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Many thanks to Jo Brand and Alan Yentob for another successful night for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research

Posted on 25 November 2013 | 1:11pm

Jo Brand last night became the seventh high profile arts performer to give of her time and talent for free to support what has become an annual ‘audience with …’ to raise funds for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research. These events started when my literary agent, Ed Victor, won his battle with leukaemia – thanks in large part to the research of the charity – and decided he wanted to put something back. As I am chairman of fundraising, this meant having a meeting with me and the charity’s excellent chief executive Cathy Gilman (who started out as a volunteer) to discuss what this help might be. We settled on an audience with Mel Brooks, who is a friend of Ed’s. So Mel was interviewed at the Criterion Theatre – kindly donated for the evening by Sally Greene – by Alan Yentob of the BBC, who is a friend of Mel’s, of Ed’s, and of mine. It was a great success, so much so that we then repeated the exercise in the States, for our sister charity. Only one camera recorded it, but nonetheless HBO decided they wanted to broadcast it, and it was nominated for an Emmy.

Between us, we have since delved into contacts books to persuade Stephen Fry, Michael Palin, Kevin Spacey, Billy Connolly, Miranda Hart and now Jo Brand to turn out on a cold November Sunday night and perform for the cause. Today, Cathy Gilman and I have both been getting excellent feedback about last night. People who have been to all seven of these evenings were saying Alan’s interview with Jo was right up there with the best. They both did a fantastic job in getting the mix exactly right between belly laughs and serious discussion not just about Jo and her life and history, but also some of the issues involved in that life. With my mental health campaign hat on, I particularly valued the part of the conversation that focused on her dad, whose depression went untreated for years, and her decade as a psychiatric nurse. I also loved that Jo has not mellowed about comics like Bernard Manning whose various ‘isms’ she so clearly despises.

Alan Yentob is a very good interviewer and goes to huge effort in preparing properly for these events, with regard to the film clips – including last night one of Jo and Ruby Wax as the Cheeky Girls which Jo could hardly bring herself to watch – photos, research and the planning of the interview. At one point, when talking about comedy as the new rock and roll, with Michael McIntyre able to fill the O2 night after night, and musicians now making their money through live performance rather than records, Alan said that people are always on the look out for a good night out … well last night was a really good night out. Everyone left feeling that, and I got the sense they could have happily stayed all night and watched and listened to the two of them chatting.

So many many thanks to both of them. It is remarkable that we have now done seven of these, and they have all been of such high quality and helped not just raise money but add a new strand to the charity’s profile and reach.

  • Ehtch

    Like BM, even though he had a go at Jo, for some reason. Best comedy comes from a mental health environment, I think – watched this movie a few weeks back, if I can find it again…

    FOUND! well, that was easy, just put in google search sixteen year old boy depressed movie, and it popped up straight,

    And might as well include one of my favourite Mel Brooks’ scenes, as well,

    • Ehtch

      A vid for my US mate Kris, which some of us mates of hers did for her – check out the comments – I am the king pin,

      Spoke to Kris last Sunday, we will speak shortly, and posted this vid and poem to her,

      Pops did spank me once,
      when daddy came home.
      Since mom said this that,
      which was totally untrue.

      Daddy soon realised soon,
      from fields then ploughed.
      Day out the problem was,
      was not Kris sweet eyed.

      Was that witch, chance out,
      the old trout with her bitter.
      Not our Kris with true heart,
      together now we will not part.

      Hugs and kisses Kris, from all of us. sniff, where is my hanky again…

    • Ehtch

      And poem I did for Kris, three months ago, per,

      Mind primed ready to bump into,
      ready for aged time brings.
      From other parts of the World,
      worn from strife at out fairs.

      Pick up and repair, as best can,
      long lasting mind anxiety regrets.
      Irrational as it always is with time,
      gnawing at you as that time begets.

      And adjoining song, as I always usually do, for full modern effect,

  • Michele

    I’m glad the event was a success, by the time I knew I might be in London it was sold out except for a few £55 seats!

    Without going all ‘Woman’s Hour’ it’s been a good month for women arrrrrtistes talking about serious stuff, Ms Brand’s show, Ms Wax’s smashing interview (I linked to that last week) and we had Ms Emin on TV the other night being so generous about another artist as she always is in her lovely gentle voice :

    It all sounds very dreamy so is quite a contrast to recent real life experiences of the bear pit that has evolved in the energy market.

    What was wrong with ‘a previous Govt’ limiting the number of suppliers?
    What’s easy about the kinds of comparisons one has to make ‘even’ with there being ‘only six’ sellers of energy?

    Who could cope with more? Someone with a PA or spad?

    It’s bad enough for the IT literate that have Excel etc.

    WTH needs more than six suppkiers multiplied by however many tariff choices each one has?

    Misbehaviour in banking? IMHO far more people are being screwed by energy providers simply because they aren’t IT experts or don’t have IT/Excel at home. Time for many to just do a lucky dip?

  • KrisInAustinTX

    Thanks for the poems and your kindness, Ehtch.