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Top Ten Tunes

Toby Stephens


Ladies and Gentlemen,

At last. A new DJ in the House, Yeah, I know. The relief. After six months of Fat Boy Slim ... SIX! Honestly, he was wearing a bit thin after a couple of weeks, and we did think it was perhaps time to move on. The Prop was as diplomatic as could be - "Ere - fat boy, Rack off." Or words to that effect. But no, he wouldn't go. Said he liked Central way too much, and our wine was "to die for." Even the threat of permanent injury, applied by one of our goats where it hurts the most, wouldn't work.

So six months it was, with ever diminishing crowds. Finally, we cut off the wine altogether and he left, muttering some nonsense about us being the gutter, and him the stars. Good riddance, slim boy.

At least, we think it was Fat Boy Slim. Confusingly he was neither fat nor slim. And when requested (often) for Praise You or Because We Can or Right Here, Right Now he would just look vague and put the Bee Gees on rotation. Weird.

SO ... You all will be relieved that we have a new Jock in the Dayglo ... and a ripper DJ at that - none other than our friend, ally and collaborator -- the extremely dashing and distinguished doyen of stage, screen and panto -- the simply marvelous Toby Stephens.

Alright, stop screaming to my left, I know what you've been watching.Black Sails? Right? Yeah, and why not? It's the gas. On Starz, and bloody great it is too. Excellent cast, headed by the man himself. Who hasn't been watching Black Sails? Hands up.

SECURITY -- eject that dreary couple right now.

Aside from that, you also know Toby from all that top stuff on stage, with the RSC, at The Old Vic, in the West End and on Broadway OMG...this is SERIOUS thespianism my darlings. We're talking Hamlet at Stratford, A Streetcar Named Desire directed Peter Hall, Coriolanus at the RSC...geez, I'm hyperventilating at the sheer grandeur of it all. And then in the movies with Neil LaBute, Clint Eastwood, Martha Fiennes, Michael Bay ... roles as diverse as a Bond villain (Die Another Day) to Tony Blair (wait...maybe that's pretty much the same damn thing). And on your telly, you can hardly turn the man off -- The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Cambridge Spies, Jane Eyre as Rochester, heaps of Agatha Christies and NOW (drumroll) starting Dec 26 on BBC -- And Then There Were None with Burn Gorman, Charlie Dance, Noah Taylor, Douglas Booth, Miranda Richardson, Aidan Turner, Anna Maxwell Martin, Maeve Dermody, AND the Prop. Three nights of fingernail biting.

Look enough of all this, I'm beginning to sound like Spotlight for God's sake ... Bring The Man on ... oh, and did I mention Toby's married to gorgeous Anne-Louise Plowman (how cool is that?) his brother is the excellent actor Chris Larkin (how cool is that?), his father was the marvelous Sir Robert Stephens (how cool is that?) and his mother the astounding Dame Maggie Smith (yeah, I know -- Maxi-Cool)

Here he is -- top bloke, hideous dancer, great actor, average swimmer, boffo pirate, lovely fellow ... Ladies and Gentlemen of The Dayglo – your very own Festive Season DJ right here live on the TPDG DodgyStage ™ ... MR TOBY STEPHENS

  1. Peace Frog - The Doors

    The Doors were the first band I truly loved. My teen years were in the 80's, where if you had any musical taste at all, you had to cast about to other decades to find solace. Jim Morrison became a bit of an obsession with me; he was a shaman; a sex crazed hedonist; a poet; a visionary. Looking back now however, he seems like a sad, alcoholic, narcissist who was probably a nightmare to be around; but combined with the rest of the band, he wrote some great, great songs. This song is my all time favourite; it exemplifies The Doors - raunchy and dark, but yet uniquely melodic.

  2. Where is my Mind - The Pixies

    To me The Pixies are a natural progression from The Doors - Musically complex and lyrically, strange. When I first heard these guy's, I fell in love with their sound, I'd never heard anything like them - still haven't. There was nothing else like them. I'd play Doolittle (Their second album) to friends and they'd say ' what the f**k is that obnoxious noise', but their disapproval made me love them all the more; I was a pioneer, they were all just boring and stayed - in reality, I was just an eighteen year old.

  3. The Love Supreme - John Coltrain

    As I've got older and become more distant from current musical trends, I've become more and more drawn to Jazz - which surprised me, as I never saw myself as the jazzy type. But when I started seriously listening to jazz, I found that it did somethings very pleasant to my head, something that other forms of music just couldn't do. Coltrain exemplifies my love of Jazz. I've found his musical journey fascinating: big band, through Bee Bop and culminating in the hypnotic distillation of The Love Supreme.

  4. 1/1 - Brian Eno

    I'm a huge fan of Eno, both as a Producer and as a musician. To many, this music is the kind of twaddle that wafts around a Spa; to me, it's genius. My Brother in Law, Paddy, was the first person who ever recommended to me Eno's Ambient masterpiece, Music For Airports - at first, I was dubious, but when I started listening I was transported. The efficacy of any music, is in its ability to transport us to other places in our mind or in our mood. Eno's soundscapes take me many places. I find this track particularly efficacious.

  5. Never Understand - The Jesus and Mary Chain

    When I first heard The Jesus and Mary Chain, aged sixteen, they scared the shit out of me; all that screaming feedback and tortured guitar sounded like some very dark, twisted acid trip that you couldn't get out of. When I revisited then a couple of years later, I heard, through the squalls and drifts of feedback, these unexpectedly tuneful bubble gum lyrics. The Reid brothers are underrated, unrepentant, pure rock and rollers.

  6. Hey Man - Spacemen 3

    I saw these dudes playing in Camden in 1989. They were all sitting on stools, creating this vast, wall of totally hypnotic sound. The never moved or spoke between songs. I couldn't tell who was singing. It didn't matter. It was incredible. I walked away from the concert in a trance. I've loved them ever since. This track is their take on a Negro Spiritual.

  7. Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond

    No, I'm not ashamed - I love Neil. One of the greatest songwriters of all time. I AM ashamed of the fact that I loved his version of The Jazz Singer when I went to see it with a buddy from school, aged eleven. I remember Laurence Olivier improbably playing a Rabbi, which threw me, having only recently seen him be a Nazi war criminal in The Marathon Man.

  8. Not Dark Yet - Bob Dylan

    I came late to Bob. I resisted him for a long time - he was just too folky for me. Time out of Mind was the album that got me. When it came out, friend Martin Donovan was grinding on so much about how amazing this album was that he eventually he wore me down. I bought it and put it on. What struck me first were the lyrics- they were gorgeous and sad; full of regret, loss and lonely wisdom. Songs aren't poems and songwriters aren't poets - they're songwriters, but Dylan somehow transcends these norms, to be both poet and songsmith. I love his music, but to me his lyrics are the thing.

  9. Spem in Deum - Thomas Tallis

    One time, I went to an exhibition at the Whitechapple Gallery in East London, my home. In one room there stood a circle of forty speakers on five foot stands and in the middle of the circle was a small bench. I sat on the bench wondering what this 'arty shit' was all about, when all of a sudden this Intricate weave of sixteenth century Choral music started to play. Each speaker represented a single voice, individually recorded; all of the speakers together, created a full choir, all directed at you in the centre. A unique experience, unless you can hire a choir to come and stand in a circle and sing to you. Well, after about two minutes of this achingly beautiful music, I was a blubbering mess. Music frequently makes me cry; it just taps right into my emotional circuitry - this weakness in me frequently embarrasses my Wife, who has to pick up the pieces. If heaven exists, this is what they're playing in the elevator.

Ladies and Gents, a big hand for a big sport – Good Lord, he even holidays in Hawkes Bay! – now that's as sporting as you like – our friend, colleague and general layabout – the wonderful, hilarious … MR TOBY STEPHENS

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