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Paul Merton’s Birth of Hollywood

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

BBC2 MAY 27, JUNE 3 & 11

AT 9.30PM

Tune into your small screen to discover the story of the big screen. Starring Paul Merton, co-written and assistant directed by me.

In just two tumultuous decades between 1910 and 1930 Hollywood became the greatest entertainment machine the world has ever known: Hollywood a byword for fame, glamour and wealth.

In 1895 the Lumiere brothers projected moving images onto a bed sheet in Paris; an event that kick started the sensational rise of today’s multimillion-dollar film industry. For a short period the European movie industry was the largest in the world, producing some incredible early cinematic masterpieces. Across the Atlantic in New York small studios sprung up on rooftops to utilise the daylight. Then by 1910 a handful of film pioneers had trekked 3000 miles west to California. Here the sun shone 360 days of the year. But the glorious sunshine is not the whole story.

These early independent filmmakers were also escaping the clutches of one man: Thomas Alva Edison. Edison’s company had invented 35mm film with sprocket holes. So this respected entrepreneur tried to charge his competitors money for every foot of film run through a camera or projector. Edison even hired gun-slinging goons to go and shoot holes in the camera equipment of non-compliant filmmakers.

So to escape the threat of violence and avoid the harsh winters in New York filmmakers traveled 3000 miles away to Los Angeles. There they discovered a small rural backwater of orange groves: A little place called Hollywood.

In an astonishing spurt of creative growth Hollywood became the epicenter of films, the maker of dreams. Unknown stage actors became huge stars: silent monochrome icons flickering onto screens in pools of silver light in darken rooms across the globe.

Tune in to find out who were the geniuses, visionaries and eccentrics that created this weird alchemy of art and industry. And discover the truth behind Hollywood’s biggest ever scandal that threatened the Industry’s very existence.

Hello Again Cyber World!

Friday, March 26th, 2010

I am back to describe more of my delightful doings. This month I would like to bring your attention to a documentary I co-wrote entitled “Paul Merton’s Weird and Wonderful World of Early Cinema“, which airs this Sunday, March 28th on BBC4 at 9 PM. As the title suggests it deals with the beginnings of cinema, concentrating on the more ‘weird and wonderful’ early films of mainly the French and British. We meet the world’s first comedians, see a giant pig dancing and my personal favorite we watch a magician who vanishes eggs with the help of a very brave and stoic chicken.

Also I get to show off my musical talents-what Charlie Parker was to the saxophone, I am to the tin tray and the hammer! With the tuneful timing of Buddy Rich, I beat the bejasus out of that tray! I’ve since progressed on to other household items – not many girls can play ‘Moonlight Sonata’ with a colander and a step ladder but you’re looking at one right now.

Paul Merton’s Weird & Wonderful World of Early Cinema : BBC4

Sunday, March 28th, 9:00pm to 10:00pm

Sunday, March 28th at 11:50pm

Monday, March 29th at 2:40am

Monday, March 29th at 7:30pm

My first Blog!

Monday, February 1st, 2010

When it comes to all things technical I am a big girl’s tailored shirt; never a blouse that’s just too last century. Recent technology defeats include buying a toaster online – (yes I managed an internet buy) it arrived with a DVD instruction kit. Bit much I thought it’s only a toaster how hard can it be. Two weeks later having incinerated bread to the point I made a carbon diamond – I threw said toaster away. But here I am in 2010 writing my first blog!

2009 was a fantastic year! Working on the Morecombe and Wise show I got to meet the man who single-handedly wrote all their shows, the hugely talented and lovely Mr Eddie Braben.

I fulfilled my dream of doing ‘Just A Minute’ Radio Four’s longest running panel show and I went to the Altitude festival where I learnt to ski – brilliant fun!

The après ski crowd sure know how to party. On the Sunday they had a fancy dress fun run. Having downed a pitcher of Martini’s each they set off with Papa Smurf, a couple of nuns and one young lad wearing nothing but tiny pants and head to toe cling film. Sorry but not a good look. Firstly tiny pants and cling film only go to emphasise how cold it is, they sent a search party out to look for his penis but they never did find it. Despite a cash reward. Secondly unless you are tanned and have a six-pack you could grate cheese on, you look like a pre-packaged chicken breast. Still I had a blast so thanks a million Altitude! 2010 promises to be another great year will continue to chronicle me doings!