Thursday, 31 May 2012

Matt and Nev in their usual seats 7


David Williams

FX                                                    PUB ATMOS

MATT                                              Tell ye a thing that would solve the

                                                         inviroment. (BEAT) Bikes.

NEV                                                Oh aye?

MATT                                              Like China. It’s all bikes in China now. (BEAT)

                                                        And Belgium.

NEV                                                I canna ride a bike.

MATT                                              Why aye ye can. One of them things you

                                                        never forget. Like... ridin’ a bike.

NEV                                                Never had a bike. (BEAT) Just a pump.

                                                        (BEAT. ANXIOUS) When’s this coming in?

MATT                                              What?

NEV                                                This law aboot ridin’ bikes.

MATT                                              Next Tuesday.

NEV                                                Oh. (BEAT) Will ye learn us, Matt?

MATT                                              On yer bike.


That concludes my week of Matt and Nev scripts. Thanks for listening. (Well, reading.)

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Matt and Nev in their usual seats 6


David Williams

FX                                                    PUB ATMOS

MATT                                              Tell ye a thing they should bring out. (BEAT)

                                                         Beer-flavoured crisps.

NEV                                                Ye reckon?

MATT                                              Oh aye. Cos see, suppose you eat a cheese

                                                        ‘n’ onion crisp, then you have a sup o your

                                                        pint, that sup’s spoilt cos it tastes all cheesy.

NEV                                                An oniony.

MATT                                              Exactly. But if you had a beer-flavoured crisp,

                                                        you wouldn’t be wastin any o your drink.

NEV                                                Right. (BEAT) But if you think about it, they

                                                        don’t need to go to all the bother o making

                                                        beer-flavoured crisps.

MATT                                              Why not?

NEV                                                Cos you could just get plain-flavoured crisps,

                                                        right... an dunk em in your beer.

MATT                                              Doesn’t work.

NEV                                                How d’ ye know?

MATT                                              Cos I just this minute tried it. What happens

                                                        is, your crisps go soggy in your beer, an they

                                                        drop off your fingers an make a horrible mush

                                                        in the bottom o your glass.

NEV                                                Well, your pint looks clear enough to me.

MATT                                              (COOLLY) That’s cos I used yours.

NEV                                                (REACTS. FADE ON NEV’S DISGUST)


Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Matt and Nev in their usual seats 5


David Williams

FX                                                    PUB ATMOS

NEV                                                Fancy a game o darts, Matt?

MATT                                              Nah, I’ve given up on that game. Pointless.

NEV                                                Whey, I divent agree, marrer. I’d say it’s the

                                                        supreme test of hand-eye coordination.

MATT                                              Mebbe so, but me darts keep falling out.

                                                        (BEAT) Pointless.


Monday, 28 May 2012

Matt and Nev in their usual seats 4


David Williams

FX                                                    PUB ATMOS

NEV                                                Eh, you like karaoke, Matt?

MATT                                              Me? Nah, never been much struck on


NEV                                                No, karaoke, man. Where the music comes

                                                        on and you sing the words off the screen.

MATT                                              Oh, like karaoke nights, you shoulda said.

                                                        Oh aye. (BEAT) Elvis is very good at that.

NEV                                                Elvis?

MATT                                              You knaa Elvis. Works down the chip shop.

NEV                                                Oh aye. (BEAT) Bet he does a good karaoke.

MATT                                              Good? You should hear his Lady Ga-Ga. It’s

                                                        like she was in the room.


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Matt and Nev in their usual seats 3


David Williams

FX                                                    PUB ATMOS

MATT                                              Nev, ye knaa ‘Fog on the Tyne’.

NEV                                                The Lindisfarne song? Oh, aye.

MATT                                              (SPOKEN NOT SUNG)

                                                         Sittin’ in a sleazy snack-bar,

                                                         Suckin’ sickly sausage rolls,

                                                         Slippin’ down slowly, slippin’ down

                                                         sideways,Think I’ll sign off the dole

                                                         (BEAT) Do ye think the consonantal switch

                                                         in alliterative pattern to introduce the last line

                                                         of the quatrain enhances or diminishes the

                                                         dramatic effect of the underlying satirical


NEV                                                 I diven knaa. (BEAT) Canny song, like.

MATT                                              Oh aye.


Saturday, 26 May 2012

Matt and Nev in their usual seats 2


David Williams

FX                                                    PUB ATMOS

MATT                                              Tell ye a thing I never won.

NEV                                                National Lottery?

MATT                                              Not that, no. The thing, man.

NEV                                                Pools?

MATT                                              No.

NEV                                                Bingo? Raffle? What? Domino card?

MATT                                              No. The thing. (BEAT) Nobel Prize in Physics.

NEV                                                Ah.

MATT                                              Passed me by, that one.


Friday, 25 May 2012

Sketch comedy: Matt and Nev in their usual seats

When I was working with a team on the BBC radio sketch show Jesting About I wrote a series of very short sketches featuring two Geordie friends Matt and Nev who could always be found in the same seats in their local. None of the shorter sketches written by any of the writers made it to the recording as they turned out not to fit the format, but I thought I'd spend the next few days on my blog reproducing the Matt and Nev sketches. Here's the first one:


David Williams

FX                                                    PUB ATMOS

NEV                                                Just suppose, Matt...

MATT                                              What?

NEV                                                Suppose your doorbell rings, right. And

                                                        there’s a lovely young lass stannin there,

                                                        18-19, mebbes. 22.

MATT                                              Oh aye.

NEV                                                She takes one look at you, an she says, ‘Let

                                                        me in. I want you to rip all my clothes off, and

                                                        I want us to make mad, passionate love.’

                                                        What would you do?

MATT                                              Oh. (PAUSE TO CONSIDER) Wouldn’t


NEV                                                Why not?

MATT                                              I haven’t got a doorbell.


Friday, 11 May 2012

Daft and illogical song lyrics - Part 2

Here’s a coincidence. For some time I have been collecting a second instalment of daft and illogical song lyrics to add to the ones I posted on a earlier blog post - the coincidence is that when I searched my blog archives to create a link to the earlier post I found I’d delivered that first one exactly one year ago. There you go.   

Hope you enjoy this second instalment. Click on the tracks to listen to the songs via Spotify.

I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes,
and I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I'd said.

(Where do I start? Everything is wrong about this. More than one sky to look at; looking at skies while running hands over eyes; and conflicting reasons given for a hurting head - not bad for two lines.)

She ain’t no witch

And I love the way she twitch, Ah-ha-ha.

(Just - daft.)

Words are very unnecessary

(Things are either unnecessary or they aren’t)

If Paradise was half as nice as heaven that you take me to,

Who need Paradise, I’d rather have you.

(Well, yes, you would prefer her if Paradise was only half as nice – statement of the obvious)

Tonight there’s gonna be a jailbreak

Somewhere in this town.

(I wonder where exactly in town a jailbreak might take place)

She called him Speedoo, but his Christian name was Mr Earl

(So what was his surname, Paul?)

If you have any examples you’d like to share, please use Comments to pass them on.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Coalhouse Door re-opens

I have written in an earlier post about my teenage exposure to repertory theatre - walking from Newcastle's Haymarket Station a couple of miles to the Flora Robson Playhouse to see whatever production had just opened - and especially at my delight and inspiration in seeing the original 1968 production of Alan Plater's 'Close the Coalhouse Door' with music by Alex Glasgow and featuring such great North East actors as John Woodvine, James Garbutt and (Bolton-born, but with an Auntie Bella in Gateshead) Bryan Pringle. The play was not only locally successful but briefly went to the West End courtesy of Brian Rix, and turned up on TV as an unforgettable Wednesday Play with most of the original cast.

The original cast of 'Close the Coalhouse Door'

 A scene from the 1969 TV production with Dudley Foster as The Expert, Geraldine Moffat as Ruth and Alan Browning as John Milburn

The Flora Robson Playhouse was demolished in 1971 to make way for a new road. The new home of the Tyne Theatre Company was the University Theatre, a much shorter walk from the Haymarket. A couple of renames later, with some refurbishment and a new front entrance at the side, the theatre currently houses Northern Stage. Last night I was among a packed audience in the theatre enjoying a revival of 'Close the Coalhouse Door'. It was a memorable evening of laughter and tears.

Alan Plater, who updated the play a couple of times for earlier revivals, sadly died in 2010, but the minor updating for this production fell into the capable hands of Lee Hall (of 'Billy Elliot' and 'Pitmen Painters' fame). Hall gives us two superb images  - at the beginning with a poster of Meryl Streep as Mrs Thatcher given extra devillish quality when two miners' lamps are shone through her eyes; and at the end with a slick transformation of the whole cast into call centre workers to demonstrate the death of the mining industry.

There is a wonderful revolving set too by Soutra Gilmour, and Sam West's direction is lively and gorgeously irreverent, with the fourth wall regularly and gleefully punched through by actors whose quick-fire repartee includes the audience at every excuse for an ad lib.

Mostly though it's Plater's script, Glasgow's music, and the players' interpretation of both that make the show so engaging you could hug yourself and them and the guy in the next seat who you don't know but who is obviously enjoying the experience as much as we all are.

Chris Connel as Jackie, Jane Holman as Mary in the 2012 Northern Stage revival 

I have rarely seen a cast so versatile. Not only could they switch instantly from their anchor roles in the play to produce hilarious cameos of key figures on both sides of the miners' struggle (including a Harold Wilson so simply and effectively sketched that it brought spontaneous laughter and applause from the audience at first glance); they could also sing, dance and play music at a level on a par with their acting - guitars, bass, drums, piano, flute, penny whistle, violin, concertina, washboard and some other instrument which seemed to be some form of autoharp. They didn't always need traditional instruments either - one of the best percussion accompaniments came from Mary Milburn's knitting needles as she danced around tapping them on various parts of the set, while bottles, glasses and packing cases were all used to great effect; a veritable scratch orchestra. The songs were variously stirring, foot-tapping, comic and poignant. Of the latter Ruth's lament for a lost baby had me in tears, while the various treatments of the title song 'Close the Coalhouse Door' summed up all the anger and bitterness that lies behind the story as it is unfurled on stage - anger which we are rightly left with in spite (or perhaps because) of all the fun and laughter we've enjoyed at the Milburns' golden wedding celebration.

At the end of the play we returned from the auditorium past a sombre display of black and white pictures of the 1984 miners' strike and the official retaliation, shot on the streets in the colliery villages of County Durham. The bitterness evident in those pictures and at times on stage is not all we take away, however, for Plater's story is fundamentally life-affirming, and we have this great generous cast to thank for reminding us of the great generous heart of our mining community. It is as much to cherish as to grieve.