Today’s Mission

April 12, 2015

Ok, here’s today’s mission, should you choose to accept it:

Strangeness in Space is well under way. At this moment we have £13113 of our £15000 target! That’s amazing, and we are well on our way to getting the first episode made. But (and sorry to keep pestering) we won’t stop there because another £7000 will get the second episode made too!

A lot of you reading this will already have backed us. And a huge thank you to you all! (If you haven’t, and you want to, just click here). But today’s mission is simpler, easier, less taxing on the pocket. I am just determined to get a retweet from Richard Branson.

Let me explain:

Ok. Retweeting. It’s a Twitter thing. Some people are Twitter, some are Facebook. Facebook people don’t get Twitter, Twitter people don’t get Facebook. People who get neither are people with lives, and people who get both are people with no lives. Most of us fall in the middle. I’m a Twitter person. (We do have a FB page too, and I do go there; I just don’t know how it works).

Anyway, the Mission. Before it self-destructs.

Years ago, when we did Live and Kicking on Saturday mornings on BBC1 we did a sketch where we came up with a spoof product called “Branson Pickle”, and we thought “wouldn’t it be great if we got Richard Branson to do a voiceover for it?” Well, if you don’t ask… (see my past blog post).

Our producers got in touch with Richard’s producers (or whatever he has) and they said “Sure!” So, one Friday, during rehearsal, we went up to the sound room (sorry, I don’t know the technical terms) and we called Richard Branson so he could do his voiceover “down the line” (technical speak – I believe – for over the phone). It only turns out that he’s at his private island, somewhere off the coast of Saundersfoot!* And he’s playing tennis! With Obama!**

So, we are interrupting his tennis game! And he comes on the line and he does the voiceover for us! Thank you Richard.

And now, years later, I am pestering him again. Just for a retweet. See, he’s got over 5 million followers (it’s a Twitter thing, nothing sinister) and if his 5 million saw our Strangeness in Space kickstarter thing I reckon it could bring in a bob or two. And! We are off into SPACE! That’s Richard’s kind of thing.

So… The Mission. Help me out. Let’s get a retweet from him. If you get him to retweet our Kickstarter link we’ll give you a prize of some kind. Don’t know what yet. Something or other. What!? Stop asking! It’s just- you should be doing this for the love of it! Not for some damned reward!

We’ll see.

Here’s a Space related pop song to allow us all to calm down a little.

* His private island is not off the coast of Wales. I am not allowed to divulge it’s actual location. it is is a well-guarded secret.

** Ted Obama

Everything else is true.


April 6, 2015

It’s one of the great pop songs. And since hearing it, it’s one I’ve always tried to take to heart. Yes, shyness is nice and (more often than not) the antonym is hideous. So, it’s always worth an ask.  “Ask me, I won’t say no, how could I?”

Years back, last century, when I worked with Trev Neal on Saturday morning TV, we’d get to perform daft sketches with the stars of the day (Big Fun, Craig Machlachlanchlachlan, Nathan from Brother Beyond) and sometimes the stars of many days (Kylie, Cher, Mel Brooks). When it came to the Christmas and New Year shows there was always an attempt by our boss, Chris Bellinger, to up the ante, to aim high, to get the big guns in. And we would always ask for the top bananas. Year after year, for ten years, we’d hand in our wish list. Always the same names. And always, at the top of our list, the same two. We never did get Eddie Murphy or Gorbachev. But the point is, ASK! Always ask.

During one series of Live and Kicking we had a weekly feature called Every Loony Wins*. It was a daft phone-in quiz and we had a band as part of it, all played by kids from the audience. The leader of the band was called Des Tindeby (The Des Tindeby Band). And during their musical performance (miming to the very real Spike Jones and his City Slickers) a character would jump on stage (again one of the kids) as The Lone Yodeller (a Lone Ranger type, in a mask, yodelling like a loony). And each week we would end the segment by looking into the camera and saying; “Just who is the Lone Yodeller?”

When we reached the end of the thirty week run it was time for us to reveal just who was the Lone Yodeller. The obvious way to do this was for it to be one of the guests of the week. The only problem was (me and Trev being a picky pair) none of the guests were up to the task. (Anyone remember Little Danny Mangrove? or Nu Boxxx? Or Jennifer Bush?** No, I thought not.) And so we went to Chris… and we asked… we begged… please, please, can we get another guest. One worthy of the title of The Lone Yodeller? Chris wanted it to be Little Danny Mangrove. Little Danny, who was actually 6’2″, had just won Pop Zinger on ITV and his record company, BIGPUSH, were desperate for him to be the Lone Yodeller. They’d even recorded a special yodelling version of his current hit, A Pocketful of Promises, for him to mime to. We couldn’t have it though. We insisted; the Lone Yodeller had to be a bigger name. And then we asked Chris this; “if we can get a big name to play along will you let them be the Lone Yodeller?” This, of course, depended on who the big name was. We said to Chris; “if we can get Jonathan Ross to be the Lone Yodeller will you let him do it?” And Chris said yes.

Just one snag. We didn’t know Jonathan Ross. Not really. He’d been a guest before on the programme, but it’s not like we played tennis with him or anything. It’s not like we’d been to his house, or had his telephone number. All we had, on our side, was the ability to ASK.

It’s time to get to the races now so… we asked… we found a phone number for his production company and we asked… and they said “we’ll ask”… and we waited. And he said YES!

Jonathan turned up on the Saturday morning, played the Lone Yodeller and also brought along a friend of his who went on to declare “No! I’m the Lone Yodeller!” Our second Lone Yodeller wore a shoe hat, made from two shoes and a coat hanger. That was was Vic Reeves.


We’ve been asking again recently. We are working on a new thing. A Sci-Fi audio comedy adventure with me, Trev, and Sophie Aldred. Some of you reading this will already know about Strangeness in Space. ***

And we’ve been asking people to help us out with it. We’ve given up on Eddie Murphy and Gorbachev, but we have asked two top people who have only gone ahead and said YES!

YES! Doon Mackichan has said yes to being our narrator, Bounty Flightingale.

YES! Rufus Hound has said yes to being Atrocious Knocious, an alien hoverbiker who’s never even heard of Evel knievel!

All from asking.

* based on Nick Berry’s hit Every Loser Wins. We had a minor battle with some BBC bigwigs to get them to accept the use of the word Loony. I’d grown up with it, reading the works of Spike Milligan. It was accepted in the end when dictionary definitions, on the whole, gave the word two meanings; one meaning (and our one) was silly, the other mad.

** Ok, I’ve made all these acts up. And the ongoing business with Little Danny Mangrove. Other than that, this story is true.

*** A final ask. Please help us get this made. We’ve loads of perks available if you join us: T-shirts, badges, scripts, signed photos and artwork, etc. We’re not far off our target now, but the more money we raise, the more episodes we can make. You can back us here.

Yesterday saw our first two casualties of Tweepstake 2014. Here’s the results:

AUSTRALIA 2 (@zwanzig20)  HOLLAND 3 (@Braggovic)

SPAIN  0 (@NiicNok)  CHILE 2 (@dusted1969)

CAMEROON 0 (@Arfablue)  CROATIA 4 (@LadyLisaCusack)

And so @Arfablue and @NiicNok are heading home. @NiicNok, representing the current World Champions Spain, bowed out gracefully with another donation to Alzheimer’s Society. I’m not saying she’s setting a precedent or anything, but, in the words of Twitter, “hashtag just saying!”

And a quick reminder about prizes. Everyone will get something, even you two. I will wait til the end of the group stages though before handing any out. Keep your heads up @Arfablue and @NiicNok, you still both have a game to play.

I’m still collecting prizes, but so far I have promises from Richard Osman, Richard Curtis, Lucy Porter, Modern Toss, Sali Hughes, Paul McGann, Phil Glenister, Jim Bob, @MooseAllain to name but nine.

Let’s quickly sum up yesterday. The Socceroos (that’s Australia; it’s like half soccer, half kangaroo see?) are out but can leave heads held high with Cahill scoring a contender for “goal of the tournament”. Even though they are out, it’s official; Australia are better than Spain!

Holland have 6 points. Chile have 6 points. Their final game is against each other. Whoever wins that will be top of the group. A draw, and Holland are likely to top the group on goal difference. Australia will take on Spain in a match of no importance whatsoever; other than pride and dignity blah blah blah.

Spain were slow and sluggish. Chile had their first competitive victory over them in 11 matches. Even with 6 minutes of added time for Spain to just go mad and try anything they tried nothing and didn’t go mad. Bye Spain.

Did you stay up for Cameroon and Croatia? I didn’t, but it sounds like a daft one. A red card was shown to Alex Song of Cameroon when he tried a comical Kung Fu elbow move on Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic. Cameroon face Brazil next. Brazil and Mexico are on 4 points each, Croatia on 3. Brazil are likely to top the group unless Cameroon do something stupendous (like swap the team for another country), so the Croatia Mexico game next Monday is the one to watch: Croatia must win this game if they are to go through.

Here’s that kung fu move:



COLOMBIA (@SpiderMonkey987) v  IVORY COAST (@jayscarblue)

5pm. BBC. Estadio Nacional de Brasilia in Brasilia (cap. just short of 70,000). These are the two favourites to go through in Group C. I’ll have to pinch advise from Mark Lawrenson once more and go for a draw. Or not. Oh go on then. My prediction:

Colombia 5 Ivory Coast 5


URUGUAY (@BottyB)  v  ENGLAND (@Christian_N_Orr)

8pm. ITV. Arena de Sao Paulo in Sao Paulo (cap. approx 65,000). Oh, this is just unbearable. England have to win. They will. And the weather is in their favour apparently. Ask Paxman.

Uruguay 2 England 4

JAPAN (@Superblouse) v  GREECE (@gingerdisco99)

11pm. BBC. Estadio das Dunas in Natal (cap. approx 40,000). A difficult one to call. Japan is made up of 6, 852 islands whereas Greece has anywhere between 1,200 and 6,000 (depending on size).

Japan 6852 Greece 0

With Spain leaving we have to say goodbye to one of the tournament’s many (well, two) Gene Hackman lookalikes, Vicente del Bosque. But who most looks like Hackman; del Bosque or Brazil’s Luiz Felipe Scolari? You decide.

Del Bosque

Del Bosque



And if you can donate a pound or two to Alzheimer’s Society please do so here.



Our favourite Comedian

June 10, 2014

In the early 80’s me and Trev met at Manchester University. We were doing degrees in Drama (one each). I can’t speak for Trev, but I was hardly the most academic of students. Nor was Trev. As our friendship developed, so did our interest in comedy, more commonly known then as mucking around a bit and getting up late.

We were blessed with having tutors who not only indulged our experiments in comedy but also actively encouraged it. (Every Monday night students would perform their latest experimental pieces at the department’s Stephen Joseph Studio, a converted church where we once tried an ‘alternative comedy’ take on Chekhov).

One of our tutors was Dr David Mayer (later to become Professor David Mayer). David’s daughter, Lise, was the girlfriend of a former student, Rik Mayall. The two of them, along with another former Manchester student, Ben Elton, had just written a new sitcom for the BBC called The Young Ones.

We had no TV. We were students; we had no money. Any money we did have had to be spent on beer. And tins of Goblin Dumplings (50p at Oobidoo. Everything at Oobidoo was 50p. That’s why their slogan was –Don’t ask the price. We always did.)

The Drama Department had a TV. And a video player! Every week David Mayer would video The Young Ones for us. And I do mean us, the two of us. Others may have come along too, but David, gently pushing us in all the right directions, knew it was important for us to see this show.

There’d been nothing like it. And it was made by students from Manchester! Not Oxford, not Cambridge. Manchester! It was the most ground-breaking Mancunion contribution to comedy since Frank Randle (and, if you have four minutes to spare to watch this clip from Somewhere On Leave, 1943, you’ll see that Frank would have fitted very nicely into the world of The Young Ones).

Sometime shortly after this, in 1983, David said; “Lise, Rik, and Ben are going to be at my house over the weekend. Would you like to come and meet them on Saturday night.”

Ok… stop. Take a big long break in reading. I’d like to leave a big long gap on the page but that’d be daft. Just imagine the time it’s taking me, even now, for this to sink in. Would we, two stupid students, barely out of our teens, like to meet the creators of The Young Ones? At our tutor’s house?

Let’s deal with David Mayer’s house first.

It was a Mansion of Myths. We’d never been there, but we’d heard the rumours. Apparently he had a shower with three heads! And a Picasso! And we were being invited there! To meet The Young Ones! (I know exclamation marks should be used sparingly, but… come on!!!)

Now, the meeting. Of course we went. We even prepared: We spent Saturday afternoon scooting around Oobidoo, looking for fun items and generally asking the price. We settled on a wind-up spider. 50p.

And so we headed off on Saturday night to our tutor’s home in the posh part of Manchester armed only with a wind-up spider. (I don’t know at what age we learn to take wine, but whatever age, we hadn’t reached it yet).

We arrived at the house. And whatever you read from this point onwards, I assure you, did happen. David greeted us and showed us into a huge half kitchen, half dining room, with a small dividing wall about three feet high in the middle. In the dining room half there was a circular table. And there was Rik, Lise, Ben… and possibly someone else (sorry someone else). David didn’t introduce us… oh, he may have said something like “this is Trev and Simon”… but he didn’t explain who we were or why we were there. The one other thing he did do was to ask us to keep an eye on some steaks he was grilling in the far half of the kitchen.

This of two idiots whose diet consisted of tinned Goblin products.

And David disappeared! Where did he go? To this day no one can answer that. But the best bets are ‘to have a look at his Picasso’ or ‘to have a shower’.

So… we kind of stood around. The others, at the table, carried on talking to each other. At one point we wound up the wind-up spider and let it have a little walk. It didn’t get much of a reaction. But then, why should it? These fellows had demolished a house in their first episode.

We hadn’t been asked to do much by our tutor. Just keep an eye on some steaks. But that wasn’t our forte. We did our best. We wandered over to the cooker. We looked at them. And then they burst into flames.

How can a steak catch fire? I’m sure it’s easy to burn a steak, to ruin it; but for it to catch fire?

Trev struggled to get the grill out. He did, eventually, but not before the fire alarm went off.

The rest is a blur.

On Monday night we did a daft bit of comedy at The Stephen Joseph Studio. It ended with us dropping some kind of large object off a balcony onto our wind-up walking spider. The spider was smashed to bits. And Rik, and Lise, and Ben were there.

Afterwards we talked about Saturday night. They had no idea why we were there or who we were. They said they hadn’t realised we were ‘comedians’. Which could have been a compliment or not, but either way we had a long chat with our comedy heroes. And for the next few days they were around and about. One night I played cards with Ben and Rik (Ben insisted on giving me money for a taxi home. I insisted on refusing it. I walked the three miles home in the rain. What an idiot student.) Another night we sat chatting with Rik in the bar at The Contact Theatre (the theatre connected to the drama department). He gave us lots of advice and he even gave us his phone number (before mobiles… this was Rik’s home phone number!) and told us to phone him whenever we wanted. He also gave us a quote to use on our publicity for our first Edinburgh show. He told us to use, “My favourite act!”



Up in Edinburgh, doing our first ever show in 1984, we walked past a poster for a band. I can’t remember the band, but I can remember the quote: “My favourite band”, Rik Mayall.

RIP Rik. Thank you. x

It’s that time of year again, when all the comedians bring out their comedy DVD’s and everyone gets a funny present for Christmas. For the past few years each Christmas I’ve taken a look at the DVD’s on offer and judged them not by their content, or by the comedian, but solely on the DVD’s cover. Yes, I am judging a DVD by its cover. And (crucial to my process) I refuse to do any other research other than what I already know and what is there before me, right in front of my eyes.

And how to choose the Top Ten? Well, I went over to Amazon, looked up stand up comedy DVD’s, and picked the first ten that popped up (as of 12.44 pm today). Amazon’s list might change over the coming days, but I’m sticking with the 12.44 list.

And first up, in at number 10, is…

Wow! A hell of an event. Just read this: This Comedy Spectacle of 2013 includes 22 of the biggest names in TV and Comedy along with an alternative dance performance from the amazing Diversity and their new recruits, all guaranteeing your biggest laughs of the year.

Now let’s look at the cover:

All of the acts have provided a photo booth pic. Most of them are smiling, but some of them look a little grumpy. And, just so the girls don’t feel neglected, three of the 22 acts are female. There’s truly something for everyone here; with a teeny bias towards happy and sad white males.

The title of the show is on a spring, popping out of a dark hole. I don’t know what this means.

In the bottom right hand corner there is a doodle of a child smiling and crying.

In the bottom left hand corner there’s the two 15 certificate symbols, making this DVD perfect for any thirty year olds.

It’s “the funniest event of 2013”. Well now, most events this year haven’t been funny at all. We’ve seen natural disasters, terrorist attacks, attacks on our liberty, and the death of Nelson Mandela. The only other event of 2013 that comes close to being as funny is the scientists in America who grew a living ear using a 3D printer. And that’s a wry smile, rather than a belly laugh, event.

Oh… the comedian above the 4 of “channel 4” is holding a skull. This is either a reference to death, and possibly Shakespeare’s Hamlet, or he is in a double act.

The woman to the right of him is also in a double act, possibly with Len Goodman from The Dancing Show.

The live show was in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital and this DVD is also sold in aid of the charity. So please do buy it as Christmas gift. I am sure, out of the 22 acts available, some of them, if not all, will make you laugh (or cry). Like the child.

Tomorrow, I will take a look at number 9.

Oh, and after ten days time I will set up a poll where we can all vote on the best and the worst cover. Maybe.

Comic Relief thank you

March 16, 2013

Over the past 12 days I have been part of Team @tracey_thorn, raising money for Comic Relief. The challenge I set myself wasn’t too hard. I’ve not been running or swimming or sitting in a bath of eels. I’ve been listening to the songs of Everything But The Girl and I’ve been writing about them. Not even all their songs. I have more in storage, on vinyl, but the only CD’s I’ve had to hand are Baby, The Stars Shine Bright and Love Not Money (the 2 disc special editions). Apologies to those who sponsored me and asked for songs from Idlewild, or Eden, or songs by Marine Girls. Maybe next year.

An enjoyable challenge. The hard part was reaching the ridiculous target I set for myself; £1986, in honour of the release year for Baby, The Stars Shine Bright. At a push I was prepared to lower my target to £1985 for Love Not Money.

Ten days of pestering had raised about £600. That amazed me. But I started Friday off aware that I would not reach my target.

And who can explain what happened on Friday night? Yes, I kept pestering on Twitter, and bit by bit money came in, but surely I would never reach my target?

Before too long I was at 50%. Then I had over £1000.

It seemed like it could be possible.

I wanted £1986. By the end of the night 104 sponsors had donated £2145.


Comic Relief has broken all records in this its 25th year, raising over £75m. And you’ve helped. You can find out about all of the charity’s work here.

I’m staggered and astonished.

A big thank you to you all.

Thank you to Rhada, Charlotte, Peter, Clare, Ian, Tony, Zoe, Kirsten, Paul, Belinda, Jim, Ben, Sophie, Ian, Andy, Janetta, Gerald, David, Clare, Simon, Matt, Lisa, Mark, Frank, Karen, Ian, Andrea, Paul, Siobhan, Hannah, Glenn, Helen, Zoe, Robin, Vicky, Veena, Simon, Naomi, Gill, Trev, Louise, Christian, Kirsty, Caroline, Steven, Vince, Amanda, Jacqueline, Pia, Kate, Melanie, Adrian, Kindle, Catherine, Glenn, Kathryn, Jonathan, Frazer, Anita, Robert, C, Will, Chris, Jake, Fiona, Richard, Karyn, Mark, Clare, Lisa, Rob, Helen, Paul, Jim, Mark, Robin, Jane, Olly, Lindsey, Roger, Jill, David, Matthew, Mark, Anne, Ian, Jon, Toyoko, Ben, Samantha, Gary, Andrew, Ed, Nick, Craig, Jonathan, Kevin, Yvonne, Kathryn, Etta, and Andrea.

This morning I had an email from The Red Nose Team. It encouraged me to get more sponsors even though Red Nose Day is over. It’s admirable to pester me as much as I’ve pestered you. But no. We’ve done what we set out to do. We’ve done better than could be expected.

Besides, they are offering me a special treat if I get one more sponsor before Tuesday morning. My last treat was a One Direction video. Please, I beg you, no more sponsoring.

I hope I’ve thanked everybody. I’ve not put surnames as some of you wanted to be anonymous (I’ve already half compromised that!) And I’ve used the names from all my emails, which, in some instances, are different from the ones on my sponsorship page. Some names appear twice; sometimes you’ve sponsored me more than once, other times there’s just two or three of you.

A special mention for Wonky. I don’t know which one of you is Wonky, but Wonky, you pushed me over the finish line.

And even then you all carried on giving.

And thank you to my team leader, Tracey Thorn, for being so supportive and for not minding my EBTG ramblings, which you can read here.

Here’s my drunken thank you filmed late last night by Zoe. I started the evening with a big martini. Then some beers. And here I am draining the bar with my last martini.

Thank you all. You overwhelmed me. And you’ve taken part in something that changes lives for the better. xxx

Well yes, to a degree.

Tonight is Red Nose Day Night. It starts in an hour. It’s most probably on as you read this. And you’re being battered with demands for money. And I’m still on at you. Am I trying to be funny?

Ok. I get it. Comic Relief. You’re after jokes.

Tracey and Ben are in a restaurant. Ben has poached quail eggs for a starter and Tracey has a bowl of tomato soup. It’s a huge bowl of soup! There’s Ben with his small quail eggs, and Tracey has what must be a few gallons of soup. So much soup she has to ask Ben to help her finish. He leans over to take a spoon or two, but the bowl is so big he falls into it. Tracey calls the waiter over and says; “Waiter, waiter, there’s a buzzin’ fly in my soup!”  And the waiter says; “Shush madam, or I’ll pop a cap in yo’ ass.”

Ok, it’s not a good joke. It’s not even a joke. It’s a play on a joke, with references to Ben’s solo career.

It’s the end of a long week. And today I have been at a writer’s meeting all day. It’s possibly the first time this year I’ve left the house. Tonight is Red Nose Day Night and I need a drink.

You have all been fantastic. I’ve just looked and I am almost at £1000. Astonishing.

Over the weekend I will thank you all. I will write some more too, because I know this is hurried and is maybe letting Team @tracey_thorn down. You can read all my challenges here.

This song, Are You Trying To Be Funny?, is from Love Not Money. Tonight though, well, money will be best. Money please. Not trying to be funny. I’ll leave that to all the people who are going to entertain us in 20 minutes time.

If you can sponsor me, if you will allow me to still pester, you can do so here.

I am overwhelmed by how generous you have all been.

Enjoy Comic Relief tonight, and enjoy Everything But The Girl performing Are You Trying To Be Funny?

With only two days to go it looks like I’ll run out of time to write about all the songs on Baby, The Stars Shine Bright… or maybe not. Am I allowed to carry on reaching my target beyond Friday night? Yes? I will have to. Come hell or high water I will reach my target of £1986 for Comic Relief.

If you’re new to this challenge just take a look over the past ten days and you will find out why £1986.

It’s for Comic Relief. I’m part of #twittermillion Team @tracey_thorn. We’re going to raise a million. Just you see.

In the build up to Big Red Nose Day tomorrow the BBC is showing Comic Relief: Through Hell And High Water tonight (BBC1, 8pm). In it Jack Dee wrestles with a hippopotamus. Maybe.

And guess what? Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt wrote a song called Come Hell Or High Water for Baby, The Stars Shine Bright. How could I not listen and learn to that one today?

But what does it mean, come hell or high water? Well, someone called Kitt writes: “This phrase appears to have been coined in the late 1800s to describe trail drives bringing cattle to the railroads. They had to cross the rivers even if they were flooding and the summer sun made the open prairies unbearably hot. The trail from Texas to Kansas went through hell AND high water.”

Ok. That sounds about right. It’s like Starship singing Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now. Singing it whilst Jack Dee hippo wrestles. Maybe. In mud.

Come Hell Or High Water (EBTG style) is, like yesterday’s A Country Mile, a country and western affair of sorts; a lush Patsy Cline-like ballad of drinking and singing and selfishness and charm; of staying “off the rails”,  of not quite walking the line.

Come hell or high water/ You never will be/ A goddess or a genius/ A drunkard at twenty three/ And all that you yearn for/ Is attention I guess/ Come hell or high water/ You deserve nothing less

And, selfishly on my part, seeking attention no doubt, I’m using these posts as an excuse to play some of my other favourite tracks that, obliquely, connect to EBTG. This one reminds me of (I’d Be) A Legend In My Time, as sung by Patsy Cline. I can’t find that on YouTube (which is a shame, as it’s the arrangement that makes me link the songs together).

I could play you the Johnny Cash version, but I won’t. Do give it a listen though.

A voice straight from heaven/ So you like to believe

Please enjoy lloyd Horlick singing (I’d Be) A Legend In My Time.

I think that’s just become my new favourite YouTube find of all time. For now.

Here’s Tracey singing Come Hell Or High Water… with some kind of desert island theme… hey, that’s YouTube for you, don’t blame me.

You can blame me for Lloyd if you like.

And if you can sponsor me, if you can help me reach my target, then you would be a legend in this time. You can sponsor me here.

Today’s choice for my Comic Relief  Team Tracey Thorn Challenge has been picked by none other than @tracey_thorn. The choice was between Ugly Little Dreams and When All’s Well from 1985’s Love Not Money. Tracey tweeted; “Ugly Little Dreams deffo. International Women’s Day innit, you can go all feminist on our ass. Or something.”

Let’s face it, it’s going to be ‘or something’.

Ugly Little Dreams, like yesterday’s Draining The Bar, is another of Everything But The Girl’s country & western tinged songs.

The song is dedicated to Frances Farmer.

In 1985 when I was 23 I had no idea who Frances Farmer was (despite the film Frances, starring Jessica Lange, having come out in 1982).  Somewhere down the line, before Wikipedia, before computers, I found out*. Way back then my best understanding of Ugly Little Dreams was garnered from these lines:

What chance for such girls/ How can we compete?/ In a world that likes it’s women/ Stupid and sweet

Way back then. Of course, 28 years later (or 60 odd years later from Frances’ time), the world is a vastly different place isn’t it. Just ask Hilary Mantel.

Now, I’m not saying that David Cameron called for Hilary Mantel to be lobotomised (beheaded?) for her thoughtful and intelligent critique of how the media mould(ed) and shape(d) Princess whatsername, but… well, he kind of did, didn’t he? Had he even read the article?

What chance for such girls/ How can they compete?/ In a world that has a Prime Minister/ So stupid and… neat?

They’re my words, not Tracey’s.

What is he up to? Let’s be frank. Let’s put (party) politics to one side. David Cameron is not stupid. He’s, I guess, oh go on then, if we must… he’s clever.

He’s more of a disingeuous **** than stupid (call me a coward for using asterixes, but it is International Women’s Day, and, being frank again, that’s a whole new argument I’m just not getting into).

Yeah, he’s just a shameless **** who, for the sake of votes, is afraid to show his true intelligence; is afraid to say what he knows in his heart; that Hilary Mantel’s article was just fine.

I bet he read it. I bet Ed did too. He can’t get away with it either. He’s a **** (please substitute some different consonants and vowels for variety’s sake).

They’re all cowards afraid of being true to themselves, afraid of showing a little intelligence, in case, just like Mantel, they become ‘hate figures’; little knowing they are already on their way. They are Frances Farmer negatives.

I could be losing you. I’m no good at polemic and I almost undoubtedly take short cuts in my attempts at an argument. And you may have come here for jokes. ‘He wasn’t like this when he swung his pants’, someone in my head says.

Perhaps Wikipedia can do some of my work for me. If you can spare the time, have a read about Frances Farmer and then come back.

Are you back?

I’ve been watching Frances on This Is Your Life, from 1958. Astonishing stuff. Here’s part one. In it Frances wins an award at the age of 17 for a school essay entitled God Dies. Her teacher at the time, Miss Belle Mackenzie, comes onto the programme and Frances is very happy to see her again, giving her a big hug.

And then Professor Glen Hughes comes on. I’m not so sure Frances is quite as pleased to see him. Glen says: “Well, of course, the first place, she was very lovely. Secondly, she was intelligent and (unclear). She always had a sort of intellectual chip on her shoulder.”

It’s enough to make you mad/ But it’s safer just to break down and cry



Part two is hard to watch. Frances is clearly uncomfortable with the host’s simple-minded summing up of her life, but there’s some fight left in her; “If you’re treated like a patient you are apt to act like one.”



Here’s Ugly Little Dreams.



If you can, please give some money to Comic Relief. You can sponsor me here.

(* It’s thanks to Tony Wilson that I started to look up things. He was being interviewed on TV once about the Situationists. The interviewer asked him what it was and he told him, and anyone interested, to go and look it up. He wasn’t being arsey (well…), he was just making us all do our homework.)

The Comedians- The Top Three

December 24, 2012

Ok, I’ve been a little slow over the last few days, but I’m determined to get this Top Ten finished in time for you to nip to the shops and get your last minute stocking fillers.

If you look back over the last few posts you’ll see I have been counting down the Top Ten Comedy DVD’s for Christmas. And, importantly, this is an official Top Ten provided by Zavvi. One or two of you have mistaken it for my Top Ten. It’s not mine. I’m just the messenger.

Also, I’m judging these DVD’s solely on their covers. I’ve not seen any of them, and, in some cases, I have never heard of the comedians.

So far we have seen:

Dara o Briain, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Roy Brown, Frankie Boyle, Jack Whitehall, Peter Kay, and Sarah Millican.

In third place:

Kevin Bridges

No.3 Kevin Bridges

Kevin Bridges adopts the Dara O Briain man in a dark suit look, but perhaps the reason he’s no.3 and Dara is no.10 is all down to getting the shadow right.

It’s a simple cover that tells it straight; he’s a five star act and Billy Connolly thinks he’s brilliant; or his act is; or something is. When the quote is a simple one word “brilliant”, there is a bit of guesswork needed.

He’s another act aimed at 30 year olds.

The title is “The Story Continues…” suggesting the DVD is a sequel and that Kevin Bridges tells very long jokes.

John Bishop

No.2 John Bishop

The pattern continues; another DVD that’s 15 and 15, making it a 30 certificate DVD. Here’s John Bishop; Brand New and Bigger than Ever; though it’s unclear as to what is brand new and bigger than ever; him, his act? I applaud him doing a new act, but how is the act (if, indeed, it is the act) bigger? Longer maybe? It’s a confusing sticker.

There’s another sticker on this declaring it to be Ultraviolet. This is even more confusing. At first I took it to be a spelling mistake and assumed his act was ‘ultraviolent’, but then surely his DVD would have been an 18 certificate. Or even a 36. Just ignore this sticker.

It’s his Rollercoaster Tour 2012. I doubt this means it is set on a rollercoaster. More likely it is a reference to either the up and down style of his comedy or to Ronan Keating (for reasons I cannot help you with).

John is ducking down and (unusually for a comedian) smiling. He holds his hand up, as if to say “Whoa! That bright light of celebrity has taken me off-guard”. In doing this he also shows us he is married. He looks like a young Mark Owen from Take That.

Michael McIntyre

No. 1 Michael McIntyre

Time is passing and the shops will close so this one has to be quick. It’s Michael McIntyre. He turns his back on his audience and balances on one leg. Watch out for him on The Cube.

Happy Christmas everyone. x