The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
Kneehigh Theatre's latest production is a loose adaptation of four of Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's original scripts for Steptoe And Son.
This might appeal to a captive audience of sit com aficionados but it leads to a problem in creating a narrative strand.
Director Emma Rice has tried to get around this by creating a third character on the periphery of the action.
As Harold (Dean Nolan) and his father Albert (Mike Shepherd) remain trapped in their cruelly tender relationship, oblivious to the changing world, a woman (Kirsty Woodward) matures from girl to lover to mother.
The passing of time is reflected in the choice of music she plays, from Cliff Richard's saccharine The Young Ones to the menace of the The Rolling Stones's Paint It Black.
This soundtrack is punctuated by the characters occasionally breaking into a dance routine, the incongruity of which not only gives the play some of its funniest sequences but also, when they mime along to Roy Orbison's It's Over, some of its most poignant moments.
Thus the music taps into the emotional heart of the drama, which is especially powerfully conveyed by the physical comedy of Dean Nolan.
Whether he's scooping Albert over his shoulder to dunk his head in the sink or attempting to manoeuvre the rag and bone cart in which they live out of the yard he manages to project desperation and thwarted dreams.
This inherent emotional darkness is echoed in the decision to play out the action in half-light. A large moon shines down on the paraphernalia of a rag and bone yard, with a row of tea bags strung up to dry and a life-size plastic horse.
The attention to detail in recreating the junkyard suggests a genuine affection for the long-running sit-com and its characters. Yet the absence of a strong plotline means that while highly entertaining, it's a play undermined by the lack of a memorable narrative arc.