Let’s talk about Bill

Last post I mentioned Bill Bailey and the place he holds in my Happy box, which got me remembering all the other great stuff I’ve seen him do. Really, he’s popped up more times than I would have guessed off the cuff. So here’s a potted history of me and Mr Bailey……..

Apparently he first came up to the Fringe in 1994 as part of a two man show, going solo the following year, then, third time lucky he was nominated for a Perrier 1996 (not so lucky that he won but hey). This was around the time I began to really embrace the Fringe, I didn’t see him perform but I was aware of him. Oh yeah, by 1999 Bud and I were fans, we were yelping with delight when he turned up in the tv comedy sitcom Spaced as the owner of a comic book store!

2000 saw Bill on the telly again as Manny Bianco in the totally and utterly brilliant Black Books. Not for everyone, mind, but my fancy was well tickled by it. Bill, Tamsin Greig and Dylan Moran were great together, usually stuck bickering in Bernard Black’s (Moran) bookshop (in three series very little took place outside of the shop and it’s living space behind). Mind you, I don’t think Dylan Moran was stretching himself much – from what I’ve heard from friends (have I ever mentioned our Fringe game, Meringue, and its origin?).

In 2002 Bill became one of the team captains of my favourite tv panel show at the time Never Mind the Buzzcocks battling against Phil Jupitus’ team, presided over by quiz master Mark Lamarr. Oh, that was great entertainment, if at times a tad cruel to some of the guest panellists. Lamarr actually became less caustic with his humour as time went on, his teddy boy solid as a board quiff soften too. Then Lamarr left and after a series with guest presenters youngster Simon Amstell took over the chair; it was like the humour of early NMTB again but meaner, Amstell obviously wanted to make his mark but his needling and determination to get a rise out of his victims just got annoying at times. In 2008 after a second series with the new chair and with eleven series under his belt, Bill took his leave of the show; I’ve read that Bill revised his attitudes to comedy around this time, “cruel” comedy was shown the door.

Meanwhile, when not filming series of NMTB, Bill was back at the Fringe. In 2003 he brought us not only his new show Part Troll but he also acted in Guy Masterson’s all-star cast production of 12 Angry Men. Bud and I saw and thoroughly enjoyed both (mind, that “all-star” thing seemed to mean stand-up comedians). To our delight two years later he trod the boards again in The Odd Couple with Alan Davies as the other half (another Guy Masterson production). That was, of course, the first time we saw Bill’s band, not listed in the Fringe programme just on the Gilded Balloon’s own.

Those are my stand out BB moments, since then he’s acted on the big and small screen (oo yeah, the Dr Who Christmas Special in 2011); there’s the guesting on panel shows and he’s presented various programmes on topics from baboons to orchestras; tours around the world, books, radio shows, and a load other stuff!! A man of many talents, indeed. Just last month he published a new book Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to Happiness, that’s so on my Christmas list! Oh, and last month he also joined this year’s Strictly Come Dancing!! Oh yay, another excuse to talk about Strictly. I suspect my UK readers knew that was coming šŸ˜Š.

Toodle oo, chaps.

We need to talk about Seann

Yes I’m going to go on about Strictly again! This Couple’s Choice thingy is interesting, not something Strictly needs, just another show dance, ok so that zoot-suited dance was more thanĀ justĀ a show dance, like awesome, man. Danny J-J didn’t disappoint with his jive as his score of 37 testified and how great was Alfonso Ribeiro!? He impressed me that he’d done some homework on everyone’s previous dances so to see how each had progressed, see, a lot smarter than he looks, and his Bruno impression was fun. Alfie should come over more!

Hallowe’en is a great week on Strictly, hair, make-up and wardrobeĀ reallyĀ go to town. Kate and Aljaz looked stunning as ice statues, shame their dancing did match the same standard but it was the rumba; Lauren looked fab as an evil queen and really channelled her inner Disney villianess for her paso doble; and Stacey made a cool Dr Who, her outfit was fab-u-lous, those cullottes – so stylish, Jodie Whitaker’s probably on to wardrobe now dropping hints! Kevin’s choreography made for a daring tango that they pulled off with aplomb.

Some of the tunes and singing left something to be desired, but I seriously loved their 90 second take on Screamin Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You, sleazy, sparse and soulful. I’m assuming giving that piece to Seann and Katya was no amusing accident, come on, we weren’t all born yesterday! But if you’re gonna go, that’s the music to go with, and then for an encore their final dance picked up from the middle of Bat Out Of Hell, “If I’m gonna be damned you know I wanna be damned, dancing thru the night with you…” I’d say that was a clear two fingers up to the “outraged and disgusted” mob. Good for you, mate!

So yes, we need to talk about Seann (or at least I intend to). The last few weeks I’ve delved into the Facebook Strictly page and my, the self-righteous, vitriolic, plain downright nastiness of some posters took my breath away! Seann Walsh could have had no idea of the world he was stepping into and how OTT the media and zealous fans can be. So he’s doing pretty well as a comedian, he will have had some dealings with press and publicity but never anything on this scale, and acting like a baying pack of hounds out for blood – his!

He isn’t the first to have a drunken snog with someone he shouldn’t and he sure won’t be the last. As for all the comments of how cocky and smug he is, really? I didn’t see any of that enough to slam him for it, we can all come across as smug or cocky in a moment or two, but really, he’s just a fallible bloke. Let’s not judge him for unwisely (and under the influence of alcohol) giving into the temptation of kissing a beautiful, passionate woman with whom he’d been up close and physical, after all, he’s a comedian not an actor who’s day job is to turn passion and emotions on and off as necessary – let’s face the professionals who should be able to deal with it better often don’t, let’s see, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise….

But Bruce, he left his poor long-suffering girlfriend on her own on her birthday, what a selfish prick! Err, she mentioned that in the same statement she claimed she didn’t want to come across as a victim, but hey, she knew the mob won’t notice the contradiction there! They’d been together five years, she must have known what he was like, warts and all, but she chose to put with his foibles as he put up with hers (everybody has foibles!) This strong independent young woman was sitting at home alone on her birthday – notice that she never mentioned whether they had arranged anything or that he was expected to be there. Woman, we’re not mind-readers, your birthday, why hadn’t you called the shots? Why weren’t you out or in with friends? The fact that she never mentioned that he missed anything that had been planned speaks volumes, she should have made it clearer she wanted him home straight after practice. Again, five years, long enough to know him.

At the end of the day, Seann was never going to get to the final anyway, better dancers than him will fall by the wayside. He gave it a shot, he learned many lessons along the way, he made a stupid mistake, but he’ll always have that Matrix Paso Doble!

 

Bruce šŸ’˜ Lily

Yes, Lily James has stolen my heart! Ok, so I’ve had a yen for her since Downton Abbey and then War & Peace. I’d heard Chris Evans on Radio 2 wax lyrical about her performance in Mama Mia! Here We Go Again! but yeah, crikey, and some. Her joie de vivre, the bonniest of smiles, and I think she may have had tips from her timelord boyfriend on how to fit an amazing wardrobe into one small suitcase! He’s one lucky guy that Matt Smith, but as he is the second best Doctor in the new run (yes, David Tennant beats him by a gnat’s crotchet) I reckon he’s worthy. I thoroughly enjoyed them both in the film of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. And her with wotsisname from GoT in Branagh’s Romeo & Juliet in 2016!! Talk about the passion, baby! Oo, and there was Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, I really should watch that again sometime soon.

So yes, I did go to see Mama Mia! Here We Go Again! I may well go see it again depending on how long it stays around, but I reckon that could be some while yet. The casting of all the younger parts was good, but especially the girls, they really captured the essences of their older selves. Omid Djalili, an old Fringe favourite, was in his typical bit part (he’s the ticket guy at the pier). Dominic Cooper again was sadly underused but, well, it wasn’t his film to shine, and he’s just there as part of the eye-candy.

The only part that didn’t work for me was Cher as Donna’s mother. She really wasn’t much good – apart from the singing, ok that was a bit awesome. It was like some executive wanted to throw in a big wow factor and decided Cher was it. The film didn’t need her, you could edit out all references to her character and the film would still work perfectly fine. Sorry but I just felt she was incongruous to the rest of the film.

The final big musical number with all the main cast in Abba gear was wonderful, and didn’t they all sing amazingly – apart from Pierce Brosnan, again!

After that, home to beans on toast and Gotham. Man, that is so fine! After Gotham on E4 is Supernatural, a show that’s been going a long time now. Never saw earlier series but since it’s followed Gotham I’ve vaguely watched it, well the tv’s still on, but OMG tonight’s episode!!! Farscape went Looney tunes, Angel went muppet, tonight Supernatural joined the Scooby gang! Yay!!

All in all, this has been a rather good evening, even if it is finishing rather later than I intended.

Nitey nite, everybody, nitey niteĀ  x

 

Who?

Yes, I am referring to the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker (just had to check that – one t or two, it’s one of those awkward names like Paterson), a Yorkshire lass and a fine actress. I do wonder if she can conjure up that otherworldly quirk of the Doctor, but so far since the Doc’s revival the choices have all been great, unlike some of the later reincarnations in the first run! And changing the Master into Missy was worked so well, Michelle Gomez was magnificent, so it’s not like the Doctor is the first timelord to change sex.

So, I got to wondering last night whether, in years gone by, did a young aspiring Jodie ever appear in a Fringe production? No, I don’t know, but I like the thought that maybe I saw the future Dr Who in a Fringe production. Maybe there’s a future Doctor performing this year, who knows?! Ok, so if you’re not a Who fan you may not be so tickled by this idea, but imagine if watching a Bond movie it dawned on you that you once saw Daniel Craig in a tiny fringe venue in a production of Bouncers? All famous actors began somewhere so why not at the Fringe?

The Fringe also has plenty of old luvvies at the other end of their careers. Well, when I say end I don’t mean, erm, oops, just not spring chickens anymore?! Rodney Bewes is back yet again, can’t keep him away! Twenty years ago he turned up with a little boat he’d built himself to do Three Men in a Boat (afterwards he was signing copies of the paperback, I still have mine!) and I don’t think he’s missed a year since. Some years later he left the boat at home and put on Diary of a Nobody, the last few years he’s been regaling his audiences with his own life story, forever a Likely Lad, a lovely gent.

And back into the Who-verse, Sylvester McCoy is popping up this year to do a new comedy play – you can’t keep an old dogter down (sorry), or their companions, 2014 saw Katie Manning at the Fringe. She and Susan Penhaligon played two aging actresses in a retirement home, a charming bittersweet play. Katie Manning played Jo Grant the first companion I really remember and I suspect I wasn’t the only one there because of old memories!

Oo, and if all the brouha over the latest Doctor has amused you, check out Jodie Whittaker is Doctor Who by the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre on YouTube, it may just tickle you.