Monday, 31 December 2012

First look at Karen Gillan in Mike Flanagan’s 'Oculus'!

Here it is – the first official image from Mike Flanagan‘s horror-movie Oculus, which is currently in post-production. It’s a pretty good look at the leading lady Karen Gillan aka Kaylie Russell, who will have to prove that a terrible crime was committed by a supernatural phenomenon and not by her brother Tim, played by Brenton Thwaites. Check out the rest of this report to find more details about the whole thing, and to take a better look at this image!
Writer and director of micro-budget horror pic Absentia, Mike Flanagan, directs Oculus from a script he co-wrote with Jeff Howard which centers on:
…a murder that left two children orphans with authorities charging the brother while his sister believed that the true culprit was a haunted antique mirror. Now completely rehabilitated and in his 20s, the brother is ready to move on but his sister is determined to prove that the haunted mirror was responsible for destroying their family.
Beside Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites, the movie also stars Katee Sackhoff, Rory Cochrane, Annalise Basso and Garrett Ryan.

Source (including photo): FilmOFilia

Tony Curran: 'Labyrinth' on DVD and Bluray

Mystery thriller "Labyrinth" on DVD and Blu-ray, and as a Special Edition
The series follows two women, modern-day archeologist Alice Tanner and medieval Alais Pelletier du Mas who lives through the Crusades and Cathar massacres in medieval France—and their quest to find the Holy Grail. Alice, a volunteer at a French archaeological excavation, discovers the skeletal remains of two people in a cave, as well as a labyrinth-engraved ring, which attracts the attention of unscrupulous individuals. In 1209, newly married Alais is living in Carcassonne, a stronghold of Cathars who have been declared heretical by the Church. Alais and her father are protecting three sacred books that reveal the secret of the Holy Grail from the Crusaders.

Read more at:

Photo courtesy of sphotos

Brian Cox interview

Brian Cox: Playing the man who betrayed Rob Roy was more uncomfortable than Hannibal Lecter

The Dundee-born star admits he felt more at home playing the famous movie psychopath than he did in the part as Killearn in 1996 film Rob Roy.

Brian Cox
Brian Cox
He's played some of the scariest psychos on the big screen.
But veteran actor Brian Cox has revealed the role which has haunted him for life – the man who betrayed Rob Roy.
In an interview in Australia, Cox said he had been able to shrug off playing psychos like Hannibal Lecter.
But the Dundonian admitted his small part as Killearn in the 1996 film Rob Roy with Liam Neeson still sent shivers down his spine.
He said: “There are characters that have made me uncomfortable.
“In Rob Roy, I played Killearn, who was this sort of greasy, fallen-angel character, who was voyeuristic and sleazy and really unpleasant.
“It was a great role but I didn’t especially enjoy living with this awful man for the length of time it took to make the movie.
“Lecter is just psychotic. He didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth like Killearn.”
Killearn was a factor for Rob Roy’s rival the Marquis of Montrose and plotted against him.
Cox won critical acclaim for the role but went on to much bigger things in The Bourne Supremacy and the Deadwood TV series.
The actor plays a lighter role in BBC Four’s new comic series, Bob Servant Independent, to be shown next month.
It’s based on the books by Neil Forsyth about a man, played by Cox, who delights in answering spam emails.
Set in Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, it charts his bid to get elected following the sudden death of the sitting MP.
Source (including photo): Daily Record

Martin Compston: First Trailer For UK Teen Slasher ‘Comedown’

Bloody Disgusting has landed the trailer for Menhaj Huda’s UK horror-thriller Comedown, an urban horror film set against a contemporary London backdrop of abandonment and decay.
Arriving on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download on January 28, Martin Compston, Geoff Bell, Adam Deacon, Red Madrell and Charleene Rena will all star.

Penned by Steven Kendall, “Six friends, who’ve known each other from childhood, break into the tower block they lived in as kids, now deserted and condemned, to rig-up a pirate radio station, get high and party. When one of the group goes missing, her friends begin to search the dark interior of the tower and soon realize that they are not alone: a resident psychopath lurks in the shadows and is hunting them down, taking them out, one-by-one.

Source: Bloody Disgusting

Ewen Bremner: 'Snowpiercer' poster and interview

First poster for SNOWPIERCER officially released


We originally saw part of the Snowpiercer poster months ago but it was in low-resolution and was missing a tag line. Also, listen to two actors, John Hurt ("Contact") and Ewen Bremner ("Trainspotting"), as they discuss the film.

"In Snowpiercer I play kind of a... because there is kind of a microcosm of humanity all on a train, which is going all around the globe. You know, in a small ice age. Um it all sounds a bit preposterous, but the fact is that it's based on a graphic novel, which is a French graphic novel from round about the 80's. So, it is... kind of not real in that sense. It creates it's own reality, you'll see what I mean. And I'm playing an erstwhile leader, of revolutions, that is held in great regard by the young man who is leading the revolution at the moment. Because all the rift raft is at the back of the train and all the good ones live in the front of the train. So the revolution seizes through the train. And he (Joon-ho Bong) is a remarkable director. So, that is what I do there, but it turns out he is not as admirable as he might have been considered." - John Hurt

Snow Piercer is set in a future where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the Snow Piercer, a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. A class system evolves on the train but a revolution brews.
Snow Piercer is directed by Joon-ho Bong. The cast includes Chris Evans, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Alison Pill and Song-Kang-ho. The film will hit theaters Summer 2013.
Source: Comic Book Movies

Paul Brannigan Interview - Under The Skin & The Angels' Share

Paul Brannigan chats about working with Scarlett Johansson in Under The Skin, being nominated for a BIFA for Ken Loach's The Angels' Share & upcoming film with Dexter Fletcher Sunshine on Leith.

Paul Brannigan has also appeared in documentaries Born To Lose, on Polmont Prison & Scottish drama River City.
Source: YouTube

Jonathan Watson: Donald Trump take-off in 'Only an Excuse''s Hogmanay special

Comic Jonathan Watson does Donald Trump take-off in Only an Excuse's Hogmanay special
Jonathan Watson said mastering the billionaire's ridiculous hairstyle was harder than getting the voice right.

Jonathan Watson as US tycoon Donald Trump
Jonathan Watson as US tycoon Donald Trump
Controversial business tycoon Donald Trump has been trumped…by Only an Excuse.
The American billionaire is taken off by Jonathan Watson in the annual BBC Scotland Hogmanay comedy which pokes fun at the biggest names in sport.
Trump comes into focus through his contentious golf development on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire.
Jonathan said: “With Donald, it’s not so much about getting the voice right, it is the fun of getting the ridiculous hairstyle right. It is quite a funny wig.
“The sketch is a quickie, about his involvement with Aberdeen. Hopefully, he won’t be suing us.”
The show also has guest stars in the shape of Olympic cycling hero Sir Chris Hoy and Gaelic broadcaster Cathy MacDonald.
Jonathan said: “We couldn’t not touch on the Olympics and Sir Chris was delighted to be involved.
“We wanted to do something about Gaelic football coverage. It is funny when they break off and speak in English to some guy who has played for Rangers.
“We thought we’d have Chick Young as the roving reporter and we needed somebody to represent the Gaelic nation and asked Cathy, who was happy to take part.
“She was great. She kept me right on the pronunciation. I had to actually speak Gaelic, it was a nightmare.”
After another incredible year on and off the field for Scottish football, there is no shortage of material for the show.
Highlights include Celtic’s 125th anniversary as seen through the eyes of founder Brother Walfrid and Scotland’s dismal World Cup campaign. The trials of Rangers will also be touched on with both Craig Whyte and Charles Green being lampooned.
Only an Excuse? is on BBC1 on Hogmanay at 11pm.
Source (including photo): Daily Record

More info at BBC

Weekly schedule for Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

Mo 12/31: Craig visits Scotland with Mila Kunis, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rashida Jones, David Sedaris, Ariel Tweto, the Imagineers (R 5/14/12)
Tu 1/1: Craig visits Arbroath with Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond, Rashida Jones, the Imagineers (R 5/15/12)
We 1/2: Craig visits his hometown of Cumbernauld with Michael Clarke Duncan, the Imagineers (R 5/16/12)
Th 1/3: Craig visits Glasgow & Edinburgh with Mila Kunis, the Imagineers (R 5/17/12)
Fr 1/4: Craig visits Glamis Castle with David Sedaris, Ariel Tweto, the Imagineers (R 5/18/12)

Sunday, 23 December 2012

David Tennant: project updates and news

David Tennant on Absolute Radio

  • Absolute Radio Nativity Play
On Friday 21st December, David Tennant co-hosted the Absolute Radio Breakfast Show with Christian O'Connell from 6am. At 8am they performed the Nativity play in which David played the Virgin Mary.
Also in the play were football presenter Ian Wright, Absolute Radio presenters Richie Firth as 'the star', travel presenter Maggie Doyle as 'Queen Herod', newsreader Andrew Bailey as 'Narrator' and DJ Russ Williams as 'Shepherd'. Christian played Joseph and live music was supplied by singer songwriter Newton Faulkner.

The show streamed live on the internet so was heard worldwide at this link.

MP3s of all four hours of David Tennant on Absolute Radio are here

Absolute Radio have added the Nativity play in 3 parts to YouTube: Part One, Part Two and Part Three.
Source: David Tennant on Twitter

  • Spies of Warsaw
The BBC Media Centre has confirmed that, as expected, episode 2 of Spies Of Warsaw will premiere on BBC Four on Wednesday 16th January 2013 between 9pm and 10.30pm.

A new clip of David Tennant in Spies Of Warsaw was shown on a news programme on Polish Television. More information here

The first BBC trailer for Spies Of Warsaw was broadcast on BBC Four on 20 December, and has been posted onto Tumblr

Source: David Tennant on Twitter

  • Midnight convention
Some videos of David Tennant and Billie Piper from the Midnight Fan Convention have been posted onto YouTube.
The videos are:
David Tennant and Billie Piper talking about the parallel universe Rose and Doctor 10.5.
David Tennant and Billie Piper talking about the Doctor Who monster the Zygons.
David Tennant and Billie Piper talking about possible future collaborations.
David Tennant and Billie Piper saying goodbye and David says Allons-y as a fan had requested.
Source:David Tennant on Twitter
  • Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger!
The DVD of Nativity 2 Danger in The Manger! will be released on Monday 18th November 2013. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon.
The Guardian has reported that Nativity 2 Danger In The Manger! has gone up two places back to #3 at the UK Box Office. This week it took £938,309 from 508 sites and has taken £5,582,224 in total so far. Source: David Tennant on Twitter

  • Doctor Who
Two of David Tennant's episodes of Doctor Who (Blink and Midnight) will be featured in the Cine Lumière Doctor Who Night on 19th January in London.

The television station Watch will have a David Tennant / Doctor Who afternoon on 1st January 2013. More info here reports that UKTV in New Zealand will focus on one Doctor a month in 2013 with one Doctor Who story each Sunday afternoon, with each month devoted to a different incarnation of The Doctor.
Source: David Tennant on Twitter 

  • Shakespeare's Sonnets
The Sonnets app is voted one of the Top Ten apps of 2012 by The Independent
Source: David Tennant on Twitter

  • Digital Theatre
The Guardian lists an app from Digital Theatre where you can stream Much Ado About Nothing onto your phone in its list of 40 Best iPhone and iPad Apps.
Source: David Tennant on Twitter

  • The Jonathan Ross Show
David Tennant will be on The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV on Saturday 5th January at 9.45pm. The show records on Friday 4th and this is the link to apply for tickets to watch the recording.
Source: David Tennant on Twitter

Alex Norton and Colin McCredie sign up for 'Woolly and Tig'

Taggart star Alex Norton signs up for BBC kids' show Woolly & Tig
The Scots actor will be seen on the CBeebies show in spring next year with Norton starring in three episodes of the series that's been nominated for a Broadcast Award.

Alex Norton with Tig and her mum
Alex Norton with Tig and her mum
They're best known for solving ‘murdur’ in the streets of Glasgow, but Taggart stars Colin McCredie and Alex Norton are joining forces once again- this time they are swapping criminals for furry creatures.
Hollywood actor Norton has joined the cast of popular kids’ series Woolly & Tig, playing the grandfather of the show’s four year old star - Betsy McCredie, daughter of his former Taggart co-star, who also stars as ‘dad’.
Pirates of the Caribbean star Norton is the latest Scottish star to sign up for a cameo after Still Game actors Mark Cox and Sanjeev Kohli appeared in the first run, made by Tattiemoon Productions creators of Balamory. It also stars River City's Jenny Ryan.
Colin said: “The producers wanted Alex to be in it and he was delighted to. He appears in three episodes from spring next year.
“It’s a bit of an homage to Taggart in some ways with us both being in the series now. It’s a nice wee in-joke for us.”
Woolly & Tig, shown on CBeebies, follows the everyday adventures of four year old Tig, played by Betsy McCredie, and her spider friend Woolly.
It has become a monster-hit with pre-schoolers, with a staggering 11 million hits on the BBC iplayer catch up wesbite as parents turn to it to keep their children entertained.
“It’s hilarious. Betsy’s being asked for an autographs and she can’t even write yet. She said the other day that she quite enjoyed being in the supermarket and nobody bothered her for a change,” said Colin.
Woolly & Tig has become such a hit that Chinese toy manufacturers have flooded online websites with cheap versions of the show’s characters.
Colin said: “The producers have struck their own toy deal and there will be a magazine out too. It’s a bit worrying, because who knows how safe these Chinese toys are.”
The show has been nominated for a Broadcast Award along with Rastamouse and Peppa Pig at a major industry awards bash to be held in London’s Grosvenor House next month.
Colin added: “It’s great that a Scottish company are making a show that has been so well received all across the UK.”
Source (including photo): Daily Record

Daniel Kerr in radio drama 'The Pythagorean Comma'

Daniel Kerr

Daniel Kerr stars in 'The Pythagorean Comma'

Loosely based on Jules Verne's story "Mr Ray Sharp and Miss Me Flat", "The Pythagorean Comma" is a music drama with text by Blake Morrison and music by Gavin Bryars. It's about one of the oldest mysteries in the science of sound. The story says Bryars, "has wit, whimsy, fantasy and magic and is also about scientific experiment".
Verne's story takes place in a 19th century Swiss village. This contemporary take on the original is set on a remote fictional Scottish island but the essential story is unchanged.
A village organist gets old and deaf and stops playing and the organ falls silent. A mysterious stranger arrives who not only plays the organ beautifully but also declares that he will develop a new organ registration with the voices of the children in the school. Each will have his or her own note that has a special resonance.
Though the children are musically untrained, the stranger rehearses them with an iron discipline and prepares them for a Christmas concert. It's at this concert that he demonstrates his phenomenon of a "human organ". He tells the children that he will make them famous and that they are a choir like no other choir.
A boy and girl who are arch rivals are given their special notes. They're angry because this strange music maestro seems to have given them the same note. However he explains that there is a tiny beating sound between them - and this difference is the Pythagorean Comma. The two children are relieved that they have their own notes but strangely, once they start to sing, their old rivalry disappears and it is as if a new harmony has come to them and to the village in general.
The stranger seems to have a power over the choir and they outperform everyone's expectations in a Christmas concert for the island community.
Composer Gavin Bryars and author Blake Morrison have collaborated before on a Jules Verne story, 'Doctor Ox's Experiment' - also about Verne's interest in music and science.
Gerda Stevenson stars as the narrator, Anna. She's the church warden and mother of a child she christened Ian but who now has the new name of Ray because his special note is Ray sharp. She sees at first hand how the stranger brings his gift of music.

Anna ..... Gerda Stevenson
Irvine ..... Gerard McDermott
Kubiak ..... Renny Krupinski
Ray ..... Daniel Kerr
Mimi ..... Olivia Cosgrove
Oakham School Jerwoods Choir
Soloist, Dominic Hill
Conductor, Peter Davis
Organist, Thomas Chatterton
Sound Design, Mike Thornton
Producer and Director, Judith Kampfner
A Corporation for Independent Media Production

Availability: 6 days left to listen
Duration: 1 hour
First broadcast: Saturday 22 December 2012
Listen to the play here

Radio Times Review by Laurence Joyce
On a remote Scottish island a mysterious stranger is rehearsing the children’s choir for a Christmas concert. Sounds spooky enough, but this music drama from composer Gavin Bryars and writer Blake Morrison (after a tale by Jules Verne) also explores one of the oldest mysteries in sound. And when you hear that two of the children are called Ray and Mimi you might guess what that is. (Clue: think Julie Andrews.)

Bearsden actor rubs shoulders with Hollywood stars

editorial image
A talented young actor from Bearsden is going to appear in a Disney film next year with Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie.
Daniel Kerr (12) was on set with the star in London recently to shoot Disney’s ‘Maleficent’, a re-telling of the classic ‘Sleeping Beauty’ story from the perspective of the princess’s evil nemesis, Malificent.
The Bearsden Academy pupil also appeared in the popular BBC school drama series Waterloo Road last Thursday as a young boy called Ewan.
He is represented by Scream Management Kids agency and since joining them two years ago he has also landed a major role in a film called ‘The Wee Man’ about former Glasgow gangland figure Paul Ferris - Daniel plays him as a young man.
Directed by the Silver Rose award-winning director Ray Burdis, the sixties-based film will be screened next January.
Brought up in the notorious area of Blackhill, Glasgow, Ferris, the son of decent, hardworking, parents he learns that life on the street is tough. With a cast boasting names such as Martin Compston, Denis Lawson, John Hannah, and Patrick Bergin, this Carnaby International Feature Film follows Paul Ferris’s journey from childhood to manhood.
Daniel has also been working on Hat Trick Production’s Great Night Out which will air next January and he played the role of Decky in Touchpaper West’s series 5 of Being Human.
LEADING ROLE . . . Daniel Kerr on the set (above) of The Wee man - he plays the part of a young Paul Ferris.
Source (including photo): Milngavie & Bearsden Herald

Douglas Henshall: 'Doors Open' interview, forthcoming appearance

'Doors Open' preview
Sprout Productions for 


Doors Open

Picture Shows: MIKE MCKENZIE Playing Douglas Henshall

The story follows Mike Mackenzie (Dougie Henshall), a self-made businessman with too much time on his hands. Bored by the comfort of his millions and grieving for the woman who walked out on him five years previously, he's got an adventurous side just waiting to get him into trouble. When he hears the love of his life, art consultant and auctioneer Laura Stanton (Lenora Crichlow), has returned to Edinburgh, his whole world is turned upside down and he'd risk anything to get her back.

This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until

Ian Rankin on the TV adaptation of ‘Doors Open’
Ian Rankin is a happy man. We are in one of his favourite pubs. From our position in the snug of Bennets Bar in Tollcross we are watching the filming of Doors Open, ITV’s adaptation of his bestseller of the same name, which stars Douglas Henshall and Stephen Fry.
It’s a hugely atmospheric boozer – all warming log fires, giant gilded mirrors, elegant wooden tracery, extensive single-malt whisky menus and tables inlaid with maps of Edinburgh. We are stationed next to a bookcase, where the first novel to catch my eye is – you’ve guessed it – Doors Open.
Looking dreamily into the middle distance, Rankin remembers how he found this place. “This was the first Edinburgh pub I drank in. I was sharing a flat with a mate from school who was studying architecture. His first project was about this pub. So we’d move in here every night and do research.”
As content as he is today, Rankin, 52, won’t be rushing to spend a lot more time on film sets. He is used to the solitary, but fairly straightforward process of writing – where it’s just one man and his word processor. So he has been taken aback by the sheer complexity of a big film production – which is more like a hundred people and a million gadgets.
Rankin, best known for his Rebus novels, says the filming process is a mystery to him. “Writing a book, I get no sense of just how difficult it is to organise a shoot. I did my first individual cameo yesterday. I played a man at an auction house chatting to Stephen Fry. I had to wear a suit. Luckily I have one that I wear to weddings and funerals, but it was still odd.
“Initially, the filming was quite exciting. But we ended up doing my scene about 15 times – and they never told us why we had to redo it. It was like being Charlie Watts who once said that being in the Rolling Stones was a case of playing for five years and hanging around for 45 years.”
Hanging around aside, Rankin is delighted that ITV have turned his novel into a TV drama, which will be broadcast on Boxing Day. His Rebus novels have already been made into a series of memorable TV films, starring John Hannah and then Ken Stott. So what is it about Rankin’s writing that lends itself so well to the small screen? Gina Carter, the executive producer of Doors Open, says plot has a lot to do with it. “Ian writes incredibly entertaining books. They’re real page-turners. You get completely engrossed in them. Also, Doors Open is about a victimless crime that doesn’t require any blood or death, which is a great part of its charm.”
Jon Finn, the producer of Doors Open, which is scripted by James Mavor and Sandi Toksvig, chimes in, “Ian’s work is a gift for any screenwriter. He has that quality that all great thriller writers have: you endlessly want to keep turning the pages. Reading his novels is like visiting an old friend.”
Doors Open tells the story of Mike Mackenzie (Henshall), a self-made millionaire who is bored by his cosseted lifestyle. When he learns that the love of his life, Laura Stanton (Lenora Critchlow from Being Human) – an art expert who ditched him five years ago - has returned to Edinburgh, he hatches a plot to win her back.
After a night drinking in their local – stand up Bennets Bar – Mike and his close friends, disgruntled art academic Professor Gissing (Fry) and disillusioned banker Allan Cruickshank (Kenneth Collard, The Borgias), plot and scheme how they will pull off an audacious crime.
They aim to con one of the most high-value targets in the country – a national bank’s priceless art collection which is hidden away from public view in a high-security vault.
The idea is to replace the invaluable works of art with undetectably exact forgeries. They intend to execute this fiendishly clever conceit on the one day of the year Edinburgh’s buildings of special interest are open, thanks to the “Doors Open” scheme. What could possibly go wrong?
Finn reveals that the production created its own counterfeit paintings for the drama. “In making the fakes, we stole bits from all over the place – in the style of Picasso. He had a saying that good art is a copy, great art is a steal. So we knocked off a genius.”
The conspirators in Doors Open view their act as “freeing” timeless works from their private seclusion. In the pub, Gissing rationalises their plan to his collaborators: “We’re not stealing. We’d be liberating them.”
“You mean like a heist?” Allan ripostes. “Like The Italian Job?”
“Yes, sort of,” Gissing rejoins. “But less Italian. And less jobby.”
Finn explains, “Most national galleries only display three per cent of their collection at any one time. They have so many spare Warhols lying around. The depositories are in inconspicuous suburban areas, so no one knows this stuff is just lying around there.”
So is there some moral justification for the plan? Rankin adds, “Gissing is exasperated by the way in which art is treated as a commodity by these institutions. They do not display these great works of art, but keep them as collateral.
“Banks own huge collections that are kept locked away out of public view. And the National Galleries north and south of the Border have more art than they can ever show. It’s very frustrating because it’s ours!”
It is not an entirely black and white issue, though. As Rankin says, “It’s quite complex. Are they freeing these works or are they greedy sods who just want to hold onto these works for themselves?”
Joining our table at Bennets Bar, Henshall takes up the theme.
“There’s not a great deal of logic to Mike’s plan. In a sober moment, you would say that it is illogical and stupid, but at that moment in the pub, it makes complete sense.
“It may be stupid, but there’s also a lot of nobility in his quest. So much of the best art is hidden away in cellars and not shown to the public. It’s not bought by people who love art – it’s merely purchased as an investment. But great art should be for the people and seen by the people. I hope that viewers will be rooting for Mike. He’s a very sympathetic character.”
Henshall says the cast had a great time getting dressed up for the heist.
“We went for retro disguises. So I looked like someone from a 1970s Norwegian rock band, and Kenneth looked like the Portuguese rep for Nandos.”
Of course the other major character in Doors Open is Edinburgh. 47-year-old Henshall, dapper with his swept-back blond hair, white shirt and immaculately cut black overcoat, says, “The producers were determined to shoot here – they didn’t want to film anywhere else.
“Edinburgh is so specific looking, and it’s such a photogenic place. 2000 years of history have gone into this city. If you’re a director of photography, Edinburgh is a dream because the light is amazing and everywhere you look, there is a great shot. I’m not nationalistic in any way, shape or form, but I’m absolutely delighted it’s being filmed here. I can’t imagine it being shot anywhere else.”
The actor, well-known for his roles in Primeval, Collision, The Silence and The Secret of Crickley Hall, adds that Bennets Bar is the ideal location for the drama’s crucial planning scene. “There are so few bars like this nowadays. Everything is an O’B*llocks fake Irish pub. It’s nice to find somewhere like this with genuine character.”
Finn agrees, “Edinburgh is the most distinctive city in the UK.
“You can’t fling a camera at it without it looking fantastic. It’s a city built around monuments. The buildings are spectacular, and the hills give it layers. In places, it’s like an Escher drawing – one road going this way and one road going that way.”
Carter adds, “Edinburgh is so filmic. It’s a very rare combination of elements. You have both a massive castle and rolling hills in the city centre. You don’t get that in Oxford Street in London. Also, Ian writes about Edinburgh so beautifully.”
In his novels, Rankin has certainly always been fascinated by the duality of Edinburgh, and Doors Open gives him another chance to explore that. “In the crime novels, I’m always talking about the underbelly of Edinburgh,” he says. “This book allowed me to talk about the other Edinburgh, the Edinburgh in which self-made millionaires go to auction houses for something to do. There are not many self-made millionaires in my crime novels.”
Expanding on the concept of the city’s ambiguity, he says, “Structurally, Edinburgh is Jekyll and Hyde. It’s a city of haves and have-nots. Are the tourists seeing the real Edinburgh or what the city fathers want them to see?”
He believes that Edinburgh is a constant source of inspiration to writers, “The city continues to surprise. So many authors are writing about it because it shows so many different facets to us all. If I’d made sense of Edinburgh, I’d have stopped writing about it by now.
“But I’m always finding new things to talk about. Every time you think you’ve done it, something else comes along like the Parliament, the financial crisis or 
the trams. I have a love-hate thing with Edinburgh. But I have no interest in writing about London. I’ve never found a place I want to write about more than Edinburgh.”
Another element that makes Doors Open so watchable is that it pivots on a heist. Carter says, “There is a certain caper-ish element to a heist that we all enjoy. Look at films like The Italian Job, Ocean’s Eleven or The Ladykillers.
“Also, you can’t do a heist on your own because that’s just robbery.
So a heist will inevitably involve lots of different people. That makes it engaging because you’re following all these different characters. It’s a terrific ensemble vehicle. Heist dramas are thrillers, chases, ‘will they, won’t they?’s and big set pieces all rolled into one. They tick all the boxes for great entertainment.”
Finn says that the characters have gelled so well in Doors Open that he could envisage a further life for them. “I’d love to do another drama with these characters. It would be great fun. What could they do next? How about breaking into Fort Knox like Goldfinger?”
Henshall lives in London these days, but he has relished working in Scotland on Doors Open. It has also given him the chance to catch up with his beloved St Mirren.
“We’re the only team that have ever sacked Sir Alex Ferguson,” he says. “That sums up our history in one easy sentence. Our victories are always hard won, and therefore much more enjoyed. It’s usually us and someone else very bad fighting relegation – which adds a certain drama to the season. That’s better than mid-table mediocrity. Who wants that?”
Doors Open used a real-life Glasgow repository to film the key heist sequence, a factor that invests the production with extra verisimilitude. Carter recalls, “We shot in the Museums Resource Centre, where three national collections are stored. Everything is there, from 19th century masterpieces to modern sculptures and African art. There are also racks and racks of great Scottish paintings. It’s stunning. But as you can imagine, there were a lot of security guards keeping their eyes on us all the time when we were filming there.”
Henshall says with genuine awe, “I didn’t know places like that existed. But great collections can’t show all their work all the time, and it has to be kept somewhere. These wonderful paintings just appeared from drawers. There was a wee Renoir in there that I was particularly fond of.”
A pause and a wry grin. “But I think they might have missed it.”

Doors Open is on STV on Boxing Day at 9pm.

Source (including photo): Scotsman

Douglas Henshall to judge The Frank Deasy Award to develop Scottish drama-writing talent

Acclaimed Scottish actor Douglas Henshall will join the judging panel on this year’s Frank Deasy Award 2012-13, an initiative to develop television writing talent in Scotland in conjunction with BBC Scotland, BBC Writersroom and Creative Scotland.

Henshall, who will star in BBC Scotland’s new two-part crime drama Shetland later this year, will be joined on the judging panel by Edinburgh playwright and director Zinnie Harris alongside Christopher Aird, Head of Drama, BBC Scotland; Kate Rowland, BBC Creative Director, New Writing; and Laura Mackenzie Stuart, Portfolio Manager, Creative Scotland.

Designed to inspire, develop and celebrate writing talent in Scotland, the Frank Deasy Award was named in honour of the Emmy-award winning writer whose credits include Prime Suspect – The Final Act, Looking After Jo-Jo, Real Men and The Passion. Deasy died in 2009.

Douglas Henshall (Shetland, The Secret of Crickley Hall, The Kidnap Diaries) says: “Writers are so crucial to drama – without them people like me are out of work – so to be involved in this award is an honour. After all, writers are the past, present and future for drama.”

Read more at BBC Media Centre

Tony Curran: official Facebook page updates

New from Tony Curran's official Facebook page -

Defiance - April 2013

"This shot was taken during the shooting of the Pilot of April 2013, Datak and Stahma Tarr,a couple not to be trifled with, if you know whats good for you. Myself and my lovely co star Jaime Murray." 

League of Extraordinary Gentleman
"It has been 10 yrs since we shot LXG, 6 months shooting in Prague, was an amazing time, shame it was Sean Connerys last Film but what a fun time. Myself and my friend Jason Flemyng coined the new phrase Prosthetic Depression, being in Latex for to long can drive you a wee bit mad, not to mention tight blue spandex. "

Underworld: Evolution
"First Scene I shot in Underworld was when Marcus rises from his coven, 7 hours in make up and we shot it in two shakes of a lambs tale, Prosthetic Depression was about to envelope my soul, happy daze....."

Boardwalk Empire
"When I went for a wardrobe fitting for Boardwalk in Williamsburg Brooklyn it was 105 outside and the old jewish tailor that had been there since the early nineteen hundreds had no AC inside, wow that was some hot scratchy wool man, met Steve Buscemi and discussed the character, I said I dont get whacked maybe Eamon can return? He gave me a wry smile and walked off in to the heat."

Doctor Who
"It was a great role to play and Vincent Van Gogh was an incredible man but most importantly I felt was the reaction from people who have experienced depression and mental health, it is such a stigma in areas of society and it should not be the case, when people say they watched this episode and it moved them, made them feel they were not alone and went on to get help, Its why I became an actor in the first place."


'The Wee Man' - review by The List

The Wee Man (2 stars)

Martin Compston stars in this uneven crime drama that glamourises its real-life subject

The Wee Man
Based on the memoirs of Glasgow gangland figure Paul Ferris, this chronicle of a bloody underworld feud runs from the early 1970s, when a young Ferris and his friends are menaced by the ruthless Welsh family, to the 80s, when Ferris is married and expecting a child, but still engaging in increasingly high-stakes tit-for-tat attacks with his old nemeses. Oh, and getting into the odd sticky situation while working as a debt collector for a notorious crime boss.

The film makes impressive work of its shifts through time, with diligent production design and authentically heinous 70s and 80s fashions and interiors creating a highly persuasive physical environment. It starts well, with exceptional work from child actor Daniel Kerr as the young Ferris and Denis Lawson as the father who tries to guide him into the understanding that their world has real-life 'monsters' in it. However, the tale of Ferris’ ensuing adult struggle against these bad elements is told with scant recourse to subtlety, and with a partiality that leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. While the crimes of the Welshes – which escalate from dog abuse to child rape to old lady murder – are shored up relentlessly enough for us to conclude that they are indeed as close as people come to being the fairytale monsters of Ferris Sr’s construction, Paul himself as played by Martin Compston is persistently painted as a good guy in a bad situation, and his eye-for-an-eye approach to justice as simply the only route available.

It’s of course the filmmakers’ prerogative to paint Ferris’s life story as they choose, and the performers here all share a commitment to their work that elevates the whole – but the script’s struggle to flatter its unprepossessing vigilante protagonist (he’s prone to coming out with poetic self-justifying speeches, too) is unconvincing, if not arguably irresponsible.
Selected release from Fri 18 Jan.

Source (including photo): The List

Fancarpet has some stills from the film here

Brian Cox on 'The Straits' and villains, and 'Bob Servant' preview

Q&A: Brian Cox on The Straits and Villains 
By Eric Spitznagel 

Brian Cox in The Straits. "With most characters, no matter how vile they are, it's just about remembering that they're human beings, ultimately. Hitler was a human being."

Name a contemptible human being, and Brian Cox has probably played him in a movie. Socialist dictator? Check. Nazi military leader? Check. Pedophile? Check. Charming cannibal? Check. From his pre-Anthony Hopkins take on Hannibal Lector in the 1986 cult classic Manhunter to his love-to-hate-'em super-villains in films like X2, Troy, and The Bourne Supremacy, Cox has cornered the market on bad guys with furry furrowed brows and booming Shakespearian baritones.
Cox proves his villainous expertise yet again in the ABC1 series The Straits, now in its second season (available exclusively on Hulu and Hulu Plus, with new episodes every Saturday), on which he plays the head of a drug-smuggling family in Australia. I called Cox to talk about his latest goateed baddie, and we ended up discussing carnivorous crocodiles, cinematic facial hair, why children are smarter than method actors, and how even the monster who went on a murderous rampage in a Connecticut elementary school is still a human being.
ERIC SPITZNAGEL: The Straits was shot in Queensland, Australia. Isn't that part of the country lousy with man-eating crocs?
BRIAN COX: Oh, yes, they're everywhere. Queensland has the most incredible beaches, but you can't swim in them because of the crocodiles. You can swim in the water holes.
ES: Water holes?
BC: There are these water holes up on the hillsides. Unless it's been a particularly bad monsoon season, the crocodiles don't get up there. I remember on the first day of our read-through [for The Straits], we were sitting in the production office, which is next to a little stream, and I looked out a window and there was a baby crocodile. It was like twenty-five feet away from where we were.
ES: At least it was just a baby.
BC: Yeah, but they're bold. They've been known to walk down the main street of Cairns [a city in Queensland]. And when they get big, they get really big. Unlike New Zealand, which has nothing especially predatory, Australia is full of spiders and crocodiles and all kinds of animals that will eat you and sting you.
ES: Yikes.
BC: Oh, and the most incredible collection of snakes. The brown snake in particular is quite deadly.
ES: You've convinced me to never, ever visit Australia.
BC: Oh, no, no. It is actually a beautiful country. Even the Australians don't know how beautiful their own country is. Particularly where we were shooting The Straits. Most of my stuff was done on an aboriginal settlement on the south shore, opposite Cairns, which I believe was the site where the last person was eaten in Australia.
ES: By a crocodile?
BC: By a cannibal. He was eaten by a warrior foe, I believe.
ES: That's kind of poetic. Your breakout role was Hannibal Lector, and, now, here you are twenty-five years later, making a TV show in the land of the cannibals.
BC: Huh. [Laughs.] I never thought of that, actually.
ES: Your career has come full-circle.
BC: I guess it has.
ES: You're playing a villain in The Straits, which really isn't new terrain for you.
BC: Not at all.
ES: The majority of your career has been playing bad people. Are they bad to you? Or do you have to sympathize with a character to really get inside their skin?
BC: You empathize rather than sympathize. Like the guy in this show, Harry. He's a gangster, and they have these kinds of curiously spurious moral codes. For instance, he won't touch child prostitution, but he has no problem dealing in drugs and stuff like that.
ES: Have you ever had to play somebody where you thought, "This guy's an asshole. I can't identify with him at all."
BC: There are characters that have made me uncomfortable. I did a film called Rob Roy, and I played Killearn, who was this sort of greasy fallen-angel character who was voyeuristic and sleazy and really unpleasant. It was a great role, but I didn't especially enjoy living with this awful man for the length of time it took to make the movie.
ES: If I had a thousand guesses, I never would have guessed Killearn.
BC: Really?
ES: I would've said Hermann Göring. Or Stalin. Or Hannibal Lecter.
BC: Lector is just psychotic. He didn't leave a bad taste in my mouth like Killearn. With most characters, no matter how vile they are, it's just about remembering that they're human beings, ultimately. Hitler was a human being. Stalin was a human being. We have this terrible tragedy that just happened in Connecticut.
ES: The school shooting.
BC: The boy who did those horrible things, walked into that school with all those guns — he was clearly an outsider and clearly had personality disorders of a very deep kind. But he was still a human being. He was alienated and sad and very damaged, which is a uniquely human condition. That's what's interesting about these roles, playing somebody who seems so one-dimensionally evil. How does somebody get to that point?
ES: I've heard that you don't subscribe to method acting.
BC: No. I find that all nonsense.
ES: So you were never like, "To truly understand how Hannibal Lecter ticks, I have to taste human flesh"?

BC: Goodness no. There are actors who do that. I don't know if they'd go as far as tasting human flesh, but they might walk up to that line. For me, it's just acting. It's pretending. The best actors are children, and children don't do research. You never see a child going, "I'm wondering about my motivation here. How can I do this toy? How can I do this train? I don't feel train." I did a video — you can look this up on YouTube — called "Brian Cox Masterclass with Theo" [above].
ES: I've seen it.
BC: Where I teach the Hamlet soliloquy to a two-and-a-half-year-old?
ES: It's freaking brilliant. I would pay Broadway prices to see that Theo kid do Hamlet.
BC: I would, too. That's the lesson there, I think. You can give children the germ of an idea, and they'll run with it. They'll take it. Their imaginations are untrammeled. I trust the child in me. I'll always go back to that. All these dark people I've played, if I think about them too much, if I try to identify with them, they'd carry me away in a straightjacket and load me into a funny-farm van.
ES: What's the most ridiculous thing you've done to prepare for a role?
BC: I try not to do anything unless a director asks me. And most of what they ask me is ridiculous. I once had a director send me a questionnaire about my character. I just replied, "Too old, too tired, and too talented." If we're going to sit down and answer these questions, then you don't know what you're doing, and I think by this time I should have a good idea what I'm doing. Do you think I just fell off the turnip truck?
ES: Have you seen the Hitchcock biopic with Anthony Hopkins?
BC: Not yet, no.
ES: Some critics have claimed the prosthetics look too obviously fake. Do you think Hopkins made the right choice, rather than gain a lot of weight, which is the usual method-acting way?
BC: From a health perspective, yes, it's certainly better to use prosthetics than gain the weight. I've just been working with Tony — we did the sequel to Red. I think Tony is a magnificent actor, but I don't think he looks very much like Alfred Hitchcock.
ES: Even with the prosthetic jowls?
BC: Hitchcock was round in the face. I've only seen pictures of Tony as Hitchcock — I haven't seen the film, so I don't want to judge him. It's a fantastic makeup job, but he looks... rather square. Physically, he's square. You know what I mean? Hitchcock had this rather round, baby look about him.
ES: The best movie magic can't change an actor's facial structure?
BC: It can't, no. But this happens. I'm old enough to remember King George VI. When I saw The King's Speech, I had to suspend my disbelief. I thought it was a very good performance by Colin Firth, but he didn't look anything like George the VI. George was very skinny, with a nervous disposition, and kind of etiolated-looking. It's very hard to recreate that.
ES: That may be a tall order even for CGI.
BC: I do have a fondness for the prosthetic element of this profession. I once did a role and told the director, "Just tell me what to do." I wasn't interested in the script. I didn't have a lot of lines and didn't want to argue with him about character. I was like, "I'll do whatever you tell me. The only thing I want to be in charge of is how the character looks." I wanted to look like a cross between John Carpenter and Jerry Garcia.
ES: And that felt like enough creative involvement for you?
BC: It's very liberating as an actor to sacrifice control. The director says, "Come through here, look at that, turn on that, go there, look under the bed, take out a gun, load it." And you just go through that series of actions. And by doing that, you're letting the character take over. You're not overthinking it. You're not going over the script and making notes and creating backstory.
ES: Your only responsibility is to grow a really awesome Jerry Garcia beard.
BC: Exactly, yes.
ES: It's funny you mention that. Whenever I look at your films, I always notice the facial hair. There have been a few goatees, a few mustaches, a few full-on beards. Does the facial hair help you define what a character is?
BC: It does to a certain extent. The beard makes a great statement, especially as I've gotten older. I've got a beard at the moment, and I'm actually toying with the idea of shaving it off. Part of the reason I've kept it for so long is I'm lazy and I don't like to shave.
ES: That really is the raison d'être of any great beard.
BC: I like to play with color as well. If I kept my natural hair color, it would be incredibly white. But I find that white onscreen is kind of dead and translucent. You want something that has life to it. And that's why I've sometimes gone dark or gray with my beards. People think I dye my hair because I want to look younger. It's not about that at all.
ES: You were part of a golden age of British theater during the '70s and '80s. You've done Shakespearian plays with legends like Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson.
BC: Those were wonderful times. I was very lucky.
ES: Everything I've heard about that era — it seems like everyone was drunk all the time and there were constant onstage shenanigans.
BC: We had some laughs. I remember one time — probably my favorite memory — Gielgud was playing Caesar in a production of Julius Caesar, and we had one of these mobile sets, where they could change scenery and different set pieces would come on and off the stage. So one night it didn't come on as planned, for the scene when Caesar is murdered. Gielgud felt that since we were all inexperienced — and we were, relatively, although I think I was thirty at the time — he was worried that we wouldn't find him to kill him. He was like, "These poor boys, they won't know where to go because the set isn't right. I better help them." So he sort of obliged by almost committing harakiri on our daggers.
ES: He threw himself on your blades?
BC: He did. They were stage daggers, but they were still sharp. It's a miracle he wasn't impaled.
ES: Do you miss doing live theater?
BC: I do, I do. All the time. I still try to make time to do it, occasionally. It's very close to my heart. I can still remember the first day I entered the theater as a kid, literally walked into a theater for the first time, to get a job. I was a working-class kid from Dundee, Scotland, very unaccustomed to the ways of actors. I walked into the theater, and there was a fight going on.
ES: A staged fight?
BC: No, an actual fight. With fists being thrown. It was Nicol Williamson, and he was punching the hell out of the stage manager. They were both drunk. This was ten o'clock in the morning, and they'd been there all night. I'm fifteen years old, and I walk in and there's these two grown adults fighting on the stairs.
ES: Did you try to stop them?
BC: No, no. Another actor pulled me aside. He was the first actor I ever spoke to, and he said to me, "It's alright, darling. A night on the tiles. You'll want to go this way." That was my initial impression of the theater: Two people beating the hell out of one another, and a man calling me darling. So I thought, "I'm home! This is the life for me, obviously."
Source: Esquire


Bob Servant Independent, a new comedy for BBC Four
L-R Jonathan Watson, Brian Cox, Rufus Jones and Pollyanna McIntosh (credit: BBC/Euan Myles)

BBC Four’s new comedy series, Bob Servant Independent, follows the trials and tribulations of Bob Servant (Brian Cox) as he endeavours to sell himself, relentlessly, to the good people of Broughty Ferry.
The series stars Brian Cox with Jonathan Watson, Pollyanna McIntosh, and Rufus Jones and will transmit on BBC Four from early January.
The Scottish town of Broughty Ferry doesn’t know what’s hit it. The sudden death of the sitting MP has resulted in a by-election that could change the political map of the UK. Bob Servant (Brian Cox) has been waiting his whole life for this level of attention and he’s willing to do anything to keep it.
Bob sells himself as a man of the people but doesn’t really like people. He also has absolutely no understanding of the political process and uses the by-election campaign as a heaven sent opportunity for self-promotion.
His campaign manager is Frank (Jonathan Watson), Bob’s long-suffering best friend and neighbour, and their love-hate relationship is a central aspect of Bob Servant Independent.
Brian Cox said: “As a Dundee man I am very excited to be in this comedy set in Broughty Ferry. With the comic writing skills of fellow Dundonian, Neil Forsyth, and the audacious spirit of Bob Servant it captures the very essence of the unique East Coast humour.”
As the series progresses, Bob has an increasingly fractious relationship with the favourite to win the seat, a slick professional politician called Nick Edwards (Rufus Jones). Bob also struggles to deal with Edwards’ campaign manager (and wife), Philippa Edwards (Pollyanna McIntosh), a smart, no-nonsense woman, always two steps ahead of Frank.
The two campaigns jar markedly while the series builds to the natural climax of election night.
Writer and creator of Bob Servant Independent, Neil Forsyth, added: “It’s hugely exciting that Bob is making it onto the telly, and that Brian is once again involved and leading a brilliant cast. He’s been a supporter of the Bob Servant cause for a long time. To be honest, Bob would probably be disappointed that he’s been overlooked to play himself, but even he would reluctantly accept Brian taking up the challenge."
Bob Servant Independent is written by Neil Forsyth and produced by Owen Bell.
It was commissioned by BBC Four and Cheryl Taylor, former Controller, Comedy Commissioning, and Mark Freeland (BBC Four) and Ewan Angus (BBC Scotland) are the co-executive producers.

Character profiles

Bob Servant (played by Brian Cox)
Businessman, raconteur, optimist and a man of endless ambition, Bob Servant is a hero for our troubled times. Born and bred in Broughty Ferry, Servant sees it as his natural fiefdom. This belief stems largely from Servant's dominant position in Broughty Ferry's notorious ‘Cheeseburger Wars’ - a period of riotous appreciation for the snack that caused madness on the streets and lined Servant's pockets. Now retired and living in his stylish riverside house, with its much-admired (by him) extension, Servant is looking for a new cause. When it’s announced that Broughty Ferry is to have a by-election, one man is ready and willing to step back into the limelight. Bob Servant, Independent.
Frank (played by Jonathan Watson)
Bob Servant’s great loyalist is Frank, the ultimate right hand man who has spent decades under Bob’s close tutelage. Frank was Director of Sauces on the cheeseburger vans and now has a similarly impressive title – Campaign Manager for Bob Servant Independent. It’s a job he takes very, very seriously. Nothing would make Frank happier than helping his best friend and mentor win the by-election.
Bob’s View on Frank – “The Dean to my Torvill.”
Nick Edwards (played by Rufus Jones)
A Westminster protégé, Nick Edwards is a career politician who descends on Broughty Ferry to wow the locals and pick up what he sees as a safe seat. He heads up an impressive operation. Slick, well-funded, highly organised, the Edwards campaign is everything that Bob and Frank are not. Nick has come here to win a by-election but no amount of political training could have prepared him for the experience of taking on Bob Servant.
Bob’s view on Nick – “Wet behind the ears.”
Philippa Edwards (played by Pollyanna McIntosh)
The power behind the Edwards throne, Philippa Edwards is a smooth political operator here to guide her husband to by-election success. Elegant, highly intelligent and domineering, she is greeted with utter confusion by Bob and Frank. The cheeseburger industry was not a place for powerful women. For Frank, who as Campaign Manager is Philippa’s direct rival, she is all his nightmares come true.
Bob’s view on Philippa – “Basically just a pretty Hitler.”
Lady Provost (played by Victoria Liddelle)
Rhona McDonald is the Lady Provost of Broughty Ferry. A long term observer of Bob Servant, she is dismayed to see the arrival into the race of a man who made money while “reintroducing scurvy” to Broughty Ferry. She is impressed by the urbane Edwards, and watches in horror as Bob somehow battles himself into the by-election race.
Bob’s view on Lady Provost – “You give someone a special necklace and they think they’re Mother Theresa.”
Anders (played by Greg McHugh)
An ambitious young DJ at Broughty FM, Anders sees the local radio station as a stepping stone to greater things. The opening episode sees Bob and Anders go toe to toe in a political debate that leads to a serious, dog-based controversy. Later in the series Anders moderates a dramatic debate between the candidates, trying to keep some sort of control over a combustible evening.
Bob’s view on Anders – “I see a lot of myself in him. And I think he’d ditto that.”
Kirsty (played by Shirley Henderson)
When Bob visits the local Church to “mop up the religious vote”, he chances upon the intriguing figure of Kirsty. It’s love at first sight as Bob pursues Kirsty around the church and tempts her to a dinner date, where events take a decided turn for the worst.
Bob’s view on Kirsty – “Some of the best skirt I’ve ever seen in Broughty Ferry, including tourists.”
Stewpot (played by Antony Strachan)
Landlord of Stewpot’s Bar, Stewpot has seen a lot of life and a lot of pain. The last thing he needs are Bob’s regular visits. Only Bob Servant would choose a local pub because he feels he’ll be the most impressive drinker there.
Bob’s view on Stewpot – “Easily the worst landlord of the worst pub in Broughty Ferry. Easily.”
Reverend Thompson (played by Derek Riddell)
Broughty Ferry’s minister Reverend Thompson knows Bob through reputation. When Bob comes bumbling into his church to chase “the religious vote”, Reverend Thompson has his measure from the start. On election day, he’s the confused recipient of a dramatic donation from Bob.
Bob’s view on Rev Thompson – “Leader of the God mob.”
Jim “Hendo” Henderson (played by Alex Norton)
Bob Servant’s Achilles heel is his pre-occupation with Broughty Ferry’s “boo boys” and the historical lack of respect that they’ve shown him. Jim “Hendo” Henderson was a schoolboy contemporary of Bob and his first ever boo boy. An intimidating man, Hendo is a distant, terrible memory for Bob until he makes a spectacular reappearance. He and Bob revert to playground taunts, with tragic results.
Bob’s view on Hendo – “The Worst of the Worst.”
Margo Servant (played by Sheila Reid)
Bob’s mother Margo is a sweet old lady with a surprising turn of phrase. She’s spent 58 years trying and failing to reign in her son’s outlandish schemes and over-ambition. Now she’s given up. Ensconced in Broughty Ferry’s ‘Cheerio and All the Very Best’ Nursing Home, she wearily hosts lively visits from Bob and Frank. She views Bob as a continual source of worry and embarrassment, but she clearly has a soft spot for Frank.
Bob’s view on Margo – “One of the main reasons I’m here today.”

Where it all began

In 2006 I read about scam-baiters, people so frustrated with spam that they reply offering similar frustration to the spammers. I opened an email account in the name of Bob Servant, choosing the name so I could sign off emails “Your Servant, Bob Servant.”
That was the beginning of a seven year journey to Bob Servant Independent being broadcast by the BBC in January 2013. It’s been a process that has stuttered and apparently ended on a few occasions but, one way or another and often down to blind luck, has led to this six-part BBC Four series that will introduce Bob Servant to the nation.
I wrote three Bob Servant books (including his autobiography Hero Of Dundee) and a radio series (The Bob Servant Emails) which transmitted on BBC Radio Scotland and Radio 4. However, the television adaptation was itself a four year quest for me and producer Owen Bell. Owen had been given one of the books by a friend’s girlfriend and contacted me asking if I’d considered adapting the character for radio or TV.
We completed the radio series first and managed to persuade Brian Cox to play Bob after I met a mutual friend in a pub. The fact that both he and Bob are Dundonians undoubtedly helped.
Getting Brian on board was the first step, the next was finding a premise that allowed Bob’s pompous, self-regarding character to be given free reign without taking him out of the confines of his hometown, the Dundee suburb of Broughty Ferry.
I decided a by-election, with Bob standing as an independent candidate, would give us what we needed. A lot of writing and re-writing from me and skilful script development by Owen eventually led to BBC Four commissioning this series with BBC Scotland.
We shot in Scotland in 2012, with Brian padding about Broughty Ferry in Bob’s distinctive leather jacket and bunnet combo, ably assisted by his sidekick Frank (the hilarious Jonathan Watson). Watching it unfold was a thrilling conclusion to a long journey.

Ten things you didn’t know about Bob Servant

1. Bob Servant is a business tycoon. Many in Scotland remember his victorious role in Dundee’s notorious Cheeseburger Wars, when his “Armada” of cheeseburger vans scoured the city to sell their questionable products to a delirious public. His enemies point out Servant singlehandedly brought back scurvy to the city’s hospitals, a claim Servant dismisses as “typical boo boy material.”
2. Before the cheeseburgers came a window-cleaning round described by Bob as being “the largest in Western Europe”. In both endeavours he was eagerly assisted by right hand man Frank. On the vans Frank was Director of Sauces, with the window-cleaning he was Bucket Chairman. Frank was also briefly Manager of Sponges but lost the role within days in a situation for which Frank readily admits he “only had himself to blame”.
3. Bob’s house bears an extension that is testament to both his success and ambition. A large glass extravaganza, described by the Council planning committee as a “carbuncle dripping in arrogance”, Bob refers to it more warmly as the “Anything Goes Annex”, an area where he encourages people to “be themselves and let their worries drift away like geese”.
4. Bob’s age is a matter for some debate. He claims, with fool-proof logic, that he “can’t fully remember” the day he was born and therefore doesn’t know his date of birth.
5. Bob is a respected man of letters. The three Bob Servant books have been published in the UK, North America and, most impressively of all, in Dundee where they famously outsell the Bible. They have been called “a Dundonian Lord of the Rings” (by Bob) and “absolutely terrific” (by Frank).
6. Bob has also worked as an Agony Uncle. In the two years that he answered readers’ problems for a Scottish magazine he advised over 20 men to divorce their wives “with immediate effect” for crimes including winking and having arrogant walks.
7. The arrival into politics isn’t something that Bob decided on a whim. Absolutely not. As long as he can remember he has walked around Broughty Ferry looking at the punters, and their “sad little faces” and wondering what he can do to help them. This is his chance.
8. Frank is extremely proud of his role as Bob’s campaign manager. More than anything, he is proud of his special notebook which he currently sleeps with, cradling it like a baby. He’s also invested in a new suit and the shortest back and sides in Broughty Ferry.
9. Bob is currently single despite extensive efforts to the contrary. His autobiography contains a chapter entitled The Great Skirt Hunt which shows both the depth of his attempts at gaining a girlfriend, while also hinting at the attitude that has perhaps handicapped them.
10. Bob is greatly looking forward to the transmission of the TV show. He believes it will be “permanent Beatlemania” for him in Broughty Ferry. He has printed off a thousand close-up photos of his face that he will be offering for signature (for a fair price) and is also planning to market “Bob cameos” where he will attend social events for five minutes during which time he will tell “a couple of belters and have the punters laughing like penguins”. He is targeting birthdays, retirements and funerals.

Source (including photo): BBC Media Centre

Billy Connolly: interviews, and new 'Quartet' clip

Digital Spy Exclusive: 'Quartet': Billy Connolly hits on Sheridan Smith in new clip
Dustin Hoffman's Quartet has debuted a new clip exclusively on Digital Spy.

The footage has Billy Connolly's former opera singer Wilfred Bond hitting on Sheridan Smith's character without success.

Quartet stars Dame Maggie Smith as famed opera singer Jean Horton, whose appearance at the Beecham House home for retired musicians is not entirely welcomed by her former singing partners and ex-husband Reginald Paget (Tom Courtenay).

She insists on claiming all the attention by playing the diva, all the while refusing to perform in the annual concert in celebration of Verdi's birthday.

Hoffman, who makes his directorial debut with the film, was honoured with the 'Hollywood Breakthrough Director Achievement Award' at the 16th annual Hollywood Film Awards in October for his work on the movie.

Quartet received a standing ovation when it debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

The film will release on January 1, 2013 in the UK and January 4, 2013 in the US.

Source: Digital Spy

Billy Connolly: My family values
The actor and comedian talks about coming to terms with his children growing up and the joy of being a grandparent
Elaine Lipworth, The Guardian, Saturday 22 December 2012

Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly: 'All my kids are quite funny.' Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

I am a kind of Victorian father. I haven't caught up with the mood of the age yet, although I look and speak as though I have. I still care about all my children [he has four girls and a boy], and worry about my girls and always make sure they are on the right lines. When we're crossing the road, I go, "Righto, here we go!" as if they're six years of age. Amy, who is 24, has her own apartment. But the other night she was going out from our house and she said, "See you later," and I said, "Oh, when will you be back?" She said: "I'm going to my apartment." I said: "Yes, but when'll you be back?" She said: "I won't be back, I've got an apartment." I went: "Oh, yeah."
Pamela [Stephenson] is a much better parent than me because she knows what's right and wrong, being a psychologist. She knows a great deal more about behaviour than I do. I panic and get worried about the girls and think: "Ahhh, something is wrong, she's out too late!" Pamela just says: "Oh, at this stage she should be doing that." But I think I'm also a product of my generation. As a family, we are all very loving. We still kiss each other. Jamie's 42 and he still kisses me good night. We've just got back from fishing in Mexico. We were staying in two rooms, in a fishing lodge and at night we would have a cigar and at the end of the evening, we'd say: "OK, you going to bed? Good night, give us a kiss."
It's very difficult bringing up the girls without spoiling them because you sound like an old bore when you start saying: "Oh, I had to finish every brussels sprout on the plate when I was a boy." It's true though, I used to go to the movies and put my sprouts in my pocket and pretend I had eaten them. I've stayed away from that kind of behaviour towards them, but obviously we have lived well on my earnings and I try my best to show them the value of things. But you can't be too strict with them, because you just sound like a whinge-bag. Anyway, spoiling them is buying them things in place of love, and they've never been in that position.
I'm a great family guy, I'm all for keeping them all together and it's getting sad now because the girls have got boyfriends and they don't want to come home for Christmas. All that kind of stuff is sad, but you just have to get used to it and grow up a wee bit.
My children and I are pals and allies, they're lovely. We all get on great. But I never carry photographs of my wife and kids because they make me sad. I'm not one of those guys who gets to the hotel room and puts the framed pictures up. I really can't do it. Photos make you miss them more.
Always tell the kids the truth. When they ask where they come from, don't give them that gooseberry bush nonsense, just tell them – they'll appreciate it much more. If they say, "Did you take drugs?", if you did, say yes because they'll find you out. And if you say, "I tried marijuana and I hated it, it was horrible," and then they try it and it isn't horrible, they'll think you were lying about marijuana and wonder whether you were lying about heroin and could try that as well. I am totally open with my children.
All my kids are quite funny. They all really enjoy making me laugh. Scarlett works in an art gallery in Soho here in New York, Cara is making documentary films and Amy is studying to be an undertaker. She was working as a dress designer in Los Angeles and she got fed up with it. She saw an advert for an intern in a cemetery and she loved it the second she did it. It's the truth! She loves it.
Pamela saved me without being ruthless with me when I was drinking and smoking, by saying: "Look, if you don't give up the way you're living, you're gonna die. And I don't want to be there watching it when it happens." I haven't had a drink for 28 years. With Pam, I discovered that you could not get away with anything. When I married her I had to own up to everything, which no one had ever asked me to do before. I learned to be honest with myself, which was great.
The character I play in Brave – the dad – does a lot of shouting and thumping around and the mother does the heavy work. And I've found that in my own life, I do a lot of "this must be done and that must be done" but most of "it" is done by Pamela. My marriage to her has lasted because she knows how to do things. She knows much more than I do about technical stuff and how to do practical things, who to phone when you need to get something done in the house. I know bugger all. I swim along dreaming through life and she allows me to do that. She has taken on the male role and I have taken on what people used to think was the female role.
It's brilliant being a grandfather. My grandchildren – Walter is 12 and Barbara is 10 – are the best. When you have children in the first place and you can see the genetics, you see who they look like and it changes all the time. One day your son looks like your wife, one day he looks like you. It's the same with grandchildren. Cara burst out laughing the other day. I said, "What's wrong?" She said, "Look at your feet." I was standing next to Walter and I looked down and realised that our feet are identical. You'd think they'd just been moulded in a shop. With grandchildren you understand that the generations go on and on and on.

Source (including photo): Guardian

Lucy Kellaway talks to Billy Connolly
He has had Britain howling with laughter for decades. Now 70 and showing no signs of slowing down, the comedian opens up about getting old, forgiving his father – and the beauty of swear words
Bill Connolly
Billy Connolly is standing with his back to the door, singing raucously to himself. From behind, he looks slightly frightening – a mane of wild white hair, a black T-shirt, black jeans and a big tattoo on his left biceps – but then he turns and eyes me benignly through round tortoiseshell glasses. I’m not sure who he reminds me of most: King Lear, David Hockney or Ozzy Osbourne.
He invites me to sit, while he paces restlessly, checking the thermostat of the Soho hotel room.
Tell me about your hair, I say.
It is not the most obvious place to start with Scotland’s most famous comic, film star, abused child, artist, former alcoholic and all-round icon, but I’ve been taking lessons in how to interview him from a world authority – Connolly’s wife, Pamela Stephenson.
I started by watching a clip of the couple’s first meeting on the set of Not the Nine O’Clock News in 1979. Stephenson is wearing false teeth and pretending to be Janet Street-Porter. She talks broad cockney; he talks broad Glaswegian. The gag is that they can’t understand each other.

I then watch a clip from just two years ago; this time Stephenson doesn’t have false teeth, though she has false everything else: boobs, face etc. No longer a comedian, she is a sex therapist and has installed her husband on the couch to analyse him for her viewers’ entertainment.
She starts like this: “It seems to me that hirsuteness is quite important to you. Help me to understand why.”
This elicits a long answer about his need to hide, about being himself, about being attractive, about the classlessness of hippies. But when I ask him the same thing, he says: “It comes from an inability to decide what to do with it between films, so I leave it alone.”
I point out that he didn’t say that to his wife.
“Didn’t I?” he says. “Ach, it depends what day of the week it is.”
The previous night Connolly was at the London premier of Quartet, a light comedy directed by Dustin Hoffman set in a home for retired opera singers. He plays Wilf, an amiably lecherous old geezer with short hair and clad in a tweed jacket. I say the look suits him.

Bill Connolly as retired singer Wilf in 'Quartet'
As retired singer Wilf in 'Quartet'

“Ach,” he says. “A lot of women said that last night, that I looked handsome. But I felt like a big Tory.”
The film is all about the indignities of ageing. But Connolly, who turned 70 in November, tells me that he’s spent his life looking forward to growing old (which sets him apart from Stephenson, who has paid frequent visits to the cosmetic surgeon “because I want to be a babe”).
“I always wanted to be old as a wee boy,” he says, swinging his cowboy-booted feet on to the coffee table. “We used to go to a swing park and there were always loads of old men in the shed playing dominoes. They always had knives – that’s what I liked about them. I like old men very much.”
I protest that old men are surely no nicer than anyone else.
“Aye,” he says, changing tack. “I think young arseholes tend to become old arseholes.”
One of the difficulties with interviewing Billy Connolly is that he says one thing one moment and another the next, his thoughts following a curious pattern of their own.
So his mention of knives leads him to cigarette cards and from there to self-defence and the body language of giving directions.
This ability to free-associate is part of his comic genius. Since he started amusing his fellow welders in Clyde shipyards nearly 50 years ago – he has never planned his performances, or written down a single word. Instead, he meanders all over the place, laughing at his own jokes as he does so, giving marathon performances that last up to four hours.
I wonder if he fears for his ability to go on doing it as he gets older. In the film, his co-star Maggie Smith (“Oh God I love her, she makes me scream with laughter”) plays a retired diva who is so upset at no longer being able to reach the high notes she has renounced singing altogether. Connolly says that when it comes to making people laugh, age doesn’t matter.
“It’s nothing to do with ageing,” he says. “I remember in my twenties, saying: f*** I hope it turns up tonight. If you look at Doddy – Ken Dodd – he’s busier than most people I’ve ever known. Some people accept that styles have changed and move along. Others say, f*** it I’m out there, this is my trade and I’m going to practise it.”
But then he tells me that despite recent accolades – he’s been voted the most influential British comedian of all time and has just been given a Bafta lifetime achievement award – he finds the idea of performing more alarming as he gets older. “Maybe I see the pitfalls and threats more than I used to.” But when I ask what they are, he says there aren’t any.
“I get great adoration, sometimes guys shake when they’re talking to me. A man cried last night. I just put my hand on him and stroked him a bit. He’d seen me in newspapers and films and on the stage and all that and there he is talking to me and I’m talking back to him and he got overwhelmed and his lip started to go. It’s weird, it’s lovely.”
. . .
Not everyone, however, was so awed. Later on he says: “Last night a guy got a bit iffy with me, you know, smart-arse about my performance. He said I was less than good. You know how the British do that British put-down thing that they think is funny?”
The Scottish comedian was not amused.
“I just turned and walked away in the middle of his sentence.”
This, it seems, is a trick he is getting into the habit of. Twice during his last tour of Britain he stormed off stage in response to heckling from the audience. When I mention this, Connolly waves his hands dismissively.
“Generally it’s made into something it isn’t, it’s no big deal. I wish journalists would just f***ing ask what it is and I would tell them. Once I’ve done my two hours it’s my time. After [that] I don’t want to be shouted at because I’m in a funny mental place.”
What is shocking – and almost sweet – about this is not that Connolly is so sensitive to both his detractors and his fans – it’s that he’s so unashamedly open about it. Suddenly I think of Wilf, who also lacks any sense of propriety – though in his case it’s as a result of a stroke. Connolly, it seems, never had one to lose, or if he did he quickly figured out that a great living could be made by dispensing with it.
“I speak the way I think. I give it a voice. And other people will think one way and speak another.”
And what he thinks about, often, is the body.
“I blame myself for that,” he says. “About bums and willies and going to the bathroom and venereal disease and all those things. That was the level I came in ... I broke a lot of ground there.”
Bill Connolly with his future wife Pamela Stephenson in 1982 
©Alan Davidson/Picture Library
With his future wife Pamela Stephenson in 1982

Since he went on Parkinson in 1975 and told the joke about the man who killed his wife and buried her with her bum sticking out of the ground so that he had somewhere to park his bike – Britain has been howling with mirth at Connolly’s body parts.
While he’s been delighting audiences with tales of his prostate exam, Stephenson has been making a living telling tales of his emotions – and has written two bestselling books chronicling them.
Doesn’t he mind, I ask, when she starts describing to everyone just how he felt when his first wife – a recluse and an alcoholic – died? He shakes his head. “Who better to tell it? Some f***ing journalist?”
Stephenson’s interpretation of Connolly is not always flattering: I read something recently in which she said he was slightly autistic as well as suffering from an attention deficit disorder.
“Did she?” He laughs fondly. “She’ll accuse me of anything. I don’t think I’m autistic, but I do have attention deficit disorder.”
And then his mind is off on another excursion: he tells me that Stephenson has just emailed him a list of all the different words for depression, as he is planning to write a song in which the word “blues” is replaced by synonyms. He laughs for a long time, delighted by the idea. When he has stopped I ask if he suffers from the blues himself.
“Sometimes I plunge into it, headlong, but the clown with a tear is a myth – that comedians are really dark and tortured and troubled.”
It’s odd that he says this, as he seems to fit the mould of damaged comedian so perfectly. His mother walked out when he was four, he was brought up by two wicked aunts, who used to hit him and rub his nose in his soiled underpants, and he was later abused by his father.
“Well I come from a dark place but it doesn’t make me dark”, he says. “My ambition was always to be as funny as ordinary people are; as the regular working guys are.”
Yet for all of his admiration for the common man, Connolly has left them long behind. He is a friend of Prince Edward and countless celebrities, and owns three huge properties as well as a yacht. People are always complaining that his swanking around is a betrayal of his working-class roots.
“They’re just wankers,” he says. “That’s the press talking; they’re talking shite as they usually do. I have deep, deep distrust of them. I see them as my enemy. I’ve had years of experience of the vile f***ing vitriol.”
It strikes me as strange that Connolly is so full of rage at journalists (who as far as I can see have been more nice than nasty over the years), but when you get him on to the subject of people who he has real reason to hate – his father and mother for a start – he is all mildness.
“Well I loved my father. I didn’t know my mother very well. I didn’t meet her from when I was four until I was in my twenties,” he says evenly, as if it was of no matter.
The reason he forgives them is partly thanks to a “wee book”.
“I think maybe Pam gave it to me. It said there’s no such thing as hate, there’s only love and fear. I forgave my father for all that had gone on and it took a huge load off me. It was like having a rucksack taken off your back.”
This sounds like psychobabble to me. History shows that there is such a thing as hate.
“Well it manifests itself as hate but I think it’s based on fear and sometimes it’s encouraged by the f***ing Daily Mail.”
. . .
Thus far in the interview he has said the f-word 27 times, but instead of finding it repetitive or limiting, I like it. On his lips the word is both funny and melodic.
“It’s also rather beautiful,” he says. “In sport, you say he whacked it into the top right, it was f***ing beautiful. There’s no English word to replace that.”
So why do people go on being shocked by the f-word?
“Because they’re middle-class wankers.”
And then he says: “In America they seem to have just discovered Kant.”
This strikes me as a strange turn for the conversation to have taken. But then I realise he didn’t say that: we are still on obscenities.
“I went to see a movie the other night, Seven Psychopaths, which you must see, it’s f***ing great, and they use it brilliantly, you c***. They’ve got it right at last.”
He then starts on an inspired rant about
how the c-word never appears on its own. “Usually it’s a something c***. Like, she’s a nasty c*** that one.”
My time is nearly up, but before it is I want to ask him about his newest accomplishment – drawing. Earlier this year there was an exhibition of his work, including a rather nice picture of a mummified woman in a belted dress with two heads.
I ask what I’d have to pay to own it.
“I’m not talking about that. I don’t talk about money. It’s vulgar.”
But isn’t that rather middle class?
“Money’s a boundary because it makes people feel inadequate when they shouldn’t.”
Yet for all that Connolly isn’t scared of flaunting it. As well as the yacht and the houses in New York and in Malta, he owns a castle in Scotland called Candacraig. This is now available for hire to corporate groups, who for nearly £4,000 a night can enjoy an orgy of tartan and try to imagine the presence of the many Hollywood celebrities that the website promises are regular visitors.
I can just about see the attraction from the guests’ point of view. But I struggle to see why the owner would want corporate fat cats sleeping in his bed and going through his bathroom cupboard.
“I don’t care about that,” he says. “I’ve told everybody all my secrets.”
‘Quartet’ is released in cinemas on January 4
 Source (including photos): Financial Times

Related Posts with Thumbnails