Category Archives: News

Memoriam Loss

Warning : This has a swear word in it.

I remember it quite well – it was an afternoon, a Sunday I think (it has that lazy, family-round-the-box Sunday afternoon feel as I picture it) – watching an episode of It Ain’t ‘Alf ‘Ot Mum, and just at the end they showed a still of Dino Shafeek who played Char Wallah Muhammed in the series. Not the star, not a major role, and the show itself was no longer being made. But still, someone at good old Auntie Beeb had the thoughtfulness to put up a picture of Mr Shafeek and announce, with regret, that he had recently passed away in hospital. “Awww” we chorused as a family – we’d let him into our homes, were happy that he’d been there, and sadly noted that he was off to sit in the corner of that great living room in the sky.

A few seconds was all it took, but those seconds, which allowed Sunday afternoon TV watchers to spare a thought for a man, stuck in my mind as a decent thing to do.

And as with most decent things, it was the right thing.

Thereafter, I always noted these little nods to deceased entertainers – the protocol was generally that if it was an as yet unseen piece and a contributor had died betwixt its production and its broadcast, then something should be said (not always though – Shafeek’s programme had died three years before he did, but they still found the time to pay their dues). When Roy Kinnear was tragically killed filming abroad, the episode of Casualty in which he featured that week was pulled as a mark of “respect to the family” (that’s what they said in the voiceover explaining why tonight’s episode wasn’t the advertised one). A mark of respect.

As with most respectful things, it was the right thing.

Then there was Harold Innocent, whose death was commented on in the newspapers prior to his final TV role in Heartbeat (I never saw the broadcast so don’t know if he got an acknowledgement, but suspect he did, as at around the same time the actress Noel Dyson rightly got a voiceover on the same show under similar circumstances and Innocent was definitely a better known face). The BBC certainly paid their dues on the broadcast of Doctor Who – The Paradise Of Death, which was airing on the radio that same week.

Fast forward some years later and the character actor George Raistrick died. Raistrick was never a household name – not even a minor one like Shafeek (“Oh him, off that”), or indeed, instantly recognisable face like Innocent (“Oh him, off, umm, I’m not sure, but him”) – but he featured heavily in an episode of The Vet shortly after his death, and I noted glumly that the protocol on such things had clearly changed.  Not a mention – not even out of respect to the family.

Not long after, Comedy Connections featured John Barron (definitely a “him off that”) who died the very week they broadcast him remembering his iconic role as CJ in The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin. The end credits flew by as they are prone to do nowadays lest the viewing public be confused by the words of the English language those programme makers of old had the naivety to expect people to be able to actually read – and neither a voiceover or a caption appeared. I would have thought that someone who made that programme, who’d been lucky enough to secure Barron’s talents and enjoy the privilege of working with him, would have made sure something happened. Out of, say, respect. But no.

Nowadays, unless it’s someone hugely famous, we’re not expected to be interested in acknowledging someone’s life now it’s gone. We’re no longer expected to respect the wishes of the family. We’re no longer expected to do the decent thing. There are too many advertisements for what’s coming up next to cram in, too many idents and logos and DOGs to fill the screen to expect a tiny sliver of humanity to be allowed into our living rooms.

This week, when Yesterday provided a caption for Edward Hardwicke after one of their timely repeats of Colditz I found myself impressed that a minor repeat channel had someone there with enough nous to give him due credit. It almost made up for the Telgarph obituary describing his Dr Watson as “bumbling”, thus proving that you are allowed to write about things in newspapers even if you know precisely nothing about them. But then of course, that’s the newspapers. TV people obviously know better. Obviously.

BAFTA would know better wouldn’t they? Television is actually one fifth of the acronym that BAFTA actually is. Television is the T in BAFTA. For fuck’s sake.

And so tonight’s ceremony came to the specific, this-is-the-moment- where-we-do-it, orchestrated, researched, lovingly, caringly put together acknowledgement, respectful, decent thing to do.

The “In Memoriam” section.

And Nicholas Courtney, the man who played Brigadier Lethbridge- Stewart, the most enduring character in one of TVs most recognisable, iconic programmes, one that currently resides in peak form at the very forefront of the small screen (that’s Doctor Who, in case you’ve temporarily forgotten whose blog you’re reading), was left off. He’s not the only person to have suffered that ignominy in recent years, as it happens, or even tonight. Lest you think this is disproportionate Whovian fulmination I’ll drop Gerard Kelly’s name into this diatribe. When his post mortem episode of Casualty aired there was ne’er a mention nor postponement despite the fact that his face and name were well enough known in England (“oh him, off Extras”) and definitely household in Scotland (“Oh, Gerard Kelly, off City Lights. And Extras. And, well, … Gerard Kelly!”). In case you’re confused BAFTA, Scotland and England are both bits that make up the B part of the acronym that is your name!

The very best television at the moment is made by people who have a love and knowledge of the medium (and I note with pride that Doctor Who has, in recent years, featured In Memoriam captions for a number of cast and crew – some from days gone by even) and it’s no accident that the men in charge – Davies and Moffat – are self-proclaimed geeks. See that’s what you are if you know and love television, a geek. The same level of love and understanding in any other area and you’d be called an expert.

TV may be disposable, and much of it may be simple, trivial entertainment, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place in it for a modicum of decency and respect, and if you don’t show those things to the people that came before you, then don’t bother to work in the medium. Find something else.

It’d be the right thing to do.

Updated Gig List 2011 (May-December)

I have just done an updated gig list with my agent to ensure I’m neither double booked nor unemployed, so I may as well share for those of you who like to plan far too far ahead to be remotely healthy.

Please note that I only link a comedy club on its first entry, and that some of the tour dates are a bit vague. I’m pleased to observe that as well as my usual roster of fine comedy haunts, I’ve added both Highlight and the Comedy Cafe as places I’ll be MCing relatively frequently.

For those new to this domain, I can be found at the award winning (nay, legendary) Manchester comedy Club XS Malarkey every Tuesday, at another award winner, The 99 Club in Leicester Square, every Wednesday, and at The Comedy Store in Manchester every other Sunday (generally – it’s worth checking as we sometimes get moved about: it’s always twice a month though) to do the fantastic New Stuff night where established comics try out brand new material. I’m also touring Now I Know My BBC and Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf intermittently.

Do come to say hello if you can.

May
12-14th – Stand, Edinburgh (set)
17th – XS Malarkey (MC) (Special Guest Headliner – name embargoed due to fame!)
18th – 99 Club, Lecester Square (MC)
21st – Now I Know My BBC, Arts Depot, Finchley
22nd – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
24th – XS Malarkey (MC), Junior Simpson Headlining
25th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
28th – Now I Know My BBC, Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond, North Yorkshire
31st – XS Malarkey, (MC)

June
1st – 99 Club, Leicester Square
5th – Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, Loughborough Town Hall
7th – XS Malarkey (MC)
8th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
12th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
14th – XS Malarkey (MC), Sean Percival Headlining
15th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
19th – New Stuff, Comedy Store (MC, tbc)
21st – XS Malarkey (MC) Carey Marx Edinburgh Preview
22nd – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
24th – Red Card Comedy, Milton Keynes, (MC, with Nick Revell from Slipback, Who fans)
28th – XS Malarkey (MC) Edinburgh Preview
29th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
30th – Comedy Central, Baby Blue, Liverpool (MC)

July
1st-2nd – Comedy Central, Baby Blue, Liverpool, MC
5th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC) Edinburgh Preview
6th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
10th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
12th – XS Malarkey (MC), Matt Kirshen Edinburgh Preview
13th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
15th – Special Doctor Who related day, tbc
19th – XS Malarkey (MC) Jason Cook Edinburgh Preview
20th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
21st – 23rd – Frog and Bucket, Manchester (MC)
26th – XS Malarkey (MC)
27th – 99 Club, Leicester Square
29th & 30th – Highlight, Camden (MC)
31st – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester

August
2nd – XS Malarkey (MC)
3rd – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
5th & 6th – Frog and Bucket, Preston (MC)
9th – XS Malarkey (MC)
10th – 99 Club, Leicester Square
12th & 13th – Frog and Bucket, Manchester (MC)
14th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester
16th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)
17th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
19th & 20th – Highlight, Camden (MC)
21st – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester

Sept
6th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC) Loretta Maine Headlining
7th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
10th – Special Doctor Who related day tbc
11th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
13th – XS Malarkey (MC) Tom Stade Headlining
14th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
16th & 17th – Highlight, Birmingham (MC)
20th – XS Malarkey (MC) Patrick Monahan Headlining
21st – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
22nd – 24th – Comedy Cafe, Shoreditch (MC)
25th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
27th – XS Malarkey (MC) Sol Bernstein Headlining
28th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)

Oct
4th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)
5th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
9th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
11th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC) Andy Robinson Headlining
12th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
13th – 15th – Comedy Central, Baby Blue, Liverpool (MC)
16th – Sheffield (Headlining)
18th – XS Malarkey (MC) Danny Ward Headlining
19th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
20th – 22nd – Comedy Cafe, Shoreditch (MC)
24th – potential North-West Now I Know My BBC date
25 th – XS Malarkey (MC) The Boy With Tape On His Face Headlining
26th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
28t & 29th – Highlight, Reading (MC)
30th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)

November
1st – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC) Daliso Chaponda Headlining
2nd – 99 Club, Leicester Sqaure (MC)
3rd – 5th – Comedy Central, Baby Blue, Liverpool (MC)
8th – XS Malarkey (MC)
9th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
11th-12th – Doctor Who event tbc
13th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
15th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)
16th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
18th & 19th – Highlight, Leeds (MC)
27th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
29th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)
30th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)

December
2nd – Nantwich
6th – XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC) Caimh McDonnell Headlining
7th – 99 Club, Leicester Square (MC)
11th – New Stuff, Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)
13th – XS Malarkey (MC)
14th – 99 Club, Leicester Square
15th -17th – Comedy Central, Baby Blue, Liverpool (MC)
20th – XS Malarkey Christmas Party (Reveller)

Interview, Wit, A Vampire

Well now, I haven’t posted much for a while as I’ve been frightfully busy at the keyboard as it is. I’m a reluctant writer, having to grind stuff out in between coming up with everything I can think of  to provide maximum procrastination value; eating, aphabeticising my CDs, watching – God help me – V, and now … well, I’m only doing this to avoid the myriad of pressing things that are on deadline.

Anyway, Now I Know My BBC is hitting the road in April – I may have to see how much of it I can remember. Visitors to the forthcoming gigs in Leeds and Bath, make sure you look out for the number of dramatic pauses with which I augment my latest magnum opus. It’ll have absolutely nothing to do with not having done the show since August, honest guv. I’ve added a few more topical jokes to it in the past few weeks though, so it should be fresh and fun.

I’ve really settled into compering The 99 Club in Leicester Square every Wednesday. The mighty Jack Dee has popped down a couple of times to try some new stuff for a forthcoming tour, which has been rather exciting. XS Malarkey is still settling into its new venue, though numbers are a little down. Seeing as we’ve had Alun Cochrane and Sarah Millican as surprise guests and Dave Johns, Jason Cook and Paul Tonkinson as official ones, hopefully we’ll get into the comedy groove properly as punters realise what a fantastic gig is on their doorstep. Fallowfield seems to be having the life sucked out of it : we’re doing to ensure it isn’t allowed to die. Or become a vampire.

Losses this month have included the legndary Nicholas Courtney, well known to fans the world over as Doctor Who’s Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. I had the privilege of working with Nick a few times and he was always a courteous, charming man whose quintessential good manners and utmost decency endeared him to generations who knew him either on or off screen (or, for the lucky ones like me, both). Michael Gough also passed away having been a stalwart of screens both big and small for decades. I was very flattered to be asked to supply the obituaries for both men in The Guradian.

This month sees the release of Revisitations 2 on DVD. Special Editions of three Doctor Who classics, I feature on all of them. There’s a little sliver of narration from me on the “Making Of” documentary of the Troughton story The Seeds Of Death, a heftier vocal in the best commentary track I’ve been involved on to date, on Carnival Of Monsters, and (be warned) in the flesh presenting Ed Stradling’s Casting Far And Wide documentary where it was my pleasure to interview five actors (Roger Davenport, Del Henney, Leslie Grantham, Jim Findley and William Sleigh) about not just Doctor Who, but their careers as a whole. This latter piece is on Disc One of the Resurrection Of The Daleks Special Edition.

Add to that BBC 7’s forthcoming adaptation of Elidor, two performances for Big Finish, and loads of editing on Running Through Corridors Vol 2 and I’ve barely had a moment. So excuse the lack of links on this blog – further details on anything here that may be of interest can be found on the website proper (which has had a bit of an update and tidy).

In the meantime, here’s a lengthy interview I did plugging the tour of Now I Know My BBC on Radio Teesdale thanks to excellent presenter Peter Dixon, who seems adept at getting me tongue wagging.

Interview

Oh, and a website interview here:

The Peverett Phile

Happy Times And Places.

Got to dash, loads of writing to do … after I’ve made a cuppa, then checked my e-mails, then, um … hoovered the lawn and descaled the kettle … and made a To Do list … downloaded Masterchef … successfully practiced alchemy whilst finding the Dead Sea Scrolls …

Not Keeping An Especially Wise Council

XS MALARKEY

I’m likely to get rather intemperate if I blog about this now, but have a butchers at the story on Chortle to get the gist.

The bottom line is, the show goes on, but the story underlines just how pointless it is to waste public money on a target chasing police force more interested on being seen to crack down on crime – employing empty gestures and tough rhetoric rather than actually keeping the streets safe – and a council chock full of pen pushing bully-boys with no interest in the community they represent.

See, I told you I’d start getting intemperate. Just follow the link (thanks to Steve Bennett for trying to cover all sides of the argument and giving us an outlet for our objections).

There’s a Manchester Evening News story too. I’m grateful for them breaking it, though it doesn’t question the basis of the spurious and inaccurate claims made by the police and the council, nor their seriously dubious conduct at the hearing (oh, and Michael MacIntyre’s never done the gig, nor have we ever claimed such a thing).

Rest assured, XS Malarkey continues every Tuesday.

Thanks to everyone for their support – Lee, Spider, Ros, Fishy, Leanne, Glen, Jason Cook, Brendan Burns, Mundo Jazz, Mick Miller, Justin Moorhouse, Toby Foster, hell, everybody –  and especially Jason Manford and Sarah Millican for taking time from their busy schedules to speak to the press and make representations to the council on our behalf.

Seventh Heathen

BBC RADIO 7

Well, just a quickie. I’ve been pretty busy doing a couple of things I can’t talk about yet (a DVD commentary or two plus an episode of a TV series – but no, not Doctor Who or any of its spin-offs). I’ve already written about them for this blog though, so when the time is right I’ll cut and paste and hopefully there’ll be something of interest for anyone really desperate to find something to distract them from work.

It’s been my absolute pleasure over the past few weeks to pop into BBC 7 and record the links for their fantastic 7th Dimension* sci-fi hour, introducing such eclectic delights as Mark Gatiss reading The Devil In Amber, plenty of spooky tales heralded by the gloriously arch tones of Edward De Souza’s Man In Black on Fear In Four, and of course, Journey Into Space. Oh, how I thought that would be clunky, slow, frightfully poised and naive, and how wrong I was – it’s brilliant. The characters are all great, there are no easy solutions to the jeopardy (each problem is solved with practicality and invention), it has an extraordinarily bold imagination and there are some genuinely creepy moments. I’ve become thoroughly hooked. Thanks to Nick Briggs for vacating the seat for a couple of months whilst he excels in Doctor Who Live**, and for recommending me to his producer, the most amiable and accommodating man in the media, Martin Dempsey. With Martin’s encouragement, I’ve thrown in the odd obscure reference for aficionados of sci-fi, but hopefully not so as to (excuse the pun) alienate passing listeners. Like Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, I want to spread the joy equally to lovers of the genre and those who may have only the most superficial interest. So if you spot that lyric from the theme to Star Cops, enjoy the occasional Quatermass reference or smirk on Speak Like Pip And Jane Baker Day, all well and good; but if you don’t notice them and they don’t mar your enjoyment as I bounce through the hour, that’s fine too.

I’ve even been asked to host the whole of an extended shift over Halloween, which has a fantastic and eclectic line up of spookiness. Loitering in Broadcasting House has its advantages too: I’ve already spotted David Starkey and Ian Botham, and finally met David Tennant face-to-face, and was able to thank him for lending his support and vocal talents to Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf. What a thoroughly nice man he is.

So listen out for the 7th Dimension, from either 6pm or midnight, every day, for the next couple of months. I’m rather enjoying it, and getting better as the weeks go by I think.

* Beware, the picture on the website makes me look like I have a stupidly shaped head.

**And before accusations of jobs for the boys, I think I’ve met Mr Briggs twice, maybe three times.

Updated Gig List : Sept – Dec 2010

OK, Edinburgh is done and dusted, so here’s what’s going on for the rest of the year.

It’s a little quiet from October onwards as frankly I’ve been away too much this year so I’m doing a lot of work that keeps me at home (especially as Now I Know My BBC will begin touring in 2011 – the first date is booked in already!).

I’m doing a couple of jobs in the next month that will take up most of my time, but I can’t talk about them yet. They’re exciting though, good work that I will relish. I’m also going through the edits of Running Through Corridors which is taking shape nicely (if I’m found murdered in the next few months, patient and thorough Mad Norwegian Press editor-in-chief Lars Pearson must be considered prime suspect, as I’m sure I’ve stretched his good nature to snapping point with my pernickety notes and feedback).

I am allowed to talk about one thing – during October (from the second week) and November, I shall be the temporary replacement for the Voice Of The Daleks himself, Nick Briggs (who is taking to the stage in Doctor Who Live!), as the Voice Of The 7th Dimension for the wonderful BBC 7. The team there, especially my producer Martin Dempsey, have made me feel very welcome. Have a listen, I will say the odd amusing thing and sneak in the occasional Quatermass reference.

Here is my gig list – there are more events at XS Malarkey than merely the ones I MC, so check out the website:

Tuesday 21st Sept
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, with Ivor Dembina)

Thur 23rd – Sat 25th Sept
Frog and Bucket, Manchester (MC)

Sun 26th September
Comedy Store, Manchester (New Stuff, MC)

Tues 28th September
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Super Special Birthday bash – 3 headliners and lots of fun!)

Friday 1st October
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf – Cranleigh, Surrey

Sunday 10th October
Comedy Store, Manchester (New Stuff, MC)

Tuesday 12th October
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Kent Valentine headlining)

Thursday 14th – Saturday 16th October
Baby Blue, Liverpool (MC)

Tuesday 19th October
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, with Noel James and Hils Barker)

Friday 22nd October
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, Leamington

Saturday 23rd October
Downstairs At The King’s Head, Crouch End (MC)

Tuesday 26th October
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Nige headlining)

Tuesday 2nd November
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Tanya Lee Davies headlining)

Tuesday 9th November
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, The Boy With Tape On His Face headlining)

Tuesday 16th November
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Sally-Anne Hayward headlining)

Friday 19th November
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, Cirencester

Monday 22nd November
Mirth On Monday, Manchester (Headlining)

Tuesday 23rd November
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Miles Jupp headlining, and probably lots of jokes celebrating Doctor Who’s birthday)

Friday 26th – Saturday 28th November
Chicago TARDIS, Chicago, USA (including a performance of Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf)

Tuesday 30th November
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC, Elis James headlining)

Friday 3rd – Saturday 4th December
Frog and Bucket, Manchester (MC)

Tuesday 7th December
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)

Saturday 11th December
Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf, Tonbridge, Kent

Sunday 12th December
Comedy Store, Manchester (MC)

Tuesday 14th December
XS Malarkey, Manchester (MC)

Thursday 16th – Saturday 18th December
Opus, Manchester (MC)