Music

Whatever Happened to Enya?

29 Dec 2012 at 12:44

She’s sold 80 million albums worldwide, is one of Ireland’s leading exports and a massive talent, yet Enya hasn’t released a new album since Amarantine back in 2005. A new album was rumoured in 2011 but nothing has happened. I have every song she has ever released and would love to know why seven years have passed since her last album and whether anything new is on the horizon. Enya is one of those artists some people love to hate. I’ve never understood why. She’s accused of recycling the same song over and over again by people who ought to know better. It’s presumably because she has a very distinctive sound – but so do most successful recording artists. You know a Dire Straits track when you hear one, but they were never accused of rehashing a single song.

So come on Enya, let’s have a new album please. Soon!

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LBC 97.3: Iain Dale talks to Tom Bradby

Tom Bradby talks about the film dramatisation of his novel SHADOW DANCER.

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Gerard McCarthy

28 Dec 2012 at 14:03

Worst Xmas Present ever: The Bonnie Tyler Sat Nav. It keeps telling me to turn around & every now and then it falls apart.

Gerard McCarthy

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Iain's Best Bits of 2015

A short video!

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TV/Film/Theatre

DVD Review: Borgen

28 Dec 2012 at 13:25

Until this Christmas I had never seen an episode of Homeland, Borgen or The Killing. I’m one of those people who binge out on DVD box sets rather than watch a series an episode at a time. Many happy Christmases have been spent feasting on five or six episodes at a time of the West Wing, 24 or Lost.

For the last week I have been suffering from a rather bad dose of the lurgi, which has been so bad at times that I couldn’t even be bothered to switch on the TV. (I’m getting a bit better now, thanks for your concern!). However, I did manage to watch the first series of Homeland and quite enjoyed it, although I didn’t think it lived up to the hype. It was quite slow moving and had some very irritating characters. The thought that Carrie’s bipolar disorder wouldn’t have been discovered by the CIA was just laughable. However, let’s not carp. It’s left me wanting to watch Series 2, so it can’t have been that bad. I suppose I was wanting it to be a worthy successor to ‘24’, but truth be told, it only ever got to a ‘15’.

The same cannot be said of Borgen. I was hooked right from the first minute. Indeed, I am slightly ashamed to admit that I watched all ten episodes within a 24 hour period. No, since you ask, I don’t have a life. It was gripping. I’m quite used to watching programmes with subtitles from my time living in Germany, so that part of it didn’t bother me at all. Indeed, I hope it has made UK TV executives wake up to all the terrific foreign language programming we are missing out on.

Some will say that the plotlines are slightly predictable, and they’d have a point. Some of the characterisations are also predictable but the quality of acting means this hardly matters. The incestuous relationship between politicians and the media is laid bare for all to see as is the grubby side of coalition politics.

Birgitte Nyborg is very much of the same politics as the West Wing’s President Bartlet, although she doesn’t quite have as much of the ‘vision thing’ as he does. The subplot throughout the ten episodes is the changing relationship between Nyborg and her husband Philip Christensen, who finds it increasingly difficult to cope with the stresses manifested by his wife’s job. This storyline is again, somewhat predictable, but somehow, again, it doesn’t matter.

I thought the best actor in the series was from Pilou Asbeak who plays the PM’s spin doctor Kasper Juul. He has a dark side to him, as most spin doctors do, but is more self aware than most. The most unrealistic character was political journalist Katrine Fonsmark. She grated with me for all sorts of reasons, not least that I cannot imagine a 29 year old journalist constantly having public shouting matches with her editor. The woman she replaced as news anchor for TV1, Hanne Holm, was by far the more interesting character, and I’d like to see more of her in the next series.

Perhaps the best thing to emerge from Borgen is that it shows how an idealistic leader is forced to come to term with wielding political power. I wonder if Nick Clegg is a fan.

Interestingly NBC are to make a US version of Borgen, which leads me to ask why it is that UK broadcasters seem incapable of making multi-episode dramas like this. Borgen and the West Wing treat politics and politicians as forces for good as well as bad. Our broadcasters would reject any script which showed politicians in a good light. It all needs to be about scandal and corruption. Shame on them.

My dilemma now, is do I Sky Plus series two which begins on BBC4 in early January, or do I wait for the box set to come out later in the year? Somehow I don’t think I’ll be able to wait until then.

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LBC Book Club: Iain talks to Michael Dobbs

Iain talks to Michael Dobbs about his latest novel and much more besides.

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Personal

The All New Iain Dale's Diary ... Er, Why?

27 Dec 2012 at 19:03

“You’re like a dog returning to its own vomit,” said a friend when I told her I was going to restart my blog. Charming. But yes, after a two year interlude, I am indeed returning to writing my own blog and winding up Dale & Co. Let me explain.

When I announced, back in December 2010, that I was stopping blogging, people seemed to miss the fact that I said I wasn’t ruling out a return to it when the time was right. At the time I had just been taken on by LBC and there just didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. The blog began to suffer. I’d usually write 5-8 pieces a day, but it wasn’t just about being prolific, I just wasn’t enjoying it. I knew that if I continued by just writing an occasional blog, my readers wouldn’t like it, so I decided the best course of action was to stop altogether.

Six months later I started Dale & Co, a multi-authored site, on which I would write something as and when I felt like it. But in all honesty, Dale & Co never really took off. It only ever seemed to get much traction when I wrote an article myself, and that wasn’t very often. It actually had a lot of talented contributors and several of them took on a loyal following, but I never really enjoyed running the site. So a couple of months ago I decided to shut it down and go back to my individual blog.

Who knows whether I will enjoy blogging again. I know I won’t be as prolific as I was before. I suspect the range of things I will write about will be different. My life is different, with different priorities. I certainly won’t be watching traffic levels as much as I used to, if at all. I’m going to do this my way, in the hope that people will like it.

In terms of commenting, you must log in through your Facebook or Twitter account. I’m not allowing anonymous comments at all. If you haven’t got one, it’ll take you 5 minutes to create one.

You will notice a feature which alerts you to when I am on air on LBC and enables you to listen live, via the blog. We’ll also be having guest posts from one or two of the more popular contributors to Dale & Co.

We’ll be adding a few features over the next few weeks. I am sure you won’t be backward in coming forward in suggesting things you think I ought to add, or write about, or indeed tell me what you don’t like.

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Iain Takes on the Man who Egged Ed Miliband

Iain has a testy encounter with Dean Porter, who that day had egged Ed Miliband.

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day: Ed Miliband

27 Dec 2012 at 16:57

If spin doctors could design a politician, I suspect he wouldn’t look like me.

Ed Miliband, 15 Jun 2012

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Video: Iain appears with Bucks Fizz in a Making Your Mind Up Video

A get out the vote video with a funny ending :)

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Personal

Glad to See the Back of 2012

24 Dec 2012 at 19:43

It’s only natural, with Christmas approaching and a new year on the horizon that we all think about the year that has gone by. I will be glad to see the back of 2012. It has been without doubt the worst year of my life. I think 2005 is the only year which could compete with 2012 for twelve months of unalloyed personal misery. I failed to win the North Norfolk seat at the election by a massive 10,600 votes after a campaign which nearly bankrupted me, and then I spent six months working on the failed David Davis Tory leadership campaign. I was glad to see the back of 2005. Seven years on I have the same feeling about 2012. Funnily enough, I have never been more financially solvent, I do a job I thoroughly enjoy, and I had the privilege of attending Super Saturday at the Olympics where I witnessed Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Greg Rutherford win gold for Britain. But all that cannot mask the fact that 2012 will always be the year that I lost my mother. That single event means that this is a year I wish to banish to the furthest recesses of my mind, for my life will never be the same. Only those who have lost their mothers will be able to understand what I mean by that. She meant everything to me, and six months on, there is still a tremendous feeling of emptiness. A void that can never be filled. Her funeral was on June 25th. Six months later, on Christmas morning I shall drive to the village church in Essex where she was buried and have a good cry by her grave. I’ll have breakfast with my father and sister, and them drive back home to Kent to spend Christmas with my partner for the first time in the 17 years we have been together. You see, I could never bring myself to say to my mother, “Sorry, I won’t be there for Christmas this year.” Call me a sentimental old fool, but I always thought the first year I did that would mean that inevitably one of my parents would die in the following twelve months. I loved our Christmas rituals. I loved the fact that my mother would put a single Brussels sprout on my plate each year knowing full well that I would immediately put it back on hers. Brussels sprouts – invention of the devil. I loved our present giving rituals, with my mother unable to hide the fact she didn’t like a particular present. I’ll so miss her telling my father to ‘wake up’ as he would inevitably fall asleep by the fire. Christmas Day this year will inevitably be filled with tears, not only for us but for families throughout the country. But thank goodness we are able to show our feelings for those who are no longer with us. It’s what makes us human. A very happy Christmas to you all, and thank you for reading my columns throughout the year.

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Iain Takes on Anti Immigrant Caller

And it ain't pretty

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Books

Book Review: 'Team, It's Only Radio' by John Myers

24 Dec 2012 at 19:01

I’m a comparative newbie to the world of radio, even though it has always fascinated me. It’s a world full of strong and eccentric personalities, very weird business practices and over-regulation. But it wasn’t always like that. In decades gone by it was even worse. In this stunning book, John Myers tells of his career in radio since the 1970s both as a presenter and businessman. It’s a book that pulls few punches. It’s a book which names names and at the end of it you are wondering how many friends Myers will have left in the industry. But its seering honesty is why it works so well. It’s one of those books you are devastated to finish. You want it to go on and on.

Myers started in local radio in the late 1970s in Cumbria. His tales of getting in at the bottom and trying to work his way up are often side-splittingly funny and anyone looking to get into radio would do well to take note of his perseverance. He spent many years at various radio stations ‘oop north’, as well as in Scotland before eventually becoming head honcho at GMG Radio, where he created a hugely successful radio operation based around the Real Radio and Smooth brands. GMG is in the process of being sold to Global, who own LBC, the radio station I present on. Myers left GMG in 2008 to travel the world and now runs the Sony Awards and Arquiva, as well as heading up the Radio Academy. He carried out reviews into both BBC national and local radio, the first at the behest of the Labour government in 2009 and the latter for the BBC itself as part of its Delivering Quality First Initiative.

To call John Myers ‘Mr Radio’ would not be an exaggeration. I’ve only met him once, but I suspect he’s a marmite character – not devoid of devout acolytes or bitter enemies. And that’s another reason to read this book. Indeed, this book should be read by every broadcast journalism student, producer, radio suit, presenter and regulator. I learnt more about radio from it than I thought possible. It’s full of anecdotes, laughter, a few tears and lessons in how to, or not to, run a radio station.

Five stars

John Myers is on Twitter @JohnMyersTeam

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LBC Book Club: Iain Dale talks to Simon Callow & Jane Ridley

Simon Callow discusses his biography of Charles Dickens and Jane Ridley talks about her biography of Edward VII.

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Media

No More Sky News Paper Reviews

21 Dec 2012 at 20:29

Well that’s a bit of a bugger. For at least 13 years now, I have been doing newspaper reviews on Sky News, but that is about to come to an end. In January they are changing the way they do it and I would have to commit to doing both the 10.30pm and 11.30pm slots. Trouble is, I just can’t get to Osterley for the 10.30 slot, as my LBC show doesn’t finish until 10. So my partnerships with Zoe Williams and Jacqui Smith will be no more. No more on screen flirtations! I must admit I am a bit gutted at this turn of events, but there you go. But I will have one last outing on Wednesday 9 January, but after that, you’ve had your lot.

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Iain interviews Baroness Trumpington

Jean Trumpington talks about her autobioigraphy

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Random Thoughts

Row the Boat

21 Dec 2012 at 19:53

Don’t laugh, but this weekend I am going to buy a rowing machine. That’s ‘row’ as in oars, not ‘row’ as in an argument generating machine. It’s a last desperate attempt to achieve some degree of fitness. I used to play a lot of sport – squash, tennis, golf. At one point in my life I became quite a ‘gym bunny’. But the life I lead at the moment means I have little time for exercise. Two full time jobs mean that by the time the weekend comes I am too knackered to do much at all. I hate running. It seems so futile and boring. Swimming has the same lack of appeal. But I know I have got to exercise if I am to combat diabetes, so my new year’s resolution is to use the rowing machine at least three times a week, and not stop after the initial few weeks. I know I can lose weight again because I have done it before. But this time I really do have to keep the weight off permanently otherwise instead of taking pills to fight the diabetes, I will have to inject insulin every day. And that is something I really do not want to face!

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Video: Iain interviews Brooks Newmark MP

18 Doughty Street: The Class of 2005

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Quote of the Day

Theodore Dalrymple

18 Dec 2012 at 11:31

Only the peaceful and law-abiding fear the law today

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People & Politics with Matthew Parris, Susan Crosland Michael Dobbs

Iain talks political scandal on Radio 4 with three authors.

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