Ed Parnell's Cunning Plan

I been here and there with receding hair…

Hello there

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It’s been a while and I know there have been some people saying ‘what happened’.

Two things

Firstly, I became a little concerned about the press freedoms and reprocussions of publishing material and links which would be… ‘frowned’ upon by our increasingly ‘interested’ Government. I’m just one guy. I can’t afford legal and litigation. The new regulations – should they affect the Internet as well – could well put me and others who do this sort of thing in Shit Street for good, or worse. Of course, the UK is not the only place where politicians have been up in arms simply because they are not heard as much as they want to be, and their ‘words of wisdom’ are questioned with actual facts as opposed to the bigoted prejudice many of them spout. We’ll see what happens in any case.Secondly, I got a bit lazy and tied up in my own problems to really dedicate that much time to it.

I’m going to try and start this thing up again; hopefully you will find some of the stories interesting, and then click on the originating link below to find out more.

I should get started.



Written by edparnell

October 26, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Posted in Announcements

What this blog is…

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It’s a mixture of stuff I found interesting or funny.


Written by edparnell

December 1, 2008 at 12:57 pm

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Mcphereson Maintaining a grip on reality.

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I do enjoy a good reputation these days. Everyone knows the standard of my work and when they feel a part is not ‘me’ they don’t bother to call me for an audition. Perhaps they feel that the cast will be awed and afeared to compete with the depth of my characterisation, thus striking them almost catatonic – unable to move or speak, standing there open mouthed and staring at the sheer realism of my portrayal. Like in Hulme that one time during a touring production of ‘The Lady On The Bus’.

For those who don’t know ‘Lady’ is a play about a group of people from all backgrounds, on a bus. There’s a housewife, a miner, a financial advisor, a astronaut, a waiter and a Chinese emperor. While stuck in traffic they strike up a conversation. Suffice to say at the end of three hours lessons are learned, lives are changed, allegories are demonstrated and differences are levelled. The whole play is about the attitudes of different strata of sociological class, the perceptions and predispositions of ignorance and temporary roadworks.

I played Chuck Warrior, an ambitious financial advisor. Although not given a brief as such, when allocated the part, I made a list of things about ‘Chuck’. This sort of exercise has brought me much plaudits over the years, and younger actors (under 60) should take note of this method, as it will yield fruit to the tree or bush of your performance.


  • Ambitious
  • Does financial advice
  • Wears brown shoes (I underlined this as VERY IMPORTANT)

With this list I was able to to deduce his attitude, his personality and what drives him. Everything from eye colour to how many PPI calls he got I deduced from this list. Using economic data, trend analysis, calculous and a book of Greek Mythology, I had the character pinned down and honed.

Just to be sure I had him, I rang up several insurance companies for a quote on an Audi GT as Mr Warrior, and was pleasantly surprised that I could get it for less than £600 with a £250 excess and windscreen cover. If I could fool the good workers at Direct Line, the Apollo Theatre in Hulme would be a cinch!

It is at this point I must proffer a cursory warning. Be aware that portraying someone is entirely different from becoming them. I once appeared in ‘These Woolen Balls’, a play about the 1960s’ Womens’ Institute, and such was my acting even I was convinced I was actually the role I was playing and thus spent six months of my life post-play as a Mrs Bellingham. Since then. On my dressing room mirror I insist that I have a picture of myself with the words ‘This is you’ written under the face. It is very important that you remember you are an actor and you are not the person who people see in films/tv/walk-in bath commercials. I also like, during a run, to have people mention my name in conversation thus enforcing reality. Preferably in conversation with myself, although some prefer to do it in other dressing rooms and dark areas of the performance space which is fine. Often they will point, which is also helpful in keeping one remaining grounded.

If they don’t address me in the way I wish, I mention my name in every other sentence. (eg: “yes, I will have a coffee. Two sugars, Tarquin” or “Mmmmm, this really is delicious meringue, Miranda. Did you make it yourself Tarquin?” or “How dare you! I am Tarquin McPhereson”.

All being told I reigned supreme as Mr Warrior, though there was a brief time when I was questioned for forging and submitting a driving licence to the insurance company for a car I didn’t own, and obtaining insurance with false details with intent. I am still in dispute that the Police were entitled to arrest me on stage but thankfully the audience thought it part of the play and applauded loudly. Apart from that the show went swimmingly, and went on a tour of the North West, albeit without me as I was awaiting trial.

Posted By Ed to Mcphereson on 10/14/2017 04:59:00 am

Written by edparnell

October 14, 2017 at 12:59 pm

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Mcphereson Radio – my experiences.

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With the anniversary of Radio One, I am pointed to reflect on the brief sojourn I enjoyed as a Radio Disc Jockey.

I was approached by Wesley Gould, the philanthropist, who had this idea about a radio station broadcasting popular music to the youth of Britain. Of course, I was heavily involved in a production of ‘Not On My Wife’ at the Cheshire ballrooms, and so was unable initially to entertain such a premise, or was until a phone call saying the whole thing had been cancelled after the first production. Unusual for a matinee, but the building had been deemed unsafe after the unrest.

The notion Gould had was this; we would be on a ship in international waters and would broadcast to the UK from international waters. It would be an eclectic mix of music and information which the kids would find interesting and informative. Adults could tune in as well of course. As could seniors. And very young people too. We had no age bars. It was literally a radio station anyone could listen to. All you needed was a radio and some ears.

Now, firstly, let me declare I have always had a thing for the sea. I cannot count the times I have been at the edge, between land and water, contemplating the meaning of it all, but it’s at least three. Growing up as I did during the war, I used to imagine being one of the staunch captains, ordering the destruction of an enemy vessel, be it a warship or a submarine, capturing the survivors and then treating them to a selection of impressions and songs from the shows. On other days I would imagine being a pirate, sailing the oceans plundering and wotnot, my hold filled with prisoners and treasure, fighting authority and taking what I wanted when I wanted it and paying no heed to laws. As I grew up these ambitions became more realistic, and eventually I envisioned myself as a boson on a P. & O. Ferry.

But this was a big chance. I could really ‘connect’ with younger listeners. Who knows, I could inspire them, like Kennedy or Martin Luther King, my oratory on how things could be would change the world, punctuating the gap between The Animals and The Kinks. There would be statues erected to my wisdom. My name would be mentioned in Parliament.

The job of a disc jockey was to project your personality. Between those interludes of musical excellence, the DJ would have to invent something to say, and this is not as easy as it seems. After the first few shows I was told people were complaining about my constantly saying what clouds look like. But I had nothing else. I scanned the paper and then it hit me. I would involve my listeners in the crossword. The trouble came when we spent seventeen minutes on ‘Focus or focal, your attention please. Use this as your guide (8)’ The answer was of course Cynosure, but some people rang up with the most peculiar suggestions, several of them on the internal line, and even fewer to do with the puzzle at hand.

It was then I heard a young tyke with a gimmick. This fellow had a recording of a dog, which he would play. “Hello Albert” he would say and the dog would dutifully bark. This not only gave him a friendly air, but a device by which people could say ‘He’s not that bad. He has a dog’. I immediately decided this had inspired me and for my next programme I introduced Terry the Tortoise. “Hello Terry” I would say, and Terry would much some lettuce. Anyone who has worked in radio knows that a tortoise eating doesn’t make compelling radio, even on Radio Three. I needed another tack.
I tried all manner of animals. Cats. Owls. Lizards. Frogs. At one point I actually had a leopard. But none of these grabbed the same intimacy as Albert the dog, and frankly the Air Ambulance people were very scathing about having a leopard on a tug boat. We never did find Adrian Dunbar.

I was running out of time. Gould was looking at the listening figures and mine were, apparently, and I use the radio jargon here, ‘bloody rubbish’. Then another stroke of McPhereson genuis hit me. Why not present a list of records which are selling very well in order of the amount they are selling? I could play those records and say ‘this is’ and a number denoting it’s retail popularity. And because people were purchasing these things, people would listen. It was a plan, audacious and new – as far as I was aware. I would call it ‘Records that are selling very well near you in a reverse numerical listing arrangement’.

Sadly the idea was lost forever because as I was presenting my afternoon programme the tug fell foul of a unexploded torpedo which hit our little boat ripping it apart and destroyed the whole station. And so my career as a DJ came to a close. I did try with other broadcasters for a while but many of them – the ones who replied – said I shouldn’t try to improve what I had done on the pirate station, as it was probably impossible to make it any better. High praise indeed, and I know, should I fall foul of this thespian life, I have something to fall back on.

Posted By Ed to Mcphereson on 9/30/2017 02:12:00 am

Written by edparnell

September 30, 2017 at 10:12 am

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Mcphereson Working with Animals #1

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August 28, 2017 at 11:59 am

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Mcphereson Dr Who? Not me!

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July 17, 2017 at 3:38 pm

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Mcphereson Spare Time

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Written by edparnell

July 7, 2017 at 5:37 pm

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Mcphereson Dream jobs.

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One of the questions I am often asked by young actors is ‘How do I get my dream job?’. This is probably the most posed query, along with ‘ What is Joanna Lumley really like?’ and ‘Can I go to the toilet?’.

Dream jobs are hard to come by. Look at lovely Tony Blackburn. When he was a small lad, he dreamt of being a milkman. Up at 3, out, delivering bottles and creams and yoghurts. A merry soul with a kind smile and maybe the odd joke along his route. But fate played a cruel hand and he became a disc jockey. Which is probably just as well as no one has a milkman anymore and he would be alone, unemployed and unskilled by now and probably ending his days in a dark basement with a shotgun in his mouth. Fortunately he is on Radio Two. Which I know for a fact is on the fourth floor.

I myself have done the odd bit of ‘jocking’. In 1972 David Hamilton took two weeks off to have his hair done, and I was invited to fill in. Now people do say that sitting in a comfortable room taking records out of sleeves and putting them on a record player, playing them, muttering in between some incoherent rubbish and then playing another record does not constitute hard work. But it does. I am not the only one who thought that, as the Producer, Pat Bennington agreed that the programme was ‘bloody hard work’. Bennington left after the first three days citing a religious conversion, and was replaced by the more progressive Geoff Lyons. We had some fun on that show, I can tell you. People would ring in, and almost all of them could not believe what they were hearing. David came back after just six days and was amazed at what I had done. I still remember him sitting there, his head in his hands, looking at the show listening figures and wondering how he was going to equal them.

I did offer my services a couple more times but they said that once was enough, and on reflection that’s true. They don’t want to give their audience too much of a good thing, and then the audience gets spoiled and expects good things all the time and when the good things are not as good as the audience wants then they get all noisy and animated and demand their money back from frightened box office staff.

This did lead to a brief spell on City Radio. For those who don’t know, the millionaire Hors Gorvitz started a commercial radio station, and I was on the line up. In his autobiography I am flattered to be referred to as ‘someone who made us all look good’. One in the eye for those bodkins at Radio Two I think. I was to present the Overnight Express. A mixture of music and entertainment with the odd phone in. I decided not to do the average phone in, this was a chance to really push the envelope, to move things into a new arena. The subjects I covered were areas untouched by other presenters. Apostrophies. Pottery. Mowers. The show was an overwhelming success, garnering much media attention, esp after that man from Hastings said what he did about the Queen.

Posted By Ed to Mcphereson on 6/07/2017 04:36:00 am

Written by edparnell

June 7, 2017 at 12:36 pm

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Mcphereson Charlies.

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What a packed week this has been so far. I was working on cataloguing my collection of candlesticks, when the phone rang. Lo and behold it was George Barrington, who I believed to be dead but who, seeing as how it was him on the other end of the phone, wasn’t. For those outside the business Barrington is an actors’ dream. A director with all the passion and vision and scope and actor could possibly want, plus he had damn good caterers. I am sure if he had not made Shoreditch Showdown, he would have made a living with his canopies. Shoreditch Showdown was a classic, and was not responsible, as some would have it, in the collapse of the British Film Industry. Many the time I have rewatched this classic south London based western, about a good man battling a gang of cockney ne’erdowells lead by Dickie Attenborough. It was said to be the British High Noon on the posters until lawyers got involved.

Anyway, Barrington is doing this absolutely amazing thing. He’s going to make a fourth in the Thanet Terror Trilogy. As he said, a trilogy has never had four parts, and he may well be right. Who can forget the frenzied scenes of Bloodbath in Broadstairs? Which of us can erase from our minds the Murderous Murders in Margate or the climactic and banned Deathly Deed of Death in Dumpton Park? This new segment is also set in Thanet, and is provisionally titled The Rampaging Reaper of Ramsgate. The setup is much the same. Abandoned house, visitors, escaped serial killer, blood, death, screaming girls, foolish men, gore, squelching and cleaning bills. Rumour has it the Dumpton Park installment was so frightening three cinemas sued to have their upholstery cleaned.

I make my return as the infamous Dr Taplowe, trying to find his escaped patient, Mathias Wand, before Mr Wand gets his murderous urge. Connoisseurs of the oeuvre will know Wand was played by the brilliant Charles Hawtrey. Charles was a remarkable actor, with a rare give of being able to inflate his body to over six times it’s natural size. In fact I break no confidence that the slight figure you saw in may lighter vehicles hid behind it a towering inferno of power. I recall seeing him and Chuck Norris on location queing. Norris had pushed in front of Hawtrey, and Charles didn’t like it. An argument broke out, people moved away. The caterer closed his shutters. Actors and crew drove home at speed. Finally, Hawtrey took off his glasses. When this happened, you knew there were going to be ructions. Drawing himself up to his full 8ft height and puffing himself out as much as he could, Hawtrey and Norris went at it, Mano on Mano. Fists, kicks, punches, knees everything was a flurry of speed until Norris lay on the floor, gasping for mercy. Hawtrey put his foot on Norris’ windpipe when Terry Thomas put his hand on Hawtrey’s shoulder and said ‘Leave it, Charlie, bounder isn’t worth it. He’s a shower’. They went to the Fish and Mondays for a drink, leaving Norris writhing in the filth overnight. This is why you never see Norris and Hawtrey in the same films.

Posted By Ed to Mcphereson on 5/11/2017 04:47:00 am

Written by edparnell

May 11, 2017 at 12:52 pm

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