Wednesday 28 September 2016

Peter Capaldi turns air blue in Letters Live performance

Published 15/03/2016 | 00:41

Peter Capaldi turned the air blue with salty insults to the applause of the Letters Live audience
Peter Capaldi turned the air blue with salty insults to the applause of the Letters Live audience

Peter Capaldi has proved politics never changes as he answered the question of what his famously foul-mouthed character Malcolm Tucker would sound like in the 17th century.

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Performing Sultan Mehmed IV's demand for submission and the defiant Zaporozhian Cossacks' response with comedian Matt Berry, Capaldi turned the air blue with salty insults to the applause of the Letters Live audience.

Long before The Thick Of It's Tucker uttered the word "omnishambles", Zaporozhian invective from 1675 included: "What the devil kind of knight are you, that can't slay a hedgehog with your naked arse?"

It was a night of laughter as Ian Hislop paid tribute to the readers of Private Eye, "who proved much funnier than we are", noting a letter from Mark Piggott that condemned a cartoon, The Grand Bipolar Old Duke Of York.

Mr Piggott, who said he may be bipolar, found the cartoon "deeply unfunny and utterly insensitive".

"However, when I read it again a few days later, I thought it was hilarious," he added.

Hislop joined forces with comedian Jack Whitehall to perform Private Eye's response to a man demanding damages for defamation.

"Our reply is as follows, f*** off," Hislop read, before adding: "This letter was written by my predecessor and I've used this reply many times since."

Olivia Colman struggled to contain her giggles during a performance of Tina Fey's responses to online commentators, including defending her ability to guard a bridge to one who called her an "over-rated troll".

She also read a short and sweet note from Eric Idle to John Major sent before their shared 50th birthday.

"Has it ever occurred to you that, but for a twist of fate, I should be prime minister and you could have been the man in the Nudge Nudge sketch from Monty Python? I hope you don't feel too disappointed," Idle wrote.

Whitehall recited a coarse memo from South Park creator Matt Stone to a film certification board formed almost entirely of vetoed sex acts, quipping: "You can see why they got me to read this one, not (Liberty director) Shami Chakrabarti."

Poet Lemn Sissay read former slave Jourdon Anderson's passionate address to his ex-master, demanding 11,680 dollars for 32 years of unpaid wages as a goodwill gesture for his return to servitude.

Pianist James Rhodes recited a letter from a depressed Sergei Rachmaninoff, before performing one of the composer's pieces, saying he "expressed himself better in music".

Capaldi closed the show with a poignant letter from a captain on the Western Front describing to his wife the Christmas truce of 1914 and the knowledge the war was hours away from beginning again, bringing the audience to silence.

Chakrabarti, Jack Dee and Miriam Margolyes also performed historic letters at the event, which concludes on Tuesday.

Press Association

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