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?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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