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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing