Sunday, 18 December 2016


This year's Christmas Special is again introduced by Roger A. Destroyer and includes performances by The Black Thumbnail and Mr Merryweather QC.

The name of Roger A Destroyer is a real name found in a book of real names. Initially,  Roger wrote letters to the two friends whose book it was. He was conceived as an ex-army officer who lived with a bad-tempered, jealous wife who constantly hen-pecked him. He then began to use a computer for the first time and now he is the permanent host of the Easter and Christmas shows.

The character of the Black Thumbnail came about as a consequence of me trapping my thumb in the back door which left me with a bruised thumb the nail of which went black - I wanted him to be the most wicked of wicked men. As with a lot of my characters, he was developed through improvisation. He is the favourite character of a friend of mine who called me once to say that he and his wife would be passing my door later and asked if they could pop in to say hello. I said of course they could and got myself togged up as the Black Thumbnail to welcome them when they came to the door. About ten minutes later, the doorbell rang and I opened the door but it wasn't them! It was another friend, calling on the off chance, and when she saw me she said "Oh!?!" at which I ripped my false moustache off and explained that I was expecting someone else.

As for Mr Merryweather, I had always wanted to do such person ever since I saw a white wig on a stall at a car boot sale. It was quite expensive so I hesitated and didn't buy it and then went back to the sale a week later but the stall wasn't there. Eventually, I found a similar wig in a costume shop and wrote the first story in rhyme and managed to memorise it.

See film -

Monday, 7 March 2016


George Harrison
Yes, I know that George died almost fifteen years ago but a few days ago, I watched ''Living in the Material World'', the documentary about him made by Martin Scorsese and so he is very much in my thoughts. It is a wonderful story because he was really just an ordinary guy but he discovered that there was something more and maybe that "something'' is what I have been looking for over the last ten years since my diagnosis and I hope that, in the course of that search, I have not upset too many people or caused them too much anguish. I have always, certainly in recent times, believed that no-one should ever feel guilt. I suppose there are exceptions to that like Adolf Hitler and his ilk for example. What I am saying is that human beings not only have a huge capacity for love and compassion but also they also have weaknesses and, although I do think we should all aspire to be as worthy and kind and caring as possible, we must not beat ourselves over the head with guilt if we don't always measure up to the high standards which we have set ourselves or which we perceive have been laid down by 'Society'.

In the documentary, George's wife, Olivia, talks of George as a husband but does not go into any detail but clearly he strayed a fair bit as she says he was very attractive to and attracted by women but she goes on to say that people ask "What is the secret of a long marriage?" - "Don't get divorced" is her reply. And later, after describing the evening when they were attacked in their home by an intruder, they talked a lot and he said to her "I hope I have been a good husband" and she says "I hope I have been a good wife".

These are just snippets from the film but it is well worth watching. I think at this time, it has had a profound effect on me. I have just completed the project "Take me with you" with Clare Best and I am in the middle of another bout of cellulitis and so my mortality is very much on my mind. George spent the last twenty or so years of his life preparing for his death and his wife said that, when he thought he could have been killed by the intruder that night, he said with such defiance that he wasn't going to allow anyone to interfere with his preparations. Towards the end of the film, there was a very poignant moment.  George spent his last days in Switzerland and Ringo Starr went to visit him and said that all George could do was lie on his bed. Ringo's daughter was at that time in Boston and was suffering with a brain tumour and so Ringo explained to George that he had to go and George replied (and these were his last words to his friend) "Would you like me to come with you?"

Friday, 18 December 2015


Here is my film for Christmas, introduced by the one and only Roger A Destroyer.

Hope you like it.

Friday, 28 November 2014



Janet died on 12th October 1996. She was beautiful. She was only eight years old when our father died. My mother was originally a dancer but, after my father's death, she retrained as a hairdresser and got a job at Clifford's Hair Salon in Fetter Lane and so Janet had to look after us when we got home from school and give us tea and put us to bed. We got on very well and often I would chat to her on Sunday mornings when she put on her make up, "Sunday Morning Talks" we called them. I used to listen to Pick of the Pops on the radio and write out the Hit Parade for her. I think I was jealous of her boyfriends because one day, when she was with some guy on a punt on the river in Oxford, I gave her the Hit Parade but she brushed me away very curtly and I was so cross that I screwed up the paper and threw it into the water. I guess that I was being an embarrassing, irritating little shit.

I loved her so much. In the two years before she died, I saw more of her than I would otherwise have done; it was like packing ten years in so, from that point of view, it was a good time. When she died, I experienced depths of emotion that I have never felt before or since. In a peculiar way, I enjoyed it - the "beautiful pain" I call it.

This is a film I made about her fifteen years after her death -

Friday, 12 July 2013


Well, what can I say about this film? It is my favourite film and I must have seen it, I don't know, thirty or forty times at the cinema, several times on Television and I own the VHS Video and the DVD both of which I have watched dozens of times. It is like putting on one's favourite shirt or listening to a much loved piece of music that never disappoints and which throws up something new to enjoy each time.

I went to see it again last night in Screen NFT1 at the National Film Theatre. Each time I go I ask myself, why is it my favourite film? Is it really that good? Am I just kidding myself? And then, as it washes over me, I know that it really is that good and, no, I'm not kidding myself. 

The cinematography is superb, the dialogue is crackling with no words wasted, the performances, not only by the main characters, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred McMurray, but also by the minor characters, are so well-rounded and full that one believes in every person one sees on screen. The music is beautiful and the direction whizzes the action on with sensitivity, assurance and brio. It is the best film made by Billy Wilder and he has made some superb films. And it is funny, if bitter sweet. 

I first saw it at an all-night Jack Lemmon fest in London in about 1971. It was then just over ten years old. It was the third film on at about 2am. As it ended, I cried and cried. And each time I see it, I cry. About 4 years ago, I bought two tickets to see it at the National Film Theatre with my niece Olivia. I really respect Olivia's views about films and so I was very nervous about taking her because I thought what if she doesn't like it? As it happened, she cried off and so I went on my own. As I approached the door to NFT1, a young guy about 20 years old, ran up to the usher on the door and asked for a ticket. The usher explained that not only had he to buy the ticket at the box office on the other side of the building but the film was just about to start. I interrupted and said that he could have my spare ticket. The guy said that he had no cash and I said that he could have it for nothing as I had already wasted the money. He was very grateful. I said that, obviously, he would have to sit next to me and he said that was fine. But then I warned him that I would be in floods of tears at the end and he just shrugged and said it wouldn't bother him. Well, we watched the film and, as I was dabbing my eyes as the lights went up, I turned to him and saw tears running down his cheeks as well.

If you haven't seen it, get the DVD and enjoy. The trouble is that the format of the film has been repeated several times since but this is the original and this is the far. But that is only my humble opinion - see for yourselves, you lucky people seeing it for the first time.

As last night's performance ended, the whole audience applauded. How often does that happen? Go on, buy it.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Let yourself go!

This was a stop motion film I had been waiting to make ever since I first set eyes on the Bandstand on Brighton Beach when we moved to Brighton in 2011. Soon after we moved in, a Community Police Officer called me in response to some enquiry we had made and, after chatting quite pleasantly with her for about 15 minutes, she asked if I had any more questions. I said "Yes, just one.  Can I photograph myself dancing naked on the Bandstand at five o'clock in the morning?" She laughed and replied "Yes, so long as you face the sea". I didn't say that that was the last thing I wanted to do but it was because the sea had to be the backdrop.

In most of my films, I do all the camera work but, in this case, I could see that the quicker it was done, the less likely I was to be arrested. Therefore, when Lisa Wormsley agreed to do a second photographic shoot, I asked her if she minded doing it very early one morning after helping me with the stop motion film on the bandstand. She was very happy to help and so, armed with nothing more than the cane from "A Country Wife" and my grandfather's  silk top hat, we filmed it.

And it worked out just as I wanted it to.

You can see another copy of the same film on my You Tube Channel "tjra1951"

Monday, 24 June 2013


Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke

If you are a human being then this film will speak volumes. It is, quite simply, 
a masterpiece. Beautifully acted, intelligently written, sensitively directed 
(by Richard Linklater) and with a wonderfully subtle musical score. 

It is about what we all are - human beings - sometimes complicated, sometimes 
straightforward but always interesting. We are all the same but we are just passing 
through and, on the journey, we live and we learn.
If you have seen and enjoyed the previous two films "Before Sunrise" and "Before 
Sunset" then you will need no further introduction or recommendation. If you 
have not see them before, please try to watch them first but, quite honestly, the films
do stand on their own.

The saga will continue and, of course, we shall all love it in our own way. I shall 
say no more except that this is cinema at its very best.