Five Things: Wednesday 21st May

Happy Valley, BBC1
There’s little music used in Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley that doesn’t come from a car radio, so most of Sarah Lancashire’s performance as police sergeant Catherine Cawood doesn’t have the aid of the emotional lift that is liberally doused over most drama on tv or film. There’s no telegraphing prompts, or swelling string pads but, hey, they’re not required. It’s an astonishing portrayal that holds the centre of this really superior policier. The range of thought that flickers across her face in conversations – talking about one thing, realising something else – make it one of the great performances of recent years and puts most showy big-name stuff to shame. The high level of acting, fantastic script and great direction from Euros Lyn (Welsh director of Sherlock) make this a must see.

And Jake Bugg’s “Trouble Town”…
…works pretty well as Happy Valley’s theme. There’s a run on Bugg at the moment: British Airways’ current ad uses one of his, as did the coverage of The Great Manchester Run last weekend. “Trouble Town” feels right for the Yorkshire-set series, although it has the problem of all Jake Bugg songs – it sounds entirely unoriginal (this one owes its biggest debt to “The Ballad Of Hollis Brown”).

I catch a half hour of Eurovision
…luckily the bit featuring a favourite actor, Pilou Asbaek, who is one of the hosts. Weird. Imagine Michael Fassbinder or Chiwetel Ejiofor agreeing to host – he’s that kind of actor. He’s terrific in the Danish film, A Hijacking, as the cook aboard a freighter that is boarded by Somalian pirates. It’s the non-Hollywood version of Captain Phillips. Anyway, I turn on in time for his guided tour of the Eurovision Hall Of Fame, a rather great spoof, all appalling costume displays and dry ice, and topped by Ireland’s Johnny Logan pretending to be his own waxwork in a totally Lynchian scene…

Canal Boat Barbeque, Middlesex Filter Beds, Hackney Cut
Walking past a group of boats on the Lea River, an unexpected piece of music wafts from a radio: Henry Mancini’s The Pink Panther Theme. Plas Johnson’s sax sashays through the warm summer air before Shelly Manne’s cymbal and the horn section open it out. Seemed an entirely perfect piece of music to go along with the mellow mood. “Originally played in the key of E minor, it is noted for its quirky, unusual use of chromaticism which is derived from the Hungarian minor scale (gypsy/romani scale) with raised 4th and 7th degrees.” – Wikipedia

Neil Young talks to his mother in heaven about his father, weather forecasting and his missing collaborator, Ben Keith
Recording his latest album, A Letter Home, in Jack White’s Phono-recording booth (see the Jimmy Fallon clips here), Neil prefaces the session with this message. The album is interesting, but I increasingly find a little Neil goes a long way.

Food Song List, Vappiano’s, Bankside



  1. The Ballad of Hollis Brown? Nothing is even close.

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