Posted in Events, Food

National Events and holidays for 24 January

  • Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day
  • Beer Can Appreciation Day
  • Belly Laugh Day
  • National Compliment Day
  • National Eskimo Pie Patent Day
  • National Peanut Butter Day

National Lobster Thermidor Day

Lobster Thermidor is a French dish consisting of a creamy mixture of cooked lobster meat, egg yolks, and brandy (often cognac), stuffed into a lobster shell National Lobster Thermidor Day takes place annually on 24 January to celebrate The creation of Lobster Thermidor around 24 January 1880 by Auguste Escoffier then working in Maison Maire, a Parisian restaurant near the Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin.

In March 1896, a successful reprise of the play Thermidor by Victorien Sardou opened in that theatre. The play took its name from a summer month in the French Republican Calendar, during which the Thermidorian Reaction occurred, overthrowing Robespierre and ending the Reign of Terror.Maison Maire’s owner, Paillard, changed the name of this recipe after the play gained in popularity.

Lobster Thermidor can also be served with an oven-browned cheese crust, typically Gruyère. The sauce must contain mustard (typically powdered mustard). Due to expensive ingredients and extensive preparation involved, Lobster Thermidor is usually considered a recipe primarily for special occasions.

National Eskimo Pie Patent day

National Eskimo Pie Patent day also takes place annually on 24 January. Eskimo Pie is a brand name for a chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream bar wrapped in foil, the first such dessert sold in the United States. It was created by Danish immigrant Christian Kent Nelson a schoolteacher and candy store owner, Who received the inspiration for the Eskimo Pie in 1920 in Onawa, Iowa, when a boy in his store was unable to decide whether to spend his money on ice cream or a chocolate bar. After experimenting with different ways to adhere melted chocolate to bricks of ice cream,

Nelson began selling his invention, under the name “I-Scream Bars”. In 1921, he filed for a patent, and secured an agreement with local chocolate producer Russell C. Stover to mass-produce them under the new trademarked name “Eskimo Pie” (a name suggested by Mrs. Stover), and to create the Eskimo Pie Corporation. After patent 1,404,539 was issued on January 24, 1922, Nelson franchised the product, allowing ice cream manufacturers to produce them under that name. The patent, which applied to any type of frozen confection encased in candy, was invalidated in 1928.

Stover sold his share of the business. He then formed the well-known chocolate manufacturer Russell Stover Candies. Nelson became independently wealthy off the royalties from the sale of Eskimo Pies. By 1922 he was selling one million pies a day.

The Eskimo Pie corporation was acqured by CoolBrands International in 2000. CoolBrands were Originally a yogurt maker, and at point owned or held exclusive long-term licenses for brands including Eskimo Pie, Chipwich, Weight Watchers, Godiva, Tropicana, Betty Crocker, Trix, Yoo hoo and Welch’s. The company encountered financial difficulties after losing the Weight Watchers/Smart Ones licence in 2004 and sold its restaurant franchise division at the end of 2005. By 2007, CoolBrands was selling off core assets. In February 2007, CoolBrands sold Eskimo Pie and Chipwich to the Dreyer’s division of Nestlé. Its DSD (Direct Store Delivery) operation, a Whole Fruit business and the Breyers yogurt brand were sold to other companies, leaving little more than a publicly listed shell which was merged with Swisher Hygiene Inc. in a 2010 reverse takeover. It is now marketed by Nestlé, owners of Dreyer’s of the Western United States, and Edy’s of the Eastern United States. The product was introduced to New Zealand in the 1940s,and is produced by Tip Top who are now a subsidiary of Fonterra, the country’s largest multinational company.

Posted in films & DVD, music

Neil Diamond

American singer-songwriter Neil Diamond was born 24 January, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, to a Jewish family descended from Russian and Polish immigrants. He grew up in Brooklyn, having also spent four years in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where his father was stationed in the army. In Brooklyn he attended Erasmus Hall High School and was a member of the Freshman Chorus and Choral Club along with classmate Barbra Streisand. They were not close friends at the time, Diamond recalls: “We were two poor kids in Brooklyn. We hung out in the front of Erasmus High and smoked cigarettes.” After his family moved he then attended Abraham Lincoln High School, and was a member of the fencing team. For his 16th birthday, he received his first guitar.

When he was 16, and still in high school, Diamond spent a number of weeks at Surprise Lake Camp, 21 a camp for Jewish children in upstate New York, when folk singer Pete Seeger performed a small concert. Seeing the widely recognized singer perform, and watching other children singing songs for Seeger that they wrote themselves, inspired Diamond, who then became aware of the possibility of writing his own songs. “And the next thing, I got a guitar when we got back to Brooklyn, started to take lessons and almost immediately began to write songs,” he said. He adds that his attraction to songwriting was the “first real interest” he had growing up. Diamond also used his newly-developing skill at writing lyrics to write poetry. By writing poems for girls he was attracted to in school, he soon learned it often won their hearts. His male classmates took note and began asking him to write poems for them which they would sing and use with equal success. He spent the summer following his graduation as a waiter in the Catskills resort area. There he first met Jaye Posner, whom he later married.

Diamond attended New York University as a pre-med major on a fencing scholarship. His skill at fencing made him a member of the 1960 NCAA men’s championship team. However, he was often bored in classes, and found writing song lyrics more to his liking. He began cutting classes and taking the train up to Tin Pan Alley, where he tried to get some of his songs heard by local music publishers.By his senior year, and just 10 units short of graduation, Sunbeam Music Publishing offered him a 16-week job writing songs for $50 a week which he accepted. Following his 16 weeks at Sunbeam Music he then began writing and singing his own songs for demo purposes.

Diamond’s first recording contract was billed as “Neil and Jack”, an Everly Brothers-type duo comprising Diamond and high school friend Jack Parker. They recorded two singles in 1962: “You Are My Love at Last” b/w “What Will I Do” and “I’m Afraid” b/w “Till You’ve Tried Love”. In 1963 Diamond released the single “At Night” b/w “Clown Town”. Sadly Columbia dropped him from their label and he was back to writing songs, in and out of publishing houses for the next seven years.He did songwriting wherever he could, including on buses, and used an upright piano above the Birdland Club in New York City. Among the songs he wrote were “Cherry, Cherry” and “Solitary Man”. “Solitary Man”. This was the first record that Diamond recorded in his own name that made the charts. It remains one of his personal all-time favorites, as it was autobiographical about his early years as a songwriter,

Diamond spent his early career as a songwriter in the Brill Building. His first success as a songwriter came in 1965, with “Sunday and Me”, a Top 20 hit for Jay and the Americans. Greater success as a writer followed with “I’m a Believer”, “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You”, “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)”, and “Love to Love”, all performed by the Monkees. Diamond wrote and recorded the songs for himself, but the cover versions were released before his own, consequently Diamond began to gain fame not only as a singer and performer, but also as a songwriter. “I’m a Believer” became a gold record within two days of its release, and stayed at the top of the charts for seven weeks, making it the Popular Music Song of the Year in 1966. Other notable artists who recorded his early songs were the English hard-rock band Deep Purple, Lulu, Cliff Richard Elvis Presley (who sang “And the Grass Won’t Pay No Mind” and “Sweet Caroline”) and Mark Lindsay, former lead singer for Paul Revere & the Raiders. In 1966, Diamond signed a deal with Bert Berns’s Bang Records, then a subsidiary of Atlantic and released the songs”Solitary Man”, “Cherry, Cherry” and “Kentucky Woman”. His early concerts saw him as a “special guest” for many bands including The Who and Herman’s Hermits As a guest performer with The Who, he was shocked to see Pete Townshend destroy his guitar

Eventually Diamond wanted to record more ambitious, introspective music, like his autobiographical “Brooklyn Roads” and was no longer satisfied writing simple pop songs, so he wrote “Shilo”, which was not about the Civil War, but rather an imaginary childhood friend which is on the LP “Just for You”. Dissatisfied Diamond then tried to sign with another record label after discovering a loophole in his contract, but the result was a series of lawsuits that coincided with a slump in his record sales and professional success. However in 1977, he triumphed in court and purchased the rights to his Bang-era master tapes. In 1968, Diamond signed with Uni Records (named after Universal Pictures, whose owner, MCA Inc) later consolidated its labels into MCA Records (now called Universal Records). His debut album for Uni was Velvet Gloves and Spit, followed by Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.

In 1969, he moved to Los Angeles. After “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” in 1969, his sound mellowed, with such songs as “Sweet Caroline” (1969), “Holly Holy” (1969), “Cracklin’ Rosie” (1970), “Song Sung Blue” (1972) and “I Am…I Said” In 1971, Diamond played 7 sold-out concerts at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. backed by a 35-piece string orchestra and six backing singers. In 1972, he played ten more shows at the Greek which Diamond describes as very special and sought to really knock ’em dead in L.A.” The performance was recorded and released as the live double album Hot August Night. This album demonstrates Diamond’s skills as a performer and showman and Many consider it to be Neil Diamonds best work. In 1972, Diamond performed for 20 consecutive nights at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City. The last occasion when that historical theater had staged any one-man shows had been when Al Jolson had performed there in the 1920s and the 1930s. The small (approximately 1,600-seat) Broadway venue provided an intimate concert setting not common at the time, with every performance reportedly sold out. It also made Diamond the first rock-era star to headline on Broadway.

After the Winter Garden shows, however, Diamond announced that he needed a break, and he engaged in no more live performances till 1976. He used those four years to work on the score for Hall Bartlett’s film version of Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull and to record two albums, Serenade and Beautiful Noise. In 1973, Diamond released the soundtrack to Hall Bartlett’s film version of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. the soundtrack was a success. Diamond also garnered a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score and a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture. In 1976 Diamond embarked on an Australian tour, “The ‘Thank You Australia’ Concert”, He also again appeared at the Greek Theater in a 1976 concert, Love at the Greek. An album and naccompanying video/DVD of the show includes a version of “Song Sung Blue” with duets with Helen Reddy and Henry Winkler, a.k.a. Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli of Happy Days. In 1974, Diamond released the album Serenade, containing the singles “Longfellow Serenade” and “I’ve Been This Way Before”he also appeared on a TV special for Shirley Bassey and sang a duet.

In 1976, he released the album Beautiful Noise.On Thanksgiving night, 1976, Diamond made an appearance at The Band’s farewell concert, The Last Waltz, performing “Dry Your Eyes”, which he had written and composed jointly with Robbie Robertson, and which had appeared on Beautiful Noise. He also joined the rest of the performers onstage at the end in a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”. In 1976 Diamond oerformed at the the Alladin Hotel in Las Vegas to open their Theatre for Performing Arts. Which Many famous people attended including Elizabeth Taylor and Chevy Chase. He also performed at Woburn Abbey in 1977. In 1977, Diamond released I’m Glad You’re Here With Me Tonight, including “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, On which he collaborated with Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman. Barbra Streisand covered the song on her Songbird album, and later, a Diamond-Streisand duet, was recorded Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand also performed the duet at the Grammy awards ceremony in 1980. His last 1970s album was September Morn, which included a new version of “I’m a Believer”. It and “Red Red Wine” In 1979, Diamond released “Forever in Blue Jeans”, co-written and jointly composed with his guitarist, Richard Bennett,

Sadly In 1979, Diamond collapsed on stage in San Francisco and was taken to the hospital where he endured a twelve-hour operation to remove what turned out to be a tumor on his spine. He underwent a long rehabilitation process just prior to beginning principal photography for his film The Jazz Singer (1980). A planned film version of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” to star Diamond and Streisand fell through when Diamond instead starred in a 1980 remake of the Al Jolson classic The Jazz Singer alongside Laurence Olivier and Lucie Arnaz. the soundtrack spawned three Top 10 singles, “Love on the Rocks”, “Hello Again”, and “America” which was an Autobiographical song about his Grandparents. It became a huge hit when National news shows played it when the the Iran hostage crisis ended; it was also played during the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty; and at the tribute to Martin Luther King and the Vietnam Vets Welcome Home concert. At the time, a national poll found the song to be the number-one most recognized song about America, more than “God Bless America”.It also became the anthem of his world tour two weeks after the attacks on America on September 11, 2001, when he changed the lyric at the end from; “They’re coming to America”, to “Stand up for America!” He also performed it after a request from former heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali. After appearing in The Jazz Singer Diamond became the first-ever winner of a Worst Actor Razzie Award, even though he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for the same role. Diamond’s next song, “Heartlight”, was inspired by the blockbuster 1982 movie E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

Sadly Diamond’s record sales slumped somewhat in the 1980s and 1990s, his last single to make the Billboard’s Pop Singles chart coming in 1986. However, his concert tours continued to be big draws. Billboard magazine ranked Diamond as the most profitable solo performer of 1986.He released his 17th studio album in 1986, Headed for the Future. he also starred in Hello Again, his first television special in nine years, where he performed comedy sketches and sang a duo medley with Carol Burnett. In 1987, Diamond sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl. His “America” became the theme song for the Michael Dukakis 1988 presidential campaign. UB40 also released a reggae interpretation of Diamond’s ballad “Red Red Wine”. During the 1990s, Diamond produced six studio albums. He covered many classics from the movies and from famous Brill Building-era songwriters. He also released two Christmas albums. In 1992, he performed for President George H.W. Bush’s final Christmas in Washington NBC special. In 1993, Diamond opened the Mark of the Quad Cities (now the iWireless Center).

The 1990s also saw a resurgence in Diamond’s popularity. “Sweet Caroline” became a popular sing-along at sporting events, where it came to be played to entertain and energize the fans and the teams. It saw usage for Boston College football and basketball games. College sporting events in other states would also play it, it was also played duringa Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament a football match in Northern Ireland and it became the theme song for Red Sox Nation, the fans of the Boston Red Sox. The New York Rangers also adapted it as their own, and would play it whenever winning at the end of the 3rd period of their games. The Pitt Panthers football team would also play it after the third quarter of all home games, with the crowd cheering, “Let’s go Pitt”. The Carolina Panthers would play it at the end of each home game whenever they would win. The Davidson College pep band would likewise play it at every Davidson Wildcats men’s basketball home game, in the second half.

In the 2001 comedy film Saving Silverman, the main characters play in a Diamond cover band, and Diamond made an extended cameo appearance as himself. Diamond even wrote and composed a new song, “I Believe in Happy Endings”, especially for the film. The comedian/comedy actor Will Ferrell also did a recurring Diamond impersonation on Saturday Night Live, with Diamond himself appearing alongside Ferrell on Ferrell’s final show as a “Not Ready For Prime Time Player” in May 2002.

In 2005 Diamond released A stripped-down-to-basics album, 12 Songs, produced by Rick Rubin, in two editions: a standard 12-song release, and a special edition with two bonus tracks, including one featuring backing vocals by Brian Wilson. In 2007, Diamond was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. in 2008, it was announced on the television show American Idol that Diamond would be a guest mentor to the remaining Idol contestants, who would be singing Diamond songs and Diamond Sang, “Pretty Amazing Grace”, from his 2008 album Home Before Dark. in 2008 Diamond made a surprise announcement in a big-screen broadcast at Fenway Park, that he would be appearing there “live in concert” as part of his world tour. Diamond appeared on the roof of the Jimmy Kimmel building to sing “Sweet Caroline” after Kimmel was jokingly arrested trying to sing the song dressed up as a Diamond impersonator. In June 2008, Diamond performed at the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, England on the Concert of a Lifetime Tour. His entire four-night run at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 2008 was recorded and released on DVD. Diamond performed at Ohio State University while suffering from laryngitis.

In 2009 Diamond was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year prior to the 51st Annual Grammy Awards. He also released A Cherry Cherry Christmas, his third album of holiday music. In 2010, Diamond released the album Dreams, a collection of 14 interpretations of his favorite songs by artists from the rock era. The album included “I’m a Believer”and, “Ain’t No Sunshine”. Diamond sang on NBC’s The Sing-Off with Committed and Street Corner Symphony, two a cappella groups featured on the show. In 2011 Neil Diamond released The Very Best of Neil Diamond, a compilation CD of Diamond’s 23 studio recordings from the Bang, UNI/MCA, & Columbia catalogs. Diamond was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at a ceremony at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City and received a lifetime achievement award from the Kennedy Center at the 2011 Kennedy Center Honors. In 2012 Diamond received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He also topped the bill in the centenary edition of the Royal Variety Performance in the UK and also appeared in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. in 2013, Diamond performed at Fenway Park to sing “Sweet Caroline” during the 8th inning. It was the first game at Fenway since the bombings at the Boston Marathon. He also released the single “Freedom Song (They’ll Never Take Us Down)”, with 100% of the purchase price benefiting One Fund Boston and the Wounded Warrior Project. Sporting a beard, Diamond performed live on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol as part of A Capitol Fourth. In 2014 Diamond released his latest greatest hits compilations, All-Time Greatest Hits, his next album, Melody Road, was Also released in 2014 and was produced by Don Was and Jacknife Lee. Diamond also performed a surprise concert at his alma mater, Erasmus High School in Brooklyn. He also announced a 2015 “Melody Road” World Tour. The North American leg of the World Tour 2015 started in Allentown, PA at the PPL Center on February 27 and ended at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado During which Diamond made extensive use of social media platforms and streamed several shows live on Periscope and showing tweets from fans who used the hashtag #tweetcaroline on two large screens this proved to be an innovative way to widen his fan base

In 2016, Diamond released Acoustic Christmas, a folk-inspired Christmas album of original songs as well as acoustic versions of holiday classics with a handful of musicians, sitting around a circle of microphones, wires and, of course, Christmas lights.” In March 2017, Neil Diamond released the career-spanning anthology, Neil Diamond 50 – 50th Anniversary Collection, And began the 50 Year Anniversary World Tour in Fresno, California, in April. On January 22, 2018, Diamond announced that he would immediately retire from touring due to having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.Tour dates on the final leg of Diamond’s “50 Year Anniversary World Tour” in Australia and New Zealand were cancelled. however the cancellation of the live performances would allow Diamond to “continue his writing, recording and development of new projects.”

In 2008, Diamond gave filmmaker Greg Kohs permission to use his songs in a documentary. Kohs, a director from Philadelphia, had met a popular Milwaukee, Wisconsin, duo, Lightning & Thunder, composed of Mike Sardina, who did a Diamond impersonation, and his wife Claire. Kohs followed them for eight years and produced the film Song Sung Blue, Diamond granted Kohs permission to use his songs. The movie was sent to the singer in January 2008, at the recommendation of Eddie Vedder, a supporter of the film and of the duo. Though Sardina had died in 2006, Diamond invited his widow and her family to be his front-row guests at his show in Milwaukee, where he told them he was moved by the film.

Neil Diamond has sold over 115 million records worldwide including 48 million in the United States alone. He is considered to be the third most successful adult contemporary artist ever on the Billboard chart behind Barbra Streisand and Elton John. His songs have been covered internationally by many performers from various musical genres. Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Additionally, he received the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and in 2011 was an honoree at the Kennedy Center Honors. He has eight number one hit singles with “Cracklin Rosie”, “Song Sung Blue”, “Desiree”, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, “Love On The Rocks“, “America”, “Yesterday’s Songs”, and “Heartlight”. In addition he also has many other well known songs including Forever in Blue Jeans and Sweet Caroline,

Posted in music, Television

Jools Holland

English pianist, bandleader, singer, composer and television presenterJulian Miles “Jools” Holland, OBE, DL was born 24 January 1958. Holland was educated at Shooters Hill Grammar School, a former state grammar school on Red Lion Lane in Shooter’s Hill (near Woolwich), in the Royal Borough of Greenwich in southeast London, from which he was expelled for damaging a teacher’s Triumph Herald. Holland played as a session musician before finding fame, and his first studio session was with Wayne County & the Electric Chairs in 1976 on their track “Fuck Off”. Holland was a founding member of the British pop band Squeeze, formed in March 1974, in which he played keyboards until 1981 and helped the band to achieve millions of record sales, before pursuing his solo career.

Holland’s first solo EP was Boogie Woogie ’78. He continued his solo career through the early 1980s, releasing an album and several singles between 1981 and 1984. He branched out into TV, co-presenting the Newcastle-based TV music show The Tube with Paula Yates. Holland achieved notoriety by inadvertently using the phrase “be there, or be an ungroovey fucker” in an early evening TV trailer, live across two channels, for the show, causing him to be suspended from the show for six weeks. He referred to this in his sitcom The Groovy Fellers with Rowland Rivron. In 1983 Holland played an extended piano solo on The The’s re-recording of “Uncertain Smile” for the album Soul Mining. In 1985, Squeeze (which had continued in Holland’s absence through to 1982) unexpectedly regrouped including Holland as their keyboard player. Holland remained in the band until 1990, at which point, he again departed Squeeze to resume his solo career as a musician and a TV host.

In 1987, Holland formed the Jools Holland Big Band, which consisted of himself and Gilson Lavis from Squeeze. This gradually became the 18-piece Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. Between 1988 and 1990 he performed and co-hosted along with David Sanborn during the two seasons of the music performance programme Sunday Night on NBC late-night television. Since 1992 he has presented the music programme Later… with Jools Holland, plus an annual New Year’s Eve Hootenanny. His work has involved him with many artists including Sting, Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, George Harrison, David Gilmour, Magazine and Bono.

In 1996, Holland signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records. Holland has a touring band, the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, which often includes singers Sam Brown and Ruby Turner and his younger brother, singer-songwriter and keyboard player, Christopher Holland. In January 2005 Holland and his band performed with Eric Clapton as the headline act of the Tsunami Relief Cardiff. In 2012, Holland performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert outside Buckingham Palace in London and also presented a programme about the popular songs of London on BBC Two.

Holland is also a published author and appears on television shows besides his own and contributes to radio shows. In 2004, he collaborated with Tom Jones on an album of traditional R&B music. He also regularly hosts the weekly programme Jools Holland on BBC Radio 2, which is a mix of live and recorded music and general chat and features studio guests, along with members of his orchestra and also hosts the annuall Hootenannny on New Years Eve.

Posted in films & DVD, Humour, music, Television

Ade Edmondson

British comedian, actor, musician presenter and Director Ade Edmondson was born 24 January 1957 in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire. He attended Pocklington School, East Riding of Yorkshire from 1968 to 1975 a rather old-fashioned, all boys public school, halfway between York and Hull where his English teacher, Michael Aubrey encouraged him to pursue drama, casting him in a number of school plays, and allowing him to take time out of other lessons to do drama. After Pocklington, Edmondson went to the University of Manchester to study drama, and met future comedy partner Rik Mayall. He graduated with a 2:1 degree. Edmondson and Mayall soon became best friends and worked on the alternative comedy scene.

Edmonson became part of the alternative comedy boom. Under the name 20th Century Coyote, Edmondson and Mayall became one of the star attractions at The Comedy Store. As their popularity grew, Edmondson, Mayall and other upcoming comedians, including Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, Alexei Sayle and French and Saunders moved from the Comedy Store to The Comic Strip club.The Comic Strip soon gained a reputation as one of the most popular comedy clubs in London and soon came to the attention of Channel 4. Edmondson and the others were commissioned to act in six self-contained half-hour films, using the group as comedy actors rather than stand-up performers. The series, entitled The Comic Strip Presents… debuted on 2 November 1982 (the opening night of Channel 4). The first episode to be broadcast was “Five Go Mad in Dorset”, a parody of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, which drew anger from some viewers for the way it mercilessly satirised a children’s classic. Edmondson starred as one of the five.

imageEdmondson, Mayall, Richardson, Planer and Sayle also starred in The Young Ones, a sitcom in the same anarchic style as The Comic Strip. (Richardson later decided not to proceed and was replaced by Christopher Ryan.) The show revolved around the shared house where four students lived during their studies at Scumbag College. It was noted at the time of its first airing for its violent slapstick, with Edmondson’s character as the main instigator. The series captured public imagination and remains one of Britain’s most popular sitcoms. During this time, Edmondson also appeared in a bank advertisement in what was, basically, his “Vyvyan” guise. Following the success of The Comic Strip Presents… and, The Young Ones, Edmondson and Mayall created “The Dangerous Brothers” with Edmondson as “Sir Adrian Dangerous” in Saturday Live (1985–1987). In 1983, he appeared as the lead singer “Vim Fuego” in the spoof heavy metal band called “Bad News” with his Young Ones co-stars Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer and Peter Richardson of “Comic Strip Presents…”.

On 11 May 1985, Edmondson married fellow Comic Strip actor Jennifer Saunders, with whom he has three daughters: Eleanor, Beatrice and Freya. Edmondson’s university nickname of “Eddie Monsoon”, a play on his surname, inspired the name of Saunders’ character, “Edina Monsoon” in Absolutely Fabulous and his own characters “Eddie Catflap” (Filthy Rich & Catflap) and “Eddie Hitler” (Bottom). Edmondson and Saunders jointly established their own production company called “Mr and Mrs Monsoon Limited”. Edmondson also starred with Saunders in Happy Families, written by Ben Elton which featured the dysfunctional Fuddle family. In 1987, Edmondson reunited with Planer and Mayall to star in Filthy Rich and Catflap, a comic attack on showbiz, again written by Elton. He played a character called “Edward Catflap”, a coarse and drunken minder of light entertainment nonentity “Richie Rich”. In this show Edmondson displayed the same slapstick characteristics as Vyvyan and Eddie Hitler” in Bottom. Edmondson also co-starred in 1987 with Mayall in the ITV sit-com Hardwicke House. In 1988, he released a follow up to How To Be A Complete Bastard called The Bastard’s Book of the Worst. In 1989 he made an appearance in an episode of Blackadder Goes Forth as The Red Baron, arch-nemesis to Mayall’s character, Lord Flashheart. He played the lead role in the 1985 spin-off feature film, The Supergrass. Edmondson has also appeared in numerous TV programmes including Jonathan Creek, Holby City, Miss Austen Regrets, as himself on Hell’s Kitchen and the sitcom Teenage Kicks.

Edmondson played Brad Majors in the 1990 West End run of The Rocky Horror Show, alongside Tim McInnerny as Frank-N-Furter and Ed Tudor-Pole as Riff-Raff. He also appears on the soundtrack album of the production. In 1991, he teamed with Rik Mayall co-writing and co-starring in the sitcom, Bottom. Edmondson starred as “Edward Elizabeth Hitler” opposite Mayall’s “Richard Richard”. The series featured the slapstick and crude humour for which the pair had become famous. Mayall and Edmonson have said that Bottom was a cruder cousin of Waiting for Godot about the pointlessness of life. In 1991 Edmondson played Estragon to Mayall’s Vladimir in Samuel Beckett’s play in the West End. Although Bottom was popular, it was criticised for its often vulgar humour. The show was also turned into five UK stage tours (1993, 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2003). The violent nature of these shows saw both Edmondson and Mayall ending up in hospital.

In 1993, Edmondson starred alongside Richard Briers in a black comedy called If You See God, Tell Him. Edmondson played Gordon Spry, whose uncle (Briers) is paralysed. His erratic behaviour causes problems for Gordon. The series comprised four episodes, each 45 minutes long, and only broadcast once. Since 1993 Edmondson has been voicing The Animal in adverts for Peperami. September 1995, Edmondson released his first (comic) novel, The Gobbler. In 1996, he played the role of Ace Face/Bellboy at The Who’s performance of Quadrophenia at London’s Hyde Park. He provided the voice forA video game called Animal, featuring Peperami’s “the animal”. He also voiced engine stoker Jones, in the animated series Captain Star. In the 1998 ITV pantomime Jack and the Beanstalk, Edmondson played Jack’s mother Dame Dolly alongside Neil Morrissey, Denise Van Outon, Paul Merton, Julian Clary and Julie Walters.

In 1998 Mayall was seriously injured and spent a few days in a coma. Mayall and Edmondson wrote a script for a sequel to Bottom which became Guest House Paradiso. Edmondson appeared regularly in Series 4 of the BBC mystery series Jonathan Creek. He had a lead role playing an NHS doctor in the comedy series Doctors and Nurses. In Surviving Disaster, a BBC docudrama about the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, Edmondson played the role of Dr Valery Legasov. In 2005 he appeared as a celebrity model on Star Portraits with Rolf Harris. he alsoappeared as Percy “Abra” Durant in Holby City. In 2008 he played Henry Austen in the BBC produced film Miss Austen Regrets and Vernon in the ITV sitcom Teenage Kicks. In April 2009 he appeared on the cooking show Hell’s Kitchen, where he reached the final, coming second to winner Linda Evans. In Christmas2009 Edmondson played the role of Captain Hook in the Canterbury Marlowe Arena pantomime.

In 2010, he said that he had quit comedy, and wanted to focus more on his band, He also played down the idea of a potential reunion although Rik Mayall appeared during Edmondson’s winning performance of The Dying Swan on BBC1’s Let’s Dance for Comic Relief on 5 March 2011. In 2011. Edmondson hosted the six-part series The Dales, which followed a number of families who live and work in the Yorkshire Dales. The show was recorded during 2010 by Shiver Productions for ITV Studios. In September 2011, Edmondson appeared on Something For The Weekend and said that he and Rik Mayall were planning to reunite and make another series of Bottom, set in an old people’s home. Edmondson presented the ITV series Ade in Britain, which was broadcast from 7 November to 2 December 2011. The series consists of Edmondson travelling around to different parts of the United Kingdom and giving a programme on that part of the British Isles; it consists of Edmondson informing people about interesting features of the part which he has visited, and often involves him meeting folk singers. A second series was filmed.

Edmondson appeared on the BBC television series That’s Britain! in each episode his task was to report as an “insider” in how a region of Britain works. A one off special, Britain Beware, about the history of British public information films, was hosted by Ade Emondson. the Edmondson and Mayall’s characters of Richie and Eddie were due to return in 2013 in Hooligan’s Island, a television adaptation of their 1997 tour of the same name. However he later pulled out of the new series stating that he changed his mind, and wished to pursue other interests. Edmondson also starred in the film Blood. Edmondson and Saunders reunited with their former Comic Strip colleagues in 2012 for a Famous Five sequel, Five Go to Rehab. Edmondson also won Celebrity Master Chef 2013 competing against Les Dennis and Janet Street-Porter.

He also has a successful music career and In 1986, Edmondson achieved a number one hit in the UK singles charts when he and his co-stars from The Young Ones teamed up with Cliff Richard to record a new version of “Living Doll” for the inaugural Comic Relief campaign. Despite having been killed off in the final episode of the series, Edmondson played Vyvyan one last time in the video. The same year he co-wrote the book How to be a Complete Bastard together with Mark Leigh and Mike Lepine. Edmondson has directed pop videos for “Fiesta” byThe Pogues, “Prime Mover” by Zodiac Mindwarp, “Like The Weather” (1988) by 10,000 Maniacs, “Please Help The Cause Against Loneliness” by Sandie Shaw and “Hourglass” by Squeeze. In 1991, Edmondson formed The Bum Notes, who were a jazz instrumental band and conceived exclusively to perform theme music for Bottom.A fan of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Edmondson performed vocals with them as part of their 2006 reformation and countrywide tour. He also contributed vocals and writing for their 2007 album Pour l’Amour des Chiens.

In 2008 Edmondson founded the Bad Shepherds with Martin Allcock, Andy Dinan and Troy Donockley, performing punk and new wave classics on traditional folk instruments. The band have released two albums and toured in 2009, playing at places such as the Trowbridge Village Pump Festival. The Bad Shepherds also headlined the first ever Looe Music Festival in 2011. In 2010 he founded The Idiot Bastard Band with Simon Brint, Rowland Rivron, Neil Innes and Phill Jupitus. The Idiot Bastard Band perform original comedy songs as well as cover versions, and their shows often feature guest performers. The group have continued to perform following the death of Brint in 2011. In 2011 he presented a series of shows for ITV: The Dales, set in the Yorkshire Dales, and Ade in Britain touring numerous heritage sites in Britain. Edmondson has been married to fellow comedian Jennifer Saunders since 1985 and they have three daughters and a grandson.

Posted in music

Mark E. Smith

Best known as the lead singer, lyricist and only constant member of the post-punk group The Fall, the late great English singer and songwriter Mark Edward Smith tragically died 24 January 2018. He was born 5 March 1957 and His family moved to Prestwich when he was six months old, occupying the house they inherited after his grandfather’s death. Smith’s father died suddenly in 1989 of a heart attack. He has said that he didn’t become interested in music until he was about 14, when he discovered Captain Beefheart. He had early memories of The Beatles but remembered thinking that it was all a bit effeminate. He attended Sedgley Park Primary School, and later Stand Grammar School for Boys before quitting aged 16. That year, he left home and moved in with his girlfriend and future Fall keyboardist, Una Baines, later of the Blue Orchids. He subsequently took an evening class in A-level Literature. His first job was in a meat factory, before he became a shipping clerk on Salford docks.

Smith formed The Fall, named after the novel by Albert Camus, with friends Martin Bramah, Una Baines and Tony Friel, after attending a Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in June 1976. After Smith dropped out of college at the age of 19. Originally they were named The Outsiders, after another Camus work. He subsequently gave up his job as a shipping clerk at Salford docks shortly afterward to devote his full energies to the band. The early Fall line-up came of age during the 1970s punk rock movement, although their music underwent numerous stylistic changes, often concurrently with changes in the group’s lineup. The band’s 40 year career can be broken into five broad periods, based on the band’s membership. These include their early late 1970s line-up, the classic Fall period of Hanley and dual drummers, the Brix years of 1984-89, their early 1990s revival, and everything after the on-stage fight in New York, after which Hanley quit and Smith was arrested.

Smith married the American guitarist and Fall member Brix Smith on 19 July 1983, after they met in Los Angeles during the band’s American tour earlier that year. They divorced in 1989, and he remarried twice after this. His second wife was Saffron Prior, who had worked for The Fall’s fan club; their marriage ended in 1995. He married Eleni Poulou, also called Elenor or Elena, in 2001. Poulou joined the band in September 2002 and left in July 2016. Smith and Poulou divorced in 2016, and Smith’s partner at the time of his death was his manager Pamela Vander.

Referring to the Fall’s 60-odd former members, Smith claimed that he had “only” fired around half the number of people he is said to have dismissed, and that some left of their own free will. He would fire musicians for seemingly trivial reasons; he once dismissed a sound engineer for eating a salad, later explaining that “the salad was the last straw”. Founding member Marc Riley was fired for dancing to a Deep Purple song during their Australian tour, although the two had had many arguments beforehand. Smith said that he often changed musicians so that they would not become lazy or complacent. When the influential British DJ and Fall supporter John Peel died in 2004, Smith made a notorious appearance on the BBC’s Newsnight show in which he seemed stunned and incoherent, and which he afterwards put down to a rare incidence of stage fright.

While the Fall never achieved widespread success beyond minor hit singles in the mid and late 1980s, they maintained a loyal cult following throughout their career. The widespread misunderstanding that the Fall was just a bunch of guys lead by MES is disproved by the reliance he had on a number of band members. In particular Steve Hanley is regarded as one of the most talented bassists of his generation, equal to Peter Hook, Andy Rourke or Gary Mounfield. During their 42-year existence, the Fall’s line-up included some 60 musicians who, with Smith, released 32 studio albums and many singles and EPs. His best-known recordings include “Totally Wired” and “Hit the North”.

A long-term heavy drinker, Smith had a difficult and complex personality. He was celebrated for his biting and targeted wit, evident in his acerbic but highly quotable interviews, for which he was much in demand by music journalists throughout his career. He was deeply suspicious of the trappings of fame, and largely avoided socialising with Fall associates. The dark and sardonic aspect of Smith’s personality often seeped into his lyrics, and he especially sought to avoid music industry people, who were the frequent targets of his diatribes. His vocal delivery included a characteristic of ending every line with “-ah” or “-uh”.

Smith’s approach to music was unconventional; he did not have a high regard for musicianship, believing that “rock & roll isn’t even music really. It’s a mistreating of instruments to get feelings over”; a tendency that contributed to the Fall’s high turnover of musicians. Nevertheless The Fall are regarded as one of the premier post-punk bands. Smith was notoriously difficult to work with but was revered by fans and critics during his lifetime, and was described as a “strange kind of antimatter national treasure”.