Wales

James Roberts

Blog posts in total 21

Posts

  1. The sixth Sŵn festival hit Cardiff at the weekend and with it came a better than ever mix of artists spanning every imaginable genre.

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  2. Half a century ago the future of transport appeared on a beach in north Wales. The hovercraft service from Rhyl to Moreton beach, Merseyside - the first of its kind in the world - was unleashed to masses of enthralled onlookers. This was the way forward - or so it seemed. The Vickers-Armstr...

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  3. For just over a century a 2.5 mile oval of tarmac, bricks and metal has provided one of the world's paramount sporting spectacles. Many a British driver has encountered speed, danger, death and riches at the Indianapolis 500, and 80 years ago a driver from north Wales met his end there. Or d...

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  4. Comedian Elis James is one of the most promising emerging acts on the Welsh comedy scene at the moment - although 'emerging' may be the wrong adjective, as he's become such a familiar voice on BBC Radio Wales of late. Elis has enjoyed recent success with Pantheon Of Heroes, a mixture of sketch show and stand-up that was co-written with fellow comedian Ben Partridge. He also regularly collaborates with Chris Corcoran for the theatre show The Committee Meeting and on Social Club FM, again for Radio Wales. I caught up with Elis ahead of his stints at the Machynlleth Comedy Festival this weekend, and the forthcoming Edinburgh Fringe, and threw a couple of questions his way. Elis James at the 2011 Machynlleth Comedy Festival. Photo: Ed Moore, Edshots How is life at The Social Club? The Social Club currently has one customer, who is drinking tap water and using the radiators to dry his anorak but Rex used to babysit him in the 40s so he doesn't mind. Rex is very well - he's just finished cleaning out the lines and is about the change the gearbox on the club minibus, before tarmacking the drive and duplicating some ledger books from 1967 "just in case". How did 2011 go for you? Highlights and lowlights? The highlight was getting Pantheon Of Heroes and Social Club FM commissioned by Radio Wales and being asked to go on Eight Out Of Ten Cats, the lowlights were having my body described as "laughable" when I took my top off on a stag do in Liverpool and getting a new coat stolen from a nightclub. Elis James with Pantheon of Heroes collaborators Ben Partridge and Nadia Kamil You'll be making a return to the Edinburgh Festival this summer. Do you feel like part of the furniture? I've actually taken shows to Edinburgh every year since 2008, but with 2,500 shows at the festival and over 20,000 performers, it would be very difficult to describe myself as part of the furniture. I do know Edinburgh very well though; it's one of the few cities that I would recognize instantly if I woke up there having been kicked out of the back of a Transit van. General plans for Edinburgh? Chris Corcoran and I are performing The Committee Meeting every day at the Underbelly at 1.30pm, and then I'm doing a solo stand up show at The Baby Grand in the Pleasance at 7pm. My general plan is to not gain too much weight by drinking real ale at four in the morning - I have a wedding to go to a few weeks after the festival finishes and I won't be able to afford a new suit. With such a successful presence on BBC Wales, is it extra work being a London-based comic, performing in Wales as well to a different audience? A huge amount of travel is a part of what I do, so in the main living in London is slightly more convenient, although working so closely with Chris means I'm in Cardiff all the time anyway. I loved writing for Radio Wales and they're programmes I'm immensely proud of, but the best thing about writing is that you can do it anywhere. My favourite writing session for Pantheons was in Ben Partridge's parents' house, where the session was bookended by us laughing at photos of Ben as a child while his mum made us toast and tried to explain some of his haircuts. You'll be performing in Swansea on May 18. Do you enjoy coming "home" to perform? I love performing gigs in south Wales, especially south west Wales, but not Carmarthen - the last time I did that the venue was flooded with my aunties and uncles which I found very weird. Swansea is perfect because I can still talk about the area I grew up in but it's just far enough from home to stop any second cousins turning up and threatening to dob me in for swearing. That's the first time I've used the phrase 'dob me in' since 1989. It felt good. You are performing at the Mach Comedy Festival this weekend. Tell us a bit about the festival and what we can expect from you. The Machynlleth Comedy Festival is one of my favourite things in the world - it's a truly wonderful line up and the organisers should be proud of it. Elis James performing at Machynlleth in 2011. Photo: Ed Moore, Edshots The atmosphere's great and the audiences are lovely; they understand that most of the comics are gearing up for Edinburgh so don't mind if you take a sneaky peek at your notebook halfway through the performance. My parents went last year and my mum described it as "the best weekend of her life," so you can't say any more than that. Thankfully my girlfriend is more organized than me and has sorted us a B&B, because otherwise I'd be sleeping in the car. I'm about as suited to camping as Hermann Göring was to HR.

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  5. This week the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will visit south Wales, as part of her diamond jubilee celebrations. On Thursday she will visit Llandaff Cathedral, previously the scene of a 1960 visit, before making her way to Margam Park and Merthyr. On Friday the royal party will visit Aberfan, ...

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  6. James Callaghan - the only 20th century prime minister to hold the offices of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary - was born a century ago today. Callaghan became the Labour MP of Cardiff South in 1945. After serving as a junior minister in the Attlee government, he became Chancellor of the Exchequer when Labour returned to power in 1964, overseeing the controversial devaluation of the pound. Following his resignation, Callaghan, or 'Big Jim' took the post of Home Secretary between 1967 and the summer of 1970. Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party Jim Callaghan in Abingdon electioneering for the 1979 General Election. As Home Secretary, Callaghan took over from Roy Jenkins' role and witnessed the ratcheting up of violence in Northern Ireland. During this period, British troops were deployed to protect the minority community. The Portsmouth-born south Wales MP's stint as Foreign Secretary was cut short as Callaghan went for the leadership of the Labour Party following the surprise resignation of Prime Minster Harold Wilson on 16 March 1976. Callaghan, with wide support from his party, defeated Michael Foot. In this BBC News clip from July 1976, Callaghan is on his second day of a visit to south Wales. Here the Prime Minister is searched for contraband as he prepares to enter the west Wales colliery at Betws New Drift Mine that was planned to open in 1978. Throughout his premiership, Callaghan was hampered by a lack of a clear majority. Very early on in his role as Prime Minister he was forced to rely upon the support of the Liberal Party and with the British economy in strife, amid high inflation and rising unemployment, a controversial decision to seek an emergency loan from the International Monetary Fund caused tensions within the party. Between 1976 and 1979, Callaghan's government introduced the Police Act, the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act in 1977 and the Education Act of 1976. The economic turmoil that raged throughout the 1970s culminated in a number of strikes during the winter of 1978-1979. Infamously dubbed The Winter of Discontent the industrial and social strife proved too detrimental for the Labour Government under Callaghan and a motion of no confidence was called by opposition MPs in March 1979. As Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government famously won the 1979 election, Callaghan remained Labour leader for another year before handing over to the man he once defeated in the leadership election, Michael Foot. In 1987, Callaghan was made a life peer and Knight of the Garter. He died on 26 March 2005, on the eve of his 93rd birthday, becoming the longest living former Prime Minister.

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  7. Ten years ago, in the year of Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee, Newport was awarded city status. The 2002 accolade proved third time lucky for the Gwent town after two unsuccessful bids in the 1990s. By becoming a city Newport joined Bangor, Cardiff, Swansea and St Davids as Wales' cities;...

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  8. Monday 5 March is the 35th anniversary of the death of Welsh Formula One driver Tom Pryce. The man from Nantglyn near Ruthin was tipped for F1 championship glory by many of his contemporaries, but at the age of just 27 his life and career were cut short in one of the most bizarre, tragic acciden...

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  9. If Thursday's Sŵn-related larking possessed a wonderful sense of anticipation, then Friday night brought it all together.

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