The Big Society emerges at last – as a musical

Phill Jupitus to star in theatrical send-up of the Prime Minister's grand concept

You've heard the soundbite, you've listened to the speech – now enjoy the musical parody. For anyone still grappling with David Cameron's notion of the Big Society, help is at hand. The Prime Minister's idea has been given the Good Old Days treatment and is due to be performed in Edwardian music hall-style.

The all-singing, all-dancing Big Society! premieres at the newly restored Leeds City Varieties later this month starring the Never Mind the Buzzcocks comedian Phill Jupitus.

The show has been written and composed by Boff Whalley, the guitarist with Chumbawamba, the band whose former lead singer, Danbert Nobacon, famously decanted an ice bucket over John Prescott at the 1998 Brit Awards in protest at Labour's refusal to back the Liverpool dock workers.

Despite being set in 1910, the Red Ladder theatre company's production seeks to draw parallels with the present day. The story centres on the exploits of a variety show cast in a country presided over by an ageing monarch, run by an elitist government of public schoolboys and bedevilled by a corrupt media establishment.

It also marks a return to more radical roots for Jupitus, who began his performing life as a punk poet and was part of Red Wedge, the anti-Thatcher music and comedy collective that included the socialist pin-ups Paul Weller and Billy Bragg.

In an interview with The Independent, Jupitus admitted that while he did not look back on the political scene of the 1980s with any great affection, he was perhaps even more deeply demoralised by today's system.

"The way politics is now there is no passion in it. For everything that was wrong with Thatcher and her cabinet, they were clearly defined, identifiable characters. I challenge any of your readers to name six people in the Cabinet today," he said.

Jupitus, who as well as being a panel show regular on QI and The News Quiz has appeared in the musicals Spamalot and Hairspray, admitted that he too struggled to define what the Big Society actually was. "I don't even understand what he [Mr Cameron] means by it. It's something that sounded good to a focus group," he said.

He urged working people to remember the struggles of the past. "This notion that trade unions are wrong is endemic in society at the moment, that they are somehow bad people. But we wouldn't have any employment rights if it wasn't for trade union activists at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.

"People wouldn't have rights, women wouldn't have rights. There wouldn't be a lunch break, there wouldn't be tea breaks. People wouldn't have holidays."

Singing satire

Tony! The Blair Musical

This satirical musical showed in 2007, featuring such numbers as 'No Me In Tony' and 'We Had a Deal' – a duet between the protagonist and Gordon Brown.

Jerry Springer: the Opera

With God played by a love-rat and Eve by a pole-dancer, this satire provoked enraged protest by Christian groups across the country.

Thalidomide! A Musical

The 2006 musical comedy about the drug that caused serious birth defects featured 'It's Hard to Hitch Down Life's Highway With No Thumbs'.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before