Brian Donaldson

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Opinion: When our heroes go bad

21 Nov 2014

'Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?'

In the past year, my 12-year-old daughter has immersed herself in the back catalogue of Michael Jackson. It certainly marks a welcome relief from her fixations with X-Factor and hilarious YouTube ‘comedians’, but she can’t seem to see that ‘Billie Jean…

Remember Me

21 Nov 20144 stars

Old-fashioned ghostly fare with a modern twist from the BBC starring Michael Palin

While Christmas is traditionally viewed as the ideal time for retelling ghost stories, the BBC have sprung their spooks on us early with Remember Me. This three-part drama already contains an inherent rising from the crypt with the acting career of…


12 Nov 20143 stars

A bad cop/worse cop comedy-drama lacking true grit

After a pilot episode in February which seemed hell-bent on kettling far too many ideas and personalities into a stuffed and confused comedy-drama riot, police show Babylon is back for a full series. Given the pedigree of its writers (Jesse Armstrong…

Five things you might not know about … John Bishop

12 Nov 2014

Comedian is heat Magazine's no. 9 weird crush of 2014 and a late comer to the circuit

1 Born on a council estate in Liverpool, John Bishop only got into comedy in his mid-30s while working in middle management in a pharmaceuticals company and going through divorce proceedings. He has subsequently admitted that his comedy career saved…

The best comedy programmes on Radio 4

12 Nov 2014

Including Hal, The Elephant Man, James Acaster's Findings and Start / Stop

The ‘Radio 4 comedy voice’ has been mercilessly mimicked and mocked by both Simon Munnery and Stewart Lee, and it’s cranked up to 11 in a variety of shows currently on the station. They would routinely hate Hal (Radio 4, Sun 16 Nov, 7.15pm ●●●), the…

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Opinion: the first post-independence referendum St Andrew's Day

11 Nov 2014

'66% of Scots now apparently would vote Yes if another referendum happened tomorrow'

Life is inherently filled with awkward moments full of cringe-inducing regret. No more so than when you have to come face to face with those you have upset. In that vein, Sunday 30 November 2014 marks the first St Andrew’s Day since us Scots decided we…

We Are The Giant

11 Nov 20144 stars

Frontline tales from the Arab Spring brought together by director Greg Barker

A small girl sings a song of hope and freedom in the street, just as an explosion wreaks havoc around her. A peace activist interrupts a downbeat interview about whether nonviolent protest has been unsuccessful when a shell rocks the street outside. And…

Stanley Odd – A Thing Brand New

10 Nov 20144 stars

Scottish hip hop at its best from Dave Hook and co

With the Mercury Music prize victory for Young Fathers still causing some reverberations in Londonista music circles, it’s eminently possible that this moment could be a turning point for Scottish hip hop. One act who might reap benefits from this…

Christmas 2014: Top five live comedy DVDs

7 Nov 2014

Featuring releases from Lee Evans, Simon Evans, Russell Howard, Miranda Hart and Jason Manford

In a recent interview, Adrian Edmondson bemoaned pretty much the entire concept of stand-up comedy. Gigs, he reckoned, are just way too long: 20 minutes is about all he can take before eyeing a hasty exit. What on earth, then, would he make of Lee…

Moving On

7 Nov 20143 stars

Jimmy McGovern-created series letting it slip without his firm hand

Created in 2009 by Jimmy McGovern, Moving On was a bold attempt at getting some harder issues thrust onto daytime TV schedules obsessed with auctions and animals. We’ve now reached season six and with its boss’ role now described as ‘story editor’, it’s…

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Miranda Sings brings bad singing to Glasgow

7 Nov 2014

One woman show from Colleen Ballinger's 'YouTube sensation' alter-ego

The term ‘YouTube sensation’ might now be almost as redundant and meaningless as ‘genius’ or ‘hilarious’ with everything and everyone being dubbed that. But with 2.5m subscribers to her channel and her videos having received over 250m views, Miranda…

The Fall

7 Nov 20144 stars

Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson return for thrilling second series of crime drama

There are aspects of The Fall which might feel very familiar. This isn’t the first crime drama where the criminal investigator and chief perpetrator appear to share some common psychological ground, while the show eschewed the traditional whodunnit from…

William Gibson – The Peripheral

7 Nov 20143 stars

'New novel, as impressive, ambitious and layered as it is, might leave you feeling a little lukewarm

Given how swiftly the world and its technological tools keep changing, it might seem foolhardy to attempt any kind of speculative fiction. But if anyone is going to make a decent fist of this with a crystal ball, it was always going to be the author of…

Interview: TV comic Stewart Lee discusses the evolution of his Comedy Vehicle

6 Nov 2014

'When I look at the first series, it feels like a different person; the character has changed'

Whenever you read below-the-line comments on an internet article which discusses Stewart Lee, one thing is guaranteed. Someone somewhere will describe him as smug and self-satisfied. Yet, at almost every step of the way on Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle…

Q&A: Eric and Little Ern actors Jonty Stephens and Ian Ashpitel

6 Nov 2014

Duo discuss the personal influence of Morecambe and Wise and the responsibility of portraying them

As Jonty Stephens and Ian Ashpitel prepare to bring us some sunshine in Eric and Little Ern, the pair recollect watching Morecambe and Wise on the box and speculate on what might have happened had Ernie died first What is your first memory of seeing…

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My Comedy Hero: Vikki Stone on Bette Midler

6 Nov 2014

Comedian talks about old-school humour, trifles and why Ms Midler would be proud of her new show

Bette Midler is my comedy hero. It’s not a ‘cool’ choice in the comedy world today, where it’s cooler to like acts that deconstruct the form, rather than are just old-school funny. The same thing happened in food. Chefs were all about the…

Five things you might not know about . . . Lee Mack

22 Oct 2014

Some lesser known facts about the TV funnyman ahead of his 2014 UK tour Hit The Road Mack

1 His real name is Lee McKillop, and school nickname was Curly, due to him apparently looking a lot like Corrie’s Curly Watts. 2 Among his jobs prior to comedy were picking apricots, mucking out Red Rum’s stable and being a Pontins Bluecoat. His…

My Comedy Hero: James Acaster on The Rock

22 Oct 2014

'It's nice to have a big muscly guy being funny and stupid'

The Rock was one of my favourite comedy characters growing up, and I still think he is. Mainly because he took himself so seriously by being ridiculous and a buffoon all the time but always took the high status. I liked all his little catchphrases and…

The best comedy gigs – Oct / Nov 2014

20 Oct 2014

Including Frankie Boyle, Billy Connolly, Paul Foot, Dylan Moran and Lee Mack

Frankie Boyle More work-in-progress doings as Frank prepares to unleash some merry hell. The Stand, Glasgow, Thu 16 Oct. Billy Connolly Still hoppping around the country on his sold-out High Horse, so he is. Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Thu 16…

Just for Laughs

15 Oct 20144 stars

New collection of standup footage including comedy greats Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg and Louis CK

Comedy buffs who heard that Just for Laughs was releasing footage of stand-ups entertaining the people of Montreal down the years might have got excited about the prospect of witnessing an especially notorious moment in the career of Jerry Sadowitz. Of…

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David O'Doherty Has Checked Everything

13 Oct 2014

Irish jester embarks on a hunt for genuine happiness

The story of those who win the Edinburgh Comedy Award doesn’t always play out exactly the same way each and every time. For every Al Murray, Frank Skinner and Steve Coogan who go on to become comedy monoliths and household names, there are a whole bunch…

Tim Minchin – Storm

13 Oct 20142 stars

Comic book based beat-poem drips with pointlessness and proves inconsequential

Is there anything Tim Minchin refuses to have a stab at? Already an award-winning musical comedian (he took the Best Newcomer prize at the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe), acclaimed composer of musicals (for West End powerhouse Matilda), and hairy actor (taking…

Interview: Creator and star of Toast Of London Matt Berry

10 Oct 2014

The former Mighty Boosh actor discusses making sex faces for new series

One thing might strike Toast of London fans on witnessing the opening episode of series two: Steven Toast’s sex face has really upped its game. Creator and star Matt Berry has ploughed his own comedic furrow when it comes to expressing sexual ecstasy…

The Knick

9 Oct 2014

Bold new period hospital drama from Steven Soderbergh starring Clive Owen

The trend for renowned cinema types to make a move into TV (aka that place where The Big Stories are being told) continues with Steven Soderbergh directing the ten episodes of a bold new US medical drama. If the phrase ‘medical drama’ makes you think of…

Julian McCullough: Dream Girls

23 Sep 20142 stars

Meek comedy from American comedian at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The mini-flood of American comics to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe didn’t really set much heather alight and the relatively low standard was encompassed perfectly in Julian McCullough’s Dream Girls. He may have a mischievous glint in his eye and Jim…