Sir Patrick Moore has claimed the longevity of his The Sky at Night programme is down to its cheapness.
Stars from the world of astronomy and science gathered at the 88-yearold’s Sussex home for the broadcast of the 700th episode. Guests included the Astronomer Royal Lord Martin Rees, the former pop star, TV presenter and physicist Professor Brian Cox and Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May. Astronomy enthusiast and impressionist Jon Culshaw impersonated a young Sir Patrick, complete with trademark monocle and unique style of delivery in a mock interview with himself.
Sir Patrick said: “It was a fascinating show because the viewers’ questions were so interesting. I think the reason the show has carried on for so very long is because it’s cheap – it’s filmed here at my house because I cannot go anywhere because of my arthritis. I can’t even go into my observatory anymore.”
Sir Patrick’s co-presenter, astrophysicist Dr Chris Lintott, said: “One of the main reasons the programme has reached its 700th episode is, of course, Patrick himself. When he speaks, people listen because they’re confident they will understand his explanations, whether he’s talking about the moon or black holes.”
The show has been broadcast live since 1957. Famous incidents include Sir Patrick swallowing a fly live on air. Read a full-length interview with Sir Patrick Moore in the April issue of Sussex Society magazine, which will appear in more than 400 outlets across Sussex from March 28.
We’ve just had some really exciting news... Last year OneKind produced an inspiring short film called ‘They’re Here’ about the amazing animals we share the planet with. We have just had the tremendous news that it has reached the last 16 of Youtube’s DoGooder video awards. This is a massive achievement in itself as it was up against 1400 other films from across the globe, but if we win, the benefits could be enormous for animals.
If we were to win, the video would be featured on the Youtube homepage meaning exposure to tens of millions of people with this important message for animals.
How to vote for They’re Here:
=================== - Visit the Youtube Dogooder web page HERE
- Click on the ‘Vote’ tab
- Select ‘They’re Here – a film from Onekind’ from the panel on the right
- When the video plays, click on the green thumbs up button.
- You can do this once each day!
You need to be logged in to vote – if you don’t have an account, you can set one up quite easily by clicking on ‘create account’.
Thanks for your support! Vote now for They’re Here !! AND KEEP VOTING !!!
Chief Executive Officer OneKind
DON'T stop him now – Queen superstar
Brian May is set to rock you with a gig at
the Lincolnshire air base where his parents fell in love.
The legendary guitarist and songwriter will take to the stage for the Anthems in the Park concert at RAF Cranwell, where his parents first met after his father joined the Royal Air Force when war broke out in 1939.
He will top the bill alongside West End and Broadway star Kerry Ellis, who joined May on a touring stage show called Anthems.
The show will be held outside the historic College Hall on Saturday, July 16.
The rock legend said: "My dad was a radio operator and navigator. He flew in Beaufighters and Mosquitoes.
"He did not like talking about his actual experiences, except when people wanted to know about the aeroplanes themselves, which he loved. I have some pictures of them that he left to me – one in particular of a Beaufighter which was his home for a while.
"He met my mum, Ruth Fletcher, in the RAF. Ruth was a dental orderly in the WRAF and I believe it was at Cranwell that they met. As soon as the war was over, they got married and soon I was on the way.
"My dad got his commission just before he was demobbed. I believe it was something he cherished and had worked very hard for. He had a family on the way."
Organisers are remaining tight-lipped about what songs will be performed at the concert, but say the pair will be backed up with performances from the Band of the Royal Air Force College Cranwell, as well as the Salon Orchestra of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.
There could also be an air display topped off with fireworks to end the show.
The event has been organised by a team of volunteers to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund, which provides support to serving and former members of the RAF, as well as their partners and dependants.
The first outdoor concert took place in summer 2009 with the New Zealand singer Hayley Westenra.
Station Commander Group Captain Dave Waddington said: "I'm very grateful to both Brian May and Kerry Ellis for making what would otherwise be an enjoyable event into a truly outstanding and memorable one."
Tickets cost £25 for adults, £15 for children (5-17) and under 5s free. Family tickets (2 adults and 2 children 5-17) cost £65.
Gates open at 4.30pm, with a fly-past at 7.10pm, and the concert begins at 7.30pm.
To book tickets call 0844 888 9991 or visit www.ticketline.co.uk. You can also visit www.rafbf.org/cranwell orwww.raf.mod.uk/cranwell
**Wed 09 Mar 11**
BRIAN SPEAKS UP AGAINST ANNOUNCEMENT TO CULL WELSH BADGERS
Brian spoke to ITV Wales on the day Welsh Rural Affairs Minister announced that she still was intent on introducing a cull of badgers in Wales. The following is a clip from ITV Wales Tonight, 9 March 2011.
"The levels of bovine TB are actually dropping at this point, so it's quite scandalous to open up the slaughter of these wild animals at this point especially. You can kill as many badgers as you like and there will still be bovine TB in ten years' time in Britain. Really the Welsh countryside is going to be covered with blood and I don't think that's going to be good for its image for tourism and for the future." Brian May
The world may have caught a severe case of Bieber Fever but there is still one important person in the music scene who remains completely immune. Queen guitarist Brian May recently revealed in an exclusive interview with PopStop TV that he has no idea who Justin Bieber is.
When I asked Brian May at the 2011 3D Animation Awards what he thought of contemporary artists like Justin Bieber, May replied, “I don’t know anything about him. I’m too old.”
May also continued to describe how the music scene has changed “immeasurably”. “I suppose particularly all the ‘X-Factor’ type culture and the instant TV has changed things a lot. It’s very, very hard for an artist to get across if he’s not part of the TV culture. In a way I would like to see things evened out a little bit. It’s not all bad, but I don’t know what Bob Dylan would do these days.”
Reflecting upon his work mentoring the American Idol hopefuls back in 2006, May said, “We’ve helped them because you have to, these kids have dreams and they work hard at it so why not support them, but the system has some problems in it kind of unbalances the world. So we’ll go through this phase and something else will happen.”
We can’t help but to agree with Brian May that the television world has such a large impact on musicians nowadays. Unfortunately, it’s not always about the talent but rather the popularity and fan base of the artist.
We’re pretty sure we know what he thinks about Snooki on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
Guitarist Brian May opens up about working with Queen’s charismatic singer – and the emotional aftermath of his death .
Queen, with Freddie Mercury (left) and Brian May, in concert at
London's Hammersmith Odeon Photo: Martyn Goddard/Rex Features
"If I am asked once more, 'What was it like working with Freddie?’, I will spew,” sighs Brian May, as he settles down in front of me. It is not the most auspicious of beginnings to our encounter, particularly since the subject is the 40th anniversary of Queen, whose late frontman, Freddie Mercury, remains a character of enduring fascination to the public.
To be fair, the 63-year-old guitarist is otherwise unfailingly polite, softly spoken and thoughtful in his responses, and genuinely endeavours to “delve deep and true”. But that truth includes an edge of ambivalence about the group who have dominated May’s musical life. “Queen cast a long shadow,” as he puts it.
“When Freddie died, it was like losing a family member, and we all handled it in different ways. For a time, I really wanted to escape from Queen; I didn’t want to know about it. I think that was my grieving process. But I’m very proud of what we did together. My God, we really did go on some interesting excursions! Mostly, it makes me feel good.”
For a band who formed in 1971, and effectively came to an end when their frontman died in 1991, Queen remain extremely present in pop culture. Their Greatest Hits is the biggest selling album of all time in the UK and their musical, We Will Rock You, has been running for nine years in London’s West End. This month, Island begin re-releasing all their albums in deluxe formats, starting with the first five: Queen, Queen II, Sheer Heart Attack, A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races. A Freddie Mercury movie is scheduled with Sacha Baron Cohen in the title role, and there is an exhibition at the Truman Brewery, London, Stormtroopers in Stilettos.
May admits that he and drummer Roger Taylor (bassist John Deacon retired in 1997) were “quite unsettled” by seeing their early days laid out before them. “It was a jolt, our childhood pressed in front of our faces.”
May and Taylor formed the band Smile at Ealing Art College in the Sixties. Farrokh Bulsara (Freddie Mercury’s given name, reflecting his Indian-African background) was a fan before joining forces. What potential did May detect in him? “We took it on faith somehow. His personality was so strong. We didn’t see a great singer or musician first of all: he was very wild and unsophisticated. We just saw someone who had incredible belief and charisma, and we liked him.”
Mercury’s development was lightning-fast. “I think the first time it struck me was in the studio, when Freddie was listening to his voice come back, going, 'No, that won’t do’, and just working and working. He was exceptional, and there was a very quick period, you could almost have blinked and missed it, where he learned to harness his technique.”
What is particularly striking about Queen is the vast scope and variety of their material, even from the earliest days, encompassing heavy rock , florid showtunes, hook-laden pop, folky sweetness and off-the-wall experimentation.
“There were no limits. Our heroes were The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, things like The White Album were religious texts for us, in terms of how free and creative you can be. And we had better toys than The Beatles had. The studio had developed: we were like artists let loose with loads of lovely paint pots. It’s hard to put a name to it . It’s just four guys making the music of their passion .”
By the time of Bohemian Rhapsody and A Night at the Opera (1975), Queen were venturing into places of almost comical grandeur. “There was a great spirit about it. We were watching Marx Brothers movies at Rockfield, where we were recording, and we got a sense that they could go anywhere they wanted, they were so in control of their medium. It was quite outrageous. And we felt the same sort of spirit: we had discovered our power as a group and were just at the point where we could really turn ourselves loose.”
All four band members proved themselves accomplished songwriters, which doesn’t sound like a recipe for creative harmony. “We were very equal and very competitive. Nobody got away with a single note that the other three didn’t think was OK.” He admits that sessions were frequently fraught. “We were argumentative to the point where we almost destroyed each other. At times we all left the group, one of us would go storming off saying, 'That’s it!’ Quite often, in fact. There was a very painful side, four artists with brushes in hands trying to paint on the same canvas.”
Mercury was usually the peacemaker. “Freddie wasn’t greedy for power. People have this image of him as a diva who insisted on getting his own way, but he was the mediator, the guy who could make sense out of opposite ends of arguments. He was very good at focusing on the important issues.”
May’s warmest memories of Queen, strangely, come from their final recording sessions in Montreux, Switzerland, in the period leading up to Mercury’s death, on November 24, 1991, of Aids-related pneumonia. “It was obvious that Freddie had not got long to live, but he just wanted life to be normal, and to make as much music as humanly possible. He said, 'Keep writing for me, let’s keep recording stuff. Then you guys can finish it when I’m gone.’ So he had an amazing acceptance himself. We were there with our very closest family, in this rather warm and cosy place where we could just create. And Freddie loved it. It was his favourite thing in the world, just to make music, to make unusual things happen. He wasn’t very well by that time, but if it came to it, he’d say, 'Oh well, we need a vocal, don’t we? ---- it, I’ll do it’. Then he’d down a couple of vodkas, prop himself up at the desk, and go for it, and sing amazingly, with such passion and strength, until he dropped.”
For someone who started the interview dreading discussing Mercury, May offers this, unbidden: “I think about Freddie all the time, really. There certainly isn’t a day where I don’t have some sort of thought about him. I have been to the extremes, where I have found it very painful, and I couldn’t talk about him. But I don’t feel that any more. He’s part of our lives, still, in a very real way. I’m not saying there aren’t moments when I don’t get tearful, because there are, but most of the time it’s a joy.”
**Tue 08 Mar 11**
BRIAN ON THE SKY AT NIGHT "700 NOT OUT"
Brian joined Sir Patrick Moore, Chris Lintott, the Astronomer Royal and other friends to celebrate the 700th edition of the longest-running programme on BBC TV's The Sky At Night. Broadcast on BBC One, Sunday 6 March 2011, 23:25.
More opportunities to see: 6 Mar 2011 - 23:25 - BBC One (except Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales)
6 Mar 2011 23:50 - BBC One (Northern Ireland only)
6 Mar 2011 - 23:55 - BBC One (Scotland, Wales only)
8 Mar 2011 - 19:30 - BBC Four
9 Mar 2011 - 00:00 - BBC Four
12 Mar 2011 - 12:00 - BBC Two (except Northern Ireland (Analogue), Wales (Analogue))
**Mon 07 Mar 11**
BRIAN MAY WILL BE GIVEN EDDY CHRISTIANI AWARD 2011
On 23 April 2011, Brian May, one of the greatest rock stars of the last 40 years, will come to the Arsenaaltheater in Vlissingen in the Dutch province of Zeeland in order to personally receive the Eddy Christiani Award.
The guitar sound of Brian May, guitarist and songwriter of the legendary band Queen, is completely unique. Clean, light, distorted or oversteered; his virtuoso performance is always unmatched, warm and of an enormous harmonious richness.
The jury report of chairman of the jury and music journalist Jean-Paul Heck says: “Brian May is one of the most influential guitarists of the last 40 years. May has influenced thousands of guitar players all over the world and many current superstars started out playing guitar because of him. May’s guitar play has an amazing recognisability. Within five seconds, you can hear that it is him. The tone, the timing, it is all equally unique. Aside from that, he is also an unbelievably talented song writer. Together with Jimmy Page and Eddie van Halen, May belongs to the most influential guitarists of his generation.’
Brian May and Queen have held the limelight for 40 years and continue to do so. Their 40th anniversary in 2011 is cause for an enormous celebration. This spring their first five albums will be re-released with a new look. The other albums will follow later in 2011. Besides that there will be an exhibition in London called 'Stormtroopers in Stilettos' as well as a Hollywood film about the life of Freddie Mercury and the musical ‘We Will Rock You’ continues to enthral people around the world.
The Eddy Christiani Award is an initiative of Poppuntzeeland and is awarded to a guitarist who has earned his merit in the international pop circuit and who has, just like Eddy Christiani, given an invaluable contribution to the development of the electric guitar. Leendert Haaksma (2006), Dany Lademacher (2007), Adrian Vandenberg (2008) Jan Akkerman (2009) and Steve Lukather (2010) have all received the award.
Several famous artists are involved with this event. Dutch pop star Roel Van Velzen & band will play a main role during the evening.
Queen guitarist Brian May was one of the stars to attend a special awards ceremony at the House of Lords in London on Friday to honor the “valuable and tireless work of small, independent rescue centers that help animals in the UK and overseas.”
Founded by Wetnose Animal Aid, the annual Wetnose Awards seek to “raise awareness of the fantastic job centres do in rescuing, caring for and rehoming abandoned animals, whilst highlighting the passionate, hardworking individuals ‘behind the scenes’ who selflessly devote their time to helping animals in need.”
Legendary guitarist Brian May presented British stage and screen actress Virginia McKenna a special lifetime achievement award for founding the Born Free Foundation in 1991. McKenna is best known for playing the role of Joy Adamson in the 1966 movie Born Free. The Born Free Foundation now works throughout the world to stop individual wild animals suffering, and also protects species in the wild.
Joining May at the event were actor Martin Clunes – who presented an award to Ace Animal Care in Egypt – as well as The Bill actor Graham Cole, Lorraine Chase and Anthea Turner.
**Mon 07 Mar 11**
BRIAN MAY AND KERRY ELLIS - ANTHEMS IN THE PARK
AT RAF CRANWELL
ANTHEMS in the PARK is an event Brian May and Kerry Ellis will play on July 16. This is a concert separate from their tour and is a personal journey back for Brian: Brian’s mother and father both served in the Royal Air Force and met at Cranwell.
Click poster for larger image
ROYAL AIR FORCE CRANWELL
Presents BRIAN MAY - KERRY ELLIS
ANTHEMS IN THE PARK THE BAND OF THE ROYAL AIR FORCE COLLEGE
Salon Orchestra of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force
In aid of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Saturday 16th July 2011
Gates Open - 4.30pm, Flypast time - 7.10pm, Performance time - 7.30pm
Get your tickets:
Ticket prices: Adult - £25, Child Aged 5 to 17 - £15, Child Under 5 - Free
Family Ticket (2 adults and 2 children) - £65 (Under 18's MUST be accompanied by an Adult. Get your tickets
Search for Cranwell at www.ticketline.co.uk [https://secure.ticketline.co.uk/tickets/13255676/royal-air-force-cranwell-anthems-in-the-park/cranwell-royal-air-force/2011-07-16]
or go to www.rafbf.org/cranwell or www.raf.mod.uk/rafcranwell
Ticketline Sales Hotline - 0844 888 9991
Please bring your own picnic, but for safety reasons no fires or barbecues are allowed * Food & refreshments will be on sale * Seating and cover is not provided so do bring chairs, tables, picnic blankets but NO gazebos.
No dogs, other than assistance dogs, can be permitted * Free parking provided and special parking is available for Blue Badge holders
* Wheelchair users pre-book via Tel: 01400 267076, Email: CRN-Stn-BSW-CCO@mod.uk
THEY WILL ROCK YOU!
KERRY ELLIS AND BRIAN MAY: ANTHEMS IN THE PARK
Queen guitarist Brian May and West End and Broadway star Kerry Ellis are to top the bill at a prestigious outdoor concert at Royal Air Force Cranwell in Lincolnshire this summer.
Following their successful ANTHEMS tour Kerry and Brian will perform outside the historic College Hall on Saturday 16 July in aid of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. Also appearing on the night is the Band of the Royal Air Force College Cranwell under the baton of their Director of Music, Flight Lieutenant Matt Little, as well as the Salon Orchestra of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.
“ANTHEMS in the PARK will be a fantastic occasion and I’m very grateful to both Brian May and Kerry Ellis in agreeing to perform for us and making what would otherwise be an enjoyable event into a truly outstanding and memorable one,” said Royal Air Force Cranwell’s Station Commander, Group Captain Dave Waddington. “Kerry and Brian will be supported by our very own, world-class Band of the Royal Air Force College and will perform in front of the grandeur of College Hall Officers’ Mess, the most famous building of the Royal Air Force. Brian’s mother and father both served in the Royal Air Force and met at Cranwell, so it especially fitting that he should perform here.”
Given that Royal Air Force Cranwell is the oldest military air academy in the world there will be an air display – weather permitting - and the musical programme will finish with a stunning firework display. The event has been organised by a team of volunteers and all profits made will be donated to charity, the major beneficiary being the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund who provide support to serving and former members of the Royal Air Force, as well as their partners and dependants.
“If you are tempted to spend an evening at the home of the Royal Air Force, being entertained by world famous stars at what is surely the premier music event of the summer and know that every penny made will be donated to charity then please support us by buying a ticket, coming along and joining in the fun,” said Group Captain Waddington.
Adult £25 / Child ticket (5-17) £15 / Under 5s free / Family ticket (2 Adults and 2 Children 5-17) £65
Gates will open at 4.30 p.m., there will be a fly past at 7.10 p.m. and the concert will start at 7.30 p.m. Concert goers are asked to provide their own seating and for those who do not wish to bring picnics there will be a number of food and drink concessions available on the night including champagne, Pimms and beer tents as well as a hog roast and ice cream vendors.
ROYAL AIR FORCE CRANWELL, SLEAFORD, LINCOLNSHIRE
Royal Air Force Cranwell is home to many of the Royal Air Force’s most prestigious training units. Most famous is the College that is responsible for the selection and initial training of all young officer and aircrew cadets as well as the recruiting of all ranks. Royal Air Force Cranwell is also an extremely busy flying training base. Both No 3 Flying Training School and No 1 Elementary Flying Training School conduct a large part of their training at the base. Other units based at Cranwell include the Air Cadet Organisation, Central Flying School, Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering, Air Warfare Centre, the bands of the Royal Air Force College and the Royal Air Force Regiment and other specialist medical, engineering and security organisations.
With a musical career spanning four decades, Queen founding member Brian May is a world-renowned guitarist, songwriter, producer and performer who provided Queen with many of their finest musical moments, among them the anthemic 'We Will Rock You', 'The Show Must Go On' and 'I Want It All'. To date he has penned 22 top 20 hits worldwide.
Venturing into the world of theatre as early as 1988, Brian wrote and performed the music for The Red and Gold Theatre Company's 'Macbeth', at the Riverside Theatre in London. This was a pre-cursor to his deep commitment to developing Queen's musical We Will Rock You, currently breaking records in its ninth year at London’s Dominion Theatre.
As an accomplished solo artist, Brian has recorded two highly successful solo albums - 1991's Back To The Light, including 'Too Much Love Will Kill You' and 'Driven By You', both Ivor Novello Award winners, and 1998's Another World.
As patron to a number of charities, Brian’s endeavours along with his accomplishments in music led to him being awarded the title of Commander of the British Empire in Spring 2006.
Kerry Ellis, who has just finished a year starring as Nancy in Cameron Mackintosh's production of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane has also appeared as Svetlana in Chess In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Fantine in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre and Ellen in the National Tour of Miss Saigon.
Kerry also understudied the role of Eliza Dolittle in Trevor Nunn’s production of My Fair Lady at the National Theatre and Drury Lane and it was in this role that she came to the attention of Brian May. She then went on to create the role of Meat in the original London cast of the Queen/Ben Elton musical We Will Rock You at the Dominion Theatre. In 2008, Kerry released Wicked In Rock, produced by Brian May, featuring Defying Gravity and I'm Not That Girl from Wicked, and the single No One But You (Queen & Kerry Ellis).
Kerry played the role of Elphaba for two years in the London production of Wicked, and then for six months at the Gershwin Theatre on Broadway. For her performance, Kerry won the Broadway.com Audience Award for Favourite Female Breakthrough Performance and won Best Takeover in a Role at the 2008 Theatregoer’s Choice Awards. Her long awaited debut album ANTHEMS was released in September 2010 on Decca Records and she and Brian May release their new single, a rendition of Wicked's 'Defying Gravity', on March 20.
THE ROYAL AIR FORCE BENEVOLENT FUND
The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is the Royal Air Force's leading welfare charity, providing financial, practical and emotional support to all members of the Royal Air Force family. They are there to help serving and former members of the Royal Air Force, as well as their partners and dependants deal with a wide range of issues: from childcare and relationship difficulties to injury and disability, and from financial hardship and debt to illness and bereavement.
At Royal Air Force Cranwell, during 2009, they gave over £325,000 in individual welfare assistance to personnel in need of our support. They also funded the construction of the station’s new Multi Use Games Area, plus the provision of a trained youth worker. Both these projects are part of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund £10 million “Airplay” programme, which is designed to help support young people in Royal Air Force families at stations across the UK.
Further information about the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund can be found at www.rafbf.org
The RAFBF in numbers
• £20m spent on welfare each year
• 2.4m people in the Royal Air Force family
• 40,000 people serving in the Royal Air Force
• 7,500 cases dealt with each year
• 270 Housing Trust properties owned
• £500,000 spent annually on mobility
• Over 1,200 welfare breaks at Princess Marina House each year
• £2m spent annually on help with care home fees
• Over £12m spent equipping and building 26 childcare centres on Royal Air Force stations
• 50 specialist advisers funded to provide fast-track debt advice through Citizens Advice
• Free relationship counselling for serving couples provided through Relate
• Up to £10m allocated for Multi-Use Games Areas and youth workers on Royal Air Force stations
• £3.2m of funding to other charities
Brian attended the Wetnose Awards on Friday (4 March 2011) at the House of Lords, Westminster, London, to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Virginia McKenna. See more at wetnoseanimalaid.com
STARS TURN OUT FOR BORDER COLLIE BLUE THE TOP RESCUE PET WINNER
6 March 2011 | by Chloe Thomas
Brian May arrives at Wetnose
Awards Photo from M&C
BLUE the border collie who was locked up in a windowless garden shed for six years and needed £5,000 of operations due to years of abuse is the Sunday Express-backed UK Best Rescue Pet. He was honoured by charity Wetnose Animal Aid at their awards in London on Friday before a galaxy of stars including Queen guitarist Brian May, TV presenter Anthea Turner and actor Martin Clunes.
Anthea Turner with Blue and Brian May
Blue’s mouth and gums were full of splinters and metal staples after spending his days scratching the floor and banging his head desperately trying to escape. Actor Peter Egan fought back tears as he read out Blue’s story. The eight-year-old animal was rescued by dog lover Karen Braithwaite, of Addlestone, Surrey. Karen, 48, was called out when Blue’s owners got a new dog and didn’t want him. She said: “He was kept in a derelict shed. When the door opened he shot out like a bullet from a gun and wagged his tail. I said I’d take him straight away.”
Blue’s prize, a lifetime supply of dog food, was presented by Stuart Winter, Sunday Express Environment Editor. He said: “One dog is abandoned every six minutes. It is a growing problem. We at the Sunday Express felt it important to recognise a very special dog and Karen, a very special woman.”
Sir Patrick Moore at home in West Sussex
Photo: PAUL GROVER
Click image for larger
Leaving Sir Patrick Moore’s rambling house in West Sussex, misery descends. It’s not that the experience of interviewing him has been bruising, or that he has been impolite – quite the opposite, actually – more a sense of frustration on his behalf. Sir Patrick’s brain can go to galaxies all over the universe, but his body is confined to his bedroom and the study, moved between the two by his carer in a piece of equipment he cheerily calls George, despite the fact it resembles a sort of crane-like winch. This makes me pity Sir Patrick. And you don’t want to pity a man who has written over 100 books on Astronomy, who mapped the moon for Russia.
Sir Patrick turned 88 yesterday. Today he will hold a party at Farthings, the house he has lived in for almost 50 years. “Patrick likes a party,” says his neighbour, who pops over for a gin and tonic mid-afternoon. His carer Dawn tells me there will be celebrities in attendance. Brian May, the Queen guitarist who is also a keen astronomer, is coming. Brian Cox, Sir Patrick’s heir, will probably be there. And possibly Nigel Farage, with whom Sir Patrick has become good friends since he signed up to Ukip. “You must come,” says the astronomer, and it is tempting to be a fly on the wall.
There is another reason to celebrate. Tomorrow is the 700th episode of The Sky At Night, the world’s longest running television show. It started way back in 1957, which makes Sir Patrick the planet’s most enduring TV presenter. He has only missed one show, when he caught salmonella from a goose egg in 2004.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Simon Cowell. Moore has a very impressive pipe collection, actually, and no, he has never seen an episode of The X Factor. He tells me his favourite programmes are Dad’s Army, 'Allo 'Allo and Yes Minister. Other than that, I don’t think he watches much television. The rickety little set in his study is tuned into Teletext, and when the local astronomy society clubbed together to buy him a plasma screen he refused to watch it because he doesn’t really do technology.
Anyway, here he is, heaven sent to the BBC on account of the fact he proves that a) the corporation isn’t ageist, and b) they don’t pay every presenter a ridiculously inflated wage. In fact, Sir Patrick says they don’t pay him anything at all. “Recently they asked me if I would take a 20 per cent pay cut.” He gives a quizzical look through his monocle. “I said to them 'what is 20 per cent of pounds zero?’
“I think that is the reason The Sky At Night has carried on for so very long,” he continues. “It’s cheap.” They have filmed it at Farthings for the last ten years or so, since Sir Patrick’s arthritis made it impossible for him to leave the house. He cannot even go into his observatory any more; can’t look through the telescope he has had since the fifties, the very one he used to map the moon. It is rusty and rickety now, but I imagine that one day it will be worth a lot of money indeed.
I am shown all of this by his friend Hilton Ratcliffe, an astrophysicist who has flown over from South Africa especially for the party. It is useful to speak to Ratcliffe, because Sir Patrick finds it difficult to talk. During the war, when he was a navigator in the RAF, he was in a plane crash which killed his pilot and co-pilot. Sir Patrick lost all his teeth, and they were replaced hurriedly. In his dotage, the slurring has got worse.
Ratcliffe takes me around Farthings. He shows me the pictures of Sir Patrick with Neil Armstrong, and an astonishing one of him with Albert Einstein. They dueted on The Swan when they met at Princeton – Einstein on the violin, Sir Patrick on the piano (he is also an accomplished musician). “I think I am the only person alive who has met the first man in space, the first man on the moon, the first man who flew, and then Albert Einstein,” says Sir Patrick.
The house is packed with certificates and honorary doctorates. Sir Patrick never had a formal education because he was ill as a child and schooled at home; when it was time to go to Cambridge the war broke out and that was that. Nor has he ever married. His fiancee was killed by a German bomb, and after that he never wanted another woman.
Sir Patrick was exceptionally close to his mother, who lived with him until her death in 1981. He still has the cuckoo clock she gave him 82 years ago, for his sixth birthday, and the walls are lined with pictures she drew of 'bogeys’ – her imaginings of extra terrestrials. “If aliens did ever make contact with me,” says Sir Patrick, “I would say 'hello, would you like a cup of tea?’ I don’t think they’d be hostile. We are the hostile ones, with all our wars.”
He tells me that he misses going out to his observatory “terribly. It is very frustrating.” But Farthings is a treasure trove of his memories – memories and tiny pieces of meteorites. And he has his beloved cats, Jeannie and Ptolemy. “When I met them it was love at first sight. I am a cat man. I have had eight or nine. It is so sad when they go.”
Will he leave all his belongings to the them? He looks at me through his monocle. “Ha! You are presuming that they will outlive me.”
THE SKY AT NIGHT 700TH EPISODE
Sunday 6 March 2011
Brian May is also a guest on the this special episode, along with Dr Brian Cox, comedian, Jon Culshaw and Martin Rees..
TOMORROW (6 March), 23:25 on BBC One (except Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales) 700 Not Out
Patrick Moore celebrates the 700th episode with Professor Brian Cox, Jon Culshaw and Martin Rees.
Other opportunities to see:
6 Mar 2011 - 23:25 - BBC One (except Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales)
6 Mar 2011 23:50 - BBC One (Northern Ireland only)
6 Mar 2011 - 23:55 - BBC One (Scotland, Wales only)
8 Mar 2011 - 19:30 - BBC Four
9 Mar 2011 - 00:00 - BBC Four
12 Mar 2011 - 12:00 -BBC Two (except Northern Ireland (Analogue), Wales (Analogue))
MOORE CELEBRATES 700TH EPISODE (UKPA) 4 March 2011
The Sky at Night will reach a broadcasting milestone on Sunday when the 700th episode of the stargazing show goes out. The programme's mainstay, Sir Patrick Moore, will be joined by a panel of experts including Professor Brian Cox and impressionist and amateur astronomer Jon Culshaw to answer viewer's questions.
His co-host Dr Chris Lintott said filming the special show was a "real highlight". Writing on his BBC blog, he said: "I think everyone involved - except possibly Patrick, who knows everything already - learned something along the way." Astrophysicist Dr Lintott paid tribute to Moore who has only missed one show since he began broadcasting in 1957. He said: "When he speaks, people listen because they're confident they will understand his explanations, whether he's talking about the moon or black holes."
Moore's trademark monocle, unique delivery and occasional performances on the xylophone made him a familiar target for satirists and impressionists, but his scientific credentials have never been in doubt.
The show's guests have included many prominent scientists as well as Goon Show star Michael Bentine and astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
But the demands of live television have led to the occasional blooper with Moore famously once swallowing a fly live on air.
VOLUNTEERS who look after sick and abandoned cats have been honoured with a national award for their hard work. Chestnut Cat Sanctuary in Epping won Best Cat Rescue of the Year at the Wetnose Burgess Rescue Awards. Staff will rub shoulders with stars including Queen guitarist Brian May, actor Martin Clunes and presenter Anthea Turner at a ceremony on Friday (March 4) where they will collect their award.
Cathy Bryant, 44, who helps run the centre in Thornwood High Road, said: “The award is quite something, we're all really chuffed. A few of us are going to the ceremony and we're looking forward to some celebrity-spotting. All the staff here volunteer because we love the work. Our centre's a bit different because we never put a healthy animal down, which some places do because they don't have the space. I think we've been busier recently, certainly in the last year. People don't realise how expensive it can be taking a cat on, especially when they get hit with vet's bills, so sometimes they just abandon them. In my opinion the law should be tougher on people who mistreat animals.”
The centre opened in 2000 and re-homes around 1,000 cats each year. It relies entirely on donations from the public to cover its £9,000 monthly running costs. With up to 50 cats in their care at any one time, staff meet their fair share of felines but inevitably some become favourites.
Mrs Bryant added: “One cat we all love is Suzie. She's diabetic and a bit older than a lot of our cats, so she's having trouble finding a home. She's a real diamond. When you meet the lovely people who come and take cats it's such a nice feeling, although you're sorry to see them go.”
A recent article in March edition of Q magazine [A Kind of Magic], featured interviews with both Brian May and Roger Taylor ..." [-See HEREfor Roger's interview.] Brian's interview followed on from speaking with Roger... we pick up here...
When Q comes to discuss our impending interview with Brian May, the drummer [Roger Taylor] warns that his band mate will talk about animals at great length. “I think he’s saving the ant next week,” Taylor says mischievously. May is indeed involved in activism concerning such hot rural topics as the culling of badgers (he is against it). However, come the day of our chat, it’s only when there’s mention of an early Queen magazine that lists one of the guitarist’s favourite things as prawn cocktails that his sensibilities become apparent. May ruefully explains that he no longer eats this classic starter – or any meat whatsoever – due to disagreeable farming practices. “I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad animal,” he concludes. “Only bad people.”
A graduate of London’s Imperial College, May abandoned his PhD on dust clouds – later finished in 2007 – and a career in astrophysics when commitments to Queen combined with the rigours of teaching maths at a comprehensive school left no time for study and adequate rest. “I still don’t sleep that much,” says the 63-year-old. “I’d like to tell you that it’s good but it’s not always good. I tend to run myself into the ground a lot of the time.”
May is softly spoken and unfailingly polite with an academic’s inclination for responding to questions as fully as he can. By his own admission he has struggled with depression in the past but found comfort in looking up at the night sky and “getting a feeling of bravery from the stars”. Unlike Taylor, it is difficult to imagine this sensitive man whole-heartedly enjoying the more hedonistic aspects of rock superstardom. “I did and I didn’t,” he says. “I loved the social side of it, but there was a part of me that kept to myself and was much more private. I was perpetually on an emotional roller coaster of my own. Perhaps I was a little too much of an island but, on the other hand, maybe it kept me sane. It’s not a very definite answer, I’m sorry. Yes and no.”
Who did you have most in common with when Queen first got together? That’s complicated. We had quite a complex, sort of multi-way interaction. That’s why it worked, really. I was very close to Roger in some ways because we’d already been in a band together. We were – and we are – kind of brothers. We were so close in our aspirations and the way we looked at music, but of course so distant in so many other ways. Like any pair of brothers, we sort of loved and hated each other all along the line. In a way I was very close to Freddie, particularly in the songwriting area. Some of my best times were producing a vocal out of Freddie, sort of coaxing him in various directions.
In what areas, as people, do you and Roger differ the most? Anything you care to name. Once we got into details with the music it was in there as well. We would argue for days over one particular note.
What else apart from the music would you disagree about? We had a lot of spats of various kinds. Once I’d just got a fabulous new fish-eye lens and I was sort of paparazzing Roger. He was making his face up at the time because we were glam in those days. He put this make-up sponge straight on my new lens and I wasn’t too pleased about that but you get over these things. Roger would fly off the handle fairly easily. You’d hear this clunk and it would be, “Oh, Roger’s thrown another TV out of the window.”
Did calling the band Queen seem like a good idea to you? I had reservations but it was very democratic. We had a list of suggested names and Queen had come from Freddie. One of the others was The Grand Dance, which I don’t think would have been very good. Freddie was very much a dandy in those day, Roger was as well. Everyone was into dressing up but it wasn’t an expression of sexuality, it was just an expression of freedom. The most fancy of the peacocks strutting around would get called queens. At the time I didn’t know Freddie was gay and I don’t know if he did either; I think that he was finding himself at that point. So we were aware of all the connotations of the word “queen”, of course, but in a way that was an attraction because part of what we stood for was freedom and equality, whether it’s racial or anything else.
Is it true that you used to take your own personal tea and biscuits on tour? No, but if my wife came out she’d bring items from home because back then you couldn’t get Digestive biscuits in America. Or Typhoo tea. I actually enjoyed getting into the culture of wherever we were. The Englishman is famed for not being very good at that.
Freddie’s moustache became a part of the band’s iconography. Did it make much of an impression on you at first?
If you want the truth, I think that the only significant thing was the music.
Your trademark hairstyle was very distinctive too, of course.
It is what it is. I generally hated my hair when I was a kid because it was curly. I felt like there was something wrong with me because it wouldn’t do what other people’s hair would do. Then, Jimi Hendrix made it OK to have curly hair and be cool and so from then on I just let it do its thing.
Would you say that how you each appeared in the video for 1984’s I Want To Break Free was an accurate reflection of your personalities?
Of course! Everybody thinks that was Freddie’s idea because it looks like something that he would love to do but it actually came from Roger’s girlfriend at the time, strangely enough. It was her idea to pastiche the Coronation Street women.
Was it her idea to have Roger dress up as a schoolgirl? I think that was probably his idea [laughs].
Did you have any idea that Queen’s 1986 Knebworth show would be the last time that you all played live together?
No. Freddie said something like, “Oh I can’t f***ing do this any more”, but he normally said things like that at the end of a tour so I don’t think we took it seriously. “My whole body’s wracked with pain!”
Roger said that he never had a cross word with Freddie. Did you? I never did either. I think that’s an odd juxtaposition with Freddie’s image of being a prima donna. Actually he was the great diplomat and if there were arguments between us Freddie usually was able to sort them out.
When you learned that Freddie was dying did you want to continue recording? Yeah. He loved being in the studio and I think right up to the end that was his greatest escape. He was singing vocals when he couldn’t even stand. He’d prop himself up against the desk, knock a couple of vodkas down and go for it. The very last time we ever did that, me and him, was singing Mother Love, which is one of my favourite tracks on Made In Heaven. He never finished that. He said, “Oh Brian, I can’t do any more. I’m dying here” [laughs]. He never seemed to let it get him down.
Did you find those final sessions upsetting? We developed such a great closeness as a band that they were actually quite joyful times. The thing is, there’s always a big element of disbelief. Yes, we knew the prognosis but I didn’t think we quite believed that it could happen to Freddie. He’s Freddie, after all. He’s invincible. So when the news finally came it was a real bolt from the blue.
Did you get to say goodbye to Freddie? We were with him a lot in the final days but it wasn’t a question of saying goodbye, it was a question of just sharing a moment. I remember an occasion when he was lying in bed and he couldn’t see out into his garden very well. We were talking about his plants, which he loved. Actually Anita [Dobson, whom May married in 2000] and I were there. He said, “Guys, don’t feel like you have to entertain me. Just you being here is what’s important and I’m enjoying that.” So I think, in a way, that was him – amazingly – finding acceptance of the way things were. So, no, the word “goodbye” didn’t happen but we reached a very peaceful place.
Is it difficult for you because I’m thinking of Freddie Mercury, the great rock frontman, but to you, above all, he’s your deceased friend? It is. One of my hardest moments was unveiling the statue of Freddie in Montreux . Obviously it’s a very nice tribute and the ceremony was very moving but I just suddenly became overcome by anger. I thought, “This is all that’s left of my friend and everybody’s thinking it’s normal and fabulous but it’s actually awful that I’m looking at a piece of bronze which is … [sighs] the image of my friend and my friend’s not here any more.”
What went through your mind when David Bowie started saying the Lord’s Prayer at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert?
What the f**k is he doing? [laughs] It hadn’t been rehearsed. I suppose it would have been nice if he had told us but maybe it was truly spontaneous. I never had that conversation with him afterwards.
When did you last see John Deacon?
Oh, a long time ago. He’s very private now and he communicates by emails when there’s a business discussion, but that’s it.
Can you understand the opinion held by some Queen fans that We Will Rock You isn’t right?
You know what, you can never please everyone. I remember when Queen II  came out a lot of these people said, “That’s not Queen any more. They’ve forsaken their fans!” That was probably half a dozen people. Everyone else went, “Whoopee!”
. . . .
After four decades as a member of Queen, Roger Taylor has given some consideration to retirement as he eases into his 60s with a fortune of around £70 million. “I think about it a lot, actually,“ he says. “I was just thinking, Why the f**k do I work so hard? I must be nuts, but it keeps you gong.“
Brian May is on similarly good terms with his bank manager but seems stunned at the suggestion that he might one day like to have more time to relax. “What would I do?” he considers. “I’m not one for sitting on beaches. I love to be creating, making things and solving problems and if I’m not, I’m not an incredibly good person to be around. If I’m not busy, it would be a disaster.”
Taylor can, at least, imagine a life of total leisure. “I might try and paint,” he says with a familiar grin. “But I’d probably be crap." Q
An injured finger prevented Queen guitarist Brian May from joining the cast of the band’s tribute musical “We Will Rock You” at Copenhagen Forum Feb. 23.
Brian May with UK Touring Cast - Copenhagen opening
He told the audience he couldn’t play because he’d had “an argument with a tin can” that apparently left him with a nasty cut on one of his fingers. He and former Queen sidekick Roger Taylor, who did get on stage and played drums, made the trip to Copenhagen because it was the opening night of "We Will Rock You's" European Tour.
It’s the first time the cast of the London production has set foot in mainland Europe for years, and the speed of its ticket sales shows how much demand that’s created.
Live Nation Denmark chief Flemming Schmidt says the company will sell more than 100,000 tickets for the Danish shows. After 16 shows at the 4,400-capacity Forum, the production moved on for eight more in the similarly sized and newly opened Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning.
In the UK, May and Taylor recently launched a set of Royal Mail stamps celebrating seven stage musicals, including “We Will Rock You.”