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My Top Fifteen Favourite Films…

It’s that time of year when people start posting lists.

But I never fully realised until I made this one what an old fart I am…

Here are my Top Fifteen favourite films in alphabetical order…

Well, as far as I can remember… I’ve probably missed a lot out…







JOKER (2019)





SALT (all three versions, 2010)




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Copstick comedy audience attack + Charlie Chuck fetish + Janey Godley Twitter play + Bob Slayer bum tattoo

An extraordinary show showcasing cabaret

When I arrived in town yesterday, the first thing I did was go buy a cup of tea.

“Oh,” said the girl at the till, “I’m still confused. They put the prices up this week because it’s the Fringe and I can’t remember what’s what now.”

Welcome to Edinburgh during the Festival.

Yesterday afternoon and evening, I was in a daze. I had had two hours sleep in a layby just outside Edinburgh at 5.00am plus an hour’s sleep at 2.00pm. My rented flat has WiFi access which is, unfortunately, provided by the ever-incompetent TalkTalk. This means that all access to any Facebook or Twitter or WordPress (which hosts this blog you are reading) is blocked because.. well, who knows?

Later, crossing North Bridge on my way to the Voodoo Rooms, I saw a double rainbow over Edinburgh. This presumably means either double my luck at the Fringe or twice the shit. But it started well.

Mat Ricardo, the man who can not only pull a tablecloth OUT from under crockery on a table but who can also sweep it back UNDER the crockery again in one fast move has brought his London Varieties format to Edinburgh as the Voodoo Varieties.

This involves an admirably zealous pushing of variety acts, different top-notch cabaret acts each night, a different chat guest each night and not a stand-up comedian in sight.

I was caught unawares (left) by Ian Fox’s camera last night

Last night, this meant an audience with a high percentage of Edinburgh’s best cabaret acts in it. This also meant that, on-stage, ukelele chanteuse Tricity Vogue accidentally ended up with audience member participation from singer Lili La Scala whose own Fringe show is called Another Fucking Variety Show

I had not realised until I got there that last night’s chat guest was doyenne of Fringe comedy reviewers (and fellow Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards judge) Kate Copstick.

After watching Up and Over It’s (Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding’s) extraordinarily rousing electro-pop hands-beating-on-amplified-table-while-physically-attacking-each-other pastiche of Riverdance style music, Copstick and I just looked at each other in awe.

Kate Copstick: “A lot of comedy audiences are muppets”

Copstick, in her own chat with Mat Ricardo was raving about Paul Provenza’s Set List, Tom Flanagan’s Kaput and the fact that “in comedy, the audience is dwindling up the arse-hole of television.

“You could have a crock of shit live on stage at one of the major venues,” she suggested, “and, if they add an As Seen on Mock The Week or Star of Michael McIntyre’s Roadshow strap on the poster, it would sell out at £16 a pop. A lot of comedy audiences are muppets…

“And then you get somebody who’s dragged up the arse-end of a tour that has been every place in the UK except Edinburgh to do seven nights at the (large) EICC or somewhere. Fuck you! The Fringe isn’t the place to do that. This is the place to do new stuff, interesting stuff. Don’t just schlep up some tired old crap because you know there’s enough dumb people who’ll pay £16 a ticket for it!”

“I kind of think,” said Mat Ricardo, “that pretty much every show up here… the person doing it should be unsure of whether it’s going to work or not.”

“Absolutely,” said Copstick. “The Fringe should be where you take risks. If the Fringe can be killed, it will be comedy that kills the Fringe.”

Copstick is not big on safe comedy. She mentioned Bob Slayer’s Alternative Fringe shows at The Hive venue.

“Things don’t get much more unacceptable than Bob Slayer,” she told Mat admiringly. “I was absolutely gutted that, last night, I couldn’t go to the Alternative Fringe launch party. I had been offered free beer and, normally, that will have me flat on my back with my legs in the air. I was asked to go and tattoo someone at the launch party. I told Bob But I can’t tattoo anyone! and his reaction was Ooh no problem, no problem! He’s got a very high pain threshold!

Later last night, at the Free Festival launch party, I asked Bob Slayer about this.

Surprisingly sober Bob Slayer talked arse tattoo at the party

“It was my friend Miles Lloyd,” he told me. “Miles has got the biggest collection of terrible tattoos in the world. He is happy to be tattooed anywhere by anyone, provided it isn’t on his face or hands. It couldn’t be worse than what he’s got. He’s got a tattoo of a band that he didn’t even know. He just saw it as a logo on a skateboard and thought Oh, that looks cool. But then he found out they are a band and they are shit!”

“What did you do when Copstick didn’t turn up?” I asked.

“Well, we didn’t tattoo him.”

“You should have tattooed him yourself,” I said. “Anyone can do it.”

“Well the tattoo needle thing didn’t turn up either. We’ll get Copstick to do it at a later date. This is an open call to Copstick!” Bob started shouting. “We need you at the Alternative Fringe to come and tattoo Miles’ arse!”

Charlie Chuck to host a monthly Fetish Fair

I then checked my phone and found I had received a tweet from the monthly London Fetish Fair, which I went to a few weeks ago but did not blog about. There was a Twitpic of a poster which said:


London Fetish Fair… The world’s longest running fetish fair & alternative cabaret party welcomes our new, iconic compere to interpret the world of the bizarre with a riotous, irrepressible hilarity. 2nd Sunday of every month, starting October 14th 2012.

I had actually gone with Charlie Chuck to last month’s Fetish Fair where he talked to them about this. (No pictures!) There had been talk, I think, of them providing a latex suit for him. I must ask him about this when he arrives in Edinburgh on Sunday.

Janey Godley’s viral sensation goes dramatically live on stage

The other thing I need to catch up on is the half-hour play based on Janey Godley’s extraordinary Twitter viral story about an overheard conversation in a train.

This is now going to be staged as #timandfreya – a special one-off, one-night-only event at the Pleasance venue on Monday 20th August, dramatised by Janey’s daughter Ashley Storrie. Their selling line is:

For one night only, the world gets to see the account of two people, one horse and an internet sensation that provoked worldwide debate on privacy laws.

Whether the real Tim is going to turn up at the performance, I don’t know. I expect details when Janey and Ashley descend on Edinburgh to overnight in my flat tonight. Pity they can’t access Twitter from it.

Lewis Schaffer at the party last night, desperate for posters

Last chat of last night at the Free Festival launch party, before I went to an early bed, was with comedian Lewis Schaffer, whose posters went missing after they arrived in Edinburgh. No doubt spurred on by Britain’s double-gold-medal win at yesterday’s Olympics and with the glittering hope of winning a second increasingly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award, he tells me he is going to have a competition.

He says there will be a prize offered for the person correctly guessing the time and date when his misplaced Edinburgh Fringe posters will be located.

“I’m also offering a prize,” he told me, “for the best suggestion of what that prize should be.”

“What’s the prize for that?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “I may have another prize competition about that.”

The strange thing is that, unlike most people performing at the Fringe, Lewis does not drink much.

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Filed under Cabaret, Comedy, Humor, Humour, Marketing, PR, Television

“Get Carter” – the best British gangster film ever made despite alcoholism

Michael Caine playing his own ghost in Get Carter

The first time I ever paid attention to film directing as a child was watching the British ABC TV arts series Tempo.

One episode I saw was so visually stylish and so vividly edited that I actually went to the TV Times listings magazine and checked who the director was.

It was Mike Hodges and I looked out for his name ever after. He is 80 years old in nine days time.

He directed the wonderful and little-seen 1969 Thames TV thriller Rumour (if ever any film were ripe for a re-make, this one is) and his first cinema movie was Get Carter (1971), arguably the best British gangster film ever made (although The Long Good Friday gives it a run for its money).

Michael Caine has said: “One of the reasons I wanted to make Get Carter was my background. In English movies, gangsters were either stupid or funny. I wanted to show that they’re neither. Gangsters are not stupid, and they’re certainly not very funny.” He said central character Jack Carter was the sort of person he might himself have become: “Carter is the dead-end product of my own environment, my childhood; I know him well. He is the ghost of Michael Caine.”

Mike Hodges had originally written the script (based on Ted Lewis‘ novel Jack’s Return Homewith Ian Hendry in mind for the title role (in the finished film, he plays a subsidiary role as the henchman Eric Paice). But producer Michael Klinger wanted Michael Caine, by then already a bankable star.

Ian Hendry’s career had declined, he was alcoholic and in poor physical shape. The climactic chase scene between Caine and Hendry was shot in reverse order, with Hodges filming Hendry’s death first because he was worried Hendry would be too out of breath to play the death scene after running. Hendry’s jealousy of Caine’s success was apparently obvious on set and was made worse by his drinking. Hodges tried to rehearse the film’s racecourse scene between Caine and Hendry in their hotel the night before, but Hendry’s “drunken and resentful state” forced him to abandon the attempt.

Despite all this, Ian Hendry got a 1972 BAFTA Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor and Michael Caine, in one of his best film roles, got nothing.

Mike Hodges introduced a screening of Get Carter at the National Film Theatre in London last night, part of their celebrations of the hundredth birthday of cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky (who was in the audience and, according to Mike Hodges, still “leaps up stairs like a gazelle”).

The reason Hodges chose Suschitzky to shoot Get Carter was because he remembered seeing a 1963 movie The Small World of Sammy Lee starring the great Anthony Newley, on which Wolf was also the cinematographer.

“I loved that film,” Mike said last night. “It was shot in Soho and I was going to be shooting Get Carter in the North East of England, but it was in the same sort of milieu as Get Carter – a seedy underworld.

The Small World of Sammy Lee was shot in black and white. To show poverty and a seedy world is comparatively easy in black and white: it lends itself to showing that kind of decay. But colour is a different matter.

“There had been a film called Up The Junction released a little earlier, in 1968. It had been a TV play in black and white, then they made a cinema film of it in colour, which made it look very glossy and beautiful and expensive and, although it was made in London in the same sort of sad, junky-ridden areas we were shooting in in the North East… Well, Wolf’s gift to me on Get Carter was to capture the seediness in colour.”

Thus are great movies made.

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