The Weekly Noticias (6): Show No.6 – 28th June 2017

Here’s a link below to the podcast of Show No.6 of The Weekly Noticias, hosted by me and broadcast on Weds 28th June 2017 on Radio Kanal Barcelona, with guests Xavier Castells, Chris Groves, Tori Sparks, Andrea Moreno, Jon Groves, Viveka Nilsson, Henk Cortier Victor Palomo.

In the show, questions come up about: San Juan, Thomas Jefferson & 4th July, The New York Times (Mariano Rajoy & the Catalan Referendum), the Spanish Women’s Basketball Team, Feliciano Lopez, Salvador Dali, the water in Majorca, Belgian beer, Jeremy ‘Jezza’ Corbyn, Glastonbury, wrinklies, moustaches, sharks, Theresa May & the DUP, Justin Trudeau, rainbow flags & socks, a fool and his money, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Mel Brooks, sewers and breweries, as well as the world’s ugliest dog – which happens to be a Neapolitan Mastiff called Martha, weighing 57Kg.

Follow The Weekly Noticias on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTubeMixcloud, Soundcloud, iTunes and iVoox … and soon on TV. In the meantime, sit back, have a glass of wine, listen to the sixth show’s podcast via Soundcloud right here, and enjoy:

The Weekly Noticias (5): Show No.5 – 21st June 2017

Here’s a link below to the podcast of Show No.5 of The Weekly Noticias, hosted by me and broadcast on Weds 21st June 2017 on Radio Kanal Barcelona, with guests Xavier Castells, Chris Groves, Frida Palsson, Fred Fairbrass from Right Said FredJon Groves Viveka Nilsson.

In between alot of I’m-Too-Sexy banter between our Swedish Bond-girl and pop-icon guests, questions also come up about Emmanuel Macron, Mariano Rajoy, Helmut Kohl, David Davis, Michael Barnier, Brexit, Leonardo DiCaprio, Prince Philip, Donald Trump, Cuba, Cristiano Ronaldo, Deeply Dippy lyrics, heatwaves, James Bond, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, how speaking French can cure a blinking disease, and how you say ‘a near miss doesn’t kill a hare’ in Swedish. Believe it or not, Xavi Castells also comes up with a sentence using all terms from the week’s new ‘Word Wheel’: heatwave, blink, delinquent, grotesque, tantrum, hare & tomorrow.

Follow The Weekly Noticias on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTubeMixcloud, Soundcloud, iTunes and iVoox … and soon on TV. In the meantime, sit back, have a glass of wine, listen to the fifth show’s podcast via Soundcloud right here, and enjoy:

El Punt-Avui TV (8) – Pro-indy flags & ballot boxes are ‘illicit material’ … but not Lord Buckethead.

I was invited back on ‘The English Hour’ again on El Punt-Avui TV this afternoon, a local Barcelona TV channel, hosted by Matthew Tree, alongside two other guests, Daniel Kahl and Louis Lemkow. Poor Daniel explained how he’d been banned from a Madrid football stadium simply for carrying a pro-independence Catalan flag. We then discussed how Catalan officials are being charged with ‘disobedience’ for buying ballot boxes … deemed as ‘illicit material’. And if all that isn’t ‘Monty Pythonesque’ enough, we then turned our attention to the UK elections, Lord Buckethead, Theresa May, and her shaky alliance with the anti-gay, anti-abortion, non-dinosaur-believing Democratic Unionist Party. Here’s the link: El Punt-Avui TV (8).

Here are some links to previous appearances on the same programme:

El Punt-Avui TV (7)

El Punt-Avui TV (6)

El Punt-Avui TV (5)

El Punt-Avui TV (4)

El Punt-Avui TV (3)

El Punt-Avui TV (2)

El Punt-Avui TV (1)

The Weekly Noticias (4): Show No.4 – 14th June 2017

Here’s a link below to the podcast of Show No.4 of The Weekly Noticias, hosted by me and broadcast on Weds 14th June 2017 on Radio Kanal Barcelona, with guests Xavier Castells, Chris Groves, Adam Fields, Lara Selva, Jon Groves Viveka Nilsson.

In the show, questions come up about: Pep Guardiola, Carles Puigdemont, Mariano Rajoy, Theresa May, the Monster Raving Loony Party, Lionel Messi, Rafael Nadal, Banco Popular, Adnan Khashoggi, manspreading, Batman, Marbella Council, the Interior Ministry of Spain, Melania & Barron Trump, Jerome K Jerome, Captain Bligh, why hedgehogs cross the road, how fast hippos can run, and what the girl oyster said to the boy oyster … among many other topics. Believe it or not, the guests also try to make a coherent sentence using all of the following words & phrases: hung parliament, manspreading, camp, queue, Tweet storm, yield & mutiny.

Follow The Weekly Noticias on FacebookTwitter, InstagramYouTubeMixcloud, Soundcloud and iVoox … and soon on TV. In the meantime, sit back, have a glass of wine, listen to the fourth show’s podcast via Soundcloud right here, and enjoy:

 

Letter from Barcelona (11): ‘We Catalans are victims of political persecution,’ says Pep Guardiola. Did you hear that, Mr.Rajoy?

My Spanish isn’t perfect, but I’m seriously worried about Mariano Rajoy’s English. Despite every British newspaper headline of the past two days lampooning Theresa May’s disastrous election results (‘She’s had her chips’ from The Sun; ‘May stares into the abyss’ from The Times; ‘Coalition of Crackpots’ from The Daily Mirror; & ‘Bloody Idiot’ from The New European being among the best), Rajoy took it upon himself to Tweet a message of congratulations to May for her ‘victory’. Congratulations? To Theresa? That must have cheered her up. The ‘Queen of Denial’ is what the London Evening Standard put as their headline alongside Mrs.May … and Rajoy himself must be the king (or prince) of denial, too.

This is the man (as summarised brilliantly on The Weekly Noticias), who only wanted to testify by videoconference in the corruption case of Gurtel because to go to court requires a 23km journey. But travelling 1,968km to Cardiff for the Champions League Final was no problem at all …

Rajoy has certainly kept his head in the sand on all matters relating to his government’s corruption scandals – and he’s also denied the Catalans any dialogue at all in relation to their request for a referendum. I’ve written about this before, for The New European, and also in a blog here and here, among others.

Today, however, in the centre of Barcelona, and in front of a crowd of many thousands, I’m hoping that Rajoy will have at least received a transcript of Pep Guardiola’s impassioned speech, delivered in Spanish, Catalan and excellent English, calling on the international community ‘to stand by us in defending the rights that are under threat today in Catalonia, such as freedom of political expression and the right to vote. To face up to the abuses of an authoritarian state.’

This is serious stuff, Mr.Rajoy. On top of all the corruption scandals that have ties to your Partido Popular, this is also a terrible image for Spain. Stop sending Tweets of congratulations to Theresa May, as she’s not going to be in power for much longer. Sort out the issues in Spain. And in the words of Pep Guardiola, stop ‘politically persecuting’ the Catalans. Let them vote.

Here is Pep Guardiola’s speech in full. Strong words:

“We are here today to make it clear that on 1 October we are going to vote in a referendum to decide our future. We will vote even though the Spanish state doesn’t want us to. We have tried to reach an agreement 18 times and the answer has always been “No”. With this response, they are ignoring the support for a referendum of 80% of the population, and showing contempt for the large majority in favour of it in Catalonia’s Parliament. We have no other solution. The only possible answer is to vote. Today, we Catalans are victims of a state that is carrying out political persecution unworthy of a twenty-first century European democracy. An interior minister who conspires to destroy our health system; political police units that fabricate false evidence against our political leaders; banning from office and prosecution against the President of the Catalan Government for having held a ballot. We all know about the attempts to destroy the Catalan school system, a foundation of our social cohesion. And the blockage on investments in our infrastructure, such as ports, airports or railways. Today Spain even persecutes political debate. This threat affects all democrats: the Catalan government, the parliament, the president of parliament and her deputies. Even our civil servants and business people are being pressurised by the prosecution service and the judicial police. This is unheard of and democratically unsustainable. This scandalous political situation can only be responded to with more democracy. For that reason we call on the international community to help us. We appeal to all democrats — in Europe and around the world — to stand by us in defending the rights that are under threat today in Catalonia, such as freedom of political expression and the right to vote. To face up to the abuses of an authoritarian state. We Catalans are going to vote this 1 October.”

The Weekly Noticias (3): Show No.3 – 7th June 2017

Here’s a link below to the podcast of Show No.3 of The Weekly Noticias, first broadcast on Weds 7th June 2017 on Radio Kanal Barcelona, with guests Xavier Castells, Chris Groves, Steve O’Brien, Silvia Sparks and Jon Groves.

In the show, questions come up about: Carles Puigdemont, Mariano Rajoy (and the distance between Madrid and Cardiff), Zinedine Zidane, Girona Football Club, Don Quixote, Terry Gilliam, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Donald Trump, Ariana Grande, Millwall, silent pavements, covfefe, Sadiq Khan, sick tourists, Benidorm nightclubs, Manuela Carmena, same-sex traffic lights, Spanish proverbs & tongue-twisters, and what you call a pig that does karate …

Follow The Weekly Noticias on FacebookTwitter, InstagramYouTubeMixcloud, Soundcloud and iVoox … and soon on TV. In the meantime, sit back, have a glass of wine, listen to the third show’s podcast via Soundcloud right here, and enjoy:

 

The Weekly Noticias (2): Show No.2 – 31st May 2017

Here’s a link below to the podcast of Show No.2 of The Weekly Noticias, first broadcast on Weds 31st May 2017 on Radio Kanal Barcelona, with guests Xavier Castells, Chris Groves, Stephanie Figueira, Viveka Nilsson, Jon Groves and Francis Wardley.

In the show, questions come up about: Pablo Iglesias, Mariano Rajoy, Manuel Noriega, Juana Escudero, Spanish taxi drivers, Sgt.Pepper, the Prime Ministers of Montenegro and Luxembourg, Melania Trump, British Airways, Tiger Woods, Sofia Coppola, Spanish proverbs, the modern zip, ABBA, famous Canadians, and in what US State it is (still) illegal to have oral sex with a chicken …

Follow The Weekly Noticias on Twitter, YouTube & Mixcloud … and soon on TV. In the meantime, sit back, have a glass of wine, listen to the second show’s podcast right here:

The Weekly Noticias (1): The launch show – 24th May 2017

So here it is, a link below to the podcast of the launch show of The Weekly Noticias. This is a new weekly radio show that I’m hosting, and I’m told it will be ‘pronto’ on TV (whatever that means). It aims to be a weekly round-up of the news, mainly from Spain, in English with bits of Spanglish thrown in – in a fast, fun, furious, quiz-show format. We’re aiming for it to be a great platform for Spanish and Catalan comedians to practise their English, alongside celebrities, journalists, politicians, international guests, and in fact anyone else who dares to come on the show. We have a great production team behind us, too – so please ‘like’ the Facebook page, and follow us on Twitter, share the weekly podcasts and videos (coming soon), and get in touch if you’d like to appear on the show. We’d love to hear from you.

This launch show was first broadcast on Weds 24th May 2017 on Radio Kanal Barcelona, with guests Xavier Castells, Chris Groves, Carrie Frais, Gemma Louise Poole, Jon Groves and Francis Wardley. With thanks to Viveka NilssonKatrina Logie & ‘People on the Grid’, – and to Alex and Lola at RKB.

In the show, questions came up about: Pedro Sanchez, Manuela Carmena, Real Madrid, Donald Trump, Bong Joon-Ho, Julian Assange, cruising, Jean-Claude Juncker, Barcelona airport, good deeds and Spanish vocabulary, Bob Dylan and Al Pacino, There’s also some great music from The Clash, Alle Farben & Graham Candy, and the 5th Dimension. Sit back, have a glass of wine, listen to it all and enjoy. Here’s the podcast:

Letter from Barcelona (10): Never, ever give up …

I first had an idea for a film 29 years ago – in February 1988. I’d just moved to Madrid, but I had no idea how to write a screenplay. Nor did I have a computer, or a laptop, let alone ‘Final Draft’, the scriptwriters’ software. So I simply started to write ideas about the film in notebooks, as if I was writing sporadic scenes for a play. Then I bought an old typewriter from the Rastro, and I typed up the first sequences (I’ve still got them), but I never got much further as my magazine day job took over my life, at least for that next decade in Madrid. A sub-plot for the film revolved around a kidnapping, and it was also set in the art world. I envisaged the film as a comedy, or romantic comedy. As I was lucky to live opposite the Prado Museum in Madrid, I would often go there and make detailed notes about a specific painting by Goya, and how I would rob it (for my film script, obviously). And this is true, too (it’s in the book I wrote about Madrid), and I think it was in 1990: I caught sight of Pedro Almodóvar in a club called Villa Rosa one night, just off the Plaza Santa Ana. I’d had a few drinks. Actually, I was swaying. I started to approach him, to tell him about my film idea, but someone stopped me – which was probably just as well. The reason I mention all this is because that’s how obsessed I was with the film … 29 years ago.

Finally, in August 1998 (10 years later), with the help of a book by Viki King, called ‘How To Write a Screenplay in 21 Days’, I wrote my first draft of a full-length screenplay … in 21 days. I wrote it in pencil, longhand, on 120 pages of a WH Smith A4 lined ‘refill pad’ – and, yes, I’ve still got it. I wrote it fast, using Viki King’s ‘inner movie method’, completing 5 or 6 pages a day, and without re-reading anything written the day before. I wrote it whilst sitting beside a swimming pool at a holiday villa we’d rented in Mallorca, in snatched moments when not playing sharks in the pool with the kids. My original title for the script was, ‘Until The Cows Come Home.’

I felt great once I’d written it, but then I didn’t do anything with it for 2 years. The day job got in the way again. In April 2000, however, aged 40, I invested in Final Draft software and finally re-wrote the pencil draft onto a laptop in screenplay format. My original idea was to try and sell the screenplay to a producer or a film studio (I was pretty naïve) – and over the next 18 months, guided by a film/literary agent, I re-wrote the script about 8 or 9 times, and we sent it off to various producers in London and Los Angeles, rarely receiving anything more than a ‘thanks, but no thanks’ (and, yes, I’ve kept all the rejections). Then in 2001, a family friend of an LA producer read it and liked it, and then the LA producer also read it, and he liked it, too – which was all very exciting. He wanted me to change the title to ‘Madrid, Madrid’ – which I did, happily, and then I spent hours of long-distance phone calls discussing it with him and then re-writing it again and again and again. I must have gone through another 5 or 6 drafts – but then I don’t think he really ever did anything with it. I decided to temporarily shelve it all, as I was working on my Madrid book, and also the day job(s) got in the way again.

Then in 2004, between day jobs, and at a time when I was feeling disillusioned with corporate media life back in London, I decided to set off and have a go at selling or even producing the film myself. I re-wrote the script yet again, created a pitch document for it, and went off to Los Angeles – to attend a ‘Screenwriting Expo’, and from there to the American Film Market. Again, I was pretty naïve – and I have blogged about this before in Making a Movie. I learned a lot during the next few years about the film business, but my screenplay remained unsold.

In 2007 I moved back to Barcelona, to run a magazine group. A film producer friend in Barcelona showed interest in the script, but wanted to change the ‘Madrid, Madrid’ title and location to … Barcelona. No problem. I eventually rewrote it all yet again – several times. The day job took over my life again, but in 2009 I drove up from Barcelona to the Cannes Film Market during a long weekend, pitching to try and raise funds to develop the film, helped by a UK co-producer who’d also shown enthusiasm in the project. We had fun, period.

Some people write books that are then adapted to films. I did the reverse. At the end of 2010, thanks also to an upheaval in my personal life, I started writing the film as a novel‘The Barcelona Connection’. I had become so interested in the central character of my film plot, that I wanted to write him into a book, with the possibility of further books based on his ‘adventures’. I finally completed the first draft of the novel two years later, in 2012. It was 410 pages long and I knew it didn’t work, so I didn’t really show it to anyone. Instead I rewrote it as a crime book, with some black comedy thrown in. I sent it to a few friends, and then rewrote it yet again. By now, of course, the original comedy film script had little in common with the crime novel. In 2014, I went back to Cannes yet again – something I have also blogged about here. At Cannes, a renowned producer told me that I should look at adapting the whole idea and ‘adventures’ of my central character for TV. After Cannes, I therefore rewrote things again, and also started to write a sequel novel to ‘The Barcelona Connection’, currently with the working title of ‘The Madrid Fix’. I set out to find the very best TV producers in London and Spain.

Two weeks ago, we officially announced that The Barcelona Connection’ is in development as a UK-Spain 6-part TV series … ‘season one’. Last weekend, we had a celebratory dinner with our award-winning director, Spanish and UK producers, and scriptwriter. We spent time in Figueres and Cadaques. I’m still enjoying the moment. I had an idea for a film script 29 years ago. My film script became a novel that is now being adapted for TV. Never, ever give up …

Radio in Barcelona: Animated GiF Podcast (3)

I was back on the ‘Animated GiF’ show on Radio Kanal Barcelona again yesterday, filling in as a guest co-host with Carrie Frais, in the absence of Deborah Gray. In between tasting some fine wine and cava, thanks to Francis Wardley from ‘Six Wine Stories’, we chatted about the average age Spaniards leave home, the ‘TV guilty pleasures’ of Carrie watching the ‘First Dates’ TV show, and therefore the social media phenomenon of a certain person called Toby. Most importantly, with comedian Chris Groves and producer/scriptwriter Jon Groves on the show, we managed to give a very good plug to the launch of next week’s ‘The Weekly Noticias’ radio show. Not to be missed. Here’s the podcast from yesterday’s Animated GiF show: