Columbo Villian of the Week

31 10 2007

I may be accused of going for the low hanging fruit here but I’ve been planning this one since I started this thing. He was very nearly the inaugural Columbo Villian of the Week. Yep that’s right it’s the Squire of Sarcasm, The Earl of Eyebrow: Angus Deayton.

Angus Deayton

Angus was the undisputed king of the sarcastic put down and political satire in the nineties; as host of “Have I got News For You” no one was safe. A cottage industry in comedy cameos in the likes of “One Foot In the Grave” cemented the former Oxford graduate as a household name.

Then, with no small sense of irony, Angus became the news when his cocaine fuelled romps with a high-class call girl (that’s a hooker to you and me) made it onto the front page of the rabid tabloid press. Angus endured a tirade of merciless ribbing from fellow “Have I got News” regulars Ian Hislop and Paul Merton on the show after the story broke but came through the other side. Indeed many thought he was home free.

The tabloids had other ideas. They released details of an alleged long-term affair and the BBC hauled him in to let him know that wasn’t quite the news they wanted to have for their viewers. Angus was done.

Except he wasn’t. Not by a long shot. Keeping his head down and focussing on his steady if unremarkable career in comedy drama he managed to grab a part in the BBC’s cult hit “Nighty Night”. He’s remained on our tellies in one way or another for years, Angus lies down for no man.

Alas the same can’t be said as regards women.

I’ve always felt there was something unsavoury, if somewhat inevitable about the way Paul Merton and Ian Hislop went after Angus following the scandal. Merton in particular was uncharacteristically ruthless. Behind the fixed grin I could easily see Deayton plotting his revenge.

I can see it now…

Troubled by falling ratings, the BBC approach Deayton about a return to the show that made him, apologies are demanded, boons are granted. Deayton is on his way back to the A list. There’s just one problem, well two actually.

Paul and Ian.

The two panellists are unhappy at the return of the Sarcastic One, even more so at his portrait as the “Saviour of Satire”. Merton, backed by Hislop, has an ace up his sleeve, pictures of Angus with a well-known female former Tory MP and they aren’t just talking if you know what I mean (allegedly).

The knives are out and Angus has very little time to act to save his newly restored position – it’s clear it’s him or them. The decision is not hard.

It looks like a freak accident. A grand piano being delivered to the BBC falls from its crane crushing Hislop and Merton as they exit the studios on route to fax the photos to The Sun. No one notices that the man stealing the photographs who looks like this:

Deayton disguised as Don

And resembles Deayton.

No one that is save the pint sized American homicide detective who is visiting television centre that same day for a documentary on forensics. He’s seen Deayton on BBC worldwide, he’s a big fan and he likes his acting to, especially Nighty Night.

Deayton’s in trouble, big trouble.

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30 10 2007

Regular readers – apologies for the lack of bloggage. There have been a number of reasons for this not least of which has been that I’ve caught another cold and am currently wrapped up on the sofa with a lemsip.

Other than hacking my lungs up I’ve been busy writing the first draft of a short story that I desperately wanted to finish before I NaNoWriMo. It’s all typed up now but in going through the handwritten script I’ve realised it needs a hell of a lot of work and so it will have to wait until either my holiday or more likely December.

On the subject of NaNoWriMo I’m completely bricking it. I have nothing save a very odd starting idea and a few unrelated ideas in my head. I may be up a creek without a paddle here. Ah well such is life. All this is well and good but my mind is not really on NaNoWriMo, nor is it on my forthcoming holiday in Hong Kong. There is a far more momentous event occurring this week, tomorrow in fact.

Tomorrow marks eleven years since G and I got together, yep that’s right – we got together on Halloween. I told you there was something of the night about me. And it’s weird. It doesn’t seem like eleven days let alone eleven years and whilst we’ve lived together for five of those eleven years she still manages to surprise me, still makes me laugh, still makes me smile.

Corny eh? Maybe but it’s true. And that’s all for now.

Friday Flash Fiction

26 10 2007

This post has moved. You can read the full story here:

A bit rushed again this week. Not sure about it. Thought it sucked as I wrote it. Liked it on the reread and then hated it on editing it. Hope you enjoy – remember you’re free to comment.

The New Arrival
By Neil Beynon

“’Morning,” said the stranger.
The guard grunted.
“’Spect you ain’t used to much in the way of strangers out here.”
The guard mumbled something about the end of the line whilst his eyes flicked round for help.
“’Spect you noticed the gun by now, you seem frightened as a mouse.”

The guard said nothing.

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Columbo Villian of the Week

24 10 2007

Columbo villian of the week has proven a success. Les was asked to open a Rubbish tip in Rhyl and Liza was tipped to open a refurbished fancy dress store on the Shaftesbury Avenue. I’ve been chased by a plethora of stars who it would be unkind to name here but suffice to say their calls have fallen on deaf ears, you can’t ask to appear – you have to be selected.

This week belongs to only one woman. Rachel Allen, rising star of the culinary world:

Rachel Allen

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Allen’s work she is an Irish celebrity chef who made her reputation making simple (primarily Irish) food from really well sourced ingredients. Her series Rachel’s Favourite Food is currently doing the rounds on the Beeb. So why is such a fresh faced young star moving into Columbo territory?

After all, memorable villians of the real series rarely appeared during their prime. Bill Shatner, for example, had already sat in the Captain’s chair by the time he trode the boards with Falk and many were asking where Leonard Nimoy’s ears had gone during his infamous guest slot.

Take a close look at the picture above. Look at the eyes. Rachel is smiling, Rachel is always smiling, and nodding, smiling and nodding. But the smile never quite reaches the eyes, there’s something a bit Stepford about the whole thing: the breathy Irish accent, the blonde hair, the fixed steely eyes, the mad grin.

Oh yes Rachel is highly strung. She’s a cook on the edge. I can see it now…

Rachel appearing on the real Saturday Kitchen (not my feeble efforts) is forced to partake of the omelette challenge one more time and this time it’s an all Irish derby with her pitted against Paul Rankin. Like many cooks before her she is completely anhilated by the soft spoken Rankin as he uses his decades of restaurant experience to make Rachel feel the size of a Quail egg.

Something snaps and Rachel, grinning of course, invites Paul to dinner in congratulations for his victory. Paul, laid back guy that he is, accepts – it’s his last mistake. The following morning the Irish Times leads with the death of Rankin choked, it seems, by an errant fish bone and bereft host Rachel Allen appears in a whirlwind of media glamour – smiling sadly at the misfortune that has befallen her.

Now she is the Irish chef.

But no. Dammit she’s just discovered Richard Corrigan – so he’s from Northern Ireland but none of those feckin idjits in England can tell the difference – Rankin was from North of the border as well – Corrigan will have to go. Now she just needs to get rid of this pesky Yankee detective who keeps eating her eggs.

Why there he is again and he wants to ask her just one more thing? Please God let it not be about his wife…

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Wand polishing

23 10 2007

Lets get something straight, Dumbledore is gay. He smokes the pink peace pipe, he prefers his gardening downhill, he plays for the other side, he likes to polish wands and various other euphemisms for prefering wizards to witches.

Only he doesn’t.

He doesn’t because he’s a fictional character. Interesting news that this is to those who read the books, does this news really warrant the international coverage it’s garnered, or for the blogosphere to be resplendant with nuanced debate from people who really should be talking about more important things. You know like say Iraq or Darfur? Or that short Russian fella who keeps waving his warheads around and offering everyone glowing sushi (hint – say no)?

I came across the topic on several mainstream news sites and superblogs and I expected, not unreasonably I felt, a series of highly crafted innuendos in the high vaunted tradition of British Camp. Instead I found grown, highly educated men and women, arguing the validity of an author disclosing information about characters that does not relate to the story.

Yeah I mean how dare one of the world’s best selling authors think they have a right to comment on the background of one of the character’s they created. What was she thinking?

So in the interests of redressing the balance of disclosure I would like to reveal that the nanobots in “How you doing?” are in fact lesbians.

There. Your life’s complete now.

What do you mean you’ve never heard of me?


21 10 2007

Stardust Image

After months of waiting and jealously watching blogger after blogger go to see Stardust in the states it finally went on general release in the UK. Yesterday I finally got to see the movie.

And it was wonderful.

Most regular readers would expect me to say that. I am an unashamed Neil Gaiman fan but it’s not always a done deal just because Gaiman is involved. He’s done stuff I don’t think is so good: the Neverwhere TV series sucked like a Hoover in places (to be fair the BBC were at fault for that), so much so it kept me away from his books for many years. Much of his poetry is nowhere near as good as his prose work (“Crazy Hair” not withstanding) and although I love Stardust the novel it is also a noticeably earlier work than his fantastically polished Anansi Boys or even the slightly rougher American Gods.

All of which is a long winded way of trying to establish some credibility for saying the film is wonderful, go and see it. Because it is. From the Vaughn’s slick direction through to Pfeiffer’s delicious performance and Cox’s charmingy naivety to the hilarious cameos from some of Britain’s comedy elite the film quite simply rocks. It wasn’t just me; the entire cinema was into that movie.

Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn have done a great job of marrying what looked like a pretty unfilmable book to film with a great deal of respect and love for the original text. It’s not the book but it definitely is the movie.

Stardust tells the story of young Tristan who, in order to prove himself to his love Victoria, embarks on a quest to bring back a fallen star from the land of Stormhold. Accompanied by an irritated young woman who’s been knocked off her perch, chased by witches and pursued by Princes, Tristan is about to learn that adventure is a lot harder than it sounds in fairy tales.

If you like funny, light hearted films that take you somewhere else for a few hours you’ll love this film whether your five or fifty-five; fantasy fan or not. Go see it.

Saturday Kitchen

20 10 2007

It’s back, apologies for the missed post last week but life got in the way. This week’s recipe is another ode to soup, my scrummy roast tomato soup:

A load of plum tomatoes (fresh)
Some fresh basil
Olive Oil
Sun dried tomatoes

This recipe is so easy and so lush I hardly ever buy tinned anymore. Per two people you need enough tomatoes to completely cover a decent sized baking/roasting tray when the tomatoes are halved.

1. Chop your tomatoes in half and remove any stalks
2. Place skin side down, cut side up in the baking tray
3. Season with salt and pepper
4. Sprinkle with shredded fresh basil
5. Drizzle with olive oil
6. Place in an oven at around 180C for around 30 minutes or until the tomato skins start to wrinkle
7. Empty the tomatoes into a blender and blitz with the sun dried tomatoes
8. Bring to a simmer (if you have over cooked or misjudged the number of tomatoes just add a tin of peeled tomatoes to bulk it out)
9. Taste and season some more if required

Serve with crusty white bread. If you don’t like your soup rustic simply pour the soup through a sieve as you serve. Enjoy.

Friday Flash Fiction

19 10 2007

This post has moved. You can read the full post here:

I’ve been a little short on time and energy this week but this is one of those little ditties I scribbled last week as my house fell apart around my ears. An experiment in optimism.

By Neil Beynon

The room fell silent as he rose to his feet to speak. He was still striking, six feet tall with a trim frame and hair that once had been jet-black now pure silver. In spite of his seventy years his eyes still shone bright as he gazed across the room.

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Farewell DC, it’s been fun

17 10 2007

My time in Washington is coming to an end; all that is left now is for me to skidaddle over to the airport to abuse the duty free and overpriced coffee. If I’m feeling flush I may purchase Joe Hill‘s new collection a few days earlier than its release in the UK; if you’re wise you’ll buy it as well.

That’s an honest recommendation – I don’t know him personally (not that it would matter I only recommend what I like) – I’m just a reader that rates him. He’s awfully good. He’s going to be awfully big.

Washington has been lovely: the hotel was great, the people friendly (I can’t quite get used to the level of politeness vs London) and the weather has been up in the peachy eighties. All this is good but it does leave me a little wistful as I haven’t really been able to enjoy it because I’ve been so bloody ill – as I type this I am coughing like Doc Holiday in a Talc factory.

Still mustn’t grumble.

The conference was really interesting but if I go into too much detail I suspect I’ll lose half my audience as this is not a web analytics blog, that’s what Avinash is for. (Avinash has tons of experience in analytics and is/was the Analytics evangelist for Google, after years as a practitioner he is now a consultant in addition to being considered an industry wide expert. I’ve heard him speak numerous times now. He’s good. He’s very good. Well worth a look if you like that sort of thing.)

There have been some scarily intelligent people at this thing all of whom have been really interesting to talk to even though all I could really manage – I lost my voice – was a polite nod.

I didn’t really get much of a chance to write other than the blog but I have a lot of time to kill in the airport so who knows – maybe inspiration will strike. When it’s on I can write anywhere – I wrote a poem and two Flash pieces whilst the whole toilet debacle was going on, but when I’m blocked I’m blocked.

Columbo Villian of the Week

17 10 2007

This week’s Columbo villian of the week is the unsung star of Knight Rider, the voice of Kitt: William Daniels.


Knight Rider along with the A-Team, Street Hawk and Airwolf was part of the 80s explosion of all action, all Americana television. It also gave us The Hoff who on the face of it looks like a prime target for Columbo Villian of the week but let’s get real – the guy couldn’t stay sober long enough to kill someone let alone cross swords with our cigar chewing detective.


No the real story here is Kitt, it always was all about the car. Imagine how infuriating it must have been to have that drunken German soft rock star taking all the glory. I can see it now: the car did it, backed over him three times and it was only its failure to erase the tyre tracks – a car doesn’t have the opposable thumbs required to wipe things down – that led Columbo to the murderer.

But a car can’t kill him on its own. Who ever heard of a sentient car? That’s just silly.

The voice of Kitt was played by the regularly employed but relatively unknown William Daniels who went onto play George Feeny in Boy Meets World and he was quite frankly born to play a Columbo villian although in actuality he never appeared on the show, opting instead for Quincy. As far as I can see the largely uncredited Mr Daniels carried the whole of Knight Rider – I certainly didn’t watch it for The Hoff’s mullet – and seeing that particular individual pour all his success down his throat whilst the public give him all the glory not to mention the cash…well a man can only take so much.

The Hoff

But it wasn’t Knight Rider that pushed Daniels over the edge. No, the final straw was Baywatch, the show that relaunched The Hoff’s career, the show that The Hoff was a producer of in addition to star of and the show that didn’t throw any work Daniels’ way. Daniels was a huge part of making Kitt interesting, without Kitt there wouldn’t be Knight Rider and the Hoff wouldn’t have had a career at all. Daniels, ever the intellectual, plans an elaborate death for The Hoff involving him choking on his own chest wig as a result of a well placed squib.

It’s the perfect crime leaving an opening in the show for an aging but wise Chief Lifeguard to step into The Hoff’s shoes played by his old colleague. Now why is that detective wearing a raincoat in LA in June? And on the beach?

Of course in this instance on discovering the murderer Columbo would have no doubt shaken his hand for sparing us The Hoff’s future music offerings, a frankly horrible series of Pipex adverts and tabloid photos of The Hoff dribbling on his own shoulder. Then he would have locked him up.


Rules is rules.


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