V RADIO ,
Once again Festi ['21] FM will be providing the soundtrack for this year’s Festival and Fringe. Eddie
Gibb picks up the signal.
The valves are warming up and the soup stains being retnoved from dinner jacket lapels as Festival FM prepares to broadcast to Edinburgh again.
The 24-hour. four-week station was set up for the first time last year by former London pirate Kiss FM. which went legitimate after the Home Office scattered a listful of commercial radio licences in the wind. However the Edinburgh-lmsed Festival FM organisers are not overly keen to play up the connection with the impossibly hip London station after suggestions last year that the Kiss posse had simply come up to abuse Edinburgh‘s hospitality for
‘People were asking why it had to be a London lot organising the station.’ Festival FM spokeswoman Celeste Neill says. ‘Last year we were aimed mainly at tourists but we realised we should be catering for
the Edinburgh market too.‘
This year the station hopes to avoid accusations of London bias by recruiting over 2()() local volunteers to help run the station. An appeal for presenters elicited a huge response. according to Neill. despite the fact that the two-hour open slot starts at an unsociable 5am. ‘The people are desperate to get into broadcasting and they could find that this is a good
stepping stone.‘ Neill says.
The graveyard shift on Festival FM is clearly regarded as a more promising step towards the professionalism of. say. Bruno Brook's than the more usual route of playing endless requests for the Birdy Song on hospital radio. As we speak. station managers are using the training facilities at Telford College to teach the volunteers the basics of radio
cheerful at all times.
presenting. Presumably this will include lessons in essential radio skills like playing records at the wrong speed. talking over intros even after the singer has started the first verse and sounding unfeasibly
Festival FM is further ensuring that the station is not overrun by London media types by broadcasting two five-minute segments recorded daily at the City Cafe. the watering hole of choice for indigenous trendies. The station‘s roving reporters will be attempting to prise lips from necks of imported lager bottles long enough for regulars to offer their views on a variety of topics unrelated to the Festival.
After her success last year presenting The [Morning .’l_/i(’l', Jo Brand is reprising her role as Festival FM's Steve Wright. ﬂanked by Manchester dub poet Lemn Sissay and Musselburgh-born stand-up Rhona Cameron. ()ther regulars will include Jenny Eclair. Hattie l‘layridge and Lynn Ferguson. with famed Edinburgh DJ Fred Deakin in charge ofthc playlist.
Festival FM disc-spinner and host Jo Brand
‘lt will be a quarter indie. a quarter dance. with a percentage of world music to reflect the Festival‘s international nature.‘ Deakin says. Indie bands like the Boo Radleys and BMX Bandits are expected to be guests with Edinburgh ravers Fini Tribe hosting a pre-club warm—up session most nights.
Festival FM organisers are claiming a first with Fruit Sundae. a lesbian and gay show fronted by loud-mouth American stand-up Lea De Laria (aka Muff Diva). Her show will feature regular guests from the Edinburgh scene with Fringe campers like Julian Clary expected to drop in.
Meanwhile. Festival FM’s sponsor Tag (makers of the expensive beer not the expensive diving watches). are finalising arrangements for an open-air patty called Acropolis to be staged on Calton Hill.
Testing. testing . . . this is Edinburgh calling.
Festival I’M begins broadcasting on /()().4I"Mfrnm 8 August and I'llIlS‘nt'fntll' weeks.
Three of a kind
BBC drama chiefs are a touch flustered at the moment, in the wake of disastrous showings for their last season of popular drama offerings. With series like Westbeach, The Biff- llaff Element and Strathblair failing to pick up the mass audiences hoped for, the plan seems to be to tempt some of the artier BBGZ set into adjusting their
Billy Roche's Poor Beast In The Rain
talents for a wider audience.
The results won’t be seen for a year or two yet, but 8862’s commitment to innovative drama is underlined by The
Wexford Trilogy, a direct-to-screen adaptation of Billy Roche’s lrish stage plays set in the small Southern Irish town.
The Wexford Trilogy was performed to critical acclaim at london’s Bush Theatre last autumn, and the original cast (including A Time To Dance star nervla ltirwan) has been retained for the TV production. It’s an unusual occurrence to adapt a stage production so faithfully, but Roche is in no doubt that his scripts will translate as effectively to the small screen as they did to the stage. ‘The camera seems to love every one of them,’ says the writer, who cites Elvis Presley and James Dean as influences,
rather than any contemporary dramatist.
The three plays, Poor Beast In The Rain, A Handful Of Stars and Belfry, are character-driven tales of vulnerability, pretension and thwarted ambition with plenty of colourful dialogue, comedy and pathos redolent of a small-town Roddy Doyle. Although the Irish setting and local colour are used to pin down the narrative, the themes are universal. ‘Life is life,’ says Roche, ‘no matter where you live or what accent you speak with.’ (Tom Lappin).
The Wexford Trilogy begins with Poor Beast In The Rain on Saturday 31 July at 9pm.
The List 30 Julv—lZ August “)93 51