Armando Iannucci
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2007 12:10 pm    Post subject: Armando Iannucci Reply with quote

Bourne again. And again and again and again and ...
Armando Iannucci
Sunday August 12, 2007
The Observer

Matt Damon's Jason Bourne cinema trilogy (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum) is now set to become the most lucrative film franchise ever. It comes as no surprise then that another 14 sequels have already been shot. In yet another exclusive, I can now reveal what they are and what they're about. So, over the next decade look out for:

The Airbourne Polonium: Jason Bourne has just two hours to stop a Russian assassin without getting cancer. This is followed up with The Bourne Endoscopy.

The Bourne Accordion: Jason Bourne thinks he's a busker.

The Bourne Pandemonium: Jason Bourne has 10 minutes to crack a secret code in a room of 3,000 children.

The Misbourne Conspiracy: Jason Bourne has 15 minutes to stop the River Misbourne in Buckinghamshire from bursting its banks.

The Bourne Londinium: Matt Damon plays an ancient amnesiac spy accused of being involved in the plot to assassinate Caesar.

The Bourneville Conundrum: Jason Bourne has six minutes to find a bar of Cadbury's chocolate that doesn't have salmonella.

The Bourne Utility: Matt Damon has become so rich thanks to the Jason Bourne series of films that he now purchases all of the world's supplies of natural gas.

The Bourne Condominium: Jason Bourne has 20 years to retire to sheltered accommodation for spies.

The Bourne Linoleum: Matt Damon doesn't do a Bourne film as he has four working days to wait at home for new flooring.

The Ayckbourn Tumescence: Jason Bourne has 14 hours to make Alan Ayckbourn feel erotic.

The Bourne Hostility: People start getting tired of the Bourne sequence and think of a way to get rid of Matt Damon, or at least frighten him.

The Bourne Opprobrium: Matt Damon receives a dead lama in the post.

The Bourne Atrocity: The Bourne franchise ends to everyone's satisfaction.

Fact: God does do irony

I love astronomy, but am the world's laziest astronomer; in theory, I like star-gazing, but hate being up after 11pm. At least I'm not as lazy as Queen guitarist Brian May. Nine days ago, he handed in his astrophysics doctorate 30 years late, and so can now have the haircut he bet a fellow student 30 years ago he wouldn't have until he finished. Mr May and I love astronomy because astrophysical facts are always truly astounding. For example, according to nuclear physicist Jim al-Khalili on BBC Four's Atom, each one of us is actually hotter than the sun; i.e. if the sun were shrunk to the size of a man, it would actually give off less heat than an average-sized human being. This fact unfortunately validates the hypothesis that if George Galloway were sufficiently enlarged, he could legitimately claim that the sun effectively shone out of his arse.

But the most wonderful fact about space, the one that's sent me drooling in an ecstasy of mysticism, I discovered only last month listening in the night to a radio programme about space (it was after 11pm, so I was in bed). Ever since I heard this fact, the whole of time and space, the very purpose of our existence on this spinning ball of land and fish, has changed and has now confirmed my profound belief that all of us were only created for someone else's amusement. And that fact is this: when stars near the end of their life, they consume themselves in blazing infernos known as white and red dwarfs.

When these dwarf stars finally run out of fuel, they collapse in on themselves and fuse all their remaining helium into carbon. Under searing temperatures of 100,000 degrees, the carbon is organised into its most compact form. It then takes billions and billions of years to cool down completely. And when it does, it's a diamond. A crystal diamond the size of earth. Imagine that. When the universe ends, space will be full of massive diamonds. And none of us will be around to see them.

God, it seems, is into irony. In a big way. For what everything's been working up to is a massive blingiverse. And no one will be alive to steal it or put it on eBay. Think of that if any of you are heading off to church this morning. Wear lots of jewellery and flaunt it at Him.

Where's Brown the baboon? The one absolute and unquestioned fact we were all being presented with before Gordon Brown entered Number 10 was that he was truly crazy. Massed ranks of Blairite loyalists and most of the media conspired to guarantee us that Brown was a half-drooling manbeast as mad as 50 March hares drowning in a lagoon of mercury and incapable of even walking properly. We were led to expect some subhuman baboon who staggered about haphazardly like a new-born foal, maybe banging into walls instead of trying doors.

The truth has surprised many. Brown has now received many plaudits for being able to walk quite normally, as well as the statesman-like way he is able to sit, stand, dress and chew like any human without swallowing his own tongue. Maybe, out of embarrassment for being caught out by their previous distortions, the media have now overdone their praise for the man, crediting him with superhuman powers that enabled him to harness the Moon's gravitational pull on Earth to make the floods recede and to stop bombs going off by appearing calm.

Whatever the truth, I'm left with a suspicion that the last few years of Blair's reign were spent with a lot of responsible grown-ups perpetrating a distortion as bad as any on Blue Peter.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2007 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Straight in at the deep end
Religion may be irrational, says Armando Iannucci, but so what? He talks to John Naish about swimming, spoofs – and his search for spirituality

The comedian and writer Armando Iannucci’s dark eyes widen as he recalls the day when one of his attempts at getting fit came to an abrupt halt: “I left the gym and never went back after my towel was stolen while I was in the shower. When I asked someone there why it had happened, they said it was ‘because I was on the telly’.”

Towel-stealing is just the sort of muffin-headed celeb worship that leaves Iannucci, the creator of The Thick of It and co-creator of I’m Alan Partridge, incredulous. “That towel’s probably on eBay now as a damp relic,” he says, laughing. Vapid fame, pointless politics and media fabrications are all prime targets for his satirical scripts. And this weekend, at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, he is picking away at these bêtes noires, exploring why they can leave us feeling spiritually empty, frustrated and angry.

It is serious stuff for someone who has been so instrumental in crafting modern British comedy. Iannucci, 43, first achieved prominence producing Radio 4’s seminal news spoof, On The Hour, in 1991. He fostered a pantheon of talent that includes Chris Morris, Stewart Lee, Patrick Marber and Steve Coogan. But he hardly oozes celebrity. He is small, contained and dresses with the tidy indifference of a self-effacing academic. You would be pushed to spot him in a crowd, unless you caught that cawing voice, mild Glaswegian mixed with the singsong Italian meter of his Neopolitan dad. The most animated thing about Iannucci is his eyes, which dance beneath beetle brows. Every now and then he flashes a slightly manic smile.

And here I am, doing the very thing he despises: being a media person busily perpetuating our culture’s obsession with superficial appearances. It’s what lies beneath – our neglected, distorted quest for depth and meaning, that interests Iannucci far more. He has long flirted with matters of the soul: he was brought up as a Jesuit schoolboy and in his early teens seriously considered training for the priesthood. What happened? “I guess I just moved on,” he laughs. Nevertheless, before finally deciding that his true vocation lay in comedy writing and performance, he conducted postgraduate research at Oxford into the religious language of Milton’s poetry.

Now that our culture has sold its soul to celebrity and surface, there’s not much left of us beneath, he explains, illustrating the point with a parable about his foray into adult swimming classes. “I used to be a terrible swimmer, but eight years ago I saw an advert for an adult improvers course and went every Tuesday. It was mostly middle-aged, middle-management men who were used to being in control. They had to stand around without their suits, being practically naked, being bad at something. Most of the men couldn’t hack it, and the numbers dwindled.” Iannucci stayed the course though, and managed to hang on to his towel.

Don’t mention the D-word

He has stuck with his pursuit of spiritual insight, too. Although he lost his Roman Catholic faith as an undergraduate (he read English at University College, Oxford, in the late 1980s) and no longer prays, his religious sense lingers. “I’m interested in theology, or in people who are involved in it,” he says. “I was particularly into Thomas Merton, an American Cistercian monk who wrote against the Vietnam war in the Sixties. Merton was also into mysticism, into seeking the common ground between, say Christianity and Buddhism, that they all link at a basic level, beyond dogma. I’ve arrived at that idea myself,” he says.

Isn’t all that Sixties-type spiritual exploration rather old hat in a world where everyone’s reading Richard Dawkins? Iannucci bridles at the D-word. “I do feel spiritually dislocated from this life. But I simply can’t agree with the Dawkins thing and all his arguments that religion is basically irrational. So what? Isn’t a lot of what we do irrational? We’re all so interested in design and music, but really that’s just all patterns and different sets of noises. And then there’s football. It’s purposeless. Just a bunch of men running around being watched by thousands of other men. It says a lot about the value of pointlessness that all these things are quite good.”

As he pursues this point, Iannucci becomes animated, leaning across the table and fidgeting with my interview notes. “Spirituality is a fundamental human thing, as much as imagination or conscience,” he says. “It just does not go away, this sense of need. It gets moved around into different shapes. There will always be manifestations of religion. People need to feel that they are watched or maybe judged and they have a need to find other people who think and fear the same things. It’s about seeking meaning; people still do things like go to church services or confession, but increasingly people go to the gym or see therapists or go on Facebook.”

Facebook is, in Iannucci’s eyes, rather an abomination. At the festival, he is discussing the fad for superficial self-revelation through blogs and social networking websites. But, he admits, “I have never been on Facebook. People ask to be my Facebook friend, and I don’t know what it means or how to respond.”

For such a media figure, Iannucci is a reticent social networker. Married to Rachael, 43, with three children under 14, he says that his son laughs at the obsolete mobile phone he lugs around. YouTube is high on the Iannucci hate pile, too. “I find it quite depressing the whole thing of people putting pointless stuff up for the whole world to see. Things start becoming unsurprising. You can type anything into Google and YouTube and see something – stick in, say, ‘desk-juggling’, into a search and you’ll find someone doing it.”

Perhaps it was this unworldly pensiveness that inspired the BBC last year to invite him, along with the corporation’s chairman Michael Grade, to join a seminar to “do something” about broadcasting spirituality on the Beeb. Iannucci seems sceptical. “They called the seminar ‘Taking religion seriously’, and I think I was asked along because it had the word ‘seriously’ in the title,” he says. “It had been suggested that one alternative approach might be to treat religion humorously.” Iannucci fears that mixing his brand of humour with religion would prove sorely unpalatable, though.

“When you make jokes about religion, you are bound to upset someone. If you want to look for things that are funny you have got to look at the contradictions in how people behave. For example, religious fundamentalists in the United States are antiabortionists, but then they are pro-hanging. I find that funny. Adam Curtis’s documentary, The Power of Nightmares, showed how one fundamentalist Islamic group decided it was OK to blow up Muslims living in nonMuslim countries because they were heretics. Then they decided it was OK to blow each other up if they disagreed. In the end, one guy declared that he had the right to blow up everyone else in his group. I find that funny as well as chilling. You can’t expect to come up with nice jokes about religion.”

Iannucci, the inoffensive? But his work is littered with stunts such as The Day Today’s mock-shock documentaries, which enlisted naive celebrities to spout nonsense in support of spoof scare-campaigns against paedophiles and a nonexistent drug called Cake. “I never meant to be edgy. I just set out to do stuff that I found funny. People will find things funny if you prod their sensitivities,” he says, jabbing his finger at arm level. “I don’t know where I learnt to be naughty like that. I wasn’t a naughty child.”

People want real discussion at real depth

Indeed, like many comics, he’s remarkably unsubversive in the flesh. He even worries about his diet: three years ago he stopped eating carbs at lunch, as he is convinced that they sap his energy levels. He’s becoming a small-c conservative, to boot: he lives in the south Buckinghamshire countryside with his family, and now, to his evident discomfort, he has his own Establishment-friendly office at the BBC. “I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or bad,” he says. “I suppose that rather than dressing up like a punk and never being admitted into the BBC building, it’s easier to be allowed in and do the things I want.”

He’s not quite a fully fledged corporation man yet, though. In fact, he’s clearly overjoyed at the Beeb’s comeuppance over rigging the poll to name the Blue Peter cat. “That whole business has made people more aware that these things are more than just harmless tricks,” he says. He hopes that public disgust at being conned by unreality TV, soundbite politics and celebrity hype might start some kind of backlash, a campaign for real information.

“People want real discussion at a real depth,” he says. “We don’t get it any more in politics. The parties don’t do deep politics; they keep it light and accessible. I think this makes people frustrated. They get frustrated by things that they hope will be substantial but turn out to be flimflam. People are increasingly aware that they are slithering from surface to surface, from Beckham to rigged TV competitions, and they start to ask, ‘What’s the point of all this?’

“That’s why events like Cheltenham are so well attended. Festivals have become suddenly popular. People are hungry for substance and unafraid of big themes. While elsewhere the solid centre disappears from debate, people are learning to channel their need for mental nutrition into attending events with real content.”

Uncrowned king of comedy

Armando Iannucci’s comedy credentials stretch back almost two decades. Here are a few of his TV and radio credits:

1989 The Mary Whitehouse Experience (producer of the topical TV comedy show)

1991 On The Hour (creator, co-writer and producer of the Radio 4 show)

1994 The Day Today (co-writer, producer of the TV adaptation of On The Hour)

1995 The Saturday Night Armistice (writer, presenter of the late night TV show)

1997 I’m Alan Partridge (co-writer, producer, director of the hit TV comedy)

2005 The Thick Of It (writer and producer of this TV satire of modern politics)

2006 Time Trumpet (writer of the hit TV comedy series)
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2007 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bombing Iran will ensure world peace
Armando Iannucci
Sunday October 28, 2007
The Observer

Three people explaining why it's essential we start a war with Iran

1. George W Bush: 'Some weeks ago, President Ahmadinejad of Iran visited US soil. Now, two weeks later, a fierce fire has ravaged California, the home of where they film the American Dream. I'm here to tell you, this is not coincidental. President Ahmadinejad has used guile and secrecy to harbour terrifying menace in the past and today is no exception. 'Our country stands threatened by heat, as does the world, for is not global warming terrifying heat on a world scale?'

2. Tony Blair: 'I've now spent three months travelling the Middle East trying to sort it out and preparing material for a hopefully quite interesting second volume to my memoirs, and among the many injustices and miserable faces I've encountered in this tortured and complex land, the one message I'm getting is that the whole region is balanced on a precarious knife-edge that could go up in tinder at any time.

'My feeling is that we need to be careful in our actions here and that what is required is that we very carefully and very delicately bomb and then attack Iran. I don't say this lightly. Many will disagree with me. Indeed, many do. Which convinces me all the more this is the right thing to do. You see, it's clear from the evidence we're getting that Iran could have a nuclear weapon ready to strike against the West in as little as 45 months. Which is why we only have days to act.'

3. Jack Straw: 'I know a year or so ago I said that any military strike against Iran was inconceivable, but that was because at the time I wasn't conceiving of it happening. In fact, the bombing of Iran then was such a mad idea that it simply would not have been possible to conceive of the gargantuan mess such an action might bring.

'Now, of course, having seen what's happened in Iraq, it is now possible to conceive of such horror, which is why I now happily say that the bombing of Iran is conceivable. I wouldn't read anything sinister in this. I'm merely stating the facts as I conceive them.'

Ten things for David Dimbleby to say when taking questions from the audience in Question Time

1 A question over there from the man who looks like he's scared of his mother

2 Comment there from the lady in pain.

3 Yes, the gentleman at the back who's thinking of telling his wife he's a woman trapped inside a man's body.

4 Comment from you, sir. No, not you. You look like you were charged with possession of class-A drugs 13 years ago. I mean the gentleman behind you; the one who wishes he had his neighbour's car.

5 I'll take a comment there from the young lady in the front row who looks like she's never met the Queen.

6 Yes, the man in the row two-thirds from the back who's allergic to nuts.

7 Lady there who's not looking forward to her skiing holiday.

8 Yes, an opinion there from the man in the centre with a face that looks like a sheep diagnosed with bluetongue spotting the vet advancing towards it with a stun gun.

9 Two opinions simultaneously, one from the gentleman from Dundee and the other from the lady in front who's planning to gazump a close friend.

10 Question there from the gentleman in the blue shirt that hides a tattoo of a woman trapped in a cave being roared at by a dragon and some scars from a boating accident he had in the Norfolk Broads when he forgot to tie it the bank in a sudden gale and ended up with his chest trapped against the side of the lock and unable to rescue his dog, but could he make it succinct because there isn't much time?

Seven things for company executives to put on their walls to inspire their workforce

We're here to bother the future.

Yes to innovation, balls to capital gains tax

If there is a God, his name is emerging markets

Genius is four parts perspiration and one part having a focused strategic overview

Decision plus action times planning equals productivity minus delay squared

This company is making a better world for millions of people, even though we just manufacture headscarves

The Eskimos have a saying: always be brand leader in a crowded market place and you will forever be the first man to the concussed seal pup.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 18, 2008 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My 25 years of power and influence
Armando Iannucci

For the past 25 years I've gone to the Edinburgh festival as visitor, performer and media executive. The last role is the one I'm most embarrassed about and the one I most try to deny. One of my first jobs as a rookie producer in the early 90s was to shuttle a few TV executives to the three funniest shows in town in 24 hours. The executives all tried to look casual by unbuttoning their shirts, and having woolly jumpers tied round their shoulders. I resolved then and there never to become one of them. Even now, when Edinburgh is at its coldest (which is always) I never ever take a jumper with me.

I've been coming to the Edinburgh festival since I was about 15. This was easy, since I grew up in Glasgow, only 50 minutes away. It was the late 70s, when the Fringe was not the comedy Nuremberg it is now. Then, comedy was a rare late-night treat, and it was more usual to end up seeing Bristol University Mummers perform Equus in a cold church or a one-man play about Abraham Lincoln. Actually, this last was one of the most moving pieces of theatre I've ever been to. The guy took your tickets as you came in, and saw you off the premises as you left. The moment he got shot was agonising.

The Edinburgh Fringe then was all about stumbling across the unknown, with the added risk you might also stumble across the unspeakably awful. I remember one terrible staged atrocity performed by a Japanese avant garde theatre company, praised to high heaven by the London papers, that began with two postmen pretending to be sand. It degenerated from there into an experimental abortion mostly involving drums.

However, Edinburgh 1982 was when I first saw Theatre de Complicité. They were performing A Minute Too Late, a wonderful, physical, verbally witty, moving and hilarious piece about death. It immediately woke me up to the possibilities of what comedy can do.

Around that time I was appearing in Edinburgh as a performer. I was meant to be writing a PhD at Oxford about Paradise Lost but spent most of my time creating comedy shows. It was the fulfilment of a little dream to make it up to Edinburgh as part of the Oxford Revue.

Unfortunately, I fulfilled this dream at the one time in the 30,000-year history of human civilisation that the very last thing you wanted to do as a comedian was have the word Oxford in your title. These were the boom years of alternative comedy, when political stand-up was taking off, and Margaret Thatcher knew her time was up only nine years later. The last thing anyone wanted to see was the Oxford Revue. The city was instead filled with political stand-ups, most of them Oxbridge graduates with perfected working-class accents.

Meanwhile, at a try-out 10 minutes at the Edinburgh Fringe Club we were pelted with sausage rolls. I only managed to retrieve any dignity from the situation by announcing at the end "Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. We've been the Cambridge Footlights."

However, I won in the end, because coming from Oxbridge, it was terribly easy to get into the BBC. I got a job as a radio comedy producer, and came back to Edinburgh to scout talent for Radio 4's Pick of the Fringe comedy show. Suddenly I'd become that thing that, as a performer, I'd always hoped for and yet dreaded: the comedy producer in the audience. So many comedy aspirations have been raised and dashed by the thrill of knowing a "producer" is in.

As a performer I always thought "producers" had unlimited power, judgment and influence. As a producer, I had none. I did, however, have to go to 30 comedy shows in seven days. When it was all over, I celebrated by going to see the unfunniest thing I could find. It was a brutal drama set in a South African prison at the height of apartheid. I loved it.

It was now around 1990, and the TV festival was beginning to dominate the last weekend of Edinburgh. The city groaned under the influx of TV executives and their PAs. I'm one, but I try not to be. I don't bring my PA, and I try going to see stuff that I think might be funny, but with absolutely no intention of ever going up to the performer at the end and saying, "I want to put you on the telly." That way, no one can be ultimately disappointed.

I'm in Edinburgh again this year in all three of my roles. As a visitor, I'll definitely see Stewart Lee's new show. As a performer I'm hosting a recording of my Radio 4 show Charm Offensive at the Pleasance on Aug 14 and being interviewed by Clive James at the Assembly Rooms on Aug 23.

This is a chance to meet my prose hero, whose hilarious columns in the Observer made me want to try writing hilarious columns in the Observer. I've no idea what he's going to ask me, but so long as it's not to perform any of my material from the Oxford Revue, I'm sure it'll be fine.

And, finally, as a media executive I find myself delivering the alternative MacTaggart on Sunday August 24. Actually, all my other roles will be contributing to what I have to say. It's my experience as a writer, performer and producer in the world of television that will be informing what I have to say about how we TV creatives can survive the multiformat commissioning process, which seems increasingly complicated but needn't be. I want it to be a positive and encouraging message, so I'll be refusing entry to anyone wearing a jumper tied round their shoulders.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Star of British TV satire set to conquer America
Armando Iannucci, creator of the BBC's acclaimed The Thick of It, heads a record number of British entries at the Sundance film festival with a new political comedy featuring the star of The Sopranos
Vanessa Thorpe,
arts and media correspondent
The Observer,
Sunday 11 January 2009

A wisecracking new comedy about Washington whiz-kids and unscrupulous spin doctors has been hailed as a big hit after a sneak preview in America. But the film is not American. In the Loop, directed by Armando Iannucci, is one of a host of British productions crossing the Atlantic this winter.

Film critics have trumpeted a new dawn for British film-making as the Sundance film festival in Utah, where In the Loop will premiere next week, prepares to showcase double the usual number of British productions. Festival organisers are calling it an "extraordinary" testament to talent in the UK.

Iannucci's comedy stars Steve Coogan, Gina McKee and James Gandolfini, of The Sopranos, alongside Peter Capaldi as the ruthless spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, known to fans of the BBC's The Thick of It, and it lampoons government mores in both London and Washington. "We don't go up to White House level," said Iannucci. "We deal mainly with state department underlings, the kind of people that actually make decisions with enormous political consequences."

Iannucci and his co-writers interviewed Pentagon and CIA staff. "A lot is run by scary 23-year-olds. These people are brilliant; they have degrees in strategic terrorism, but they don't yet know how to buy a house." The director puts his film's appeal in America down to a new and "enormous appetite" for British comedy. "When I was coming through US immigration the other day I said I worked in British comedy, and the official started singing the French and Saunders theme tune to me," Iannucci said.

The director said many young Americans regularly download episodes of British TV comedy from cult acts such as the Mighty Boosh and the League of Gentlemen. "A lot of the geographical barriers have come down in entertainment, not just because of the internet but because film producers and directors are forced to find international co-producers to spread resources."

The executive producer of In the Loop, David Thompson, views it as a "truly subversive and provocative comedy", but he is also proud to have a second feature premiering at the festival: Nick Hornby's screen adaptation of Observer writer Lynn Barber's book An Education, which stars Emma Thompson, Rosamund Pike and Alfred Molina. The producer ascribes the success of so many British contenders at this festival to the fact that Britain has at last developed a confident film-making scene. "It has been a rather old-fashioned industry here, with old technology and big crews. We have been relatively slow to come round, but there has been a recent radical change," he said.

Sundance will come close on the heels of tonight's Golden Globe awards ceremony in Los Angeles, where the establishment line-up is also dominated by British stars, from directors Sam Mendes, Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry to actors such as Ralph Fiennes, Kate Winslet, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emma Thompson, Rebecca Hall and Sally Hawkins and writers Peter Morgan, David Hare and Simon Beaufoy.

The stream of British films selected for Sundance, founded by Robert Redford 25 years ago and renowned for spotting new stars, underlines the growing American thirst for British entertainment. Festival programmer John Nein said: "Our international programme is relatively small, so to play upwards of 10 features from one country - both fiction and documentary - is pretty extraordinary. That's really a testament to the quality of the work. Frankly, there were probably four or five other British movies we could have played that were wonderful, but we just didn't have room in the festival."

Twelve full-length films, ranging from Bronson - which charts the life of Britain's most notorious prisoner, Mickey Peterson, aka Charles Bronson - to Iannucci's trenchant satire have already created an unprecedented buzz. "Bronson was one of the most visually virtuosic films I've seen this year. In the Loop is certainly one of the funniest," said Nein.

Among British entries in the documentary category are Rupert Murray's film about the effects of overfishing on the world's seas, The End of the Line, and Thriller in Manila, John Dower's treatment of the 1975 fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. But the documentary generating more interview requests than any other is Afghan Star, a film made by first-time British feature director Havana Marking about Kabul's version of Pop Idol. "The television talent show is an element of what is happening in Afghanistan, a country hard for many of us to understand, that everyone can get to grips with," said Marking.

Other feature films from Britain showing at Sundance include Unmade Beds, from Alexis Dos Santos, set in east London amid the underground arts scene. The Channel 4-funded political thriller Endgame has its world premiere at the festival. It chronicles the secret discussions held in Britain between the ANC and white intellectuals aimed at dismantling the apartheid regime. There is even a science fiction entry from Britain: Moon, directed by Duncan Jones, is described by Nein as "far more personal and philosophical than one might expect".
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can Iannucci's comedy operetta cut it?
He's best known as the writer and producer of award-winning radio and TV comedy, but now Armando Iannucci has broken into song. Sheena Hastings talks to him about his comic operetta.
16 January 2009

ARMANDO Iannucci has likened being invited to write an opera to being asked to demolish a power station or fly in a rocket with Al Pacino – it's not something you ever expect to do, but you'd be stark-staring bonkers to turn down the opportunity. He's clearly an advocate of the "feel the fear and do it anyway" school of thought.

"It was a shock, but I hate the idea of not doing something then wondering what it would have been like," he says. "I can't sing and can't play an instrument, but they weren't good reasons to say no."

When opera director Richard Jones suggested that Iannucci write the libretto in collaboration with composer David Sawer, and that the opera should be about the world's obsession with plastic surgery, Glasgow-born Iannucci knew he was in the right company. Five years on from the first meetings about what has evolved to become Skin Deep, the two-hour satirical operetta set in a cosmetic surgery clinic opens its doors tonight, with Doktor Needlemeier dedicating his efforts to "putting right what nature got wrong."

Star-crossed lovers, narcissism, face-swapping and countless collagen injections are involved, in what promises to be a rather surreal experience and one which doffs its hat to both Shakespeare and Gilbert and Sullivan. "The point it makes about plastic surgery is that it's an addictive business," says Iannucci. "Once you alter one part of yourself, it never stops, and what does that say about our sense of belief in ourselves?"

Iannucci may have given up the piano at grade one, but he grew up in a Glaswegian household (Scottish mother, Italian father) where classical music was meat and drink, and from the moment his music appreciation teacher played Holst's Planets Suite to the 11-year-old Armando, he was utterly convinced of the "mind-bendingly brilliant and emotionally satisfying" effects such sounds could evoke.

But opera was quite another thing. For years he couldn't wrap his brain around it; it seemed to comprise aimless, shapeless warbling in foreign languages, with "silly" stories played out in utterly weird timescales. Then, as a student he saw live performances of La Traviata and Tristan and Isolde, and what had failed to make sense in the recorded version turned out to be the perfect experience of live art.

"Opera is something that you can only work out your own response to if you listen to the whole thing, drinking in everything including props and sets and costumes and lighting. There's a lot that can go wrong, but when it all goes right it's the ultimate."

Iannucci first received widespread acclaim on TV and radio back in the early '90s as producer of On the Hour and The Day Today. He went on to gather gongs about him for solo work and memorable collaborations with the likes of Chris Morris, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee, Peter Baynham and Steve Coogan, creating Brass Eye, Blue Jam, Fist of Fun, This Morning with Richard, Not Judy, I'm Alan Partridge, The Armando Iannucci Show and as writer and director of the acclaimed BBC series The Thick of It.

He is arguably the most potent force in British comedy today. He even has a South Bank Show profile on the library shelf, and his new comedy film, In the Loop, about unscrupulous spin doctors and Washington whizz kids, has just been hailed as a hit after previews ahead of its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

All eyes and ears on Leeds this evening, then, as critics' pencils are sharpened and the verdict is delivered on how well the master of comedy has transferred his prodigious talents to yet another art form. How difficult was this latest transition?

"It was humbling in many ways. The first draft took a year, and then David worked on the music over two years. It was actually quite thrilling for me, even though David and Richard were brutal – cutting stuff, chucking out half the words, throwing things back, asking me to come up with a line ending with something that rhymes with 'ouch.'... The writing started to work once I decided to use different rhymes and rhyme schemes. As an exercise in writing, it definitely used parts of the brain my other writing hasn't.

"There's dialogue in between numbers, and we needed to have clear instrumentation where jokes need to be heard. The performers seemed to enjoy the comedy in rehearsals, and I feel pleased with the result – although I think of it as 'the opera,' a huge team effort rather than 'mine'. I haven't been involved for a while, so I'm now able to stand outside the piece and feel as though I'm hearing everything as a third party. And yes – I would love to do more."

Skin Deep is at Leeds Grand Theatre on January 16, 24, 30 and February 4 and 11. Call 0844 848 2706 or book online at
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 4:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Profile: Armando Iannucci: Comedy kingpin is out of the shadows
The unassuming Glaswegian behind some of our funniest TV shows is finally in the spotlight with a hit film and an opera
The Sunday Times
January 18, 2009

He is a slight, plainly dressed man who could be mistaken for a photocopier salesman, yet this Glaswegian of Italian descent is credited with ushering in a golden age of television comedy. For his next trick, Armando Iannucci is leading a British flanking action on Hollywood with a film ranked as a hot tip at Robert Redford’s Sundance festival.

Iannucci, the creative force behind the Alan Partridge shows, interviewed CIA and Pentagon staff to research his movie In the Loop, a satire of bureaucracy in Washington and London. He discovered a world run by “scary” 23-year-olds: “They have degrees in strategic terrorism, but they don’t yet know how to buy a house.”

The 45-year-old polymath directed a cast that included James Gandolfini of The Sopranos and two old mates – Steve Coogan, aka Alan Partridge, and Peter Capaldi, reprising his role as Malcolm Tucker, a cynical government press officer based on Alastair Campbell who first appeared in Iannucci’s television political farce The Thick of It. In the Loop is Iannucci’s first real stab at film-making, if you discount a short he made for the Tube Tales anthology.

America’s voracious appetite for British films, signalled in last week’s Golden Globes awards, has lent a buzz to In the Loop, described as the funniest film at Sundance. When Iannucci passed through US customs recently and mentioned that he worked in British comedy, the official began singing the French and Saunders theme song to him.

But the versatile satirist had other melodies on his mind. For five years he had been writing the lyrics for an opera about plastic surgery, Skin Deep, given its premiere by Opera North two days ago in Leeds. This professional departure came as something of a surprise to Iannucci, who lacked any musical ability – “I can’t sing, whistle or clap” – despite growing up in an Italian family and being accustomed to seeing “burly men in cafes singing their heart out” to recordings of Verdi and Puccini.

In fact, Iannucci viewed opera as the “warbling” of silly stories in which people die by being stabbed or falling off tall buildings. “This was all nonsense, I thought.” Eventually he recanted, reasoning that Shakespeare’s plots were just as batty and perhaps he should give it a chance. Naturally, he was smitten and, when asked to write an opera, said yes.

The plot involves a Frankenstein-like cosmetic surgeon whose creed is “putting right what nature got wrong”. Iannucci has included the usual mistaken identities and the tragic heroine, while taking the operatic tradition to extremes: “We have face-swaps, people falling in love with their own reflection, others searching for the key to perpetual youth.”

These new strings to his bow only serve to make Iannucci’s public persona more diffuse. He is relatively unknown in spite of popping up everywhere, whether on Radio 4 panel shows such as The News Quiz and The Unbelievable Truth, or on television in Have I Got News For You and the recent Comic Relief Does University Challenge.

So who is Iannucci? According to Coogan, his friend is the kind of person who has a shandy in the pub, or a half of lager if he’s feeling wild, and whose real value is protecting talent from the foolish bureaucracies of the organisations they work for. One interviewer described him as small, contained and dressed with “the tidy indifference of a self-effacing academic”. Another encountered a cross between “Satan and a bank manager”.

The only thing that would give Iannucci away in a crowd is his distinctive voice, a mild Glaswegian mixed with a singsong Italian meter. His most animated features are his eyes, which dance beneath beetle brows, accompanied by a slightly manic smile.

He guards his privacy – beyond admitting that he proposed to his wife, Rachel, on a bridge in Paris and that they went on a whirlwind honeymoon through the Far East. They live in Buckinghamshire with their two sons, aged 14 and 8, and a daughter, 6.

An unlikely figure, then, to be acknowledged as one of the most influential forces in contemporary British culture. Iannucci patented a style that became the lingua franca of comedy shows – a glazed, deadpan approach that picks up on the banal details of everyday life, allied to merciless satires on the skewed priorities of news media.

Without Partridge, some believe, there would have been no David Brent of The Office, or other semi-documentary comedies.

Beneath the humour pulses a deeply serious vein, as you might expect from a former Jesuit schoolboy who harboured thoughts of training for the priesthood. Although he lost his Roman Catholic faith as an undergraduate, he retained a religious sense that has surfaced in his rejection of Richard Dawkins’s atheism: “I simply can’t agree with the Dawkins thing and all his arguments that religion is basically irrational. So what? Isn’t a lot of what we do irrational?”

He sees YouTube as an abomination: “I find it quite depressing, the whole thing of people putting pointless stuff up for the whole world to see.” Then there is Iraq: “I was so angry that I couldn’t even joke about it.”

For a while the BBC set him up in a “blue skies” unit, free to do pretty much whatever he liked and think up new types of programmes. He never completely disappeared, keeping his hand in with a newspaper column and Armando Iannucci’s Charm Offensive, a radio chat show that rattled through the week’s events in a surreal manner.

Born in 1963, Iannucci grew up in Kirkintilloch and at the age of nine moved to Glasgow where his father, an immigrant born in Naples, ran a pizza factory. His mother was Glaswegian by birth but her parents were Italian. However, he never learnt to speak Italian, evoking an upbringing that was “neither one thing nor the other, neither Scottish nor Italian”.

At St Aloysius’ college in Glasgow he did impressions of teachers, but was otherwise well behaved – “more obedient than I should have been. I must have been scared”. The school practised corporal punishment, but that was not unusual for the times, he considered. “They were quite liberal-minded there and encouraged inquiry. So we kept asking them questions about sex.”

His outstanding academic performance won him a place at University College, Oxford, where he secured a first in English literature. At Oxford he began to take part in stage comedy as a “displacement activity” to put off writing a doctoral thesis on Milton’s religious poetry. Comedy won out and he abandoned his PhD when he began making appearances at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Asked to do a radio show, he was left to his own devices at Radio Scotland, where he taught himself production skills. “My great love was always radio comedy – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and other things that were well put together,” he recalled. “I’d tape them and pass them round at school.” In the BBC studios he was allowed to spoof football programmes and generally “ran riot”.

Poached by Radio 4, he first gained recognition in the early 1990s as the writer-producer of On the Hour, a pastiche news programme that transferred to television as The Day Today. Besides bringing together such comics as Chris Morris, Richard Herring and Stewart Lee, On the Hour introduced Coogan’s Alan Partridge. Iannucci and Coogan wrote three hugely successful television series based on the character – a failed but egomaniacal sports presenter who ekes out his days in a motorway budget hotel hatching proposals for doomed television shows.

“We felt we were stumbling into a new way to do sitcom,” said Iannucci. “We wanted people to feel they were eavesdropping on something they shouldn’t have been privy to. It was as if it wasn’t meant for the cameras.”

Iannucci moved in front of the cameras himself to present The Friday Night Armistice, which ruthlessly guyed the new government of Tony Blair. “Just as people were thinking, ‘Oh, this government is nice,’ it was their first experience of seeing Labour savaged. There was a honeymoon period of about a month. Then people started saying, ‘I wish they wouldn’t have all those parties in Downing Street.’ We were blessed.”

The Thick of It, which began in 2005, was the angriest thing he had ever written. “I wanted it to be like The West Wing, but in The West Wing everybody is very, very good at their job. That doesn’t work here. They’re just not connecting with people, and then they wonder why they don’t vote.”

The following year a “terrorism awards” skit in his satirical series Time Trumpet was initially defended by the BBC but a tabloid’s purported outrage caused the corporation to pull the episode, leading to accusations of spinelessness.

Meanwhile, Iannucci’s asceticism is asserting itself. Four years ago he stopped eating carbohydrates at lunch, convinced they sapped his energy levels. Perhaps he hopes to look like a younger Woody Allen, one of his inspirations. The regime seems to be having an inverse effect: the thinner he gets, the wider he spreads his wings.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2009 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Armando Iannucci - Comedy of Errors
It’s utterly fitting that Armando Iannucci’s In the Loop opens this year’s Glasgow Film festival. His debut film, like the festival, is brave, funny and a real crowd pleaser. Here, he tells Doug Johnstone about the experience
The List
5 February 2009
Doug Johnstone

Armando Iannucci has a ringing in his ears. He’s just back from the Sundance Film Festival in the States where his debut feature film as writer and director, In the Loop, had its world premiere. The film’s reception was so overwhelmingly positive that it became the ‘buzz film’ of the festival, a buzz which is still echoing around his faintly bemused head.

‘Yes, apparently there was a buzz,’ he says with perplexed disdain. ‘Saying it’s a buzz movie sounds better than saying it’s a tinnitus film, I suppose. It was hilarious, people were running around going “You’re hot!” in that way that only happens in films. Suddenly, hampers of foodstuffs that you can’t really eat appear at the hotel from Hollywood agents, that sort of thing.’

Until Sundance, Iannucci was a relatively unknown quantity both in the world of cinema and in the United States, but of course we lucky buggers on this side of the pond have long been aware of his talents. An iconic figure at the heart of British TV and radio comedy for the last decade and a half, the Glasgow born-and-bred funnyman has been responsible for some of the finest, most incisive satire to grace the airwaves in a generation, from seminal news spoof The Day Today through Alan Partridge’s various outings to The Thick of It, his brilliant expose of a spin-obsessed British government.

In the Loop can be seen as a big screen companion piece to The Thick of It, written and filmed in a similar style and featuring many of the same actors. Peter Capaldi’s awesomely vitriolic spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker (a thinly veiled Alistair Campbell) is once again centre stage, although this time the action swings between Britain and America in the diplomatic hoopla surrounding the build-up to a non-specified Middle Eastern invasion.

‘The more I read about how we stumbled into Iraq,’ says Iannucci, ‘the more I realised it was either a truly dreadful story that would make you depressed, or it’s hilarious because it’s just stupid. When I realised it was the latter, I had my story.’

The film pulls no punches on the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and America, with British politicians coming in for a real kicking.

‘Tony Blair and Jack Straw just got starstruck,’ says Iannucci incredulously. ‘They got a bit woozy and thought, “Hey, we’re in the White House, this is good, isn’t it?” and lost their dignity. I went to Washington to meet people who worked in the state department. They couldn’t understand what was in it for Blair. Normally deals are made and both parties get something, but us Brits got nothing.’

Not that the Yanks fare much better – the film evenly depicts the haplessness of government officials on both sides of the pond. Iannucci reveals that during his research, he was truly frightened by the levels of inexperience and ineptitude apparent amongst US officials.

‘Quite a lot of American government is run by very smart 23-year-olds who have degrees in things like Strategic Terrorism Studies, but don’t know what to do with a washing machine,’ he laughs. ‘We met one person who was 22 who was sent to Iraq to help draw up the constitution, and were told about a 23-year-old given the US government’s Central American budget to handle, because everyone else was busy.’

One reason for In the Loop’s success at Sundance was perhaps down to Iannucci’s unflinching look at the bumbling oafs in charge of both countries. It’s a view often expressed in Britain since the sublime Yes, Minister (of which Iannucci is a massive fan, and which The Thick of It is a natural successor to), but not a view frequently echoed by big movies.

‘I deliberately wanted to portray the Washington side in the same way I portray the British side,’ he says. ‘This is how it works, it’s a bit shambolic. On a day-to-day basis there are just as many rubbish people there as in any other institution. I’ve not really seen that done in movies before. The portrayal of Washington is either very noble or else very malevolent, and the truth is it’s just a little bit rubbish, full of people not fit for life outside bureaucracy.’

The cast, including Steve Coogan, Tom Hollander and James ‘The Sopranos’ Gandolfini as an American general, were put through their paces during the six-week shoot last year. Similar to the making of The Thick of It, In the Loop was partially improvised by actors.

‘With each scene we shoot it as scripted first, then put the script aside,’ says Iannucci. ‘Then I ask the cast to improvise around it, really to rough it up a bit, make it feel more conversational. There’s no magic formula. Sometimes I go for the script; other times a mix of script and improvisation. It’s labour intensive at the editing stage, but hopefully you arrive at something that feels, despite all that work, spontaneous.’

In the wake of the Iraq war there have been numerous films on the subject, but In the Loop is the first comedy take on events, something which Iannucci thinks plays in its favour.
‘There were so many well intentioned but deeply serious films based on 9/11 and Iraq,’ he says. ‘It seemed the American audience warmed to In the Loop because it was entertainment. Without being high-handed about the role of comedy, I think you can do comedy about big things and it doesn’t demean or make them less serious. Some of my favourite comedies are Dr Strangelove, The Great Dictator, M*A*S*H and Catch-22. They can be dark and brutal, but you can still laugh.’

Iannucci’s satire has never been overblown, but is always perfectly pitched, so the viewer isn’t entirely sure whether the whole thing could be true or not. In the Loop maintains that style wonderfully, and it’s a style that has often made Iannucci seem prescient, all the way back to Alan Partridge desperately pitching Monkey Tennis as an idea for a lowest-common-denominator show to a BBC executive. ‘I know for a fact that Monkey Tennis has now been pitched seriously about three or four times,’ laughs Iannucci. How does that make him feel, I wonder. Queasy? Proud? ‘It makes me feel mostly ashamed,’ he deadpans.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An eye on the frighteningly funny
The man behind The Thick of It delivers another must-see piece of toe-curling political comedy
Allan Brown
Sunday Times
February 8, 2009

To look at him, you imagine Armando Iannucci might at any moment ask to inspect your claimable Vat receipts for the previous fiscal quarter. As unlikely as it seems, however, showbusiness has been good to him, even if few are entirely certain what his role in it might be.

Alongside Tony Hancock, Peter Cook and John Cleese, Iannucci is one of the towering, defining powers of the past half-century of British comedy, perhaps the greatest puppet-master of mirth we’ve ever known. It was Iannucci’s patronage that assembled what’s been the A-team of British television comedy for more than the past decade, most notably Steve Coogan, Chris Morris and Chris Addison. His debut feature film as a director, the forthcoming In The Loop, has recently seen Hollywood prostrate itself before him.

Even so, there remains a facet to show business that still rankles the 44-year-old Glaswegian: “A lot in this industry is frankly ridiculous,” he says. “Like the fact that we have so many award ceremonies for basically what is just our job. It’s fine to have a Baker of the Year award, for instance, but not the Golden Globe Baker of the Year and the Baker’s Gazette awards for Bakery and the International Baking awards and . . .” The Golden Roll of Montreux? “Yeah, and the European Bakers’ awards. We’re never done congratulating ourselves. I’m just a little bit squeamish about it.”

He’s a married father of three whose 15-year-old son will be coming with him from their home in west London to attend In The Loop’s gala British premiere in Glasgow this week. He’s an institution, Iannucci, a comedic totem. It’s still rather difficult, though, to explain precisely what he does, particularly to those who haven’t followed closely the twists, turns and sideways leaps of his 20-year career: “I suppose I’m like Orson Welles in that respect,” he jokes. “We started on radio, me at BBC Scotland and him not, and then ended up in films — via television commercials for sherry and garden peas.”

He isn’t strictly a performer, yet he has been known to front some of the shows with which his name is associated, such as The Friday Night Armistice. Nor is he a writer, though his dry, lateral humour watermarks every programme he’s associated with. He’s principally televisual, but he spends considerable time in the shrubbery of radio and compiles books and writes operettas — his opus on plastic surgery, Skin Deep, recently premiered in Leeds — and is Oxford University’s visiting professor of broadcast media.

What Iannucci really does, though, is fixate on threads, tics and motifs that are floating around in the culture; he then deploys his sway within the comedy industry and the BBC, as well as his matchless book of contacts, to turn those musings and hunches into fully developed series, flavoured distinctively by, though not necessarily foregrounding, the “big-nosed Jock wop” who conceived them.

Just as the term Pythonesque entered the language as a synonym for the absurd and surreal, it’s surely a matter of time before Iannuccian joins it to describe a species of humour often dubbed the Comedy of Embarrassment, as popularised by The Office. His work can be politically attuned and socially topical but whimsical, too; he’s already had a series of meetings with Paul Merton towards his next film project, a slapstick comedy.

His calling card on television was The Day Today, a withering parody of television news and its rising tone of baleful hysteria. (“Those were the headlines. Happy now?”) Three series featuring the hapless sports commentator Alan Partridge followed in the mid-1990s, unpicking our clotting indulgence of Z-list celebrities. He made an astonishing series for Channel 4 at the start of this decade, The Armando Iannucci Shows, a set of weird essays on age and mortality. The Thick of It followed in 2005 with its shaky, semi-improvised dissection of treachery in Whitehall. It featured most notably the monstrous Alastair Campbell-derived spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, as played by Peter Capaldi. “I’m a man of principle,” Tucker says in one episode. “I like to know whether I’m lying to save the skin of a tosser or a moron.”

And now, in the time-honoured light entertainment tradition of Man About the House or On The Buses, the sit-com has spawned the feature film spin-off, albeit one of characteristically Iannuccian ambition. In The Loop relocates the dramatis personae of The Thick of It — Tucker, his marginally more offensive Glaswegian sidekick Jamie (“I’m asking nicely but, if necessary, I could come and kidnap you. I do keep a balaclava and gaffer tape in my car.”) and the policy wonk Oliver Reeder — to Washington as the British prime minister is shamelessly silver-tongued into supporting American military intervention in an unspecified sovereign state.

Partly political thriller, partly a treatise on how tiny fish fare in huge ponds, at its heart In The Loop strives to demonstrate that, counter-intuitively, the ineffectual seediness of British politics is more or less the norm around the globe, that behind the gloss of Obama and The West Wing exists a startling quantity of chaos and bluff.

“That was the thing I’d never seen before in films about the American political system,” Iannucci says. “The messy offices and the making-it-up-as-you-go-along aspect of it, the fact that Central American budgets are planned by young men who couldn’t really find the place on a map.

“You know, the average American political strategist is engaged largely in trying to get face-time with his boss. Sometimes they can only manage it by getting a lift home with them. But when they get there, they’re dumped in the street in an affluent area with no public transport. Washington at 10 at night is full of the guys who formulate US foreign policy just walking home in smart suits. Republicans get in early and go home early. Democrats get in late and work late. Once you know someone’s office hours, you can work out their politics.”

Iannucci established all this via research trips to the Pentagon and the CIA’s HQ in Virginia, as well as visits to the United Nations and the Senate. James Gandolfini, formerly Tony Soprano in the classic HBO mafia series and, here, General Miller, occasionally accompanied him. “He even went to the hairdressers in the Pentagon,” Iannucci says, “to make sure he had an authentic general’s cut in the film. He spent two days taking generals out for lunch and asking them if they’d ever killed anyone.”

How Iannucci got the hawks to meet him is another matter; these agencies hardly seem the kind to relish visits by an overly inquisitive Limey post-graduate who abandoned a career in religious academia for comedy. “A lot of people in Washington, especially the ones who were opposed to the war, have moved out or quietly moved into other departments, and those who remain were more than happy to outline what went on,” he says. “A lot of people there feel guilty about letting a mess like Iraq happen. They were quite comfortable helping us do a quite accurate fictional account of the kind of thing that went on.

“But I wasn’t there to do a documentary or bring anybody down. I wanted to know the boring stuff as much as the interesting stuff. It’s fascinating to me that a lot of Washington is run by very intelligent but fairly unstreet-wise 23-year-olds with degrees in Terrorism Strategy Studies.”

The movie was made via BBC Films for the British market, but it received a showing at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah this month and against the odds was signed up for US-wide distribution, thus exposing Iannucci to the full beam of Hollywood ingratiation. “It sounds good, I suppose, but all it really means is that you get a lot of fruit baskets delivered to your hotel,” he says. “I had one friend, a comic, who was lured over to Los Angeles by an agent who assured him he was Truly Phen-om-enal. Then he discovered that the agent thought yoghurt was Truly Phen-om-enal and nachos were Truly Phen-om-enal and that everything on earth, basically, was Truly Phen-om-enal. They’re very difficult people to take completely seriously.”

The flip-side of the adulation has been criticism in a number of Hollywood industry bibles that In The Loop is spectacularly badly timed, conjuring a Bushian era of foreign policy aggression just as the world is moving on. “I really can’t agree with that,” he says. “I think we’ve been lucky with the timing. The sense I got in America is that they want to get it all off their chests. Plus, there is the faintest suspicion there that it could all happen again. Look at Hillary Clinton talking about Iran or President Obama asking Britain for troops for another surge into Afghanistan. I think we’ll find increasingly that business might return to usual. That’s why this is not a film about any particular place at any particular time.”

None of which, incidentally, brings to mind the earliest days of Iannucci’s career, as producer and presenter of BBC Scotland’s No’ The Archie MacPherson Show. “Oh dear, that,” he sighs. “The BBC sent me a bunch of tapes a few years back but I couldn't listen to them. That Armando, I suspect, would have sounded just a little too pleased with himself — although I suppose the present Armando may not be noticeably different in that respect . . .”

In The Loop has its British premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival on Thursday and is on general release from April.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gala premiere for Iannucci comedy
April 01, 2009

Peter Capaldi, Gina McKee, Chris Addison and Armando Iannucci are due to attend the gala premiere of political comedy In The Loop. The foul-mouthed movie is from writer and director Iannucci, whose credits include The Thick of It and The Day Today.

Drawing on "non-specific events", the film centres around the US President and UK Prime Minister who fancy a war, but not everyone agrees. US General Miller (James Gandolfini) does not think it would be a good thing and neither does the British Secretary of State for International Development, Simon Foster (Tom Hollander). But when the mild-mannered minister inadvertently appears to back the war on prime time television, he immediately attracts the attention of the Prime Minister's venomously aggressive communications chief Malcolm Tucker (reprised from The Thick of It by Peter Capaldi), who latches onto him like a hawk.

Foster quickly becomes the plaything of the US and British governments, on the one side with Tucker, on the other by paranoid US Assistant Secretary for Diplomacy Karen Clarke (Mimi Kennedy) and her ambitious intern Liza Weld (Anna Chlumsky). The Minister's Director of Communications Judy (McKee) is left behind in London to deal with an angry constituent (Steve Coogan) and his collapsing garden wall.

The premiere will take place in London.


Apparently the premiere in Glasgow almost 2 months ago wasn't relevant to this reporter. Nothing new there then...
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2009 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The comedian spinning politics
Armando Iannucci’s new film puts him squarely on the red carpet, but after years at the coalface of British comedy why is he so little known?
11th April 2009

YOU COULD, if you were in the mood for parlour games, describe Armando Iannucci as the most important figure in recent British comedy. Yet the great man can still walk down most streets without having his clothes torn from his back.

“I was invited to the Baftas this year,” he tells me. “And I had to enter with all the proper stars. Sharon Stone was ahead of me and the flashing of cameras was really quite alarming. They are all waiting to see who’s getting out of the next car. ‘Oh There’s Graham Norton!’ Then I get out and it’s: ‘Eugh. Who’s that?’”

I’ll tell you who he is. Twenty years ago, Iannucci, a well-spoken Scot of Italian extraction, gathered together an eye-wateringly impressive team of writers and directors to make a radio series called On the Hour . When that show transferred to television as The Day Today it propelled rising stars such as Chris Morris, Steve Coogan and Patrick Marber onto the main stage, but Iannucci, writer and producer, remained in the shadows.

You may have seen his eccentric stand-up. You may have caught sight of him on panel shows or in the bizarrely brilliant TV series Time Trumpet . But his main roles remain those of creator and instigator. Without him there would have been no Alan Partridge.

In 2005, even his biggest fans were impressed when he delivered the deliciously vicious political sitcom The Thick of It . Following the efforts of a cynical press officer – why are you looking so sheepish, Alastair Campbell? – to impose his will on weak-minded ministers, the series owed a giant, acknowledged debt to Yes, Minister.

“No doubt about it,” Iannucci says. “It’s interesting what’s changed, though. In Yes, Minister , the civil servants were the anti-heroes and they were trying to stop things happening. Now they have been pushed aside and it is the political advisers who are making all the running. These days, you almost feel sorry for civil servants.”

Now The Thick of It has been expanded into a terrifically funny, electrifyingly foul-mouthed film called In The Loop. Iannucci writes, produces and directs. It’s not quite a sequel to the series. Peter Capaldi returns as Malcolm Tucker, the merciless quasi-Campbell, but few other characters remain from the TV incarnation. Somewhat confusingly, Chris Addison, who played a sat-upon adviser in the original, plays a different, slightly less sat-upon adviser.

The picture explains how an apparently innocuous remark by a British minister – “War is unforeseeable” – can, in the age of media rapid response, take on an absurdly magnified significance. Malcolm and his team find themselves in Washington where, echoing the WMD debacle, they participate in the launch of an unnecessary war.

“There was a realisation at the time of Katrina that American government was huge, monstrous and shapeless,” he says. “It’s not this grand machine. But you realise when you look closely at government that it isn’t full of idiots or evil men. It’s full of ordinary frail people doing their unsatisfactory best. That’s why things go wrong.”

You know you’ve grown up when you realise the people in charge are not much smarter than the bloke next door.

“That’s right. We had some advice from Joe Biden’s chief of staff. He’s a nice fellow. He’s very good-looking. He’s got a good job. But we were amazed when he told us about going to a function and getting very excited. ‘Bradley Whitford was there,’ he said. ‘Josh from The West Wing .’ We wanted to say: ‘But hang on. You’re the real Josh from the West Wing!’” Despite contributions from properly powerful men and the presence of James Gandolfini as a boorish general, In The Loop retains the same grungy feel that helped make The Thick of It so unique. The camera continues to bounce about the place. The dialogue feels improvised (though it is, in fact, mostly written) and the performances are naturalistically low-key. I wonder whether Armando concerned himself with making the project “cinematic”. I note that, as in the Are You Being Served? movie, the team have gone on holiday.

“Yes. Just like in Holiday on the Buses ,” he laughs.

“That notion of being cinematic did crop up. And I said I am going to roundly ignore it. The differences between TV and film are to do with pace. The comedies I’ve really laughed at – This is Spinal Tap and Airplane!, say – have not been particularly cinematic. I think you have to ignore that temptation to open with a huge crane shot just because you can. That doesn’t make it funnier. In fact it does the reverse.”

The film has already stirred up a satisfactory amount of buzz. Reviewers at the Sundance film festival saw the American sequences as both a comic summation of the Bush years and a warning against future complacency. In the United Kingdom the only significant objections have so far come from none other than Alastair Campbell. Writing in the Guardian , Tony Blair’s former director of communications claimed that the film did not offend him (perish the thought), but that he was rather bored by it.

“I never get too close to these people,” Iannucci says. “I don’t know them. If you do you get to see the nice side of them. Almost everyone is nice deep down. There are a few who are nasty through and through, but not many. The Thick of It is not about that. It’s about alerting people to the consequences of their actions. There was no conspiracy with the WMD thing. It’s just that people were a bit crap at their jobs and, as a result, other people died.”

If things had gone differently Iannucci might have been the one getting an ear-bashing from Campbell. The son of an Italian businessman, he was raised in Glasgow and, for a few brief moments, considered entering the priesthood. Instead he ended up at Oxford where he toyed with a PhD on Paradise Lost . In one moment of idle despair, he made a surprisingly serious effort to secure a position in a high-flying division of the civil service.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he says. “I filled out the forms for the fast track in the civil service. I very nearly got into the treasury. I could have been one of the people introducing the poll tax. At the final interview they said that they didn’t think I’d take it seriously. Fair enough. I have to take my hat off to the treasury. They got that one right. Later on I put the PhD in a drawer too and decided to go for comedy.” Iannucci’s comedy always takes a very singular approach to language.

From The Day Today’s brilliant pastiche of rolling news to the neo-Elizabethan profanity of In the Loop he has found a way of making the most ordinary words suddenly seem disturbingly outlandish. (When I suggest that this might be linked to the fact that he grew up in a house where two languages were spoken he says “he never thought about that”, which is a nice way of saying “what utter rubbish”.) His work is full of phrases that are much funnier than they have any right to be. “I was always somebody who impersonated the teacher at school,” he says. And I always enjoyed writing parodies of writers in college. I realised that I had become interested in how to use language to pull the wool over people’s eyes.” That’s a definition of the spin-doctor’s art.

“Yes. That’s right. You use simple words when the concept under discussion really isn’t that simple. I find something hilarious in an ordinary man talking bollocks.”

THE TEAM THAT CAME TOGETHER for On the Hour still exerts a heavy influence on comedy and culture. The reclusive Chris Morris scared the horses with Brass Eye and Nathan Barley . Patrick Marber packed theatres with Dealer’s Choice and Closer . Steve Coogan continues to be Steve Coogan. Meanwhile Iannucci, now 45, has continued to mastermind some of the oddest and most hilarious shows on television. In recent years, he has been working on a BBC scheme to discover new writers. Is this wise? Does he really want to help the BBC discover the new contenders for his crown?

“Comedians are competitive,” he agrees. “I hate the fact that there are so many awards and competitions. It’s like you are not allowed to have more than one comedian who is any good. If you’re not the hot one then piss off!” He snorts in mock disgust.

“It’s not like that with shoe shops. I mean we don’t allow ourselves just one shoe shop.” Very nicely, very oddly put. It’s like something Armando Iannucci might say.
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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2009 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Comedian sneaks into US State department
Armando Iannucci got past security guards at the US State department in Washington with a pass which "could have been produced by a child", in what he described as "probably international espionage".
08 May 2009

Mr Iannucci was researching his latest film, the US-British political drama 'In the Loop', when he visited the department's headquarters in the Foggy Bottom neighbourhood of the US political capital. The identification he had with him was an amateurish BBC pass with his face show by a print out of a picture of him from the internet. He flashed the card at the guards in the main reception of the building, said he had an appointment and was waved through.

The comedian then spent an hour walking around the building taking photographs, which were later used to help with the set designs for the film. The writer, who also created political satire-cum-farce The Thick Of It for BBC4, said: "I had a terrible, amateur BBC identity pass, with basically my face printed off Google and my name under it. A child could have produced it in 20 seconds. I wandered up to the front reception of the State department and said 'BBC. I'm here for the 12. 30.' They showed me in. I spent an hour wandering round the building with my camera taking photos for our designer. Part of me thought it was fun, another part thought it was probably international espionage."


haha, well done homeland security! Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'I don't despise politicans'
The creator of 'In the Loop' and 'The Thick of It' is one of the funniest men in Britain. Is he also one of the angriest?
Christina Patterson
14 August 2009

If you've ever laughed at Alan Partridge, or The Thick of It, or In the Loop, you should be pleased that chastity's a bit of a challenge. "The poverty I could sort of cope with, actually," says Armando Iannucci, "but the chastity and obedience... I think I just decided that it was a ridiculous career path". Well, thank God for that. Thank God that the man who nearly became a Catholic priest opted instead for the career path of ridicule. For Armando Iannucci, son of a Neapolitan-Glaswegian patrone of a pizza factory – a man whose name, in fact, sounds like a flavour of ice cream – bestrides the world of British comedy like a colossus. He is comedy's God, political satire's messiah.

For a colossus he is, it's true, quite small. He is short and balding, with a big nose, sticky-out ears and dark, glittering eyes. And for a God, he uses the "f-word" really rather a lot. But perhaps he's been influenced by his characters. Malcolm Tucker, the bulgy-eyed, throbbing-veined cluster bomb of invective who exploded on the screen in The Thick of It, and then again in In the Loop, scatters expletives as liberally as the saliva that spurts out of his extremely foul mouth. He scatters them with rhythmic, Rabelaisian, lethal relish. As ruthless spin doctor to a weak-willed prime minister, he is TV's Mr Angry, heir to Basil Fawlty, but with bigger fish to fry than Manuel's pet rat. He has a government to run, for God's sake. A country, and then a war. And he is surrounded by idiotic, obstructive, mindless morons who are getting in his way.

If his creator is less foul-mouthed and less bulgy-eyed, that doesn't make him any less angry. It takes anger to produce satire. Or at least it takes anger to produce satire as biting as In the Loop. Iannucci has been casting a cool, quizzical gaze on the vagaries of our culture since abandoning a PhD on Paradise Lost. Milton would, I think, have approved. He knew, more than anyone, that the devil has all the best tunes. Since his first days in radio, and then telly, Iannucci has been listening out for those tunes, and noting them down. And here, in the besweatered figure of an Alan Partridge, or of a flak-jacketed anchorman in The Day Today, or the bewildered face of a government minister in The Thick of It, they are: the tunes that make the music of a society. Or perhaps its muzak.

The tunes in his journalism – now collected in a book, The Audacity of Hype – vary from the mildly annoying to the janglingly discordant, from Orwell Newspeak ("greenfield opportunities","innovation at the forefront of our strategy") and a fictional Tory manifesto ("the sound of salsa music to be played in small businesses at beginning and end of day"), to a blistering guide to torture ("put on music and scented candles") and a memo from the White House on "Why we must go to war with Iraq by 6pm tonight". Its tonal range, in other words, extends from gentle teasing to serious alarm and absolute, scorching, white-knuckled rage. The white-knuckled rage is about the war in Iraq. It's the one bit of the book that isn't funny at all, and it's what pervades In the Loop.

Which, pretty much everyone has agreed, is very funny indeed. Pretty much everyone, that is, except Alastair Campbell. "I was too bored to be offended," he wrote, in a piece in The Observer, when the film came out. John Prescott, however, wasn't. "About three weeks ago, it came out in America," says Iannucci, who's sprawled on a sofa in the office of the company that distributes In the Loop, "and they put us up in this nice hotel. I was in the lobby and coming out of the lift was John Prescott. And he went, 'Oh, I watched it on the plane, on the way over. That's Alastair, that is!'" Campbell's partner, Fiona Millar, agreed. "They sat Peter Capaldi [who plays Tucker] next to Campbell at a Channel 4 thing," says Iannucci, "and Fiona kept saying, 'It's just like him, you know'."

The bigger question, of course, is not whether Malcolm Tucker is a dead ringer for Alastair Campbell, but whether the hilarious, horrific, hotch-potch of events in the film, which surrounds the lurch of the American and British governments to a war in an unnamed country for no reason other than a whim couched as political expediency, bears much relation to events in "real life". And the consensus appears to be, even from the ones who were involved – especially from the ones who were involved – that it does. "There was a screening in DC," says Iannucci, "and a lot of the Washington insiders came to it, plus some people from the Senate. They laughed all the way through it. But at the end, when we did the questions and answers, it got quite emotional, because they said 'yes, it is exactly like that. And that's how the war started.' "

The war, it's clear, is the thing that has made Iannucci angrier than anything else he's ever written about, and which makes the comedy in the film deadly serious. But Iannucci, for all his wild forays into the surreal, is fundamentally serious. The boy who was educated in Glasgow by Jesuits, and thought of joining them, and who spent several years studying religious poetry, and was reading Hansard from the age of 14, and who was listening to Sibelius when his peers were screaming to the Sex Pistols, and who nearly became a civil servant at the Treasury has, it's clear, a "moral compass" at least as solid (and much less flashed about) than our own dear prime minister's. So where does it come from?

Iannucci wriggles. "I don't know," he says. "I mean, I've always been someone who reads a lot and, you know, been kind of interested. The thing is, I don't find it unusual, it's just how I am. I always grew up feeling a little bit, kind of geeky, and not fashion-conscious. I wore terrible clothes. But as I grew up, I always felt this sort of pressure of which trends to adopt, which look to go for. I was never really into that. So maybe as a result of that I've become a little more attuned to hearing those noises."

Today, it has to be said, he's looking rather smart. "I am," he agrees, "because I was having a photograph taken. Recently I've had to think about it, because we were doing premieres and stuff. I rang the costume woman who does The Thick of It and we went shopping and I bought my first designer suit. Armani. It cost a fortune!" He was, he says, at "some swanky penthouse glass-rooftop-Manhattan-skyline apartment full of beautiful young things" when "someone with a camera and a microphone" actually asked him what he was wearing. "I said 'Armani' and she went 'very nice!' and I was, like, 'Crikey'."

Crikey indeed. If Iannucci, who has been lauded round the world for In the Loop (his first film after many years of telly), and who gets invited to private screenings by Bruce Springsteen, and is now being wooed by Hollywood, is having a taste of the limos and the parties that the BBC can't quite stretch to, I doubt very much that that "crikey" will be dimmed. He lives in Buckinghamshire with his three children and the speech-therapist wife he met at Oxford. His friends are friends from college or his early years in comedy. "Parties!" he says, and those beady eyes say it all. "I just want to be with three or four people, you know, go for a meal." And if Hollywood is calling, Iannucci is clear that it will be on his terms. "I want to concentrate on doing my own projects. I want to be based in the UK."

While his head might appear to float in a cloud of surrealism, his feet are very firmly on the ground. They can't really not be when what you do is comedy, because comedy, perhaps more than any other artform, is about instant failure or success. "If it's not funny," he says, "it's been a waste of time. There isn't a noise that you make during drama that says 'I really like this drama'. Whereas with comedy, it's instant. And you can't argue, you can't say, 'no, you're all wrong'."

Iannucci knows whereof he speaks. His opera, Skin Deep, about plastic surgery, was greeted with bewilderment, and his Channel 4 series, The Armando Iannucci Show, in which he himself performed, was, as he puts it, "more or less slated". "It can be quite stressful" he says, "not knowing what the reaction's going to be. But I've kind of reached the point where I don't want to read all the reviews because otherwise you'll go mad. Also, I'm aware that for each new project, there's a level of expectation. I'm sure with the next film people are going to expect more political satire with lots of swearing."

They can expect it, but they won't get it. What they'll get instead is "a slapstick, really visual, physical comedy" in the vein of Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton. In the meantime, thank goodness, they'll get another series (this time promoted from BBC4 to BBC2) of The Thick of It. The minister replacing Chris Langham (who left the series after serving a prison sentence for downloading child porn) will be a woman, played by Rebecca Front. "We see the process of the pressure she's put under to turn into another politician," explains Iannucci, "but also how we out there start picking on her family life, her relationship with her husband, her kids, what school they go to, and what the public glare does to someone at the centre of that."

It will, in other words, be another clear-eyed look at our political culture and the hypocrisy and hysteria that surrounds it. "The thing is," says Iannucci, "I don't despise politicians. Who'd want that job? Because you can't move or breathe without the press and the public just going 'fuck off, we hate you, but by the way can you just work 24 hours a day to make all our lives better?"

Iannucci, like all successful satirists, has identified the problem. What he doesn't have, of course, is the answer. "That," he says, "is the great privilege. You don't have to produce a document at the end, saying 'and that is my five point plan' ". When pressed, he says that politicians would be saner if they had more time off. He also says that Tony Blair should be prosecuted for manslaughter. And Cameron? The man he describes in his book as "the new patio of politics" and "a bum-faced southern ponce with a tiny washer for a mouth"? "I don't really think," says Iannucci, with a shrug, "that there'll be much difference."

Well, I know who I'd vote for. Armani Armando. Brilliant, serious, proper, moral, thoughtful, perceptive, wise. But in the Frankenstein Through the Looking Glass political culture we've created, the best brains will, alas, remain on the outside. The best we can hope for, it seems, is laughter in the dark.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In The Loop's Armando Iannucci on his favourite comedians
The world as listed by the writer and director

Ed Potton

The big surprise with Armando Iannucci, given the number of dark and twisted comedies that he has directed, written or peformed in, is how damn nice and normal he is. Is this really the man behind the skewed news satire of The Day Today, the sad, suburban celebrity of Alan Partridge and the lavishly profane exhortations of sexual and physical violence that spew from the lips of Westminster spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It? Perhaps the Iannucci I am talking to is a frontman for the real Iannucci, who is concocting his next evil scheme from an underground bunker. Whoever he is, he’s in a fine mood because In the Loop, the cinematic cousin of The Thick of It, in which Tucker and company come up aganst their US counterparts, has had a strong opening in America. He has also just finished a new series of The Thick of It, which this time is going straight to BBC Two rather than BBC Four, a sign that, despite the cool reception for his plastic-surgery opera Skin Deep, his stock is sky-high. He is thrilled about the promotion: “Once you’re happy with something you want as many people as possible to see it.”

Peter Capaldi’s venomous Tucker will, of course, return. Has the character’s cult status affected the way Iannucci writes him? “I don’t know. In the new series we want to show a slightly new dimension to Malcolm, maybe going back to the very raw Malcolm we saw in the first episode.”

Set against the dying throes of New Labour and the resurgence of the Tories, this series will also feature The Day Today veteran Rebecca Front as the latest hapless Minister. “She has never really had any dealings with Malcolm, which is both good and bad because she treats him with a little less respect than he’s used to.”

A self-confessed political geek who pored over Hansard in libraries as a youth in Glasgow, relishes the flimsy line between fact and fiction in his political comedies: “When Alastair Campbell saw In the Loop he said the American scenes had no bearing on reality and mentioned the whole episode of a committee that was given a very dull name but was really the war committee. But that actually happened: Dick Cheney set up this committee called the Office of Future Plans, which was all about looking into the invasion of Iran and Syria.”

He has a couple of writing projects with HBO, one of which is set in the world of internet start-up, “the twenty-something people who before they know it are running one of the biggest companies in the world. Some of them still live with their mums.” But the big screen, he insists, has always been his main target and he is currently storylining a slapstick film: “In the Loop, underneath all the politics and stuff, is fundamentally a screwball comedy. Next I want to do a thing with chases and stupid stunts and fights.”

Name your . . .

Favourite comedians

Billy Connolly We went to the same primary school in Glasgow. We used to listen to his records and repeat them endlessly, although it was a Catholic school and he was frowned upon because he had made fun of the Church. He has this ability to sound like he’s talking to you, like the show you’re getting is a completely off-the-cuff conversation.

Woody Allen He’s what’s driven me to thinking I want to make funny films. I got to interview him three years ago for a magazine and it was really exciting. Because he knew I did comedy we didn’t need to do the small talk, we got right down to the nitty gritty of how you cast and get performances out of people.

Morecambe and Wise Just because they’re hilarious, and you can’t put your finger on why.

Most fascinating politicians

John Prescott I’ve always had a soft spot for Prescott, and I’ve never really bought into the slightly snobby school of comedy that has a go at him for mangling his words and things like that. To get to where he got to you must be intelligent and have a lot of nous. A few weeks ago we were at the same hotel in Washington and he told me he had watched In the Loop on the flight over. He said “I really enjoyed it. That was Alastair!”

William Gladstone Four times Prime Minister and he became more radical the older he got. By the time he was in his eighties it was all about freedom for Ireland and stuff like that. He would have these bouts of illness and take to his bed for weeks, and yet he survived to a ripe old age and kept all his faculties.

David Cameron I do find Cameron interesting. What is really going on there? He’s shedding his old wind turbine thing now, he's got people like Andy Coulson with him, and he’s going more into attack-dog mode. And you wonder whether that swearing on the radio was strategic. I don’t think people are going to not vote for him because he said the word “t***” on the radio.

Most cherished composers

Gustav Mahler When I first got into classical music as a teenager, Mahler was a composer I listened to a lot. He writes these big symphonies that are always very dramatic and intensely emotional, and I suppose there’s an adolescent feel to them in a way.

Josef Haydn As you get older you gravitate towards stuff that you never expected to. Hadyn was a composer who wrote about 104 pieces and you just think he can’t be that good if he’s written so many, and then you listen to them and each one is surprising and eccentric.

Witold Lutoslawski I find a lot of modern music difficult to get into because there’s no pattern or shape to it, and yet I find Lutoslawski’s music fascinating because it can be very beautiful, or harsh, or jokey, or grand. You get a sense of a composer who’s actually very aware of his audience, not trying to alienate them, but nor is he pandering.

Favourite films

The Conversation It’s actually quite a wispy script, it’s more just the unravelling of the story. Gene Hackman is fantastic. I love that: films that are downplayed.

Robert Altman movies I love MASH, Nashville and The Player. He’s a director who rubbed himself out of the picture, not getting in the way of the characters.

Steamboat Bill Jr I’m a big Buster Keaton fan. Extraordinary sight gags; he actually made a building blow away. I love that.


I'm really surprised to see that he went to the same primary school as Billy Connolly. That would have been St.Peter's in Partick. The reason I'm surprised is because Partick at the time was really deprived (slum conditions really) and I always thought he came from a much richer area. That's what I get for thinking.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2009 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's Armando on today's Jonathan Ross radio show. - download

And here's a half hour 'Comedy Hero' documentary about him - download
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