Wednesday 30 April 2014


Bob Hoskins, one of Britain's unforgettable character actors on stage, TV and film passed away yesterday at the age of 71.

Eighteen years ago, in October 1996, I interviewed Bob Hoskins at Bristol Old Vic when he was appearing in Jon Marans' play, Old Wicked Songs, prior to its transfer to the Gielgud Theatre in London.

This harrowing drama focused on the relationship between a Viennese music professor in his late-50s, Professor Josef Mashkan and his newly acquired student, Stephen Hoffman, a 25-year-old pianist who, at one time, was considered to be a prodigy in his field, but suffers from severe burn out and has not been performing for a year.

Though initially reluctant to do the interview, Mr Hoskins, relaxed sufficiently to talk memorably not just about Old Wicked Songs but also The Long Good Friday, Pennies From Heaven, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, what made him tick and his self-declared 'talent for loneliness".

I think it's a cracking encounter... I hope you enjoy it as a memory of a fascianting character and a great actor... 

Bob Hoskins
26 October 1942 – 29 April 2014

Monday 28 April 2014


I recently blogged some of my adolescent cartoons, but my – largely benign – caricatures of actors and celebrities were not necessarily typical of the drawings I made at the time.

There were also a number of drawings that reflected a decidedly darker mood – AND the influence of my graphic art heroes, Messrs Scarfe and Steadman, such as this drawing entitled...


Not sure that my view has changed much over the intervening forty-odd years...

Monday 21 April 2014


Easter takes one hop nearer to its inevitable Christmasization...

Along with yellow paper crowns there were 'mottoes' with eggs-cruciating punning jokes (or, I should say, 'yolkes') such as...

Q: How does a soggy bunny get dry?
A: He uses a hare dryer!

Now, I bet that really cracked you up!

Some, people, it should be noted, really enjoyed them – as you can see from buttons' blog!

Sunday 20 April 2014


Stained glass window in Honor Oak Crematorium, London
Photo: David Weeks

Saturday 19 April 2014


Click image to enlarge

Stained glass window by W T Carter Shapland in St John the Divine, Kennington, South-east London

Photographed by David Weeks © 2013

Friday 18 April 2014


Click to enlarge

The Three Crosses – Etching and dry-point painting by Rembrandt van Rijn 

About the picture

Thursday 17 April 2014


Dragons a-plenty!

And not just dragons, but also walking trees, robotic warriors, flying fish, floating cities, machineries of war and a host of other marvels and monstrosities!

I am referring the strangely wondrous worlds of fantasy artist Ian Miller, whose extraordinary visions are celebrated in a new book, The Art of Ian Miller, to which I had the singular honour of contributing a foreword...

A modern master of pen-and-inkery, Ian Miller is a true child of Albrecht Durer, Gustav Dore and Hieronymus Bosch and he has used this exceptional skill to illuminate the dreams and nightmares of such authors as Ray Bradbury, H P Lovecraft, Philip K Dick, Mervyn Peake and J R R Tolkien whose The Lord of the Rings here provides the artist with an opportunity to depict Treebeard and the Ents destroying Saruman's stronghold, Isengard...

 Here a few more striking images from this electrifying portfolio...


Written by Ian Miller and Tom Whyte, The Art of Ian Miller is available from Titan Books as a trade edition and as a limited edition in slip-case with a signed print. For full details Click here

And you can visit Ian Miller's website here

Friday 11 April 2014


As you probably know, I am currently grappling with a six-part radio adaptation of T H White's Arthurian romance and like the legends of King Arthur, every generation seems to acquires its own Robin Hood: Douglas Fairbanks, Errol Flynn, Richard Todd, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe or their small screen counterparts like Richard Greene (left) who, in ITV's The Adventures of Robin Hood between 1955-1960, started my life-long obsession with men in tights!

With a band of outlaws who included Archie Duncan as Little John, Alexander Guage as Friar Tuck and Bernadette O'Farrell (and later Patricia Driscoll) as Maid Marian and with cameos from such later-film-and-TV-stars as Robert Shaw, Patrick Troughton, Jane Asher, Leo McKern, Joan Sims, Paul Eddington, Harry H Corbett and Wilfred Brambell, Greene swashbuckled his way through 145 episodes of wrong-righting and derring-do.

The theme song was on every kid's lips, mine included...

Those 30-minute black-and-white adventures so fired my imagination (and those of my contemporaries) that Robin Hood became our chief playtime game at primary school which, since I was then living in what was comparative countryside, meant that we played it among the trees, bushes and undergrowth of the un-walled, un-gated school grounds. Those were the days...

I have to admit that I was instrumental in organising these games: devising scenarios and designating roles and it tells you a lot about me that I cast myself not as Robin Hood but as the Sheriff of Nottingham!

With my school mac thrown over my shoulders and buttoned under the chin to form a cloak, I modelled my portrayal on that of Alan Wheatley who played Richard Greene's nemesis with a cold, softly-spoken sneering menace that also had about it, I now realise, more than a touch of theatrical camp!

My prize possessions, aged 6, were my collection of Robin Hood sweet cigarette cards and my first Robin Hood Annual. Although the latter was long ago lost (when my late mother purged my annuals and gave them to a cousin) I can still turn the pages in my mind's-eye.

As for my set of plastic Robin Hood figures collected from packets of Kellogg's cereal (and equally thoughtlessly disposed of), they were so precious that when, a year or two back, a set turned up in a book-dealer's catalogue, I simply had to buy them...

Anyway, all this is but an excuse for me to give you a chance to hear another vintage Sibley radio programme, Robin Hood: Back to the Greenwood. It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Kaleidoscope on 16 February 1991, the year that two new Robins – Kevin Costner and Patrick Bergin donned the Lincoln green to make their cinematic debuts.

Contributors to the programme include: Sean Connery, Alan Frank, John Irvin, Richard Lester, Mike McShane, Jeffrey Richards, Patrick Bergin and Richard Todd...

This blog post is, in part, reprinted from an earlier post in November 2006.

Saturday 5 April 2014


After such nice comments on my recent posting of adolescent Sibley caricatures, here are a few more – though for some of them you need to be quite old to be able to recognise the subjects!

Sci-Fi/Fantasy author (The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451 etc) Ray Bradbury...

Writer and poet, Edith Sitwell...

Character actor, Robert Morley...

Character actor, writer and teddy bear aficionado, Peter Bull...

And two more teddy-fanciers: comic Richard Hearne ('Mr Pastry')...

And Elvis Presley...

Tuesday 1 April 2014


For your listening enjoyment, here is a rare vintage radio programme from my personal archive.

Originally broadcast thirty-four years ago today on BBC Radio 3, The Coming Tide is a thirty-minute portrait of the much neglected poet, Brian Alexander, presented by Professor Christopher Ricks with contributions from, among others, novelist Kingsley Amis, broadcaster and critic Michael Billington and poet George McBeth. With Brian Alexander's poems read by James Bolam...

Photo: © John Gravett.