Wednesday, 24 February 2016

BBC, YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR THIS TIME

I have known Tony Blackburn forever. I count him as a friend, and I am appalled by the BBC's sacking of him. If Lord Tony Hall and the Corporation think that they can destroy his fine fifty-year career for the most threadbare of reasons - that he couldn't remember attending a meeting - they have lost the plot.
What on earth are they doing? Shooting themselves in the foot. Pick of the Pops has a greater audience than anything else on the BBC. The Daily Mail's story about this yet-another-historic-'sex abuse'-scandal  reads, to me, as though the teenager who took her own life had self-esteem and mental health issues, and had created a fantasy life which, at such a vulnerable age, she came to regret - then punished herself in the most tragic way. Awful for her and her family - how do those left behind ever recover from that? - but devastating for Tony that all this should now resurface, tainting his name and robbing him of his job. He is a decent guy, a devoted husband to Debbie, and the proudest of fathers to talented Victoria.
Time to do a Gambo and start writing a diary, TB. Do it today. Paul said it was the one thing that gave him a focus, kept him sane, and sustained him through months of fear, when at one point he believed that he would end his days in a prison cell. Finally, when charges were dropped and he emerged, relieved, he was able to translate the experience into a book. His memoir 'Love, Paul Gambaccini' was published last year. It set the record straight. He had the last laugh.


Thursday, 11 February 2016

GARY KEMP'S HOMECOMING

I made it under the wire to this play at Trafalgar Studios last night. It concludes this weekend. Gary Kemp was the point. It seems an age since we worked with Spandau Ballet at Chrysalis.
Everything comes to us in the right moment. Bowie said that 'ageing is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person that you always should have been.' While no one would wish to wipe the Spandau years from memory, nor Gary's songs, he's through the barricade now. What a present and committed actor he is. He must be mindful of his years at Anna Scher's children's theatre in Islington, where his talent was kindled, moons ago.
It co-stars Keith Allen and Ron Cook, and is a difficult piece. Oft lauded as Pinter's finest, it bears a re-run in this its fiftieth year. It's none the lamer nor the tamer for it. Set in a working class north London home, a setting familiar to Gary, its focus is a cracked marriage re-examined against the backdrop of a vicious family who refuse to escape their past. The text is cryptic and cruel. Themes of sex and power deafen. Let it go, this clan of misfits will not do.
The spaces between the strokes. The dark beyond the light. Pinter magnifies every splinter to the point of pain. Raw irony that son Teddy, Gary's clipped and stunted character (even his accent, mannerisms and body language are an escape from himself) is an academic, a Doctor of Philosophy at a college in America, who has no understanding of family values or the meaning of love. The symbolism of an invisible mirror on the wall into which the actors peer, looking out into the audience, reminds us that we are Alice: through the play and out the other side, always looking at ourselves. Perhaps never seeing.
The oppressed woman, Teddy's wife Ruth, has been forced to live a fake life all these years. She finds herself. This is the homecoming. The play is her triumph.