Andrew Gough: Inquisitions are the “obliteration of anyone they feared”

July 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

Inquisition

The Inquisitions swept like a plague across Medieval Europe, with thousands of innocent people arrested, tried and executed for heresy. this is an extraordinary story of nearly 500 years of bigotry, fear, persecution, torture and death.

Andrew Gough is a researcher, writer and presenter of historical conundrums. He is Editor in Chief of The Heretic Magazine and lives and works in Istanbul, Turkey. He is one of the main contributors to the brand new series Inquisition.

What interests you most about the period of history of the inquisitions?

What fascinates, mystifies and ultimately repulses me about the Inquisitions is how transparently shameless the powers at be were in their pursuit and obliteration of anyone who they feared was a threat to their supremacy.

The Inquisitions represented some of the earliest, and most horrific, examples of genocide in the modern world. What made the whole thing particularly disturbing was that their campaigns of hate were justified in the name of God. And their persecution of the so-called ‘heretics’ was so ruthless that even those who had taken their own life were dug up, tried, their skeletons burned and their former possessions taken from their heirs. Before long, the execution of heretics had become such a routine, business-like activity that it required an accounting audit just like any other vocation.

Where did the Inquisitions start and take place? Where did you travel to for this series?

The Inquisitions began in earnest with the extermination of the Cathars in the south of France, in the late 12th century, in a region known as the Languedoc.

And so we travelled to Beziers, where the crusade against the Cathars began in 1209. we investigate the events that led to the carnage in Beziers, when thousands of people were killed, including men, women and children, during what was known as the ‘day of Butchery’.

We pick up the next incarnation of the Inquisition in Madrid, where the Spanish Inquisition sought to suppress the re-emergence of Jewish practices in a country that was desperately trying to maintain a Catholic identity. Not surprisingly, the Spanish Inquisition resorted to torture, in the name of God, in order to ensure its success.

Just when you thought that civilisation had transcended the dismal reality of Inquisitions, we travel to England to study the British Tudors, who were far from the beautiful and benevolent people so frequently portrayed. In fact, what made the religious persecutions of the Tudor Inquisition especially barbaric is that they seemed to revel in torturing their victims, and even invented the torture chamber to facilitate their morbid pleasure, as if it were theatre.

How could a person be labelled a heretic? What happened during their trials?

The manner in which good, honest, normal individuals were labelled heretics, and brutally persecuted, remains one of the most reprehensible phenomena of the last 1,000 years.

First of all, the Inquisition ignored all rules of decency and justice. Guilt was assumed, and the accused seldom knew the identity of their accusers, let alone what they were accused of. Furthermore, the heretic had no right to legal counsel and, in the unlikely event where they were provided representation, even their legal counsel risked persecution.

The Inquisitions were brazen and arbitrarily levied charges of heresy, idolatry, obscene rituals and homosexuality, financial corruption, fraud and secrecy. Astonishingly, over the years the paranoia the Inquisitions spawned became even worse and people were charged on the say-so of hostile or jealous neighbours, while informers were paid handsomely for their efforts. If any of the ‘false’ accusations were exposed, they were
forgiven for being the result of ‘zeal for the faith’. And, lest we forget, typically half of a guilty person’s property was seized by the church. the systematic persecution knew no bounds and the Dominicans even
hit on the idea of digging up and trying dead people, so that they could seize property from their heirs.

Inquisition investigates the most gruesome and horrific period of human history, exclusive to Yesterday, Wednesdays at 9pm from 16th July.

Maggie Gyllenhaal: From Secretary to Honourable Woman

June 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

How would you describe Nessa Stein?
“Nessa is a very powerful, smart and emotional woman but at the same time she’s broken and confused with a deeply troubled past. She is conflicted about past events, events that have haunted her and it is the reason why she is constantly battling a consuming internal conflict – this internal struggle for reconciliation with her past and her search for personal equilibrium – is manifested in her political activities – to try to reconcile a conflict that has equally haunted a region of the world, countless lives, and political agendas for many years.”

What interested you about the project?
“When I read the scripts I thought they were incredible. Hugo Blick is such a talented writer and I’d never read anything like them before. On one hand they had the thriller aspect, with the twists, turns and secrets but underneath that there is this ocean of realistic human emotion, especially in Nessa and that’s what interested me the most. Everything about Nessa is very intense, she’s just so much more alive than I am, or any of us, and that was such a joy to play.

So while The Honourable Woman deals with political inheritance and trust and deceit, it also deals with the deep personal side to those same issues. So it took all of me, my brain, my heart, my body to play Nessa Stein. And I had never been presented with a challenge quite like that before.”

Why did you choose this role as your first TV project?
“I had never read a character like Nessa. She is a powerful, smart, grown-up woman who is also deeply flawed and broken. She is hard and sensual, brave and childlike all at once. Like we all are. I love that the drama deals with very important, terrifying global conflicts – and it really takes them on – but it is also about a woman trying to sort out similar conflicts inside herself.

I know it differs from project to project but I can see now all the benefits and autonomy television can bring having worked on The Honourable Woman. I just loved the scope of the drama and how a television series grants you the freedom to really flesh out a character. Having worked in films for so long and becoming used to the regular two-hour rhythm, I found it difficult initially, to get my head around regularly shooting scenes out of order. But as time passed it felt really wild and unpredictable and that excited me.”

How did you perfect the English accent?
“I’ve worked on two plays and two movies with an English accent so I knew I was competent at doing the accent. It wasn’t like I was learning something from scratch, but this was the first time I’ve ever felt like it was really in my bones.

I love talking with an English accent and I loved playing Nessa with her English accent. I remember when we finished shooting Hugo said to me, ‘Where are you going to hang that accent?’ as I now feel like a fully fledged Anglophile!”

The Honourable Woman is on BBC now

Interview with Broadchurch Producer Richard Stokes

June 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

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Q: Broadchurch is an award-winning TV drama phenomenon and a town millions feel they know. How was that brought to the screen?

Broadchurch creator and lead writer Chris Chibnall lives near the Jurassic coastline in Dorset and he would take walks along the cliffs for inspiration. When I joined the project I stayed with him so we could walk the locations he had in his mind for the script.

I then had the town, the people in it, where it was, all of those images in my mind that Chris had used as inspiration to write the first script. You can’t always put those into a line of dialogue or a line of stage direction. But you want the people making the show to be aware of the same sources of inspiration. So to be able to walk the cliffs and the beach, visit the coffee shops, all those places he had in his mind when he was writing that script, was a huge advantage.

Q: Was it always intended that the series would be a fresh take on the TV detective drama?

What Chris wanted to do was say, ‘This isn’t a traditional detective drama.’ He wanted the audience to fall in love with the area as much as he had, to see how beautiful it was and how bright it can feel. That whole idea that you can have these very powerful, moving, dark stories in bright, beautiful sunshine was something really important to Chris. He wanted that sense of the extraordinary, the tragic and the terrible to happen in a rather beautiful and moving environment.

Q: Was there a lot of public and press attention during filming?

We did get some. But we moved quite a lot. So by the time people realised we were filming and tried to find us, we’d be on the move to somewhere else. David Tennant was rather wonderfully left very much alone. Of course there were people who wanted autographs, asking him to sign things. But generally we were left alone to carry on and film as we needed to.

Q: Does Olivia Colman make a good cup of tea?

Often Olivia Colman would come into the production office. She’d be making herself a cup of tea and say, ‘anyone else want a cup of tea?’ And for the first couple of weeks we’d all leap up and go, ‘No, no, no Olivia. We should make you a cup of tea.’ And then it came to a point about two or three weeks into filming when we went, ‘Yes, a cup of tea would be lovely.’ So she’d just make the production team cups of tea and we’d make her a cup of tea. It really genuinely felt like we were all part of the same gang.

Q: Was Pauline Quirke’s screen dog really her own?

Yes. Susan Wright’s (Pauline Quirke) dog was originally written as a little terrier. Then Pauline said, ‘I do have my own dog.’ Because she was going to be away from home she needed her dog Bailey, a lovely chocolate labrador, to come with her. So Pauline sent us photos of Bailey and in one of them the dog had a comedy party hat on. Chris Chibnall saw the photos, laughed and thought, ‘That’s absolutely perfect.’ So Bailey was cast as Vince the dog.

Q: How did you go about keeping the secret of who killed Danny Latimer?

We got the cast and crew together and showed them a trailer of what we had done so far, which everyone loved. Then we were going to tell them who the killer was and what had happened.

But that morning a few people had come up to Chris and said, ‘I don’t want to know what happens until I’ve got the actual script. I want to find out as I’m reading it.’ So at the very last minute we decided not to tell everybody. They were initially quite surprised and frustrated. But then they thought, ‘Actually, that probably is a good thing.’

Q: Who else knew the secret before the script for the final episode was released?

It was a very small number of people. In the very first script meeting there was me, executive producer Jane Featherstone, Chris and Chris’s script executive Sam Hoyle, who helped Chris as a sounding board and editor in terms of plotting through everything. There were the four of us in the room.

Sam and Chris obviously knew the ending and Jane said, ‘So who did do it?’ And Chris looked at both of us, smiled and told us. And we went, ‘Oh my God, that’s brilliant. Of course, when you think about it, that’s who it must be.’ Then we absolutely kept it to a minimum. None of the actors knew. Even when they were being cast, we didn’t tell them.

Q: What can you tell us about the US re-make called Gracepoint, also starring David Tennant?

I’m not involved but James Strong is directing the opening episodes while also working on preparation for the start of filming on Broadchurch series two. So I get stories from him and also from Chris Chibnall and Jane Featherstone who are executive producers.

Q: Is there anything you can say about Broadchurch series two?

What I would say about series two is, ‘If you really want to enjoy it, don’t ask the question.’ Simply because that thrill of seeing something on telly that is a genuine surprise is so rare these days. So don’t ask what happens in series two. You’ll enjoy it much more as a result. And in the meantine you can watch series one again on ITV Encore – or discover it for the first time.

Meet The Widower – Reece Shearsmith Q&A

March 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

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What attracted you to the part of Malcolm Webster?

I felt it was a huge journey to be able to go on with a person, and a real horror to be able to play the innocence of his reality as he saw it. He’s not doing it with a twirl of a moustache – the entire thing is just a means to an end. Every step of the way he’s justifying his actions.

Is this role a departure for you, particularly as it’s a factual drama and you’re more known for black comedy?
Playing the role of Malcolm Webster was a great opportunity for me to show people another side of my work. It’s a slow process though, people generally have me pegged as the man who does the grotesque characters so it’s nice to do something with a bit more subtlety.

How did you feel about playing a real person and convicted criminal?
As an actor you do feel a sense of responsibility on your shoulders when you play a real person. I recently played Patrick Troughton in Mark Gatiss’ Doctor Who. For that part I had an extra element of responsibility because people can easily say, ‘That’s not right…he wasn’t like that’.

How did you approach your portrayal of Malcolm Webster?
I talked to Paul [the director] constantly about not playing a cod Hannibal Lector-style psychopath or someone you’d find in a deliberate serial killer story. I wanted to get across the ordinariness, the blandness, and the mundanity of the evil.

I only ever drew on the perception of Malcolm Webster given by other people who encountered him. Everyone I discussed this with said there was never even a glimmer of evil and ironically, all the women felt completely safe with him. On the whole, the person they spent a lot of time with wasn’t evil to them in the slightest. They find it really hard to square that with what he did. We also show the evil side of Malcolm Webster, a side that was completely alien to the world and only about greed.

Was it ever suggested that you meet Malcolm Webster? If not, why do you think the production took the decision not to seek his involvement?

There was never any consideration that I should have met Malcolm Webster. I don’t think I would have gained anything from meeting him other than seeing his utter conviction. The depiction of him via the facets we’ve managed to gather from everyone who encountered him when he was free, is what we needed. To ask to go and see him would have been a voyeuristic exercise and that’s to be avoided.

This isn’t a drama about him as an innocent man. Our version of the person I play is, quite rightly, presented through the eyes of the women. That’s the way it should be.

What research did you do for the part?
I spoke to Charlie Henry, who’d had a lot to do with Malcolm Webster as the net closed in on him. I researched a lot about the sociopathic mind-set of someone who is not really engaging with the world but appears to be. There’s a lot of source material on that.

I also met Simone and Peter Morris. Peter came on the day we filmed Claire and Malcolm Webster’s wedding. He watched me do Webster’s speech. He came up to me and said, “You’ve got his arrogance”, which I thought was good! I felt awful meeting him because I was playing the man who murdered his sister, but he was lovely.

Reece-Shearsmith-3087825

In one scene you shave off your hair. Can you tell us about that?
You wouldn’t normally shave hair from that length but they wanted the proper tramline through the hair. I asked, ‘What if the razor jams’ and they said, ‘Just keep going – we’ve got one take for this’. My legs were shaking when I did it and I didn’t sleep that night. My head was on the pillow with a new feeling of no hair. But that’s the commitment to the truth of the story. It felt right and I was very pleased we’d done it.

What is it about The Widower that will appeal to and fascinate an audience?
I think it’s endlessly jaw-dropping. I was really pleased with the level of tension within the scenes. Firstly you’re with Webster, seeing his lies and how they ripple out into the world, but then as the drama unfolds you’re with Charlie Henry as he’s slowly working towards capturing Webster. The element of cat and mouse is gripping.

Do you think it’s important to dramatise real life cases and stories?
I think stories like this should be told as you can’t pretend that terrible things don’t happen. If you do, you’re letting that person get away with it. I remember talking to Andy Serkis about playing Ian Brady. He was frightened of doing it but said, ‘of course I have to do it, as you’ve got to confront things by showing these evil people’.

Recce Shearsmith’s TV and film credits include: Inside No.9; The World’s End; A Field in England; Psychoville; Eric & Ernie; New Tricks; Shaun of the Dead; The League of Gentlemen

The Widower starts on ITV on Mon 17 March at 9pm

The Pramface Baby Daddy – An Interview With Chris Reddy

March 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

Pramface Series 1

It’s difficult to discover much about “Pramface” creator Chris Reddy. He doesn’t have a Twitter account, a personal site or give too many interviews. And somewhat selfishly, his American oceanographer namesake hogs the first twenty pages of Google results.

Is he simply a reluctant self-promoter? Or is he taking a more principled stand against the ubiquity of modern celebrity? “Twitter’s great but I think I’m more suited to long form. I’d only end up redrafting every tweet eight times, then junking it and starting over. It’d be a weird feed to follow.” Besides, he deadpans, “Chris Reddy the oceanographer is doing really important work, so I don’t want to hinder him in any way.”

A 2014 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the USA claimed that the MTV TV show “16 and Pregnant” reduced teenage conceptions by 5.7% in the 18 months following its first broadcast in 2009. And according to the Office for National Statistics, teenage pregnancies in England and Wales are at an all-time low. Theoretically this should be a concern for a series like “Pramface.”

Comedy in its most basic form is a recognition of shared cultural references. It’s not uncommon for a prospective audience to be wary of performers and performances which do not resemble their own experience.

Nonetheless, “Pramface” has prospered. Even with the sort of name that Owen Jones could be reliably expected to write a thinkpiece about. Read more

Party Time with Adam DeVine

January 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

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When you bring a date home, setting the right mood with some smooth grooves is an integral part of sealing the deal. It’s not however, a common pre-interview tactic. Speaking for both of us Adam said, “I don’t know if its the publicists at Comedy Central [or here in LA] but [the on hold music was] very sexy. Some Harry Potter looking for Hermione type shit.” He then asked the publicist if she could get hold of that “sensual blend” for him. Presumably for personal use, but if he wants to get unprofessional I’m no prude.

If you haven’t seen Workaholics, Adam DeVine is probably most familiar for his role in the teen a capella movie ‘Pitch Perfect.’ Those two roles don’t have much in common and he’s still a little surprised by the crossover fans. “It’s kind of weird…suddenly having an eleven year old girl come up to you [does little girl voice] ‘Are you Adaaam?’ And I’m like ‘How do you know me? Your parents should be arrested. You’re not supposed to be watching Workaholics.’”

His Comedy Central show isn’t R rated (a UK 18), but that is a direction he’d like to take the show. “The thing is, we’re naked and smoking weed often. So I don’t know what we have to do.” At which point we concluded that it’s probably going to need a few more naked women. As Adam says, “they let male nudity slide because it’s hilarious. But female nudity – nope. If it gets the loins burning, it’s a hard R.” It’s those damn double standards. Yet again. “I hate it. I hate it, man.”

There was some concern that Workaholics’ less than family-friendly content could hinder him getting other roles. But so far he’s not suffered any negative backlash with recent parts on Community, Arrested Development and Super Fun Night. Not to mention a recurring role on the multi-award winning Modern Family. “I was surprised when [the Modern Family producers] came to me and said ‘We want you to play this really sensitive, nice guy who’s maybe too nice.’” Especially because as he describes it, his role in Pitch Perfect “was this crazy egomaniac douchebag, and then Adam in Workaholics is, well, a crazy egomaniac party animal.”

Even allowing for this recent diversification, he doesn’t think he’ll be getting a cameo on Downton Abbey any time soon. But if he got a chance to be on the ITV show he says he’d be “the lost Crawley brother with the rightful claim to Downton” who went down on the Titanic and “somehow just surfed the iceberg all the way [to Downton].”

It’s a wonderful image, and it works even better in Adam’s British accent. Which he’s the first to admit isn’t the best. “I auditioned for Saturday Night Live five or six years ago and they wanted me to do some impressions. And I was like ‘Ello I’m from Britt-en.’ One of the reasons I can’t do an accent is because I can’t do it without stating the country I’m from.” Which he confesses, sort of defeats the purpose of doing the accent.

Last year he won a Teen Choice award for Best Villain (Pitch Perfect), but he’s pretty pissed that they still haven’t sent him his surfboard. I encouraged him to use his half million (“590.8 – but who’s counting?”) followers to launch a social media campaign on his behalf. He demurs, but he is impressed with social media’s capacity to bring him minor material wealth. “I went and bought this new coffee machine – a Keurig – and it broke right away, so I took photos of it and I was like ‘This is my Keurig graveyard.’ And within ten minutes Keurig contacted me and were like ‘Please don’t do that. And we’ll send you a new Keurig and all the coffee you can handle.’ So that’s why to me having so many fans is cool. Because now when my life sucks I can get on the internet and be a psychopathic douchebag maniac about it and I get free stuff. Which I think is the goal in everyone’s life.”

A couple of days ago Miley Cyrus asked on Twitter when Workaholics was coming back. When I ask how he feels this affects the credibility of the show, he tells me that he’s unsure, but he does believe that like it or not, she’s quite possibly the “voice of a generation.”

Although from a purely personal perspective he’s enjoying the circularity of it all. Back when he and co-writers Blake Anderson and Anders Holm were writing Season 2 of Workaholics and they needed a break, “we would crank [Miley's] ‘Party In The USA’ full blast and just bump and grind to it…and then we were ready to get back to work.”

With the recent production line of made-for-TMZ stars the Disney channel has produced, this got us speculating about who would be the next one to go off the reservation. But in the end he doesn’t think it really matters. “In like 30 years, you guys won’t have a member of Parliament who doesn’t have dick photos out there. And that’ll be a platform that you stand on when you’re running for office. ‘You’ve seen the dick pics, you know what I’m working with. Now let me swing my bat.’ I think that’s where we’re going as a society and personally I’m looking forward to it.”

Workaholics is on Comedy Central Friday’s at 11pm

Workaholics

November 28, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

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It’s Entourage attitude with Kevin and Perry Go Large aftermath. Three guys enjoying an extended adolescence, supporting themselves with the twenty-something equivalent of chores money; just enough to provide them with the lifestyle catalysts to keep their 24/7 interesting.

Workaholics isn’t a show about forgotten youth, what should be or what could’ve been. It’s about three young men from the meaty party of the bell curve trying to survive their day-to-day. There are no real long term ambitions and the closest these characters ever get to a big-picture desire is never more than a two episode arc from fulfillment.

It takes a few episodes before you start to believe that the characters are actually morons embracing moronic behaviour and not just arseholes acting dumb to excuse their actions. Once that becomes clear, the show becomes a lot more enjoyable.

Workaholics might take a little longer than most series to completely gauge your interest; the humour tends to come in bursts and the inside jokes will take more than a couple of episodes to recognise. Part of the problem is that Workaholics doesn’t seem to entirely know what’s going on a lot of the time. It’s not a program that’s ever going to medal, but like Winter Olympians from Saharan nations, it’s enjoyable to watch them try.

Plot over narrative forever.

Comedy Central has already broadcast three series of Workaholics in the US and I would wager that the majority of its potential audience in the UK (students or those still behaving like students) have already seen all of them. Even if you’re not what Malcolm Gladwell called a Maven in the Tipping Point, you’ve probably already seen most of the best moments in YouTube clips. In 2011. This makes it difficult to project an audience in the UK. If you’re not in one of the aforementioned groups, it’s unlikely that you’ll find much worth persevering with.

3/5

Workaholics starts on Comedy Central UK on 29 November

Tom Stade Will Suck A Dick For Testicular Cancer

November 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

TomStade

Born and raised in British Columbia, Tom Stade has got the accent (and frequently, diction) of a man you’d expect to find a few hundred miles further south, amongst the Southern California surf scene.

He’s been on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, Dave’s One Night Stand and Mock The Week. And although he might not have the profile yet, he’s funny enough not to need any more of an introduction. The only thing that could slow him down was the poor reception on his train back home. Treat yourself and get familiar.

So Tom, are you doing anything for Movember?
Yeah, I’m going to suck a dick. With a moustache.
Why not?
In front of my wife. Going to get real gay. I don’t know why they make words like that..
[Audio cuts out] Tom, I think I lost you…
Where did we get to? Are you going gay for November?
Gay for November?!
Isn’t that what it is? I mean what’s the thinking behind Movember?
I think it’s supposed to raise awareness of testicular cancer
Oh is it? How does that help raise awareness for testicular cancer? Because when I hear Movember I’m thinking “What is that?”
Some of the female equivalents are even worse
What?! Man, they can’t grow a moustache…
Hopefully not… I think they’re growing something else
Oh awesome! That’ll be great. Some of us have got a head start. Us seventies kids love a big bush
Who doesn’t like Scary Movie bush?
Right on

Talking of big hair, I saw a video of you back in the 90s and I’ve got to ask: what happened to the mullet?
Well, we were really enjoying a different time. You couldn’t escape it. I think time has just swept me along, man. I think maybe it’ll come back in the next twenty years when we all get bored of having these really cool hairstyles. And maybe I’ll do it when it comes back around, but I was really just part of the time. When it was [all about] grooving and everybody was having a ball and we were line dancing. I liked it, I’m not gonna apologise [for it].
It was a more innocent time
You’re damn straight it was. (Laughs) It was a time of ignorance

One of my colleagues thinks you now look like a hard drinking Paul Rudd – care to comment?
Is he saying I look like a hard drinking Paul Rudd?
Yes she is
Let your friend know I’m probably older than Paul Rudd. And yes, as comparisons go, she’s pretty accurate
Talking of big drinkers, it’s been a pretty massive week for Canadians. Rob Ford admitted to smoking crack in a drunken stupor and then Justin Bieber got caught with some Brazilian hookers – any predictions for who’s next?
My next prediction – let me think about that, Nick…[At this point the audio cuts out for about ten seconds and then I hear]…with bears in Toronto [There's laughter and then the line goes dead]

Crossing the Atlantic, you’ve been living in Edinburgh now for quite a while; was it just so that you could get cheap festival deals or do you actually like the place?
It was definitely a comedy of errors that got us there. But you know what, in the end, we really fell for the place and the festival is the only time I consider it a vacation
That must be nice. Do you have lots of comedians round to party at yours?
Sometimes I’m thinking of renting my house out… obviously you know…

[We're back] You’re not being harassed in the quiet carriage are you?
Nah man. I’ve got my head stuck in the luggage racks. Trying not to have everyone listening to this conversation
I was on the train to Wembley once and they caught some Australians hiding in the luggage racks trying to avoid their fares. It was hilarious – took about twenty minutes to extract them from the bags.
Silly Australians. They’re so stupid.
They’re good for a laugh
Of course they are. That’s why they’re there, man
Who else drinks more and parties harder? Canada has a pretty good reputation but I think Australia might challenge you
Canadians [are better] for sure because we’re the only ones who have to drink in minus forty below weather and I challenge anybody to do that. But you want to know who the best drinkers are? It’s the English and I’ll tell you why: your property prices go up the closer to the neighbourhood pub you are.
I can believe that. Is there anywhere you’ve found in the UK that really took their drinking above and beyond?
Oh yeah – totally. The Midlands, man.
The Midlands?!
Fuck yeah. That’s why I got along so good with those guys. That’s where I showed them my hard drinking Paul Rudd face
If you were single, I think “hard drinking Paul Rudd” would make an excellent online dating profile tag line
I just want everybody to know that I was before Paul Rudd too
Maybe you’ve got a Judd Apatow movie in you somewhere?
Eventually when I slow down.. I’m definitely going to write something
Probably a nice little rom-com
Fucking sci-fi man
Why sci-fi?
Just because that’s where my head is most of the time and…hang on Nick. The train just stopped and there’s a whole bunch of people trying to get off and I don’t want to be weird.

[Tom then starts narrating his journey down the carriage whilst pretending to answer questions from the person he's on the phone to. Lot's of “excellents,” “you betchas”, and “sure, man.” ]

We’re back in business
Back in business?
Yeah, man
So this sci-fi film. What’s going to happen?
It’s definitely going to be me and Thor and Batman. And we’re going to celebrate Movember. Together.
Call Harvey Weinstein now. That’s Cannes ready.
It’s so ready in my head, buddy. Tell Harvey Weinstein to call me.
You did some writing on Tramadol Nights – would Frankie Boyle maybe play a role in this sci-fi epic?
Naaah. I don’t think he’s that into comics
Really?
Nahh. He’s totally into comics. He’s one of the biggest comic book nerds I’ve met in a long time, man.
I didn’t know that
Yeah, Frankie’s the same as me, man. He loves his comic books. You should see his library. When you’ve got Frankie Boyle money you can get a really nice comic book collection.
What’s he like to work with beyond the comic books?
Frankie is one of the coolest people that I’ve met on this planet, he’s a real true friend. I think he understands life enough not to take it too seriously – and that’s what I love about the man.
That’s a nice quality to have in a person
Yes it is. It’s a nice quality to have in any person. Who wants to hang out with someone who takes life seriously all the time?

As you’ve found yourself on TV more, have you had to moderate your material?
Yeah of course you do. But I learn at the comedy club where I don’t have to moderate. So I will moderate to make sure I don’t have to moderate
That’s very meta
Thanks, man. I was sitting there with my fingers together, breathing deeply, ready to give you the answer you need.
In your calm place
You betcha – just waiting to get back to my ocean of unconsciousness
Moving in the opposite direction of calm, you’ve been in Edinburgh for a few years now. Have you been to an Old Firm game?
Are we talking Hearts?
The Celtic v Rangers games – the ones where there’s about one policeman to every three fans
I’ve been to one Hearts game because somebody got me free tickets but my son has got season tickets to Celtic. He’s a big Celtic supporter
He must’ve grown up in Canada, Wolverhampton and now Edinburgh?
Yes
That accent must be amazing
We don’t even know what it is. A lot of people can’t understand him at all
Your accent is pretty individual too. I think I heard you blame it on “twenty years of dope smoking”
That’s exactly right.
Has drug use helped your comedy or is it just the accent?
I don’t like the way you’re calling it drug use, I’d call it drug enjoyment. I’m of the old school, where I’ve never had a problem with drugs but I’ve had a one or two problems with police.
Tell me about it
You’ve smoked drugs in front of the police? You’re not very good at this, Nick…
No comment
I’m of a hippie generation, so I would never consider it drug use. It’s more just recreation.
Now you’ve been doing this a while, do you still get any hecklers?
Nah man, because I don’t pick on people. But I do get a lot of conversationalists. I don’t consider them hecklers any more. It’s just free material. And together we come up with humour of the moment
Just a bit of free association comedy
That’s exactly what it is. Free association comedy. Being in the moment, riffing and believing in yourself. There’s a difference between telling comedy and being a comedian. And I’m a comedian my man.

Yes you are, Tom. Yes you are.

Tom Stade is on tour now. Buy tickets here

For more information on Tom, head to his website or follow him on Twitter.

Follow Nick Arthur on Twitter

Low Winter Sun

November 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Reviews

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Detroit was once an attractive city. It now suffers from self-doubt, wonders where it all went wrong and what it did to deserve its current predicament. Choosing a bald man for the lead role in a series set there was a wise choice. He will intuitively understand all of these things.

Said actor, Mark Strong, as Detective Frank Agnew is one of the few highlights of AMC’s Low Winter Sun. Something which shouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with the title since it’s an American version of his role in Channel 4’s 2006 mini-series of the same name.

Strong plays the same conflicted copper; a good man corrupted by nurture not nature. Led astray by a colleague who convinces him that evil means are sometimes necessary for good to prevail. It’s an all too familiar trope; that once the devil has made a good man sin, he will forever be a sinner. Because he becomes a man who will do whatsoever necessary to relieve his karmic burden. Somehow forgetting in his quest for redemption that expedient methods rarely achieve disinfected outcomes.

Low Winter Sun follows Detective Agnew and his partner Joe Geddes (Lennie James) across ten episodes as they try to escape the consequences of a murder they committed and are now in charge of investigating. It’s occasionally interesting but more frequently not. Although there’s enough potential that I wouldn’t be averse to a second series – if the cast remains intact and somebody goes full Robespierre on the writers.

The script is colour-by-numbers deliberate and the dialogue relies too heavily on over-emphasised would-be aphorisms. Lines that might have worked as development talking points but have instead been used as the corner stones from which to build a script.

Engagement with Low Winter Sun comes exclusively with the cast. Aside from Strong and James, there’s much to be said for their most visible villain. The character and tone of James Ransone’s Damon Callis is not new to him. As Tim in ‘How To Make It In America’ his character was similarly Puckish, upbeat and mischief making – albeit with less violence. As Cpl. Josh Ray Person in HBO’s Generation Kill, and despite sharing a screen with Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood’s Eric Northman) in almost every scene, he was the biggest draw.

It helped that he had lines like, “How come we can’t ever invade a cool country, with chicks in bikinis? I’ll tell you why. It’s lack of pussy that fucks countries up. Lack of pussy is the root fucking cause of all global instability.” But even with Low Winter Sun’s shine-blocking script, he’s an enigmatic presence.

It’s not must-watch TV, but if you must watch it, you’re probably already aware that you’ve got too much free time.

Low Winter Sun Season One is available to buy now from Amazon

TV Transfer Deadline Day

September 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

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Live updates on all the top moves and deals on transfer deadline day, with OTB reporters covering the big stories at home and abroad.

11:18

Spotted – It has emerged that striker Peter Odemwingie was seen in London a day before transfer deadline day yet again. This time in the EastEnders carpark. He’s believed to be currently dating star Shona McGarty, but rumours of a three episode “dogging” arc have stuck to him like paint on a plasterer’s radio in recent weeks.

His agent had this to say:

“He’s where? Oh Christ, Peter. Oh Christ! Peter! PETER! PEEEETER! OH JESUS CHRIST! PEEEEETER! OH JESUS CHRIST!”

12:34

Take Me Out to sign MIC player?

Spencer Matthews, the love-rat-cum-gash-hound, has made it clear that he wants to move into Paddy McGuinness’ role long-term, but E4 will only accept a permanent move if they can get Season 3′s Lucy in a like-for-like, tit for tits swap.

Comment: TMO producers have been unapologetic about the need to get more flirty for weeks, but this has all the hallmarks of a panic buy. It’s going to be a long old series for viewers unless it can add a bit of creativity and shaggability to the hosting lineup.

13:08

Saturday Kitchen producer Will Spector on the future of host James Martin, who has been linked with a move to The Hairy Bikers’ Cookbook:

“It’s getting tiring all this speculation. Whilst everyone knows that he’s got a lustrous head of hair and back like a black labrador, no bids have been made and there is no point anyway because he isn’t for sale. How many more times do we have to say it?”

14:57

Danish television station TV Danmark has confirmed that The Killing’s Sarah Lund is presently holding talks with ITV officials about a potential loan move to Midsomer Murders.

Comment: Signing the Dane would, in my eyes, make perfect sense for DCI Barnaby’s team. The British favourite may be getting consistent results in the ratings, but the show has been suffering from a lack of young playmakers for some time and this could be just what’s needed to settle the menopausal fan base after yet another hot flush.

15:26

Match of the Day in shock Jordan acquisition

The BBC’s flagship highlights programme are thought to be closing in on a two year deal for notorious WAG Katie Price, (who in the Brazilian style she’s known for goes simply by Jordan.)

“We’ve been very clear about our need for a solid pair up front for our coverage. She really knows her footballers and we think she’ll be able to provide some serious off-the-field insight. And for what it’s worth Dwight Yorke assures us she’s a safe pair of hands.”

An unnamed scout commented that he thought the move had a lot of potential but worried that she might fail the medical.

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