Brian Donaldson

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New Worlds

31 Mar 20144 stars

Follow-up to The Devil’s Whore ramps up the carnage and injustice

‘It’s a world where you’d be going to one of the new Restoration plays or a lecture at the Royal Society, walking past bodies in gibbets and heads on poles.’ New Worlds co-creator Peter Flannery discusses the inherent tensions of 1680s England ahead of…

Glasgow International Comedy Festival: 5 show titles that require explanation

24 Mar 2014

Featuring 'Do Bananas Dream of Plastic Fruit Baskets?' and 'Zuma + King Rizzler: Bring Sum Beef'

1 Smells Like Shite … Tastes Like Chicken Matthew Finlayson turns 30 and decides to make up his mind what he’s going to do with his life. He had a cat in his publicity pic for last August and has footage on his Facebook page of snakes and squirrels…


21 Mar 20143 stars

A gloomy, turgid Scandi TV drama that doesn't measure up to Borgen, The Bridge et al

It was probably only a matter of time. Those clever Danes and Swedes may have dominated the recent Nordic TV explosion towards these shores, but now Norway is giving it its best shot. The seemingly acclaimed Mammon is a sibling drama against the…

My Comedy Heroes: Julia Sutherland on Limmy, Maria Bamford and more

18 Mar 2014

The comedian also idolises Eddie Izzard and the Absolutely sketch crew

When I was young, I never felt like stand-up comedy was for me. But I revelled in the weird and wonderful world of sketch comedy (French & Saunders, The Fast Show and Absolutely) with my school friend Marie and I learning the latter’s sketches off…

Interview: comedian Mike Wozniak on his latest show, Take the Hit

18 Mar 2014

The show focuses on a man browbeaten into domestic torment

Mike Wozniak’s 2013 Edinburgh Fringe success Take the Hit may well be one of the most tightly written stand-up shows in recent times. Ostensibly the story of a man browbeaten into domestic torment by having to share a small house with his in-laws, he…

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Pam Ann: withering wit from the world’s most sarcastic air hostess

18 Mar 2014

The character is the creation of Aussie comedian Caroline Reid

Savage satirist that she is, how tempting will it be for Pam Ann to take on the most bizarrely fascinating air travel story of the day? Or will good taste prevail and the words ‘Flight MH370’ remain unmentioned throughout Fly? This phrase in her blurb…

TV comedy series The Walshes marks new direction for Graham Linehan

12 Mar 20143 stars

Graham Linehan’s new show steers away from the daft and broad work which made his name

After The IT Crowd had turned itself off for the last time, we all wondered what its creator Graham Linehan would do next. Not long after dusting himself down from an ambushed Radio 4 spat with The Guardian’s Michael Billington over his stage adaptation…


10 Mar 20144 stars

Dougie Henshall simmers away as a Spanish-Scot crime-solver

Given the Shetland Islands’ close kinship with Scandinavia (it was a Norwegian province until the 15th century) does this returning crime show count as Nordic Noir? When Shetland first arrived last year, it was dubbed ‘the Scottish Killing’, but such…

The Wee Write Family Day provides an opportunity for young readers to engage with books

25 Feb 2014

Debi Gliori, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory & Elmer the Elephant are among this year's highlights

After almost a decade of Aye Write!, this established Glasgow books festival has now spawned Wee Write!, a debut spin-off for children, schools and families. Thousands of children will take part across the festival (which runs from Wed 5–Fri 14 Mar…

Interview: comedian Bobby Mair is Obviously Adopted and clearly talented

25 Feb 2014

'I don’t class myself as a dark comedian, I’m sure other people might, but to me it’s just normal'

Being adopted at birth might not sound like the easiest subject matter for a stand-up debut but Canadian comic Bobby Mair is able to walk any potential line of icky sentiment and crude offence with a winningly vulnerable stage demeanour. Ultimately…

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5 Scottish Comedians of the Year at Glasgow Intl Comedy Festival 2014

25 Feb 2014

Keep your eyes open for Scott Agnew, Mark Nelson, Larry Dean, Jamie Dalgleish and John Gavin

1 Scott Agnew One of the finest comperes in the land, Agnew can also flesh out excellent stories about his crazy old life. This one is entitled I've Snapped My Banjo String … So Let's Just Talk. Probably the tallest of all the Scottish Comedians of…

Interview: Russell Kane on UK tour in 2014 with his show Smallness

24 Feb 2014

Latest show spins around grand ideas and may be his biggest project to date

The comedy world of Russell Kane spins around grand ideas and major theories. He tells Brian Donaldson that Smallness may be his biggest project to date

The Birthday Suit - A Hollow Hole of Riches

21 Feb 20143 stars

Idlewild guitarist Rod Jones has a blast with his other project, which suffers from too much filler

At the end of last year, Rod Jones responded to an online campaign from angst-riddled Idlewild fans who demanded a boycott on their solo projects until the band started recording again. Jones rightly poo-pooed such notions, and no wonder, given that he…

My Comedy Hero: Andrew Doyle on Kenneth Williams

18 Feb 2014

Comedian Doyle pays tribute to the humourist and Carry On star

Kenneth Williams despised himself. Even at the age of 21 he wrote in his diary that he was a ‘suicidalist’ who didn’t ‘believe in existence at all’. And yet at the same time he looked down on virtually everyone else. One of my favourite entries in his…

TV review: The Smoke

18 Feb 20142 stars

A blistering opening sequence gives way to weak non-action segments in this firefighter drama

‘Tell you what: I’d rather have Kev Allison on a bad day than anyone else on a good one.’ This is what purports to be stirring dialogue in the world of The Smoke, a brand new British drama pitched somewhere between Backdraft and London’s Burning. ‘I’m…

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TV review: Fleming

11 Feb 20143 stars

Dominic Cooper is a suave operator as the chap who gave us Bond

You can perfectly understand why a dramatised biography would want to cover its back by declaring that some of the events portrayed might not have happened exactly the way they are being shown. In four-part mini-series Fleming, about the playboy who…

Danny Boyle-directed pilot of Babylon TV show from writers of Peep Show and Fresh Meat is underwhelming

7 Feb 20142 stars

New police comedy-drama from Bain & Armstrong shows no sign of becoming brutal and edgy satire

A fish out of water. It’s one of the oldest storytelling tropes in the book. Babylon drags Liz Garvey (Brit Marling) out of her comfort zone as head of communications at Instagram and plunges her into some murky waters as chief spin doctor for the…

TV review: Hank Zipzer

28 Jan 20143 stars

Henry Winkler stars in the adaptation of his own children's book series for CBBC

Henry Winkler will remain forever in the hearts of those who grew up in the 1970s as The Fonz, the leather-clad cool greaser-dude from Happy Days. To later audiences, he might also be remembered for his roles in Scream and Arrested Development, but away…

5 things you might not know about the I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue crew

28 Jan 2014

Barry Cryer, Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jeremy Hardy and Jack Dee take the panel show on tour

1 Graeme Garden’s son John is the keyboard player for the Scissor Sisters. After being introduced to the Bristol Silents society by his dad, John created a new score for trailblazing dino-flick, The Lost World. 2 Tim Brooke-Taylor once directed Orson…

True Detective from HBO stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson

27 Jan 2014

New existential crime drama is TV heaven with a story from hell

On paper, the pitching of True Detective might not have set many pulses racing: two mismatched cops investigate a possible ritualistic serial killer in 1995, with both men having a list of flaws longer than the longest arm of the law. But, like sporting…

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DVD review: Wings

23 Jan 20144 stars

The flight sequences in William Wellman’s World War I-set silent classic still impress

From Bobby De Niro’s weight gain in Raging Bull to Oscar Isaac learning a few folk tunes for Inside Llewyn Davis, much can sometimes be made of an actor’s obsessive commitment to a particular role. Yet, surely nothing can quite match the feat of Buddy…

My Comedy Hero: Andrew Lawrence on Leonard Rossiter

22 Jan 2014

Famous for portraying both Rigsby and Reginald Perrin, Rossiter paid great attention to detail

For a long time I’ve had a real admiration for Leonard Rossiter. He was responsible, of course, for bringing to life two fascinating, hilarious and enduring sitcom characters, first in Rigsby and then Reginald Perrin in what were two of the very best…

TV review: Uncle, Mom, House of Fools

21 Jan 2014

Three new sitcoms featuring the comedic talents of Nick Helm, Chuck Lorre and Vic & Bob

If ever there was evidence that you should quit while you’re not as ahead as you once were, House of Fools (BBC Two, Tue, 10pm ●●) provides it by the bucketload. The inexorable decline of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer was pretty apparent during their…

Interview: Larry Dean, Scottish Comedian of the Year 2013

21 Jan 2014

During the 2013 Fringe, Dean performed 140 shows in 24 days: 'the excessive gigging made me ready'

It’s probable that people would have various methods of calculating just how committed someone is in pursuing their chosen career. But no one could have any doubt that Glasgow-born Larry Dean was hell-bent on eventually becoming a stand-up comic given…

TV review: Hostages

10 Jan 20142 stars

The ‘new 24’, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, is not one for fans of the measured approach

Over the last decade, critics have lavished praise on long-running US dramas which feel no need to show its hand too early. The Sopranos, Mad Men, The Wire and even the occasionally preposterous Breaking Bad are at their best when holding back a little…