Arts Diary: Will Marriott

the thing about Alan Bennett is this: whatever subject he writes about, the voice is so clearly his. So even when he is describing some awful misfortune, it's impossible for a smile not to cross your lips.

To wit: this is an extract from Alan's annual piece for The London Review of Books: "I take off my coat and they very kindly help me to clean it up with tissues from one of their handbags and another man, English I think, big and in his 50s, goes away and comes back with more tissues." Alan is describing a scam in June this year when two women approached him to tell him he had ice cream on his coat. "I take off my jacket, too, to clean it up. I put my jacket on again, thanking the woman profusely, though they brush off my gratitude and abruptly disappear."

Turns out they had stolen 1,500 from the playwright during the "helpful" intervention.

Frankly, we find these surveys a bit silly, but if they give us a chance to print a picture of Julia Roberts then we'll go for it.

Research revealed this week has shown that people in Leeds think the best bathroom movie scene is from Pretty Woman. That bit where Roberts is singing Kiss in the bathtub, unaware that Richard Gere is watching. Yes, it's a stupid survey, but here's a picture of Julia Roberts to make up for the banality of it all.

Word reaches us this week of a possible first. Can't really put it any better than how it was put to us, so (direct from the press release): "A unique twist on a very British tradition, Mandrake's Magnificent Machine is the world's first surrealist, steampunk, absurdist pantomime. It follows the story of a young Victorian inventor, Mandrake Eldridge, who accidentally opens up a portal into another dimension. With the help of the evil Lord Rottingham and the infamous Leather Gentleman's Club Mandrake builds his machine, which transports him and his sidekick Bob into the enchanted world of Ephemera."

So if you fancy seeing the world's first "surrealist, steampunk, absurdist pantomime" get yourself down to Bradford Playhouse tonight and tomorrow. Tickets are on 01274 820666.

We were delighted to hear from local movie producers Shane Hamill and Ben Sweet, who run The North Light Film Studios in Huddersfield, co-producer of the first short film by Sir David Jason. They got in touch with us to share the great news that Sir David's film, All the Way Up, collected six awards at the Monaco International Film Festival. It won Best Short Film, Best Director, Best Producer and Best Script. Best Leading Actor was awarded to Adrian Dunbar, with Lee Ingleby making it a full house with Best Supporting Actor. At the red carpet awards ceremony held earlier this month, the team was delighted with their awards haul and wasted no time in announcing their next project. Shane Hamill said: "Winning all these awards was both humbling and beyond our dreams. But we were already on a high before the judges' decision, as Sir David had just agreed to make his debut for a feature film with our next project, Shoeless Joe."

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