Interview: Actor and producer Nick Moran speaks about Celebrity MasterChef and new Edinburgh Fringe show

Here is my interview with actor and producer Nick Moran. We spoke about his upcoming play Performers at the Edinburgh Fringe, doing Celebrity MasterChef and how he feels about the ongoing BBC gender gap dispute.

So, tell me a bit more about your play Performers at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

What happened is I was attached to a film that Irvine Welsh had written about Alan McGee – the founder of Creation Records. It was a really slow project and was just driving us both mad. Irvine and his writing partner decided to turn it into a play instead at the Fringe. Irvine is such a big star in the Edinburgh circuit. So we organised a read-through with a couple of chaps and suddenly we had it up and running. All green lights. It’s a really rewarding project. It’s just great. I think people are going to love it.

So, is the play sort of based behind the scenes of the Mick Jagger gangster/psychedelic movie Performance?

It’s been great fun doing the research. David Lintoff is an incredibly interesting character. He used to find young waste and stray boys for the Kray twins and the slightly darker members of aristocracy. He was big in the underworld of showbiz but committed suicide a few years after Performance by unusual circumstances. Apparently the Kray twins gave him a big scar on his face. He was really fascinating and real. I didn’t know anything about him. As dark and strange as he was. In real life, Lintoff told real criminals to audition for a part in Performance and we have come up with two fictitious characters based around real people. It’s really funny. Two villains come into a casting audition. It’s hilarious. It’s such a simple but perfect premise.

We will all see you next on Celebrity MasterChef, how was that for you?

It’s been done now. I had a film fall through. I tend to get asked every year to do a show like this but I am usually busy but this time, I had come back from a big holiday and had nothing on the cards and I thought I had to keep myself busy. I got a job in HIX in Soho under a pseudonym and I was getting involved. I wasn’t watching another chef cook, some of the dishes going up were ones that I had done. I approached it as I was doing it as a film. It’s very stressful and not as fun as it seems. I wouldn’t do it again. I don’t think my wife would let me. It was a lot of stress. It’s a competition and I don’t think you learn on it. You show what you already know. You never see someone on there who doesn’t know what they are doing.

Obviously, you starred in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, would you be up for a sequel if Guy Ritchie wanted one?

I don’t know if that will happen. It’s down to Guy. It was fun after Trainspotting 2 was a success. A lot of people from the film haven’t seen each other for a long time. If he could afford Jason Statham now. Guy is my next door neighbour. I see him taking his rubbish out or carrying a baby. We moan about the bin men and those things because we are neighbours.

Guy recently put David Beckham in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and now Harry Styles has had a cameo, do you think these celebrities should be in films?

It is down to the director. I put cameos in my films. It would be very hypocritical of me to comment on it. The only problem is that it can jolt you out of movie if the celebrity is really big. But like Arthur, it is a great big, visual popcorn feast so why not have David Beckham? If it was Shakespeare maybe not. People look for faults. I use cameos and films are better for them. Nothing wrong with it.

Recently the BBC were forced to reveal the salaries of their employees, how do you feel about the gender gaps?

I think there is some easily spun facts. I laughed out loud when I read it. They were trying to make it out that there weren’t sexist. Journalists are always spinning information to serve an opinion they already have. I know the workings of TV and it’s paid in the real world. How much budget the broadcaster has etc. The BBC shouldn’t have been forced to reveal it but it was no surprise. Gary Lineker hosts a show at BBC World which is sold to the world. Everything he says or he presents is his image. And he is not on as much as EU or USA. These are people at the top of their game. The top journalists in the country and the frontline for the BBC. There was nothing ridiculous in there. I want to see what the executives get. They get paid enormous amounts for not doing a lot of work. It was reassuring and what I was expecting.

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Clean Bandit’s Grace Chatto speaks about new album, Neil Milan leaving and working with Elton John

I got the chance to interview the lovely Grace Chatto from Clean Bandit ahead of their MTV Crashes Plymouth festival. Grace spoke to me about what’s next for the band and whether they thought about disbanding when Neil Milan left. The band consists of Grace Chatto, and brothers Jack and Luke Patterson.

The MTV festival is coming up, have you got anything special planned for it?

Um … well … we’re going to be performing all of our hits and all so our new song ‘Disconnect’ we made with Marina and the Diamonds. Louisa Johnson is going to be at the festival too, I’m hoping we’re going to perform our single ‘Tears’ together, which is going to be amazing because we don’t often get to do it with her because she’s on her own schedule and stuff, it’s amazing when we get to meet up and sing it together

Amazing yeah, there must be quite a few people there that you’ve collaborated with in the past, you say you don’t get to meet up with Louisa, is that the same with the others?

Yeah, well, we have two singers who we tour with live and often they sound better than they do on the recording so I’m very happy doing it with them all the time. But it is nice now and then to come together with Jess Glynne, or Zara Larsson, or Sean Paul and it’s just really fun because it like keeps it different. We never know when we’re going to be in the same country and for it to work out. So I’m really excited to do it with Louisa. It just adds a different dimension, it’s quite nostalgic actually – kind of going back to when we made it together.

Is there any musician that you really want to collaborate with?

Um so Bruno Mars is my favourite at the moment, I just think he’s an incredible musician; yeah, I’d really like to do something with him.

Yeah that would be a brilliant collaboration, definitely in my opinion one that you should do. We’ve heard that you’ve worked with Elton John on some stuff, when are we going to hear that?

Oh, good question! I don’t know.  We had a few studio sessions together and made a couple of songs, I’m really excited about them. It’s not finished yet so I’m not sure when they will be, because we’re touring so much at the same time as we’re trying to make songs things just take ages. Yeah, but, we’ve got loads of material to work with so I just need to get in the studio with Jack and go through it all and start producing it because it’s all sort of piano and voice at the moment.

How did that collaboration with Elton John come about? Did you approach him?

Yeah, well I met him at a party … at the Ivor Novello awards a couple of years ago now. And he sang ‘Rather Be’ to me and jack and we couldn’t believe that he knew it! And we’d actually been listening to one of his early albums loads around that time, and it was just amazing to bump into him and hear him singing one of our songs to us. So we thought, “oh my god, it would be amazing to do something together”, we didn’t expect him to say yes and he did and he came into the studio a couple weeks after that and it was just a surreal day, he was so lovely and so, he just had so many ideas flowing immediately and he was playing the piano all day – it was amazing.

I don’t suppose you’d like to get someone like Liam Gallagher or Stormzy on a Clean Bandit song as well because they’re quite big right now?

Um … yeah it would be great to do something with Stormzy. We’ve kind of spoken about it a bit and he seemed up to it at the time. So I’m hoping we can find a time to get together in the studio. Yeah, he’s amazing.

It must be quite difficult arranging everyone’s schedules, like you were saying it’s hard to get everyone in the studio at the same time. That must be the hardest part of it.

Exactly yeah, it’s a nightmare.

But you come out with some great songs so it’s worth the effort I imagine.

Yeah, definitely.

When Neil left were there any thoughts that Clean Bandit would come to an end?

No, no. I mean, to be honest when I started the band ten years ago there were 7 people in it, and gradually everyone was going separate ways, actually, when the first person left in the beginning he was our lead singer and it was at that point that we opened it up to be a kind of collective and so since then there has been so many people involved. There has been loads of violinists and loads of singers, Neil and Jack have been there since the beginning so they’re a very special part of it, but changes just mean new chapters really, there was never any thought that we might stop.

Are you still in contact with Neil?

No not much, we’re just away all the time so I don’t really see any of my friends. Um, yeah, so it’s just been so crazy since ‘Rockabye’ came out actually, we’ve just been travelling all over.

Obviously you’ve got quite a big fan base, what’s the strangest thing a fan has sent you?

Um … when we were in Japan we were given this amazing box with tiny roses in it which were all multicoloured and shaped in our logo and it was so beautiful, but nothing weird or freaky – that was like weird in that it was so beautiful.

Obviously you were at the GQ summer party – how was that?

Yes! The other night! Oh it was fun, it was, I ended up going clubbing with Sean Paul and all of our singers and we saw Louisa Johnson at the party and I was dancing with her and it was so much fun. I didn’t really know who was gonna be there when I went. I went on my own actually, because Jack and Luke were away, and my boyfriend didn’t wanna come so I went on my own and I didn’t really know who I was gonna see, but I saw so many friends and it was really fun. I had a great night.

Are you working on a new song, because obviously you’ve just released a new single, is there a new album coming out?

Yeah!  Well the album, I think early next year, we’re kind of nearly finished with our second album but everything takes so much longer than expected. And we’re working on our next single now, because ‘Symphony’ has been out for a while now so we’re trying to decide which song we’re going to bring out next but we don’t know yet, and we definitely don’t know who’s gonna feature on it because we tend to leave the vocals till last – so yeah we don’t know who’s gonna sing it yet.

That must be exciting for both fans and yourself – never knowing who’s gonna be on it till the last minute.

Yeah, it’s exciting! Maybe we’ll meet someone

Harry Potter Studios brings the magic out of the films

I was invited to attend the new costumes exhibtion at Harry Potter Studios Leavesden and every time I visit there it just get more magical.

Upon hearing the iconic Harry Potter theme song that many people have grown up listening to and wishing they were a wizard, it sends shivers down your spine.

Watching the well-known actors speak before the tour begins shows just how magical the world of Harry Potter is.

The screen then lifts and you’re there. At the entrance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – then the fun begins.

If people haven’t been there before, there is just so much too see. Whether it’s how the made the costumes, hats, props, set designs, creatures, Quidditch – it’s all right there for everyone to enjoy.

At the exhibition, we met with costume designer, Laurent Guinci, who designed many of the costumes worn by the cast including that of Rita Skeeter.

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Also, hair & make-up artists Lisa Tomblin and Amanda Knight demonstrated how Harry’s iconic lightning bolt scar was applied and how the look of Bellatrix LaStrange was created.

Milliner Philip Treacy was also there and allowed guests to try on the Iconic Beauxbatons hat and learn how it was brought from sketch to screen.

One particular new attraction that I found amazingly fun was sitting inside the costume of Professor Slughorn when he turned himself into a chair.

You are able to climb inside and see how actor Jim Broadbent had to do it for the movie.

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Follow my Instagram @steveb4567 to see how I got inside the chair

Travelling around the studios, you can see how Quidditch was brought to life and are able to walk through the latest attraction, the Forbidden Forest, where friendly Buckbeak is there greeting you and the giant spider Aragok is hiding as well.

Then you turn a corner and there it is, the Hogwarts Express, the beautiful, red train that transports Harry and his friends from Platform 9 3/4 to Hogwarts.

There is so much to see at the studios, the Dursley’s house, how Dobby came to life, Diagon Alley, it’s overwhelming.

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At the end of the tour, you do feel sad that the magic is ending but they leave you with the last bit of magic.

The giant sculpture of Hogwarts which was used in the films. As you walk around the theme song is played again and you begin to feel a sense of excitement and sadness.

This collection of books and films brought so many joy to people of all ages and they continue to still do.

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A fantastic tour and definitely worth paying a visit!

 

Spider-Man: Homecoming: Good film but something didn’t fit right

To say the hype for the release of the first ever Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures collaboration was big would be an understatement.

Director: Jon Watts

Writer: Jonathan Goldstein

Starring: Tom Holland, Robert Downey Jr, Marisa Tomei, Zendaya, Micheal Keaton

Running time: 2hrs 15mins

Release: July 7

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been waiting for this day since Tom Holland debuted as the web-slinger in Captain America: Civil War… but something just didn’t feel right.

The film is set after the events of Civil War and follows 15-year-old Peter Parker aka Spider-Man trying all he can to become an Avenger like his mentor Tony Stark aka Iron Man.

While being the ‘Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man’, the hero uncovers a villainous group using alien technology to power up weapons.

Thinking he is an Avenger, Spider-Man sets out to stop the group led by the Vulture and to become part of the infamous group of superheroes.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is probably one of the best web-slinger movies to date – although that’s not difficult – but something about it felt a bit too ‘Avengey’ for me.

I feel there was so much hype around it, it failed to live up to it – similarly to Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was so highly-anticipated that it didn’t have the success the first one had.

The whole premise of the story was Spider-Man trying to become a hero and trying to get Iron Man to actually allow him to be part of the Avengers and that was it.

Although, I know it’s not an origin story and it’s the first time that Marvel has created a standalone hero movie without giving the background to how they got their powers but I feel it was missing out on what makes an origin story great.

Tom Holland was brilliantly cast to play the young web-slinger and fans have already resembled him to that of the comic book character and so right they should.

The character has kept to its comic book origins which was brilliant. However, Aunt May (Tomei) was particularly young.

Maybe I am wrong but I though Aunt May was supposed to be this old woman?

The star of the film had to go to Zendaya. Although playing a minor role, as outsider Michelle, who ocassionaly cropped up every now and then with a one liner or hand gesture, she did steal the show.

She managed to keep the humour that every Marvel film has and it was brilliantly cast and I hope she returns for the sequel.

Although only in the film for short moments, I feel I am getting bored seeing Robert Downey Jr’s take on Iron Man in every Marvel film.

He is becoming the Wolverine of the MCU. I understand why he was in it but I just hope Marvel don’t follow the same footsteps that Fox have down with Hugh Jackman’s character.

One could argue that it should have been Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) who decides who becomes an Avenger but he has been absent from a number of MCU films and the actor himself doesn’t know whether he is set to return for Avengers: Infinity War.

The film did have some nice references to past films including the rebuilding of New York City following the events in the first Avengers film as well as references to Civil War and other MCU characters.

As well, it was visually stunning and the big fight sequence at the end was brilliant but once again, Marvel leaked too much information before this release.

We already know Tom Holland is set to star in Infinity War and that a Spider-Man sequel already has a release date, so it kind of gets a bit boring as you already know the fate of the characters.

Although this review sounds like I am completely slating the film, I thoroughly enjoyed it and as said it is the best Spider-Man film to date (even though I am particularly fond of Amazing Spider-Man).

Overall it is a great film and any fan of the MCU should go and see it. I would happily go see it again too.

Hello Gorgeous: Funny Girl hits all the right notes

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Wales Millennium centre, Cardiff Bay

Starring:
Director – Michael Mayer
Music – Jule Styne

Sheridan Smith – Fanny Brice
Darius Campbell- Nick Arnstein
Joshua Lay – Eddie
Rachel Izen – Mrs Brice
Martin Callaghan – Mr Keeny
Jennifer Harding – Emma Nadler

 

Funny Girl opened to phenomenal requires in London’s Savoy theatre last year, and it soon became a must-see for theatre lovers.

And having seen it only last night in Cardiffs grand Millennium centre, it’s easy to see why.

Funny Girl is a heartbreaking tale of the fiery Fanny Brice, who lives at home in Brooklyn with her mother, convinced she will be ‘the greatest star!’

But she is often reminded, that ‘only pretty girls’ can be stars and she should stick to what she does best – being funny.

And boy, does she!

With her quick wit, two left feet and many quips (my favourite being ‘Paté? I drink it all day) Fanny rises to the top and even bags herself the handsome and charming, gambler Nick Arnstein.
But alas, this is a love story, and how many love stories in theatre have a happy ending? *sigh*

Sheridan Smith who took the starring role, proved she is more than just a great actress who can carry a note.

It’s not easy to try and step into the shoes of the feisty Fanny Brice, especially as we all remember the iconic singer Barbara Streisand taking on the role in 1968.

The supporting cast were just as good and as they broke into song every minute or so, how they kept their energy and enthusiasm all night was commendable.

Joshua Lay, who played the lovable but hapless Eddie, is a talented dancer and the two older women along with Fanny’s mother, played the nosy but caring neighbours who revelled in Fanny’s stardom.

Some cast members’ efforts at the Brooklyn/New York accent were better than others.. But hearing the famous songs such as ‘People’ and ‘Funny Girl’ sing with such passion, made more than up for the dodgy accents.

And ‘Dont rain on my parade!’, the one everyone was waiting for, was just as dynamic as you imagine it to be.

You will laugh and cry at this story, and you’re sure to be singing the songs for hours if not days after l.

Funny Girl is showing in Cardiff until July 8 and before travelling overseas to Dublin on July 11.

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A young Barbara Streisand as Fanny Brice