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Friday, August 08, 2014

Comic Cuts - 8 August 2014

The nearest thing to excitement this week took place on Tuesday. I was down the pub for lunch with my mum and went to clean my glasses on the tail of my shirt. Disaster! One of the little plastic nose rests pinged off and disappeared. Despite the aid of half of the pub's elderly lunchtime clientele, the damn thing was not to be found. [*]

First world problems, eh?

For the past couple of years, August has been a busy time for podcasts. There were a couple of daily podcasts—Richard Herring's Edinburgh Fringe Podcast, Peacock & Gamble Podcast—plus bi-weekly podcasts like Amnesty's Secret Comedy Podcast and The Dave Bi-Weekly. Over the years others have come and gone. The first Edinburgh podcast I remember listening to was Live at the Edinburgh Fringe, hosted by Miles Jupp for The Guardian back in 2009.

Richard Herring's decision to end his podcast and write a play (I Killed Rasputin) to compliment his daily stand-up appearance (Lord of the Dance Settee) instead was a blow; add to that Ray Peacock and Ed Gamble's decision to do their own shows this year rather than a team-up meant that things were looking bad for this year.

However, a little bit of digging has quickly turned up a fantastic daily show, MacAulay and Co, on BBC Radio 4extra in the evening and also available on the BBC's iPlayer for a week after the original broadcast. The show, co-starring Susan Calman, started last Tuesday and runs on weekdays at 9 o'clock in the evening. Fred MacAulay's show is regularly broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland, who have the show available as a podcast under the title Scotland's Funny Bits.

The Edinburgh Fringe Show podcast (at iTunes as TPC: Edinburgh Fringe Show) is an hour-long look at a broader range of Fringe shows; ThreeWeeks Edinburgh Festival Fringe Podcast, a podcast of varying length produced by ThreeWeeks, is more comedy oriented, as is Hatty's Half Hour, an approximately half hour (yes, really) podcast produced by Laugh Out London Comedy Club.

The other disappointment is that Answer Me This has become a fortnightly podcast due to pressure of other work. Helen Zaltzman is still doing Sound Women and Olly Mann is also doing the relatively new Media Podcast since June. Given their other commitments, we should be grateful that Answer Me This is still being produced—it's now approaching 300 episodes.

However, fact fans are now being served by the QI Elves who, in their spare time researching the TV show and writing books, have been podcasting a show entitled No Such Thing As A Fish. Launched in March, it features Dan Schreiber, Andrew Hunter Murray, James Harkin and Anna Ptaszynski (plus occasional guests) who discuss the favourite facts they have uncovered that week. If you're a fan of the TV show you'll know that the world is a more bizarre place than you could ever imagine, that history teaches us nothing because everything we know about history is wrong and that people are weird... I mean, really weird. It's utterly fascinating and entertaining and it will probably become your new source of facts to impress your friends down the pub.

All these podcasts are available for free via iTunes.

I was sorry to hear that Bryn Havord, who was a former assistant art director of Woman magazine in the 1950s and 1960s, passed away on 28 July. Between 1963 and 1965 he was associate editor and art director of Woman's Mirror, commissioning work from the likes of Walter Wyles, Eric Earnshaw, Michael Johnson and Gerry Francett. Bryn was also an equestrian painter and author. He won two national graphic design awards for his work in consumer magazines and national daily newspapers. He also designed photographic books, including Anthony Hopkins' Snowdonia (1993) and Scottish Castles (1997).

Bryn was born on 28 December 1937 and claimed that he had an inferior secondary modern education. He went to sea after leaving school at 14. For the last couple of years, Bryn was associate editor of Illustrators magazine, writing passionately about the artists he had worked with. He lived in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, and is survived by his wife, Elaine. They had three children: Nicola (deceased), Morgan and Bleddyn and six grandchildren.

Another death announced this week was that of 100-year-old Chapman Pincher, the spy-busting journalist who joined the Daily Express in 1946, eventually retiring in 1979. He wrote a couple of dozen books on subjects ranging from atomic power to the history of MI5, as well as thrillers.  He published an autobiography, Dangerous to Know, at the age of 99.

Obituaries: Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian.

I'm dedicating this week's random scans to a quartet of books by Pincher.

Hopefully I'll have a Neil Gaiman gallery up on Sunday—his prose work. I'll have to do his graphic novels some other time. There just aren't enough hours in the day. Tomorrow, I think it will be a piece on J. T. Edson and on Monday the first part of a two-part look at penny dreadful publisher Edward Harrison. That's as far as my crystal ball will let me see...

[*] It cost £2 at the opticians to have the piece replaced.

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