Alexei Sayle

Although I’ve pretty much given up on the stand-up industry (why outsource your humour to strangers, when many of your pals are funnier?) I made an exception for the renaissance of Alexei Sayle at The Stand Comedy Club in Edinburgh’s York Place. It was his first tour in 17 years and it was a great night!

In this episode of Front Row he discusses what’s changed during all those years. Despite ‘accusations’ of mellowing, there remains more than a hint of the old 80s bile.

Also, there is a short piece on The Traverse Theatre which celebrates its 50th birthday with fifty 500-word plays this weekend.

Scoring Father Brown

If you’re interested in the process of writing music for television or film then this programme might be for you. Composer Debbie Wiseman details the various steps in writing, conducting and recording the music for the television drama Father Brown. There are contributions from Professor Eric Clarke of Oxford University.

I don’t know the series, and don’t much like the sound of it, nor even some of the music ‘required’ for it, but explanation of what goes on is very clear. I was particularly taken with Debbie Wiseman’s caution to the orchestra that things were going to move quite quickly – implying, I imagine, that even although they might not consider themselves involved in any given ‘musical cue’ their moment would come along soon enough and would not be helped by people moving around.

Musical Christmas Ghost Story

If there is such a thing as a musical Christmas ghost story then this is a contender.

Blake Morrison and Gavin Bryars offer a modern-day reworking of Jules Verne‘s 1893 tale “Mr. Ray Sharp and Me Flat.” If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between, say, D# and Eb now’s your chance to find out.

Moeran’s Last Symphony

While I like the idea of radio drama, I often find the reality a little overwrought. Often the prosody of the self-consciously melodramatic delivery is enough to put me off. However, Moeran’s Last Symphony reeled me in on two counts. Firstly I stumbled upon it in the car. It had already started and, not knowing who the play featured kept me guessing.

I have to be honest and say I knew nothing of Earnest John Moeran – not even that his quintessentially English music masked his 50% Irish generic inheritance.

When I got home, I sought out his Symphony No 1 on Spotify and took to it immediately. Great brass writing towards the end of the first movement – even if the rhythm put me in mind of The Flintstones. Anyway, joking aside, the play tells the tragic story of war injuries, depression, alcoholism, delusion and self-doubt.

Moeran’s friend Philip Heseltine aka Peter Warlock, makes an appearance.