Thursday, 4 November 2010

Levitt appears on Radio 4's 'PM' to promote 'Making Allowance'

Tom Levitt appeared again on Radio 4 yesterday, on their popular 'PM' evening news programme, picking up free promotion for his play 'Making Allowance'. The reporter, Becky Milligan, had blogged about her encounter with Levitt at a rehearsal prior to the audio version appearing on the show last night.

We'd be interested to know if any of our sources out there know who the character of Kevin in the play is based upon - seemingly a local Labour Party activist who confronted Levitt about his expenses. The Labour Chief Whip at the time of the expenses scandal was Nick Brown, someone who certainly bears no resemblance to the character Levitt portrays here, but is perhaps modelled on someone else.

Of future interest should be the producer of the play, a certain Chris Mellor. In last week's Advertiser and Glossop Chronicle (neither article is online), he revealed he was a former Glossop resident. His current job is Senior Arts Development Officer at Camden Council. We wonder how Camden residents would feel that the Council is putting their council tax into supporting Levitt's extreme act of vanity?

As usual, an mp3 recording of the programme segment and a full transcript can be read after the 'read more' link.

Eddy Mair: We've got the story now of a man who was a Labour MP for 13 years until the last election. Tom Levitt stood down after being exposed as claiming £16.50 for the cost of a poppy wreath laid on remembrance Sunday. Now he's written a play: Becky Milligan (BM) caught up with him during rehearsals.

BM: I'm in a community centre in North London where I think upstairs that I'm going to find Tom Levitt, former MP - now actor - and he's in rehearsals at the moment.

(sound of producer and Levitt conversing)

BM: Tom Levitt didn't stand in the last election after the expenses fiasco. He's written a play in which he acts. Chris Mellor, his producer, is taking him through his paces - scripts lie on the floor, as prompts.

(producer talking to Levitt)

BM: Tom Levitt performs all the roles in his play - they didn't have the funding to book any more actors. This scene is when the Labour Party chief whip has a quiet word with him in the chamber about the story breaking:
(Levitt voicing the parts):
My Whip came and sat down on the green benches behind me
"A word in your ear, bonny lad?"
"What is it Jack? I'm trying to catch the Chancellor's attention"
"Well it's something and nothing - in my waters I feel it's something"
BM: Have you always wanted to act? Are you finding it easy to act?

Tom Levitt: I've been a poet, a schoolteacher, a politician and I've been on the stage before, so I've never been a professional actor - and I don;t suppose I'm going to become one - but I enjoy it very much.

BM: What's his performance like so far?

Chris Melllor: I think it's very engaging, and I think there's going to be other ex-MPs coming along...

BM: Maybe some of those ex-MPs can have a go too?

CM: I'm up for the challenge!

BM: In this scene, the MP is confronted by one of his party activists:
(Levitt voices parts)
"Kitchen! - £5000!"
"Well, Kevin, I explained that as well - there are rules, and I stuck within the rules and it was all approved in advance, there's no problem there."
"I didn't spend all these years, knocking on people's doors in order to get you a kitchen like Jamie bloody Oliver!"
BM: Why did you do this play Tom? Because it seems odd to go back over something which was - caused such public outcry at the time.

TL: Well, what better to focus a drama upon, really? Because there were very deep and conflicting emotions in various parties to that drama, so in a sense it was trying to get a degree of frustration out of my system - there was a Catharsis element to the actual writing of it.

BM: As a kind of therapy?

TL: In a sense - but I don't want to say 'look, this is my therapy come and along and see how I try and cure myself'. It's not a defence - it's a warts-and-all depiction.

BM: I just wonder whether you're worried that people either won't turn up or will not want to hear your story, they're just not interested in a sob-story, or whatever it is, from an MP about expenses?

TL: It's not a sob-story, it does try to show all sides - you know, it's a small theatre, 80 seats, two nights, I've actually still got some friends after all this! If people are going to criticise it without seeing it, well, we'll judge their criticism accordingly.

(sound of producer and Levitt conversing)

BM: His producer is encouraging, but would like Tom to dig a little deeper. I leave them to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment