ARENA NEWS WEEK: Dawlish, Anna Gordy Gaye and 'Backwater Blues'


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Residents on the sea front in Dawlish, South Devon, were told to evacuate immediately when the sea wall and rail line in front of their houses collapsed in the stormy weather. Network Rail said the line, which is hanging mid-air, would take a minimum of six weeks to repair, costing millions to the economy of the South West of England. Arena caught a glimpse of the Dawlish railway line just weeks before it was destroyed whilst filming for the upcoming documentary 'Whatever Happened To Spitting Image'. The train journey of Peter Fluck, co-creator of Spitting Image, was filmed from his home in Truro to London Paddington, passing through Dawlish on route.

Arena rushes from upcoming film 'Whatever Happened To Spitting Image'

Rushes from upcoming Arena: Whatever Happened To Spitting Image, due for TX in March 2014


Radio 4 pays tribute to Anna Gordy Gaye, former wife of Marvin Gaye, who died aged 92

Anna Gordy Gaye, former wife of Motown legend Marvin Gaye passed away at the age of 92. She was the sister of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, and married one of the labels biggest stars. Very much a family affair, Anna and her sister worked in a Detroit nightclub from where she was able to introduce artists and musicians to her brother Berry. It was through this that she met Marvin Gaye, who at the time was part of the doo-wop group 'The Moonglows'. The pair then married in 1961 before divorcing in 1975.

Marvin Gaye's second wife was Jan, the daughter of Slim Gaillard. Slim was a fabulously idiosyncratic jazz performer who had led an extraordinary life. Born in Cuba, left stranded in Crete at the age of 12, having stowed away on a merchant ship who's cook was his father, lived in the Middle East until he was 16, learnt Greek and Arabic, and sailed to American on the Saint Laurence Seaway to land in Detroit. There, because of his languages, he was taken in by an Armenian family, became a runner for the Purple Gang, worked in car factories and became an amateur heavy weight champion. He went on to become a key player in the great days of 52nd Street, the Mecca of Jazz in New York. He had many children, at least two of them called Michael, who until this scene had never met. He contributed backing vocals to 'sexual healing' as a favour to his son-in-law, Marvin Gaye. This scene from Arena: Slim Gaillard's Civilisation is a record of his encounter with his daughter Jan and some of his children.

Jazz performer Slim Gaillard sings with daughter Jan, the second wife of Marvin Gaye

Arena: Slim Gaillard's Civilisation (1989), Directed by Anthony Wall

'BACKWATER BLUES': UK flooding hits record levels


BBC news reports on severe flooding in the UK

The UK has been hit by the worst storms in years with tens of thousands of homes left without power after hurricane -force winds battered the country this week. Sixteen severe flood warning remain for counties in the South West which have already been hit by severe flooding.

Composed in 1927, Bessie Smith's 'Backwater Blues' has long been associated with the great flood of the Mississippi River that occured that year. The song was written in sympathy with flood victims she had encountered who allegedly asked her to bear witness to their pain. In 1994, Arena filmed the Everly Brothers as they traced their roots back to Kentucky. Whilst visiting old friends and family, retired coalminer Mose Rager sings his own version of 'Backwater Blues' to Don and Phil.

Retired coalminer Mose Rager sings his own version of Bessie Smith's 'Backwater Blues'

From Arena: The Everly Brothers - Songs of Innocence and Experience (1984), Produced by Alan Yentob, Directed by Anthony Wall

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