Dogalogue by Gill Capper

Dogalogue CoverDogalogue, which began life as a blog-on-a-dog by Gill Capper, Bridport Review’s interviewer-in-chief, has just been published as a book. Funny, poignant and beautifully written, it is all about Bridport, its people and dogs, with a cover design by Claudio Munoz of Puncknowle, who draws cartoons for the Economist. The book can be bought at Waterstones, Girls’ Own Shop, Animal House and the Fox and Worthington Gallery. It is also available as a paperback and e-book on Amazon.

• Gill will be signing copies at Animal House, South Street, on Wednesday 10 December from 11am to 1pm.

By |November 29th, 2014|Books, Exclusive, Review|1 Comment

Voice of the Daleks

Nicholas Briggs1By Gill Capper

I am travelling into a parallel universe, seeking the actor Nicholas Briggs who does the voices for the Daleks in Doctor Who. But wait. I have only got as far as a front room in South Street, Bridport. I am surrounded by a collection of tiny Daleks and Tardises. Nick Briggs is beaming at me and offering me a cup of coffee. Are they going to mind if I make jokes about being ex-ter-min-ated? No, it seems not.

Born in 1961, Nick Briggs cannot remember a time when he was not a massive fan of Doctor Who. As a small boy he watched the programme all the time. He has clear memories of William Hartnell, who played the first Doctor from 1963-66 and was “very preoccupied with the voice of the Daleks and mad about tape recorders.” And even then he was writing and designing stories of his own. Now he gets paid to do it all. But it took a long time coming.

Nick studied for his degree in theatre arts and trained as an actor at the Rose Bruford College in Kent. But times were hard in the 1980s. The actors’ union, Equity, operated a closed shop. It was difficult to find work. “It was very demoralising,” Nick says, “and I lost a lot of opportunities.” But he soon found things to do and, long before he became a Dalek, he started writing about them.

With a group of fellow fans, Nick started putting out Who-related audio dramas through the Doctor Who Appreciation Society. “It was just for fun, completely unofficial,” he says. “I was on the dole. We sold cassettes for a pound. But we put hours of our time into it and we always thought, wouldn’t it be lovely to get a licence from the BBC and do it for real?”

Over the next few years, finally licensed by the BBC, Nick began settling into his niche as a writer, actor, director, producer, sound designer and composer, working on a variety of Doctor Who spin-offs produced by the company Big Finish, of which he is now co-executive producer.

There were comic spin-offs too, parodies and spoofs, including three series of the cult post-apocalyptic sci-fi comedy Nebulous which he directed for Radio 4. But his really exciting break was still to come.

In 2005, Doctor Who (which had not been seen on our screens since 1989), was revived by Russell T Davies with Christopher Eccleston playing the Doctor. Rumours were rife. Several people “secretly” told Nick he might be up for the voice of the Daleks. “I thought it was a wind-up,” Nick says. “Then I got the call. It happened. And it changed my life.”

These days, Nick plays all the Daleks — emperor Daleks, mad Daleks, prime minister Daleks, deceptively sympathetic-seeming Daleks — and he modestly claims to have upped the emotional quotient of these iconic “motorised dustbins” from about 10 to 30 per cent.

He plays a host of other villains, too: Cybermen, Ice Warriors, Judoon. As his mum says, “all those strange noises emanating from your bedroom have finally paid off.”

And he loves every minute of it. He brings his voice-distorting Ring Modulator to rehearsals and “it always brings the house down.” He is always on set during filming because, as he explains excitedly, “it is my voice, through a wire, that makes the lights flash in time. You can really exorcise your demons with the Dalek voice and all that shouting.”

Nick gets to hang out with famous dyed-in-the-woollen-scarf fans such as David Tennant and Peter Capaldi. And since he was chucked off the Celebrity Weakest Link Doctor Who Special for not knowing who Tiger Woods was (“I don’t watch sport”), he is even being recognised in the street himself.

It is a cracking Boy’s Own story. And now he is fulfilling yet another of his life’s ambitions: to live near the sea. In Bridport for the past three years, with his wife and a small son who is determined to carry on the family business, he couldn’t be happier.

“I am a very lucky man,” says Nick. “I have a pretty small skill-set. I can touch-type, I can grow a beard quickly, I can row a boat and I can sound like a Dalek. But Doctor Who is still my favourite thing. It always was.”

  • Nicholas Briggs will be playing Metatron, The Voice of God, in Radio 4’s production of Sir Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel Good Omens, a series of five episodes during Christmas week.
By |November 25th, 2014|Exclusive, Gill Capper, People|1 Comment

Brooke and Adam

Brooke and AdamBritish Legion Hall
22 November 2014

By Jonah Corren

The patience of much of the audience was tested to the limit, for Brooke and Adam, the main event, did not appear until far too late in the evening. Indeed, the sound of the background music fading at around 9.45pm signalled the long overdue beginning of Brooke and Adam’s set, and even then it took a few songs for the duo to really get going. But with the arrival of a French chanson, the first number sung by Brooke Sharkey, we were away.

On the earlier songs, Adam Beattie’s clearly defined vocals were fine, but Brooke’s were of a different order. With Adam harmonising and playing electric guitar, it was clear that the set had really started.
Alas, two songs later, Brooke announced that there would be yet another interval. I ventured upstairs where I found a group of children chatting in a corner with the teenagers I had come with. They all made it clear that this event held little appeal to young people. The atmosphere and setting just did not suit them.

Nevertheless, the last half an hour of the gig was excellent, easily the best. All of the songs produced by the duo during this period were fantastic. The first was sung entirely a cappella, bar an egg-shaker confidently brandished by Brooke. My favourite song was introduced as being inspired by a Chinese proverb. For this, the double-bass player who accompanied the support act, Son of Richard, was invited on stage to add an extra level of texture to the piece. The addition of the double bass also allowed Adam an impressive guitar solo in which he showed his prowess with the instrument.

Brooke and Adam’s final piece was a sweet tribute to Adam’s late grandfather, who died after turning one hundred. The audience was invited to sing along in the chorus, accompanied by poetic verses recounting the last hundred years.

All in all, the event was enjoyable, even if it took too long to get going. I would recommend Brooke and Adam to anyone who enjoys soft, folksy music, and I suggest keeping an eye out for any upcoming gigs of theirs in the future.

By |November 23rd, 2014|Jonah Corren, Music, Review|0 Comments

Malabar Trading

Malabar Trading
33 South Street
01308 425734
Open: Mon-Sat, 10-5

It is the beauty of the interior of Malabar Trading that first appeals to the senses; the door leads from the bustle of South Street to a haven of colour and texture, a cornucopia of cotton, silk, wool, ceramics and much else from around the world. It is the eye and expeditionary zeal of Robyn Huxter, the shop’s owner, that brings us such bounty. Twice a year, she travels to India on buying missions, seeking traditional textiles and goods whose methods of manufacture and design are classic, timeless and diminishing. She also goes to Turkey twice a year as well as to a vast trade fair in Paris to source ceramics from Japan, cookware from the continent. “I know what’s good; I can see it,” she says.

Huxter, who was born in South Africa, came to Bridport 25 years ago and established her enterprise at the turn of the Millennium, claims that she is “not a good businesswoman” and that she never buys purely with the aim of financial gain. “Over the years, I have sold all sorts of treasures without knowing their true value,” she says. But then, of course, beauty is priceless.

By |November 18th, 2014|Shops|0 Comments

Excellent, Elucidating, Elitist…

BR OpinionIn the cultural life of Bridport, the Literary Festival is a jewel in the crown. Just look at the stature and variety of those who have been lured to educate, inform and entertain us this week: Professor John Carey, Sir Roy Strong, Jung Chang, to name but three.

But despite such excellence, is the Festival not rather exclusive, a mind-fest for the high-brow, the well-to-do and retired; in short, the literary luvvies? There is nothing for kids, nothing for young people, and there are no concessions in admission-price.

So who does benefit? The director is paid some £8,000. The venues are paid for room-hire and gain additional custom; the writers leave their garrets to flog some books and be told they’re wonderful; the lit. luvvies get subsidised tickets.

None of this would matter except for the fact that the Festival is a registered charity, which involves benefits, such as tax exemption, but also responsibilities. According to their stated objectives, the Bridport Literary Festival Limited exists (and justifies its charitable status) “for the advancement of education by promoting and providing opportunities for the appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of literature and the arts and, in particular, through the promotion and running of a literary festival in Bridport to provide opportunities for the general public to read for pleasure and to increase their knowledge, understanding and appreciation of any matters [of] literary, historic, artistic, architectural, aesthetic or scientific interest.”

The key words, surely, are ‘education’ and ‘general public’.

So come on, Bridport Literary Festival, don’t rest on your undoubted laurels. Broaden your scope and appeal. Let’s have some popular authors; let’s have books for all; let’s have events for the young folks and kids.

By |November 16th, 2014|Opinion|0 Comments