enough in advance (9+ months) it's highly likely the artist will re-book the date and you'll owe nothing as the artist won't have suffered any losses.

Please also bear in mind that if you cancel a booking for a force majeure reason, the artist may request proof such as a medical note from your doctor.

Unless you have booked an artist who has a provision built into their contract terms which allows them to cancel your booking without penalty due to unforseen tour / tv work (this is very rare and will have been specifically pointed out to you when you booked them) then the artist is legally bound to your contract just as you are and they are unable to cancel your booking for any reason other than a 'force majeure event'.

This means that unless the artist dies, is seriously ill, or is delayed by an accident travelling to your event - then they can’t cancel your booking without being in breech of contract; for which you could sue them for damages.

If the artist you've booked does break their contract, or if they are effected by a force majeure event, then as soon as we know about it, we will inform you and help you to find a suitable replacement artist. We opperate a 24 hour-a-day emergency cover service so even at very short notice, one quick call to let us know there's an issue and we're there to support you in finding a replacement.

If an artist has broken the terms of the contract, we would also support you through taking legal action against them if it's justified under the terms.

For no obligation help and advice please submit an online enquiry for the most suitable artist you’ve found so far, or else call us on 0845 108 5500 and one of our entertainment coordinators will be happy to assist. Our offices are open 9am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday. Once your enquiry has been made, whether by phone or online, the same coordinator will look after you from start to finish so you’ll always deal with the same person and they’ll work with you to understand exactly what you’re looking for.

Your coordinator will be able to make recommendations based on the information you provide and on any artist selections that you’ve already made. If you have found one artist you like, we can answer any questions you have about them and if required, discuss the differences between them and other similar artists so you can compare a range of options and quotes.

The more specific you can be about what you want the more easily we’ll be able to help. Think about what style of entertainment you want, what you want the entertainment to achieve (dancing, mood setting, ice breaking etc), how much you want to spend and how much space you have. Do you want lively, calming, modern, funky, sophisticated, cool, mature, young, vibrant etc. All these descriptions will help us to make a suitable recommendation.

In most circumstances this is not possible as we work with bands and artists specialising in performances at private functions. By the nature of the fact that they are private, we cannot obtain access. Bands who regularly play at pubs are probably not the type you’d hire for an important private party as pubs don’t pay the money required for top quality acts.

On the very rare occasion that an artist might be doing a public show, it’s impossible to guarantee that by the time the show takes place, that the artist will still be available for your event. The best artists get booked very quickly so if you find one that you like, you are much safer basing your decision to hire on the strength of their demos, play list, biography and references from other customers.

Your Alive Network coordinator will also be able to offer their personal recommendation and many artists now also have video which enables you to get a good flavour of their performance style.

Once you’ve booked, the artist will contact you in the 3 weeks leading up to your event to discuss the finer details, ensure your requirements haven’t changed and finalise song preferences etc. If you need to speak to the artist before this it can be arranged but most liaisons before this point should be made via your Alive Network coordinator. We work on the artist’s behalf and this helps to ensure everything is properly noted on your enquiry/contract and not forgotten!

Most artists will not make site visits as they are not necessary and they do not charge enough money to be able to afford to give up a day to do so. If there is an extraordinary circumstance which demands a site visit, it can be arranged and a fee would more than likely be charged to cover time and travel.

Most bands prefer that you select the songs from their play list which you definitely do and don’t want, then leave them to structure your choices into a workable order. They will need to consider many variables in order to ensure their sets flow well and the singer will probably want to avoid having certain songs side by side.

Feel free to make an input but let the band bring their considerable experience to bear when finalising the actual play list for the evening.

In most cases, if the band offers this service it will be noted as a booking option on their profile page. If you are unsure please ask your agent.

In many cases, if the song is not something the band feel they would perform again, they will charge a fee to cover rehearsal time and the hire of a rehearsal room. They will usually also only consider learning a song if it can be performed with their standard instrumentation. For example, it would be difficult for a guitar based band to perform a convincing Frank Sinatra track without the piano and orchestra.

(See also sound limiters above)

The minimum level the band can set their equipment to is so that the other instruments and vocals can be heard above the natural volume of the drum kit. This varies from band to band and from style to style. In modern pop/rock music, the drums are played in a lively, strong and energetic fashion. Therefore, pop bands are relatively loud.

Relative doesn’t mean much unless it’s in context. We’ve established that most party bands are going to be ‘quite’ loud and this would mean that if you are on the dance floor in front of the bands PA system, it would be difficult to talk without having to speak directly into some ones ear. However, unless they are at the peak of their set and playing a highly energetic song, you would expect to be able to talk with a raised voice 20-30 feet away.

In ALL circumstances, an Alive Network band should adjust the volume to suit you, but bear in mind that they will only be able to adjust the volume to the natural level of the drum kit and this may still sound loud for very elderly guests.

If you have any concerns about elderly guests, consider a swing band or rock n roll band as these should be slightly quieter than a standard rock and pop function band. In our experience, at weddings and parties it’s the grandparents who dance first, longest and hardest so don’t worry too much!

Sound limiters spoil everyone’s fun. If you don’t know what they are, they are devices which measure the volume of sound in a room, then cut off the electricity supply if the sound volume remains above a pre-defined threshold for more than 10 – 20 seconds.

If you can, book a venue that does not have a sound limiter fitted. If you are unlucky enough to have already booked a venue with a sound limiter you need to understand the following:

Decibel (dB) comparison chart1. Bands are loud and not deliberately so. They will work with you to perform within the confines of a sound limiter but it’s not always possible if the limiter is set unworkably low. The band cannot turn down any lower than the unamplified volume of the drum kit. As you can imagine, a drum kit is quite loud even if it’s not being amplified by the bands PA system.

  1. The minimum level the band can set their equipment to is so that the other instruments and vocals can be heard above the natural volume of the drum kit. This varies from band to band and from style to style. In modern pop/rock music, the drums are played in a lively, strong and energetic fashion. Therefore, pop bands are relatively loud. Jazz drummers often play with brushes and in a much more refined fashion so they don’t normally have trouble with sound limiters.
  2. In many circumstances, as long as the venue see the band are making an effort to comply with the limiter, they will switch the limiter off or raise the threshold if problems persist.
  3. If the limiter is set to a threshold of approx 95dB, most party bands should be able to play without too much trouble, depending on the location of the sound limiters microphone. Below 95dB and you run the risk of audience applause tripping out the electricity!!
  4. On the right is a diagram which shows comparative dB levels so you can understand what 95dB of volume level is similar to.

In addition, a few bands offer the option of being booked with an electronic drum kit. These kits look like a normal drum kit but all the sounds are generated electronically. This means that the volume of the drums can controlled much more easily as the drum pads them selves make little noise when hit, all the sound comes out of the PA speakers. Although only a few bands offer this (see Happy Hour), and because electronic drums sometimes sound slightly artificial, it’s best chosen as a last resort if your venue are really strict.

We totally understand concerns about booking an artist you’ve not seen before. However, there are two very good reasons why you shouldn’t worry.

  1. Alive Network exists so that you don’t have to do all the hard work of vetting bands and artists yourselves. We do all that for you and only represent those who pass our strict vetting procedure. If you are concerned about quality, don’t be. All the artists we work with are pre-vetted and continually monitored by ourselves to ensure quality is maintained. Our artists are totally professional and have too much at stake to let us or you down.
  2. Every artist has photos, audio examples and references from previous customers to view on their Alive Network web page. The feedback from other happy clients is one of the best ways to calm your nerves and you can hear what each band sounds like from their online audio demos. We all make ‘blind’ booking decisions when we book a hotel room or holiday and as with web sites such as TripAdvisor.com, Alive Network allows you to be guided by the feedback of previous customers.

As for any concerns about booking with Alive Network our previous customer references also speak for themselves. You have the peace of mind that comes from booking with the UK’s largest live entertainment agency. Our HQ offices are in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire and you are welcome to visit by prior appointment.

You also have the added security of a comprehensive booking contract and 24 hour emergency support. We book entertainment for 5000 private parties each year, more than any other agency, and we are only able to do this by providing a first rate, reliable service.

When you book live entertainment with Alive Network you get a comprehensive booking contract. This contract legally binds the artist to perform at your event, it confirms exactly what the artist will provide and at what times and it also binds the artist to provide a high quality of service and behaviour. This contract is legally binding and cannot be cancelled unless someone dies or is seriously ill.

If one of the artists is seriously ill or injured, Alive Network operates a 24 hour emergency hotline so we can be contacted to make alternative arrangements. This could include arranging an alternative artist or helping the band to replace an injured member. Our out of hours emergency hotline is permanently staffed by 3 members of staff so no matter what time of day you call it will always be answered. We even answered a call to our emergency phone line at 1am on Christmas day!

Your appointed entertainment coordinator will also be on hand to help with any questions or queries up to and after your event.

  1. Expert advice and guidance to ensure you'll get exactly the right entertainment for you and that nothing goes wrong.
  2. Fast efficient service ensures your questions are answered promptly and you always get as much help as you need, even after you’ve booked.
  3. Safe, secure booking contracts ensure you won’t get messed round and the performance on the day exactly matches what you asked for.
  4. 24 hour emergency service to ensure if the worst happens, someone is on hand to put things right.
  5. Excellent value for money. We don’t allow artists to charge you more money just because they think they can get it. All artists’ fees are available on our web site and we negotiate you the best deal they can offer.
  6. Established, reputable business – we've been around for a long time and won’t be moving to Spain as soon as we’ve got your deposit. Your booking is in safe hands.
  7. High quality artists – each act is vetted by our artist liaison team before we work with them. Each act is continually monitored to ensure quality and any one who falls below par is removed from our web site.
  8. Reliable artists – they have too much to lose by messing us around. They are all professional, ethical and have numerous references from previous clients to put your mind at rest.
  9. World leading enquiry management and booking system - be rest assured that the service we provide is foolproof, accurate and efficient to ensure a stress free event.
  10. Easy to use – every step from enquiry to booking process is easy. No jargon, no stress, no hassles. Give us a try and see how easy it is to book amazing live entertainment!

Where as the majority of other similar entertainment agencies are run from home with only 2 or 3 members of staff, Alive Network HQ is a professional 5000 sq ft office space with professional recording studio facilities, based in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire. We also have a smaller office in Nottingham. We welcome visits from customers and are proud to offer a service which is visibly above board and transparent.

We are the largest live music and live entertainment supplier in the UK. We were also the first entertainment agency to really embrace the internet, offering instant online quotes and availability checking. We have several members of staff who’s sole responsibility it is to keep artist availability diaries up to date and ensure artist profile information is accurate. We aim to make your task of finding the ideal live entertainment for your event easy, safe and secure.

Alive Network has 16 full time members of staff so you know the phone will always be answered and we are always available to help. We also operate a 24 hour emergency service which is permanently manned by three members of staff to ensure we are always available.

We don’t just book entertainment and forget about it. We discuss your requirements in detail to ensure we fully understand your event and what you want from your entertainment. We explain in detail the differences between each artist you’re interested in and make recommendations for any we feel might be more suitable. We look in detail at timing and logistics to ensure absolutely nothing can go wrong and that you are fully informed as to exactly what you’ll get. We don’t pressure sell, we don’t try to push you to spend more money than your budget allows. We are an essential part of the entertainment booking process and our expert staff are here to ensure you get exactly what’s right for you.

Our enquiry and booking system is one of the best in the world, with all customer correspondence, invoicing, contracts and notes organised via a custom designed database system. All your requirements are noted, all requests accounted for, all emails and phone conversations compiled into one central hub so even if your appointed entertainment coordinator is out of the office, another member of staff can help without you having to repeat everything all over again. You can even access all your enquiry basket items, confirmed quotes and contracts via your own online customer accounts area. Because we can account for everything we do instantly, you can be rest assured that the service we provide is fool proof, accurate and efficient. Booking with Alive Network is the best way to ensure a stress free event.

We are a completely professional, ethical organisation.

We do not operate a ‘get what we can’ pricing policy and our commission rates are set at a fixed low percentage no matter how much money you have to spend. This ensures that the majority of the money you spend is going towards a quality live band and not the bosses next holiday.

We also won’t book a band for you and then send you someone completely different. There are a lot of rogue traders out there who hide behind a reasonable looking web site. You’ll know who they are because they either don’t advertise their contact address, they don’t show any details of who’s behind their company, there will be no photos to show genuine offices and you won’t be able to visit them for a face to face meeting.

Alive Network is a trusted brand.

Every artist must pass through our application system which is looked after by our dedicated artist liaison team. 95% of applications are rejected.

Our detailed artist application form must be completed in full. We initially look for a good quality demo CD and promotional materials (preferably including video), plus evidence of work at a professional level. We then interview each artist over the phone and gather further background information to satisfy ourselves that they are a professional act and will represent our agency well.

If their application gets this far we then look for references from previous customers, gather feedback and pass their application over to a final stage panel of entertainment coordinators and Alive’s MD. In many cases we will either go to see the band live or invite them to an audition. We have personally seen the majority of our mostly highly ranked artists.

Subject to approval in this final stage, artists are accepted on a trial basis where they must prove themselves reliable, efficient and professional in their interactions with us and customers. Artists who do not meet the standards required will be deactivated.

We ask for after event feedback from every Alive Network customer and this detailed feedback about artist performance, attitude and behaviour is monitored by our artist liaison team and our MD. Any negative comments, even minor gripes, are followed up with the artist and if comments are not taken on board and improved upon, the artist will be deactivated.

It is not worth our reputation to work with artists who let the side down.

Although it may be tempting to book a local band there are several good reasons why it’s dangerous to your event and a false economy.

  1. If you book any band directly, you have no real cover if anything goes wrong. If you don’t know the band already they’ll have no loyalty to you and no concerns about ruining their reputation by letting you down, as chances are there will be no way for you to damage their reputation. The biggest danger with booking a band direct is them getting a better offer and pulling out of your event. They can’t do that when contracted via an agency.

    When booking through Alive Network you are covered by a contract, the bands loyalty to us, and you'll have the help of a professional, reputable organisation to sort out a replacement in the event of an emergency. We do care about our reputation and we won’t let you down.
  2. A local band has no one to answer to but themselves, so quality control, behaviour, song choices, appearance, equipment quality are all totally ungoverned and unmonitored. With Alive Network, artists have to first pass our strict application guidelines and then answer to us with every bit of feedback we receive from previous clients. This ensures you’ll get a reliable band and no nasty surprises.
  3. Cheap local bands are likely to sound cheap. Professional function bands should have much better quality PA systems, lighting, instruments and performance ability. Chances are you’re looking for live entertainment for an important event? Chances are you wouldn’t book the local chip shop owner to run the catering for your event? Why cut corners with the music? You will notice the difference; you will wish you’d booked a quality band. Professional function bands provide a totally different service to the bands who busk down the pub on a Thursday night.
  4. If you pay a deposit to a local band and they split up, disappear or stop returning your calls, where are you going to go for help? You’ll end up coming to Alive Network anyway and you’ll need to pay a deposit all over again. Book with us in the first place and you’ll have security and no danger of being messed around.

Changing rooms

Somewhere to change comfortably would be appreciated and it helps if there is a mirror, electricity supply and comfortable chairs. Toilets are an absolute last resort. Ideally the changing room should be secure so that the band can leave their day clothes and bags in there. This can also double up as a quiet space to go between performances. If no changing room is available, please let the band know in advance.

Food and drinks

For afternoon musicians and entertainers, soft drinks, water, tea and coffee are usually fine.

For the majority of party bands and evening entertainers you will need to provide food and refreshments. This is referred to in your contract as a ‘Rider’.

In the case of most evening bands, the duration of their time away from home is approximately 12 – 16 hours, running from the time they leave home until the time they get home. Because of this, it’s important that they get a good meal, so hot food or access to a good quality buffet is always much appreciated. Sandwiches or a plate of chips is not ideal as this is likely to be what they ate for lunch on the way to your event and can hardly be expected to keep them going for another 6 hours. If for some reason it is impossible to cater for the band at your venue, let them know well in advance.

Please ensure your hotel or catering staff are aware that the band needs to be catered for and that ideally their food should be provided immediately after their first performance. If the band are to help themselves to the buffet, it is also helpful if your caterers can plate this up separately so the band don’t have to queue for so long that they don’t have time to eat before their second set.

Please also ensure that bar staff know soft drinks and tea/coffee are free for the band (or make arrangements for plenty to be provided in the bands changing room.) You DO NOT have to provide alcohol for the band; although a complimentary beer after they’ve finished sound check is likely to be much appreciated.

Although thankfully very rare, we have a very efficient system to ensure any complaints are looked after sensitively and thoroughly. If you have a serious complaint, you can discuss it with your entertainment coordinator who will formally put the complaint to the artist. We usually do this in writing so that all issues are clear and accountable. They will mediate with the artist and obtain their side of the story and this will also be put to you in writing. If the artists response and any offer of compensation is not to your satisfaction, your coordinator will continue to liaise between both parties until a satisfactory outcome can be agreed. If nether party can agree a satisfactory resolution to the complaint, you will be fully entitled to take legal action against the artist directly (most are represented by the Musicians Union) and your solicitor will be able to offer much more detailed legal advice than we are qualified to.

If after investigation we feel an artist has caused unnecessary and unavoidable inconvenience or distress to a customer, or should they not cooperate fully with a complaint procedure, we will remove them immediately from our web site.

If you have a complaint about Alive Network or your entertainment coordinator, this can be made directly to David Bevan our MD. His contact details can be found here >

If you are not happy with our response, you can also make a complaint to Trading Standards, get advice from The Office of Fair Trading, or visit http://www.advicenow.org.uk