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Friday 28th December 2012

Perhaps this quiet time between Christmas and New Year is the perfect time to get some writing done. In the future I might ONLY work for these five days. I thought I might actually finish the script tonight, but there's still a bit more to do. Hopefully it will be done tomorrow, but I am now confident that this will not be hanging over me when I am away. It'd be nice to wrap up the year with a finished script and one more frame of snooker before I go and drink beer by the sea.
I am really enjoying messing around with the Rasputin script, which is reminding me a little bit of "Up Pompeii" (a show that I have probably only seen about ten minutes of in my life) in that the lead character talks to camera and deconstructs the episode as it's happening. Corny jokes and knockabout slapstick are mixed with political satire and disco music. It's either brilliant or terrible, but either way I would love to write some more. I am writing it sober now, but can understand why it was easier to write when I was drunk. There's a wild abandon and anarchy to it. I am really excited with the possibilities it presents, which means the BBC have done their job. They've made me work as hard as possible on it, invest six months of my life in it and get to the point where I really want to get it made. Now it's time for them to stamp on my dreams! Here's a better idea BBC bosses - why not let me make five series of it and then just when I'm thinking everything is sorted out and safe, THEN stamp on my dreams.
It's good to start a new year with hope and fear in your heart. Last year I was waiting to hear what the TV people thought of Gorgeous, this year I have Rasputin and the radio version of Gorgeous to root for. Though it seems that others have heard about their radio series so I am guessing it's bad news on the latter project. We'll see.
We managed another trip to the gym as well. Pointless was on the telly and I always enjoy that show, though was disappointed when I realised it was one I'd seen before. I realised as soon as I saw Nikki Zilli the slightly awkward wife of Aldo Zilli, the restaurateur. They are an odd couple who wouldn't look out of place in a Dickens adaptation, but I know that with my younger, thinner, taller wife I am on thin ice here.
Nikki's a model, actress and singer-songwriter apparently and her website boasts all kinds of credits, though as David Doll pointed out on Twitter it's interesting that her only imdb.com entry is for Pointless. I could vaguely remember thinking the couple had come across badly on the show, so watched it again and indeed their brief appearance was an excruciating piece of television. In the first round the teams were asked to name Meg Ryan films (and with this show the more obscure you can be the better). There would be no shame in not knowing any Meg Ryan films and I wouldn't have done well in this round at all. The first team went for the super-obvious "When Harry Met Sally" which is one of the three that I might have known, the second team did much better with "City of Angels" and the third better still with a 1 point answer "In The Cut".
Then Nikki Zilli had her turn. She seemed annoyed and said, "Well the three I was going to say have already been mentioned, so that puts me in a very dark corner...." Hold on that seems pretty unlikely doesn't it. As Rob Heeney would point out on Twitter, that someone would know only those three Meg Ryan films and not Sleepless in Seattle or You've Got Mail. It was a lie of such childishness that it was almost charming. This was only an episode of Pointless and whilst it is annoying to get a wrong answer it's hardly the end of the world. There would be little shame in saying, "I don't know any Meg Ryan films" or "I only knew When Harry Met Sally", but she was so keen not to look like an idiot that she looked more of an idiot. And a lying idiot. She had a punt at something which was wrong and looked more embarrassed than was necessary.
Then her husband Aldo had a crack and came up with "Sleeping in Seattle". Now I did feel a bit sorry for him on this one. After all English is not his first language and he's clearly almost got that right and it might have been charitable to have stopped the filming and given him the correct answer and let him have the points. But the BBC must stand for upright correctness at all times and the answer was judged as being wrong. It's slightly mean perhaps, but not on a par with the unfairness of this decision on Wheel of Fortune.
To add insult to injury David Coulthard then used the answer "Sleepless in Seattle" on his turn, but my guess is that he would have got that anyway. Perhaps things might have turned out differently if Zilli had got his answer right and Coulthard had not been able to think of another film and it's slightly embarrassing to leave the game after the first round with two wrong answers. But it's only Celebrity Pointless and all that has been shown is that two people don't know much about Meg Ryan. But the round ended with more awkwardness as Aldo claimed, in rather too serious a manner, that there had been a fix. Alexander Armstrong asked what he meant by this and Aldo sarcastically replied that he had no doubt that his answer had been wrong. It was an oddly bitter exchange, given the lack of importance of the contest and slightly strange that it was left in the programme. Almost like whoever was editing this wanted the couple to look like unpleasant idiots. It could certainly have been smoothed over with a couple of snips. Perhaps they'd pissed someone off on the day and thus the team felt less inclined to be kind. Who knows?
It's a fascinating portrait of two unusual characters though and funnier and more insightful than most scripted comedy, perhaps a telling study of vanity. It's what went unsaid and what was suggested about these people from this tiny slice of their life that interested me. I am a notoriously ungracious loser and yet even I felt embarrassed by what had just transpired.
If you want to watch it in its full cringing glory, it's about ten minutes in here.

And if you've listened to the last episode of RHLSTP (spoiler alert), I've finally put up some photos of my surprise guest, a shrek. These were taken by Andy McH, so thanks very much to him for that. Have a look here (and there's lots of other photos, flyers and scripts in the downloads section).

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My new stand up show, Lord of the Dance Settee will be on at the George Sq Theatre at 10.45pm every night of the Edinburgh Fringe Buy tickets here.
My new play, I Killed Rasputin will on at the George Square Theatre at 3.35pm every day of the Edinburgh Fringe. Buy tickets here
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