BUSHELL ON THE BLOG
Dec 30. My albums of the year, from Beyoncé to The Mysterines via Suzi Moon & Jo Harrop are in today’s Daily Express & Daily Mirror only, like a plum, I forgot the Interrupters’ In The Wild, already a firm favourite. My full TV awards are in this weekend’s Daily Star Sunday and the traditional Barftas are here.
STOP PRESS. RIP Vivienne Westwood – she really was an ‘influencer’.
Dec 28. RIP John Bird, the satirist who has pegged it at 86. Bird has been sending up the pompous and powerful since the mid-1960s but is best remembered for dissecting New Labour’s cant and piety on the television’s sharpest satirical series Bremner, Bird and Fortune – shining a comic light on Blairite bull-shine. We need real satire more than ever in these desperate days but sadly the cupboard is bare. Nobody on TV has the balls to take on the dominant bourgeois group-think.
Dec 21. Jeremy Clarkson is being accused of all sorts of isms by the cancel culture vultures for his Meghan Markle remarks. But Clarkson’s critics are either thick or disingenuous. Anyone with a brain would have realised his column was referring to the Game Of Thrones Walk of Shame when queen mum Cersei was forced to stagger naked through the hostile citizens of Westeros. He didn’t target Megs because she is black or female, but because in his view – and the view of many more – she is a destructive pampered princess out of touch with reality. It’s a royal thing not a race thing. Meghan was a beautiful addition to the royal family at first, but clearly nobody had bothered to explain to her the difference between celebrity and royalty (and the life of duty that entails). She is what I’d call NFH, Normal for Hollywood, in that she is entirely self-centred, out for a buck and capable of bending reality to suit her interests. Many Britons who welcomed her have had enough of her and Harry’s whingeing about their “suffering” when they’ve essentially swapped one life of privilege for another less demanding one. To see real suffering, the hapless duo should take a stroll down Skid Row where thousands of homeless souls live on the LA streets.
Let’s hopeless the gutless Sun don’t sack Clarkson. His column is one of the very few things in that sinking paper worth reading. Funny isn’t it that the people calling out for Clarkson’s cancellation had nothing to say when C4 favourite Jo Brand joked about throwing acid in Nigel Farage’s face or millionaire BBC star Frankie Boyle quipped that he’d like to rape and murder Holly Willoughby. Seems you can be as sick as you like as long as you toe the ‘correct’ culturati line.
Dec 19. So sad to hear that we’ve lost Terry Hall, aged 63, after a short illness. The news had my mind racing back to the day I met him at Aylesbury Friars on the 28th June 1978. That night Terry and the band opened for The Clash as The Specials but that morning they had been the Coventry Automatics. Even then the fusion at the heart of Two-Tone was obvious – the glorious blend of Jamaican Ska and skinhead reggae with punk energy and attitude. The Ska intensified, the punk made danceable. The band were the brainchild of Jerry Dammers who had seen Terry in his punk band The Squad and recruited him. After the initials delay of first manager Bernie Rhodes holding them back for months, the band released their debut single Gangsters – Prince Buster’s Al Capone re-worked – the following March beginning their chart success and kick-starting a movement. On stage, Terry was a dour, glowering figure – the eye of the reggae-infused storm. His voice had an ethereal quality. They’d recorded their first demos with Pete Waterman and their first album with Elvis Costello, which was released on their own 2-Tone label via Chrysalis. Sounds – me and Dave McCullough – and John Peel backed them all the way. The band’s message was one of unity and racial tolerance. It caught the imagination of a generation of “rudies”. Too Much Too Young was their first No 1. But they are best remembered now for 1981’s brilliant Ghost Town which reflected the growing anger at rising unemployment while Britain’s cities burned. We didn’t know then of the dreadful three-day ordeal Terry had suffered when his teacher handed him over to a French paedophile gang. Terry, who was a clerical worker in a stamp and coin dealership before the band broke, had also been a promising footballer who had trials for West Brom (but supported Man U). He’d seen the Pistols play at Lancaster Poly and found his calling. I was lucky enough to go on the first two 2-Tone tours, and to go to New York when they took on America. Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry were there to see them. They and The Selecter lit the fire that produced third wave ska, but the pressure broke them both. Terry quit with Lynval and Neville to have a new run of pop success in the Fun Boy Three. Later he suffered a breakdown and was diagnosed as bi-polar. But I remember him as a sweet, shy guy with a huge inner strength.
Dec 18. I’m talking telly with lovely Linda Regan, the former Hi-de-Hi! comedy star turned chilling crime author in today’s Sunday Express Review. Call The Midwife’s Laura Maine is our cover star.
Dec 16. Gilbert O’Sullivan leads the charge in this week’s album reviews which also include the Ruts DC, Tom Petty and Hugh Cornwell – all in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Dec 15. Nurses were on strike today. But don’t blame the RCN – blame the government. They should never have let it come to this. My late father was a fireman (stationed at Shadwell, Shoreditch and Lambeth) and a socialist, but he opposed the FBU strikes of the 70s on the grounds that the Fire Brigade were a public service whose job was to protect people. With nurses and doctors, the same logic applies. Doctors take the oath “primum non nocere” – do no harm. The life-saving professions should not be in a position where they feel the need to down tools and endanger lives. Nor should our hospitals be plagued by worrying shortfalls of nursing and other medical staff. It will take a government with more balls than the current mob to tackle the rot in the NHS. Sending the army in is short termism. Who is thinking long term? The rest of us can look forward to a festive lockdown with no trains, no heat, no post, temperamental power supplies and intermittent internet. If you fall ill and you’re really lucky, you might be able to catch a train replacement service bus to the nearest Emergency Care waiting room where you can pass away at your leisure. Don’t worry about it, though. When you start to pen and ink, other patients will kindly place your rotting corpse out by the bins where you can queue up to be buried just as soon as the grave-diggers’ strike ends. One out, all out.
Our rulers say we all need to tighten our belts because of inflation – that’s the inflation they have largely caused, like the energy crisis they have entirely caused. We are told railway signalmen are trousering huge wages. Really? The CEO of Network Rail is our £590,000 a year. Now that’s a wage packet. There is good news though. There are no rail strikes where you live today. No. Those cancellations were all pre-scheduled.
Dec 11. Joss Stone, the Devon-sent soul singer with the voice as big as Buckfast Abbey, fills me in on her family and her surprisingly good festive album in today’s Sunday Express Review, and I’m talking telly with West End star Carrie Hope Fletcher, now in panto at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre.
Dec 10. Thanks to the merry crew who packed out the Hopper’s Hut for my Gonads acoustic Christmas knees-up last night. It was tough going on after the England game – I told the crowd, “Well you’ve sat through one disappointing tragedy and now here’s another…” – but what a great audience. We came off feeling higher than Harry Kane’s penalty shot (the ball’s still in orbit). 56 years of hurt, and no hope of that changing under Southgate. Anyone else supporting Morocco? Rabat Barmy Army!
RIP – or should that be bye-de-bye – to Hi-de-Hi favourite Ruth Madoc, aka Gladys Pugh, who has gone to the great Maplins camp in the sky aged 79. Good night, campers.
Dec 9. Another eclectic mix of album reviews this week: Razorlight, Carl Cox, Julia Bullock and Ian Anderson – all in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Dec 4. A bumper feast of entertainers in today’s Sunday Express. Here’s my piece on the Proper Comedians show down in Southsea with legends like Mick Miller and Jimmy “Kinnell” Jones.
And here is Bobby Davro, our Review cover star - I’m also talking telly with, um, Basil Brush…
Dec 3. So it turns out that Ngozi Fulani was born Marlene Headley, and despite being a Londoner chooses to dress in African style, which is of course her right. But if I turned up at a posh do calling myself Jock O’Groats-MacTaggart and sporting a kilt with a bagpipe under my arm, should I be insulted if someone asks what part of Scotland I’m from? This whole thing smacks of a harmless old lady making polite conversation with someone rather too eager to be offended.
Dec 2. This week’s music reviews: Stormzy, the Paul McCartney singles box set, lively upstarts Jo Jo & The Teeth, and the immaculate Joan Armatrading – all in today’s Daily Express and The Mirror.
RIP Cast Iron Steve Smith of Red Alert. Let’s hope St Pete has kept the bar well stocked.
Lady Susan Hussey, 83, the Queen’s former lady-in-waiting, has been unceremoniously cancelled after decades of service after some hoo-ha involving charity boss Ngozi Fulani. As far as I can see, the Palace has hung her out to dry; nobody has even asked to hear her side of the story. In today’s topsy-turvy cancel culture world, the presumption of innocence goes straight out the window.
Nov 30. Another great loss. RIP Christine McVie, of Fleetwood Mac – the closest rock every got to a soap opera.
Nov 27. Andre Rieu is today’s Sunday Express Review cover star, and I’m talking telly with Chris Norman of Smokie…
Nov 25. Madness at the Palladium, Foxton & Hastings, Arthur Lee’s Love and the mighty Guns N’ Roses. All reviewed in today’s Mirror & Daily Express.
Nov 23. RIP Wilko Johnson. The Dr Feelgood guitar legend always looked like an escaped psychopath with his pudding bason barnet and prison wing stare, but what a band, and what a survivor. Wilko, real name John Wilkinson, was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2013 and managed to hang on for another nine glorious years.
RIP also US singer Joyce Bryant, aka “the black Marilyn” and “Belter Bryant” – listen to her version of Love For Sale, she was different class – and Garry Roberts, guitarist with the Boomtown Rats.
Nov 20. The multi-talented Bocelli family grace our front cover and I’m talking telly with Holby star and Strictly winner Tom Chambers, only in today’s Sunday Express Review.
Nov 18. Jimi Hendrix blows my mind now as much as he did when I was fourteen years old. His posthumous two-hour live set Los Angeles Forum: April 26, 1969 – recorded two months before the Experience broke up – is about as laid-back as an email from Gavin Williamson. You can read all about it in today’s Daily Express and Mirror, along with reviews of albums by Zeeteah Massiah, Spear Of Destiny, and the latest Dreamboats & Petticoats comp.
Nov 17. Jeremy Hunt picks the pockets of anyone who works hard and strives for a better life in his Autumn Statement, raising taxes like Denis Healey with a hangover. Even Gordon Brown might have had doubts about hitting the working population this hard. Hunt blames record levels of debt on global factors and the Ukraine war. But it wasn’t Putin who locked down the country, squandered billions on furloughs and “eat out to help out”, committed to insane net zero targets and chucked yet more of our money on the failing NHS without any attempt to ensure spending was cost effective. All of that was down to this useless government. They aren’t conservative in any meaningful sense, nor do they represent the wishes of Tory voters, let alone everyone else. The Conservative Party is only in a marginally better state than Monty Python’s parrot. If a new political force emerges that challenges their dismal, big-state, high-tax, suicidal agenda, the Conservatives will cease to be. Good. The political class and the Whitehall blob all need a whopping great DM boot up the Khyber.
Nov 13. Justice Secretary Dominic Raab is accused of hurling tomatoes at a meeting room in front of civil servants. He threw them into a bag, but the incident in June is said to have distressed the poor loves. Grow up! They were lucky. Kelvin MacKenzie would have thrown tomatoes at staff back in the 80s. And he wouldn’t have taken them out of the tin either.
Nov 13. Hugh Cornwell talks about the wild days of The Stranglers in today’s Sunday Express Review and I’m talking telly with Gilbert O’Sullivan.
Nov 12. Sad to hear of the death of Keith Levene, one of the great post-punk guitarists, and also Hawkwind’s Nik Turner (the mighty thunder rider) who has died aged 82. I was 15 when I saw them live, way back in the mists of time at the end of an Aldermaston march.
Nov 11. On Remembrance Day we remember the great fallen but also the survivors, who we can help by donating to the Poppy Appeal. Beware of sabre-rattling politicians who forget the lessons of history.
Bruce Springsteen’s glorious old soul album, Only The Strong Survive, is my lead review in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror, along with The Selecter’s re-issued Celebrate The Bullet, Florida Georgia Line’s greatest hits and Aled Jones & Russell Watson’s Christmas album.
Last night Matt Hancock ate camel’s dick, sheep’s fanny and cow’s arse… which I believe is also part of the initiation ceremony for the Bullingdon club…
Nov 10. Matt Hancock is staking his future on celebrity TV shows. Wise maybe as the useless Tories are on course to get hammered at the next elections – and deservedly so. What a shame Labour are just as shoddy. Where is the alternative?
Nov 7. Cop 27 has started. Hurrah! Cop 27 sounds like Jim Davidson’s annual summer season and panto dancer target in the 80s. It’s actually something global leaders and bigwigs fly to in private jets and get ferried about in limousine motorcades to talk about reducing CO2 emissions…
Nov 6. I’m chatting with singing sensations and bantering buddies Aled Jones & Russell Watson in today’s Sunday Express Review and talking telly with Bruce Foxton, former star of The Jam – without question one of the greatest bands of their era.
Nov 4. An unusual mix of albums this week – Taylor Swift, Blue, the Cockney Rejects and the Soul Dogs. All reviewed in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Nov 3. Humans would use arithmetic to communicate with aliens, say boffins on BBC2 tonight. That would really work well… as long as their first contact wasn’t with Diane Abbott.
Well done Matt Hancock. Finally a politician putting the public first. By going on I’m A Celebrity and suffering humiliating showers of bugs and gunge, eating kangaroo cock and squealing like a girl, the former health secretary will achieve what none of our other third-rate MPs can do – putting a smile on our faces. What a chap! And hey ITV, if it’s a one-way trip, even better.
Oct 30. “Gordon’s alive!” Booming Brian Blessed is today’s Sunday Express Review cover star and I’m talking telly with sitcom master craftsman Maurice Gran, co-creator and co-writer of Birds Of A Feather, Goodnight Sweetheart, The New Statesman & more.
So sad to hear about the death of Sara Barrett, a lovely talented woman who helped make our San Diego gig so much fun. My condolences to her loved ones.
Oct 29. RIP Jerry Lee Lewis, one of the godfathers of original rock’n’roll famous for immortal hits like Great Balls Of Fire. And for marrying his cousin Myra when she was thirteen (not uncommon in small-town Mississippi at the time). Raised a devout Christian, dirt poor farmer’s son Lewis was won over by “the Devil’s music”. Songs like Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On were banned by radio stations – back then the “ban it” brigade were uptight religious censors not unthinking trendy sheep – but this just added to his appeal. I was lucky enough to see Lewis in my mid-teens; he put on an incredible show. The hell-raiser’s career was littered with scandals – bigamy, multiple marriages, addictions an arrest for driving into the gates of Graceland with a loaded gun…more than enough to get him cancelled these days. But the music lives on. Oh for that energy and excitement to explode again now.
Oct 28. This week’s album reviews – the Dave Clark Five vinyl boxset, Ball & Boe do Vegas, The Beatles’ Revolver 2022 and the Bocelli Family, all in today’s Daily Express and the Daily Mirror. Spot the mistake on the page and win a no-prize.
Oct 27. Rishi’s stand on fracking, high taxes, nobbling small businesses and penalising the self-employed might play well with the markets and the managerial establishment but not with grass roots Tory voters. One key test will be Murdoch. If he thinks Rishi can’t get elected, he will a) court Reform UK but b) throw the Sun behind Starmer. Meanwhile Reform’s membership is shooting up faster than the cost of living.
Oct 25. Lionel Rishi is our new Prime Minister. Hurrah! This is the same dishy Rishi Sunak who lost the Tory leadership battle to Liz Truss who went on to lose hands-down to the Daily Star’s lettuce. Yep, Rishi has got winner written all over him… But give the bloke a chance. Rishi is determined to tackle the economic turmoil of national debt, high taxes and run-away inflation largely caused by that idiotic Chancellor with the cheesy grin who blew £70billion on furlough etc. What was his name again?
Oct 23. Dave Clark tells me all about the Dave Clark Five’s luck-fuelled rise to fame and the hazards thereof in today’s Sunday Express Review and I’m talking telly with wonderful Judith Owen.
Oct 22. What a smug-fest Friday Night Live was last night. Loadsamoney Ben Elton is still foaming at the mouth but he didn’t have a single decent gag on the C4 show’s one-off 40th anniversary return. Defending his 80s self, Elton had another pop at Benny Hill as if his spiteful, misinformed role in Benny’s demise was his only problem. He said nothing about why more radical stand-ups call him a sell-out. If Jim Davidson had worked with apartheid sanction busters, we’d still be hearing about it today. ‘Left-wing’ millionaire Ben did, yet his reputation in TV circles is untarnished. One rule for right-on middle-class graduates…
Oct 21. Truss has fallen. Will Boris make a comeback? He’s probably the only one can save the Tories from total wipeout. Be careful what you wish for, though. Johnson has charisma but his high-tax, big-spend, open-borders approach is hardly Conservative.
This week’s albums: the Arctic Monkeys’ stalling The Car, plus Simple Minds, The Manhattan Transfer and the Dirty Dancing soundtrack back on vinyl (including the incredible Merry Clayton).
Oct 20. Nigel Farage is openly talking about forming a new radical party committed to lower taxes, more freedom and tougher immigration controls. (Isn’t that Reform UK?). Hold on to your hats, he ticks boxes most Conservative MPs abhor.
Oct 19. The knives are coming out for Liz. I wouldn’t put money on her out-lasting the Daily Star’s lettuce. These are desperate days for the dying Tory Party. You wouldn’t be to surprised if Jacob Rees-Mogg was caught on a window ledge by the paparazzi clutching an Ouija board as he tries to persuade Maggie back. Seriously how can Truss work with Hunt and Grant Shapps, the bloke who was plotting against her? We’re watching Establishment/Remainiac players subvert her government and impose policies which have no mandate. And crucially policies that will crucify small business owners who are their beating heart. This is a dead party.
Oct 18. James Corden was briefly banned from Manhattan restaurant Balhazar for throwing a wobbly over poor service, claims the owner on Instagram. Keith McNally called the late-night TV host “a tiny cretin of a man”. He reckons Corden demanded free booze after finding a hair in his food, and was then “extremely nasty” to the restaurant manager. This is New York of course, so we can take “extremely nasty” with a pinch of salt. It seems unlikely that Corden kneecapped him with a handy steak knife, and we must wait for Tubs to have his say. But as a general rule I can’t abide posh berks being rude to waiters and bar staff. I was once wined and dined by Norman Murray and his business partner Ann Chudleigh, then two of the biggest showbiz agents in Britain. They had represented the great Les Dawson and their biggest living client at the time was Michael Barrymore then at the peak of his fame. I was flattered by their interest, but Norman was so over-the-top rude to the waiter – over a bread roll – that I turned them down. I didn’t want to work with anyone who could treat people like that. That said, you can’t help but wonder how different things would’ve been if I’d put up with it…
Oct 16. Alfie Boe and Michael Ball light up today’s Sunday Express Review, and I’m talking telly with Canterbury stand-up comedian Harriet Kemsley.
Oct 15. Another day, another death. RIP drummer Steve Roberts of the UK Subs, the man who partly inspired me to write the Gonads’ indie hit I Lost My Love (To A UK Sub), like all our songs, a very true story.
Oct 14. My Millwall mate Kev just described Truss firing Kwasi Kwarteng as being “a bit like Rod Hull sacking Emu”. It’s certainly comic. Tragi-comic anyway. Woeful Liz sacked the Chancellor for carrying out her policies – the ones she campaigned on and the ones she defended until about five minutes ago. If she had any decency, she’d stand down. God knows who the Tories would follow her with though. Norman Wisdom’s dead.
This week’s top-drawer new albums, from The Cult, the Lightning Seeds, Gun and Paul Jones…reviewed in the usual places.
Sorry to hear of the death today of tattooist Dennis Cockell at, I’m guessing, 72. He was a likeable cove, well-respected in the ink industry. His old-school tatts adorn the arms of Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, Stray Cats Brian Seltzer & Slim Jim, and less glamorously my own, among many others. RIP Dennis.
Oct 13. The Tory Party is in the middle of a collective nervous breakdown. Ex-ministers now outnumber MPs who’ve never been in government on the back benches, and all of them think they could do better than the Prime Minister. In Liz’s case, not hard. But why move against Boris without having a solid replacement? Their open scheming and brutal treachery have already lost the Tories the next election. I think they’re finished. It’s terminal, death by suicide. You won’t like what comes next.
Oct 12. King Charles is to appear on The Repair Shop. What will he ask Jay and co to repair, His Majesty’s Government or his brother’s reputation?
Oct 9. The Manhattan Transfer’s Alan Paul tells me why it’s la fin d’amour for the quartet in today’s Sunday Express Review and I’m talking telly with Joelah Noble. Plus today’s TV column in the Star asks: Tory or Targaryen, which dynasty is more doomed?
Oct 7. Another fine week for new music. Albums from The Snuts, Willow, Judith Owen and Ashley McBryde are reviewed in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Oct 6. RIP Raymond Allen, the creator of Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em, the sitcom that gave the world Michael Crawford’s Frank Spencer and Michelle Dotrice as his long-suffering wife Betty. At its peak 20million watched, back when comedy was the beating heart of our culture.
Oct 5. We could be witnessing the end of the Conservatives as a governing party. All the back-stabbing and bad blood at conference is a symptom of divisions that simply can’t be healed. The Tories can’t continue as an alliance of radically opposed factions. Remainers and Brexiteers, statists and libertarians, immigration controllers and free movement fanatics…they co-exist about as happily as Itchy and Scratchy. When Labour, as looks likely, win the next election and force Proportional Representation on us, it will keep the Tories out of power for good. Their sole hope of influence would be as a neutered, compromised part of a coalition government. PR will work to the benefit of Left/Liberal statists, the people who have been effectively governing Britain since Blair’s 1997 victory. Cameron saw himself as the heir to Blair, Boris was a high-tax, high-spend, big-state man. Liz Truss’s attempt to do something different galvanised the entire establishment, from the Blob to hostile foreign players via most of the Media, to try and get shot of her. PR, they believe, will ensure such upsets to their master plan won’t ever happen again. There is a problem though. PR – which would probably see the Tories fracture into right-centrist and old-school Whig parties – would also revive parties which are considered to be extreme. It would boost the far-Left and also the far-Right. The BNP got nearly a million votes in 2009. Under PR, Britain would have had BNP MPs. In 2014, UKIP (only “extreme” to the Guardian) won more than four million. Our political system is broken, and voters are looking for change. As well as giving a leg up to the Greens, PR it will almost certainly produce a British equivalent of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, or even a Georgia Meloni. Be careful what you wish for. Those of us who hope for a future of freedom and opportunity will need to find new wagons to hitch our horses to.
Oct 3. The Tory Conference slogan is Get Britain Moving, which sounds more suited to an advert for Ex-Lax. If you could start with the trains, Liz, it’d be a great help.
Oct 3. He was Archie Shuttleworth on Coronation Street, Max Miller on the stage, and a radio star whose satirical series The News Huddlines ran for more than a quarter of a century. Now affable, gap-toothed funny-man Roy Hudd, who died two years ago aged 83, is to be immortalised in bronze. Stars of comedy, music, radio and television are joining a campaign to raise £100,000 for the statue which will be situated outside of his favourite theatre. Roy’s widow Debbie tried to organise a theatre memorial three times but was sabotaged by lockdown; so instead, she threw herself into something more permanent.” Former dancer Debbie, 63, has recruited sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn – who created the award-winning statue of Sir Alf Ramsey – to sculpt Roy. Paul O’Grady will front the fund-raising campaign. Zany comic Joe Pasquale and keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman will headline theatre shows and next March the old News Huddlines team will stage a special live event called The Roy Huddlines with sketches based around all the things that Roy loved including Crystal Palace FC, variety and the Music Hall.
The statue will find a permanent home outside the Royal Theatre Bury St Edmunds, where Hudd frequently performed his one-man show to packed houses. Said Debbie, “He won’t be up on a pedestal, that wasn’t Roy. He’ll be sitting on a bench outside so he can greet the audience as they arrive and, in the interval, you can go and have a gin and tonic with him.”
Croydon-born carpenter’s son Hudd began his career as a Butlin’s redcoat in Clacton alongside Dave O’Mahony (aka the great Dave Allen) and Harry Webb, better known to the world as Sir Cliff Richard. His stage performances ranged from pantomimes to Shakespeare. He played Fagin in a revival of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! and was an award-winning Bud Flanagan in Underneath The Arches. Straight TV roles included Dennis Potter’s Lipstick on Your Collar and Karaoke, Common As Muck and a variety of guests roles ranging from Casualty to Broadchurch. The News Huddlines ran for more than fifty series on BBC Radio 2 and was viewed as a training ground for comedy writers – alumni included David Renwick and Andy Hamilton. A Max Miller super-fan, Roy wrote dozens of books on Music Hall and showbusiness, amassed a collection of memorabilia, and helped raise funds to preserve and restore historic theatres. He also led the campaign to raise a statue of Miller in Brighton. Appointed an OBE in 2004, Roy has one son Max from his first marriage. He married second wife Debbie Flitcroft in 1988 after they met in the cast of Babes In The Wood. She was the babe; he had the wood… as he probably would have joked himself.
*To donate to the statue appeal visit theroyhuddstatueappeal.co.uk
Oct 2. Motown legend Duke Fakir of The Four Tops is our big Review interview this morning & I’m talking TV with Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman, all in today’s Sunday Express Review.
Sept 30. Cracking new albums out today from Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Pixies, Rita Wilson & the Dropkick Murphys – all reviewed in the Daily Express & Daily Mirror as usual.
Sept 28. When I was a young revolutionary, my comrades and I firmly believed that any left-leaning Labour government would be undermined from the off by the International Monetary Fund and all of the tentacles of ruling class power. So it’s odd to see Liz Truss facing that very same ruthless backlash right now, with sterling’s temporary plummet being used to crank up another Project Fear fright-fest. I don’t think it’s the job, or the right, of the IMF and American Democrats to tell our elected governments what to do. But I do think it’s odd that Kwasi lowering the top rate of tax to 40per cent has agitated them so when the top rate of tax in the USA is 37per cent, and you have to be earning £500,000 a year before you have to pay it. I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but is it possible this hysterical panic is being orchestrated by the ruling elite to drive us back to the EU?
The rattled Tories are already sharpening their knives to get shot of Liz. What a shame they haven’t got a replacement leader lined up. Say a jovial, electable and charismatic blond chap who voters love enough to forgive their small misdemeanours. Oh wait…
Sept 25. Low culture meets high culture as I chat to brilliant bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel about his incredible career and forthcoming UK tour in today’s Sunday Express Review – online here. And I’m talking telly with Olympian Fatima Whitbread.
Sept 24. Liz Truss and “Kami”-Kwasi Kwarteng have gone full Maggie on the economy, slashing taxes by £45billion, doubling the stamp duty threshold, green-lighting investment zones and axing the bankers’ bonus cap in a bold bid to kickstart a recovery. A good time to be rich. Will the audacious gamble work for the economy? They believe cutting high taxes, state spending and red-tape will crank up long-term growth. Let’s hope so. The strategy is Reaganomics, of course, but the only “trickle down” that ever happened back then was on Ronnie’s third nighttime trip to the bog. The danger is it will play out the same way at Anthony Barber’s 1972 budget – a quick boom, making inflation worse, followed by a bad bust. It’s certainly created clear blue water between the Tories and Sir Keir Starmer’s neutered Labour Party. Keir would have stuck with Treasury orthodoxy – the failed, fudged policies and woeful growth of the last 15 years. The biggest open goal he’ll keep on missing is the Tories’ lax approach to illegal immigration. Boris turned a blind eye to it, as Liz will, because they want cheap foreign labour to undercut working-class wages. Meanwhile, public spending and state borrowing are still way too high, especially the fortunes wasted on NHS middle management. Maybe that will be Liz’s next trick…
Truss hates all hand-outs… except for ones aimed at minted parasites. Strangely not a slogan she employed in the leadership race.
Sept 23. There are some weeks I wish I could have three or even four lead albums. This week’s reviews are a case in point with releases from the Buzzcocks, Suede, and Editors plus a Trojan Reggae double album celebrating the genius of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.
Sept 22. Who the hell are PayPal to cancel people’s accounts because they don’t agree with their views? Yet another Californian big tech company who seem to think free speech is reserved for those who agree with them.
Theresa Coffey’s ABC for the NHS: Absinthe, Baked goods and twenty Capstan?
Sept 19. Simon Evans on the Queen’s funeral: “And once again, the froth and foam, the noise and agitation of modernity break on the harbour wall of tradition and slide harmlessly away.”
Sept 18. Call The Midwife star Jennifer Kirby tells me about her new role as a half-human, half-vampire hybrid in Vampire Academy in today’s Sunday Express Review, and I’m talking telly with Nadiya Hussain.
Sept 16. So many albums jostling for reviews right now. This week's hot four are LeAnn Rimes, Marcus Mumford, Pink Floyd’s remastered Animal, and Kiwi wonder-kids The Beths.
Tonight’s the night! My band, the Gonads, launch our new studio album in Deptford fun city this evening. There will be: a full album playback at 7pm, followed by an acoustic set at 8pm followed by a band Q&A. It’s at the Triangle Café & Bar, in Harmony Place, SE8 3FE. Doors: 6.30pm.
Sept 15. Hate-fuelled attacks on Britain and the royal family, published by the increasingly infantile New York Times, bemuse more than they irritate. The right-on Yanks are so blinded by Brit-bashing bile they don’t seem to realise that rather than overseeing an empire, Queen Elizabeth II actually helped replace it with the Commonwealth, a friendly alliance of self-governing nation states. She was the glue that held it together rather than the glue that these obscure quasi-Marxist “professors” might possibly be sniffing. It’s just a shame the great Peter Simple isn’t with us to satirise them.
Many aspects of our traditions seem baffling, but there’s something comforting about these ancient rituals, and something genuinely moving about the stoic crowds queuing to show their respects to a woman whose warmth and wit touched the hearts of countless millions. They are the best of Britain. Our cops are wrong to bang up anti-royalists though. Our rights to protest, demonstrate, speak freely, strike and indeed vote were won with blood and tears over the centuries. Maybe try and collar some criminals instead, chaps.
Sept 11. My thoughts are with New Yorkers today. Never forget.
I’m chatting to Ben Miller, the world’s least likely Cockney, about his career as comedian, actor and children’s author in today’s Sunday Express Review and talking TV with sixties legend Brian Auger.
Sept 9. Sad news brings out the best in British journalism. There is a deluge of well-crafted, well considered words in today’s papers; a stark contrast to the infantile empty-headed bile infesting Twitter.
And in what feels like a trivial footnote, this week’s album’s reviews are – Ozzy Osbourne, KT Tunstall, Flogging Molly & Roxy Music, only in today’s Express and Mirror…
I have never met any of the Royals and am never likely too, but the Queen had a warm, deadpan sense of humour. Terry Wogan told me she once asked him to stop tipping her racehorses on his Radio 2 show on the grounds that “your approbation does incline my horses to fall over under the weight of expectation”.
Sept 4. Fast Show star Simon Day fills me in about his life, loves and his new tour in today’s Sunday Express Review, and it’s time for TV action with Dave Cairns of Secret Affair.
Sept 2. A proper smorgasbord of album reviews this week, encompassing Secret Affair, Yung Blud, Fatboy Slim and Megadeth – in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Aug 30. I’m on Mike Osman’s breakfast show on Great British Radio every morning after 9am this week. You lucky people!
Aug 28. Justin Hayward, OBE, tells me about his life in the Moody Blues & more in today’s Sunday Express Review ahead of his new tour & I’m talking telly with Leee John of Imagination fame… I was 14 when I saw Justin perform Question on Top Of The Pops. At the time I thought it was profound and, in fairness, compared to Edison Lighthouse, it was.
Aug 26. This week's album reviews: MUSE! BLONDIE! ALTERED IMAGES! OASIS! Only in today's Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Aug 25. Emily Maitlis reckons the BBC is under threat because it has an “active Tory” on its board in the shape of former Theresa May communications guru Sir Robbie Gibb. Two small points – firstly it also has Muriel Gray, ex New Statesman editor Ian Hargreaves and modern art enthusiast Nicholas Serota, son of a Labour peer, on the board, none of whom are remotely conservative; secondly the Beeb used to be run in its entirety by Greg Dyke, a very active Labour man… One member of a (majority) political party on a BBC board in a democratic society does not a counter-revolution make. It’s utter cobblers to pretend otherwise. Anyone who watches or listens to the BBC knows that Guardianista culture runs through its veins like ‘Blackpool’ through a stick of rock. I suspect Emily hasn’t got a clue what “impartiality” means. No wonder she’s mate-less.
Aug 24. George Orwell’s favourite boozer is under threat after nimby neighbours complained about noisy drinkers. Orwell so loved The Compton Arms in Islington, North London, that he used it as the basis his 1946 essay about the perfect (fictional) pub which he called the Moon Under Water. There’s been a rub-a-dub on this site since the 16th century and the Compton itself dates from Victorian times. Now Islington council are conducting a licence review because neighbours lodged complaints about loud revelers. Um. If you want a quiet life, why move next door to a pub?
Aug 21. I’m chatting to Crystal Gayle in today’s Sunday Express, and talking telly with After Life’s Colin Hoult, aka Anna Mann.
Aug 19. The Goo Goo Dolls lead this week’s album review charge, along with Panic! At The Disco, Jimmy Cliff and Loudon Wainwright III – all in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Aug 18. Sadiq Khan, generally as much use as an ashtray on a Triumph Thunderbird, blames the sickening murder of 87-year-old busker Thomas O’Halloran on “school holidays, a heatwave and so forth”. There have been 67 murders in London this year, eighteen in the last month, six since Saturday, and it’s all down to the summer holidays? Dear God. Might it not be, just a little bit, down to failings in law and order, poor policing, over-lenient courts, and the mental health crisis – much of it almost certainly linked to enthusiastic use of the super-strength cannabis these poltroons want to legalise?
Aug 15. We keep getting told “There is no alternative” to the ever-growing mess our rudderless ruling class has ‘led’ us into. This conclusion fails to mention the enormous damage caused by evangelical politicians and their simplistic Net Zero obsession (measures nobody voted for, but adored by their chattering class cheerleaders). If only we could use the cubic miles of hot air these clods produce daily to replace our dependency on gas... Removing VAT on fuel, returning to coal-fired power stations, building more gas storage plants and starting fracking would help us through this entirely foreseeable energy crisis.
I heard someone calling for a new economic think tank today. Why? Look at the economy, I think it’s tanked… Encouraging growth, by boosting productivity with tax CUTS, is the most efficient way of swerving the recession and thereby boosting overall tax revenue. Our tax burden is currently at a 70year high. Like a compulsive pickpocket, the government will always find an excuse to take more and more of our money to merrily piddle away. After all, there is no alternative…
Aug 14. I’m chatting with perma-glam agent turned bestselling novelist Melanie Blake in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking TV with actor and comedian Dave Johns. You’ll also find my TV column in there today, you lucky people.
Aug 12. This week’s album reviews: Kasabian, The Vandoliers, The Dualers & Dylan Scott, all in today’s Express and Mirror.
Aug 10. It was Whitfield and Strong, not Holland-Dozier-Holland who wrote the Temptations’ Ball Of Confusion. We need to update the lyrics for the mess we’re in today. Energy bills, inflation, stagflation, travel chaos, war in Europe, nice sunny days… the dimwitted, scheming Tory Back Stabbers (that one was Huff, McFadden & Whitehead) couldn’t have picked a worse time to leave the country rudderless. Thanks guys. The hysterical disaster junkies who set the tone for the TV news are having a field day, but it’s the millionaire water tycoons I feel sorry for. With no water in our rivers, where are they going to pump their raw sewerage?
The useless Tories deserve to be kicked out of office. If only there were a decent opposition party…
Aug 9. RIP Lamont Dozier. The Motown song-writing legend, who died yesterday aged 81, was one third of the Holland-Dozier-Holland team who crafted some of the most glorious music of the 1960s. Their incredible run of hits included Baby Love, Where Did Our Love Go?, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), Baby I Need Your Loving, Band Of Gold, Stop! In The Name Of Love…the list goes on and on. They wrote for Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Martha & The Vandellas, The Temptations and The Isley Brothers, Freda Payne. Lamont, along with Eddie and Brian Holland were up there with Lennon and McCartney. RIP, genius.
Aug 8. Thanks to Rebellion for a special weekend in Blackpool. I had a hoot, seeing so many old friends and watching bands of all ages keep the spirit of street rock’n’roll alive. Or at least on life support.
I also watched comic Buddy Lee and a variety package including dancers and singers light up Blackpool’s Talk Of The Coast room in the Viking Hotel. The likes of Kadie Jo Green and Natalie Dee had better voices and more personality than half the people you see on The Voice. And Buddy’s cheery down-to-earth humour works every time. No performance is ever the same because his whole act is a conversation with his audience, the people TV bosses ignore. Would it hurt to bring back family friendly summertime specials?
Aug 7. I’m talking TV with comedian Glenn Moore in today’s Sunday Express Review; Deacon Blue’s Ricky Ross is our cover star.
Aug 6. My band, the Gonads are live at Rebellion Festival at 4.45pm today in the Pavilion Theatre at the Winter Gardens. Be there or be square, daddio…
Aug 5. Today’s album reviews are Beyonce, the brilliant Interrupters, godfather of pub rock Mickey Jupp and Rise Jamaica, a Trojan comp marking sixty years of Jamaican independence – all in the Express and the Mirror.
July 31. I’m chatting to soap star and ace impressionist Debra Stephenson in today’s Sunday Express Review, ahead of her Edinburgh Fringe show, and I’m talking telly with comedian Tiff Stevenson ahead of hers.
July 30. We had a jolly memorial get-together for my old friend, record label boss Laurie Pryor at the Lord Northbrook in Lee yesterday. He would have been touched to see old faces from street-punk, football and the pub itself (very different in our day), and there were moving moments as we took it in turns to relate fond memories of a man who changed lives and touched many others. RIP Lol. There will be a bigger event for him next month, open to all.
July 29. RIP Bernard Cribbins, a terrific comedy actor who has died at 93. The earliest Cribbins memory for most people my age is probably Hole In The Ground, the first of his two comic Top Ten hits in 1962; the second was Right Said Fred (whatever happened to comedy singles?). Oldham-born Bernard had hundreds of roles in TV (from Fawlty Towers to Doctor Who), film and theatre, but surely his finest moment was playing Lennie the Dip in Two-Way Stretch. He was a huge talent and a lovely, funny man.
Today’s album reviews include Lizzo, Flo Milli, The Cribs and superstar Shania Twain. Read all about them in the Daily Express and The Mirror.
July 28. My chat with Eddie Levert has arrived online here.
July 24. Eddie Levert of the mighty O'Jays tells me why the soul legends are shunting the Love Train to its final terminus; and I’m talking telly with Steve Nallon of Spitting Image – only in today’s Sunday Express Review.
I had fun on James Whale Unleashed last night; I remember doing his old YTV show back in the 80s. And the good news, for those with long memories is, he’s found Kookie!
July 23. I’ll be on James Whale’s Talk TV show tonight from about 10.40pm plugging the latest Harry Tyler novel, Harder Than The Rest. I’ve started the next one…
July 22. I enjoyed Only Fools & Horses: Secrets & Scandal on Channel 5 tonight; arguably the biggest scandal is that BBC birdbrains wanted to axe it after the second series.
Today's album reviews: Gilbert O’Sullivan, ZZ Top, She & Him and Interpol, all in the Express and Mirror.
July 17. Kula Shaker’s Crispian Mills spills all to Mick Wall in today’s Sunday Express Review, and I’m talking telly with Pipkins star Jonathan Kydd – son of Sam.
July 15. Johnny Depp goes from Amber to red-hot on his new album with the great Jeff Beck. Insert your own Jumping Jack Sparrow gag here. Also reviewed, the latest albums from Deaf Havana, Arlo Mckinley & The Soap Girls only in today’s Daily Express & The Mirror.
The oddest thing about these Tory leadership contenders is that only one of them, Olukemi Badonoch, sounds remotely Conservative. London-born, British-Nigerian Kemi actually seems to believe in something. It’ll never catch on.
There’s only one ray of sunshine for the right – whoever wins the leadership race they will never be as dull as Starmer. Mordaunt for Love Island!
July 12. Here’s how dim the Tories are – they’ve got rid of Boris without having the foresight to have a heavyweight replacement waiting in the wings. Their leading candidates – Sunak, Mordaunt, Truss – are either centrist, lightweight or deeply dull. The real Boris tragedy is he had that huge majority and neglected to deliver Conservative policies. Yet despite his failings, Big Dog is their only box office star.
July 10. Poet Laureate Simon Armitage tells Mick Wall about his post-rock combo LYR, County Durham villages and brass bands in today’s Sunday Express Review and I’m talking TV with comedian Alaisdair Beckett-King.
July 9. RIP Tony Sirico, aka Paulie Walnuts in TV’s greatest-ever TV show.
July 8. Today’s album reviews: Paolo Nutini, Steve Ellis, James Bay and magnificent Mica Millar. You know where.
July 5. Et tu, Rishi? Big dog Boris has been stabbed in the back by his own Cabinet. So who’s barking now? By the sound of it, just the entire parliamentary party.
July 3. I’m chatting to Lesley Joseph about life after Dorien and talking telly with Jeff ‘Yellow River’ Christie in today’s Sunday Express Review.
July 1. New albums from Porcupine Tree, Pit Pony, Gwenno and calypso king Arrow are reviewed with love and care in today’s Express and Mirror. Only the lead ever makes it online.
June 26. I’m chatting to my old pal Mike Scott, the beating heart of The Waterboys, in today’s Sunday Express Review and talking telly with TV producer turned author, the mysterious Kate Ruby…
June 25. If the train strike means you turn up late for your cancelled flight, who should you sue?
June 24. This week’s music reviews: the Rolling Stones deluxe early vinyl boxset, plus albums from Hollie Cook, Spacey Jane, and Madness’s least nutty album – all in today’s Express and Mirror.
By-elections always go against the government in power, but the results of the latest two aren’t a wake-up call for Boris, they’re a brutal kick in the nuts. Voters have had enough of this useless shower who have comprehensively failed to use Brexit as a springboard for national rejuvenation. So besotted are the government with tax-and-spend and eco-lunacy that they have ceased to be Tories in anything but name. They haven’t even cut the VAT on fuel bills. Under Boris taxes are at a 70year high, inflation a 40year high, and the national debt is nearly £2700billion – a 60year high. They can’t control our borders, the cost-of-living is rocketing, growth is stagnating, and workers are striking because living standards are tumbling. He can swan off to Rwanda all he likes but voters aren’t fooled. The PM is a conman – and it’s us he’s conning.
June 19. Grant Nicholas from Feeder opens up to Mick Wall in today’s Sunday Express Review, and I’m talking telly with Chris Ryan.
June 17. Today’s album reviews: Foals, Tove Stryke, Ali Campbell’s UB40 and Elvis Costello’s Rusty, only in the Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
June 12. I’m chatting to prog-rock guru Geoff Downes about his journey from the Buggles to Yes and ASIA in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with the great Tony Parsons.
June 11. A few people have been asked about a memorial for Lol Pryor who was buried in Malta on Monday. We are setting up something special for August. Please get in touch with me directly for details.
June 10. Today’s album reviews: George Ezra, Carrie Underwood, ASIA and the latest Trojan reggae boxset devoted to the joys of lovers’ rock.
June 9. Boris Johnson tells us that the answer to our current economic cluster-fiasco “is not more tax and spending – the answer is economic growth.” Quite right. But hold on a minute – nobody is more wedded to tax and state expenditure than BoJo and Rishi. Their addiction to squandering our hard-earned money is one of the main reasons taxes have rocketed. And yet, unsurprisingly, neither Johnson nor his Chancellor has a plan to slash taxation and state spending, or make much-needed supply-side reforms. Once again, this government say the right thing and do sod-all. We need action this day, Boris, not more empty promises.
June 5. I’m chatting to radical blues singer-songwriter and slide-guitar maestro Bonnie Raitt in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with singer and actress Camille O’Sullivan.
June 3. This week’s album reviews: Prince Live from 1985, the Sex Pistols repackaged, Amy Winehouse at Glastonbury and Boston’s own Crobot, only in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Breaking news from St Paul’s: huge crowd boos for Boris (well, at least it makes a change from a huge crowd boozing) and raucous cheers for all the royals. Starmer was met by complete indifference.
June 2. Here’s to HM Queen Elizabeth II, a remarkable woman who, with her stoicism and strong sense of duty, has come to embody the best of Britain. Two-bob politicians come and go, yet Elizabeth remains, her long reign reinforcing national unity and giving us a perception of permanence. As we raise a glass or six to her health, and the qualities she represents – dignity and humour, service, sacrifice and the stiff upper lip – we are also toasting ourselves as a people. God save the Queen. She really does mean it, maannn. Will the UK stay united when she’s gone?
June 1. Good to hear that the government plan to return the Crown stamp to pint glasses and remove the EU ban on imperial measures. Could they also apologise to the families of the Metric Martyrs and help convince British broadcasters to use imperial units as well metric ones? Millions would find it handy to know exactly how high Blue Origin is flying or how heavy the state-of-the-art home exercise weights we can’t afford to buy are.
May 31. I’m sorry to report that my good friend Laurie Pryor has died. Lol was the manager of The Business, he ran Moon Ska Europe and was the co-founder of record labels including Syndicate Records, Link and Harry May. Funnily enough, I was chatting to Steve Kent about him just ten days ago, recalling some of those now-hazy crazy days (the true story of Oral, the Made In England incident, the fate of my 1997 video deal and much more). Lol and I also co-wrote the first ever terrace fiction novel way back in 1984. It was turned down by a leading London literary agent on the grounds that “people who go to football don’t read books” – a statement as madly illogical as it was snobbish and ill-informed. “Fatty Lol” was a genuinely huge character, he touched a lot of lives and I will miss him very much. My love and condolences to his family.
May 29. I’m chatting to Kevin Kennedy in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with actor Terry Stone; along with a few of my own heavily redacted memories of Steve Jones and the Sex Pistols…
May 27. Some strong albums reviewed this week: Liam Gallagher, Def Leppard, Van Morrison and the Peaky Blinders soundtrack – only in today’s Express and Mirror
May 26. You might think Prue Leith’s Jubilee chandelier was the year’s biggest televised disaster, but the government have out-done her with the mess they’ve made of the economy. For most people, Rishi’s “bail-out” is the equivalent of a mugger giving you a £50 note with one hand while he helps himself to your wallet with the other. Whatever he gives working people, he’ll be nicking far more as he hammers us with taxation. The old Labour way to rescue the economy, would be to nationalise our energy supply and build new power stations pronto. The Conservative way would be to boost growth and encourage productivity by slashing taxes, and build new power stations pronto. Boris and co will do neither. They got hooked on the magic money tree during the Covid blind panic and haven’t figured out that creating cash is a major cause of the mounting crisis we’re now in. That, and our reliance on imported energy. Green levies and restrictive regulations only make that worse. Rishi needs to scrap them and axe VAT on energy. Doling out dosh willy-nilly only makes things worse.
Today Rishi boasted that the Government are spending more than Labour would have done. Yes, but you’re Tories. You’re supposed to cut state spending and cut taxes! Windfall taxes will only serve to discourage investment and lead to an exodus (of capital, businesses, and talent) larger than any Bob Marley sang about. The Tories could have used Brexit to turn Britain into a buccaneering, free-enterprise-driven land of liberty. Instead, we get soaring taxes, an ever-expanding state and tax money sprayed around like confetti. I’ll miss Boris but he has to go. God knows who they’ll replace him with. Those clown shoes will be hard to fill.
May 25. Sue Gray’s report mentions a large unpleasant stain on the Downing Street carpet. That’s no way to talk about the Prime Minister. Poor Boris missed the perfect excuse. That wasn’t him at the party, it was his ABBA-style avatar…no doubt singing Money, Money, Money, always sunny, in a rich man’s world.
May 24. I went to the Pistol premier last night and liked it more than I wanted to, but you’ll have to wait until Sunday week for the review. I went with our dear old friend Bev Elliott, the punkiest woman I know, only to be told by Disney that we couldn’t go to the after-party as we were “too corporate”. That’s right. Disney told us we were too corporate – because I write for national newspapers. Irony of ironies. We were two of the very few people there who actually knew Steve and Paul back in the day.
May 22. I’m chatting to actress Barbara Flynn in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with Sue Hodge, AKA Mimi Labonq from Allo Allo.
May 21. If you’re in London tonight and like your rock rude, crude and Cockney, the Gonads are playing the 100 Club with The Business and Le Rox, remembering our late pal Micky Fitz. It’s our Xmas gig, postponed from December 2021. We’re doing two songs we’ve never played live before, including the Greatest Cockney Christmas – and there will be presents.
May 20. Today’s album reviews: Harry Styles, Dave Stewart, the Police and Jack Savoretti – only in the Daily Express and Mirror.
Somewhere in rock’n’roll heaven Lou Reed is waiting for his man, his man is waiting for Godot, and Godot is waiting for Sue Gray’s Party-gate report…
May 19. Cody Ackland has been jailed “for a minimum of 31 years” for the brutal murder of 18-year-old Bobbi-Anne McLeod. I’m sorry, that’s not enough. In his “prolonged, frenzied, sadistic attack”, the scumbag kidnapped the terrified teenager and hit her repeatedly with a hammer around the face and head. A jail sentence, be it 31 years or even life, is an afront to justice as well as a complete waste of oxygen and money. A noose around his worthless neck would be more like it.
Good luck to those EuroMillions winners. At least they can pay their gas bill.
Interesting piece by Peter Hitchens in today’s Mail on why England should leave the UK. Well worth reading.
May 16. Here’s my Jack Savoretti chat online.
May 15. I’m chatting to Jack Savoretti in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with comedian Daliso Chaponda.
May 14. I’ve just been offered a dream job doing stand-up shows in the US. My nearest and dearest immediately burst that bubble by accurately reminding me that I speak way too fast and use far too much slang to ever be understood by American audiences. Which, she points out, is just as well because if they did understand me, I’d be kicked straight out of the country for alleged thought crimes.
May 13. Crypto-currencies are crashing like Ant McPartlin after a two-week bender. Their combined value has plummeted by nearly £1trillion since November and more than a third of that drop was this month. The Terra Luna token has lost 99per cent of its value, rattling investors and sending markets into freefall. So-called stablecoins, TerraUSD and Tether, have also been knocked bandy and Bitcoin is down by more than two thirds. It’s too early to say if the bubble has burst, but not too early to point out that you’d be better off investing your savings on 6 and 3 reversed through the card at Crayford dogs.
Today’s album reviews: The Black Keys, Fozzy, Soft Cell and a rare Toyah re-issue – all in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
I’m 67 today, still working full-time, and still writing books and songs in my spare time. I could stop of course. If I retired from employment, I’d free up 70 hours a week to write more books and play more gigs, but in the current climate who’d walk away from regular wages?
May 9. Thanks to everyone who came to the book launch on Saturday. Here are just some shots from the day.
May 2. If you’re coming to my book launch in sunny south London on Saturday afternoon and want to buy any books other than the 2-Tone and New Mod ones, particularly the novels, please email email@example.com ASAP so we can let Caffeine Nights know. Cheers! Price guarantee: all of these books are guaranteed to cost less than a chicken breast will in a week or two.
The sooner we stop talking about take-away curries and birthday cakes and start tackling galloping inflation the happier I’ll be. Talk about re-arranging deckchairs on the Titanic. I suspect many of you will, like me, be searching for an alternative to Bumbling Boris, Calamity Keir and all of the other old, stale and failing Con/Lab/Lib faces to vote for on Thursday.
May 1. Rock’s hardest working superstar, Bryan Adams is today’s Sunday Express Review cover star… and I’m talking TV with Hollies legend Bobby Elliott.
Taylor v Serrano was jaw-dropping this morning, probably the best boxing bout you'll see all year. Neither of them gave an inch.
April 30. Poor old Neil Parish says it was all a big mistake, and that he was simply Googling tractors in the Commons when he accidentally alighted on an “adult” site. Apparently tractors nowadays come in fifty shades of blue. Who knew? Even the porn was a misunderstanding. The farmer was only dancing naked around farm vehicles because his wife said he had to do something sexy to a tractor. (Insert groan here). In fairness, at least he wasn’t committing the unforgivable sin of eating cake… Parish isn’t the only one suffering though. I hear an actor was laid off yesterday after he was caught watching PMQs during a porn shoot.
April 29. Neil Parish is the horny Tory MP accused of watching porn in the House Of Commons. Friends say he had no choice – Angela Rayner was wearing trousers.
Today’s album reviews: Thunder, Bonnie Raitt, Madness and Ann Wilson, only in the Mirror and the Daily Express.
April 28. Oh dear, Keir. Sir Keir Starmer has been caught throwing stones in a glasshouse. It turns out that Labour’s hopeless leader had a lockdown party of his own, with the fragrant Angela, and then tried to deny it. What he lacks in policies, he makes up for in breath-taking hypocrisy. Starmer is the architect of his own misfortune for making such a fuss about “partygate”. Most voters are more worried about galloping inflation than about Boris being in close proximity to a cake on his birthday. The real problem with BoJo’s fake Tories is their irrational love of taxation. Johnson’s Achilles heel is his addiction to sucking on the public teat and squandering our money like a lotto winner with a week to live. But Sir K can’t target that because Labour are just as hooked. See also the NHS and the BBC…
I started an ‘Axe The Telly Tax’ campaign, calling for the abolition of the licence fee, in the late 90s. The problem isn’t the cost, it’s the legal compulsion to pay. But if we are talking value-for-money, the BBC have long been surpassed by other services. Next to no-one under thirty watches the BBC. That’s understandable – their entertainment output is largely dire, their news reporting is endlessly biased, and their drama pushes the same dreary agenda. But why then should they be compelled by law to pay a levy to fund them? The licence fee made sense when the Corporation was Britain’s only broadcaster. It makes no sense now.
Liz Truss and Ben Wallace are using the Ukraine tragedy to look tough ahead of a possible Tory leadership bid. “Ukraine is our war,” thundered Truss yesterday. No it isn’t. We may root for the Ukrainian people and do our bit to support them; we might also sincerely wish someone would take out Putin, but there is no public support for the all-out conflict these dopes seem intent on talking us into. It’s for NATO to make that call not ambitious/self-serving, third division grand-standing politicians. They’re playing with fire in a petrol station.
April 27. So it turns out Angela Rayner joked about using Sharon Stone style Basic Instinct antics to divert Boris’s attention – “giving the PM a flash” – weeks before her fake outrage over weekend reports that she did just that. Will all the achingly woke, bandwagon-jumping pundits (including Piers Pughe-Morgan) who backed her cynical complaints about “misogyny” now admit they got it wrong? Thought not.
April 24. I’m chatting to pop legend Kiki Dee in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with master ventriloquist Jeff Dunham.
April 23. Happy St George’s Day! Ignore the naysayers. It’s perfectly natural for the English to love our people, our country, our culture, customs, and idiosyncrasies, not to mention our increasingly threatened beliefs in liberty and freedom of expression. To love England is not to denigrate other cultures, but rather to recognize and, for one day a year, celebrate what makes ours unique – something that is accepted in every other nation in the world. We should never let them take that love away.
April 22. This week’s album reviews – Jason Aldean, Kiki Dee, Brian May and Keston Cobblers Club only in today’s Daily Express and Mirror.
April 17. I’m chatting to rock’n’roll wildcat Suzi Quatro in today’s Sunday Express, and talking TV with the irrepressible Claire Sweeney.
April 16. I’m excited to be finishing the new Gonads studio album today. It’s our best yet, hard-hitting with something to say; it also has surreal moments that make me laugh out loud. It should be out in August, and we’ll follow it with a new Live & Loud official bootleg later this year or early next.
April 15. Today’s album reviews: Father John Misty, Edgar Winter, Suzi Quatro and Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, only in the Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
April 10. I’m chatting to Peckham’s own Matt Goss and Philadelphia’s queen of disco Kathy Sledge in today’s Sunday Express, and talking TV with JD from the Longest Johns. Here’s Matt online.
And here is Kathy.
April 8. Today’s album reviews: Papa Roach, ‘Chicken Foot’ Joe Satriani, Aerosmith & Hailey Whitters, only in the Mirror and the Daily Express, where the incredible Frederick Forsyth still thunders every Friday at 83…
April 2. I’m chatting to ten-million-album-selling country star Thomas Rhett about his Death Row show, his new album and the family he holds dear in tomorrow's Sunday Express Review.
April 1. Today's album reviews: the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Thomas Rhett, Placebo and Dublin’s own Thumper in the Daily Express and Mirror.
March 27. I’m talking to British film star Craig Fairbrass in today’s Sunday Express Review and chatting to actress Susie Blake about TV old and new. Meanwhile, over in today’s Daily Star Sunday, I’m celebrating my 777th column for that great organ; it’s also the 1605th Bushell On The Box since I started writing about TV 35years ago. Here’s the Craig Fairbrass interview online.
March 25. Today’s album reviews: Michael Bublé, Graham Day, Denise Nolan, and the Boo Radleys – all in the Daily Express and Daily Mirror. Here’s Denise…
March 23. You don’t get much magic on mainstream TV these days, but we’ve just watched a master illusionist at work. Unfortunately, he was performing his smoke and mirrors act at the Dispatch Box in the House Of Conmen. Rishi Sunak’s plan to “help families with the cost of living” was a sustained attack on our living standards. Taxes, prices and public spending are shooting up like Ant-Man in Captain America: Civil War. Unfortunately, there are no avenging superheroes around to cut all of them, and Rishi, down to size. The “Tory” government’s remorseless drip-feed of extra taxation include the NIC raise and a huge jump in company taxes. What we really need for the economy to prosper is a Chancellor like Wolverine who will use his claws to slash back our ever-expanding state. A bit of fiscal common sense. Sadly, at the moment there’s more chance of Paul Daniels rising from the grave.
March 18. This week’s album reviews – Feeder, Buster Shuffle, ArrDee and For King & Country – are in today’s Mirror and Express, and of course online.
March 16. I’ve had a huge response to that 13minute Talking Pints chat on GB News, which suggests more people watch it than official figures indicate. Channels like this are the inevitable reaction to the cultural wars that have been raging in the UK for decades over the suppression of English identity, the relentless expansion of the state (and state spending), mounting restrictions on our freedoms, and the sustained assault on working class culture. Our betters want to strip of us of our hard-won rights and our traditions; they want to control what we can say, what we can think, and even what we can laugh at – and what a hopeless mess they’ve made of that. This explains the rise of refuseniks, ranging from spiked-online to the Reform Party, via anti-lockdown protests, Laurence Fox’s Reclaim, young anarchist groups and the barely-reported legal challenges made by the English Democrats. Liberty is too important an issue to leave to politicians.
I had one disappointment with Talking Pints. With a title like that and a host like Nigel Farage, you’d expect them to have a well-stocked bar. Nope. There was one bottle of Guinness in a depleted fridge. Poor show.
March 15. I really enjoyed appearing on Talking Pints last night. Nigel Farage is a lively interviewer – I had no idea what he was going to ask – and we covered a lot of ground in 13minutes, although as always there was plenty left unsaid. It was good to see the clips from Bushell On The Box again. Maybe GB News will celebrate St George’s Day this year. I can’t imagine the BBC will.
March 14. I should be live on GB News at 7.40pm tonight chatting about my latest novel in ‘Talking Pints’ with Nigel Farage. I was expecting to get asked on back in December, but I understand producers were concerned that the two of us together would probably consume their entire month’s supply of beer.
March 13. I’m chatting to ventriloquist Nina Conti about her new dating stage show in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with my old pal comedian Terry Alderton.
March 11. Every now and then a new band come along who genuinely excite me. Step forward Liverpool’s The Mysterines. I review their album Reeling in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror along with new releases from Dolly Parton, Bryan Adams and Ella Henderson.
March 6. Mick Wall’s chat with Marillion singer Steve Hogarth is today’s Sunday Express Review cover piece, and I’m talking telly with Tommy Walsh.
March 4. So sad to hear that Shayne Warne has died. He wasn’t just a cricketing giant and showman, he was an irresistible force personified. Warne’s wonder ball against Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 93 was out of this world, and his ball against Strauss in the 2005 Ashes was just as incredible. All that and Liz Hurley too… RIP.
This week’s album reviews: the Stereophonics, Marillion, John Illsley and Richard Clayderman, all in today’s Express and Mirror.
March 2. Putin’s claim to be liberating Ukraine from Nazis is laughable. Russia is a dictatorial invading force driven by blinkered aggressive nationalism and murdering innocents – you can’t get much more ‘Nazi’ than that. The courageous Ukrainian resistance are driven by patriotism, a force for good powered by love of country and people, although the more infantile parts of the British Left seem unable to make the distinction.
You can donate to the Red Cross Ukraine crisis appeal here.
Feb 27. I’m talking to Prince of Romance Richard Clayderman about his new album in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with actress Abigail Thaw.
Feb 25. This week’s album reviews: Johnny Marr, Tears For Fears, Avril Lavigne and Judy Collins – in today’s Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Feb 24. Why has Putin invaded Ukraine? Because he thinks he can get away with it. Partly this is due to the weakness of the West. From the Kremlin’s point of view, Biden looks feeble, the EU is gutless and divided, and Britain is apparently more interested in “party-gate” and minority concerns than the real enemy, inflation, as Boris blunders from one cock-up to another. Save the world? We can’t even close our porous borders! And now our security services get lessons on wokeness from a dripping wet, unelected, over-promoted, civil servant. It’s pitiful. My heart goes out to the Ukrainians who find themselves in a hellish nightmare. They are a brave people and I expect they will resist Putin’s unprovoked assault as stubbornly and heroically as the Russians resisted the German 6th Army at Stalingrad. Let’s hope so. If they roll over, and our so far laughable sanctions have no effect, what is to stop the Russians rolling on to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and even the old East Germany to “reclaim” the old Soviet empire? It’s Sudetenland all over again. Was Putin emboldened by Chinese President Xi? After all, if he can annex Ukraine what’s to stop Red China grabbing Taiwan? Is that on the cards next? These free sovereign people need UN protection from puffed-up dictators, but with Russia and China on the security council you know that won’t happen. Unlike the Chinese, the West never seems to learn the lessons of history. We need to wake up fast. Our birthright, and all the freedoms we cherish, could be taken away from us in the blink of a tin-pot tyrant’s eye.
Feb 23. Sad to hear we’ve lost David Banks, a former Daily Mirror editor rightly described as larger-than-life. On my very first Fleet Street shift, I spent an hour or three with Dave, Nick Ferrari and David Hancock in The Printer’s Pie wondering how on earth could anyone keep pace with such giant characters. Happy days. RIP David, RIP Fleet Street.
Feb 22. I’m talking to Foxy on his Deal Radio show, about the Gonads, my wild left-wing teens and more, and playing some of my favourite songs. It’s on Mixcloud for the rest of the week. Tracks include classics from the Clash, the Rejects, the Interrupters, the kings of UK pop reggae and a couple of classy, cough, Gonads ditties.
Feb 20. Alien alert! I’m chatting to Jeff Wayne about The War Of The Worlds musical, in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with Maisie Adam. Bushell On The Box on why launderette sex won’t wash for EastEnders, the pox of TV re-makes, C4 comedy crime caper The Curse, This Is Going To Hurt, & much more is in today’s Daily Star Sunday.
Feb 18. This week’s music reviews: Pink Floyd’s P.U.L.S.E. and new albums from the Chords UK, Stone Foundation & Sea Power; all in today’s Daily Mirror and Daily Express. Sea Power were once British Sea Power but dropped the ‘British’ perhaps to drum up publicity. The trendy Left never seem to realise that equating patriotism with nationalism is politically juvenile and counter-productive on every level.
Feb 16. R.I.P. P J O’Rourke. The great American humourist has died aged 74. Best known for best-selling books like Parliament Of Whores and Holidays In Hell, libertarian Patrick single-handedly blew up the fashionable assumption that satirists had to be leftwing. He hated communism and thought most liberals were deluded. (O’Rourke’s review of Hillary Clinton’s It Takes A Village included the line, ‘It takes a village idiot’.) For him, satirists existed to tell uncomfortable truths and defend liberty. He famously said, “We’re the ones switching on the kitchen lights and watching the cockroaches scamper.” PJ was the foreign affairs desk chief for Rolling Stone magazine. He also wrote sketches for Saturday Night Live and a spoof of a high school yearbook for National Lampoon that inspired the cult classic comedy film, Animal House. Born in Ohio, the son of a car salesman, he once said “My own family was poor when I was a kid, though I didn’t know it – I just thought we were broke.”
It’s a fallacy that comedy has to be left-wing. Many of the best British comedians were/are right of centre, think of Les Dawson, Bob Monkhouse, Kenneth Williams and Kenny Everett. If the BBC truly want diversity, they should remember that – and give Simon Evans his own show (he’s currently on Headliners on GB News). British humourists like the late Michael Wharton, Frank Johnson and Alan Coren might not have had O’Rourke’s rock’n’roll credentials or Tom Wolfe’s standing but their writing had more laughs and insight than the stage acts of fashionable, posh lefties like Marcus Brigstocke and Rachel Parris. Many of those identifying as comedians today have the ‘right’ left-wing views without the ability to entertain mass audiences. Jim Davidson, one of our most talented comedians, was always an out-and-out Tory, which is why he gets so much stick. I’m not sure about Max Miller (“the pure gold of the Music Hall), but even the uniquely brilliant Spike Milligan, an indisputable comedy genius and a Young Communist League member in his youth, became increasingly conservative with age. P.S. Comedy controversialist Bernard Manning once spoke to me with affection about Labour PM Harold Wilson, a funny man in his own right; Bernard also loved Nye Bevan for his oratory, but Churchill was his great political hero.
Feb 13. I’m chatting to soul sensation Candi Staton about her soap opera of a life in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with Jay Aston. (I finished writing the Candi feature in A&E on Wednesday, fired by her sense of humour and eternal optimism in the face of whatever life throws at you).
Feb 11. New albums from Slash, Joss Stone, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Foxes all reviewed in today’s Daily Mirror and Daily Express.
Feb 10. If I’d known I’d be sped into hospital yesterday, I wouldn’t have watched This Is Going To Hurt the night before… I’d woken up with a lump the size of a honeydew melon on my left side. We still don’t know what caused it, but mercifully it’s not life-threatening. Odds are alien impregnation are shortening. Thanks to all the dedicated, hard-pressed staff at Queen Mary’s urgent care and A&E at the PRUH.
Feb 7. Nadine Dorries wants new laws to stop Jimmy Carr and others making jokes she finds offensive. Yes, Big Sister wants to tell us what we can laugh at. The culture secretary told the BBC that Carr’s gags were “abhorrent and they shouldn’t be on TV”. They weren’t on TV, Nads, they were on Netflix. Carr’s thought-crime was a Holocaust joke. He said no one talks about all the gypsies killed in the Holocaust “because no one ever wants to talk about the positives”. Sick? Shocking? Tasteless? Yes, all of that. But it’s no sicker, more shocking and or more tasteless than most of Frankie Boyle’s material which is broadcast on, let’s see, yes that’s right, the BBC. And in fairness to Jimmy, he clearly warns viewers at the start of his often hilarious His Dark Materials that the show contains “terrible things”. He also lays into bigots with zeal. Here’s what puzzles me though, how does Nutty Nads intend to police adult comedy on TV and subscription streaming services? Will she set-up a government joke committee full of humourless bores with a checklist of subjects Guardian-reading folk or obscure pressure groups might possibly take offence at? Or will they just react pompously every time a gag is taken out of context by po-faced rolling news spin doctors with too much air time to fill? Will they ban all holocaust-related jokes? Because there are a couple of good Jewish ones and Ricky Gervais and Larry David have written classics. Bernard Manning once told a Jewish audience, “I shouldn’t really make fun of Jews. After all, my dad died in Auschwitz… he fell out of a watchtower.” They laughed, would Nadine? We’ve had Labour councils banning blue collar comedians from council-owned venues like two-bob totalitarians for decades. Now the Tories want to control comedy too; it just underlines how little there is between them. But if we ban jokes like these, surely it follows that The Producers with Springtime For Hitler would have to be cancelled. And what about Spike Milligan’s Adolf Hitler – My Part In His Downfall? The censors might decree that war itself is no laughing matter. But of course it is. As the son of a fireman, I grew up realising that the way people in tough jobs cope with death and horror is to joke about it. It keeps you sane. Comedy is tragedy plus time. If a comedian upsets you, don’t watch them or buy their books or any product they endorse. That’s your right. But in a free society you have no right not to be offended. Stay out of comedy, Nads. It’s not your business.
Feb 6. A pleasure to chat to Paul Young for today’s Sunday Express Review. A lovely down to earth man, with a great talent. Who else remembers him from the Q-Tips?
You can read my chat with Paul here.
Feb 4. This week’s album reviews: Bastille, The Divine Comedy, jazz legend Bob James and the deeply unsettling Korn… in the Mirror and the Express as usual.
Feb 3. Four of Boris Johnson’s aides have quit today. A worry for him, yes, but think of the leaving parties!
Good point in today’s Daily Telegraph business comment from Ben Wright, who writes that the Chancellor is raising taxes to pay for rebates to help with the cost-of-living crisis caused in part by tax hikes… (and the government splashing our cash around like a lotto winner). Nuts, yes, but few people seem to question it.
It’s a tough job being Prime Minister, a bit like walking through a mine shaft in front of a group of tipsy Klingons. One wrong move and there’s claret everywhere. But how much of Boris’s mess is down to him? Elected with a huge majority, BoJo had the mandate to liberate the country from red tape, restrictions and high taxation. Instead, he’s chosen to lumber us with unpopular, illogical and eye-wateringly expensive green policies, yet more taxes, and inflation. And yes we can blame him for that because it’s been caused by the government printing money, imposing green levies, fixing energy prices, closing down coal-burning power stations, and refusing to develop our own vast energy resources. We’re sitting on a treasure chest of gas and shale and these twerps ignore it to import the bulk of our energy from abroad. On top of that, the Tories seem up for another war – despite having run down the budget for the armed forces for years, just like Labour did…
There is increasingly little real difference between the parties. Whoever we vote for, the same class run the country, inflicting policies of their choosing on the rest of us. They’re the new bourgeoisie, these enforcers of the new snobbery, the new proprieties. They’re drawn from the senior ranks of the civil service, academia, corporate management, bureaucracies, the media, and all establishment political parties. They effectively rule the roost across the entire (formerly) free world, and believe that their convictions are the only ones that matters; that there’s a “right” way to think about everything from economics to ecology via lockdowns, race, the trans issue, “low traffic neighborhoods” and even what we’re allowed to tell jokes about. They’re like a secular priesthood. Dare to disagree with the new orthodoxy and you become a heretic to be cancelled, a non-person or worse. I’ve already heard the Canadian truck-drivers absurdly referred to as “fascists”. But it’s our self-appointed betters who serve the world elite.
Capitalism has changed, but not quite in the way Karl Marx predicted. We’re ruled by a global super-rich – Big Tech, Big Pharma, multinational corporations, media giants. Their interests are defended and their prejudices are enforced by this secular equivalent of the priesthood who see themselves as liberals, even leftists, but who are effectively destroying our rights as they shape and control the political narrative. Meanwhile, the mega-rich keep getting richer, and, across the globe, the poor get shafted. What to do? Only people power can make a difference but the old politics have failed. We need fresh thinking and real solutions to turn the tide, expand freedom and slash back the tentacles of state meddling. Orwell’s Winston Smith believed, ‘if there is hope, it must lie in the proles’. Time to wake the sleeping giant.
Jan 30. Trigger Happy TV’s Dom Joly tells me about his dangerous travels in today’s Sunday Express Review, and I’m talking TV with actor Bill Ward.
Jan 28. This week’s album reviews: Jethro Tull, The Eels, The Temptations and “Liverpool’s answer to Billy Bragg” Jamie Webster – in the usual places.
Why are the BBC so reluctant to show us footage of the Canadian Freedom Convoy? It’s huge! Miles long and tens of thousands strong. And it’s popular, with people turning out in sub-zero temperatures to cheer the drivers on. As ever, BBC suits don’t like reporting protests they don’t agree with.
Jan 27. A few days ago, Boris’s future looked about as healthy as that corpse at the Irish post office. But his enemies have overplayed their hand. Sending the cops in to investigate Downing Street parties is a step too far, and will probably have the opposite effect to the one Starmer, elitist Remoaners and the BBC are hoping for. Especially when a) the cops have given up on policing actual crimes and b) there are a lot of bigger things we should be concentrating on, like say, energy prices, inflation and the situation in the Ukraine (caused by the West constantly, and dumbly, poking the Russian bear). We all know Boris is a chancer and we know he’s prone to porky pies. But his mistake wasn’t to have a birthday cake, but to try and impose suicidal green policies on us – without a mandate. Johnson could still turn all this around, simply by remembering he’s a Tory. Cut taxes, cut back reckless State spending and expansion and cut out the eco-lunacy and totalitarian meddling in our lives.
Lynne Truss chartered a private jet to fly to Australia at a cost to the tax-payers of £500,000. How can she justify that level of spending? 99.9per cent of the Aussie public wouldn’t know Truss from a koala’s tush.
Jan 23. In a surprising move upmarket, I’m chatting to world-conquering mezzo-soprano Carly Paoli in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking TV with ITV’s bubbly Ria Hebden, who surely can’t be booted off Dancing On Ice tonight?? Plus my old pal, veteran rock writer Mick Wall, on the Meat Loaf he knew.
Jan 22. I’m back for a third time on the Behind The Scenes podcast, this time talking about the Angelic Upstarts, Ritchie Blackmore, Lenny McLean, comedy, the Gonads, being banned from Butlin’s and much more - here. Although sadly the Judge Dread stories were deemed to be “too blue” – outrageous! (This was recorded just before Mensi died).
Jan 21. I got a call just after 8am this morning to say that Meat Loaf had died. Another legend lost. I interviewed the great man in LA sometime around 1987 – ten years after he found global fame with Bat Out Of Hell, and about six years before he rebooted his career with Bat Out Of Hell II, so he wasn’t in the best of places. He told me that his alcoholic dad had tried to stab him with a butcher’s knife after his mum died, when he was 18. And that he believed his incredible three and a half octave voice was the result of a sports accident – he’d been hit on the head by a 12lb shot put in his second year of high school at a track and field event. He also told me that when he first met mad genius Jim Steinman, when he auditioned for a part in his musical More Than You Deserve, he sang a song called Heavy As Jesus. Steinman told him he was “as heavy as two Jesuses”, but was so blown away by his voice that he immediately rounded up 30people to come and hear him. Bat Out Of Hell was panned by the critics – NME and Rolling Stone were pretty snooty about it – but sold over 43million copies. According to Meat (real name, Marvin Lee Aday), the powerful rock opera songs even made hard-bitten Hell’s Angels weep. Meat had a tough time, he lost his voice for a while, fought legal battles with record companies and with Steinman himself, and had to declare himself bankrupt. He reinvented himself as an actor in several films including Fight Club, Wayne’s World and Roadie, and kept plugging away on the rock circuit. He was a giant of a man in every sense.
This week’s album reviews – Kiefer Sutherland, The Weeknd, Keb’ Mo’ and Years & Years, only in today’s Express and Mirror.
Jan 19. The Prime Minister said today that he “saw no evidence” of rebel Tory MPs being bullied and blackmailed. We must of course believe him, although I would point out that the very same PM also saw no evidence of parties at Number 10, even though he was at them. Boris made me laugh when he said nobody had told him the boozy “work events” broke the lockdown rules. He has my sympathy. Who knew? We can only blame the bloke in charge, the one who spelt out the rules on television – some absolute bounder called Boris Johnson.
Jan 16. I’m chatting to down-to-earth country music sensation Luke Combs in today’s Sunday Express Review, talking TV with DJ Gemma Cairney, and listening in amazement as Tony Burrows tells me how Edison Lighthouse’s Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) became an internet sensation thanks to TikTok – with more than two billion views.
Jan 14. RIP wonderful Ronnie Spector, famous for pop classics like Be My Baby, Walking In The Rain and Baby I Love You. Ronnie, from New York’s Spanish Harlem, was lead vocalist with The Ronettes – one of the greatest Sixties girl groups. Her short, hellish marriage to mad genius Phil ‘Wall Of Sound’ Spector was violent and abusive – while he was alive, she said he was “a brilliant producer, but a lousy husband”. Ronnie died on Wednesday after a short battle with cancer. She was 78. The Ronettes were inaugurated into the Rock ’N’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Why did it take so long?
I’m reviewing the terrific new album from Elvis Costello & The Imposters in today’s Express and Mirror (although the cheeky subs nicked my pay-off for the headline). Also under the hammer: the latest releases from The Lumineers, Dope Lemon and Orlando Weeks.
Jan 13. Is time up for BoJo? His charisma and personability made him stand out from other politicians, but only a sozzled self-harmer could shoot himself in the foot this many times. These Downing-It Street parties are a kick in the teeth for the rest of us who weren’t even allowed to hug at funerals, go to church or drink coffee in parks under the government’s draconian pandemic rules. But they’re not the main problem. The latest hypocrisies come hard on the heels of a mountain of lies, sleaze and incompetence. Boris’s government can’t control our borders, tackle crime, curb cancel culture or even work out how the country can take full advantage of Brexit. Boris forgot he was a Tory months ago. What genuine Conservative wants to hike up taxes and lumber the public with pricey, unpopular and frankly potty eco-policies? The difference between Johnson and Thatcher is Maggie had genuine beliefs and didn’t care if she was hated. Boris believes only in Boris. He wanted to be everybody’s friend and has ended up pleasing nobody except for Carrie and the firm who made over his flat. I could be wrong but right now there’s more chance of Peppa Pig being PM next Christmas than Bozo.
Jan 9. I'm chatting to West End star and all-round nice guy Lee Mead in today's Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with Jeff Wayne of War Of The Worlds The Musical fame.
Jan 8. RIP the great Sidney Poitier, who died yesterday aged 94. You would need a book to do Sidney justice. Born in Miami to Bahaman parents, he slept rough in New York, got jailed for vagrancy and was shot during a race riot before finding fame as an actor. After working as a dishwasher and a building labourer, Poitier started his acting career on Broadway before landing his first film part in 1950. His breakout role came five years later in Blackboard Jungle. Other terrific roles followed, in films such as The Defiant One with Tony Curtis. In 1963, Poitier became the first black actor to win an Oscar. He went on to make three of his best movies in 1967: To Sir With Love, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and the brilliant In The Heat Of The Night - Poitier played detective Virgil Tibbs up against Rod Steiger's bigoted police chief. The movie was shot despite death threats from organised racists. All that, and an affair with Diahann Carroll too... Although Poitier opened doors for black actors, paving the way for countless others, he was hurtfully criticised by some later black radicals as an Uncle Tom sell-out. Others, like Spike Lee were more generous. The film-maker said, "He was the only strong black figure I saw in the movies growing up. I am able to do what I do today because of the hell he went through."
Jan 7. We've lost another brilliant Cockney comic, the great Keith O'Keefe, one of the unsung giants of stand-up. Keith was lightning fast and a superb improviser. Something could happen to him on the way to a gig which would become a fully formed fifteen-minute routine by the time he was on stage. Keith's sad death won't trouble the BBC News, but he was far funnier than most of the dross they roll out as comedians. I'd rather be sneezed on by Djokovic than sit through Live At The Apollo. RIP Keith.
This week's album reviews: David Bowie's Toy, Yard Act, The Wombats & Edweena (formerly Ed) Banger, only in today's Daily Express and Daily Mirror.
Jan 6. I must be losing my touch. I don't appear to have made Stewart Lee's shit-list of the Top 100 people he hated in 2021. I hereby pledge to do everything in my power to get back into the Top Ten by next January. No more Mr Nice Guy!
Jan 2. I’m chatting to Claire Sweeney in today’s Sunday Express Review, and talking telly with veteran reporter and broadcaster Penny Smith.
Jan 1, 2022. Happy New Year! It’s got to be a better one, surely.