Watch: Funny Cow

FUNNY COW Starring Maxine Peake

What was it like to be a female stand up comedian in the 1970s? Funny Cow tells you. And it wasn’t easy, apparently because ‘women aren’t funny’ according to male comedian played by Alun Armstrong in this gritty drama. Maxine Peake is superb as ‘Funny Cow’ – we never learn her real name. Equally brilliant is Macy Shackleton, who plays ‘Funny Calf’, Peake’s character as a child, in the streets of a northern town.

The film has some laugh out loud moments, however the comedy portrayed in the Northern working mens clubs isn’t for the PC brigade of 2018. Lookout for a few brilliant cameo’s from some well known faces when she auditions ‘to be a star’.

However, it also has some dark and disturbing moments. There’s domestic abuse, with Funny Cow being beaten by her Dad, played Stephan Graham, and by her boyfriend in later life, played by Tony Pitts who as well as putting in a great performance, also wrote the film. Lindsay Coulson, Carol Jackson in Eastenders, plays the older version of her Mum, and is rarely seen without a drink in her hand. And if that wasn’t enough, we see a character commit suicide.

My overriding thoughts are that it is a very good film, very much of it’s time of setting. There are a couple of stand out performances, but would I want to see it again. Possibly not.

Listen: Manic Street Preachers – Resistance is Furtile

First things first, I’ve got to point out, I’m a massive fan of the Manics. I’ve bought all their albums, yes even Lifeblood and I’ve seen them live several times, probably too many times to be honest. They don’t always get things right, the semi acoustic album Rewind the Film in 2013 was to me, a sign of a band having a midlife crisis, but you have respect them for suriving long enough to get to this, their 13th album. And it’s not unlucky 13 either.

After a few missteps on recent albums, Resistance is Furtile is a great Manics album. One review has described it as a greatest hits album of new material, which I think sums it up perfectly. I would suggest several songs are set to be in their setlist for years to come. People Give In has a reflective mood to the lyrics, but the music is great, lovely orchestration, First single International Blue is everything you expect from them. Uptempo, catchy, great guitar solo and it’s a belter.

Dylan & Caitlin features James sharing the vocals with The Anchoress and continues a tradition from their first album Generation Terrorists’ Little Baby Nothing of adding a female voice, and it’s a another cracking tune.

Once again the band mix their epic sounds of Everything Must Go era with more spiky Holy Bible material and Broken Algorithms is as close as the band get to their classic punker sound, with Nicky’s lyrics having a go at modern life. Holding Me Like a Heaven sounds like a beautiful song but then the lyrics tell a different tale –

Tattered manifestos litter the mind
Diplomatic plans ravaged by time
It never really was the truth or lies
We just gave up and said our goodbyes

Final track of the album The Left Behind finds the band in a reflective mood again, with lyrics saying

Waiting to be left behind
Acting like a passer-by

Could this be the end of the band? Interviews once again suggest maybe, with Nicky favouring darts and painting to getting lyrical. However, this has been said before. I hope it isn’t but for me, if it is, this is a great swansong.