Monday, June 06, 2016

Very, Very Frightening!

The role of The Doctor in Doctor Who was previously offered to a black actor, executive producer The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (OBE) has revealed. Which we all knew anyway, it was Chiwetel Ejiofor who was - according to Neil Gaiman (and, via him, the Daily Mirra) - offered the role before Matt Smith in 2010. So, this isn't really 'news', per se, is it? The Moffinator he told the the Doctor Who Magazine that 'for various reasons, it didn't work out.' Moffat said the show had 'no excuse' not to feature a more diverse cast, adding it would be 'amazing' for it to have two non-Caucasian lead actors. Pearl Mackie, whose father is from the West Indies, was recently cast as The Doctor's new companion. 'We decided that the new companion was going to be non-white and that was an absolute decision, because we need to do better on that. We just have to,' Steven said. 'I don't mean that we've done terribly - our guest casts are among the most diverse on television - but I feel as though I could have done better overall.' Moffat did not reveal name of the actor who had been approached to play The Doctor. But, as noted, it was Chiwetel Ejiofor. Just in case you didn't know. Prior to the casting of Peter Capaldi in 2013, there had been 'calls' for a black actor to take on the role. Albeit, there were also plenty of calls for The Doctor to be played by a woman as well - by different people, obviously. As far as this blogger is concerned, the next Doctor (and all future Doctors) can be played by anyone, black, white, male or female, so long as they're as good an actor as eleven of the twelve previous ones have been. Earlier this year, Undercover became the first BBC drama to feature two non-white actors in the leading roles - Adrian Lester and Sophie Okonedo. Steven said that he would be keen for Doctor Who show to do the same thing. 'Two non-white leads would be amazing. In fact, a lot of people would barely notice,' he said. 'I certainly don't think there's ever been a problem with making The Doctor black, which is why it should happen one day. Sometimes the nature of a particular show - historical dramas, for instance - makes diversity more of a challenge, but Doctor Who has absolutely nowhere to hide on this,' he said. 'Young people watching have to know that they have a place in the future. That really matters. You have to care profoundly what children's shows in particular say about where you're going to be.' He added that a more diverse cast would 'send out a positive message' to the entertainment industry. 'Outside of the fiction, it's about anyone feeling that they can be involved in this industry as an actor, a director, a writer. It's hugely important, and it's not good when we fail on that. We must do better,' he said. Steven, of course, is due to step down as executive producer at the end of next year's series and will be replaced by Chris Chibnall. Moffat said that the show must 'find new ways' to get ethnic minority actors on screen in future. 'We've kind of got to tell a lie. We'll go back into history and there will be black people where, historically, there wouldn't have been and we won't dwell on that. We'll say, "To hell with it, this is the imaginary, better version of the world. By believing in it, we'll summon it forth."'

But, just to show that we've still got a long way to go in this regard, the BBC has criticised a front-page Sun story headlined Auntie Is Anti-White as 'utterly ridiculous and irresponsible.' The article claimed that the BBC was 'racist' because it advertised two twenty five thousand smackers junior scriptwriting roles on Holby City as available only to people from 'ethnic minority backgrounds.' Jeez, this blogger knows he has said this before, many times, but it really needs to be noted, some people are just scum. And, most of those are tabloid journalists with a sick agenda. The BBC said that the roles were not jobs but 'training and development opportunities' and it said given the lack of diversity in the TV industry it was 'the right thing to do.' The billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch tabloid said the corporation was running four recruitment schemes open only to black, Asian or ethnic minority applicants. It claimed the BBC had recruited seventeen presenters and ten writers in two years via the various schemes, including the Creative Diversity Talent Fund. In a BBC statement issued in response to the story in the Sun's Friday edition, the BBC said: 'As the Sun knows - and has ignored - these are not jobs but training and development opportunities permitted under the Equality Act and to describe this as anti-white is utterly ridiculous and irresponsible. As we have under-representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in script editing roles at the BBC it is the right thing to do.' This is not the first time that the BBC has issued a strongly-worded rebuke to the Sun over inaccuracies. Last month, it criticised the paper for printing 'unfounded nonsense' after a string of stories about Chris Evans's alleged behaviour after he took over at Top Gear. The corporation is one of a number of broadcasters looking to improve BAME representation, including Sky, which is also, of course, controlled by billionaire tyrant Murdoch and his grubby spawn. Sky said in 2014 that it would 'aim' to have twenty per cent of the stars and writers of its UK-originated TV shows from a BAME background.

Yer actual Peter Capaldi confirmed on Friday that series ten of Doctor Who will start filming in two weeks time. Peter made the announcement while attending Dallas Comic Con in Texas alongside Michelle Gomez and Jenna Coleman.
It ran for eight series and almost thirteen years, but Foyle's War finally bowed out on ITV last year. Now the series creator, Anthony Horowitz, has told the Digital Spy website that he is 'happy' to have wrapped up the period crime drama. 'I've written twenty six two-hour films for that show,' he said. 'Seventeen years of my life have been devoted to Foyle's War. It had to come to an end sometime. We went from 1940 all the way through to 1947 - and I told countless true stories about the war. I felt that there were no more true stories to tell about that period, I'd sort of covered pretty much every area. I'm sad to see it gone, but it's still out there and people are still watching it. That's one of the wonders of the digital age.' Horowitz also defended the BBC amid claims that the broadcaster suffers from 'a lack of distinctiveness.' The lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal (and coward) Whittingdale 'urged' the BBC to focus on 'distinctive content' - whatever the Hell that means - in the government's recent White Paper, so as not to 'compete' with commercial rivals. 'It was such an odd thing to say,' Horowitz - the author of BBC a forthcoming drama series New Blood - said. 'I think the BBC is incredibly distinctive at the moment and one of the things that makes me a little nervous is the extraordinarily high quality of the shows that I'm following!' The award-winning author singled out Line Of Duty, Happy Valley, War & Peace and The Night Manager as four dramas which showcased the 'quality and variety' of BBC output. 'Every single drama I'm seeing coming out of the BBC, I'm seeing an absolute distinctiveness and an excellence,' Horowitz insisted.

Comedy line of last week came from Have I Got News For You's series finale on Friday. In a round concerning regional words which, it is claimed in a new report, are in danger of disappearing because of the spread of so-called 'Estuary English', Jason Manford noted that a word like 'knobhead' is in very common usage in the North West but 'they never use that word in London. Which is weird, cos there's loads of them, here!'
Filming will conclude later this week on the latest - N - series of Qi, the first to feature Sandi Toksvig as Stephen Fry's replacement. Episodes confirmed so far are as follows: -
Naming Names, featuring Phill Jupitus, Cariad Lloyd and Romesh Ranganathan.
Nordic featuring Lucy Beaumont, Rhod Gilbert and Jason Manford.
Nature featuring David Baddiel, Cariad Lloyd and Wor Geet Canny Ross Noble.
Noisy featuring Aisling Bea, Wor Geet Canny Ross Noble and Corey Taylor.
Episode Five (as yet unnamed) featuring Gyles Brandreth, Jimmy Carr and Victoria Coren Mitchell.
Naval featuring Ronni Ancona, Jimmy Carr and Johnny Vegas.
New featuring Clive Anderson, Jo Brand and Jimmy Carr.
Numbers featuring that bloody weirdo Noel Fielding, Colin Lane and Wor Geet Canny Sarah Millican.
Night featuring Noel Fielding, David Mitchell and Holly Walsh.
Naked featuring Lolly Adefope, Lee Mack and Richard Osman.
Next featuring Wor Geet Canny Ross Noble, Lucy Porter and, get this, Mad Frankie Boyle (that should be interesting).
Episode Twelve (title not yet known) Phill Jupitus, Nish Kumar and Holly Walsh.
Episode Thirteen featuring Jezza Clarkson, Jason Manford and Sara Pascoe.
Three further episodes will be taped later this week and the full sixteen-part series, together with a couple of compilation shows and the weekly XL extended editions, will be broadcast in the autumn and winter (and, if previous years are anything to go by, because of regular pauses for snooker, golf, tiddlywinks et cetera, well into 2017).

Here's the final and consolidated ratings figures for the Top Twenty Five programmes, week-ending Sunday 29 May 2016:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 9.81m
2 Coronation Street - Thurs ITV - 8.79m
3 EastEnders - Tues BBC1 - 6.95m
4 Top Gear - Sun BBC2 - 6.42m
5 Emmerdale - Wed ITV - 5.10m*
6 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 4.55m
7 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.43m
8 Six O'Clock News - Wed BBC1 - 4.18m
9 Wallander - Sun BBC1 - 4.06m
10 England Friendlies - Fri ITV - 3.88m
11 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 3.86m
12= Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 3.82m
12 =In The Club - Tues BBC1 - 3.82
14 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 3.77m
15 The Graham Norton Show - Fri BBC1 - 3.75m
16= The RHS Chelsea Flower Show - Mon BBC1 - 3.74m
16= Referendum Campaign Broadcast - Mon BBC1 - 3.74m
18 Peter Kay's Extremely Unfunny Comedy Shuffle - Mon BBC1 - 3.71m
19 The Musketeers - Sat BBC1 - 3.68m
20 Holby City - Tues BBC1- 3.68m
21 The ONE Show - Tues BBC1 - 3.57m
22 Gogglebox - Fri C4 - 3.51m
23 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 3.38m
24 The British Soap Awards - Sun ITV - 3.28m
25 The Great British Sewing Bee - Mon BBC2 - 3.25m
These consolidated figures include all viewers who watched the programmes live and on catch-up during the seven days after broadcast, but does not include those who watched on BBC's iPlayer or ITV Player via their computers. Top Gear's final and consolidated audience includes a more than two million timeshift over and above the initial overnight audience of 4.4 million. Indeed, it's worth pointing out that the BBC press office are quoting an approximate Plus7 figure of 8.15 million also taking into account iPlater downloads. Rather makes some of those 'Top Gear flops' stories based merely on the overnight audience seem rather silly in retrospect. Elsewhere on BBC2, apart from The Great British Sewing Bee's continued success, the next most-watched programme was coverage of The RHS Chelsea Flower Show with 3.06 million punters. The latest episode of Peaky Blinders was watched by 2.19 million and The Battle Of Jutland: The Navy's Bloodiest Battle attracted 2.09 million, followed by The World's Biggest Flower Market (1.49 million), Dad's Army (1.40 million), Antiques Road Trip (1.22m), Upstart Crow (1.20m) and Mum (1.12m).The latest Qi repeat drew nine hundred and thirty four thousand. Aside from Googlebox, F1: Monaco Grand Prix Highlights was Channel Four's second highest-rated broadcast of the week (2.33 million), followed by Twenty Four Hours In A&E (1.67m) and The Supervet (1.66m). Channel Five's top performer was The Ant & Dec Story with 1.74 million. Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away! had 1.71m, the movie The Legend Of Hercules drew 1.43 million and the latest episode of Gotham attracted 1.14m. Sky Sports 1's most-watched programme was Live: Hull Versus Sheffield Wednesday The Championship Play-Off watched by six hundred and seventy four thousand viewers. Sky Sports 2's Live Test Cricket coverage of England handing out a second successive Sri Lankan spankin' in the second test at Chester-Le-Street drew three hundred and twenty eight thousand. Sky Sports Tonight was Sky Sports News's highest-rated broadcast with one hundred and sixty five thousand. On Sky Sports F1, Monaco Grand Prix coverage had an audience of seven hundred and eighty six thousand. Lewis was ITV3's top-rated drama (seven hundred and eleven thousand). Doc Martin was seen by four hundred and thirty seven thousand and Foyle's War three hundred and seventy four thousand. The movie The Chronicles Of Riddick headed ITV4's weekly top ten with four hundred and fourteen thousand. Britain's Got More Toilers was ITV2's most-watched programme with nine hundred and fifty two thousand viewers. Vera headed ITV Encore's top ten with fifty eight thousand viewers with Scott & Bailey seen by fifty thousand. BBC4's new imported French drama The Disappearance had audiences of seven hundred and fifty five thousand and seven hundred thousand for its opening two episodes in a top-ten list which also included Dan Cruickshank: At Home With The British (six hundred and five thousand), Storyville: Last Days In Viet'nam (four hundred and ninety nine thousand) and Hidden Killers Of The Post-War Home (four hundred and sixteen thousand). The Last Journey Of the Magna Carta attracted three hundred and ninety five thousand and the second episode of the moderately amusing Jo Brand vehicle Going Forward drew three hundred and eighty thousand. Sky1's weekly top-ten was headed, as usual, by worthless steaming pile of revolting, brain-scum phlegm A League Of Their Own Roadtrip (1.29 million, every single one of whom needs to have a jolly good look at themselves in the mirror, frankly), The Flash (nine hundred and twenty three thousand) and Modern Family (eight hundred and seventy four thousand), followed by Rovers (eight hundred and twenty seven thousand). Sky Atlantic's list was topped, of course, by the latest Game Of Thrones (2.39 million, the highest-rated multichannel audience of the week). The Monday repeat of the popular fantasy drama's previous episode had 1.14 million. Penny Dreadful was seen by four hundred and fifty six thousand, Thornecast, by four hundred and eleven thousand and Blue Bloods by three hundred and thirty one thousand. The Tunnel had two hundred and eighty nine thousand. On Sky Living, Criminal Minds drew seven hundred and sixty eight thousand, Elementary had six hundred and ninety one thousand, The Blacklist, six hundred and eighty two thousand and Blindspot, six hundred and eighty one thousand. Sky Arts' broadcast of Classic Albums: Sex Pistols had an audience of sixty four thousand and The Story Of The Jam: About The Young Idea drew fifty eight thousand. Power Pop! 5USA's The Mysteries Of Laura was watched by four hundred and sixty four thousand viewers. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was seen by three hundred and sixteen thousand and NCIS drew two hundred and seventy nine thousand. NCIS also topped the weekly top tens of FOX - the latest episode of series thirteen attracting eight hundred and four thousand punters - and featured in the CBS Action list (ninety nine thousand), Universal Channel's list (eighty two two thousand) as well as Channel Five's. Aside, from NCIS, FOX's list also included 11.22.63 (two hundred and thirty four thousand), American Dad! (one hundred and eighty four thousand) and The Closer (one hundred and eighteen thousand). On CBS Action, Bad Girls was seen by one hundred and two thousand. The Universal Channel's top ten was headed by Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (two hundred and fifty four thousand), Chicago Med (two hundred and forty eight thousand) and Bates Motel (one hundred and thirty one thousand). On Dave, Would I Lie To You? was the highest-rated programme with three hundred and thirty six thousand punters. That was followed by Mock The Week (three hundred and seven thousand), American Pickers (two hundred and ninety one thousand), Room 101 (two hundred and eighty nine thousand) and Qi XL (two hundred and eighty four thousand). Drama's New Tricks was watched by three hundred and ninety three thousand viewers. Dalziel & Pascoe had three hundred and two thousand. Alibi's highest-rated programme was Castle (four hundred and fourteen thousand), followed by Quantico (two hundred and seventy three thousand), Murdoch Mysteries (two hundred and thirty four thousand) and Death In Paradise (two hundred and twenty three thousand). Yesterday's repeat runs of Yes, Prime Minister and Blackadder The Third were watched by two hundred and fifty eight thousand and two hundred and forty three thousand respectively. On the Discovery Channel, the new series of Wheeler Dealers continued with three hundred and eighty thousand punters. Deadliest Catch had an audience of two hundred and nine thousand and Gold Divers had one hundred and forty three thousand viewers. Discovery History's Hitler: Germany's Fatal Attraction topped the weekly-list with twenty six thousand viewers. On Discovery Science, Food Factory USA attracted thirty four thousand viewers. Discovery Turbo's most-watched programmes was another - older - episode of Wheeler Dealers (forty five thousand). National Geographic's top ten was headed by Car SOS which had one hundred and forty five thousand viewers. On The History Channel, Vikings attracted two hundred and eighteen thousand. Ancient Aliens on Military History had fifty thousand thousand whilst UFO Files was seen by forty one thousand. Murder Comes To Town, Evil Online and Copycat Killers were ID's top-rated programmes of the week (forty eight thousand, thirty seven thousand and thirty six thousand viewers respectively). The Jail: Sixty Days In headed CI's list (one hundred and six thousand). The latest episode of GOLD's repeat run of Mrs Brown's Boys attracted two hundred and twenty five thousand. Comedy Central's largest audience of the week was for The Middle (three hundred and three thousand). Your TV's Sensing Murder had sixty two thousand viewers. On More4, The Good Wife was viewed by six hundred and twenty three thousand whilst E4's latest episode of The Big Bang Theory drew 2.23 million punters (fractionally behind Game Of Thrones as the second-largest multichannels audience of the week). The Horror Channel's broadcast of The Children attracted one hundred and thirteen thousand viewers. Bitten headed Syfy's top ten with seventy seven thousand. Tiger: Spy In The Jungle had twenty five thousand on Eden. Tanked was the Animal Planet's most watched programme with thirty four thousand. On W, Grimm was seen by three hundred and thirty nine thousand and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders by two hundred and ninety four thousand. My Four Wives was TLC's most-watched programme (one hundred and five thousand).

The new TV series starring yer actual Jezza Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May will record its first studio segments in South Africa it has been reported. The first episode of The Grand Tour, which is being made by Amazon Prime, will be filmed in Johannesburg in July. James May joked on Twitter that the location was 'chosen by Richard Hammond, who's run out of biltong.' When one South African fan asked if the news was true, Hammond confirmed that it was and suggested the team hold a braai - Afrikaans for barbecue. The show will launch on Amazon Prime in the autumn, with each episode's pre-recorded studio items filmed in a different country. Photos uploaded to The Grand Tour's Facebook page show the trio have already begun shooting in Portugal, Germany, Barbados and North Africa. Jay Marine, vice president of Amazon Video Europe, said: 'Given the popularity of Jeremy, Richard and James in South Africa, Johannesburg is a fantastic place to start.'

Meanwhile, surprise, surprise, both the Daily Torygraph and the Gruniad Morning Star have found space in their Monday editions for another couple of 'new Top Gear unpopular with people who really liked old Top Gear' stories using, of all things, AI scores. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a national newspaper run a story about AI scores, dear blog reader? If one didn't know better, one might almost suspect there was some - sick - anti-BBC agenda going down here. But, of course, that would be ridiculous, wouldn't it?
Oily David Cameron's appearance on Friday's Good Morning Britain didn't go entirely smoothly. The Prime Minister snapped angrily at Kate Garraway as she pumped him for info on immigration ahead of the EU Referendum. Well, to be fair, what right thinking individual hasn't, at one time or another, wanted to snap at Horrible Kate Garraway for one reason or another? This blogger knows he have. 'You still haven't answered how we will deal with [immigration] if we stay in,' Garraway said, before interrupting Cameron during his response. 'You keep asking a question and then, literally, not giving me a chance to answer,' he said like he was talking to some common oik whilst at Eton, before continuing with his answer. Oooo, get her.
Eddie Izzard has been announced as the winner of the Outstanding Achievement prize at this year's South Bank Sky Arts Awards. The comedian is the twentieth recipient of the accolade, which recognises lifetime contribution to British arts. Previous winners include JK Rowling, Tracey Emin, Harold Pinter and Julie Walters. Steady Eddie will receive the trophy at a ceremony in London's Savoy Hotel on Sunday. Host Melvyn Bragg, who himself won the category in 2010, described the comedian as 'a marvel. He works across such a wide waterfront with an unmatchable, often uncatchable style and wit,' he said. 'We're delighted that he joins the ranks of those who have won this outstanding achievement award.' Eddie, of course, began his career in street theatre and the comedy clubs. In 1993, when he was still relatively unknown, he booked a residency at London's Ambassadors Theatre for his first one-man show. The four-week run was extended twice and eventually earned him an Olivier award nomination and his first of two British Comedy Awards. He has since embarked on nine tours around the world and made regular stage, TV and film appearances. In 2000, his comedy special Dress To Kill won two Emmy Awards. Earlier this year, Eddie ran twenty seven marathons in twenty seven days in South Africa - one for each year that Nelson Mandela spent in prison - to raise money for Sport Relief. The ceremony will be broadcast on Sky Arts on 8 June.
Former high-ranking FIFA officials Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke and Markus Kattner - none of whom are complete and utter crooks, obviously - awarded themselves pay rises and bonuses worth over fifty million smackers over five years, according to FIFA lawyers. Football's governing body revealed the contracts of ex-president Blatter, extremely fired ex-secretary general Valcke and very sacked former finance director Kattner one day after a Swiss police raid. Lawyers said there was 'evidence' that the trio made 'a co-ordinated effort' to 'enrich themselves' between 2011 and 2015. Documents and electronic data were seized during Thursday's operation, which relates to investigations into Blatter and Valcke. Suspected of criminal mismanagement of FIFA money, Blatter and Valcke were banned for six and twelve years respectively by the governing body's ethics committee in February. Both deny wrongdoing. And, to paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies, 'well, they would, wouldn't they?' A statement for the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, which carried out the investigations, read: 'Documents and electronic data were seized and will now be examined to determine their relevance to the ongoing proceedings. The investigations still relate only to the persons named in earlier statements issued by the OAG and further persons unknown. As proceedings are ongoing, no further information can be given at present.'

A giant Lego figure of a fox called Nick from the film Zootopia was smashed to pieces by a four-year-old Chinese boy only hours after going on display. The statue is said to have cost more than one hundred thousand Yuan (which is about ten grand) and taken creator Zhao three days and nights to build. He posted before and after photos of Nick on the Sina Weibo social network. A 'no touching' sign in place at the Chinese Lego expo seems to have been of little help. Photos from Zhao's Weibo account show 'the building of Nick the fox from Zootopia until it got smashed.' The last photo is of an animated man smiling whilst, simultaneously, shedding tears. That'd be irony, one imagines. According to some reports, the parents of the boy apologised and offered to 'pay for the damage.' Zhao said that he would not be accepting any compensation as the young boy had not done it on purpose. 'The child did not intend to break it,' he insisted. Still, it could have been worse. Last month CCTV caught two young boys who were seen touching and pulling the delicate angel wings of a piece in the Shanghai Museum of Glass in China. The two adults accompanying them were seen filming the boys on their phones then walking away after the wings were smashed. The artist, Shelly Xue, called her work Angel In Waiting. It took twenty seven months to build as a dedication to her newborn daughter. Shelly decided not to fix the damaged piece and instead renamed it Broken.
The third and final day of the sell-out Rock am Ring music festival in Germany has been cancelled after lightning hurt at least eighty fans. Organisers said that the decision was taken after more bad weather was forecast. Performances were suspended on Saturday during continued thunderstorms, forcing many of the ninety two thousand fans at the open-air event to seek shelter in cars and tents. Organisers were forced to cancel the event after local authorities revoked its licence early on Sunday morning. One eyewitness said that the lightning was, 'very, very frightening.' Apparently.
A priest has been very suspended after he admitted assaulting a police officer and a paramedic on a drunken night out. The Reverend Gareth Jones is alleged to have sworn at officers and claimed that he had 'diplomatic immunity from the Vatican' when he was arrested two weeks ago. A paramedic found him passed out in the street, in his clerical clothes, in Central London. Jones, who later said he was 'deeply ashamed' about what happened had, it was claimed, drunk three bottles of wine, several pints of beer and a number of gin and tonics and vodka. Highbury Corner magistrates heard that he kicked a paramedic, twice, in the leg before punching him and trying to bite him, on Charing Cross Road. As police intervened, the priest from St Mary's Church in Ilford, kicked an officer in the face, the court was told. When asked which embassy would grant him diplomatic immunity, the Anglican priest replied 'the Vatican' and swore at officers. Jones, has previous convictions for a bomb hoax, affray, possession of cannabis, fraud and criminal damage, and now faces formal church disciplinary proceedings. His lawyer, Dominic Hockley, told the court that Jones had 'consumed about fifty three units of alcohol' before the incident and was 'seeking help' to deal with his alcoholism. 'To say that this incident has been a wake-up call would be an understatement,' he said. District Judge Robin McPhee ordered Jones, who extremely admitted two assaults, to pay seven hundred knicker in fines, two hundred notes in compensation each to the policeman and the paramedic, as well as eighty five quid prosecution costs and a thirty five smackers 'victim surcharge.'

Folk music legeed Fairport Convention's Dave Swarbrick has died at the age of seventy five. His family announced that the virtuoso violin player and multi-instrumentalist had died after a long struggle with emphysema. Swarbrick was best known for his work with hugely influential folk group Fairport Convention and also wrote, arranged, sang and performed on the viola, guitar, mandolin, autoharp and mandola. He was described by his bandmate Ashley Hutchings as 'the most influential [British] fiddle player bar none' and his style was copied or developed by almost every folk violinist who followed him. Swarbrick was born in New Malden to Mabel and Frederick Swarbrick, but the family soon moved to Yorkshire, where he first learned to play violin and, then, to Birmingham. At fifteen, Dave became an apprentice printer and, with the fiddle confined to the attic, he played guitar in a skiffle group, which won a local competition. The prize was to meet the local folk musicians Beryl and Roger Marriott. Beryl was an accomplished pianist who had made recordings and radio broadcasts. Her advice to Dave was that guitarists would soon be 'two-a-penny' (true!) but that fiddlers would be in demand as they were hard to find. Dave soon joined the Birmingham-based Ian Campbell Folk Group with whom he would play, of and on, for much of the next ten years. Later, Swarbrick followed on from his friend Kate Graham as fiddle player for the Radio Ballads, the groundbreaking series of folk music BBC radio documentaries produced by Charles Parker, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger. He played on the coalmining programme The Big Hewer (1961) and The Fight Game (1963), about boxing. Through the 1960s, Swarbrick accompanied the singer and folklorist AL Lloyd on LPs for the Topic label, including Lloyd's selection of erotic songs, The Bird In The Bush (1966) and an LP of whaling songs, Leviathan! (1967). The two men had an instant rapport, with Swarbrick's fiddle weaving in and around Lloyd's unique vocals. In 1965, Swarbrick quit the Campbells' group and headed off to Denmark to get married. Turned back by immigration because he didn't have a work permit, he returned to the friend who had seen him off on the ferry – fellow musician Martin Carthy – who invited Dave to join him on a folk club tour for half of the fees. The duo took the folk scene by storm – Carthy's singing and the often improvised interplay between his guitar and Swarbrick's fiddle were heard on such traditional songs as 'Byker Hill', 'Jack Orion', 'Sovay' and 'Bonny Black Hare'. For contractual reasons, Swarbrick was given second billing on Carthy's first three solo LPs, but they shared the credits on the next, But Two Came By (1968). The emphasis on songs on these LPs did not accurately represent the duo live, because instrumentals were an integral part of the Carthy-Swarbrick performances. Swarbrick's first solo LP, Rags, Reels & Airs, came in 1967, produced by Joe Boyd, with accompaniment from Carthy and the guitarist Diz Disley. Swarbrick first worked with Fairport Convention in 1969 as a session musician for the Boyd-produced Unhalfbricking. He played electric fiddle on four songs, most memorably for Sandy Denny singing 'A Sailor's Life'. But, it was playing alongside guitarist Richard Thompson which captivated Swarbrick and by August he and the Fairports were rehearsing the epic folk-rock LP Liege & Lief, the band's masterpiece. Swarbrick made the fiddle a lead instrument alongside Thompson's guitar and immediately the two men started writing songs together. Swarbrick provided the tune for 'Crazy Man Michael' and the partnership resulted in classic Fairport songs – 'Walk Awhile', 'Sloth' and 'Now Be Thankful'. But with Denny and Ashley Hutchings's departure just a few months later and Thompson also leaving the band following 1970's Full House, Dave found himself lead singer, main instrumentalist and songwriter from Angel Delight (1971) onwards. During the 1970s, alongside his leading role in Fairport - on, admittedly, some great LPs like Babbacombe Lee, Rose and Nine - Swarbrick became a sought-after collaborator, working with acts including his former colleagues Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny as well as Bert Jansch, John Redbourn, Al Stewart and his old friend Martin Carthy. Between 1976 and 2010 he released twelve solo LPs and in 2007 joined a revival of the classic 1969 Fairport Convention line-up (with Chris While standing in for the late Sandy Denny), to perform Liege & Lief on stage in full. Loud amplification having seriously impaired his hearing, Swarbrick left Fairport in 1979 and moved to Aberdeenshire where he performed in concerts with an irregular line-up of fellow musicians billed as Dave Swarbrick & Friends. In 1983, he moved to Northamptonshire and formed a new acoustic folk band, Whippersnapper, with three multi-instrumentalists. By this time, Fairport had established their annual festival in the Oxfordshire village of Cropredy and Swarbrick became a regular guest, performing both with the band and with others. Swarbrick suffered from emphysema, underwent three tracheotomies and was occasionally forced to perform with an oxygen canister on stage. In 1999, the Daily Torygraph prematurely announced his death during a spell in hospital in Coventry. Dave, reportedly, rather enjoyed reading this. At his next public appearance, he apparently took some delight in signing copies of the obituary for fans, saying: 'It's not the first time I've died in Coventry!' He formed a sort-lived collective called Swarb's Lazarus in a further acknowledgement of his not being dead. He received a double lung transplant in 2004 and produced the critically-acclaimed 2006 CD Straws In The Wind in collaboration with Carthy, receiving a BBC folk award for the duo.
Married several times, Dave found his true love with the artist Jill Banks, who cared for him through his several periods of poor health and who survives him, along with three children - Emily, Alexander and Isobel - eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.