Friday, 30 April 2010

Socks t shirts - get em now before Brighton have em all

Hi Socks fans,

There are 2010 Socks t-shirts still available (we had some extras printed). They'll be on sale in Brighton tomorrow at the gig. If you want to bag one now (ie we won't take it to Brighton) the sizes left are Small (1 left only), M, L, XL, XXXL, Ladyfit S, Ladyfit M and Ladyfit L (1 only).

Payapl £18 / $28 to by tonight (Friday) and remember to say which size you want.

If you know anyone in Brighton who's not booked the show yet, we're on Saturday and Sunday at 6pm Details here - spread the word.

Love The Socks xxxxxx

Predicting the Election

I look forward to calling this election wrong, again. The three weeks of the campaign have been fun, a bit like a World Cup or Olympics for those of us who hate sport, and now we're in the final week and it's time to decide who you're going to vote for and try and predict the result.

Because I live in what has been a Tory safe set since the early Middle Ages (our MP is Liam Fox), my traditional Labour vote has always been as good as wasted. In past years I have tactically voted Lib Dem and it's still left them a good 10% behind Fox. This year, with the Clegg Factor of recent weeks, it has looked like my LibDem tactical vote could actually work. This is, after all, a LibDem target seat. Number 38 on their list, so.. who are we fooling. Three weeks in there is a feeling that the dust has settled and voters may just be reverting to type, except maybe Labour voters who have had the roughest campaign and are finding it really hard to defend their basket case of a party.

Looking at why I vote Labour, I do so because I believe in the principles of socialism and I want to see them applied in a caring capitalist society. I know sod all about economics, and a few percentage points in tax either way mean little to me. It's the principles that count. So which principles matter to me, and which party really intends doing something I'd like?

Education. I work in schools and know, like any teacher must, that the best thing you can do to start improving education is to reduce class sizes. Then you need to alleviate child poverty and redress the gap between rich and poor. No biggie, and no party is able to do a thing about it cos it costs money and they have none. So Labour & LibDem are level pegging there, Tory well out of it for not knowing what they're talking about (all went to posh school and talking twaddle about parents setting up their own schools. Idiots).

Nuclear arms. LibDems win there. I went on CND marches 25 years ago and still believe in unilateral nuclear disarmament. I believe the possession by my country of nuclear weaponry of any kind is morally indefensible and logically nonsensical, so scrapping Trident is a good start for winning my vote.

And LibDems opposed the Iraq war, as did I. So, all other things being similar, I guess the LibDems have won my vote on Trident & Iraq.

In that case, with my vote sorted out, who's going to win the General Election? I know I can only predict this wrong. I know that because I always predict it wrong and have done since I've been able to vote.

My first election was 1983. The Tories were in power and were the embodiment of purest evil. They'd sent 100s to their deaths in the Falklands, they'd sunk the Belgrano while it was sailing away, they'd decimated Britain's manufacturing base, Top Of The Pops was full of acts voicing the nation's hatred for them from Stand Down Margaret to Ghost Town, and I personally had never met anyone who was going to vote Tory, they were clearly going to be slaughtered by Michael Foot's Labour party. Imagine my surprise...

In 1987 it had to be a hung parliament. The Tories had gone from bad to worse, but I realised they were inexplicably popular among the Loadsamoney generation of spivs and chancers who were on the rise and taking over the media (protest pop had disappeared from the charts to be replaced by Stock, Aitken & Waterman, ooh it was an awful time). The SDP Liberal Alliance were as popular in the polls then as the LibDems have been for the last fortnight, and a three way tie was confidently predicted. I went with that idea too. I was wrong again.

By 1992 surely it had to be a Labour victory. Everyone agreed the Tories had been in for long enough. Thatcher had gone and been replaced by Major who everyone knew was just a temporary caretaker PM, and Kinnock was so clearly the man. He did a rally in Sheffield which was positively triumphant, so off we went to the polls assured of a landslide. Oh come on, how did that not happen?

In 1997 everything was going Labour's way, and I was the only sensible voice of caution in the room. I'd learned the lessons of the past. I knew that, no matter what the polls said, the electorate would always end up voting Tory, it's just what they did. Oh there might be a swing to Labour, but never enough for an overall majority. Why I very nearly put money on the Tories scraping back in. Not doing so was the only thing I got right there.

2001 I don't think anyone noticed there'd actually been an election, and I don't remember predicting the result correctly or not, and likewise 2005. Maybe I'd stopped caring.

So, who will win next week? Secure in the knowledge that whatever I say will be wrong, here is my prediction. Labour will come third in the overall percentage of the vote, getting less than 30 per cent. Lib Dems will come 2nd and Tories will get the most, but they will both be around the 30% mark. The minority parties will get their highest votes ever, with the BNP polling very highly and the Greens just behind them.

How this will translate into seats is, obviously, the real question. My feeling is that the LibDems will indeed take seats that they wouldn't have done without the TV debates and the Clegg factor, and that they will take them equally from Labour & Tories. I think Labour will also lose some to the Tories in other marginals, and I predict the BNP to take votes from Labour in certain seats with a high proportion of... well let's call them bigots for want of a better word.

Which will give us a Tory victory, but a slim one. It may give the LibDems a hold on the balance of power, but my feeling is it won't. I think the Tories will edge just that bit ahead, leaving them with a majority and no need to do a deal with the LibDems.

It's not the outcome I'd choose, but that's my prediction. We have 7 days to find out just how wrong I'll be.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Doctor Who v Daleks new comic 2010

New Doctor Who, featuring Matt Smith featuring really different Daleks. Comic strip by me, Kev F, to be continued...

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Comic strips by me, aged 10

I started this comic strip drawing lark at a very early age, as this comic I recently found in my parents house shows. At a guess I was 10 years old...

The strips show that I was a big Doctor Who fan already (though I was either inventing my own Doctor or I couldn't do likenesses) and that I was reading Valiant and Lion (or maybe Thunder) comic, featuring Adam Eterno.

And about that time, I probably looked like this:

More of my nonsense at

Monday, 26 April 2010

Doctor Who comic art updated

A sample Doctor Who comic page, now coloured and lettered by me. Mostly designed to entertain and impress the kids in my Comic Art Masterclasses, it's also another one for the portfolio.

I prefer myself as a writer rather than a dramatic artist, my style tending towards the comedic. But it's always good to keep my hand in on the adventure work.

See more at my website.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Time of Angels Dr Who notes

Just watched Doctor Who A Time Of Angels. The first time this series I haven't been able to watch it live, but at least I got to watch it at home (ep1 watched on set at back of venue in Bath before show, with some audience trickling in, ep 2 on tiny TV in hotel room in Chorley before gig, ep3 on tiny TV in hotel room in Inverness).

It was very good. Mind you, putting Victory of the Daleks on last week was probably designed to make anything look good in comparison. (I was not a fan)

Time Of Angels was no Blink. It was like Aliens is to Alien, ie taking the best idea and spreading it a bit thin.

Amy is not a character, she's just a functional person put there to scream and be imperiled. And she doesn't even scream. Unlike Rose or Donna, we haven't been made to care for Amy. Maybe we cared for the 9 year old (or is it 7 year old) version of her in episode one, the 19 (or is it 23) year old version could be replaced by any other character with any other name played by any other actor and the viewer could not care less. Russell T Davies put that sort of thing first on his agenda, with sound explicable plots coming lower down. Moffat works the opposite way round. Great tight plots, but characters that are quite superficial. Scared Bob is the new Other Dave, that's not characterisation, that's labelling.

My biggest bugbear with this series is those bloody trailers. Every great bit of this episode was in the bloody trailers, include every bit of CGI, all the cliffhangers, and the last line of the entire episode. That is not helping. Who hadn't worked out from the trailer that the statues were all aliens?

Next episode is already half spoilt for me. (At least, watching it on Virgin Catch Up, I didn't get the credits ruined by Graham Norton popping up and shouting about the Wizard of Oz, so that's something).

However I did enjoy this episode, I did think it was the second best of the series so far, I am looking forward to next week, and it did "zhuzz" me up with Doctor-energy making me feel like walking out of the cinema and pretending I am the lead character (not that I don't do that most of the time anyway).

PS, having heard about it online, I watched my DVD recording of Time of Angels off BBC 1 to see the dreadful tralier the BBC has ruined it with. I have since complained to the BBC, using their formal complaint form. This is what I wrote:

Dr Who Time of Angels, the climactic moment, the final dramatic line, the close up of the Doctor's face, were vandalised by an animated picture of Graham Norton and a trailer for the next show.

This was dreadful, demeaning, insulting treatment of your viewers. Whoever was responsible for this act of badly timed idiocy deserves to have the real Graham Norton pop up unexpectedly and dance on their face.

Make sure this doesn't happen again please.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Poor Old Horse - Socks In The Shed

The Socks, in the Shed , doing Poor Old Horse, along with award winning folk legends Jackie Oates & Jim Causley

PS: New design Socks t shirts have just been sent to their advance buyers. If you still want one, Paypal £18/ $28 to and let us know your size and your address.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The Election poster battle

I've just been doing a lot of travelling. And because of the volcanic ash situation I've been doing by it by train instead of flying, and before that by car. And there's an election on. So I've seen an awful lot of front windows and back gardens in the last week.

And what do you see in front windows and back gardens during election time? Posters and stickers. Some are diamond shaped, some are poster shaped, some are big banners, some on sticks, some on fences, but all serving the same purpose of saying "we support this party, vote for them".

And I have been keeping an eye out for them, from last week's travels through Hampshire (Tuesday), South Oxhey Hertfordshire (Weds), Harrogate (Friday), to Edinburgh to Inverness to Sutherland to Inverness then back home via Edinburgh, Carlisle, Birmingham, Bristol, home. And what have I seen?

A Lib Dem landslide. If the diamond shaped orange symbols on sticks mean anything at all, Britain (and Scotland) are going Clegg in a big way.

I have seen one or two SNP stickers, but vastly outnumbered by LibDem. I have seen Tory posters, but almost every one was the size of a small car and was attached to a gate or a haystack in the grounds of a farmer or wealthy landowner (which, let's remind them, adds up to just one vote. Probably two, if your wife's a) allowed to vote and b) doesn't vote LibDem).

I have not seen a single Labour poster, flyer, sticker, or thing-on-a-pole. Not one. I am a Labour voter and I am seriously considering sticking the LibDem diamond in my window because a) they bothered to post one, well three, through my door, and b) I live in Liam Fox's constituency and there is a serious likelihood that that corrupt and disgraced Tory could be ousted by a concerted tactical LibDem vote.

Liam Fox has shot himself in the foot with his election flyer, which we have had through the door. (Labour haven't even sent us a flyer, let alone the big sticker). Fox's photo is beside the slogan "Vote For Change". He has been the incumbent MP for 18 years. He might get change, and not the sort he was hoping for.

Kev F

PS: I have to confess to some hubris here. I booked a train ticket to get back from Inverness, secure in the knowledge that my plane would not be cancelled and I would get no refund for it. I now know both of my planes were officially cancelled so I'm into Easyjet to the tune of 92 quid. I'm like Basil Fawlty in that episode when he thinks he's won a bet on the horses, only to break a vase a few seconds later and... what I'm saying is I know the LibDems can't possibly win a general election, but just imagine if they did.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Victory of the Daleks - well that was shit

Having had my hopes built up for tonight's Doctor Who episode Victory of the Daleks by the promo in the Guardian calling it "the new Doctor's first outright classic episode", I have to repeat a phrase that's been overused already this series: "What?"

I was very disappointed by this shallow and superficial story which, given it included Spitfires attacking the Daleks, was very static. Take out the cgi and there's a lot of people and Daleks just standing around talking. The camera moves much more than any of the cast. And so little happens, with no twists or surprise at any point, that it leaves little to praise. The characters are just cyphers, not in any way compelling or realistic, and the plot is reminiscent of the sort of nonsense you used to get in a Dr Who annual in the 1970s. The Daleks return, the Dr has a life or death choice, the Daleks set a risible-beyond-a-joke countdown before their bomb explodes and all's well. Rubbish. The in jokes were fun, but only served as window dressing.

Worst of all were the new look Daleks. I thought the designs on the cover of the Radio Times were a joke. The Daleks reimagined as a 2001 Mini? Shit on toast.

Having started so brilliantly, this series is worrying me that it could drop it's standard of writing so soon. I know if I'm so clever I should write an episode myself and prove I can do better. But till then I'll just say I was hoping for better from this episode.

And remember, I do actually do this for a living

Where has my virgin net email gone, Google?

Help. Please. I am trying to access my email on an iPod in my hotel. I was able to this morning but at 8.30 suddenly it changed so that when I try and enter webmail it is taken over by googlemail which takes me to a new mailbox that contains none of my hundreds of emails

it says I can link to my previous mail but when I click on the links to do that I am taken to the same mailbox over and over again. My wife is able to access my virgin mail on the computer at home but it gets kidnapped and hidden by googlemail when I try it here on the iPod. What can I do to get back to my emails?

Friday, 16 April 2010

Post gig feelings

After a gig is a funny time. Well, no, not funny is the better way of putting that. In the case of many entertainers, tonight that means me, it's a solitary experience. You're either driving home alone, having fndured the silence of clearing up your props and stuff in that most silent of spaces an empty theatre, or like tonight it's back to a hotel room. Tonight, because of budget constraints resulting from having to book trains to replace my cancelled flights, it's a guest house which has free wifi - hooray - but no remote control for the Tv so I'm stuck watching Full Metal Jacket on Itv whether I want to
or not.

It was a brilliant gig to tonight. Ali Cook in support (actually double bill sorry) went great then the Socks had a perfect one. All improve and adlibs were spot on and they loved the main stuff. Even had a genuine encore. (of course they're all genuine , but tonight the word Encore was used. By the audience ). And it's after a gig
like that that you feel you deserve a drink and a relax. I had the foresight to get a bottle of wine before the show (I was right that such a thing cannot be found after 10.30 in Harrigate) and it awaited me in my room. Hey I've chilled now. Sorry for being so
moany earlier.

Listen my eye stings. Long story but I have an allergic eye all swollen up and stinging. I had to run to Boots this morning to try get eyewash (failed ) with only an hour to spare before my train (it can take an hour to get from my house to the train ) and pack my props up after a couple hours of trying to work out how the hell to get to Harrogate then to Inverness and home if my flights were cancelled thanks to this sodding volcanic ash. Oh whatever I did it I'm here and I'm tired. Tales to tell about trains but too late and I'm on sn iPod in my hotel room and ... Tomorrow vg'night.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

More Doctor Who comic strip art

A Doctor Who comic strip sample page, now in shiny shiny ink.

And remember, I do actually do this for a living, as well as the rest of the nonsense.

Doctor Who comic art by Kev F

For your pleasure a couple of Doctor Who comic strip pages, in their pencil form, by me. The Matt Smith page I drew the other night to use in my Comic Art Masterclasses, replacing a Christopher Eccleston page that doesn't impress them that much any more. The David Tennant page I found in my folder, unfinished for a couple of years (probably cos I realised how distorted the Tennant face was and couldn't bear to look at it again).

The Tennant page might go up on eBay. Any offers?

Kev F Sutherland, available for commissions email me

Monday, 12 April 2010

Socks at the Brighton Fringe

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre will be playing for two nights at this year's Brighton Fringe, on May 1 and 2. Spread the word and don't miss out.

The Socks have a long relationship with Brighton, have played there pretty much every year since they began performing. And one of the hit routines of our 2008 shows was born there, when we did an impromptu ad lib that just grew...

Book Brighton May 1 or 2 now

Edinburgh flat anyone?

It's not just my imagination, is it? This year it's harder than usual to find accommodation for the Edinburgh Fringe.

For the last few years I've happily trolled along to, and they've had a fantastic message board onto which locals would list their flats, and we hungry tourists would get in touch, agree to pay a ridiculous amount of money, and everybody would be happy. There'd be new flats added on their every day, as word spread to Edinburghians who had never previously dreamed that they could ask £600 a week for their one bedroomed dungeon under a pub toilet backing onto a crack alley and some idiot from England would pay it, and all flats would be snapped up in a day or so.

As the recession has bitten, has there's been less money sloshing about, this vital service became even more so as margins got tighter, and cutting out the middle man became all the more sensible.

Whereas once upon a time, in the days before the internet (yes children, such days did exist) I used to book our Edinburgh accommodation through an agency, with a brochure, using forms and phone calls, in a process than necessitated getting our flat pinned down by the end of February, or ideally a year in advance, now thanks to and its easily accessible message boards, I would be able to spend a few days in April putting my bid in for places, keep a few potential landlords on hold in my email tray, and by the end of the week we'd have everything sorted, usually with the best price and the best location in the bag.

Now the edfringe website proudly displays a banner saying "new website on the way" and the message boards are gone. In their place, a system seems to have been set up whereby landlords submit their properties to the edfringe organisers, and we performers are then sent a list. I assume more than one list will be coming.

I hope so. Cos from the first list that we've received, there have only been two flats that were appropriate for our needs, neither in anything like the locations we've had in the past, and they've no doubt already been snapped up as I've left it a few days to come back from touring to get onto the emailing. I can't help thinking this isn't going to work as well as last year.

But am I the only person finding this, and is everyone else managing fine? Do let us know.

And if you have a flat for rent, sleeping a couple, from August 3rd to 30th, ideally in the Old Town, email


Kev F
Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
(possibly sleeping in a box behind the Gilded Balloon this August)

Travel, don't talk to me about travel

Don't get me started on travelling. How many miles have I done so far this year, with a combination of Scottish Falsetto Socks touring shows and Comic Art Masterclasses? Actually, I don't know. Let's come back to that. First here are the Socks on the subject of travel:

Now, back to my travels. How far have I gone so far in 2010? If there's someone out there who'd like to add it up for me, I'd love to see that total. And if anyone could join the dots on a map, I bet it'd look like someone was trying to scribble out Britain with really violent biro marks.

Here's where I've travelled this year, in order. (Home is Clevedon in North Somerset, which appears inbetween many of the other destinations for obvious reasons).

Wootton Basset > home > Wootton Bassett > home
Bournemouth > home
Cambridge > home
Swindon > home
Weston Super Mare > home (I'm only listing work engagements btw, not days out)
Salisbury > home
Omagh NI > home
Weston > home
Swindon > home > Swindon > home
Weston > home
Leicester > home
Taunton > home
Melksham > home
Hilperton Wilts > home Hilperton > home
Birmingham > home
London > home
Preston > Bury > Aberystwyth > home
Weston > home
Taunton > home > Taunton > home
Farnham > home
Edinburgh > home
Ilford > Swindon > home
Ilford > home
Kilmarnock > home
Barton on Humber > Hull > home
Swindon > home
Salisbury > home
Burnley > Manchester > home
Milton Keynes > home
Weston > home
Poole > home
Halesworth Suffolk > Lowestoft > Harlech > home
Dudley > home
Weston > home
Edinburgh > Inverness > Gairloch > Inverness > Edinburgh > home
Willesden > Hanwell > Willesden > home
Maidenhead > home
Bath > home
Kings Heath > home
London > home
Culmstock Devon > home
Exeter > home
Chorley > Leicester > home

(and still to come this week:)
Swindon > home
South Oxhey > Chorleywood > home
Harrogate > home
Inverness > Castle Skibo > Inverness > home
Dartford Kent

I used to like sitting at my desk drawing comics. Brilliant writer & artist for hire here, as seen in the Beano...

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Dr Who The Beast Below reviewed

As I type this I've just watched Beast Below for the second time and I'm now watching The End Of The World. One is coming of rather well in comparison.

BB is the first Moffat script I've ever found holes in (well, since Joking Apart). It was still good fun, but for the first time it wasn't quite magic. And I'm left with questions:

1) If the Doctor, in the opening seconds, is able to tell us all about the 29th Century, and the UK flying off into space, and he's flying over Starship UK - why can't he see there's a bloody great whale under it? How did this story fail to reach him, when he knows so much about the 51st century on Earth and later?

2) Nobody noticed that the whale doesn't eat the kids? Surely after 200 years someone might have twigged that?

Those niggles aside, what the story lacked in Moffaty brilliance (only one classic line "I'm the bloody Queen, I rule"), it more than made up for in Russell T Davies-isms. With elements of Gridlock and the End Of The World it shows up just how good RTD's writing was. Sure his plots always fell apart at the end, but along the way they'd draw you into a real human personal conflict or drama or - right now on my TV the Dr & Rose are arguing about how the Tardis translates alien languages and it tells us so much, reminds us of everyone's personalities and concerns, while never letting us know what's about to happen next - ooh, now Rose is on the phone to her Mum back home... and I digress.

I was worried Moffat's style might put plot above characters, and that his dialogue is never as real as RTD's, and now the double bill of Beast Below and The End Of The World is making that look all the more likely.

I'm also worried about the new series replicating bits of the old wholesale. We have the Dr and Amy/Rose in front of a big picture window looking at a future earth at the start of the epilogue. We have the Dr apologising for the phone bill (as he did again in 11th Hour). We have a bloody beast below the new earth with tentacles that look a bit like tulips (I'm not the only person who saw Gridlock am I?).

And another question:

3) How are all the other countries' spaceships piloted? If this is the last starwhale, and they all survive in the end, then how did they manage and why didn't the UK just use that method?

4) And why would a glass of water show the vibrations of engines? Why wouldn't it just show the air con vibrating? Or a nearby fridge?

Ok, enough moaning. It was fun, sorry for picking holes. I am still enjoying The End Of The World by the way, and can't wait for Victory Of The Daleks. Hmm, third episode of the series written by Mark Gatiss. No, no more similarities with season 1 to be found here, move on.

PPS: End Of The World is reaching its climax, the Dr has had his dramatic theme played, waled thru some silly turbines and saved everyone. We're about to have the "can you smell chips?" ending and a brilliant theme tune. Along the way we have had the best part of 50 new science fiction ideas and things that had never happened in Dr Who before. There's the challenge facing the new series. RTD just had to be better than Dr Who in the 80s. Moffat has to be better than RTD. Game on.

Friday, 9 April 2010

The Socks Zombie movie

The Socks make a Zombie movie. What, really? They really actually literally make what we would understand as a zombie movie? No, no, to be honest, that's not what they do at all. Why, this is already disappointing before it starts.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Prisoner - new from the Socks

What? Is 42 years late too late to be topical? Whatever, the Socks have just done their version of The Prisoner:

Yes, now you ask we were in Portmeirion for the day and thought we'd make something up on the spot, and it was a bit rubbish. Sue us.

Merchandise, Facebook Fan Club, Tour dates.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Doctor Who theme 2010, I'm not sure

The only thing I'm not crazy about with the new series of Doctor Who is the theme tune. It now sounds like this.

Once upon a time it sounded like this: 1963 Dr Who credits. This is a marvellous piece of music, written by Ron Grainer (who also wrote Steptoe & Son and many more) and performed by Delia Derbyshire and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. It is the very epitomy of an enigmatic, mysterious signature tune for a drama. Even today no listener can be entirely sure how those notes are made. It sounds like no instrument that has ever existed, and indeed every note was unique to the show, being a mixture of recorded and manipulated sounds, "sampled" by Derbyshire in the most hands-on way. Using primitive, innovative synthesisers and recording equipment, and making up almost every technique they used as they went along, Delia and team produced noises that still sound other-worldly.

Grainer's tune has a simple dramatic bassline, sounding like it was conceived for timpani and double bass, which is then performed by some mechanical means which has qualities a bit like a bell made of rubber. Then in comes the melody, and no note is hit perfectly on time, each delayed or premature, as if they have been retrieved from outer space or crept into the back of your head. And what instrument does that sound like? In 2010 I'd struggle to make that noise given the breadth of technological gizmos hidden in my computer, but in 1963 what sound on earth had ever sounded like that? None, obviously.

That basic theme tune had some developments and, I'm not afraid to say, improvements over the years. By the 1970s it was crisp, clean, punchy, and had lost none of its mystery: Tom Baker credits 1974. And so it could have stayed.

The first lesson in missing the point with the Doctor Who theme tune came in the 1980s when, as well as losing its grip on the point of the show, someone decided to make the music sound thin, shallow, reedy, pathetic, and dated as soon as it was broadcast: 1987 Dr Who credits. Yuck. Not only is the logo so hideous even blind viewers complained, but the music has been re-performed, so precisely that you can almost see the fingers hitting the Casio keyboard, and with such a run-of-the-mill synthesiser sound that a kid in their bedroom could have made it. Worst of all, the bassline has been re-jigged, almost literally, so that you could dance a jig to it. Listen to this version and picture some English country dancers or pixies skipping along to it. How mysterious? None mysterious, that's how much. This was the theme tune of a TV show that deserved cancelling.

In 1996 the TV movie version took a classic film-themed approach to the Doctor Who theme, which turned it on its head. 1996 Who credits. Not at all bad, the music is being taken seriously, but there's a bit too much emphasis on the melody, we've lost the power of that dramatic bassline. If only, through the Marxist dialectic of thesis, antithesis, synthesis, we could end up with the perfect theme for the 21st century...

Ta-da! 2006 Doctor Who theme. This, I think, is perfect. Admittedly all instruments are now recognisably the work of an orchestra, but we have given that dramatic beat the oomph of real timpani, and we've made the swirl and flow of the orchestra capture the magic and mystery of 1963's synthesiser. This, I feel, nails the theme for a movie-style production.

Now in 2010 the same arranger, Russell Gold, has over-egged his own pudding. He has added too many layers of counter harmony (I don't know the correct term for unecessary twiddly bits) and buried the dramatic bassline to such an extent that, on first listening, I couldn't even follow it. I was listening a beat out of synch, and it wasn't until the melody came in that I knew where I was. So, for me, this a theme tune fail, and I hope by Christmas he brings in a new arrangement that recovers the greatness from the theme, without retreating too far.

Kev F 2010

Sunday, 4 April 2010

In praise of Doctor Who Eleventh Hour

Last night I watched Dr Who The Eleventh Hour on a hastily arranged TV in the venue I was about to perform my Socks show in. I loved it. Best 1st episode ever, I would contend.

An awful lot of plot to squeeze into an hour, and in many ways it was Moffat's most Russell T Davies-ish story. Big alien invasion, new companion, running round big villages rather than being in his usual claustrophic spaces, and a plot involving the entire world coming together to save the day. But unlike the similar RTD plots, all of Moffat's plotlines are resolved, all the questions are answered, and when you get the answer, you are satisfied.

I loved RTD, he revived Who, he constructed it as an engrossing soap opera that would draw in young, old, male and female viewers alike, and he found the best writers and allowed them to flourish. What I always had a problem with were elements of his writing which could be characterised by the phrase "Oh, that doesn't matter" or "they won't notice that" or even "I'll explain later."

Though some of my favourite Dr Who shows come from RTD and result from the unfettering of his brilliant imagination - Gridlock, Midnight, Turn Left and Love & Monsters are works of genius that no-one else could have come up with. And he was the master of The Moment, little exchanges between characters that you could watch 100 times (The Doctor and Rose discuss their future in The Impossible Planet, Rose & her Mum discuss Rose's future in Army Of Ghosts), or big page turner moments (I Am the Master, get out of the way, Barcelona, the lines are endless) or big impressive images (from The Face of Boe and the dozen aliens he squeezed into End Of The World's first crowd scene onwards) and cracking concepts that go beyond common sense in a good way (a while planet stuck in a traffic jam? an alien that's just some words repeated? The whole of history changed because you turn left instead of right?).

But it was RTD's plots, and the resolution thereof, that always frustrated me. A premise would be set up, an element introduced, a trap set, a puzzle raised, and then at the end of the episode it would either be forgotten, or solved in such a disappointing way as to make you feel the plot had been made up as it went along. From makey-uppey toys ranging from Anti-Plastic to Ozterhazen Keys, and of course the cure-all magic wand that was the Sonic Screwdriver and psychic paper, to plot elements that didn't even merit the word Maguffin (the worst being Donna, in the End Of Time, who mustn't remember anything at all, ever, or her head will explode destroying the entire universe, when in fact all that happens in the three people standing next to her fall over.)

RTD was also guilty of hitting the reset button and pretending that everything had never happened. The Master takes over the world, shoots the president, and it takes a whole year for Martha to get everyone to say the Dr's name, which somehow turns him into a god for a minute. Then the button is reset and we forget it all. The same in Journeys End where everyone pilots the Tardis home, a second Dr is sent off to another universe with Rose, and no-one remembers the planet moving. And once more with End Of Time, same schtick. Same memory schtick. It started to devalue the currency.

But with Moffat the opposite was the case. His plots are so tightly constructed that you could hit them with a hammer and they'd ring like a bell. Whether his characters and their relationships will prove so realistic, so captivating as RTD, is the test we await. Certainly last night he pulled on the heart strings with 7 year old Amelia, and delivered some killer relationship lines ("Why did you say five minutes?" being the best of a good bunch), killer comedy lines ("Beans are evil. Bad bad beans"), and a magnificent twist with the final shot of the episode. But are his characters in danger of becoming inhuman cyphers serving his plot? Let's see.

For now, I am so enjoying the plot so far, and its punched-up dramatic moments, that I'm happy. Watching the episode a second time I found moments I'd missed the first time, all of them good, none of them throwaway (I'd missed the point of the "look in the mirror" line when Amy has to be reminded she's in uniform, and forgotten the importance of the people Rory is photographing on his phone).

I am also the biggest fan of Moffat's use of reincorporation. He will introduce an element in the conversation, steer everything miles away from that idea until you've forgotten it, then bring it back to perfectly tie up the point that we started at. Good examples of reincorporation in 11th Hour are "must be a very scary crack in your wall", "Duck", the apple, and he'll trust the viewer to solve these little links in their own mind, secure in the knowledge that no random element appears in a Moffat plot without it having some purpose that will be revealed later. Why is Rory trying to show the other Dr in the hospital the photos on his phone? Why are the coma patients all calling for a Doctor? How many doors were there on the first floor when we first saw it? All good questions, all answered by the end.

And who didn't love seeing all 11 Doctors in one big on-screen montage? I believe the appropriate word to say at that moment is squeee. (And don't think we fans missed the significance of the Dr stealing his outfit from a hospital - again.)

"Now, basically, run!"

Keep it up, I'll be back for more next week.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Step Outside Posh Boy - Best Election Poster Ever

Though I have a dreadful feeling the tide is against them and that "my team" in the forthcoming election, Labour, may well lose purely by dint of being the incumbent for so long and through such crap times for politics and politicians, but if anything were to help them to victory, I'd love it to be this.

This billboard knocks spots off Labour's real election posters, which caricature Cameron as Gene Hunt from Life On Mars - talk about shooting yourself in the foot, who wouldn't vote for Gene Hunt? You idiots.

And this poster has the advantage of being a spoof, which means it can't be parodied, as has been the fate of the Tories "I've never voted Tory but.." campaign, which has also suffered from the fact that the best comedians are lefties. Sorry posh boys, but that remains the case. Not necessarily Labour supporters, in these days during which we've learned that no one in any party is above reproach and many representatives of the working class have proven themselves to be self serving greedy scavenging bastards, but generally speaking I would say it is the case the the Left has all the best comics, the Right being the side that produces reactionary and elderly comedy and comics.

I also love this poster because it spells out the class war that, for old lefties like me, still characterises Britain's politics. Even though Blair was a posh boy who sent us to an illegal war and is now as corrupt as a worm riddled orange corpse, underneath his new Labour veneer lay the same old team allegiances, and to a very great extent things have not changed. Posh kids born to privilege wield power over poor kids born to poverty, and that should always be challenged.

Also, Brown could so have Cameron. One head butt while posh boy's taking off his blazer, job done.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Kev F's Comic Art Masterclass comics by kids

More comics produced by classes in Kev F's Comic Art Masterclasses in the last month. They create the title and contribute to the cover, and inside there's a strip by every single one of them, and caricature of each of them by Kev F. Details at

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Brand new Socks t-shirt, available now. Limited edition.

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre are producing a BRAND NEW T-SHIRT for 2010 and you can be the first to get one.

This new shirt is based on the new design for their Edinburgh Fringe show, featuring the Socks in a Star Wars costume and an overcoat, carrying a light sabre and a newspaper with Socks headline on. It's a limited edition, unavailable anywhere else, and you must buy it in the next 7 days or miss out!

Buying this full colour shirt - available in all sizes - will help the Socks fund their new show, and this shirt will not be available anywhere else until August (ie not on, where you can still get the 2008 shirt design, in limited sizes).

Each shirt costs just £18 inc postage / $28US inc postage.
Simply pay by Paypal to including the size you want and your full address.

Sizes are:
S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL Male
S, M, L Skinnyfit Female
Kids Age 1-2 2-3 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-11 12-13 14-15

All orders will be collated over the weekend of April 10th and despatched during the following week. Any queries, email . Anyone wanting to bulk buy, ask about a discount for orders of more than 10 shirts (mixed sizes are easy).

Socks in Holland - a forgotten video gem

A forgotten classic from the attic, the Socks doing improv and an interview in Holland. All as part of the Big Mo Improv Show in The Hague, back in the day when we did the whole show naked. Enjoy.

Did we mention Tour Dates, Best Videos, Facebook Fan Club and Merchandise?
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