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Craig Brown at Southbank Centre

In a programme recorded in front of an audience at London's Southbank Centre, satirist Craig Brown joins Michael Berkeley to introduce his favourite pieces of music.

Craig Brown has been described by The Sunday Times as "our greatest living satirist". He invented the conservative Spectator columnist Wallace Arnold, and Bel Littlejohn, the long-standing Guardian columnist who many Guardian readers took to be real. Brown is a kind of satirical ventriloquist: impersonating the voices of politicians and celebrities, mocking them week after week in Private Eye and The Daily Mail, mimicking thousands of different voices. This year he celebrates his 25th anniversary of parodying the rich and the famous on Private Eye.

In this edition of Private Passions Craig Brown talks to Michael Berkeley about how he does it ? and why he does it. Does he find the whole world ridiculous? Brown reveals that before embarking on a parody he has to feel the creative germ of irritation, which he then attempts to transform into comedy. Parody, as he reveals, is a delightfully libel-free method of pricking the bubble of self-obsession in celebrity culture.

For Private Passions, Brown reveals the music he finds inspiring, moving and funny. Some of his choices are surprising: gospel songs, for instance, are top of his list. He celebrates the Irish composer John Field, and enjoys both Satie and a plangent lament from Kathleen Ferrier. But he also chooses humorous pieces: Kenneth Williams reading Edward Lear, and Harry Belafonte singing 'There's a Hole in my Bucket'. He talks about living in a musical family; his wife, son and daughter are all gifted musicians, while he can't sing in tune, and has no sense of rhythm at all.

The programme is recorded with an audience at the Radio 3 pop-up studio at Royal Festival Hall, as part of Radio 3's residency at London's Southbank Centre.

1 hour

Last on

Sun 23 Mar 2014 12:00

Music Played

  • Sergey Rachmaninov

    Prelude in C sharp minor, Op.3 no.2

    Performer: Vladimir Ashkenazy.
  • Edwin Hawkins

    O Happy Day

    Choir: Edwin Hawkins Singers.
  • Christoph Willibald Gluck

    What is Life (Orfeo ed Euridice)

    Singer: Kathleen Ferrier.
  • John Field

    Nocturne No.11 in E flat major

    Performer: Benjamin Frith.
  • Barry Humphries

    Housewife Superstar!

    Singer: Barry Humphries.
  • Henry Purcell

    Thy Hand, Belinda... When I am Laid in Earth (Dido and Aeneas)

    Orchestra: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Conductor: René Jacobs. Singer: Lynne Dawson.
  • Erik Satie

    Gnossienne No.1

    Performer: Pascal Rogé.
  • Trad.

    O Waly, Waly

    Ensemble: Vagabond Trills.

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