This month's Arts Show includes actor Colm Meaney, comedian Tim McGarry, crime writer Ian Rankin and live music from Saint Sister.
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Hello, you are more than welcome to The Arts Show.
We are lean, mean and pack a punch like the Pocket Rocket.
Let's go toe-to-toe for the next 30 minutes.
From the Starship Enterprise to Stormont, Colm Meaney
boldly goes in a buddy movie we thought we'd never see.
Ulster says, "Yes, yes, yes," as Tim McGarry cracks his whip
to find out why we can't get enough of erotic fiction here.
The BBC Two Minute Masterpieces,
art films by emerging female film-makers, are ready to roll.
We're watching the detectives with crime writer Ian Rankin on
the art that first blew his mind.
Our Street Corner Poet this month is Gerald Dawe.
And there's brand-new music from Saint Sister.
We're on Twitter now.
Now, let's talk about sex.
That got you listening, didn't it?
Although, it's not just about listening.
It's about reading it and writing it.
Erotic fiction is big business,
and if you peek behind the lace curtains here in Northern Ireland,
it seems that we just cannot get enough of it.
Who could we ask to delve undercover?
# Sex. #
In a desperate bid to improve ratings,
The Arts Show has decided, finally, to talk about sex.
Specifically, erotic fiction.
Christian is standing over me,
grasping a plaited leather riding crop.
And who better to host a feature on erotica
than an international sex symbol
who drives men and woman mad with desire?
You're here because I'm incapable of leaving you alone.
Now, unfortunately, Jamie Dorman was unavailable,
so I got the call.
But because it's The Art Show on BBC Northern Ireland,
not some smutty Channel 5 show,
we will not be indulging in double entendres or schoolboy smut.
No, we are going to take this subject seriously.
So, Art Show, let's talk about...
Honestly, I don't think I'm right for this.
All right, all right!
The most successful writer of erotic fiction of them all is,
of course, Erika Leonard James, whose Fifty Shades trilogy
has already sold over 125 million copies worldwide.
EL James is actually married to a man from Northern Ireland, from Newry.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Grey,
the billionaire with his helicopter and his red room of pain,
is possibly based on a fellow from Newry.
I tell you what, that woman deserves every single penny she gets
because I've been to Newry.
She must have the best imagination in the world.
One local woman is hoping to emulate the success of EL James.
And while erotic literature has a long and, indeed, noble tradition
going back through Greek and Roman poetry,
right through Shakespeare's sonnets
to Molly Bloom's soliloquy and DH Lawrence,
this local author feels that Northern Ireland isn't ready
for what she has to say.
By the way, this is a bar in Belfast, this isn't her house.
I set out to shock by writing a filthier version of
what I thought was erotic fiction.
Leonora Morrison is not your real name,
you're wearing a wig, we're filming you out of focus,
we are going to disguise your voice.
I feel like I'm interviewing a terrorist from the 1980s,
rather than somebody who's just written a book.
Nobody in my family knows that I write.
None of my friends know that I write books,
and especially erotic fiction.
I think that if they knew that,
they would be completely shocked and maybe disgusted.
My family are very religious and I was always brought up in the church.
And it's not something they would be proud of, especially.
But surely, we've moved on? It's 2017.
Well, a lot of people from here who have been religious have read EL James,
and they haven't liked it.
I think it was quite tame, and my book is a lot worse, content-wise.
You say worse, you mean better-worse or worse-worse?
-Filthy? It's pure filth?
Mine is self published, as well, and I think it's been harder
because this is Northern Ireland and putting it out in the public forum,
with newspapers, etc, has been quite tricky.
How did you get started?
I had gone on online dating sites and discovered that on some
of the sites, you could write short stories in the form of blogs.
And reading through some of them, I thought, "Well, I can do that.
"Maybe do it better."
And I started writing different versions of stories based on
an online character called Ginger.
And from the feedback that I got,
I was encouraged to put it into a book.
# Erotic, erotic... #
Erotic fiction is the name given to fiction that deals with sex and
sexual themes in a more serious or literary way than, say, pornography.
I think erotica, when it's good,
stimulates the imagination.
And there's absolutely no point, I think,
in going to the bedroom and leaving your imagination behind.
We should be able to fantasise,
we should be able to kind of think up gorgeous scenarios.
How else will you keep things beautiful and fresh in a long-term
relationship unless you can bring sort of vivid fantasy with you?
And that's why erotica is important.
It sort of stimulates every bit of us
and it makes us feel sort of alive.
I think the audience for erotic fiction is varied,
but there's no doubt that woman are the main component.
I couldn't tell you exactly the figure,
but women buy it in greater numbers than men.
And I think that's also because women aren't really used to
having permission to be turned on by something visual,
but they are allowed to be turned on by the written word and they
are very kind of at ease going into their imagination and sort of
living in their head with fantasy figures.
And so, you know, it's a kind of guilty pleasure, I think.
Or maybe a guilt-free pleasure, in my case.
When I started doing The Amorist,
I suppose I saw an audience that was rather like me.
Middle-aged women who want to talk about sex
and feel empowered to do so.
You know, you've arrived at a stage in your life where you feel that
you can ask for a bit more, or can explore things.
And I just sensed that audience was there.
I think EL James and the readership for Fifty Shades had sort of
opened a door, and people were rushing through.
I would never have been able to get The Amorist onto the middle shelf
of a newsagent, even, I'd say, ten years ago.
Erotic fiction is now mainstream.
Romance is dead. Sex rules.
It's no longer taboo to read about it or even to write it.
in fact, it's cool.
In fact, it's so cool, even Malachi O'Doherty does it.
Wait a minute. Malachi O'Doherty?
Political commentator, journalist, Nolan Show, blah, blah, blah,
he does erotica?
Malachi, be honest. Are you a smut merchant?
Is that true?
Well, yeah, that's...
That's not the word I would have chosen myself,
but I write... I'm a contributing editor to the Erotic Review
and I write short stories with erotic content in them.
Is it unusual for somebody to admit that in Northern Ireland?
Well, it probably is.
And sometimes, I wish I hadn't.
There's something about the fact that you would have detailed
the sexual interaction between people in a story
in lavish language and colourful language,
there's something about that which makes people kind of step back
and think, "Uh-oh, don't really want to talk to Malachi about that.
"Don't really want to think about Malachi in that way."
Where is the difference between good sex and bad sex in literature?
It seems to be that the bad sex is when you go to the nth degree
of mechanical explicitness.
It's bad sex when it's irrelevant, actually,
to the progression of the story. You know.
A story like Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach
is about a sexual event that went wrong,
so you can't leave the penis out of that story.
But if the penis has no place in that story and you put it in anyway,
that's bad sex. Because, you know...
So the thing has to move with the story.
Has to be integral to the story.
Woody Allen said that sex was the most fun you can have without laughing.
Now, when I do stand-up, I don't do jokes about sex because
you know what they say - write about what you know.
I mean, I'm not a prude, I just think that what a man and woman
get up to in the privacy of their own...dungeon should stay there.
I mean, I'm glad that we live in a more tolerant and open society
and I'm not jealous
that someone can make millions of pounds just by writing about sex,
but at heart I'm an old romantic, so I'm going to go home right now
and tell my wife to get up them stairs...
and start writing.
Might need these.
The creator or Rebus, Ian Rankin,
is no stranger to our shores as our passion for crime fiction
continues to grow, and with that in mind, we can reveal here that
Belfast is getting a brand-new international crime fiction festival
in the autumn, Noireland, and what better time to ask the king
of tarte noir himself about the art that first blew his mind.
Um, first film that had an impression
on me was probably Where Eagles Dare, which was a rip-roaring
boys' own adventure film from the 1960s, probably.
Believe me, it's well-made, cos only an eagle can get to it.
Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, um...based on a novel -
thriller by a Scottish author called Alistair MacLean.
My dad and I were both big fans, and it's basically just, you know,
Nazis being shot and killed by Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton
in a big castle on top of a mountain,
then at the end there's an extraordinarily exciting scene
where they have to escape in a cable car and have wrestling matches
on top of a cable car. Absolutely brilliant visceral stuff.
Scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. Loved it.
At high school, um...
I wasn't old enough to get to the cinema to see X-certificate films,
but nobody would stop me reading the books.
My friend lent me his brother's copy
of A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess,
which by that time had been withdrawn from cinemas,
and I read it and I just was blown away by it.
I thought what an extraordinary book. It was about these boot boys,
these bovver boys - there was a lot of them around when I was growing up
in the early '70s, with, kind of,
skinheads and Doc Marten boots and all the rest of it.
But it was beautifully written.
It was elegantly written and it was very imaginatively written,
and I thought, "This is it. This is the kind of stuff I want to do."
I never gave it back. I've still got it on my shelf and it's got my mate's big brother's name inside it
and one of these days, he's going to say, "Where is it?" I've got it.
One of the first records I bought, a single, I bought it when I was
a wee kid, I bought it at Butlins holiday camp in Aire one summer,
and it was Silver Machine by Hawkwind,
which didn't quite get to number one in the charts. I think it got to number two or three.
It had synthesisers and all kinds of whooshing noises and then
this big pounding bass, Lemmy playing bass, Lemmy singing,
and growing up in a wee coal-mining village in central Scotland,
to me it was like a sound I'd never heard before.
And I still play that record, and I want it played at my funeral as well,
so it's a record that's been with me from the age of 12,
and I'm now 56 and I'm still listening to it.
Ah, those were the days. Right, what's next?
First artist I remember really falling in love with
was Francis Bacon.
There's these big sort of gooey pastelly...they look like
desserts that you should be able to just put a spoon in and eat,
all these amazing pinks and these lush colours.
I was at university and I remember there was
a Bacon exhibition down at the Tate.
The night bus going in to London, I remember looking at the price
of the exhibition programme and thinking, "Pff.
"I buy that, I don't eat today," but I had to buy it.
The scenes from the Crucifixion,
um...it's an extraordinary painting that's in London. Wow.
It's his answer to what was happening during World War II,
and it's a really heavy painting, and every time I look at it,
it scares me again.
Irish actor Colm Meaney is one of those familiar faces.
We feel like we've known him for decades, and we have,
from The Commitments to Star Trek and Deep Space Nine,
but his latest movie is a car share with a difference.
No Peter Kay in the driving seat, but an imagined journey
between political adversaries Martin McGuinness and Dr Ian Paisley.
OK, I do know your face. Who are you really?
This is Dr Ian Paisley,
leader of the Democratic Unionist Party,
-founder and moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church.
This is Martin McGuinness,
former chief of staff of the Irish Republican Army.
What did you think when you heard about the film The Journey?
My initial reaction was it might be slightly dry, you know, but once
I started reading it, I sat down to read it and I couldn't put it down.
I just read it straight through in one sitting, you know,
and it, um...it made me laugh and by the end, it had me in tears.
It was just a beautiful piece of writing and about such
a significant event and extraordinary characters.
I think the film has an emotional power that you wouldn't expect in a story like this.
You have been asked to betray your tribe...
and I've been asked to betray mine.
-Were you apprehensive at all about playing Martin McGuinness?
People have asked me this a number of times. Not really. I mean, I met Martin just the once.
I supported his campaign for president in 2011 and I spent
a good part of the evening with him, and it was delightful,
he was a delightful man, wonderful company.
You do stop to think when you're asked to play a real-life person.
The only time I've done it before, I played Don Revie in The Damned United.
Yesterday afternoon, at three o'clock, I accepted the FA's offer
to become the next manager of the England national football team.
Iconic figures like that, you have to make an attempt to look like them and you have to
make an attempt to sound like them, but the important thing is getting the character right.
-Did that journey actually happen?
-So it's entirely fictional?
-Well, it's not entirely fictional.
-They must have shared...
They did travel together quite frequently.
There was one journey where they were together on a small plane,
a private plane, and I think Peter Hain was there
and a few other people were there,
but it's an imagining of what could have happened.
The issue in the pictures,
how did these guys get from where they were to where they got to.
How did they get from not being in the same room
-to the Chuckle Brothers...
-Never, ever speaking to each other!
They never spoke to each other. You know?
-And then suddenly we have these images of them laughing and smiling together.
-Yeah. Yeah. Yeah!
How did that happen? And we don't know, really, how it happened.
Neither of them spoke to that issue, you know,
or gave a blow-by-blow account, and any film,
any drama that tries to present history is in a way a fiction.
And the accent as well? We're hearing your Dublin accent coming through despite, what,
-three decades in LA?
-You've managed to hold on to the accent.
Do you think it was maybe a wee bit more West Belfast than...
-Yeah, probably, yeah.
What you want to do is be understood, most importantly.
I mean, you want to be as close,
but it's representation - as I say, it's not an impersonation.
And this is going to...
Well, I feel it will be looked at locally probably quite forensically.
-It does feel like this is very much an international audience...
-..that this is playing to.
I mean, accents are funny things. They're...
I remember years ago doing a film, Far And Away,
and I thought I did this wonderful hybrid accent.
Jesus Christ, when's your voice going to change?!
And I'll put money on you.
'There was a stage hand at a theatre in Chicago - he was'
originally from Galway, but he'd been in America a long time,
you know, and it, sort of, had gone totally hybrid Galway-America,
but he was a real kind of Yank, you know?
And so I decided to use this accent in the film,
and I was accused of doing a dreadful American accent!
And you had your licence to kill!
-We were fighting a civil war!
-And you lost!
You're talking here not just about Martin McGuinness but also
about the Reverend Ian Paisley - two very difficult figures to reconcile.
How do you imagine people locally are going to watch this film?
Well, we made this film, it was kind of, like,
this is something that happened and it was amazing, and look,
these two figures who were polar opposites managed to travel
that distance to be able to work together.
And then suddenly here we are in 2017 where we need to look at
what these two men did in our own situation, because you have
the Assembly elections, you've the General Election coming up now.
I think they're further apart than they've been in a long time,
so you would hope that a film like this that actually kind of...
in praise of compromise, you would hope that that would have
some influence on the players who are here today.
We had a civil war.
And this is our only opportunity for both sides to walk away
with heads held high.
Along Haigh Terrace
A drizzle of wind and rain rattles the loose windows upstairs
Is that himself I see squinting behind the scrim curtains?
This is surely where he'd spotted the people
Heading to Carlisle Pier - the belted suitcase,
The blue serge suit, the V-neck gansey,
All in readiness for Princess Maud's heave through the Irish Sea,
Nothing spectacular but that last sight of Scotsman's Bay as she works her way free.
Not a bad day today, by all accounts.
Little bits of mist hang above our encampments.
Villas wedged into cliff face.
The grand terraces overlooking the bay.
An older order of things.
Along with the spritely
There's one or two giving out on the latest iPhones
I keep to the east pier under this cold blanket of sky
Patches of mist like smoke from the fire.
With just about 10% of UK films directed by women,
we put out a call to emerging female film-makers to submit ideas
for short arts films, two minute masterpieces.
Well, we've whittled them down to five.
They're all available on our BBC Arts Show website now and they are great,
but we thought that we would bring you a couple of them here.
Directors Solene Guichard and Myrid Carten, take a bow.
Hi, you've got toilet roll on your shoe.
..thank you so much...
JAUNTY MUSIC PLAYS
Aren't they just great? All five are on our BBC Arts Show website now.
While you're there, do check out our iPlayer Arts Show X programme,
and of course, we're on the wireless Tuesdays to Fridays,
half past six on BBC Radio Ulster.
We're going to leave you with something a bit special.
Saint Sister, whose sound has been dubbed atmos folk.
They play the National Concert Hall on 7th June and here they are,
with an exclusive performance for the Arts Show.
Causing Trouble is their new single. Bye for now.
# Came by to tell me
# How you've changed
# You've got a new car
# She keeps you safe
# And you don't think of me like that
# I hope the moment didn't pass
# But honey I know you
# We dance to Elvis in the kitchen
# At least we used to
# And honey you know me
# We danced from Belfast to the Basin
# When you sang Honey stow me
# Better stow me
# You on the blue carpet
# Let's swap bodies for a while
# What was I doing
# Oh no she's causing trouble I hear
# Causing trouble I hear
# You said darling it's a shame
# Was I intent on staying strange
# Take that car out of my garden
# We should have left it on the island
# Honey I know you
# Doesn't that count for something
# At least I used to
# You on the blue carpet
# Let's swap bodies for a while
# What was I doing
# All of those years
# Causing trouble I hear
# Causing trouble I hear. #
Star Trek and Commitments actor Colm Meaney on his latest movie, The Journey. Plus comedian Tim McGarry investigates erotic fiction, crime writer Ian Rankin reveals his cultural highlights, and there is live music from Saint Sister.