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The Broons set to become stage sensations

April 20 2016

Auchenshoogle's first family are set to tread the boards of theatres around Scotland, as The Broons are brought to life to celebrate their 80th anniversary. Glasgow's Theatre Royal announced on Wednesday that Maw, Paw and the rest of The Broon clan are set to be the stars of an upcoming stage production in November. The Glebe Street family have appeared in the Sunday Post since 1936 and this will be the first time the characters will have appeared on stage. Rob Drummond has been tasked with writing the script for the play and said he was “thrilled” to be involved. A threatre spokesman said: “We are thrilled to be honouring these much-loved characters and bringing them to life on stage. “It will be filled by laughs, love and comic strip visuals, all set to a Scottish soundtrack.” Producers for the show are remaining tight-lipped as to just who will be starring in the iconic roles. Morris Heggie, who has edited The Broons comic strip since 2006, said that the play is sure to generate a “huge” amount of interest. “The Broons have never been on stage before, so it is a whole new venture for them. “The play will be travelling around Scotland and it will generate a huge amount of interest, there is absolutely no doubt about that. “The Broons was Scotland’s first soap opera. People relate to the characters and they care about them. “It’s a little slice of Scottish life and people want to see what happens next. The strips are also wonderfully drawn.” The Broons first appeared in DC Thomson’s Sunday Post on March 8 1936 and, along with Oor Wullie, became a staple of Scottish life. The comic was created in Dundee by RD Low and originally illustrated by artist Dudley D Watkins. Dudley D Watkins, who also illustrated strips in The Beano and The Dandy, passed away at his drawing desk in 1969. The play is set to tour after its run at the Theatre Royal and will visit stages across Perth, Stirling and Aberdeen. Tickets are available now from the Theatre Royal website.


Cardboard keyboards and digital drums for Festival of Improbable Instruments

April 14 2018

Budding musicians who want the chance to make music with their biscuit tins will finally get the chance at a creative event next week. Cardboard keyboards and tin pot synthesizers will be the order of the day on Thursday, thanks to a collaboration between an unlikely mix of musicians, electronic engineers and games designers. The Festival of Improbable Instruments will be the latest cultural event organised by the team at Weave – a community creative project based at Abertay University. An all-day workshop at the Vision building will give would-be composers the opportunity to craft their instruments, under the watchful tutelage of composer and orchestra director Luci Holland and games and arts lecturers Yann Seznec and Niall Moody. All of the electronic components, wires and materials will be provided on the day, but attendees to the festival – which is free – will be required to bring their laptop computers. Following the construction day, a discussion and rag-tag musical performance will take place at Avery & Co restaurant on South Tay Street. Weave curator Clare Brennan, said: "We are super-excited for this month’s Platform event, which will have a big appeal for people interested in sound, music and digital art, and for anyone keen to try something new. "Weave is all about reaching out to the Dundee community to explore new ideas while encouraging collaboration and I can’t wait to see what our improbable orchestra come up with." Luci Holland is an Edinburgh-based film, game and television composer whose work includes the soundtrack for Japanes animated film The Chronicle of Skeleton and computer games Murderous Pursuits. The event is free to attend but is expected to be popular, so booking in advance is recommended. Information and tickets can be found on the Weave eventbrite website. The evening discussion and performance will run from 5 to 7pm and the workshop at the Vision building will kick-off at 10am and run until 3.30pm.


Tayside theatres in the running for top awards

May 10 2018

Theatres across Tayside have been nominated for top prizes in this year's Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS) competition. The newly refurbished Perth Theatre, which opened its doors to the public for the first time in more than three years last December, will host this year's awards on June 10. Perth has been nominated in six categories across three separate productions – Jessica Hardwick is shortlisted in the Best Female Performance award, Lu Kemp is shortlisted for the Best Director Award, Jamie Vartan and Simon Wilkinson are shortlisted for Best Design, and the performance is also shortlisted for the supreme award, Best Production. Joseph Arkley is nominated in the Best Male Performance award for the title role in Richard III, and acclaimed composer Gareth Williams is shortlisted for the Best Music and Sound award for The 306: Day. Pitlochry theatre's version of The Monarch of the Glen at Pitlochry by Peter Arnott has been shortlisted in the Best New Play category and Dundee Rep Theatre has been nominated for Best Ensemble for its production of August: Osage County. Mike Griffiths, interim chief executive of Horsecross Arts, the creative organisation behind Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre, said: "We are delighted to have so many CATS nominations in our first season back in the newly reopened Perth Theatre." CATS co-convener, Joyce McMillan, said: "It is a huge pleasure to see Perth Theatre firing on all cylinders again, after its three-year rebuilding programme. "We are especially pleased to be holding the ceremony at Perth this year, to celebrate the tremendous work that’s been done to make that much-loved theatre into a brilliant 21st century resource for the Perth area, and for the whole of Scottish theatre."  


Trial of former SNP councillor continues

January 25 2018

The trial of a former senior Dundee SNP councillor accused of sending racist text messages continued on Thursday morning. Craig Melville, 37, is accused of acting in a threatening and abusive manner towards Nadia El-Nakla, a former SNP colleague. It is alleged Melville, who had been in an extra-marital relationship with Ms El-Nakla, sent messages saying he wanted to "shoot" Muslims following the Paris terrorist attacks at the Bataclan theatre in 2015. Melville is further accused of referring to Muslims as "filth" and that a particular Islamic youth worker in the city should be "burried alive". Ms El-Nakla finished giving evidence at Dundee Sheriff Court on Thursday morning, before Sheriff Scott Pattison. She was asked by Melville's defence solicitor Douglas McConnell whether there was a possibility the messages read out to the court had been made up to "keep the heat" away from herself. Ms El-Nakla responded: "(This experience) has been a nightmare. I did not write these messages. Craig Melville did. I was not an elected member. I had an affair, which I didn't realise was a crime." She further noted, during cross examination by Mr McConnell, she and her estranged husband had spoken to the press after initially raising the allegedly racist text messages with SNP party chiefs. Melville, of Marlee Road, denies sending threatening, derogatory and abusive remarks regarding Muslims between November 13 - 15 2015 to Nadia El-Nakla. The trial continues.


Racist text message trial of former SNP councillor continues

January 26 2018

The trial of a former senior Dundee SNP councillor accused of sending racist text messages continued on Thursday morning. Craig Melville, 37, is accused of acting in a threatening and abusive manner towards Nadia El-Nakla, a former SNP colleague. It is alleged Melville, who had been having an extra-marital relationship with Ms El-Nakla, sent messages saying he wanted to "shoot" Muslims following the Paris terrorist attacks at the Bataclan theatre in 2015. Melville is further accused of referring to Muslims as "filth" and saying a particular Islamic youth worker in Dundee should be "buried alive". He and Ms El-Nakla had worked together in the SNP office on Old Glamis road. She was a case worker for Shona Robison MSP and Melville worked for Stewart Hosie MP – Ms Robison's ex-husband. Ms El-Nakla was asked by Melville's defence solicitor Douglas McConnell if it was possible the messages read out to Dundee Sheriff Court had been made up to "keep the heat" away from herself. Ms El-Nakla responded: "(This experience) has been a nightmare. I did not write these messages. Craig Melville did. I was not an elected member. I had an affair, which I didn't realise was a crime."   Ms El-Nakla said she regularly deleted messages sent to her by Melville because of their affair and that she saved his name on her phone under an alias. She said the got rid the messages in question after challenging Melville about them. "I found the messages upsetting. He said he felt bad about the messages and asked me to delete them," she said. Ms El-Nakla's estranged husband, Fariad Umar, told the court he downloaded the texts in December 2015 using software he had found via Google, after becoming suspicious of her behaviour. Mr Umar, an IT technician at Dundee University, said he initially reported Melville to SNP bosses because he felt someone representing the public should not hold those views. He also put the messages on to a CD which was handed to police a month later, he told the court. Mr Umar said: "I went to the SNP for them to take the matter further. "Someone in the party responded who said he would deal with it in-house and urgently. "I spoke with the police in January 2016...the story had come out in the press. My route was to go through the employer (the SNP) to see what they would do." Detective constables from Police Scotland also gave evidence at Thursday's trial. DC Paul McIlreavey told the court Ms El-Nakla submitted her phone to officers for examination, but despite a thorough search, none of the alleged messages could be recovered by specialist forensic officers. DC David McLeod noted messages which had been sent via Apple's iMessage service sometimes could not be recovered. Melville, of Marlee Road, denies sending threatening, derogatory and abusive remarks regarding Muslims between November 13 - 15 2015 to Nadia El-Nakla. Final submissions are due to be heard when the trial reconvenes before Sheriff Scott Pattison on March 15.


‘Comedy, Culture and Comics’ — three new Dundee ambassadors announced

April 6 2017

The campaign which shows Dundee off to the world will swap the three Js for the three Cs, with the announcement of three new city ambassadors. Comedy writer Danny Wallace, comic book studio head Mike Stirling and Scottish Dance Theatre artistic director Fleur Darkin have been chosen to promote Dundee on the world stage, as it sets itself out as a new "renaissance city". One City Many Discoveries — the group behind the campaign — hopes the three giants of Culture, Comics and Comedy will join the likes of Brian Cox and Lorraine Kelly in attracting visitors to Dundee. Proud Dundonian Danny Wallace, the award winning writer who penned the hit book-turned-blockbuster Yes Man, said he was delighted to represent his home town as "a confident city ready to welcome the world". "I’m very proud to be from Dundee. I’ve lived in different cities and different countries — but once you’re a Dundonian, you’re always a Dundonian," he said. "It’s a proud city, and a determined one, but Dundee doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s the home of jam, jute and journalism, yes — but it’s also the home of artists, designers and inventors. And it’s a funny city. "I’m very proud to have been asked to be an ambassador. Some people would be happy being asked to be ambassador to Barbados or Fiji. I’ll take Dundee." Mike Stirling, editorial director and head of one of the city's most popular exports The Beano, said Dundee was a "casually brilliant" place to be, and is the comic capital of the world. He said: "I’ve been lucky to have been based in Dundee during its resurgence as the UK’s renaissance city.  But the really cool thing is, that Dundee is probably too modest to recognise itself as such. "It’s a casually brilliant type of place. It’s also the city of laughs and the comic capital of the world. Just look at our credentials — Minnie the Minx, Desperate Dan, The Broons & Oor Wullie, The Bash Street Kids and Dennis and Gnasher are just a few of our world-famous funny characters, all born here. "This is a city where comics are taught as a subject at university. If that’s not a signal of outstanding creativity, I don’t know what is.” "I’ve always happily told everyone why Dundee is great, and it will be an honour and a privilege to ‘officially’ continue to do so as a new city ambassador." Fleur Darkin is the artistic director of Dundee-based national contemporary dance company Scottish Dance Theatre. She said: "Our productions are Dundee made and then we export what we do to the rest of the world. Being based in Dundee is a blessing for us, because it's very easy to live and work here and there are good conditions for experimentation. "There are so few companies in the world like this, that have dancers on a permanent contract. "There’s a real history here that’s influenced the wider dance world. Royston Maldoom in the 80’s for example brought on and encouraged young people like Andy Howitt, who was one of his teenage dancers and has gone on to have an international career. "That kind of ambition is achievable because of what’s been done for dance here and I’m proud to share the Dundee provenance of Scottish Dance Theatre wherever we travel to."


Cultural contributions to go before council

February 8 2018

Dundee's libraries are the most popular in Scotland and more people pay to watch films at the DCA than visit the city's free galleries. The figures from the city's cultural centres, which receive more than £60,000 from the council budget, are contained in a new report for councillors. The biggest chunk of money goes, unsurprisingly, to Leisure and Culture Dundee – the organisation responsible for the upkeep of the city's libraries, sport centres and swimming pools. The local authority has ploughed more than £7.5 million into the body and, according to the report, it is reaping results. The report to the policy and resources committee notes Dundee has the highest percentage of library users among its population out of all of the Scottish local authorities. Library visits in 2016-17 dropped by 9% compared to the previous year but the council said this could be explained by the closure of Lochee library for five weeks' maintenance. Central library visitor numbers have also started to increase again after the cafe reopened. The re-opening and refurbishment of Lochee pool saw visitor numbers increase by 63,500 people in 2017, while the Dundee Ice Arena recorded a 5% increase in visitors – coinciding with the Dundee Stars' ice hockey club's first ever appearance in the Play-Off finals in Nottingham and local figure skater Natasha McKay's victory in the senior British ladies championships. Dundee Contemporary Arts received £241,000 from the council in the last financial year. Councillors George McIrvine (Labour), Anne Rendall (SNP), Margaret Richardson (Labour) and Mark Flynn (SNP) all sit as board representatives for the arts centre, along with council officer Philip Owen. DCA celebrated a number of milestones, including hosting the first Scottish exhibition by world renowned artist Mark Vallinger. The arts venue welcomed 30,000 visitors through its galleries and achieved audience numbers of 90,000 people across 500 different films in its cinema. Its education programmedelivered activities for more than 8,000 people, including  workshops for children and families and professional development sessions for local art teachers. The centre employs 44 full-time equivalent workers and supports more than 70 artists with commissions to produce new works. Meanwhile, Dundee Rep and the Scottish Dance Theatre received £361,034 from the public purse. Productions at the theatre were once again nominated for a number of awards – including Death of a Salesman – and the dance troupe celebrated its 30th birthday. The theatre's main house employed 103 full-time equivalent jobs, according to the report.


Dundee firm Tag Games develops new Angry Birds Action!

May 2 2016

A Dundee games company are celebrating their biggest release yet, after developing the latest  instalment of the Angry Birds franchise. Tag Games announced that they have launched a new version of the smash-hit mobile app game, alongside publishing partner Rovio. Angry Birds Action was released last Friday via the Apple and Android stores, in time to tie-in with the arrival of a new major Hollywood film based on the game. CEO of Tag Games, Paul Farley, said that working with the “iconic” gaming franchise was a massive honour, and truly cemented Tag Games' position as an industry leader after a decade in the city. He said: “We have worked with many global IPs over the past decade and Angry Birds Action is one of our biggest, most ambitious projects yet. “It’s an honour to work with Rovio on such an iconic franchise and working in parallel with the development of the animated movie has provided a unique opportunity to utilise cutting edge cross-media technology. “This release further cements our position as a studio capable of delivering class leading free-to-play games and managing live service operations at the largest possible scale. “We can’t wait to see how fans react to it!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88T6lek6I3E Miika Tams, vice-president of games at Rovio, said: “It has been a great experience to work so closely with Tag Games on the development of Angry Birds Action. “Together we have put the Angry Birds characters and story at the center of a truly 360-degree experience this summer, bringing the storyworld to life in a new way, both for our heavily engaged fanbase and newcomers alike. “Now the real work starts, however, as we focus now on live free-to-play operations and further development of the game. I know that Tag Games is a perfect partner to take that step with.” The Angry Birds games are the most downloaded apps of all time, with over 3 billion downloads across all mobile platforms since 2010. The animated film stars Sean Penn, Peter Dinklage and Kate McKinnon and will arrive at cinemas on Friday 13th May.


Complaints after Ninewells parking lift switched off

November 28 2017

Staff and patients at Ninewells face climbing up to eight flights of stairs because operators have switched off the lifts. A number of complaints have been made by motorists at the multi-storey car park who have had to climb the steps after 10pm because the lift systems are being stopped. Indigo, the company responsible for managing the site — one of only three in the country still charging users — said they do not staff the building after 10pm, meaning that the devices are switched off and unusable. It is understood the changes came into effect last week. Shelagh Wilson, a theatre nurse in the hospital’s anaesthetic department, was faced with an eight-floor climb after finishing a gruelling 12-hour shift. Mrs Wilson said she attempted to get in a lift at 9.50pm, having had to park on the uppermost floor earlier in the day because of limited available space, to be told by employees they had been turned off for the night. She said: “It can take as long as half an hour some days to find a space, so very often those of us whose shifts start at lunchtime can only find space on the upper floors. ”It’s a safety and an accessibility issue, staff who work very hard or are on call will now face having to climb a lot of stairs late at night. ”Also, some visitors might be seeing relatives in hospital later on in the evening and may themselves not be all that mobile. "They have staff who can go out and ticket cars at all times of the day, so why can't they keep the lifts on? ”It’s completely unfair and not right. It is entirely unacceptable.” The car park costs users — including all staff and patients — £2.20 per visit and has been dubbed a “tax on the sick” by politicians. The Scottish Government, which scrapped charges at sites across the country, insists it has no power to renegotiate the contract. A spokesperson for Indigo did not comment on Mrs Wilson’s complaint, but did confirm because of the car park being unmanned, the lifts are turned off in the evening after 10pm.


Polar explorer given special access to legend’s RRS Discovery cabin

December 5 2017

A cabin inhabited by one of the country's most intrepid explorers on his way to the South Pole opened its doors to a modern day Antarctic adventurer on Monday. Wendy Searle is preparing to set off on an exploratory mission to the bottom of the planet, following in the footsteps of Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Sir Ernest Shackleton and the crew of Dundee's most famous ship RRS Discovery. The brave adventurer and her team will drag all of their supplies, food and equipment by sled across 400 miles of frozen plains toward the South Pole, just as the Discovery's plucky crew did more than a century ago. And as if that wasn't daunting enough, Wendy and her modern crew will cross uncharted territory in the tundra, climbing an as-yet-unconquered Transantarctic mountain glacier on their journey to the pole. Her journey will begin at the Ross ice shelf, before ascending the previously unclimbed peak and crossing the Titan Dome along the way. Wendy hopped aboard Scott's historic vessel on Monday, where she was invited to view Shackleton's quarters as well as producing her own edition of the South Polar Times - the magazine created by the crew of the Discovery to help the men while away the stormy winter months spent locked in the ice. Its pages were filled with letters, articles and illustrations which kept the crew amused in the harsh climes of the antarctic continent. Wendy said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to write my own South Polar Times entry and I’m delighted to be working with Dundee Heritage Trust on this project. "I’m especially interested in what the experience of sailing to the bottom of the world and overwintering in a tiny hut would have been like as a woman." Ali Gellatly, education officer at Dundee Heritage Trust, said: "Wendy will be adding her own lines to polar history and this is a very special way for her to start that journey. "We opened Shackleton’s cabin especially for this visit."