In May 2008, Neil enjoyed a superb collaboration with The Umbilical Brothers in ‘Flicker’ a specially-commissioned show for Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, Kilkenny.
Neil performed his own show in Edinburgh 2008: ‘Neil Brand – the Silent Pianist Speaks’ to critical acclaim. He has since played in London, Orkney, Bath, Tromso, Bonn, Zurich, Inverness and in rural touring venues. See separate page and Forthcoming Events for this year’s dates.
His radio play, ‘Seeing it through’ aired on Radio 3 in October 2007 – it is a political drama set against the background of Wellington House, the deeply secret department of propaganda during World War One. See Guardian review.
Neil recently recorded scores for DVD releases ‘Mitchell and Kenyon in Ireland’, ‘The Open Road’ (BFI, both with Gunter Buchwald), Bluebell Railway No 3 (Bluebell/South-East Screen Archive) and The Life Story of David Lloyd George (Welsh Film Archive). The Silent Britain BBC documentary for which he composed the music is now available through Kino in the States – this DVD is available from BFI Film and Video.
Neil’s score for ‘The Cat and the Canary’ was performed to great acclaim at the New Zealand Film Festival in July 2007.
Neil appeared with Paul Merton on Room 101 in March, defending Charlie Chaplin from the wrath of Ian Hislop. For those who missed it, Charlie didn’t make it into Room 101.
Neil is very proud to have had his radio play ‘Getting the Joke’ shortlisted for the Tinniswood Award, given by the Society of Authors and the Writers Guild for outstanding radio drama. The play concerned the trial for obscenity of 80-year-old postcard king Donald McGill.
DICKENS BEFORE SOUND, a DVD of Dickens-related silent material held by the NFTVA and featuring the full-length ‘Oliver Twist’ starring Jackie Coogan was released in August 2006 – scored throughout by Neil it also features textual soundtrack work by writer Michael Eaton and the wonderful Ken Campbell.
The BBC presented a season of films on BBC4 in May 2006 on the subject of silent film:
SILENT BRITAIN, which Neil scored, is a 90-minute overview of British silent cinema, a subject which has never been approached in such detail before. Containing clips, scenes, interviews and anecdotes the film is a fascinating treasure trove of rarely seen material which will throw some much-needed light on a vanished art form. This has also been released as a BFI DVD.
PAUL MERTON’S SILENT CLOWNS is an opportunity to hear about the great silent clowns from a comedy expert (and comic legend in his own right) who has grown up knowing and enjoying this material all his life – four one-hour episodes deal with Chaplin, Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy and each episode ends with a complete short by that artist, scored by Neil. Chaplin’s ‘Easy Street’ is a live improv accompaniment recorded at Bristol Slapstick with German friends (and world-class improvisers) Gunter Buchwald on violin and Frank Bockius on percussion, Keaton’s ‘The Goat’ and Lloyd’s ‘Never Weaken’ are studio recordings featuring great session musicians including Sonia Slany on violin and finally Laurel and Hardy’s ‘You’re Darn Tootin’ has the 10-piece score commissioned by Paul from Neil for last year’s SLAPSTICK, recorded live at Pordenone Festival featuring Dutch and Italian musicians and the trouser-ripping sound effects of the entire audience!!
And finally, his TV adaptation of STAN, the Sony-nominated radio play from 2004, aired to huge critical acclaim – Jim Norton and Trevor Cooper played the older Stan and Ollie and Nik Howden and Mike Goodenough played the younger. The director was Jon Sen.
Neil’s musical, TALKING WITH MR WARNER received its second showcase at the Menier Chocolate Factory with a superb cast in December 2005 after extensive rewrites, again to great critical acclaim. The next stage will be a full production.