A Night for Ivan

at the Canal Café
Sunday, 29th October 2000

producer: Elspeth McLean

writer: Ivan Shakespeare

director: John Random

musical director: Jenny Gould

technical manager: Nic Watson


Genevieve Swallow

Stephan Bessant

Mark Brailsford

John Random

As a stalwart of Newsrevue John has been writing for the last 15 years. His other credits include a long spell as one of the voices on Radio 4's Fourth Column. With the help of Barry Grossman, John has organized the evening for Ivan.

Musical Director
Jenny Gould

Jenny's interest in music began at the age of six when she started learning to play the piano; she then took up singing and began writing songs. Whilst studying at Guildhall School of music and having completed a Masters in composition at the London College of Music, she discovered a talent for working with acting singers and singing actors. Her first Newsrevue MD job quickly followed, and through various tenuous links has led to her being here tonight. One day soon Jenny's name will be in lights.

Technical Manager
Nic Watson

Nic got into the Central School of Speech and Drama in 1998 and spent a year trying to find the way out. He has been part of the furniture at the Canal Café Theatre for some time now, but has only just been allowed to come out of the corner and remove the coats from his head. In his spare time, Nic collects orange flashing lights, ashtrays and anything with buttons. Nic lives with Chet and Atouille his two rats.


Genevieve Swallow

Training: Durham University and Guildford School of Acting. This year's credits include: Captain Cholesterol and the Grannies from Mars Tour. Summer was wet and windy (but never mind my personal problems!) doing an open air season playing Sybil in Private Lives, Mrs Juno in Overruled, Lydia  in Pride & Prejudice and Edith in Blythe Spirit. After two stints on Newsrevue back in '98 (including a "Best of ..."), Genny is pleased to be tottering back on to the Canal Café's boards for this very special show.

Stephan Bessant

Webber Douglass Academy born, Stephan's credits include rep doing A Woman of No Importance, Wind in the Willows and Shakespeare for Breakfast  in Edinburgh. Tours of MacBeth and Hansel & Gretel (as a 12 year old lederhosen-wearing Hansel!) He first encountered the best that is Newsrevue in 1997, and returned in 1998 as director. Stephan is warming up his "look out behind you" legs for panto this year in Manchester with Kathy Staff. Stephan is very pleased to be chosen for this show.

Mark Brailsford

Mark's career began at 8:15 and will crash to the ground at around closing time. In the meantime he has managed to work as an actor, writer, director and chicken worrier but not in that order. Film work includes Pink Floyd The Wall, the first Film on Four,  Yang Bang Kipperbang  by Jack Rosenthal and has just completed  filming a feature film Sweet Dreams, for the Heather Brothers. TV appearances include Casualty and Eastenders for the BBC, Book Tower, Stand  and regular appearances on Standup Live. As a writer, Mark has written for Radio Four's Week Ending and for his own comedy sketch shows on cable TV. Plays include Big Buddha Beach, Three Wishes and most recently, Fly Me to the Moon at the Man in the Moon Theatre in Chelsea. Mark has been associated with Newsrevue as a director for over three years and is currently the artistic director of the tremendously successful Newsrevue Brighton. His next project, Whoops Missus is that your Asparagus, is all set for the Ulan Bator Fringe Festival. Donations at the bar.

Ivan Shakespeare
19 July 1952 - 3 February 2000

As a comic writer, Ivan would have been the first to see the irony of the manner of his death - felled by a heart attack in the act of keeping fit. (He was jogging at the time.) A commissioned writer on Radio 2's The News Huddlines and Radio 4's Week Ending and The Beaton Generation, he most recently worked on Bremner, Bird and Fortune for Channel 4, where his talent for sharp, political satire found a perfect home.

Ivan first decided to strike out as a full-time writer, with his partmer Elspeth's full support, when he won a competition in Time Out. As the least pushy person imaginable, he always feared his talents would be outshone, but he was wrong. He soon established himself in the corridors of BBC Radio Comedy, and became a stalwart of Newsrevue, the topical satire show at the  Canal Café in Little Venice. In both places, he brought his own distinctive touch to the difficult business of satirising a Tory government that was increasingly beyond parody.

It was no surprise that this erudite and cultured man should turn to the Bloomsbury Group for his Radio 4 Sitcom, A Square of One's Own, broadcast in 1996-97. But he was not above being the butt of a less highbrow joke when he appeared on television as a David Mellor lookalike, complete with Chelsea strip.

Ivan was easygoing, generous in is praise of other writers, and no lover of formality. He once turned up to a wedding in a second hand suit he's snapped up for a song. "Yes, it's bespoke." he said to another guest. "Unfortunately, it's bespoke for someone else."

------ John Random

first published in The Independent
obituary column, February 2000


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