Reading/Leeds Festival 2009 Line Up Predictions


I’m not generally one for idle speculation, but with the official announcement of the Reading/Leeds Festival Line Up only weeks away (March 30, 7pm), it’s about time we all started getting excited about it.

There is, as ever, a knack to working it out/guessing/blagging/etc., but if you look at the Festivals’ exciting history things start to become a little easier.

Now that the Download Festival ’09 Line Up is out (Slipknot, Faith No More and Def Leppard – check the site for full details) we can say who WON’T be headlining Reading and Leeds.

Of course, you always get one or two bands (The Subways last year for example) who play both festivals, but the big names rarely go for more than one appearance.

Headliners

The most likely contenders seem to be Green Day, with a new album released in April and them having headlined in 2004 (just before the incredibly successful American Idiot), four years seems like enough time to wait for them to come around, and many fans will be disappointed if the Oakland boys don’t make a return.

Radiohead also seem to be high up on the rumours list, and are due a new album later this year, at the Featured Artists Conference though, there was little hint of festival appearances this year from guitarist Ed O’Brian:

“We are working on new material, we’ll be doing some more recording. It’s business as usual.”

The band last appeared at Reading in 1994, some 15 years ago, and the band have grown significantly in the public conciousness since then, and some would argue they have been superseded by Matt Bellamy’s Muse (who have played numerous times and headlined in 2006), who frequently cites them as a strong influence.

Though there are numerous other names being thrown around, the next strongest contender seems to be Arctic Monkeys, who were second from top on the bill in 2006. The band had only released one album at the time, and managed to get so high in the lineup mostly on hype, not without some justification I might add, but this time they have more experience, more music and more fans, so it seems likely they will use the opportunity to show off material from album number three. Anything to avoid the amateurish utterings from the last festival: “Are you enjoying yourselves? We don’t know!”

But what of the rumours that the headliners would all be American? You’re thinking of 2008 (a mistake I also made recently).

Other Contenders

Rise Against, Anti-Flag and 36 Crazyfists have all confirmed that they will appear at the festival (the former two toured together in the UK recently).

Numerous other bands are expected to appear, either due to festival tradition or mutterings from the band:

Placebo – The band have played in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2006, suggesting it’s time for them to return with new album material.

The Offspring – After playing Download last year, the band will be fired up to play at Reading/Leeds, since their last outing was in 2004 as second from top on the main stage.

Franz Ferdinand – Headliners in 2006, the band have just released a new album and after a single appearance at Latitude Festival last year, the band will be eager to take on (collectively) the biggest festival site in the country.

Other possible bands

New Found Glory
The All-American Rejects
The Answer
Airbourne
Weezer
Maximo Park
Kaiser Chiefs
Lostprophets
The Charlatans
Alkaline Trio
Less Than Jake
The Living End

Of course there are many many many others, but I hope this has given you some sort of insight into what this years festivals might be like, bear in mind that this is all idle speculation and there is no official sourcing or confirmed information behind this, merely logic.

We only have a week or so to wait until we find out, make sure you’re awake at 7pm on March 30, keep your eye on http://www.readingfestival.co.uk/

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Interview: Scrubs’ Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley) talks film, funny and the future


The show may be coming to an end, but for the career of John C McGinley, better known as the sarcastic, egotistical jackass Doctor Perry Cox in the hit US comedy medical series, [Scrubs], it could be a new beginning.


After eight years, the shows future seems sealed according to McGinley, when asked about the prospect of a spin-off, he said:

I’ve heard about all of that stuff, just Bill Lawrence is too smart and knows the TV landscape too well not to have peppered the eighth season with characters who could be the next generation of [Scrubs], but I don’t see it. The show would have had to have done crazy numbers when it came back on in January and we’re doing the numbers we always do.

We’re doing six or seven million people who are really fanatical and the needle may have spiked when we came back on. If you watched [Scrubs] for the first seven years, you watched it for this eighth year and bringing new people on after eight years isn’t really what happened.

As of yet there are no firm details on when or where the final series will air in the UK, but since the series doesn’t close in America until the end of May, don’t start counting of the chickens just yet.

After all these years, the show has scraped together a tremendous following, McGinley told me about a few of his favourite episodes:

The one where Brendan Fraser comes on and he passes [My Occurance and My Hero] and the whole thing is told kind of like the Bruce Willis movie The Sixth Sense where you don’t know that Brendan has passed yet, Cox is still talking to him, and I thought that was really a great great half hour of television.

I thought it was really good when we had a patient come in and he passes [My Fallen Idol] and then we harvest his organs and give them to three other patients and those patients pass because it turns out that the organs were infected with rabies and so all three patients die and Cox decides he doesn’t want to be a doctor anymore and I thought the musical [My Musical – duh] was pretty good too.

To many fans, Dr Cox is the character that holds the show together as lead man JD’s (Zack Braff) unwilling mentor. Despite the richness of the character, McGinley admits it’s not been an easy role to play:

Scrubs has been the biggest challenge that I’ve ever had, just because keeping something going and fresh for eight years, grinding that deep is really hard to keep it funny and not make it look like it’s hard.

Going from about 60 or 70 different films prior to doing Scrubs it’s kinda hard to nail down Cox, he’s so damaged, one minute he’s funny and the next minute he’s just a ram rod jack-hammer and teaches these kids, you know, do it my way or hit the highway so because that character was so wonderfully eccentric.

For more of the interview with John C McGinley check out the final issue of PR1 (the University of Central Lancashire’s student magazine), which will be released after the Easter break…

The Top 10 British comedy programmes of all time – Part 2

Yes, the wait is over, finally find out who gets to number one, and then let the backlash of “what about X?!” “How DARE you leave out Y!” and “Z is a comedy institution!” commence.

5. QI (2003-Present)Stephen Fry hosts the geekiest comedy quiz show on TV. Apart from the continual moronic outbursts of regular guest Alan Davies (who they obviously couldn’t get rid of after the first episode), the show has been graced with appearances from all manner of famous faces, including: Jeremy Clarkson, Sean Lock, Bill Bailey, Dara O’Briain, Rich Hall and Jo Brand.

The premise of the show is that contestants get points for answering ‘interestingly’ rather than correctly, and lose ten points for obvious wrong answers. The show has given rise to a number of bizarre and, unsurprisingly, interesting facts, such as that Aspirin is the world’s most successful legal drug; heroin, the most successful illegal one and on March 7th, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell was granted the patent for the telephone. (By rights, this belonged to Antonio Meucci.)

The champion aspect of the show is the general ignorance round, which dispells the mass-idiocy about certain “taken-as-read” facts about everyday life. For example, did you know that you are no more likely to feel unwell if you go swimming right after eating rather than waiting 30 minutes? Or perhaps you thought the Earth only has one moon? WRONG, it does, in fact, have two, the second one is called Cruithne and technically orbits the sun…it’s all very confusing.

Best Moment: When Dara O’Briain is deducted points for giving an answer which turned out to be incorrect in a previous series, causing him to remark “How many people sat at home watching that and said, ‘It’s just a comedy show, but I’m not letting that fecker get away with that!?'” (coincidentally the word “feck” was ruled to not be a swear word late last year). (Watch a clip of the inccorect answer)

4. ‘A Bit of Fry and Laurie’ – Now entertainment heavyweights in their own right, back in 1987 times were more quiet for Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. The pair first teamed up in Ben Elton series “There’s Nothing to Worry About”, which became “Alfresco” and went on to do a Christmas special/pilot for a sketch show in 1987, which became a fully-fledged series two years later.

The show follows the typical British comedy sketch show template (that of there not being one), with there being a spattering of recurring characters, notably the ‘yuppie’ businessmen John and Peter, amid cunning wordplays and subversion of stereotypes with the frequent ‘vox pops’ throughout the series.

Best Moment: Simple, yet effective, Hugh Laurie’s musical moments are frequently hilarious, but his parody of an American ballad, titled “America” is simplistic comedy gold, enjoy it here.

3. Blackadder (1983-1989) – Claiming the bronze medal is Rowan Atkinson and chums in this endlessly quotable tale of a man who’s forever at the unfortunate end of a situation. Accompanied by the adorably moronic Baldrick (Tony Robinson), the four series span the wealth of human history as Blackadder is heir to the throne, lord to Elizabeth I, butler to George V and captain in the WWI trenches.

The shows first series is often considered apart from the subsequent efforts, since it was written by Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis and featured a weak and foolish Blackadder, a far cry from the cunning, money-obsessed man, wrought with bitterness and sarcasm, who appears in Blackadder II.

The reason for this is the addition of Tory-hater Ben Elton, who became co-writer with Curtis for the subsequent series, and the show enjoyed continual success and managed to end on a thoughtful note in the final tear-jerking episode ‘Goodbyeee…’ as Blackadder and the other infantry go over the top in slow motion to slowly fade into a poppy field, an end which was lauded by many families of WWI soldiers at the time.

Best Moment: Other than the fact that the show was used to teach me about ‘rotten boroughs’ in secondary school history, the show has a near-endless supply of classic moments, but one which encapsulates the spirit of the it is Blackadder’s futile attempt to teach Baldrick to count. (Watch it here)

2. Coupling (2000-2004) – It would be unfair to call this ‘the British version of Friends‘, as it so oft has been, because there is so much more to this relationship-centred sitcom. (In fact the show was tried in America as a word-for-word re-shoot, but it was cancelled after four episodes).

Focused around six friends, the show follows the development of the relationship of the two main characters, Steve and Susan, loosely based on the real-life relationship of series creator Steven Moffat (now Doctor Who head writer) and his wife Sue Vertue (who was a producer on the show).

The balancing act between the characters is integral to the shows success, accounting for the fall in quality in the final series when Richard Coyle‘s Jeff Murdoch left the series. The other characters, aside from Steve (Jack Davenport, of Pirates of the Carrabean fame) and Susan (Sarah Alexander – Green Wing), are Patrick (Ben Miles), a confident sexual preditor, Sally (Kate Isitt), a neurotic self-depricating spinster, and Jane (Gina Bellman), an air-headed and very sexual character who’s very aware of her own attractiveness.

The show offers not only comedy, but lessons for couples and friends alike, with such wisdom as ‘The Giggle Loop‘, ‘The Nudity Buffer‘ and ‘The Sock Gap‘. The characters all offer experiences which the audience can relate to their own lives, along with a host of comedy references and discussions to ensure it isn’t too grounded in reality.

Best Moment: Steve’s mammoth speech on the path of man and nudity is truely a testament to the brilliance of Steven Moffat’s writing and is not only hilarious, but absolutely true. (Watch it here)


1. Only Fools and Horses (1981-1991) – The gold medal goes to the comedy delights of John Sullivan‘s outstanding portrayal of suburban life in London, helmed by the Trotter Brothers Derrick (Del Boy), played by David Jason, and Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst).

The show spanned seven series and numerous Christmas specials, crescendoing with the 1996 special trilogy: Heroes and Villains, Modern Men and Time In Our Hands. Ignoring the lacklustre 2000’s specials, the trilogy has often been said by Sullivan to be the end he intended for the storyline, with Del Boy, Rodney and Uncle Albert (Buster Merryfield) walking off into the sunset.

Language in the show was not only very 80s but also very slang-filled, allowing younger generations to be properly schooled in what is, surely, a lost art form.

The relationship between the two brothers is central to the story, with Del as a cheeky wheeler-deeler, doing hard graft and toeing the line of the law to make ends meet, while Rodney embraces future technology and environmentalism, taking a computer science course in later series, but is marred by a past of drug use, meaning he’s forced to work for Del instead of going out and making a living for himself, a fact which he constantly laments.

The supporting cast makes almost every episode classic, from Boycie’s (John Challis) caniving car deals to Trigger’s (Roger Lloyd Pack) simple-minded comments and his profound refusal to call Rodney by his name, instead calling him Dave, despite at one point having it explained to him by Rodney.

The show has created some of the most classic comedy moments of all time, and even now has relevence to modern society (particularly with the recession et al) and the rich characters and sharp writing is what makes the show deserve it’s title as the Greatest British Comedy Programme of all time.

Best Moment: Naturally countless, but the Trotter brothers’ trip to a fancy dress party in 1996 special ‘Heroes and Villains’ is a testament to the shows greatness. (Watch it here)

Well there you have it, hopefully you enjoyed this voyage through British comedy, of course, it is only my opinion, and if you disagree then by all means say, though I do feel I should mention some higly commended:

Monty Python’s Flying Circus – More than a comedy program, the films are what seperate this from the top 10, since with them they became more than a comedy programme. A truely terrific pillar of British achievement.

Dad’s Army
– Though considered to be amoung the comedy greats, this show missed out by it’s age, since I only judged shows which I’d seen all the way through, and sadly due to the fact that Dad’s Army was originally shown back in 1968, it would be unfair for me to judge it on the few episodes I’ve seen, though it is, undoubtedly, excellent nonetheless.