Saturday, 29 March 2014

When I Say Run,Run.

(Troughton From my sketchbook.) You know it still astounds me when I think about it; just where did it come from; that strange mojo that drove Patrick Troughton's performance in his time as The Doctor. So unlike what had come before, the stately high church of William Hartnell. Yet this is the same man with the same moral compass and the same unquenchable thirst for adventure. The notion and possibility of ongoing regeneration and renewal was a welcome surprise addition to the sparse information regarding the Doctor's background. Remember, this was an era when The Who in Doctor Who had meaning. A mystery wrapped in an enigma draped in a frock coat( and not always a neatly pressed one at that.) With his mop top hair, his safety pinned bow tie, his very British wonky teeth( I love the idea that the most advanced species in the whole universe of space and time sacrificed zero time obsessing about eugenically engineered rows of symmetrical teeth or expensive dental plans) and his brain the size of Alexandrian Library he was most certainly the same beloved renegade alien. An endearing visitor hiding in a junkyard in a fog shrouded ghost of a city at the interesting(well, to me anyway) end of the sixtes.
               Nearly every actor who has portrayed The Doctor says his personality is not to be found in the script. It is all in the performance. Even so, that first couple of men who brought him to life had nothing behind them to act as template. So they must have reached inside themselves to pluck out a character who would in time become Who. This is ever more evident to me now that I have watched and re-watched the two most recent found stories from the Troughton era( I hesitate to describe these stories as lost. They were not lost. They were deliberately wiped.) These two classic tales  demonstrate an actor at the very top of his game, an artisan weaving his magic gift. There are so many moments to enjoy these two stories I had previously only absorbed on audio recordings conjuring up very different visuals in my broken brain. That said, they both display the very elements that have sustained this iconic figure across the decades for us; The Doctor's Unseen Companions who follow him always.
                And as such we know our stories will one day end.
                The Doctor's never will.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Saint Patrick's Day 2014.

(From my sketchbook and photo album) Just a couple of things that made this years saint Patrick's Day the best in years.Saw the Doctor Who float in the Belfast Parade and long for the day a giant inflatable Underdog goes bouncing along Royal Avenue. I volunteer to pump it up!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The Third And A bit Doctor.

The events as detailed in the wonderful Day Of The Doctor got me thinking WHAT IF THE JOHN HURT INCARNATION OF THE DOCTOR WAS NOT THE ONLY REGENERATION WE WERE UNAWARE OFF? Just like that. In bigger letters than I normally think. What if there was another wonderful face that remained unseen by us as we followed The Doctor through his lives. That if The Doctor would hide an incarnation out of a sense of terrible shame would he not also be capable of hiding one out of a sense of slight embarrassment? So I dug deep and and discovered that this was in fact the almost truth and that there had been a regeneration between the third and forth that was not the one we thought we knew but one that Jon Pertwee and Tom baker re-enacted in order to bury a delightful truth; That Worzel Gummidge was in fact the forth incarnation of The Last Of the Timelords known as The Doctor. Whilst diving near the wreck of a downed submarine at the base of an abandoned oil rig in the north sea( investigating rumors of aquatic silurian activity. Well, is that any less likely than finding The Web Of Fear on a window sill in Nigeria?) I discovered a short reel of a deleted scene suggesting the Worzel thing may not be the figment of a figmenty mind. Here are a few stills from that reel, for your eyes only, do not tell anyone, the BBC will want it back.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Our Frank.

Just read this small but perfectly formed book by the journalist and broadcaster Jon Ronson, a short biography, more of an extended article really, on and about the life of comedian/musician Frank Sidebottom and off course the man who lived inside that large fake head. The details of that life and the identity of the person who breathed beneath the mask are contained within the book and deserve to be read and discovered at the pace the author intended. It is a wistful and gently observed witness to a quite complex life situation. One that Jon Ronson explores with his usual humanity. As always he details the ordinariness that dogs even the most extreme lifestyle choices, his book THEM-ADVENTURES WITH EXTREMISTS was one I returned to again and again. Jon Ronson is a writer who plods along roads much traveled but which are quite despised by all other than those who choose to walk the extreme pathways of our times. He is a writer who quite often illuminates the shady and the grey.
                 Lovely writing from a lovingly crafted piece of work, honest, even optimistic. If not quite a celebration of a life well lived it is a story gladly told.
                 (artwork from my sketchbook.)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A Brush With The Best Possible Taste.

Just this morning I had me such a good idea for a television show I thought I could pin a bushy tail on it and call it a fox. Basil the Fox to be exact. I have drafted a proposal to send to the BBC, a proposal for a new show about a renegade Time-lord (another renegade Time-lord) with impeccable dress sense, one travels through space and time in a dog kennel( which is slightly smaller on the inside than the outside) with his companion robot shaped like a dog, K9. It would be a spin off from the long running children's show which adults adore Doctor Who and Basil Brush's own show The Basil Brush show. The series would be called DEEP SPACE CANINES with the tagline I AM NOT A DOG AND NEITHER IS HE. This renegade Time-lord would have bright ginger hair and he would off course be played by Basil Brush himself. I can just see him scooting all over the place like a big idjit on K9's back reversing the polarity of the neutron bone.
               Basil Brush would be good to go as is, no costume fitting or read through necessary. Basil is already one well dressed fox. He is like some old school English gentleman caught up in some Jules Verne fantasy escapade. Basil did not use his razor sharp intelligence to combat  his detractors, he defeated his enemies by being better dressed than them. GREATER LOVE HAS NO MAN NOR FOX THAN TO LAY HIS BOOM BOOM DOWN FOR A FRIEND BOOM,BOOM! Basil once said. He once told esteemed chat show host Michael Parkinson about the details of his childhood. I WAS BORN AT AN EARLY AGE he began. I AM AFRAID MY PARENTS COULD NOT WAIT TO GET RID OF ME.IN FACT MY MOTHER USED TO WRAP MY SANDWICHES IN ROAD MAPS.BOOM,BOOM!One of his friends back the was a household name. HIS NAME IS FRED KITCHEN.BOOM,BOOM! Okay the whole boom boom thing could grate after a while and the level of sophistication  is not quite Oscar Wilde but Basil has something which Oscar did not have; a truly magnificent tail. Oh what a marvelous appendage that tail is. The always dependable foil to Basil's anarchic ramblings. Wish I had one like it.
                 At the very height of his Basil's fame all the shining lights of his day were falling over themselves to share a few moments screen time with the original fantastic fox. Stars such as Cilla Black,John Inman, Henry Cooper and Alvin Stardust to name but a few. They shared the screen time but could not steal it.
                 After Basil finished with his very popular light entertainment show I had sort off expected him to pursue a career in acting. For him to perhaps take to the boards, some Shakespeare, some Chekov, some Ronnie Barker or Samuel Beckett. Perhaps the BBC will consider my proposal and Basil will be given the opportunty to stretch his acting muscles, to rise to the challenge with the grace of an Olympian or just a fox who can run really really fast.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Horse Feathers.

(Photograph of Harpo property of Paramount pictures/two old second Hand books property of me.)Look at these two books I was able to find in a second hand bookstore, heavily cellotaped(who does that to books?) but lovely all the same. Pulling back the curtain to get an insight into the minds and times of yer idols can be a bit risky. You might learn things you will never unlearn but a closed mind is like an unhinged door leaning against a wall,not much use. Gonna jump in and learn what I can.
                             EVERYBODY SAYS I LOVE YOU,JUST WHAT THEY SAY IT
                                                    FOR I NEVER KNEW,
                                                    WHO SAYS I LOVE YOU.
So sang Groucho, strumming a guitar, gliding along in a canoe with a beautiful woman, on a glorious summer day way back in 1932. Groucho never looked more louche and as he finishes the song he throws the guitar in the river. Shortly thereafter the young woman joins it, splashing around and futilely calling out to the same person who just tossed her in to rescue her. It was Thelma Todd and she did deserve a soaking. Do'nt we all. All the brothers get to interpret this song in their own fashion, a comic refrain throughout the movie. Zeppo sang it as a standard crooner, displaying a fine set of pipes, er, that is to say a fine singing voice. Chico does it as a cheeky nonsense ryhme. Harpo whistles it to a horse. This has to be the only movie I have ever watched which revolves around a football game which I have really enjoyed. Football being an activity that strikes me as one of the singularly most dull events it is possible for even a partially evolved being to indulge in. Yet I thought it was great craic. Two schools, Darwin and Huxley(what great names for institutes of learning.) are competing at football, with ruthless crooks on the sideline, and in the game, determined to fix the outcome. Throw the Marx Brothers into this mix and you have Anarchy on the Pitch.
               It is in this movie that dear old Harpo plays a dog catcher, an image that has off late inflammed my imagination. You may, if you are reading this, have seen my doodles of him in the dog catcher outfit elsewhere on this blog. I do doodle from time to time. I do dirty doodles from time to time also. Harpo also plays an Iceman in this movie. That is a man who delivers ice for a living and not an underworld assassin who ices people for money.
                Zeppo plays Groucho's son in this movie and it works despite the face they are really brothers round about the same age. I cannot understand why no one at the movie studios or even in the Marx Brothers extended show biz fraternity saw Zeppo's potential as a leading man. He was a great comic with a fine singing voice and was also a very handsome man. I think he had a very striking profile. I would have cast him in William Shakespeare's Julius Cesar with a profile like that. I could imagine an archeologist digging up a gold coin from that era and finding that noble visage on one side. With Harpo gurning on the other.
                 The climatic end game aside I was very pleased with the ensemble piece that takes place in The College Widow's apartment as nearly all the principal leads get a chance to allow anarchy and merry chaos to ensue. Thelma Todd quite easily holds her own amidst all this madness despite being the target for most of it. The whole sequence feels like a live performance, a live stage farce and suggests just how great their vaudeville act must have been.
                  I stuck Horse Feathers on after midnight and chuckled into the early hours. Groucho sings a great song to the assembled faculty and student body WHATEVER IT IS I'M AGAINST IT! A song which John Lydon should record with his band Public Image. Well, if Lydon would ever indulge in a cover version why not a Marx Brothers song.
                   Vive L'Anachie!