Thursday, 15 December 2016

Tuesday, 29 November 2016


Star date: 28th November 2016


Hundreds of people packed into Salford University's Maxwell Hall yesterday to hear Maxine Peake, Christopher Eccleston, Sheila Hancock, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Mike Joyce do Radical Readings from Salford's history and struggles.

The top class event was poignant, political and in parts hilarious, with Maxine Peake ending the day by explaining why it's so important to support the Working Class Movement Library... "If we don't learn from the past we end up with a future a bit like we've got now" she said, to thunderous applause. 

Full details here...

Radical Readings at Working Class Movement Library Salford Radical Readings at Working Class Movement Library Salford Radical Readings at Working Class Movement Library Salford 
Radical Readings at Working Class Movement Library Salford Radical Readings at Working Class Movement Library Salford 
click image to enlarge

So Maxine Peake is on stage, trying to get her tongue around a latter day poem by Radical Readings organiser, Royston Futter; a kind of re-working of an AA Milne poem but with added Brexit, Trump and Tories...

...There's a line about Cameron and Osborne but Maxine can't spit it out... "Ossbon...Ossbum...Arsehole" she laughs "They're all arseholes!"

The audience in the packed hall cheers her on. Despite two hours of readings about Salford's past political struggles and humour in misery, the radical spirit is definitely alive today – led by Maxine herself, Christopher Eccleston, Sheila Hancock, Julie Hesmondhalgh and Mike Joyce.

It's a fundraiser for the Working Class Movement Library and these top, top stars have given their time to aid the survival of an institution that archives in artefacts, books, banners and flyers the fights of ordinary people for a better life.

There's loads of readings of descriptions of old Salford society, from Walter Greenwood's `slumdom' stories of Black Bill Douglas and his child slave mill down Whit Lane, to Engels' documenting of the `conditions of the working class', to the opening chapter of Harold Brighouse's Salford-set Hobson's Choice, which is celebrating its centenary this year.

Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peake read extracts from the opening chapter which talks of Salford's "over populated districts" competing with Manchester, and "human beings extraordinarily endowed with the will to live"...

Within the misery of poverty there was also humour, as extracts from the Ewan MacCollautobiography, Journeyman, witness - kids using prize pigs' tails as would-be willies to scare off the girls, and George Drummond, whose work colleagues at Cox's Foundry presented him with a plaque as the `champion farter of Salford 1921'.

Robert Roberts also looms large with A Ragged Schooling recounting the hilarious exploits of kids using Salford's (and the country's) first public library, brought back to life through the vivid narration of the on-stage actors (and ex-Smiths drummer, who's got definite talent as a voice artist).

Then there's the classics of local working class history, with stories of Peterloo, The Chartists and George Orwell's Homage To Catalonia, plus everyone paying homage to Ruth and Eddie Frow, the Library's ace founders.

All in all it was a bit of a perfect, special day – Salford, radicalism and the legends that are Sheila Hancock, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Mike Joyce, Christopher Eccleston and Maxine Peake, who ended the day explaining why it's so, so important to support the Working Class Movement Library...

"If we don't learn from the past we end up with a future a bit like we've got now" she insisted, to thunderous applause. 

*To learn more from the past go to the Mary Quaile Club event at the Working Class Movement Library this Saturday, 3rd December, at 1pm, for a film Looking Back at the Grunwick Strike 1976-1978 plus speakers from the Grunwick 40 Steering Group, and the Durham Teaching Assistants who are facing huge wage cuts and strike action now. See Salford Star article for further details – click here

For more details of the Working Class Movement Library see

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Saturday, 19 November 2016

Meet the unlikely screen star of the last days of coal mining as the demise of an industry is filmed.

Meet Big K, unlikely screen star of the last days of coalmining . Not Kellingley Colliery, which shared that title, but Kevin Rowe, who leads a cast of pitmen in a fly-on-the-coalface TV documentary. 

The Last Miners tells the story of King Coal's demise in Britain, through the closure of the last pit. 

Baccy-chewing Kevin, 55, a chargehand at Kellingley, North ­Yorks, kicks off the drama with a ­characteristically 
flamboyant song at the shaft bottom. 

"Are you ready for the northern calypso?" he asks his workmates. "We are," they chorus.

And off he goes:

"Hey, Mrs Micklethwaite will tha feed ma whippet?

Daylight comes, and I'm still down pit

I go down pub where I drink 10 pints

I think I'm getting plastered

I go back home and I beat my wife

Cos I'm a big fat northern b*****d!"

The lads applaud, and one says: " David Cameron may take our jobs but he can't take our sense of humour."

So starts another day of grafting 800 yards below the surface.

But no amount of hard work will save their jobs. The pit shut on December 18, 2015 – the death-blow of an industry that powered the industrial revolution and once employed more than a million men.

These are the last miners.

Independent film-makers Keo ­Productions were given unprecedented access to these unsung heroes of 
labour – well, they're singing now, louder than pit canaries. 

The story begins five weeks before closure and follows the fortunes of four miners: Kevin, alias "Jonesy", 49, a shift manager; Jack, 23, a fitter; Sheldon, 54, a supervisor and Andy, 22, a surface ­electrician. They're all made redundant, but make a new life for themselves.

Narrated by Christopher Eccleston , The Last Miners follows men riding four miles on a paddy train to the coal face, ripping "the black diamonds" with giant cutting machines and ­tackling ­nightmarish power breakdowns. 

They work in singlets soaked in sweat and shorts, ribboned with day-glo stripes.

The only light is from their headlamps.

Banter is frequent, but interspersed with real anxiety – they have a ­deadline to complete a huge coal cut to pay for their own redundancy.

This was the ­condition of a £4million loan from the Government to keep the pit open for a limited period. The money has to be repaid.

It's their ­determination to reach this production target, and ­commitment to each other, that turns an everyday story of work into a drama.

The documentary is shown on BBC1 in two parts, beginning on Monday. 

"They'll be bored stacking shelves," says Kevin. "These lads, they need some hard graft. It's good for the soul. We'll do it. We don't do the F-word – fail."

It's about the only F-word they don't use. There's no political correctness here.

In the last week of operation, men working the two-metre thick Beeston seam produce 40,000 tonnes of coal worth up to £200million – proof that Kellingley was still a viable pit. As the deadline approaches, the men work 12-hour shifts, and the toil takes its toll.

Ray Whitty, a 63-year-old miner who's worked at Kellingley for 47 years, falls in the shower. It's a heart attack, and he's given CPR by his workmates. Jack, who is quickly on the scene, says: "You could see the life had gone from his eyes."

Ray is taken to hospital, survives, and comes back for the pit's last day. Death is no stranger to these men – Andy's father Gerry died after being buried by 15 tonnes of rock in a roof collapse at Kellingley in 2011 .

Andy, who was training elsewhere in the pit at the time, says: "I always wanted to be a miner." A wall of his home is covered with photos of his dad.

On the last day of the last deep mine, the media are out in force (I was there, too). The miners had mixed feelings.

One says: "It's a shame they couldn't show the same interest about Kellingley when it was open as when it was closing. I don't mind publicity, but we could have been fighting to keep the pit open rather than ­celebrating it closing."

In the locker room, Sheldon passes by a heap of discarded uniforms, a poignant metaphor for the men who wore them and will never wear them again.

"That could be workers on the scrap heap," he observes dolefully.

But there is still a note of defiance.

"Kellingley is history – but the people who worked there are not."

The last piece of coal is carried out from underground, a trophy.

Then the final rites are ­technical: switching off the huge ventilating fans.

Amid emotional goodbyes, the last evening shift is sent home without going down. But it's not over until the fat man sings. Kevin brings down the curtain with another song.

"At the age of 16 years

With my father close to tears

When he swore to God never to send his son to the dark recesses of the mine

Where you're old before your time and the cold dust flies heavy on your lungs.

At the age of 55

I thank God I'm still alive

When the wheel above the hole no longer turns

And they finally close the hole where we fought for years for coal.

Never again will I go down ­underground."

They clap, and cheer, and gather round. They hug, and kiss, and wipe the tears from their eyes. But it's not quite the end of the story. The men start looking for work.

Sheldon is stir-crazy at home. Then, one day the phone rings, and he's got a job as a telecoms ­engineer on the railways.

So, no longer a miner?

"I'll always be a miner," he retorts to an interviewer who should know better. "You'll never take the coal dust out of my lungs."

Jonesy is taken on by a Mercedes dealer. Jack, ­demoralised by months on the dole, moved to County Durham to be with his girlfriend. He finally got a job as an engineer, and is about to become a dad.

Andy works for the National Grid. And after taking time out, Kevin trained as a handyman.

Success stories – if not the kind they sought. But what of the other 435?

Keith Poulson, National Union of \ ­official, says: "At least two thirds have found jobs, mainly manual. Lorry driving, buses, warehousing, but nothing like the industry they were in."

The pit may be gone but its legacy remains – like its twin towers that still dominate the local landscape. Demolition work is under way and the land is scheduled to become housing and industrial development.

Kevin has given up chewing tobacco, and is busy plumbing, laying floors, painting and decorating. "I'm actually loving it at the moment," he says.

Still, I hear a wistful note in the voice of the pit troubadour.

"I really love my new life. But I'd go back to being a miner in a flash – and 99% of the other men would do the same."

That will never happen, and we're all the losers.

  • The Last Miners, which is in two parts, starts on Monday at 9pm, on BBC1.

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Monday, 14 November 2016

Christopher Eccleston to play Oedipus in Radio 3 Anthony Burgess season 

Christopher Eccleston said was 'honoured' to take on the role
Christopher Eccleston is to play Oedipus in a BBC Radio 3 drama marking the centenary of the birth of author and composer Anthony Burgess.

The actor said he was "honoured and proud" to take the lead role in Burgess's "brilliant and daring" version of Sophocles's tragedy.
Oedipus the King will be broadcast on 26 February 2017.
A Radio 3 season will also feature essays from eminent writers about the A Clockwork Orange writer's work.
Burgess's adaptation of Oedipus the King was first performed on stage in the US in 1972, with music from Grammy-winning composer Stanley Silverman.
But it has never been performed in the UK. The new radio version will feature Silverman's score performed by the BBC Philharmonic and Manchester Chamber Choir.
"The celebration of Anthony Burgess in his centenary year forms part of BBC Radio 3's 70th anniversary, as part of our mission to connect audiences with remarkable music and culture," the station's controller Alan Davey said.
"Having one of the UK's leading actors, Christopher Eccleston, playing the title role in the UK premiere of Burgess' Oedipus the King will be a treat for us all."
Born in Manchester on 25 February 1917, Burgess is best known for his dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange, which was adapted into the controversial 1971 film directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Burgess's prolific output included more than 30 novels, 25 works of non-fiction, two volumes of autobiography, three symphonies and more than 150 other musical works. He died in November 1993, aged 76.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Abbie Cornish and Christopher Eccleston join Amma Asante’s Where Hands Touch.

Where Hands Touch

Amma Asante's fulfilled one long-time dream when A United Kingdom opened this year's London Film Festival. With Where Hands Touch, a passion project she's been trying to get off the ground for many years, the writer/director is ticking another box. The period drama has added Abbie Cornish, Christopher Eccleston and The Childhood Of A Leader's young star Tom Sweet to its cast.

Set in 1944 in Berlin, Where Hands Touch's central characters are a biracial German teenager and a Hitler Youth cadet played by The Hunger GamesAmandla Stenberg and George MacKay respectively. The story charts a forbidden love affair blooming amid the dying embers of the Third Reich. 

No word on Cornish, Sweet and Eccleston's exact roles yet, though it wouldn't be a surprise to see the latter channelling some Dark Elf into the part of an equally accursed Nazi.

"I have been an absolute fan of Abbie Cornish and Chris Eccleston for some time," enthuses Asante, "and I am delighted to welcome Tom Sweet to my cast."

The film's shoot gets underway in Belgium this week, with a script written by Asante. Her next film, A United Kingdom, makes its bow in the UK on 25 November. Pick up the new issue of Empire – onsale now – for a panoramic behind-the-scenes photo album of the shoot curated by the director herself.

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Friday, 21 October 2016

Mike Joyce and friends come together to sell T-shirt that will fund trip of a lifetime for Salford youngsters.

Smiths star Mike Joyce has drummed up support from the region’s top actors to launch a T-shirt which will help fund a trip of a lifetime for Salford teenagers. 
A picture he took of fellow band member Morrissey has been embossed on a yellow shirt for Salford Lads Club to sell. 
The image of the group’s singer was taken by Mike on Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, during the Smiths’ tour of the US in 1986.
Actors Maxine Peake, from Bolton , Salford’s Christopher Eccleston, and John Thompson, and Bolton radio presenter Mark Radcliffe, have helped out by doing Morrissey poses in the shirts. 
A limited number of one thousand shirts will be printed to help finance a trip to New York for Lads Club members, which will cost £24,000.
Last year another T-shirt went on sale featuring an image by photographer Stephen Wright, of the band outside the arch at the entrance to Lads Club.
That shirt raised £43,000 profit for the club after sales topped £80,000 and were delivered world-wide.
The new shirt goes on sale today at the club and will be available at a pop up shop at Afflecks Palace in Manchester for a week from Monday.
Leslie Holmes, spokesman for the Club, said: “The idea came about after a visit by Mike Joyce to see the Wall of Names earlier this year. Mike has been here lots of times over the past 10 years, I first met him in 2003 when he came played drums on the balcony of the gym which was live on 6Music.
“He then rehearsed here for a couple of years with a band led by Vinny Peculiar with Andy Rourke, Craig Gannon and managed by Bonehead.
“We started talking about how inspirational the first USA trip had been for young people here that we are planning a second trip, this time to New York.
“Mike said he’d like to help fundraise for this and mentioned he had a photo of Morrissey which he took in 1986 which we might be able to use.
“Over the past few months we have met with Mike and come up with different designs using his photo. We are really pleased with the end product, it’s a much larger design than we have done before but we think it suites the photo, the original is in colour but we have done it like a grainy black and white image and had it printed on a ‘80s faded yellow look t-shirt.
“Mike also said we had a few mutual friends who have been to the club and know about the work that goes on here, so they were keen to be involved. Only turns out that they are great Manc icons.”
The shirts are priced at £20 + post and packaging and £15 from each shirt will go direct to the USA trip and towards future activities for young people at the club.

Tony Martin, general manager at Afflecks, said: “We have been supporting Salford Lads Club for over two years now and are very proud to have raised just over £10,000 during that time. Salford Lads Club Morrissey & Smiths themed products sell well with our shoppers, especially tourists visiting the city.”

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Photo Flash: Christopher Eccleston, Emma Hamilton and Nikki-Amuka Bird Present THE TIME MACHINE.

Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who, Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, Thor), Emma Hamilton (The Tudors, The Musketeers, Mr Selfridge) and Nikki-Amuka Bird (Luther, Quarry, Survivors) open Southbank Centre's 10th London Literature Festival on Wednesday 5 October with a live reading of HG Wells's classic work, The Time Machine, on stage in front of Royal Festival Hall's world-famous organ.

The special adaptation and performance is directed by Cedering Fox of Word Theatre® to mark the 150th anniversary this year of the birth of HG Wells, the father of science fiction. Former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston performs the role of the Time Traveller and leads the cast in a performance which also features music from James McVinnie on Royal Festival Hall's magnificent organ, representing the sounds of the Time Machine.


Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Tardis meets ‘The Time Machine’ - An Interview with Christopher Eccleston.

28 September 2016 Stephanie Brandhuber  | Interviews

The 10th London Literature Festival is taking place from the 5th-10th October at Southbank Centre. The Festival will be featuring a host of incredible events, including a live reading of HG Wells' visionary work 'The Time Machine' by Nikki Amuka-Bird, Emma Hamilton, and the ninth Doctor Who himself, Christopher Eccleston. We sit down with the former Doctor and overall brilliant actor to talk about his love of literature, his favourite roles, and the fun of ageing. 

London Calling: How are you feeling about being one of the three people to take part in the reading of H.G Well's The Time Machine for the opening of the 10th London Literature Festival?
Christopher Eccleston: Well it's a great honour, I'm very excited about it.
LC: What made you want to take part in the Literature Festival?
CE: Well, as a child I fell in love with the film with Rod Taylor. Then as an adult, I studied H.G Wells' short stories as part of my A-Level and it was my favourite part of those studies. I'm fascinated by Wells. I mean, we're living in the future that was, to a certain extent, predicted by him. And it's the 150th anniversary of his birth so it's a double celebration.
LC: The Literature Festival is taking on a sci-fi theme this year. Was the sci-fi aspect of the Festival appealing to you considering your past roles in the sci-fi and fantasy genres? 
CE: I'm not a particular fan of science fiction just for the sake of it. I was attracted to it because of HG Wells. And, any Festival that celebrates literature is going to be attractive to me because I've always been a voracious and very passionate reader. I was a remedial reader at school and then I was given concentrated teaching and I ended up leading my school with the best reading age. I went from remedial to top of the class, so in a sense I found a lot of my confidence as an individual through literature.
LC: That's amazing and certainly shows how powerful literature can be.
CE: I had an extraordinary teacher who was American. I was being taught on almost late-Victorian English literature and she gave me Dr. Seuss. The education of children in America was a very progressive movement at that time. In the 1970s you had Dr. Seuss, you had Sesame Street, and that had a huge impact on my development. It appealed to me in a way that some of the Victoriana I was being fed just didn't.
LC: Considering the broad range of roles and characters you've played over the years, what do you look for in a script when choosing roles to play?
CE: Quality. I grew up watching British television of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, which by and large was writer-led, meaning the writer was the most important person in the process. Consequently, the programmes you watched were extremely well written. And I don't care how good an actor you are, if you don't have the words, you can't do it. So I look for strong writers with a very individual voice. I think dialogue is a huge factor for me when deciding whether to take a role.
LC: Despite such a variety of roles over the years, it doesn't seem like you've done much comedy. Is that something that you might want to do?
CE: Yeah, I mean Maurice in The A Word was my most recent thing on British television, and he certainly had a comedic element. I really enjoyed that and I would like to do more of that, very much.
LC: Speaking of The A Word, which is such a wonderful BBC drama about a young autistic boy, what made you want to take on the role of Maurice, the young boy's grandfather?
CE: Well, I have small children myself and fortunately they are not on the spectrum. But they have friends who are on the spectrum and I have friends whose children are too. It's increasingly a concern for parents and a huge social issue in the way that dementia on the other end of the spectrum is. So in terms of The A word, I liked the way the programme forgrounded a social issue without soapboxing it.  Also, it was very attractive playing the role of Maurice because it's not necessarily a role I'd normally be associated with.
LC: Did it bother you being cast as the grandfather?
CE: Not at all! I mean I'm 53, so I can't play Romeo anymore. Although Maurice is Romeo - that was one of the appeals of the role. Maurice is in his fifties but has an active sex life. We can't leave it all to the kids.
LC: I think it's great that more TV shows are shining a light on the active life of the older generation.
CE: Exactly! I think it gets better as you get older personally.
LC: Well that's good to know! 
CE: You've got a lot to look forward to.
LC: I'm glad to hear that! You also star in the HBO show The Leftovers, and it's having its final season. How do you feel about that coming to a close?
CE: Well, we wrapped this past Friday. We're all very, very sad. We're very proud of the show. The fact is, the first season was not brilliantly reviewed and then we got a second season and we got the best reviews you've ever seen. And yet, still we struggled for viewers. But HBO have been true to their word and let us finish it, and I think we've made a series that's as strong as the second. I'm very excited for it to reach its audience.
LC: Of all the roles you've played, is there one that stands out as your favourite or that you'd like to revisit?
CE: Two really. On stage it was Hamlet at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the television role that I'm most proud of is playing Trevor Hicks in the drama-documentary Hillsborough because as we now know, everything said in that programme has been proven to be true. We made that programme in 1996, the tragedy happened in 1989, and it's taken until 2016 for the Government, the police, the FA and everybody else to come clean. So, playing Trevor was a great challenge and a huge honour.
LC: Do you have a favourite place in London?
CE: Hampstead Heath – I run there, I take my children there, I spend as much time as I possibly can on Hampstead Heath. Long may it prosper!
The 10th London Literature Festival will be taking place from October 5th-10th at Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX. The live reading of The Time Machine featuring Christopher Eccleston will take place on October 5th in the Royal Festival Hall of Southbank Centre. Tickets for this and all of the Literature Festival events can be booked online.

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Sunday, 11 September 2016


Ninth Doctor actor Christopher Eccleston has given a new interview, stating his regrets at not staying in the role of the Doctor longer and speaking again on the reasoning behind his departure.

Speaking with Raf Epstein on 774 ABC Melbourne's Drive, Eccleston says the first series of the returning show was both "badly organised and certainly badly produced," and had it been acknowledged at the time, things would have "turned out differently".


However, Christopher regrets not staying in the role longer.

"There's always regret when you play a role like that because what you do is you… i watched it back and i thought ok, next time don't do this – do that, you know, calibrate the performance. It was kind of tragic for me, that I didn't play him for longer. He's a beautiful character and I have a great deal of professional pride and had I done a second season, there would have been a marked improvement in my performance. I was learning new skills, in terms of playing light comedy. I was not known for light comedy and, again, production did not allow for that."

Eccleston was also critical of the choice of directors for the series:

"It's very important on a first series that you make a very informed and intelligent choice, even if it means breaking the budget, about getting the first director who is going to set the tone for the season, for the way the actors relate and that did not happen. Disaster."

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Thursday, 8 September 2016

South Bank Centre Announces Christopher Eccleston, PJ Harvey and Sarah Pascoe in Lineup for its Coming Literature Season


    Southbank Centre announces Marina Abramovi?, Nikki Amuka-BirdMyAnna BuringChristopher EcclestonPJ Harvey, Sara Pascoe and Slavoj �i�ek as a part of the Autumn/Winter 2016 Literature programme

  • Christopher EcclestonMyAnna Buring and Nikki Amuka-Bird perform a reading of HG Wells' classic The Time Machine on the opening day of the 10th London Literature Festival: Living in Future Times in Royal Festival Hall (5 October)

  • National Poetry Day Live features readings from Mercury Prize-winning artist PJ Harvey. The free annual celebration of the UK's poetry scene has a packed programme of live performances by top poets and free activities (6 October)

  • Louis Theroux's My Scientology Movie screening and exclusive in-person Q&A hosted by comedian Adam Buxton in Royal Festival Hall and broadcast live to over 120 cinemas across the country (10 October)

  • Comedian Sara Pascoe hosts this year's Man Booker Prize Readings, as the 2016 shortlisted authors come together for an evening of readings and conversation (24 October)

  • Eminent Slovenian Philosopher Slavoj �i�ek discusses his new book, Disparities (31 October)

  • Coinciding with the publication of her memoir, Walking Through Walls, world-renowned performance artist Marina Abramovi? reflects on her career spanning five decades in an exclusive London event held in Royal Festival Hall (7 November)

  • Southbank Centre hosts The Forward Prizes for Poetry 2016 on 20 September 2016, and the TS Eliot Prize Readings on 15 January 2017

Ted Hodgkinson, Senior Programmer, Literature and Spoken Word, said: "We're absolutely delighted to announce Christopher EcclestonMyAnna Buring and Nikki Amuka-Bird as the cast of three, reading HG Wells' The Time Machine. The 10th London Literature Festival: Living in Future Times is fast approaching and the performance will be a fantastic way to mark 150 years since the birth of HG Wells and the opening of the festival.

The Autumn/Winter literature programme has something for all literature lovers and ages; from free events taking place on National Poetry Day and an exclusive Q&A with Marina Abramovi? to celebrate the release of her memoirs, to the ever important Forward Prizes, Man Booker Prize Readings and the TS Eliot Prize Readings, celebrating the very best in new poetry and writing."


Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who, Shallow Grave, Elizabeth, Thor) performs the role of the time traveller in a new, specially commissioned adaptation and live reading of HG Wells' classic, The Time Machine, directed by Cedering Fox of WordTheatre®, marking 150 years since HG Wells' birth and the opening of Southbank Centre's 10th London Literature Festival. Eccleston is joined by MyAnna Buring (Doctor Who, Twilight, Downton Abbey, Ripper Street) and Nikki Amuka-Bird (Luther, Quarry, Survivors) to form a cast of three, accompanied by music on the Royal Festival Hall organ from James McVinnie.

This year's London Literature Festival (5 - 16 October 2016) explores the theme Living in Future Times. The festival rediscovers far-sighted classics and examines how we are already living in an era predicted by Science Fiction, celebrating the work of the world's most visionary established and upcoming writers and artists.

The festival includes an array of world-renowned writers, futurologists and transhumanists. The line-up includes John Agard, Riz Ahmed, Naomi Alderman, Margaret Atwood, Kat Banyard, Caroline Bergvall, Lauren Beukes, Malorie Blackman, Hassan Blasim, Teju Cole, Richard Dawkins, Marcus Du Sautoy, Michel Faber, Tom Gauld, Isabel Greenberg, Xiaolu Guo, Etgar Keret, Deborah Levy, Cixin Liu, Eimear McBride, Kei Miller, Caitlin Moran, Paul Morley, Neel Mukherjee, Edna O'Brien, Iain Pears, Nikesh Shukla, Di Speirs, Chimene Suleyman, Louis Theroux, Thomas Thwaites (GoatMan), Louisa Treger, Ed Yong and Alejandro Zambra.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Christopher Eccleston on Drive with Raf Epstein

Christopher Eccleston, star of HBO's The Leftovers, Doctor Who, and endless films, now leads a new BBC drama 'The A Word'. He joins Raf Epstein on 774 ABC Melbourne's Drive program.

'The A Word' screens on BBC First on Sunday evenings at 8.30pm. Learn more at:

This interview aired on 774 ABC Melbourne's Drive with Raf Epstein, broadcasting weekdays 3-6pm AEST.
More Drive:
Listen live:

Monday, 29 August 2016

Chris on Casualty.

Future Doctor Who star Christopher can boast 28 years in the business these days, but Casualty was only his second screen role when he popped up for an episode in 1990.
Christopher played Stephen Hills, a man with HIV in a storyline which sensitively explored the prejudice surrounding the condition at the time.

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Friday, 1 July 2016

Dummy Finger RE 7.

Seems there is more to the dummy finger in Resident Evil 7 & Capcom will tell more soon according to the Abassador email I received today..

#re7 #dummyfinger

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Tuesday, 28 June 2016


Video on the website.

Christopher Eccleston broke down on Good Morning Britain as he revealed he was bullied as a child.

The actor became very emotional when recalling his bullying ordeal when he was at school.

Eccleston appeared on Good Morning Britain to campaign against playground bullying.

He confessed that, while he had been a victim, he was 'ashamed' to have been a bully himself.

The 52-year-old said that being bullied aged five 'really coloured my life'.

'Play time became terror time,' he told hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid.

Christopher Eccleston breaks down talking about being bullied as a five-year-old
(Picture: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock)

'I didn't want to go to school. But this was 1969 on a council estate in Manchester and as I've grown up and thought about that girl, she seemed not as cared for, physically, as some of the other children.

'My thought is "God knows what was going on at home" because there was a sense that this girl was very troubled.

'I was bullied there, and then when I moved up to the Juniors, I was bullied again by a boy.

One of the factors is shame and I could never tell my parents because I grew up in a macho culture.'


EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO MERCHANDISING Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock (5737705ah) Christopher Eccleston 'Good Morning Britain' TV show, London, UK - 28 Jun 2016
The actor became emotional recalling his experiences with bullying as a child (Picture: Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

But it wasn't just the bullying that changed him as Christopher became tearful as he recalled the boy he tormented in school.

'I'm very, very ashamed of it,' he said 'I know his name, I don't know where he is. He was a very sensitive boy.'

When asked if he would like to apologise to the child, Christopher said: 'Of course! Of course!'

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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Christopher Eccleston on Religion, Television, and ‘The Leftovers’.

'The Leftovers' star Christopher Eccleston talks to AwardsDaily TV about the inspirations for his characters and how he wants to work with Ann Dowd.

By @jazztJun 10, 2016
Christopher Eccleston
Van Redin/HBO

Christopher Eccleston discusses HBO's The Leftovers and how the Book of Job inspired his preacher character on the hit show

It's the weekend, and Christopher Eccleston is in town ahead of a panel for HBO's hit drama The Leftovers. He's reading A Childhood: The Biography of Place by Harry Crews and is engrossed in the book after just flying in from the UK. Then, he's about to go to Austin after which he'll head to Australia to shoot the final season of The Leftovers. He will continue to portray the recurring character of Reverend Matt Jamison which has already nabbed him two Critics' Choice Television Awards in addition to a plethora of Emmy buzz.

Christopher Eccleston and I caught up and bonded over being Brits in Los Angeles as well as his love of running around Santa Monica. He's also a massive Manchester United fan, so we got some football talk in while reflecting on season two of The Leftovers. We also discussed what lies ahead for the drama.

AwardsDaily TV: How is The Leftovers season three going?

Christopher Eccleston: It's the final season. I think it's been announced that this is the third and final season. We're doing eight episodes instead of ten, too. Two in Austin and six in Melbourne, Australia. Everybody is getting ready now, some are already out there and some are due to go shoot the final six.

ADTV: Did you read the book before?

CE: I did, yeah. Julian Farino, a director I worked with, gave me the book and said that he thinks HBO is going to do something with it. I read it and really enjoyed it and when the auditions came around, I asked to meet Damon about Matt Jamison, who's about two pages in the novel. I think he was a little like, "Why that character?" I thought that if it was going to be a biblical rapture and a reverend had not been taken, there's a dramatic character. We met in London and he'd probably started on Star Trek 2. We ended up having this huge religious conversation, and he wrote him into it and made him Nora Durst's brother, which is not the case in the novel. He's been a great character to play.

ADTV: He's an interesting character. You got almost an entire episode dedicated to you. Do you like the format of the show?

CE: Me and Carrie [Coon] have been very fortunate because we've both had a standalone episode. I think coming from a British theater background, the idea of an ensemble is not new to me and I've enjoyed that. Obviously, sometimes, you get frustrated because you want to be doing more. But I've enjoyed it very much.

ADTV: How does that challenge you as an actor with this format?

CE: I don't particularly see it as a challenge, I just relish it. Obviously, when you get a standalone episode, I love that responsibility.

ADTV: What's it like working with the two directors? In season one, you had Keith Gordon and in season two you had Nicole Kassell. How does that compare on those two episodes?

CE: This job, for me, has been a little bit magical. We actually started off with Keith because they told who the director was and then he walked on set and I realized that he was a former actor who had given a performance which I had seen when I was about 18 that made me decide to be an actor. He was the lead actor in a film called Christine with John Carpenter writing the script from a Stephen King novel and Keith played a nerd who becomes a psychopath. That performance had a huge impact on me. I was very fortunate because, having been an actor, he's very interested in process and he's very good. Actors can be very fine directors. I was nervous surrounded by an American cast and I was very, very fortunate to get Keith and then it was the same with Nicole. Nicole is a director, she's never acted, but we clicked because she was all about performance and knew exactly what she wanted. I feel like I got the pick of the directors.

ADTV: Do you know your full character's arc yet?

CE: No, and that's been interesting because, obviously theater trained, you always know your beginning, middle, and end. And, in British television, you know your beginning, middle, and end. I think there's an area there where you can get neurotic and paranoid. I've studied American television for a few years and read the book Difficult Men, which goes into detail about how shows such as Mad MenBreaking Bad, and The Sopranoswere made. It goes inside the writer's room and talks about the entire process. What I thought was that I wasn't going to be hassling Damon Lindelof for what I'm going to do because I trust his intelligence. I know he's not going to ask me to do anything stupid. I know he's not going to ask me to do anything that doesn't come from the character and I've enjoyed finding out as I go. I think it's a new way of working, but you have to have an intelligent showrunner on hand. If you're in the hands of someone who's just making it up then you're going to have problems. Some of the things I've felt the character might do, Damon's ended up doing them. There's a strand kind of intuitive process that goes on.

ADTV: So you're on the same page? That's incredible.

CE: It is. And I think it happens a lot. If you look at something like The Sopranos, the writer looked at that lead actor and they understood each other and nudged each other in a certain direction. Damon is really good at reading the actors who are playing these roles and understanding their preoccupations and strengths. It's a fascinating process. The book is called Difficult Men, if you want to look it up.

ADTV: So how did you research for the role of Matt? Did you base him on anyone?

CE: I was entirely lead by the script. I'm not really a research junkie. Damon tells me that after our first meeting, I said to him that if an Episcopalian reverend was not taken in the biblical rapture that that would make a religious man more religious. He claims I said that, but I don't remember saying that. What that clicked into for him, though, was the book of Job, so I know that inside and out. That's been my touchstone for the character and Damon has run parallels with that character throughout. I've had a couple of weird experiences, too, with that. About two years before I'd even read The Leftovers, I was asked to go to Westminster Cathedral for the anniversary celebration of the publication of the King James Bible and I was given a section of Job to read. I read it in front of the, then, Archbishop of Canterbury and it was the section when God turns on Job. Then, a year later, I took my mom to Cornwall on a holiday, my dad had dementia and she having a break, and we walked into this tiny, deserted church and a Bible was open to the book of Job [laughs]. I read it out and my mom's religious and told me I read it very well and I told I had rehearsed it. Then, The Leftovers happened.

ADTV: That's a crazy coincidence.

CE: Job is fascinating. He's the first existential man. I remember being stunned by it. I had never read the Bible. So, I read Job and I quietly in the back of a couple Episcopalian churches when we were in New York for the first season and just observed preachers. But, really, it comes from the script.

ADTV: Were you a religious person growing up? You said your mom was.

CE: I said this to Damon actually and he said that was a very difficult question. At the time, I would definitely have said I was an atheist, but in the intervening years things have happened, good and bad, and I have had more difficulty with absolute Atheism. What about you?

ADTV: I grew up Catholic because my parents are Filipino. I went to Westminster Cathedral, when I was in London, every Sunday. For me, I just needed to be grounded and just have a moment of refocusing.

CE: I was raised Church of England, but was never confirmed, which my mother dislikes to this day. My mother has a very strong faith. We used to go to church. I'd watch my dad say his prayers, but I never really had a conversation with him about religion. My mom's faith seems to have grown more important and deeper as she's moved through life. I admire it because it's a very practical, working class area and the church targets people in the area who are poor. There's a very practical and social function that my mom's church fulfilled.

ADTV: Let's talk about that episode, episode five, which is your dedicated episode. Those scenes with his wife are, would you say, it's a great love affair that they have?

CE: Yeah, I've always thought of it in very romantic terms. I watched my mother care for my father with the dementia and there were parallels there. I thought it was very brave in the opening scenes to see the abuse because he's verbally abusing her, but it's all too human and all too understandable. I've always seen it as a very romantic story. The whole thing is reinforced by Matt's faith and Matt's identification with Job and that this is a test and God is testing him, his faith, and his belief. She is the center of his world.

Christopher EcclestonJanel Moloney as Mary Jamison, Christopher Eccleston as Matt Jamison, Carrie Coon as Nora Durst. Photo: Van Redin/HBO.ADTV: How did the whole of season two just challenge you as an actor?

CE: I think there was a slight change in tone, there was more humor. What we experienced there was Damon, who is very loyal to Tom's vision in the first series, but I think there's a sense that Damon could throw that off, and Tom as well. Tom is being faithful to his own novel, but once that was done, there's a slight change in tone in season two. Damon was doing what Damon's great at: creating original television. Tom Perrotta, I spoke to him a couple of weeks ago, and he said that this has changed his life. The challenges were just to get inside the thoughts and emotions of the character, but it's not that much of a challenge when it's that strongly written, I mean a monkey could do it [laughs] with the writing I've had. You just have to be present and be as truthful as you can. There's no anguish on my part about acting.

ADTV: You've got quite a background. You've done theater, you've done TV, you played Doctor Who for a year, you've got this, and then you've done film as well. Do you have a preference of one over the other?

CE: It's interesting because I never imagined it. I have to say that a lot of my years at the Central School of Speech and Drama, 1983-86, all we thought we'd have was a career in theater. It honestly never occurred to me, even though I watch television drama more than I went to the theater, I never thought I would be a television or film actor. Very naively I thought I'd get a job at the National, theater was my first love. You get the edit as an actor and you get a complete experience when you perform the show, but it's very difficult to make a reasonable living as a theater actor so we do television and film. I would say television over film, I like the immediacy of television and the fact that certainly the television I absorbed as a young man was addressing social issues, for instance I was in Hillsborough, that was an ambition fulfilled for me because I was a piece in British television that actually had some import. I like the pace of television when you're making it and immediate response and broad audience you get.

ADTV: That's the one thing I miss about London that you don't get here, the theater. I'm surprised that there's not a bigger theater culture here.

CE: A lot of the ensemble in The Leftovers are New York theater actors. Ann Dowd and Carrie's from Chicago, and we've had a lot of people with a theater background.

ADTV: I love theater. So what's next for you? You're going to go off back to London then Australia?

CE: End of July I go to Australia until October first and there's a show that I did late last year/early this year called The A Word, which is going on Sundance in July. It was broadcast in Britain in the last couple of months. And I'll be doing a second series of that when I get back. There's two possibilities that I can't curse by mentioning them, but they're not nailed up.

ADTV: It's so weird how TV and all that has changed now because when we were growing up, we had like three channels and then channel four came in.

CE: When I became an actor for television, there was four channels.

ADTV: Now there's so many channels, especially with cable and satellite, and now you've got the opportunity to binge Netflix, which changed everything.

CE: My binge watch was The Sopranos and Breaking Bad. They have been my two ambitions to work in long form American television. They're great shows.

ADTV: I think The Sopranos is one of the best, if not the best show.

CE: You'll enjoy the book [Difficult Men] then because they get right inside the making of that and the whole culture of the writer's room and how it's changed drama.

ADTV: People don't appreciate the creativity or the process that goes into the final product.

CE: I think there might be a documentary about the writer's room and that's what I like to see. There's great stuff in there where the head writer, say Damon Lindelof, and all these writers have to, to a certain extent, become his brain so they find themselves analyzing aspects of his character. Imagine all those alpha male and female writers in a room having to throw their own voice a little bit. There must be huge tensions in it.

ADTV: Is it something you'd like to do?

CE: Oh yeah, but I don't think I have the discipline or the talent to write, but I do find myself reading again and again about the writing process. I'd like to be a fly on the wall in a writer's room.

ADTV: It's hard work. What about directing or producing?

CE: Working with Keith was very interesting because it made me believe, certainly for a performance point of view, that I think I could help actors. I think I'd know how to talk to actors and there's a desire in me to do that. I think if I want to do that, I'll do it, but I'm busy acting at the moment. One day, I would like to take responsibility for a project because I've got a lot of experience now and you learn more from the directors who can't do it than you do from the ones who can.

ADTV: Does Matt catch a break in season three? When will he?

CE: Oh, Matt in season three [laughs]. Obviously, I don't know the whole story. I don't know where he's going to end. I can't imagine Matt [laughs] catching a break any time soon. He's obviously knit up with the whole journey to Australia and has some kind of a relationship with Kevin, Sr. which was brought up in series two, so I'm sure Matt will be enjoying himself.

ADTV: How do you shake him off when you're done?

CE: Very easily, really. He's suffers a great deal, but he's got this remarkable durability which comes from his faith and also from his personality. The fact that he can always, always reinvent himself and always find hope makes him a very rewarding character to play. He's an example really because we all face stuff, don't we.

ADTV: He's a tough guy.

CE: He really is. I've loved him and playing him. I'll miss it.

ADTV: Now, you're off to Australia to film. Have you been before?

CE: I haven't. I shot in New Zealand when we did a film called Jude. I did that 24-hour flight. I've been told Melbourne is a superb city. I think it's going to be really interesting for us to build up a relationship with an Australian crew and see what that dynamic is like. We've had a different crew each time because we were in New York, then Austin, and now Melbourne.

ADTV: Did that move to Austin come as a surprise?

CE: Yeah, and a very welcome one because I fell in love with Austin and the people. It's a great place.

ADTV: It's taking you on a journey.

CE: We shot the pilot in New York summer of 2013 and it was like 90 degrees and we had extras and people fainted. And then we shot through one of the worst New York winters on record the first season. Then, last year, we were in Austin in the summer. We were out in the camp where Matt did all his business in the scorching heat. Now, we finish in Australia in the winter.

Christopher EcclestonChristopher Eccleston as Matt Jamison. Photo: Van Redin/HBO.

ADTV: Well, we love it at AwardsDaily TV. There's a lot of interest in The Leftovers.

CE: It's interesting now that we're ending. I think it's changed the dynamic on set. In an odd way, we've all relaxed because we know the end is in sight. Justin and I had a drink the other night and we were both saying how sad we're going to be. We've all got on and it's been a great example of an ensemble.

ADTV: Do you all hang out together, as well, when you're not working?

CE: It's odd because people are in and out. I think what has been set up is that Justin has set the tone as the leading man. I think his performance hugely underrated and he's a fantastic fellow to work with. When people come in and are nervous, he relaxes them. He really leads us well. That's one of the main things I'll remember, watching him set the tone. When we get a chance, there's a few drinkers and a few non-drinkers.

ADTV: Is there anyone you do want to have a massive scene with?

CE: I think every actor on The Leftovers will name one person in common that we all want a scene with: Ann Dowd. The only exchange Matt and Patty have had is a glare at each other in season one. Everybody wants to work with Ann Dowd. Damon makes jokes about how everybody on the production is in love with Ann Dowd.

ADTV: Something in season three needs to happen where everybody gets one scene with Ann Dowd [laughs].

CE: Me and her have talked about wanting to do theater together and I always want to direct her. We should make it happen.

HBO's The Leftovers season three is currently filming

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