Chip Off The Old Block…

Chip off the old block: your editor was sent by The Sunday Times to interview two boxers, one retired, one active, father and son and both named Christopher Livingstone Eubank.

This was the scene in a gym somewhere in Croydon last Friday.Eubank

By |October 18th, 2015|People|0 Comments

A Wanderer Settles Down Behind The Lens

Brendan selfieBy Gill Capper

Brendan Buesnel is so handsome and rugged in a rural sort of way that he looks as if he’s walked straight off the set of Far From the Madding Crowd. He is, in fact, on the other side of the camera; a photographer, and one with a growing reputation.

Born in 1978 in East Sussex, he came to the South West in 2001 after an enlightening extended trip to India and Pakistan after the death of his father. He stayed for a while in Camelford, restoring an old Cornish barn, followed by six years living at Monkton Wyld Court, where he stopped, on a whim – “when I was literally hitch-hiking back to Sussex” – for a weekend of volunteering.

“I was a bit of a wanderer in those days, and being part of the community at Monkton Wyld restored my faith in Western society,” Brendan says. It was there that he met his Californian wife, Mary, who was there on a retreat, and became a father to their daughter, Nara. (A son, Ethan, was born in 2009). And he was always taking photographs, “often with my Dad’s old Zenit camera.”

In 2005, he signed up for a weekend documentary photography course, led by Ron Frampton at Dillington House, phoning up on impulse after spotting an advert in the Marshwood Vale magazine when he was out for an evening in the Bottle Inn. It went so well that he decided to apply for a five-year Royal Photographic Society course and graduated with distinction in 2010.

The course was rigorous and classical – “a lot of dark-room work” – and Brendan remains a passionate advocate of the old techniques. “I find that the relationship with silver, which is the active element reacting to the light, absolutely magical. And I believe in the archival importance of old style print photography as well. We don’t know how long digital images will survive.”

Brendon M. Portrait2

Sculptor Brendon Murless, photographed by Brendan Buesnel

It is not easy, however, to survive as a photographer, and for a while he took photos on the side while working as a commis chef for River Cottage, followed by a stint as a cobb-and-lime restoration labourer in Axminster. A bad shoulder injury put an end to that, but happily it gave him the push he needed to “make that leap and go for it” as a professional photographer.

Now settled in Bridport with his young family, he has been trading officially for a year, trying to balance the creative side with the bread-and-butter stuff that pays the bills. “I can’t afford to be too niche about what I am doing. There are a lot of keen amateur photographers in Dorset and I really admire their work but I can’t compete with their prices.”

Brendan’s most artistic works, particularly the landscapes, are lyrical, original and breathtakingly beautiful. “One thing I want to avoid is the whole Colmer’s Hill and East Cliff thing. I love those places but I like to look for a different way of seeing something.”

Last year, seeking a new challenge to work in colour, he embarked on a series of artist’s portraits during Dorset Arts Week. But during the summer he still had to do a bit of grape picking in Litton Cheney to make ends meet. He doesn’t seem to mind: “It’s part of living down here.” And his photography business is growing all the time, often through word of mouth.

Recently he finished a year-long architectural archive documentation of a 14th century rectory in Sussex. He covered the B-Side Festival on Portland and Landance at the Valley of the Stones, among other documentary projects.

He seems a modest man, thoughtful, still a little unsure of himself and his place in the world, but I am sure that we will be seeing more of Brendan Buesnel around and about. As he says, “this area is so amazing and the people are amazing and I carry a camera everywhere because you never know…”

Phone: 0789-217911

By |January 15th, 2015|Gill Capper, People|0 Comments

James Breaks Record

It was a close-run thing and he had to do it the hard way, but James Campbell broke the world record for the longest distance covered in 24 hours by a lightweight rower on a Concept II rowing machine.

Campbell, who trained for the record attempt at Bridport Leisure Centre (see previous post), beat the previous record by six kilometres, setting a new mark at 272 kilometres. But he suffered in the process. Starting at 7pm on Boxing Day at Joe’s gym in Swanage, Campbell felt sick after just two hours. For the following 12 hours he was hardly able to eat and could only take sips of water. Unable to ‘refuel’, he fell behind schedule and even considered giving up the attempt.

Helped through the night by his mother and a friend, Skip Graham, Campbell kept going and felt better as the sun rose on Saturday 27 December. At last he was able to eat and with a few hours to go was back on schedule. Rowing faster and faster, he passed the record with half an hour to go and carried on to set the new mark. During the 24-hour ordeal, Campbell slept twice, for 10 and five minutes.

Campbell’s extreme method of spoiling Christmas was in aid of the Heroes Haven charity, which provides affordable holidays for injured and disabled servicemen and ex-servicemen.

Bridport Leisure Centre has supported Campbell by giving him free temporary membership. We can support him by donating through:

By |December 28th, 2014|People, World Record|0 Comments

Bridport’s Nicholas Briggs in R4 Good Omens…

The first episode of GOOD OMENS is Radio 4 Monday Dec 22 at 11:00 pm
Doctor Who’s voice of Daleks is voice of God in Good Omens
Ever wanted to hear what a Dalek (aka Nicholas Briggs) sounds like when it’s playing God (when are they not)? The Radio 4 adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens might just be your chance…read more

By |December 16th, 2014|People|0 Comments

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