"A noticeably under-the-weather Davies"

TV QI is touring Australia, with Stephen Fry and Alan Davies in their usual spots and local celebrities. The local Chortle has a review:
"A noticeably under-the-weather Davies did his best to play his usual target of ridicule. Under the influence of medication, he was more interested in exploring the stage like a misbehaving toddler than contributing to the dialogue. This still provided some humour with Fry wrestling to gain control over proceedings as Davies created mild anarchy. Ten years of wearing the Dunce's hat gave this performance an undercurrent of apathy and cynicism.

"(Julia) Zemiro took up some of the slack left by the ill Davies; interjecting with a constant stream of comical but incorrect answers. She made fully use of her many years in improv to throw anything and everything into the banter, some successful, some not."
A YouTube search suggests Zemiro is a fairly huge tv presence in Oz and would have been perfect on QI. Here she trying to work out which answer was given by contestants on American gameshows on an Austrian "Zoo" like show:

Also: cueing in Terry Wogan on Eurovision in 2008, reviewing Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and funnily improving her way through Thank God You're Here.


"It doesn't serve any additional utility"

Technology At some point in the next however many days, Google is updating Reader and merging its social function including public pages with Google+. People aren't happy. I'm not happy. Although I don't use the actually social functions for being social, it does run the back end of my @liverpoolblogs and @shakespearelogs aggregating twitter feeds, not to mention the miniblog to the right of this text, all of which are bound to keel over whenever Google decide to install the update. At some point. In the future. At a time they've been, as ever, quite vague about.

In this current climate of protest, I'm pleased to see that some users aren't taking this lying down and have picketed Google's headquarters in Washington. Apart from the ones who probably are lying down, like Arthur Dent in front of Prosser's digger.  The small crowd which turned up had suitably surreal banners and cute small child and managed to find a fair bit of press on local websites and elsewhere. Here's something on one of the local news stations:
"Very few of the people in front of 1101 New York Ave. (which — auggh! D.C.! — is really on I Street NW) are seasoned protesters. "I'm a Republican, dude," says Ellis, who works at Americans for Tax Reform. He loves getting exposed to blogs and writers he'd normally never come across and does not like Google+. "It doesn't serve any additional utility," he says.

No one at the protest plans to abandon Google products if Reader's social functions get stripped: "Where would we flee to?" Libresco asks. Gmail, says Ellis, "is too good to abandon."
Which is rather the problem. As far as online access RSS at least is concerned, Google has the monopoly, Bloglines having imploded in the past couple of years.  If this update fails, we're all stuck and waiting for this update is like waiting for a digital bomb to drop.  As for the various twitter feeds, I'll try and sort something out when and if they do go offline.  But the idea of running them through Yahoo Pipes again is giving me the wiggins.

Updated 31/10/2011  Google Reader has updated.  It looks spare and horrible but weirdly both @liverpoolblogs and @shakespearelogs are still working because the rss feed from the folder's public page is still working even if I can't gain access to it any more.  We'll leave them as they are for now and see what happens.  It has broken the miniblog which is tedious, though it'll just force me to post everything in-line which means more blog posts for you.

"exciting experiment in radio history"

Plug! In Liverpool, on Monday ...
ROMEO ECHO DELTA interrupts the airwaves!

Watch the skies and stand by your smartphones this Halloween when AND festival invites you to become part of this exciting experiment in radio history. ROMEO ECHO DELTA is a brilliant new sound project by the artists Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard [www.iainandjane.com]. Produced especially for AND festival [www.andfestival.org.uk], it is inspired by a long line of hoax alien invasions and fake UFO scares......

Listen live on BBC Radio Merseyside 95.8fm, on their website www.bbc.co.uk/news/england/merseyside/ or in the FACT building (88 Wood Street), 31 October, 10.00pm – 11pm for an opportunity to meet the artists and find out the truth ...

the boring o’clock balladry of Westlife and Ronan Keating

Music Because I know you don't get tired, at all, with posts about the Sugababes, here's a pretty good time line from Drowned in Sound which doesn't sugacoat (sorry) the effect One Touch really had on the charts way back when:
"27 November 2000 - ‘One Touch’ Tanks

It’s not hard to see why the debut Sugababes LP sank without much of a trace. While its silky restraint may have helped this album stand the test of time, trapped between the bubblegum trash of Steps and B*witched and the boring o’clock balladry of Westlife and Ronan Keating, this three piece were never going to have a fair shot at a career. The market for urban-influenced pop sang by a bunch of dowdy schoolgirls simply wasn’t there."
It was a record out of time.  The second ever post on this blog brought news of their demise.

Like both of Siobhan's solo albums it's been rediscovered subsequently which is why there's a gentle clamour to get the band back together even though we all know it won't be the same.

I hadn't actually noticed the latest "Sugababes" track had been buried by the record company to such an extent only rerecords are available on Spotify. Probably doesn't help that the video is itself a rerecord of the one for Freak Like Me.

I also hadn't noticed how much publicity Donaghy did for her second album Ghosts. Here she is miming on Loose Women.

Don't Give It Up reached 45 in the charts, despite being, I'm sure you'll agree (?), amazing. Ghosts could only manage 92. That coveted Loose Women slot isn't a solid as it might seem, people.

“Let’s not take the vacation. Make a movie instead.”

Film Joss Whedon filmed his Much Ado About Nothing while on vacation from The Avengers:
"ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This announcement took people by surprise to say the least. How did this all come together?
JOSS WHEDON: Well, it’s not a bit secret that I’ve done these [Shakespeare] readings before, and I always had a vague notion of shooting Much Ado. But I didn’t really have a take on it. And then, for some reason, I kinda sorta did. As we were finishing The Avengers in New York, my wife and I were planning our vacation for our 20th anniversary. And she said, “Let’s not take the vacation. Make a movie instead.” I was like, “I’m not even sure if I can adapt the script, cast the movie, and prep it in a month.” And she was like, “Well, that’s your vacation time, so you do it.” And so I did.
The accompanying photos suggest that although this things was rushed together (some actors were only asked if they'd like to appear just weeks before production) it has been gestating for years. Perhaps this'll be a series. Perhaps we'll see a Hamlet.

“40 Years Earlier"

Film Anonymous is even more rubbish than we thought:
"The craziest idea in “Anonymous,” however, is that Edward de Vere wrote a version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” 40 years before its performance at court, putting the composition of the play somewhere around 1560. (That’s what the film implies, anyway: we see a scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” performed at court, and then the title “40 Years Earlier,” and then a kid who turns out to be the earl reciting Puck’s final speech.) The idea that a kid wrote “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” isn’t even the crazy part. To put the issue in a contemporary framework, it’s one thing to say that somebody other than Jay-Z wrote “The Blueprint”; it’s another to say that this clandestine Jay-Z wrote “The Blueprint” in 1961. You can’t write a hip-hop masterpiece before hip-hop has been invented. And you can’t write “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” until English secular comedy has come into existence. "
It's barely worth marching on the Odeon now is it?

Michael Sheen on Hamlet.

Sheen was interviewed in The Guardian today about his preparation for the new Young Vic production:
"Hamlet's a good play. I know that sounds mad, but it really is! I mean it's really extraordinary. What's extraordinary is you can have so many different productions and actors and directors and their different visions, but it seems to kind of respond to each; it seems to adapt, and that's what I've found. What's quite freaky about it – it is actually a little bit scary – is that it feels like a living organism, it's like a thing that actually adapts. It's this weird thing where if you came along and said, well, I think Hamlet is actually about crocodiles – well, then it does seem to be about crocodiles. As long as it's within the realm of possibility, it somehow seems to throw up these things and you go, well yes, I think this is what Shakespeare actually meant! But not everyone can be right, so it's weird. It seems to kind of meet you in a way that other plays don't. It's an incredibly unusual experience."
No mention of his previous attempt, but as we know each actor's Hamlet changes as they age.

Updated 25/10/2011  The Guardian have now also uploaded some rehearsal photos.

"sit in a parked car talking for hours"

Advice Oh Miranda:
"Your best friend might meet this stranger at a rock show and they might sit in a parked car talking for hours and when they break up, 10 years later, the stranger, the one whose arm you're holding right now, might call you sobbing at odd hours of the night, asking What did I do wrong? And you will say, You did nothing wrong. Practise this now, say: "You did nothing wrong," to the stranger."
To which The Walkabouts (or Francoiz Breut) might counter:

Busy day [via].

‘Ban BRIAN’ and ‘For the faith’

TV Back in the late nineties when I still had delusions that I could make a living as a script writer, I had an idea for a film based on religious controversies, notably the likes of Life of Brian and The Last Temptation of Christ. After watching Holy Flying Circus the other night, I had a look about about found the one fragment I managed to write towards this.

Like many recent films, it was essentially inspired by When Harry Met Sally, but the deviation was that we'd follow a relationship between an atheist and a Christian, looking in on them at the dates when these "controversial" films were released and along with the usual badinage, the characters would rehearse the philosophical discussions. It would be bittersweet but would end with their own children reheasing the same discussions over the release of Kevin Smith's Dogma.

I had Leeds's Hyde Park Picture House in mind as location.

Here, then, are the opening scenes:


CAPTION: ‘1979’.


This is a time before the multiplex. The cinema is a large building on the corner of a road with a box office that is actually a box and a foyer with a big log fire. A fire which isn’t benefiting the crowd of people outside. The protest has been well attended with assorted people in big thick coats freezing to death. Some even have placards with phrases like ‘Ban BRIAN’ and ‘For the faith’ printed on. A long queue of people are lining up against the wall of the cinema looking at ‘Coming Attractions’ boards and the sign over the door “Now Showing: The Python Film”.

AMY (V.O.): I was always amazed at how many people would turn up to these kinds of protests. But I suppose it was the decade for it.

AMY is standing handing out leaflets to cinema goers as they join the line. She has long flowing hair and is wearing a warm looking leather biker clothes and boots. She is chatting to a friend, MARK, as he hands her pile of leaflets, a young, shorter man in a blazer and role neck jumper.

MARK: Do you like the leaflet? I mean - I hope I got - my – our – point of view across.

AMY (V.O.): MARK was a good friend. Whenever I had a problem, if I was doubting my faith, he’d always listen, and put me back on the right track.

As she straightens the leaflets out, she doesn’t notice MARK wishing she was kissing him right then.

MARK: Would you like a coffee?

AMY: Black.

MARK heads of to get his thermos. As AMY offers the leaflets to passers-by, she looks up and down the line for the film. Its date night, so there are couples cuddling, couples reading newspapers or magazines and couples tucking into crisps. All grimly eyeing the protest One man, somehow separated from the rest is scribbling away at a notepad. He’s in a long grey overcoat and extra long scarf. She knows him. Realising she is staring, she looks away and goes to get some more leaflets from MARK.

The man in the queue realises she was looking at him and looks back, impressed by what he sees. He looks up and down the line and turns to the couple behind.

MAN: Do you mind holding my place?

The couple nod uncertainly, and the man smiles. He approaches AMY. She has her back to him (still passing out leaflets) and is pretending not to notice him. He looks down at his shoes slightly in embarrassment, then softly taps her on the shoulder. She turns startled.

MAN: Hello. You’re in one of my joint classes.

AMY looks slightly embarrassed as one part of her life clashes into another.

AMY: Yes. Erm . . . NATHAN? Greek Philosophy, I think. How are you?

NATHAN: I’m all right, I think.

He motions his body towards the cinema.

AMY: (incredulously) You’re going to see it.

NATHAN: I’m going to see it again, actually.

AMY: Didn’t the blasphemy work its evil the first time around?

NATHAN: Blasphemy? (he steps closer so that he can whisper) Haven’t you heard – it isn’t blasphemous.


The man looks around implying that everyone just saw her outburst.

NATHAN: Which scene.

AMY: Well I can’t tell you that.


It’s now AMY’s turn to look around.

NATHAN: How can you protest against something you haven’t seen?

AMY: I didn’t want them to have any of my money.

NATHAN: Then they’d better have some more of mine.

AMY: Are you actually inviting me to see this thing?!?

NATHAN: Call it spying behind enemy lines.

AMY smiles.

AMY: Well, if you put it that way. And you’re paying?

NATHAN: I believe that was the offer.

By now, MARK is trying to carefully carry two cups of coffee to AMY. She arrives smiling almost pushing him over.

AMY: My coffee?

She takes the coffee and begins to swig down the lukewarm liquid.

MARK: Where are you going?

AMY comes up for air.

AMY: I’m going to be gone a couple of hours. I’ve got some research to do.

MARK: That person you were talking to.

AMY: NATHAN’s going to take me to see the film.

MARK is disapproving.

AMY: Well someone in the campaign has to see the thing. It can only help us to be more effective.

MARK still doesn’t agree, but nods. AMY reaches up and kisses him on the cheek.

AMY: Thanks. I’ll see you in a couple of hours.

She runs off, leaving MARK to watch after her with a look of horror and love.

NATHAN is waiting for her. He looks at his watch, then at the queue, which has rapidly disappeared into the cinema. She appears, looking stony faced.

AMY: (impatiently) Well, come on.


The interior of the cinema is in the style of the old picture houses with candelabras and old-fashioned popcorn machine. People are crowding into the auditorium, through ground floor doors and up some stirs to a balcony.

AMY and NATHAN are passing the refreshment stand.

NATHAN: Popcorn?

AMY: Don’t push your luck.

NATHAN: (to the girl passing out popcorn) Do you have any with sugar?


As AMY and NATHAN enter the balcony, it is packed with people. Its already dark and an advert is playing ‘Adora – Kiora . . . it just for me and my dog . . . I’ll be your dog . . . woof – woof – woofwoof – woof – woof – woof.’ Some what inevitably the only seats free are at the very back.

As they sit down, NATHAN with his popcorn in his lap, AMY turns to him.

AMY: Don’t get any ideas.

The film starts as three camels are silhoetted against the bright stars of the moonless sky, moving slowly along the horizon. A star leads then towards BETHLEHEM.

AMY: (whispering) This is worse than I thought it could be.

NATHAN is munching his popcorn.

The film continues. BRIAN’s mother, Mandy, has been offered Myrrh, a balm.

MANDY (on screen): . . . what is Myrrh, anyway?

THIRD WISE MAN (on screen): It is a valuable balm.

MANDY: (on screen): A balm? What are you giving him a balm for? It might bite him.

The auditorium fills with peels of laughter. NATHAN laughs. AMY is not happy.

The theme tune starts . . . ‘BRIAN, the babe they call BRIAN . . .’

AMY gets up.

NATHAN: You’re going.

AMY: I can’t sit and watch this.

NATHAN: The next scene is great. Its got Jesus in it.

AMY: Throw tomatoes at him do they?

An irritated man in front of him turns.


NATHAN: (to irritated man) Sorry. (to AMY) Look, please stay.

AMY looks around and thinks for a moment.

AMY: Tell you what. I’ll stay. If you come to church with me on Sunday.

NATHAN double takes at her.

NATHAN: This Sunday?

AMY: Going once. Going twice.

NATHAN: I’ll do it. Now , just sit down. Please.

AMY smugly sits again, safe in the knowledge that it hasn’t been a wasted couple of hours.


The protesters have downed their placards, having no one to protest to now. Some are drinking coffee. MARK is opening his lunch box. Inside are two silver wrapped packets of sandwiches. Each with a white sticky label. One has ‘MARK’ written on it in black felt pen. The other reads ‘AMY’. MARK sighs and picks his own out, closing the box.


The film has moved on some more. It’s the scene where BRIAN’s been scooped up by the alien spaceship which subsequently crash lands on Earth. As BRIAN staggers out from the wreckage, A PASSER BY looks at him with amazement, having witnessed both his fall and his rescue.

PASSER BY (on screen): You jammy bastard!

Again the audience falls into laughter. MARK turns to AMY and realises she is enjoying herself. She smiles at him and helps herself to his popcorn.


MARK has open his lunch box again. Only the sandwiches with AMY’s name on them remain. He lists them out.


The film is finishing. Some people are chatting, other people are whistling along with Eric Idle. AMY and MARK are oblivious to all this.


Amy is smiling.

AMY: It wasn’t so bad.

NATHAN: So harmless.

AMY: (reticently) Oh, it wasn’t harmless. Definitely not.

NATHAN: But you enjoyed it!

AMY: Yes. But people are going to be seeing out of context. The only way that film would be harmless is if they were giving away a copy of the gospels with every ticket.

NATHAN sighs disappointedly. AMY is conciliatory.

AMY: Thank you for inviting me. (she looks around) Come on. The cinema’s closing.


The PROTESTORS have consolidated now and are marching in a circle with the placards. All except MARK, who is sitting on a bollard waiting for AMY, who arrives eventually, NATHAN in tow.

MARK: Should we be burning the placards?

AMY: Not yet. I’ll tell you about it tomorrow.

MARK: Tomorrow.

NATHAN: We’re going for a quick drink. You’re welcome to join us (in a way which say ‘Oh no you aren’t).

MARK: I can’t. I’m driving the minibus.

AMY nods understanding. She turns to Nathan.

AMY: Give me moment.

NATHAN heads off and starts chatting to the protesters.


And that's it. Clearly that's not the scene you would start on. Reading it back I feel sorry for Mark but he becomes more of a zealot later.  It could also do with being better written ...

"we don't know what's happening"

TV Remember how I suggested there might not be anything Who related on tv until actual Who next autumn (Christmas accepted)? Well ...
"Will there be a fifth season of Torchwood? Barrowman is briefly stumped. "If there's a pause button, we've pushed the pause button now because we don't know what's happening", he says. "I would love to do a new series and I will play Captain Jack as long as they want me to play Captain Jack, but it's in limbo at the moment and beyond my control." He'd love to see his creation on the big screen. "I think that Torchwood, more so than Doctor Who, lends itself to being a big film because it's more adult", he says. "Now if it was Doctor Who with David (Tennant) playing the Doctor - I'm going to get in trouble for saying this - I'd happily do a film with him."
Jack's not back in January. Jack's not back at all. In fact, judging by that quote Jack won't ever be back, unless there's a Doctor Who cameo, for quite some time ... 2012 is going to be a very, very long year filled with a glut of spin-off product ... [via]

Update 5/12/2011 The title of this interview for Pink News says everything: "Russell T Davies on shelving US projects, his partner’s cancer diagnosis and coming home". Just some work on a show for CBBC to come. It's a difficult read for obvious reasons, but there is this brilliant paragraph about John Barrowman:
“John, God bless him. What have I done? I’ve created a monster,” he laughs. “I always say though, if I ever accidentally murder someone and need to get out of the country fast, he’s the man I’d phone. He’d do it. He’d wrap me up in a carpet and smuggle me out of the country in the back of a van. He’s a lovely man. People don’t realise how kind he is.”
Oh sorry and this about bringing back Doctor Who:
"... an old friend of mine from Granada reminded me I once told him if they ever let me bring back Dr Who, I’d cast Denise Van Outen as the companion and Thora Hird as her mother. In a way that’s pretty much what we did."