Episode 5 The Arts Show

Episode 5

Actor James Nesbitt is in conversation about his life, career and role in Peter Jackson's latest epic, The Hobbit. And the origins of pantomime theatre are investigated.

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Hello welcome to The Arts Show. It is our last show of 2012. We're in


a festive mood. James Nesbitt talks about his extremely successful


stage and screen career and his role in Peter Jackson's cinematic


epic, released today, The Hobbit. Northern Irish artist Debarah Brown,


a leading figure in the art world since the 60s is a major at the


retro sceptic at the F.E McWilliam Gallery. She talks to the art show.


There's festive music from the teenager everyone is talking about


- Londonderry's singing sensation - Soak. Pantomime theatre has been


described as the Marmite of the stage - loved by the public,


loathed by critics. The season is once again in full swing, so no


better time than to seek a fresh perspective. Theatre historian Mark


Phelan is a supporter of what he argues is a major mainstay of the


theatrical calendar. Hello, boys It has been seen as crude and


commercial. Alfred Tennyson described pantomime as "brainless."


George Bernard Shaw found it vulgar. I couldn't disagree more, nor could


the punters. Financially speaking, pantomime is no laughing matter.


Its popularity means its worth �23 million a year in the UK a year.


Without it, many children would not experience the pleasures of live


theatre and many theatres themselves could go dark,


permanently. They are on the streets..: The cast of Cinderella


is performing for over 80 performances in the coming weeks.


We are the glamour in town! The fact it is eight weeks of our


programme it needs to be financially successful. It brings


80,000 people to see it alone. That is 20% of our income and 20% of our


audience. That is why it is so important to us. It is a great big


driver in sales. We have just sold our �1 million worth of ticks this


year. It is big business. -- tickets this year. It is not a


musical. It is not a play. It is comedy. It is fun. Everyone is


having a great night out. You are a radiator... Not that - you are


radiating. You radiate, nap pi rash... Happyness. Oh, Cinderella,


everyone I see you I get tied- tongue. I think you mean tongue-


tide. It is as traditional asure ki. -- as Turkey. Pantomime has been


around for centuries, from Greece to England. The long revolution has


led us to a family show, where men in drag play dames in a musical


tradition. From Shakespeare to the Roman stage.


Where the principal boy is played by a pretty girl and men ogle the


shapely legs and tight-fitting trousers, which shows the success


of panto. It works on different What is going on here? It sounded


like you were all having fun. at the Waterfront Hall, 25,000


parents and children will see Sleeping Beauty. Theatre director,


Lisa May, is tackling the challenges of this genre for the


first time. We're going to go from page 17... I think the exciting


thing about panto is finding that balance between the madness and the


chaos that is integral to make it work. It is quick and I know it is


a bit tricky... It is getting that balance. It is the actors


constantly thinking on their feet. There's also where the audience


become part of the cast. There's nothing like it for live theatre.


It's a great experience! It is an echo of the tumultuous


conditions of the 19th century playhouse, when the audience


interrupted the actors on stage, hurling abuse and worse. Oh, yes I


will... Oh, no you won. It got so bad that actors sometimes performed


behind a net to protect them from The pleasure from pantomime was far


beyond the special licence it grants us to misbehave in the


theatre. Much of the rich pleasure comes from the form. It is as fixed


a tradition as the festive season itself. So, here is to wicked


villains, panto dames and principal boys, all in that riot of colour


and clamour that comes but once a year!


James Nesbitt has had an amazingly successful career, which has seen


him work with Paul Greengrass, Michael Winterbottom and Oliver


Hirschbiegel. He is constantly challenged himself by having


complex and diverse roles from Adam in Cold Feet to Bloody Sunday. An


undercover cop in Murphy's Law. Audiences can see him in cinemas


today as Bofur the Dwarf in Peter Allow me to inintroduce deuce you...


What has it been like as an experience? You are playing a dwarf.


One of the dwarfs. I'm Bofur, who is kind of - I am delighted to say


is Northern Irish. It is incredible. Nothing could prepare you for it.


You asked me to find the 14th member. I have chosen Mr Baggins.


got to work with an incredible cast. Ian, at 73 just was the best


education I could have had at an important time for me. Just to see


him so dedicated to his craft and he was a real inspiration. Many of


them like that, Kate Blanchet. do you make of yourself being a


Lego person? I was never really into Lego. I love the idea of this


being lodged up to noses of kids all over the world. His father was


principal of a primary school. It is the hard-working rural heartland


of Northern Ireland but has a strong tradition of amateur theatre.


James was on stage from the age of # Come on babe


# Why don't we paint the town # And all that jazz #


I see this gorgeous young boy, 15, 16 years of age, you can see that


James Nesbitt sparkle in his eyes. You can see him loving the camera


and the camera loving him back. don't know. It is not a bad song we


were singing. We were learning a craft there. We were learning


different skills, acquiring skills. That is really, I have tried to


hold on to that, but you are learning stuff.


James started a degree in French, but gave this up to study acting in


London. His first small role came within weeks of graduating. It took


more than ten years until he achieved household name status in


Cold Feet. This was a major one when I was 16. It was so


fascinating to watch you playing somebody from Northern Ireland, who


had no political baggage. That was my point. I was getting tired


myself of the Northern Irish accent and the Northern Irish person. It


was only connected to conflict. The families didn't approve. It was a


Romeo and Juliet kind of thing. Forbidden love. You cannot fight


that. Because you were Protestant and she was Catholic. No, she was


my geography teacher. It was written for an English person. I


said I have to play this as an Northern Irish person. Did that


define you then? I think so. I think so. But you know, that's


why, in a way, I went on to different things.


With the momentum of Cold Feet behind him, James was able to pick


a role that was very different - Protestant civil rights leader Ivan


Cooper in Bloody Sunday. A typical question - did that make


you feel better able to take on the part because he was Protestant?


I just remember, thinking, I've got to do this. I was scared of people


from my background feeling I was in some way betraying them. I was also


some way betraying them. I was also very scared that national ists in


Derry and the families would not -- nationalists in Derry would not


appreciate it. When we were filming, I was so immersed in it. Paul was


talking in my ear constantly and giving me incredible back-up, but


being firm with me. I lost any fears about what people's reactions


would be. It was a game-changing performance,


underpinned by an important aspect of James's work - research with


real people N this case, the real Ivan Cooper. He had not done the


march since the day. We did it. We went around, just the two of us. It


was brilliant. It was an incredible help to me. It was very helpful of


him. He presented me with just the most enormous amount of literature.


I had to read everything, all the literature from the past. I had to


literature from the past. I had to be completely immersed in it.


D five minutes ago I was at the bar. Him here, no way back in. Murphy's


Law had been fuelled by James's success in Cold Feet.


But, by series three, he insisted on changes to his character. You


showed a man capable of extreme violence. That was a shocking thing


for people who thought they knew you and the roles you had


previously embraced. Was it a liberation? That's a good question.


Did I consciously want to beat someone up on camera? Probably not


I went hand in hand with the part. Yes, it felt like - you are right -


It felt - of course this is what I do. I am an actor. I am supposed to


do something different here. Minutes of Heaven won a string of


awards and saw him appear alongside Liam Neeson. It is a fiction, but


one inspired by real events. It imagines an encounter between


Gabrielle Giffords and the UVF man who killed his brother. For James


meeting -- Mr Griffins and the UVF man who killed his brother.


don't we take a few moments ago. have been up and down the stairs. I


will meet him. I want to meet him. I taped him for five hours. I would


speak to him a lot. What are you looking at then? You are not going


to do an imitation of him. What he's thinking when he is quiet?


Then he's off again. You know? He did that a lot. Also just, you are


looking at a lot of the pain in his It's not your typical Hollywood


fight scene. It is messy and awkward... Liam Neeson said it


should be messy, I have lent, hard to watch. That's his Fve Minutes of


Heaven. He doesn't even get that. It feels to me that you've had a


very long journey in becoming an actor. 25 years of being an


overnight success. Why were you never satisfied with one particular


part? Because it is my job. That does hark back to, you know, my


work ethic. Right from the moment I get a script, or from the moment of


an idea, I am consumed with, you know the construction of a part,


the construction of that character's identity, his


background, how they move, how they sound, the way they listen. It is


absolutely what I hope will define me and continue to define me.


there ever a sense that because you did not follow your dad down the


road of education and become that French teacher there has been a


guilt over the years? That is probably very true, because the


notion of anything of money and fame and all that comes with that,


I think there's certainly been a lot of guilt. I probably spent 25


years of... Playing Bofur the Dwarf in The Hobbit has only been the


latest sharp corner turn James has made. Part of a relentless series


of challenges he's taken on. wrote for travel mags... They are


doing the work. And loving what they do. The Way took James to a


Hollywood audience. He brought something of county Antrim. You are


walking along with the stick. You swing that stick quite well. As I


say, I grew up and there was not much else to do. They thought, hey


a marching band. They were like, "I love that!" I am blessed with what


I do. I hope it continues. That seems a fitting end. Thank you very


And you can see James Nesbitt's full interview in an art show in


conversation special on 28th February.


Now, sculptor and artist Debarah Brown is counted among Northern


Ireland's leading art figures. Trained in Dublin as a painter she


returned to Belfast for most of her career, where her work evolved into


three-dimensional form. Famous for exploring glass fibre, she has


achieved extensive international fame. Now in her 80s and creating,


she is the subject of a majorette introduce speckive which has just


opened at the F.E McWilliam Gallery. The art show met up with her.


I'm constantly looking for forms and shapes and lines.


Almost like a composure, striking notes on the piano.


Put some shapes down and then work from that, make a whole piece. Form


is not there - to my mind it will not be interesting. You want to


recreate the thing into sculptural terms. Form is not there just to be


a copy, but there's still the problem of becoming a work of art


or not. I like that because I think the


more you struggle with it, the D I started as a painter and


trained as a painter. Gradually eI started to build up from the


surface and build up with paper match they. -- papier mache. It was


not permanent - you could not put it outside easily. I decided to


cast one or two bits in bronze. Once you cast in bronze, it's very


hard to go back to any other medium, because it's a nice, very nice


result. At least you hope it's nice. The way it reflects light - you can


buff it up, tone it down. I just like doing big things. They give


you scope to sort of let light hit them and get different sort of


tones into bronze and so on. It was the image of those sheep


coming along the road and the man taller than they were - making him


upright and that shape coming towards me.


It does not do to put it on too thick at first. I've always loved


animals. I used to go and help the farmer. I


used to feed the pigs. I liked the pigs. They are nice animals. They


are very friendly and nice. Even when I was a painter I always had


to paint what I knew - the landscape I knew. It's just the


same with sculpture. There's no use in doing that with something you


don't know. I'm 85-year-old now. I suppose I


have - should have - some experience behind me.


I've learnt from the faults and successes I've had over the years.


I think the exhibition in Banbridge will probably be my last one-man


show. I can't see myself doing another one. You say that sort of


thing and then you do it. I don't suppose I'll ever give up


until physically I have to give up. It's just something you love to do


and there it is, you know - I have to make it.


I haven't decided yet what the next thing will be, but there will be


something. Of course the pig isn't finished yet.


What an amazing lady and that exhibition runs until 2nd March at


the F.E McWilliam Gallery in Banbridge. Now, with his tips on


what's not to miss in the music world over the holiday season


here's Ralph. This is the story of the


Proclaimers, released in 1997. They continue to play with Celtic


passion. Trust me, you have not lived until you have had a sing-


along with the band. It is quite an experience. You can sample it for


yoursz at the Limelight in Belfast on Saturday night. Saturday sees


the return of Mumford and Sons to these shores.


2012 has been a great day for them. If you have not been lucky enough


to get a ticket, well I am afraid, you are out of luck. It is sold out


if you are going down to the gig, get there early for a great


seasonal treat. If you wonder why I am always going


on about what amazing young musicalal lapbt we have in this


country, -- musical al lapbt we have in this country, it is because


it is true. Fresh, poppy and with more shiny


hooks than at a fisherman's convention this is one gig not to


miss. As former front-man of the Frames


and one half of the Oscar-winning - Glenn has han an amaze career. Do


yourself a favour and go and see him on Sunday night.


Ricky Warwick has been in the revived Thin Lizzie. Now that


project has been put to bed, he's out on the solo road. I have seen


him sing a few times. His voice pins you to the back wall n the


nicest possible way. Finally, looking ahead into the New


Year, there's a chance to celebrate Derry's City of Culture status -


they will kick-start an incredible year, with a gig on the 11st


January. Go along and support local musical if you can. Thank you. That


is almost it for tonight. The art show will be back on 24th January,


when we will be in Derry, Londonderry, as it begins its


inaugural Year of the City of Culture. You can keep up-to-date on


BBC Radio Ulster Arts Extra. We leave with some music. At 16 Soak


is the name on everyone's lips. Having first picked up a guitar


only a few years ago, she has released two EPs Trains and Sea


Creatures, which have attracted huge industry attention and Radio


One air-play. She plays support to Snow Patrol in the Waterfront Hall


and will play on 20th January. Joined my her father and younger


brother, she gives the art show an exclusive, festive performance.


# We're walking in the air # We're floating in the moon-lit


# The people far below # I'm holding very tight


# I'm riding in the midnight moon # I'm finding I can fly


# So high # The villages go by


# The rivers and the hills # The forests and the streams


# Children gaze open-mouthed # Taken by surprise


# Nobody down below # Believes their eyes


# We're surfing in the air # We're swimming in the frozen sky


# We're drifting over ice and mountains floating by


# Suddenly swooping low # On an ocean deep


Actor James Nesbitt is in conversation about his life, career and role in Peter Jackson's latest epic, The Hobbit. The origins of pantomime theatre are investigated and there is a feature on the life's work of local sculptor Deborah Brown, who is still creating in her 80s. Music comes from Derry's teenage singing sensation, Soak.

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