Edinburgh Diary: Emma Thompson; Stephen K Amos; Tom Wrigglesworth; Theatre Ninjas; Frank Chickens

Revisiting an old friendship

Much has been made of Emma Thompson's involvement with Fair Trade, a searing look at the lives of two sex-trafficked girls at the Pleasance Dome. It's labelled in the Fringe brochure under her name and her quote – "one of the best scripts I've seen in years" – adorns the programme. But how did her involvement as executive producer come about? Blame Aloysius. Anna Holbek, who co-wrote and stars in the play met Thompson on the set of Brideshead Revisited in 2008.

Among her jobs as a production assistant was teaching Thompson a song in Latin for one of Lady Marchmain's more fervent scenes. While rehearsing, the pair bonded and Thompson told Holbek about her work with the Helen Bamber Foundation and their Journey Against Sex Trafficking project. So something good came out of that awful remake, after all.

One-stop shop for jokes

A year on and Edinburgh's ill-fated £600m tram project once again finds itself the butt of visiting comedians' jokes. The terrible road-works have gone so you can at least now cross the road. But thanks to wrangling between council and contractors, the "tram system" currently consists of a single lonely vehicle, parked up permanently in the middle of Princes Street. Already this week, Loretta Maine (the troubled singer alter-ego of Pippa Evans) has staged a one-woman, one-guitar protest against the tram, stopping traffic for five minutes. But it was Stephen K Amos, hosting the Pleasance press launch, who got the biggest laugh. "It's great to be back in Edinburgh", he purred. "I must say, I love what you've done with the one tram."

Railing against fares

Tom Wrigglesworth was nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award last year for his brilliant show Open Return Letter to Richard Branson. In it, he told the true story of how he took on a Virgin Trains inspector who was trying to charge an elderly woman over £100 for having the wrong ticket. The show led to the online campaign against unfair rail fares "Lena's Law". Now up at the Fringe with a new show about getting married in Las Vegas, the comedian tells me that he received his own letter from Richard Branson last year, wishing him good luck. The entrepreneur never made it up to Edinburgh to see the show for himself, but his sister, Vanessa – a powerful mover and shaker in the arts world – came along. "She loved it", says Wrigglesworth. "It was very nice that she came."

Theatre Ninjas

Dispiriting rows of empty seats could soon be a thing of the past at the Fringe, if Theatre Ninjas have anything to do with it. The fantastic initiative, set up by a group of theatre-makers all aged under 25, makes around 700 free tickets available every day via an app and its website (theatreninjas.co.uk). If producers have spare seats to fill half-an-hour before curtain up, they can offer up to 10 free tickets online to whoever gets to the venue first and quotes the correct code. So there you have it, flyers for the iPhone generation.

Foul play stops Chickens

Aware that the best way to woo a bunch of hacks and hangers-on in Edinburgh is through food, drink and, umm, children's toys, attendees at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards launch were showered with Foster's-branded gifts this week. There were spare socks ("for when you laugh yours off"), water pistols and a pack of Comedy Award Top Trumps, featuring the faces of winners from the last 30 years. Categories for comparison in the game include number of nominations and age at win.

Controversialists at the lunch were disappointed that it didn't stretch to nominees over the years, too. Otherwise Frank Chickens – the obscure Japanese act, nominated once in 1984 and propelled up the 30th anniversary Foster's Comedy God poll by Stewart Lee's recent online rant – would surely have been the trump card. So far Frank Chickens have received around a quarter of the votes cast. The results are announced at the end of August.

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
    Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

    Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

    Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
    Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

    The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

    Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness