Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Festival - Steven Moffat's Talk, and Exhibitions around town

There was a little girl in the bookshop wearing a light blue sun dress, decorated with daleks and tardises. She was also wearing a Tardis necklace.
"I bet I know where you'll be this afternoon," I said, and I showed her the Tardis badge I was wearing under my waistcoat. "I'll be there, too."
The Cinema Bookshop opens until 9pm every night this week, and last night it was my turn to be there late. This means that we get two hours off during the day, and I used my time to get to Steven Moffat's talk at the Festival. If I missed that, I really couldn't call myself a Whovian any more! He was in the Tata Tent, one of the biggest on the Festival site, and it was very nearly full.
Alan Yentob was interviewing him, and went through his career in television, including marrying into a TV dynasty, headed by Beryl Vertue, who had been involved in Dr Who in its early days, and had also invented the idea of selling the format of a show to the US. So Steptoe and Son here was re-made as Stamford and Son there, and the US version of Till Death Do Us Part was a huge hit, too. They also talked about Coupling, as well as Sherlock and Doctor Who.
Steven Moffat said that there are certain things that make a story part of the Doctor Who universe. One is the mixture of the domestic and the epic - the amazing space and time machine in a Police Phone Box; the family details in the middle of an alien invasion, or the little boy in a gas mask asking "Are you my mummy?". The other is the Doctor himself "who should look like a senior consultant, and act like a student." Steven Moffat reminded everyone that, when they were first cast, no-one thought that either David Tennant or Benedict Cumberbatch were remotely sexy! But when they'd seen Casanova, where David Tennant played the young Casanova (and Peter O'Toole played Casanova at the end of his life) they thought that some of what he did was very Doctorish. "He was basically making a long audition video!"
Steven Moffat said it was very easy to spot brilliance in the actors who came up for the parts of the Doctor and the Companions - so making the casting decisions, he claimed, was just a matter of looking at the group of actors that the casting director has gathered together and going "That's brilliant" when the actor and the script click together.
Most of the questions at the end were about Doctor Who, of course ("What can you tell us about Season 8?" "I could tell you lots of things...."). One little boy admitted to calling Cybermen Cidermen "when he was little", and Steven Moffat instantly said; "I used to do that as well!" and added that the Weeping Angels ("scary ladies with big faces") weren't very scary on the set.
As the talks were running a little late to accommodate people using the wet weather parking, which is further away from the Festival site, I had to creep out just before the end to get back to work, but I did manage to hear one more question: "Why is Doctor Who filmed in Cardiff?"
Steven Moffat said: "Because it is the place on the planet that looks most like the future, in space! Or at least - it does now." And then admitted that it had been the BBC's decision to film it in their Cardiff studios.
I didn't learn very much that was new to me, but it was a very entertaining talk, and well worth skipping out of work for!

This morning, I bumped into Athene English on my way to work, and she pointed out the place where a poor man had slipped and impaled himself on railings the night before - the air ambulance had been called out, and there were police cars, and some of the railings had to be cut away. There was red and white tape around the gap where they had been. She'd seen it all from her bedroom window. We have a charity box at work for the Air Ambulance, and they do really good work in this area. So, I hope the man wasn't too badly hurt. At least he was in good hands.

And on a happier note, the Hay yarn bomber has been putting up crocheted 'works of heart' around town.

There was a craft fair in the Buttermarket today, and I went in to admire Pedran Harps, who had come over from Pembrokeshire. I wish I were musical! They have a website at www.pedranharps.co.uk
There's also an exhibition on at Salem Chapel, of art made out of driftwood, called Artefacts, and another at Cae Mawr Studio, down the Offa's Dyke Path near the big car park, where Gaynor and Georgina Funnell are showing their pictures, along with Sarah Putt and Tracy Thursfield, Francesca Kay and Cassie Rendle. They all do really good and interesting work, in various media from painting and sculpture to knitting.
And at the Hourglass Gallery on Broad Street there's an exhibition called "Hay: People and Places as seen by Local Artists". Gaynor and Georgina Funnell, and Sarah Putt, also have work there, alongside Simon Burrage, Mark Clements, Henrietta Price-Daly, Kate Pritchard and David Pitt. That exhibition will be going on until the 7th July.

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