Skip to main content


Showing posts from March, 2011

RADIO PLAY: The Disappearance of Jennifer Pope

I first heard the story of Jennifer Pope nearly two years ago. It was, slightly oddly, in the context of a R4 'You & Yours' magazine piece about high-street banks' indifference towards families whose loved ones were missing or lost. Even then in a few short lines it was compelling. Jennifer was an English nurse who disappeared while touring in Ecuador in 2005. She had been in regular contact with her family by e-mail and one day, the e-mails stopped.
Her husband David and son Stefan knew that funds had been withdrawn from her bank account and her credit card emptied long after she disappeared, the assumption being that her card and details had been stolen, or that she was being held captive and forced to withdraw funds.
Mike Harris has worked in collaboration with Dave and Stefan in writing this hard-hitting radio play which tells the story of their journey to Ecuador to find out what happened. Dave and Stefan realise that the prime suspect is the security guard at …


AT THE END of the garden, a boy sits on the swing. His eyes close and he unpicks each sound from the summer afternoon: insects; birds; a neighbour’s children; paddling pool splashes; a hand-pushed lawnmower. His sister’s stereo plays David Bowie. The boy opens his eyes and the sounds dissolve. He presses against the ground with his feet. The swing creaks and flakes of rust fall on the back of his neck. He brushes them away, shades his eyes and looks up into the sun.
What used to be a vegetable patch has been given over to weeds and grasses as high as his shoulders. Sometimes mice scurry from the grass, disappearing under the shed. In bare patches the earth is baked hard and cracked like a ginger biscuit.
At the beginning of summer, mum’s friend Hazel came with her children, a boy with a scabby elbow who was ten and his sister, a girl in a blue dress who was seven. The girl had wandered, finding a bamboo garden cane behind the shed. At first she whipped it through the air, then slashed …

LIVE REVIEW - David Rovics at the Adelphi, Hull

David Rovics is a rare thing, an unashamedly politically charged singer/songwriter. For the most part he aims his guitar at corporations, governments, injustice and hypocrisy and lets fly, taking his cues from ‘Masters of War’ era Dylan updated, suffused with punched punk rhythms and tight acoustic licks. Songs about Palestine, Bradley Manning and Somali pirates hit the mark, but what silenced the audience at the Adelphi tonight were a couple of lovesongs – aching, tender and all the more touching in contrast to the politics. I hadn't seen or heard Rovics before tonight's show (promoted by Hull's Off The Road collective) but I hope I’ll be seeing him again. If you get the chance, catch him around the UK. His songs of hope, love and revolution have a direct line to the 21st century's conscience and we need that now more than ever.
To find out more, check out

GET CARTER - Cult Classic Hits the Stage at Brighton Festival

Nick Bartlett as Jack Carter - photo courtesy SP Productions
With Ted Lewis’s classic Brit-crime novel as its starting point, the stage version of Get Carter (written by Jonathon Holloway for Red Shift Theatre Co. in 2005) takes a short cut to the cold cruel heart of what makes Carter as gripping now as when Lewis first put pen to paper.
Fantastic news for crime fans and Lewis admirers is that James Weisz and SP Productions are staging Carter as part of this year’s Brighton Fringe Festival.
Taking the role Lewis created and Michael Caine turned into a career-defining performance in Mike Hodges’ 1971 film is a challenge for Nick Bartlett. It’s an uncompromising part for the established tough guy actor who worked with Martin Scorsese in Gangs of New York. As Bartlett said in a recent interview:“It starts off very tense and violent and carries on the same way. I don’t think it lets up for a second.”
James Weisz, who is directing the play, based in part on a notorious 1967 gangland killing is…

Nick with Lara King, BBC Radio Humberside 10 March 2011
An exercise in cramming as much into ten minutes as humanly possible. Thanks to Lara and to Helen for setting this up.

BRIGHTON ROCK – A Vicious Little Brit-noir

Andrea Riseborough and Sam Riley - pulling a moody
Spoiler alert: I might say stuff about the film.

Picture the scene: a bunch of broadsheet hacks are at a preview of Rowan Joffe’s Brighton Rock. They hook up in the pub for a post-screening carve up: ‘You do the – it’s not a patch on the 1947 original; I’ll do the botched classic novel and over-cooked catholic shtick. When Phil comes back from the bog we’ll give him setting it in the sixties doesn’t quite come off and Sam Riley’s too old to play Pinkie. Your round, Pete.’ Of course six pints later no-one remembers who was covering what. Cue carbon-copy lukewarm reviews as enlightening as last year’s kiss-me-dick hat. When a reviewer talks about ‘mods on mopeds’ you just know he ain’t getting it. I must have read Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock half a dozen times: faultless characterisation, riveting story, seriously sharp cinematic prose. The 1947 noir movie, co-scripted by Greene and Terence Rattigan was the first of its kind made without …

DISTANT WATER - Stories from Grimsby's Fishing Fleet

There are times in the writing process when there’s nothing else for it but to stop everything else and immerse yourself in the work. And sometimes the work itself demands that you stop and think. The book in question is Distant Water – Stories from Grimsby’s Fishing Fleet – due to be published in May. This is my third time out working on heritage publications as co-author, researcher and editor. Mainly, as in this case, the books work with the words, voices and experiences of those who lived through a part of Britain’s industrial past to tell their story and that of the industry. The last few weeks I’ve got down to the nitty-gritty of transcripts and sound files of forty separate conversations with (mainly) men involved in Grimsby’s long-gone fishing industry. The majority are proud to have been fisherman, deck hands doing the heavy work on ships in the worst North Sea conditions. It’s no secret, when the industry was at its height the mortality rate for fishermen was 14 times that of…