Category Archives: The Arts

Politically related plays, films, TV, radio and entertainment.

Theatre plug: Tea and Tentacles at Zeta Reticuli

This April, not to miss, is the world premiere of my play Tea and Tentacles at Zeta Reticuli, an original sexy science fiction comedy thriller. Because, if we’re honest, there is not nearly enough of that sort of thing on the stage.

Set on a starship, 40 light years from earth, a human crew of 6, along with the humanoid avatar of the ship’s mind, and an unduly annoying “morale-boosting” android, are on a mission to establish diplomatic relations with the ungendered swamp-dwelling tentacle aliens of Zeta Reticuli 3. How far are they willing to go to adapt to the aliens’ unusual practises? How will they cope when pushed to the limit by events, romantic rivalry and conflicting agendas? Will there be enough tea and cake to see them through?

Also posted in Events | Leave a comment

A belter of a TV programme on the family history of Noel Clarke

Embed from Getty Images

Back in August, I waxed lyrically about the history which is reflected regularly in the BBC programme “Who do you think you are?”. I feel compelled to return to the subject, given the sheer awesomeness of the last episode in the current run of this BBC series.

Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Two sides of Irish history reflected in celebrity family tree


This is about some holiday season viewing which may be of interest to readers – rather than an article trying to make a political point.

“Who do you think you are” covers television presenter Emma Willis’ family history in an episode available on BBC iPlayer for the next 29 days. It is worth a watch.

Tagged | 7 Comments

Public funding for the arts should be cut during a recession, right?

Grant Wood - American Gothic - Google Art Project

Well, er, no. “America after the fall – Painting in the 1930s” is an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts which breathtakingly displays how public funding for the arts during a depression (let alone a recession) can work wonders. As part of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal”, the Federal Arts Project employed artists to create visual art works, which eventually included over a hundred thousand paintings as well as many sculptures and other works. Artists who benefited included Jackson Pollock. There were other New Deal art projects such as the Public Works of Art project, the Section of Painting and Sculpture and the Treasury Relief Art Project.

All these programmes helped to produce an extraordinary decade for American Art, which is reflected brilliantly in the Royal Academy exhibition, on until June 4th in Piccadilly, London.

What comes over is that the decade established a distinctive American Art world, which was finally free of reference to art elsewhere. There is an extraordinary variety of styles producing a most colourful and impactful exhibition, reflecting the profound changes going on in the USA at the time.

Tagged , and | 8 Comments

Meet the Lords – or at least two Lords and one Baroness….

Manderston House 2005

BBC2 started a new series last night called “Meet the Lords”. In the style of last year’s documentary series about the House of Commons, the film crew wondered around the corridors of the House of Lords, and produced some interesting sights.

In fact, it centred on three peers:

Also posted in Parliament | Tagged , , , and | 15 Comments

The national treasure that is the British Library – all done in the best PAASSIBLE taste

A few years after broadcasting genius Kenny Everett died, I remember reading that he left his tape collection to the National Sound Archive. This sounded wonderful, but I didn’t envisage having the time to ever sample these tapes and I imagined that it would involve a trip to a chilly warehouse in Sutton Coldfield.

After a little Googling, I found that the National Sound Archive is part of the British Library. Their large building is just next to St Pancras Station in London, coincidentally just a stone’s throw from where Kenny Everett broadcast much of his work at Capital Radio’s studio in Euston Tower. (The British Library also have a place in Wetherby, West Yorkshire). After negotiating their essential processes, on Monday I proudly held my “Reader’s Ticket” and marched along to the Rare Music Books section of the British Library. There I listened for four hours to the most wondrous collection of Kenny Everett recordings.

Also posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 6 Comments

We have a winner of our quiz!

Many congratulations to Catherine Crosland, who correctly guessed that the box pictured on the right is used by the BBC to create the sound of money/glasses of drinks being placed on the bar of “The Bull” pub in Ambridge during recordings of The Archers in Birmingham.

Catherine’s prize is the title of “2016 Sound effect guru of the year”.

Well done Catherine!

Tagged | 1 Comment

Test your knowledge and ingenuity – quick quiz about a national institution

As we’re getting relaxed for the holiday season, here’s a quick quiz about a national institution. It’s not politically related but I suspect it’s on a subject dear to many readers’ hearts.

Look at the wooden box on the right. You can see that it’s nondescript, very battered and held together with insulation tape. It’s 35 years old.

It’s used to create the sounds of what could justifiably be called a “national institution”.

Tagged | 20 Comments

A good quote from Margaret Thatcher

BBC 2 are repeating some of Terry Wogan’s programmes at lunch time. They’ve been showing “Terry and Mason’s great food trip”, where our Tel went round Britain with a cabbie. I think it’s the best thing he did. There is no greater spectacle than the great Irishman bantering away and tucking into good old fashioned grub.

Tagged and | 11 Comments

Lib Dem peer takes part in World War Three

Kishwer Falkner has taken part in a gripping and chillingly realistic BBC Two TV programme.

Tagged , , , and | Comments Off on Lib Dem peer takes part in World War Three

Is there a chance that the new Top Gear will be very entertaining but not (borderline) offensive?

The list of past Top Gear controversies is long. There have been allegations of homophobia and criticism of the mockery of Argentines, Mexicans, Germans and Romanians.

I have great respect for Jeremy Clarkson as a motoring and general writer. But he presents a persona to the public which teeters on the brink of controversy and often falls over the edge.

Also posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 40 Comments

David Bowie – some memories

It’s a god-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair

So the beginning words of “Life on Mars” emerged from a slightly tinny, small record player in the fourth form common room of my school. A classmate from Plymouth had bought the single. It was about the only record we had between us. We played it almost continuously. We always left it on for the studio phone ringing and the bit of chat at the end.

5 Comments

Tim shines in a great format for him

Tim Farron Russell Howard's Good NewsOne of the joys of being a parent is that you get introduced to all sorts of TV programmes which your children love to watch. If you miss anything, you also get the chance to watch the same programmes again. And again. And again.

4 Comments

The Last Post

As we approach the end of Armistice Day, it is, perhaps, appropriate to remember the tune most associated with military memorials, The Last Post.

The BBC produce some superb radio documentaries. They have surpassed themselves with “The Last Post” presented by Alwyn W Turner. It tells the story of the tune and describes its extraordinarily wide use, often at national and international occasions and including at the funerals of Sir Winston Churchill and IRA man Bobby Sands. He also mentions the American equivalent, “Taps”, which was played at the funeral of John F Kennedy.

Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Suffragette – a moment for shame

The film “Suffragette” is now on general release. It is very much worth watching.

Tagged , , and | 50 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJeff 14th Aug - 6:06pm
    David Raw 14th Aug '18 - 5:04pm: Come off it, Jeff. Be a bit more transparent about who you are. No need to be shy....
  • User AvatarNick Cotter 14th Aug - 5:35pm
    What are we doing with our apparent 200,000 membership ? Nick Cotter, Bicester, Oxon
  • User AvatarLibDemer 14th Aug - 5:33pm
    I enjoy reading the stories on LDV. The articles and comments on this site are of much higher quality than the awful LabourList.
  • User AvatarIan Hurdley 14th Aug - 5:16pm
    May I offer a SOTBO that we on here seem determined to avoid; in the absence of an upcoming general election the great majority of...
  • User Avatarnvelope2003 14th Aug - 5:08pm
    Thomas: And who would believe us if we promised to abolish tuition fees ? We would be ridiculed. The most we could do is promise...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 14th Aug - 5:04pm
    @ Jeff Come off it, Jeff. Be a bit more transparent about who you are. No need to be shy. Tell us who you are...