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
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
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.

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect