Thursday
16 August
10:25pm

Ken Campbell

On iPlayer Radio for the next few weeks is a three hour show called When Diane Met Ken, a deep dive into the BBC archive of interviews with and clips of Ken Campbell, accompanied by chats with people who worked with him, notably Nina Conti who you may know as the monkey ventriloquist from the fantastic film she made about dealing with the puppets Ken Campbell bequeathed to her by taking them to Vent Haven, the resting place for puppets of dead ventriloquists, and Daisy Campbell, his daughter, who you'll remember from that talk of hers I posted the other week, and who has recently taken responsibility for his legacy.

Three hours is a long time to commit to a radio show, although I know all the kids are podcasting like crazy these days and it does divide nicely up into hourly chunks, but it's well worth a dip. Interestingly, while it features people I've heard talk about Ken before, there was loads of new stuff here and very little repeated. But then I guess there are endless stories about Ken to tell.

Part of the Ken Campbell legacy work is The School Of Ken, a day of events at the British Library in London featuring Nina Conti, Prunella Gee, Toby Jones and Terry Johnson talking about him, plus other stuff. I'd be there if it was viable. (London is so unviable these days...)

The day before is a performance of Pigspurts Daughter, Daisy's one-woman show about her dad, which is also in Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle this month. I really enjoyed her Cosmic Trigger play so would love to see this. Maybe I will. Details in her newsletter.

The other night I was out with the Black Hole Club artists, most of whom are, shall we say, younger than me, which is fun because they don't know about stuff that I certainly didn't know about when I was their age, but they also know stuff that I don't know because I'm not their age, so it's always a nice exchange of stuff. I was telling Dinosaur about Ken Campbell, because I felt he would really benefit from knowing about him, and it occurred to me I didn't really know what to recommend. Because of the nature of his work, deeply influential but literally underground a lot of the time, the visible stuff doesn't tell the whole story. It just comes out in anecdotes and memories from those around him, which is lovely but kinda hard to point to. Here, listen to this three hour radio show. Watch this documentary about something else really. Watch this shakycam video of him talking about something or other on YouTube.

There's no canon, and maybe that's the point. There shouldn't be a canon for Ken. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try creating one. Maybe I'll start putting something together. You know, for the kids.


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