Prime Suspect 1973: You’ve come a long way, Jane Tennison

Based on Lynda La Plante’s recent novel Tennison, Prime Suspect 1973 is suffused with period detail, flagrant sexism and clues to the redoubtable detective Tennison will become; in other words, the making of a BFD. Prime Suspect 1973 would like to see further, but it feels thinner than its 1990s forebear, spread out across six shorter episodes and presenting its protagonist as someone waiting to acquire a character. Like La Plante’s original, which ran off and on for seven series between 1991 and 2006, the new show endeavours to layer the procedural with the political. Tennison’s involvement in the murder investigation of a young woman is at first almost accidental, selected as a sympathetic face to inform the victim’s parents, but she pushes discreetly and firmly to remain on the task. This is because we are watching a prequel to Prime Suspect, the long-running drama starring Helen Mirren as one of London’s first detective chief inspectors (DCI), and later detective superintendent (DS), set back when she was just a fledgling woman police constable (WPC). “These aren’t the old days,” cautions one desk sergeant in Prime Suspect 1973, a new police procedural that is set, resolutely, in the old days. In one of the show’s smart, if typically serendipitous moves, Tennison makes a breakthrough by deploying her sharp observations within her professional restrictions: treated like domestic help, she moves unobserved, with greater access, and notices a sinister connection at the home of a grieving family. “Mum, it’s 1973, it’s not a big deal,” says a young Jane Tennison (Stefanie Martini), in a moment of chronological defence, real purpose being to remind us that it really is a big deal that it’s 1973. But she and Reid have such clear sexual tension you’d need to belong to a HR department from the future to advise against them going further. The station is an unthinking boy’s club where WPCs are routinely asked to answer the phones, make tea, and clean up interrogation rooms, which they do with quiet acquiescence. The future will be better, it promises Tennison, if not fairer. Rumours of a romantic encounter with her superior (Sam Reid) are circling, well founded as it happens, but only Tennison stands to be diminished by them. “Good spot,” she is later commended. Deliberately excluded In a shrewd sequence, as rich in detail as any of the programme’s painstaking period props and exteriors, Tennison …

Women on Walls review: putting everyone in the picture, for a change

ADVERTISEMENT In contrast, the group picture, by Blaise Smith, is necessarily crammed, presenting its eight women like superheroes on a movie poster, each bearing an icon of their special power. That would sound almost reassuring, but for the fact that, until recently, there were no women among its portraiture at all. Last year, at the behest of Accenture, the RIA decided to include, for the first time in its history, paintings of women members. The portraits provide great likenesses, but the documentary knows that these women have much more to say. Several talking, tilting heads from the RIA and Accenture agree, at length, on closing the gender gap, the politics of public displays and valuing people equally. That, you suspect, is also the documentary director Ciarán Deevey’s approach. Immunologist Lydia Lynch balances an anti-tumour immune cell on her forearm, cardiovascular specialist Caitríona Lally lets a heart hover between her hands, hyperspectral imaging expert Aoife Gowen holds a small rainbow. As she studies them through photographs, writing and interviews, Klute slowly, stirringly realises who they were. It would be easy to feel inadequate among storied alumni such as WB Yeats and Erwin Schrödinger, but not everyone rubs it in. There is a sense throughout Women on Walls (RTÉ One, Thursday, 10.15pm), which documents that process, of making up for lost time. In five commissioned works, 12 women were rushed and brushed into immortality; four new pictures depict its first female scholars, admitted in 1949, and one group portrait features eight contemporary members, all working in science. “You won’t find a woman looking down on you here,” offers the RIA’s head of communications. These finished portraits command attention and encourage questions, which feels like the project’s bigger achievement (who could say that about the other panjandrums, frowning down from heavy frames?). But to get a better sense of the women represented, you need to see Klute and Smith at work, studying the eyes of their subjects, eliciting conversations, yielding details as political as gender bias in academia, or as personal as a baby in the background. Picture this: the hall of the Royal Irish Academy, the 230-year-old society, and the eyes that follow you around its premises. Superheroes One of the jobs of portrait artists, throughout history, is to flatter the patron while still creating a revealing representation. Like one of the artists, Vera Klute, who wears her politics more lightly, we …

Choice Music Prize: Rusangano Family win album of the year for ‘Let the Dead Bury the Dead’

The Limerick/Shannon-based African-Irish hip-hop trio were seen as rank outsiders for the prize amongst the arguably more commercially viable likes of James Vincent McMorrow and All Tvvins, and they were visibly stunned by their victory. Jimmy Rainsford and Ryan Hennessy beat the likes of former One Direction member Niall Horan, as well as James Vincent McMorrow, The Coronas and Walking on Cars to nab the prize, although they were not present to accept the award in person as they are currently in Nashville recording their debut album. Highlights of the live show included Wallis Bird’s sean-nós style performance of the title track of her album Home, Lisa Hannigan’s stunning a cappella musical rendering of the Seamus Heaney poem Anahorish and All Tvvins’ blisteringly good set of propulsive, radio-friendly pop-rock tunes. The award is nothing if not unpredicatable when it comes to selecting winners, and Rusangano Family’s self-released album Let the Dead Bury the Dead was crowned the Irish Album of the Year 2016 in front of a sold-out audience, beating off competition from comparative stalwarts such as The Divine Comedy, James Vincent McMorrow, Lisa Hannigan and Wallis Bird, as well as rookies All Tvvins, Bantum and Overhead, the Albatross to claim the €10,000 prize fund and the distinctive blue-hued award. “We have to work in the morning,” said MC Godknows in his victory speech, adding that they would be celebrating with the children that they teach in Limerick and Clare, while producer and DJ John Lillis paid emotional tribute to those who had stood by them over the years. In the end, however, it was perhaps fitting that the band whose name means “togetherness” in the Shona language of Zimbabwe, was the triumphant act, and perhaps the best manifestation of the ever-evolving nature of the Irish music scene. Only James Vincent McMorrow was absent from the line-up, as the Dubliner is currently on tour in Australia. ADVERTISEMENT 2FM DJ Eoghan McDermott took over from long-running host Paul McLoone as MC of the ceremony, as a result of the Choice Music Prize’s new sponsorship deal with RTÉ. The announcement was made just after 11pm by Snow Patrol’s Jonny Quinn after nine of the 10 nominated acts had performed live whilst 11 media professionals debated the merits of each album. You can read our review of Let The Dead Bury The Dead here, and Jim Carroll’s interview with Rusangano Family here The …

Singer Niamh Kavanagh wins Celebrity MasterChef 2017

It was “anyone’s game” and they should “cook from the heart” Dublin-born, London-based Gill assured the three finalists as they prepared their last supper – a three-course menu of their own choice – in the studio kitchen in Dún Laoghaire. Not only do I not recognise the cook, I don’t recognise the person.” And he hadn’t even had a sliver of the spellbinding cheesecake. For the final, the singer brought out her secret weapon, a lime cheesecake with raspberries that had judges Robin Gill and Daniel Clifford lost for words and giggling like schoolboys rather than grown-up, professional chefs. The tsunami of superlatives continued to flow when Niamh Kavanagh gave them ox cheek and mash – which must really have tasted better than it looked TV presenter and actor Simon Delaney, who had been the most impressive of the final trio in the professional kitchens, chose this inopportune moment to admit that that he’d “never cooked a three-course meal” in his life, while getting to work on an ambitious menu inspired by and dedicated to his wife Lisa. ADVERTISEMENT “She’s had a rough couple of months; she gave birth to our fourth beautiful, healthy baby boy and then eight weeks later she broke her leg, badly,” he said, playing the sympathy card maybe just a tad too obviously. With perfect scores for her food – and perfect musical pitch after a thyroid operation in January that had posed a threat to her voice – former Eurovision winner Niamh Kavanagh peaked at just the right moment in the TV3 Celebrity MasterChef kitchen. “Bring it on,” was Kavanagh’s steely response. They said at the outset they would do the show only if they could approach it in a positive way and help the participants to become better cooks, and it has paid off. Say cheesecake: Niamh “Heidi’s my middle name” Kavanagh meant business in the kitchen Mystery ingredients Gill and Clifford have turned out to be the mystery ingredients that have made this latest MasterChef such a success. Her food was hitting all the right notes too. Celebrity MasterChef: No amnesty for Colm O’Gorman after kitchen disaster Celebrity MasterChef: Samantha Mumba rumbled amid smoke, swearing and singed celeriac Celebrity MasterChef: Tell me why they don’t like Mundy’s – singer exits the stage “ I don’t recognise the person I was when I walked into this competition. “I think it has power over …

British painter Howard Hodgkin dies aged 84

He was knighted in 1992. Tate director Nicholas Serota was among those to pay tribute, saying: “Howard Hodgkin was one of the great artists and colourists of his generation.” Illuminating our complex relationships with things ‘Motherhood is a choice’: artists respond to ‘Repeal the Eighth’ Derry and ‘We Shall Overcome’: ‘We plagiarised an entire movement’ Born in London in 1932, Hodgkin was evacuated to the US during the second World War. His first retrospective, curated by Mr Serota, took place at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, in 1976. In 1984, he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale. Retrospectives of his work have been held at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and the Tate Britain. PA Celebrated British painter Howard Hodgkin has died at the age of 84, the Tate has said. He studied at the Camberwell School of Art between 1949 and 1950, followed by the Bath Academy of Art, where he later taught for many years. The artist died on Thursday “peacefully in hospital in London”.

Nicole Kidman explains her ‘seal’ clapping at the Oscars

Her clapping prompted comparisons with a seal on social media. PA “It’s like, is there not more important things to be focused on than the seal clap?” Kidman wore 119 carats worth of Harry Winston diamonds at the ceremony, including a cluster diamond ring. Kidman was nominated for the best supporting actress Oscar for her performance in Lion, but the award was won by Fences actor Viola Davis. “I was like, gosh, I want to clap, I don’t want to not be clapping, which would be worse, right? it was absolutely gorgeous and I was terrified of damaging it. ‘Why isn’t Nicole clapping?’ “So therefore I’m clapping but it was really difficult because I had a huge ring on that was not my own… I've just set alarms for the morning and I hope my dreams are filled with claps. pic.twitter.com/FntGWL48Lp— Sarah-Elizabeth Daly (@selizabethdaly) February 27, 2017 All I have thought about today is Nicole Kidman clapping. The way in which the actor applauded when an award was introduced on stage during the ceremony went viral on Twitter. However, Kidman told Australian radio KIIS FM hosts Kyle and Jackie O the reason for her method of clapping was that she did not want to damage her very pricey rings. Hollywood star Nicole Kidman has explained her unusual style of “seal” clapping at the Oscars, saying it was all down to expensive jewellery. Asked by Kyle whether her clapping was due to her jewellery, she replied: “Yes, I’m so glad you clarified that because it was really awkward! Catfight review: Anne Heche and Sandra Oh beat seven shades of snot out of each other The Dancer review: the mysterious tale of the dancer from Hozier’s Take Me to Church Fake Ryan Gosling picks up German film award in prank

How to get your children reading

There’s something powerful about a recommendation that comes from someone whose enthusiasm for books is obvious, and who isn’t an adult in authority or with a role in the child’s education. Keeping reading in the mix as they grow older is the challenge: at the age of 9, only 6 per cent of children said they never read, while at the age of 13, that figure increases to 21 per cent. That’s down to parents to decide; what we do know is that taking away the phone or iPad and replacing it with something that’s seen as being “good for you” is about as appealing and effective as taking away a gooey fudge brownie and putting a lettuce leaf in its place. Photograph: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland And what if your child can’t be persuaded to come to a Book Clinic? Every child at a CBI Book Clinic gets a Book Passport to take away – an illustrated booklet of activities, where their prescription is written and they can log reviews, complete reading challenges and doodle Every child gets a Book Passport to take away – an illustrated booklet of activities with artwork by Fintan Taite, where their prescription is written and they can log reviews, complete reading challenges and doodle if they feel inspired. Join the library. Let a young person loose in the library. Let a young person loose in the library. If they’ve reached the end of a brilliant series and they need some direction on where to go next, or if they haven’t picked up a book in years but they can tell us they love rugby, or zebras, or trains, or superheroes, the Book Doctor will write a prescription based on a 10-minute chat with them. Even with very limited resources, it’s possible to encourage a culture of reading in the classroom. Have books in the house if you can – library books, second-hand books, new books. Let them read comics. Let them read books that might seem too young for them. Let them read whatever they want. But there’s nothing more powerful than speaking to young readers about what they love and finding a book for them that will have them sneaking under the covers with a torch after bedtime, or reading underneath their desks because they just have to know what happens next. Ask them to talk to you about what they’re reading. Every …

Death of a bookshop

No more events are planned, no more books are being ordered, the shelves have slowly emptied and over the past few weeks we found ourselves increasingly saying no to our customers more often than we were comfortable with. As he went out the door, a customer came up to me quietly with a look of wonder on her face. Why did we close? Now that the bookshop is no more and Ford’s books are unlikely to be found on the shelves of Tesco, if he does visit Cavan again, he will not be confronted by an inquisitive bookseller trying to be cool about the unannounced visit of one of America’s greatest living authors We met in RTÉ one morning as he was going in for his recording. I had just read John Banville’s review of Richard Ford’s new book Women with Men over lunch and now the same rugged face, with a smile that suggested a roguish sense of adventure, was standing in front of me. Although we were proud of the wide range of books we stocked, the variety of books that we were asked to order, very often educated, enlightened, entertained and on a few occasions even embarrassed us. Maybe I should contact him again. ADVERTISEMENT As anyone who works in a bookshop will attest, the presence of books attracts all walks of life – and we were no different. Tucked back in the book itself. I called a friend in the trade who did promotional work for Richard’s publishers. And undoubtedly The Crannóg, as the shop is referred to by young and old alike, played its part in the development and promotion of literature and the arts in general. All I know is that there are many things that will disappear – things that we ourselves took for granted, forgetting that even simple everyday tasks we carried out and the casual greeting or chat about books or the state of the universe, can mean something important to others. We heard stories that were hilarious and heart-breaking and stories that were indeed stranger than fiction. We had customers who complained about some of the books we stocked which they deemed blasphemous, anti-church or even promoting black magic (the latter was the Harry Potter books!). ADVERTISEMENT But what matters more is the impact beyond the physical selling of books. Everything we prided ourselves on: a wide and varied stock …

Fake Ryan Gosling picks up German film award in prank

Everybody likes to cuddle.” And Gosling is hardly unique. However, seated in the audience among the confused Germans were glitzy foreigners Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell. Gender is a social construct. Classic Lehner. Furthermore, his first name is an Irish second name and his second name is a noun meaning baby goose, so he has appropriated both Irish and avian cultures and is basically a goose racist. Kidman laughed nervously, homesick for the knockabout comedy of her native Australia, and the Farreller glowered up at the stage darkly, no doubt seeing in this prank the seeds of the sort of dystopia he warned of in Minority Report. But who can blame the Germans this time? The Student review: a timely reminder of how religion is used to subjugate others Elle review: A shocking, unconventional take on rape Catfight review: Anne Heche and Sandra Oh beat seven shades of snot out of each other According to “the internet”, Lehner didn’t really look like Ryan Gosling and this suggests, perhaps, that the German people can’t tell Americans apart. I am an objective journalist reporting on the news objectively. They could tell it wasn’t really Ryan Gosling. Neither the smirking former Mousketeer nor President Trump have commented at the time of writing. He is already a component of the Feminist Ryan Gosling meme, in which the oval-faced hoofster’s image is disseminated across the world wide web accompanied by such statements as: “Hey Girl. Joko Winterscheidt and Klaas Heufer-Umlauf laughed evilly for they had, once again, succeeded in lying to people for money using the lowest form of comedy: The Prank. The interloper took to the stage at the annual German film and television awards and accepted an award for the enjoyably desperate Holywood dancecapade and national nervous breakdown La La Land. Yes, Adam Sandler, Honey Boo Boo, William Howard Taft and Alf from Alf all look the same to them. “I dedicate this award to Joko and Klaas, ” said German-accented Munich-based cook Ludwig Lehner, for it was he. It’s not the first time Gosling’s image has been appropriated. ADVERTISEMENT Also, his dancing in La La Land was serviceably competent at best and I don’t know what Drive is supposed to be about. Scientists tell us that he is basically just a pink balloon with a face and some stubble drawn on it in marker. In conclusion, I’m not jealous of Ryan Gosling …

Ballyturk review: life behind and beyond the fourth wall

As the second of Walsh’s companion pieces about creation and confinement is staged at the Abbey, in Landmark and Galway International Arts Festival’s revived and recast co-production, imprisonment doesn’t prevent variation. ADVERTISEMENT What they would be departing in Ballyturk is a world of cartoonish exaggeration, tumbling with madcap fictions, avalanches of props and shrieking impersonations – in short, an Enda Walsh play. Given a choice between the strange energy that keeps them in this confined world, and the beige unknowns of life beyond its limits, its hard to know which is the better option. Instead, she refines the character with Walsh (who again directs) to become faintly apologetic while no less commanding. The manic energy of Ballyturk’s routine, excellently delivered by Murfi and Murphy’s double act, stills with her arrival and a proposal: It’s time for one of them to leave. “You’ll live,” comes the reply. Like the visitor to The Walworth Farce, Fouéré’s character suggests an alternative to this endless mad performance that may be real life, but her solemn sermons convey that reality without flavour, a quotidian existence rendered from “purpose and mistake”. “And what will I do?” asks one friend when the other offers to die. Such signs of life are entrancing and perplexing. Fouéré’s is a fascinating performance (“I’m a collector,” she tells them. It’s hard not to see them as descendants of Beckett’s Vladimir and Estragon, by way of Morcambe and Wise, passing the time with accelerated routines, quick changes and choreographed breakfast rituals. “That’s why I’m here.”) with barely a ghost of Stephen Rea’s interpretation of the role. Life as we know it. Occasionally, though, evidence of an outside world intrudes: chatty voices burble through a wall, a buzzing fly makes an entrance (Murphy’s character is agog, he has never seen one) and a potted flower mysteriously appears. “I thought we knew everything there was to know,” says Murphy, stunned by the fly, and soon the boundaries of this tiny world are torn apart completely (in Jamie Vartan’s set, literally) with the arrival of a stranger, played by Olwen Fouéré, who steps carefully down a collapsed wall in her pencil skirt and heels, crouching low, like a preying animal. Only Mikel Murfi returns from the original production, playing the older of the nameless pair, joined by Tadgh Murphy, a physical livewire, full of questions, dogged by dim memories and prone to fits. Ballyturk, in …

Ithaca: a personal and mythical journey

I took it all outside the end-of-row house we lived in, set up the players amongst the rocks and muck-holes and bindweed that passed for our back garden. King Pelias (responsible for the death of Jason’s father and who has taken what is rightfully Jason’s throne) can be seen as a composite of the various men in his mother’s life with whom Jason is at loggerheads (Cop Lawless, Mario Devine, Mattie Conlon, and the assorted collection of men baying for the money Jason’s mother owes to them.) And then of course there is my youthful and troubled protagonist, named after my early hero. And Hercules, the greatest of all heroes. The Pass of Thermopylae. Of course I blended the “official” narratives to suit my own purposes, accorded my favourite heroes centre stage, and happily juggled the fortunes of those deemed the lesser players in my fickle sagas. In no time it seemed I had opened the lid on the infamous Pandora’s box. * Fast forward 30 years. The second stretch contains a bar-room happy-hour buy-one-get-one-free drinkathon that is taken full advantage of by the motley collection of women from Jason’s neighbourhood. The never-named “Girl” of my novel is so obviously Medea the “Sorceress” and eventual mythological wife of Jason. But what I did become slowly conscious of throughout the writing, and especially the inevitable rewrites, was that the ancient stories that had fired my childhood imagination had come alive again. An evening of carousing ensues in the drinking den’s low-lit atmospheres, with the women cutting loose and wishing a plethora of wince-inducing discomforts upon various men in their lives. the story is over. My young narrator and his accomplice happily toss around their mythological heroes and mix in other eras and civilisations – just as I had done as a boy. Back to slingshot David and intrepid Jason and indeed a host of others that I realised were still alive and well, kicking against all the odds in the backwaters of my imagination. And that, whether I was aware of it or not, the characters in these stories and the territories they had covered, were very much playing a part in the flip-flop thrust of my adult narrative, until it seemed as though I had made a return journey to that wild garden of my childhood, with its grotesque rocks and sodden puddles, and all its glorious muck and bindweed. …

Celebrity MasterChef final: all you need to know

The three finalists have three-and-a-half hours to cook three epic courses of their own choice to serve to Gill and Clifford. ADVERTISEMENT So what’s involved in tonight’s final? What’s that Celeriacgate all about? Who are they then? Is that all? So are there any genuine celebrities on it, and can they cook? The three finalists who have made it through seven rounds of hard-core cooking are actor and TV presenter Simon Delaney; singer and former Eurovision winner Niamh Kavanagh, and former Armagh player and GAA All Star Oisín McConville. Yes, there was a lot of that, but Gill, a Dubliner who runs three top London restaurants, and Clifford, a British Michelin-starred chef, have proved to be a very good double act. But some star performers emerged too, and you’ll probably recognise at least a couple of them. Oisín McConville has had the steepest learning curve, going from serving “poo on a plate”, as Robin Gill described his ostrich dish, to wowing the critics’ table with his duck. When can I place an order? Well, there were the obligatory also-rans, a couple of who admitted early on that they’d never seen the working end of a kitchen before. Who? All the betting trends, and past performance, point to the laid-back Delaney, who played a blinder in the pro kitchen task, and acts like he’s holding something back for the finale. Yes, they all failed, and yes, it was amusing to watch the meltdown. Who was the best value for money? And they have cooked for a table of ravenous food critics. That was the masterclass given by Daniel Clifford that involved turning a gnarled, dirty root vegetable into a golden slipper, by means of the science called molecular gastronomy. Yes, but along the way they’ve had two stints in professional kitchens, in Dublin and London. On the menu is the final of Celebrity MasterChef. The also-rans shown the door early were singer-songwriter Mundy, meteorologist Evelyn Cusack, reality TV star and model Nadia Forde, and former Miss Ireland and newspaper columnist Holly Carpenter. Sounds like they’re cooking cool stuff alright. All the “clever” money went on Amnesty’s Colm O’Gorman, whose ambition ran away with him; calm and collected Samantha Mumba, who lost it when she had to pluck and eviscerate a grouse; and front-runner Sonia O’Sullivan, who fell at the first hurdle. From the bookies’ perspective, these three are the ideal trio. …

‘We’d snorted our way across America, it was ironic I was sacked over drugs’

It’s February 2017 and Dignam is back on the chemo again. “We’d just toured America and we’d snorted our way across the country. When it hits like that, you can’t write it quick enough for fear it will go out of your head. It was victory from the jaws of defeat. I found out afterwards that EMI were prepared to pay for me to go into rehab but the band weren’t having it. I might be lying in bed and I get a twinge in my heart and I go ‘oh f**k, what’s that? He’s got birds to care for again, with African weaver birds now in the aviary out the back. We changed the melody and once we’d done that, the whole thing came together in five minutes. You’re f**king tired and you can’t sleep. “You’d watch the audience for their reaction. When it came to that situation with me, our management at the time couldn’t handle it. A routine check-up at the Royal Free Hospital in London showed that negative proteins in his bone marrow were on the rise again. That’s the way life is, you just don’t know what the f**k is around the corner. It’s a beautiful image, a band on the march every day, the air thick with in-jokes and clagging as they talked 19 to the dozen. His father would make dinner on Sundays and sing his heart out as he cooked. Gruelling “Health-wise, I feel grand, apart from the fact that I’m doing chemo, which is really gruelling. “He said Slade were from a place in Wolverhampton like Finglas, they were just ordinary blokes. Don’t ask how, he doesn’t know. Still wanting to sing. “You can try to be brave and push it to the back of your mind, but there are times when it hits you. It began for Christy Dignam at the kitchen table at home in Finglas when he was a kid. We were trying to behave like we were successful before we were successful.” Feel No Shame kicked off a run of ups and downs. Still singing. Another turn-up for the books, but that’s unlikely to be the last page. “I try to be as positive as I can. I was diagnosed four years ago and three people came in to see me when I was in hospital. “Five minutes, but it took ages to get that five minutes. …

Christy Dignam: ‘I get a twinge in my heart and go ‘oh f**k, Is it a heart attack?’

The best songs are like that – it was the same with Crazy World.” Aslan play Live at the Big Top, Limerick (March 18); Opera House, Cork (April 8) and Iveagh Gardens, Dublin (July 7) You feel sick all the time. Is it a heart attack?’ and you’re terrified. There are mishaps and wrong turns, victories and triumphs already in the ledger. I came back and I was using heroin and I thought it was really ironic that I was sacked over drugs. That’s the way life is, you just don’t know what the f**k is around the corner. At the end of 2012, Dignam found himself in hospital for what he thought was a chest infection and which turned out to be a rare disease called amyloidosis. It began for Christy Dignam at the kitchen table at home in Finglas when he was a kid. There might be 1,000 people going mad, but you always lock in on the two people with a puss on them. “There are two ways of looking at it and both are valid,” he says today. He’s still planning albums (a collaboration with Finbar Furey on Irish folk sings and a possible sean-nós record) and talking about upcoming gigs. “We always wanted to be the absolute best. “He was a big opera fan and he used to sing John McCormack songs,” remembers Dignam. To me, there was a bit of greed involved. “It hasn’t started to do any damage yet so they’re trying to nip it in the bud before it starts to do damage like the last time. Don’t ask how, he doesn’t know. But I want to stretch this out as long as I can because I love life.” Just like that: How Aslan wrote This Is “When we wrote it first, it was a real Rocky song, you know, big chords and upbeat,” says Christy Dignam. Crazy World arrived, another anthem in the catalogue for the fans to sing. His father would make dinner on Sundays and sing his heart out as he cooked. I found out afterwards that EMI were prepared to pay for me to go into rehab but the band weren’t having it. We changed the melody and once we’d done that, the whole thing came together in five minutes. “The bands around us like Blue In Heaven, In Tua Nua, Cactus World News and them were writing …

Christy Dignam: ‘We always wanted to be the absolute best’

A shed with a corrugated tin roof and nine-inch solid blocks and it was absolutely fucking freezing even with a Superser.” Every morning at 9am, the band would assemble in Poppintree, put their equipment and amps in shopping trollies and head to the airport. He’s got birds to care for again, with African weaver birds now in the aviary out the back. “He was a big opera fan and he used to sing John McCormack songs,” remembers Dignam. It’s February 2017 and Dignam is back on the chemo again. “You’d watch the audience for their reaction. “I liked the lyrics, but I thought the melody and chorus were shit so we shelved it. But he knew this was his calling. “We always wanted to be the absolute best. “It hasn’t started to do any damage yet so they’re trying to nip it in the bud before it starts to do damage like the last time. He’s still standing. Another turn-up for the books, but that’s unlikely to be the last page. “He said Slade were from a place in Wolverhampton like Finglas, they were just ordinary blokes. “I try to be as positive as I can. It was victory from the jaws of defeat. When it came to that situation with me, our management at the time couldn’t handle it. “It was in a farm beside the runway in the airport. Even back when he was a young lad running those north Dublin streets and tending to his collection of finches in an aviary in the backyard and singing in St Fergal’s school choir, he says he knew he was going to be a singer. One was a girl who died a week later from septicemia, another died of cancer since and another fella was killed in a car crash. I came back and I was using heroin and I thought it was really ironic that I was sacked over drugs. Ed Sheeran might have a natural ability to write great songs, but it was the 95 per cent perspiration and 5 per cent inspiration adage for us.” Road-test They’d take the songs to gigs at the Danceline Club and Revenue Club and Ivy Rooms to road-test them. “The bands around us like Blue In Heaven, In Tua Nua, Cactus World News and them were writing their own songs, but it was a generic sound, a Dublin sound, and it …