We are pleased to welcome noted Greenock dramatist Danny McCahon back to the blog. A professional highlight for Danny in 2018 was the debut performances of his play “Where’s Lulu”, about the Scottish songstress, to wide acclaim. On a personal note he cut a fine figure in his kilt at the wedding of his eldest daughter Anna. She has two sisters so we look forward to Danny’s legs getting further outings in the future.
Telly’s crap, innit? Come on, we’ve all said that. This year, this month, probably this week. And the older I get the more I’m saying it. But . . .
If we believe life is made up of a series of moments, some planned, some surprising and some that kick us right in the emotions, tiny moments in drama are the stuff of entertainment. It might be a witty line, a withering look or a cunning stunt that embeds a moment, a scene, a movie in that part of our being where we store our favourites. More and more I am finding those moments, for me, are underpinned with music.
“Almost Famous” might be one of my favourite movies and top among its moments is a scene on a bus where a group of band members and liggers remember why they love each other: a rousing, untidy singalong version of an Elton John song. Then there’s that moment in “A Knight’s Tale” when we realise that the 14th century revellers’ dance accompaniment is segueing into Bowie’s “Golden Years”. This year I enjoyed the Getty kidnap series “Trust” and when people asked what I was enjoying about it, I regularly found myself saying ‘great cars, great music’. “Trust” used well placed period tunes to enhance the action, but the series I think used music best were a bit more subtle with their soundtracks.
The outstanding show of 2018 for me was “Killing Eve” and its unobtrusive music, much of it drawn from David Holmes’s Unloved album “Guilty of Love”. That marriage of sound and image proves for me that TV did not die in the 20th century. is everyone’s favourite Lauren speaking to Mr Holmes about his part in creating the hit series.
We all love Roxy Music, aye? We’re a bit less sure of Ferry’s solo work, aren’t we? One thing that courses though all of his collective opus is a hint of decadence, a decadence in a time that might never have existed beyond the unreality of vinyl or celluloid. This year Netflix lured us back to the Weimar Republic of pre-war Germany with “Babylon Berlin”. I didn’t find the series quite as enthralling as many of my friends, but I did like the big choreographed night club scenes. I loved the music, especially when it threw up a new arrangement of a song I’d held dear since my teens. And it seemed the most natural thing in the unreal world of TV when Mr Ferry himself cropped up entertaining the decadent Berliners with an orchestral version of Roxy’s “Bitter Sweet”. He looked so at home, like he had found the fictitious place his songs had been searching for all these years.
Closer to home, in time space and reality, two of my favourite comedy series in 2018 have come out of Ireland. I am yet to meet a single person who was not charmed by the young characters in “Derry Girls”, but something further south captured more of my attention. And my heart. Coming of age comedy “The Young Offenders” follows the trials and tribulations of two wee rascals learning to cope with life in Cork. It has its hilarious moments but is shot through with real humanity and the viewer can’t help but root for Conor and Jock. If the lads have a nemesis it’s the local nutter Billy Murphy. Like a kid with a scab they just can’t leave him alone and, like a picking a scab, they just keeping making their relationship with Billy more intense and more dangerous. One outstanding moment has music at its heart, music by Cork’s own The Frank & Walters. Billy has hijacked a bus full of passengers, including our heroes, and having run out of ideas of what to do with it, he leads a singsong.
Go on, tell me that’s not brilliant telly.