Wednesday 28 October 2009

Sitcom Trials Oct 26 vid diary

Here's the video diary from The Sitcom Trials in London on Mon Oct 26, including clips from (almost) all the contenders, plus the results and some other fun.

Friday 23 October 2009

Macaque - new from the Socks

New from the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre (you may have seen it live but it's never been seen online), the Macaque routine live. Enjoy...

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Sitcom Trials line up week 3

Courtesy of James Parker, producer: Just a quick note to announce the line up for the third heat of The Sitcom Trials on Monday Nov 2nd:

Heat 3: November 2nd

* The Spy Who Wrapped Up Warm
by Jim Speirs & Simon Bristoll
Directed by Kym Suttle

* End to End
by Matt Holt, Steve McNeil, and Sam Pamphilon
Directed by Matt Holt

* The Johns
by Hugh Travers
Directed by Sarit Wilson Chen

* The Second Best Job in the World
by Chris Gilgallon
Directed by Francesca Broadfoot

* Lovely Rocks
by John Seymour
Directed by Paul Gannon

Tickets on sale now, and genuinely need advance booking, we were both pleased and upset by the number of people we had to turn away this week. Shows are at 6pm and 8.30pm at the Leicester Square Theatre every Monday till Nov 23rd, tickets are now available for the whole run from TicketWeb:

Monday 19 October 2009

Saturday 17 October 2009

On the J*n M**r hate piece

I was one of the many who wrote to the Press Complaints Commission in protest at Jan Moir's homophobic piece in the Daily Mail. I wouldn't have even read it had I not been directed towards it by my Twitterati. So I duly responded, feeling a bit sheep-like and knowing this was an inconsequential gesture, but knowing I would look better doing so than not, especially as my first responses were cynical and could even have looked negative.

My concern about the futility of the gesture is not just that, by Tweeting her onto the news headlines, we had elevated Jan Moir from a minor journalist of whom no-one outside the Daily Mail had heard, to someone whose value and brand-recognition within the right wing press has now quadrupled, although that is undoubtedly the case. My concern was not that the PCC is chaired by Paul Dacre who edits the Daily Mail and that, by the time I sent in my complaint, they'd already set up a standard rejection letter detailing reasons why your complaint will never ever be looked at.

No, my concern was that I think most of my Twitterati, who are largely writers, entertainers and like minded lefties like myself, haven't looked at the Daily Mail very often and don't realise the Mail publishes homophobic and right wing conservative articles like that EVERY DAY.

Last week the headline, on their front page, about the death of Matt Lucas's ex-partner used the words (from memory) "...death of Lucas's 'husband'." In inverted commas. They put the word husband in inverted commas. Even in reporting a death they could not resist hammering home their prejudice that it wasn't a real marriage, he was an inverted commas 'husband' because he was a poof. (Of course the Daily Mail would never use so offensive a word in print, but they're just as unlikely to use 'gay', preferring homosexual which sounds much more like a condition).

So I worry that this is a disproportionate protest that we could only keep in perspective if we were to protest equally strongly and in equal numbers to every homophobic (and anti-islamic, racist, anti-feminist, anti-comedian etc) piece in the Daily Mail. And you know we won't. Because our reactions may be strong, but not as strong as the reactions of the truly reactionary.

Friday 16 October 2009

Press Complaints Commission replies. To me!

Dear Kev Sutherland
Thank you for sending us your complaint about the Daily Mail article on the subject of the death of Stephen Gately. We have received numerous complaints about this matter.
I should first make clear that the Commission generally requires the involvement of directly affected parties before it can begin an investigation into an article. On this occasion, it may be a matter for the family of Mr Gately to raise a complaint about how his death has been treated by the Daily Mail. I can inform you that we have made ourselves available to the family and Mr Gately's bandmates, in order that they can use our services if they wish.
We require the direct involvement of affected parties because the PCC process can have a public outcome and it would be discourteous for the Commission to publish information relating to individuals without their knowledge or consent. Indeed, doing so might unwittingly add to any intrusion. Additionally, one of the PCC's roles is dispute resolution, and we would need contact with the affected party in order to determine what would be an acceptable means of settling a complaint.
On initial examination, it would appear that you are, therefore, a third party to the complaint, and wemay not be able to pursue your concerns further. However, if you feel that your complaint touches on claims that do not relate directly to Mr Gately or his family, please let us know, making clear how they raise a breach of the Code of Practice. If you feel that the Commission should waive its third party rules, please make clear why you believe this.

Press Complaints Commission

Sunday 11 October 2009

New from the Socks, work in progress. See what you think...

Sitcom Trials line-up show 2 announced

The line up for the second heat of the Sitcom Trials has been announced (more details at

Heat 2: Monday 26th October

  • Assemblage of Evil
    by Joe Deacon
    Directed by Charlie Henniker
  • Weathermen
    by Kenneth Cheng
    Directed by Ariella Eshed
  • The Bar Boys
    by Ben Glassman
    Directed Katherine Hayes
  • Therapy
    by Tom Carter
    Directed by Gavin McAlinden
  • My Sister
    by Robin Bailes
    Directed by Matt Holt
Shows take place at 6pm (£5) and 8.30 (£10), the audience vote for the best and only see the ending of the audience favourite. Panel of industry judges vote, and their votes combine with audience votes to chose finalists. Judges tonight include Robert (Red Dwarf) Llewellyn and Michelle (2 Pints of Lager) Farr. Tickets at:

Socks Impro gig at Bristol Old Vic Fri Oct 16 6pm

Announcing a brand new and highly novel Socks gig, improv at Bristol Old Vic Oct 16:

The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre perform a unique, geninely one-off gig at the Bristol Old Vic on Friday Oct 16th as part of the Bristol Jam Improv Festival.

All of their 20 minute set will be improvised based on suggestions by the audience. There have been improv items in the show before (fans may have seen Kraftwerk from their 2008 show, and various fillums attempted in the recent ...Goes To Hollywood) but now they'll be winging the whole thing. Do come.

The event is part of a weekend of improv with a unique ticketing structure. The shows vary in length from 30 mins upwards, and you either Pay What You Can or Roll A Dice and pay in pounds what the dice turns up. Details at

PS: Kev F (boss of the Socks) birthday is this same weekend. So any friends who wish to celebrate with him on Friday night are urged to come to the Socks performance at 6pm, then we'll go to the bar. 07931 810858

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Sitcom Trials line-up Oct 19th

The line up of sitcoms has been announced for the first night of the 10th Anniversary Sitcom Trials season on Monday 19th October at the Leicester Square Theatre:

* Life as a Foreign Language
by John Barron and Olly Allsopp
Directed by Kym Suttle
* Long Term Sick
by Mark Brotherhood
Directed by Lydia Parker
* Prodigies
by Alex Kirk and Simon Messingham
Directed by Chris Lince
* The Not Gots
by Malcolm Duffy
Directed by Nick Ewans
* Alan Pob - Writing Wrongs
by Saul Wordsworth
Directed by Chris Fitchew

The judges for this first night are David (I'm Alan Partridge) Schneider, David (TV Burp) Quantick, Katie (Now Show) Tyrell and Steve (Eastenders) Keyworth. The audience vote decides which sitcom's ending is seen in each heat, and combines with the judges vote to select the semi-finalists.

Shows are at 6pm and 8.30pm at the Leicester Square Theatre every Monday till Nov 23rd, tickets are now available for the whole run from TicketWeb.

New Dr Who logo verdict

I like the new Doctor Who logo. It will become iconic so soon you'll forget you ever hated it (if you did).

And, for the fun of it, my fave Dr Who logos, in reverse order

8 - McCoy - even the blind don't like this logo
7 - Davison/C Baker - That typeface is an outline drawing of a metal tube so making the black lines white and glowing is a visual anomaly and jarringly ugly
6 - 2005-09 - It looks like the light on the front of a London taxi cab, and no-one has explained why
5 - Pertwee (no diamond shape) - Not a nice typeface on its own
4 - Pertwee/T Baker (in diamond) - A bit busy, but iconic
3 - McGann movie + Classic merchandise - Best treatment of this typeface
2 - Troughton - Keep it simple, but the serif face not as strong as my favourite logo...
1 - Hartnell - Keeping it simplest, on an enigmatically eerie background

And once it's bedded in, I see the Smith logo creeping into the top half of my faves, rather than the bottom half.

Kev F

Monday 5 October 2009

Sitcom Trials Press Release - judges announced

Comedy - London

The Sitcom Trials
10th Anniversary Season at Leicester Square Theatre

TV names from Red Dwarf and Mock The Week to I’m Alan Partridge and Inbetweeners will be joining leading comedy industry producers to judge the 10th Anniversary Season of The Sitcom Trials in London from October 19th.

The Sitcom Trials show takes brand new sitcom scripts, chosen from hundreds of entries by budding comedy writers, and puts them head to head, with the audience and the panel of experts voting for their favourites. The winners go through to semi finals and a Grand Final on Dec 1st.

Judges for the new season’s shows include Inbetweener’s writer Iain Morris, Red Dwarf’s Robert Llewelleyn, Alan Partridge’s David Schneider, TV Burp’s David Quantick, Torchwood’s Tom Price, the Comedy Store Players’ Richard Vranch, Time Out’s Tim Arthur, leading comedy producers including Bill Dare, Katie Tyrell, & Nev Fountain, and head of BBC Radio Comedy Jane Berthoud.

Last season’s winner is now writing for the BBC and this season hopes it’s uncovered the next great comedy writing talent.

"Comedy history” Evening Standard
Winner – Fringe Report Award for Best Encourager Of Talent 2008

LISTING DETAILS (please publish)

DATE: Monday Oct 19 / Oct 26 / Nov 2 / 9 / 16 / 23
VENUE: Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX
TITLE: The Sitcom Trials
TIMES: 6pm and 8.30pm (same show each night)
PRICES: £5 (6pm) £10 (8.30pm)
BOX OFFICE: 0844 847 2475 /
BLURB: Brand new sitcoms go head to head, audience and panel of comedy experts vote for the winner. (Judges Oct 19: David Schneider, David Quantick, Katie Tyrell)

PRESS CONTACT: Kev F Sutherland
T: 07931 810858 E:

Sunday 4 October 2009

A bite of BICS

I made a fleeting but greatly enjoyable visit to BICS, the Birmingham International Comics Show this weekend. An opportunity both to meet familiar faces who I only see at these events, and to demonstrate my hopeless sense of direction. Is it just me who is incapable of navigating around Birmingham? In the car a journey of a few yards seems to take hours. I can't drive for five minutes in Birmingham without shouting "this f-ing place" in despair at its bloody roads. Whoever designed it loved cars so much they ploughed hideous flyover motorway ring roads right through the heart of the place, and simultaneously hated cars so much they turned every remaining normal old road into a pedestrianised area. I literally genuinely honestly saw a one-way cul-de sac while trying to walk to the launch party. And the hotel we were staying in could only be reached by driving down a road (John Bright St fact checkers) which says no cars are allowed down it and that it's for pedestrians only, so when we arrived we overshot it then had to spend literally half an hour going round the block again to get back where we started, a journey that could be done in less than a minute on foot, and just as quickly by car if three ends of the crossroads of streets hadn't been totally uneccessarily blocked off leaving a wasteland like something out of I Am Legend surrounded by traffic chaos and... okay, I'm not a fan of Birmingham as a driver.

But once I was parked (in our serviced apartment which you could only reach through its car park, I mean god, they expect someone to pay a quarter of a million quid to live in some tiny echoey box in a faceless tower block - 15 storeys high I ask you - and the only entrance is through an underground car park? And how do you open the gate to get your car in and out? By wiping a box along the floor? Madness? And what happens if there's a power cut in this place? Every door, all operated by key fobs, will unlock. So, brilliant, I know how to rob a 15 storey building... okay, so I am picky about some new buildings. And don't get me started on the taps - impossible to turn off with wet hands. Some designers are idiots).. once I was parked, I just had to get to the party at the Panama Bar on foot.

My handwritten map, kindly drawn out by Hev because our printer was out of ink before we left the house, made it clear that I just had to hop over Smallbrook Queensway, and the bar would be on the other side of The Mailbox shopping centre. Easy. So I start by finding my way under the hideous flyover, I mean god how I hate concrete (I'm told Birmingham was very heavily bombed so we really have Hitler to blame for it . Oh really? So it was Hitler who neatly bulldozed every street but LEFT ALL THE CORNER PUBS was it? Yeah. And my arse plays the banjo.) So I enter the Mailbox and start walking in a straight line. You see I know the pub I'm heading for is by the canal. I've been to the canalside in Birmingham, I know it's quite low down and you look down on it from bridges, so I can kind of picture where I'm heading for (I've stayed in a hotel in the Mailbox before, why I'm practically a native). But as I enter the Mailbox I have to go up an elevator. Then up another. Then it's as I'm about to ascend to the fourth floor that I figure my memory must be playing up. There's no way I can climb to the 5th floor of a building and end up on canal level, so I turn round and go back to the entrance and try to walk round the Mailbox instead. But the next road I reach is the aforementioned one way cul de sac (because of building work, the one way street that would take me round the side is a dead end) so I get to the next road and it looks like a road to nowhere, then I get very lost, then I find myself in some very dodgy looking back streets, and it isn't until I bump into Mark (Buckingham) and Irma en route to the party that I finally get there. They are, as it happens, walking in totally the opposite direction from where I was about to go. It has taken me 45 minutes to walk the 10 minute journey from flat to pub. The trick, it turns out, is realising that Birmingham is built on hills, and that the canal that you look down on from one road, flies over another. It's an aqueduct. If it's any consolation, satnav would have been probably as confused as me (satnav is near useless in lots of central Birmingham where key junctions and roundabouts are under five storeys of concrete, but I digress yet again).

The party was full of familiar faces. It was great to see their faces. Hunt, Laura, the Goodmans, Bryan. Dozens of faces. Their mouths opening and closing. The only drawback was that none of us could hear what the other was trying to say because there was a DJ playing very loudly. If there's one thing comic fans don't need it's a dance floor. Have you seen comic fans? Urgh, the very thought of any of them dancing. All those grodey t-shirts, beards, pony tails and leather jackets being shaken in public is quite terrifying.

So it was that a number of us dispersed to find a pub round the corner, ending up at the delightfully old fashioned Tap & Spile. My hatred for the modern world, its concrete impersonality, its multilevelled disorientation, and town-planned idiocy, its remote-controlling automatism, its DJs who think making a sound like someone hammering nails into the turntable is big clever and conducive to conversation, was all swept aside by a few pints and enjoyable conversation about life, the universe and comics.

Al Ewing, Dylan Teague, Mike Collins, Lew Stringer and a bustle more chatted a pleasant night away. Suffice it to say, Friday night was fun.

I got lost on the way home, by dint of not really knowing where I was when I left the pub (I'd followed the others to get there and left before them) so the 10 minute walk home took another half hour. And getting into bed I managed to bump my head on the bedside table, resulting in a cut & bruise on my forehead which lasted through Saturday. Did I mention I enjoyed all of this, by the way?

Saturday at Thinktank (10 mins walk from flat, took 25 to drive) was a grand affair. I got to none of the talks, managing to fill my time chatting with comic creators and buying some stuff which I have yet to read. There was a Dalek, there were Star Wars characters and Batman characters and lots of happy smiling faces immersing themselves in lovely lovely comics, from which I had to tear myself in order to get to a gig elsewhere later. Names too numerous, I look forward to reading someone else's more detailed report of the weekend (which is still going on as I tap this on Sunday morning, but sadly I have both daytime and nightime gigs to go to, so BICS won't see me again till next year).

Well done BICS organisers, it looked good to me, and I hope the feedback is good.

Some photos from the event: Photos

Friday 2 October 2009

Sitcom Trials judging news

More news on the Sitcom Trials judging panels. I can confirm that the first night, Oct 19, will be judged by Katie Tyrell (BBC producer of shows from Clare In The Community to the Now Show), David Quantick (Blaggers Guide, TV Burp) and David Schneider (I'm Alan Partridge, The Day Today).

Judges for other nights include Bill Dare (producer from Mary Whitehouse Experience to I've Never Seen Star Wars), Robert Llewellyn (Red Dwarf), Iain Morris (Inbetweeners), Tom Price (comedian and you'll know him from Torchwood), John Finnemore (Cabin Pressure), Suzanne Gilfillan (prod Mock The Week), Kenton Allen (prod from Royle Family to Ideal), with more coming on board daily.

James looks likely to be able to tell you the line ups imminently. He's doing a cracking job against a very tight deadline, getting the directors wrangled and the casting together for 5 sitcoms a night starting in two Mondays time, so I hope we'll all be turning out to see the fruits of his endeavours.


See you there

Kev F Sutherland
Executive Producer

Sitcom Trials 10th Anniversary Season at the Leicester Square Theatre weekly from Mon Oct 19th 09. Grand Final Tues Dec 1st 2009

Birmingham Comics Show

Today I'm off to BICS, the Birmingham International Comics Show. A good excuse, as if one were needed, to look back at the video the Socks made when they visited there in 2007, leading many of the leading lights of the comics industry in song. See how many faces you can recognise children.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Heather Tweed's Abscission

Heater Tweed carried out an artwork installation during the Edinburgh festival this year which was quite frustrating and mysterious. Entitled Abscission (look it up, it does actually mean something), it entailed secreting small artworks around Edinburgh, with instructions for anybody who might find them.

Now being an arch self-publicist myself, I was urging her to Twitter and alert people to these things, and people we spoke to about the work were keen to know where to look for things. But Heather, who is the artist in the family, knew what she was doing and resisted all attempts to turn this into some kind of treasure hunt. So the works went out, no one knew where, and they took their chances on ever being found.

Found they were, and with delightful results. People have found them, photographed them, moved them, rephotographed them. It has been , and continues to be, a very successful conceptual work. An inspiring development from Heather's previous sculptural and installation work, and one that bodes well for the next step her work will be taking.

Most exciting of all, for me at least, is seeing how she's put the work online, using the full interactivity of Google Maps. Click on and you should find a fully marked up map of all the sites of deposited and found artworks. Click on the markers and you find photos and details of finders and works, and zoom in further to investigate the sites themselves.

The full page of photos of found works is at And if I've done this properly, you might see the whole map embedded below. If not, I urge you to follow the online links, Heather's work is worth the visit.

More of her stuff is at, and she's on Twitter and Facebook. Stay tuned for what she'll be doing next. Most exciting.

View Lost not Found:Abscission location map. in a larger map
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