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.