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RTÉ Guide interview with Tom Murphy in 2014

Playwright Tom Murphy reckoned he would have been a gardener or a singer if his writing career had not taken off.

Donal O'Donoghue met Tom Murphy in 2014 for an RTÉ Guide interview which we reproduce on the occasion of the the playwright's sad passing.

For more than half a century, the playwright Tom Murphy has been holding a mirror up to society and to himself. Donal O’Donoghue from the RTÉ Guide met the writer in 2014 on the eve of his new work, Brigit.

"If I wasn’t a writer I’d have been a gardener," says Tom Murphy. The playwright is in his Dublin home. French windows are open to a well-appointed garden and pale autumn light fills the room. In one corner lies a pile of clothes, the washing which he has dutifully brought inside as rain is in the air. "I also thought I could be a singer but I would not have had the discipline," he says. But there is music in his work – most overtly in The Gigli Concert, most rapturously in Bailegangaire – as it is in the man himself. Indeed listening back to this interview, the cadences of Murphy’s voice are counterpointed by the sounds of his surrounds: wind chimes in the room, birdsong in the garden.

In his 80th year, the writer looks younger, his hardy-handsome features belying age and adversity. "People tell me that but I don’t feel it," he says with a wry smile. In any case Murphy seems to have been with us forever, his plays performed professionally for over half a century, ever since the curtain went up on A Whistle in the Dark at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London in 1961.

Apart from Brian Friel, no other living Irish playwright can hold a candle to Tom Murphy and few would dare. And he is still working, albeit slower now: his latest play Brigit, a companion piece to Bailegangaire, arriving some five years after The Last Days of a Reluctant Tyrant.

He sits at a low table: on it is a book about the voice and the actor and a glass of half drunk white wine. His shirt is open to the chest and he exudes a vitality at odds with his fractured voice ("I’m seeing a speech therapist"). Before we begin he apologises that what he has to say might have already been said to the man from The Irish Times the previous day. "We talked about my grandmother," he says, handing me a black and white photograph of a formidable-looking woman. This is Honor Lawless, the inspiration for Mommo in Bailegangaire. For years he thought her beautiful until one day a friend said she looked like a cross between John Wayne and Pope John Paul II. "He was spot on," Murphy laughs.

Tom Murphy is a man of the West, born in Tuam in 1935. He was one of ten children, his parents from small farming stock, yet he was a townie or 'urbanite' as he puts it. He talks about the 'accidence' of birth and the 'blood knot' of family: issues addressed in his first full-length play, the raw and savage A Whistle in the Dark, in which an emigrant Irish family batters itself to death.

Tom Murphy in 2014: from small farming stock, yet he was a townie

"Do I have anything in common with any member of my family other than coming out of the same womb and my father supplying, and I’m not being smart, the fertiliser for an egg?" he asks. "Would I have been a friend of those people? I think A Whistle in the Dark is all over it. I think that I anticipated my mind in that play."

A dog wanders into the room. "Jane, my wife calls her Charly, but she’s so dainty I call her Charlene," says Murphy. On the wall is a picture of his three children. He is also a grandfather and then there’s his other offspring, his 26 plays and single novel. In 2001, the Abbey celebrated Murphy by staging six of his best-known works and more recently, in 2013, Druid gave us the DruidMurphy cycle, raising a glass to one of its own. The writer talks about his revelatory collaborations with the Galway-based company, suggesting reasons they work so well together, like a complementary strand of DNA.

"The idiom I use is West of Ireland and particular to that neck of the woods," he says, "and I would say cunning too, he laughs. We share cunning, Garry (Hynes of Druid) and I."

He talks of what is required for writing. "Concentration, tenacity, there’s something else… (he searches in vain for the word). Maybe rage? For a time he had it in spades and it still fires him, just as it was there in his first work, On The Outside (1959) which he wrote in collaboration with Noel O’Donoghue. He says his good friend was "desperate to be a writer" but was too intelligent for such a path.

"Intelligence marked O’Donoghue from first to last and intelligence can block you creatively," he says. His own definition as a writer was accidental just as his declaration was hesitant. "I call myself a writer now but as recently as 20 years ago I would stumble over that question, ‘What do you do?’ I don’t think, and this is not false modesty, that I am intelligent."

What he has is a wisdom that captivates and compels. It is such that you could spend the afternoon listening to him. I make a fair stab at hanging around until he politely tells me he has a physiotherapy appointment. "That’s about as much work as I’ll do today," he says as we walk to the door. But a fire still burns within as he continues to prune and fine-tune his plays, with The Gigli Concert due at the Gate next year and The Wake for the Abbey in 2016.

"I feel privileged having a practical opportunity to make my last will and testament on the plays," he says of this refining process, a man whose life work was always to conduct the musical and magical out the chaos and callousness of the everyday."

Donal O'Donoghue

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New Order singer: ‘Kids abandoned over mental health’

By Lucy Cotter, arts and entertainment correspondent

New Order's Bernard Sumner believes the "underfunding" of mental health services for young people is "disgusting" and a ticking time bomb for this country.

As the band showcases a new Sky Arts documentary about their work, called Decades, the musician said nearly four decades on from the suicide of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis that mental health provisions for young people haven't moved on.

"I'm not just talking about epilepsy but mental health issues for young people especially school kids it's criminally underfunded," he told Sky News.

"When the coalition government, after the banking crisis in 2008, formed they underfunded the NHS and they completely underfunded help for young people with mental issues."

Sumner continued: "And it's still the same way and it's young kids at school that really, really need help and they've just been abandoned.

"And that's going to create a time bomb for this government and this country – attention needs to be brought to it. It's disgusting."

Image: Bernard Sumner performing on stage in Italy earlier this year

Sumner, who was an original band member of Joy Division, said Curtis would have struggled with the pressures that bands now face.

He said: "It's obviously incredibly sad what happened and we wish Ian could have been around to enjoy all of this. But to be honest, I don't think his health was intact enough for him to be able to stand the rigours of touring, because it can be pretty punishing.

"It can be pretty tough, pretty exhausting and I don't think Ian's health was in a fit state to do any of that so there would have been some kind of implosion that happened."

Drummer Stephen Morris believes there has been a shift in attitudes and Ian Curtis was affected by the stigmas surrounding mental illness in the 1970s.

Bernard Sumner performing in May
Image: Sumner performing in May

He said: "Ian had epilepsy and it's an illness people have got much better at understanding nowadays and it's great that people are aware of all kinds of mental illness from getting really depressed to schizophrenia.

"It's much better understood than it was in the 70s. And I think that kind of attitude affected Ian a little bit because he had it and he knew that that was an attitude that existed at the time and thank god we've moved on a bit."

Decades airs on Sky Arts this week and follows New Order as they rehearse and stage a number of concerts as part of one of their most acclaimed collaborations with the artist Liam Gillick and a synth orchestra.

It was an idea which started out at the Manchester International Festival and the film gives a rare insight into the band and their creative processes.

Fans attend the live performance of English band New Order featuring artist Liam Gillick in May
Image: Fans at a live performance of New Order featuring artist Liam Gillick in May

Morris admits it was technically difficult to pull off but very satisfying. It also forced them to sit down and listen to all their old material and to reflect on the past.

They also talk about the importance of Manchester. They're are all originally from the city, and Joy Division did their first TV appearance nearly 40 years ago to this day at Granada Studios thanks to Tony Wilson.

Sumner continued: "The boss of our record label, Tony Wilson, who's sadly passed away – when he was alive was also a TV presenter and somehow we wangled to get on his TV show and he was so impressed he bought the band and put us on his label.

"And here we are we've come full circle, we're here at [arts centre] Home on Tony Wilson Way and it's strange how things turned out.

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"You would never have thought all this would have happened. Although Tony would have done – he would have had that vision".

Decades airs on Sky Arts on 22 September at 9pm.

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Downton Abbey film for September 2019 release

The highly anticipated Downton Abbey film has been slated for a September 2019 release date.

The hit period drama will take to big screens around the world on September 13, it has been announced.

Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski gave an update on the release schedule saying: "Since the series ended, fans of Downton have long been waiting for the Crawley family's next chapter.

"We're thrilled to join this incredible group of filmmakers, actors and craftspeople, led by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame, in bringing back the world of Downton to the big screen next September."

Much of the original cast will return for the feature film

Downton concluded with a Christmas Special in 2015 after six seasons and a film was long hoped for by fans of the show, with an official announcement coming earlier this year that the Crawley family would be back.

Original castmembers Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton and Dame Maggie Smith are all back for the film, with new additions to the cast including Imelda Staunton and Geraldine James.

Downton's creator Julian Fellowes has written the film's screenplay, while Brican Percival, who directed the series' pilot, will helm the film. Fellowes will produce alongside Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge.

Click here for more television news

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Here’s What You Need to Know About the Calorie Counts on Your Apple Watch

There are few things more satisfying than getting in some steps or a tough workout and instantly finding out how many calories you burned. If you're obsessed with checking your Apple Watch, you know what I'm talking about — but you may have noticed that there are quite a few numbers to track, including active calories and total calories. If you're unsure of the difference, we've got answers.

Simply put, active calories are those you burn while walking, climbing, jogging — whatever you do for exercise. Total calories include active calories and resting calories, those your body burns naturally, even when you're just lounging on the couch.

"Both numbers are affected by a number of factors, including age, current weight, medical conditions, activity level, and sex," said personal trainer Chris Kelly, NASM, CPT, CF, LI. "The Apple Watch uses the heart rate monitor and other features to track activity and resting heart rate."

ADVERTISEMENT Related: Apple Watch Series 4 Health Features The New Apple Watch Is Basically a Heart Doctor For Your Wrist — Here's the Lowdown

How to Boost Your Calorie Burn

The accuracy of fitness trackers (or lack thereof) has been a topic of discussion for years. From the treadmill to your Apple Watch, it's fair to say that the numbers probably aren't totally accurate. "Instead of looking for an exact number, these are great tools to show trends and track progress in the right direction," Kelly told POPSUGAR.

So, you might make it your goal to simply increase your average number of active calories burned each week. While these numbers are different for everyone, the key is to create a deficit between calories consumed and total calories burned. "One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories," Kelly said. "If an individual were able to create a calorie deficit of 500 and then 1,000 calories per day, they would lose between one and two pounds per week, which is safe and sustainable."

Fitness trackers may not be a perfect science, but they can certainly help keep you on the path to reaching your goals.

Image Source: Unsplash / Christin Hume

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We’ve Unwrapped the Calorie Counts of Your Favorite Halloween Candy

Who isn't tempted by a little fun-sized trick-or-treating candy? From the tiny Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to the Snickers bar you can wrap your hand around, there are Halloween candy jars everywhere these days. Go ahead and indulge in this tasty part of Halloween, just remember, the small little bites add up. Take a look at the chart below and see how your favorite fun-sized treat stacks up.

Related: '90s Candy 11 Reasons It Was Sweet to Be a '90s Kid

1 treat size (fun size) Calories Fat (g) Sugar (g)
3 Musketeers 63 2 10
100 Grand 95 4 11
Almond Joy 80 4.5 8
Baby Ruth 85 5 10
Butterfinger 85 4 10
Charleston Chew 30 0 10
Dots 70 0 11
Heath Bar 77 4.7 8.7
Hershey's Bar 67 4 7.7
Jelly Belly Jellybeans 35 0 7
Kit Kat 70 3 7
M&M's (Plain) 73 4 11.5
M&M's (Peanut) 90 4.7 9.1
M&M's (Peanut Butter) 95 4 11.5
Milk Duds 40 2 6.3
Milky Way 80 3 10
Milky Way Dark 81 3 11
Mike & Ike 50 0 9
Mounds 80 4.5 7
Mr. Goodbar 90 4 7
Nerds 50 0 12
Nestle Crunch 60 3 7
PayDay 90 5 8
Raisinets 67 2.7 9.7
Reese's Peanut Butter Cup 110 6.5 10.5
Reese's NutRageous 95 5.5 7.5
Skittles 80 .8 14.5
Snickers 80 4 8.5
Snickers (Peanut butter) 130 7 12
SweeTarts 10 0 2.4
Take 5 100 5.5 9
Twix 80 7 8.5
Whoppers 100 4 13
York Peppermint Pattie 60 1 11

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim

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Harry, William, and Meghan Make Cameos in the Queen’s New Documentary, but Where’s Kate?

The official trailer for Queen Elizabeth II's new documentary, Queen of the World, has finally been released, and one person who is noticeably missing from it is Kate Middleton. While we get a glimpse of the moment Meghan Markle first laid eyes on her wedding dress and Prince Harry talking about how he panics every time he bumps into his grandmother in the corridor, Kate isn't featured in any of the clips, and there's a good explanation for it.

Kate welcomed her third child, Prince Louis, in April and then went on maternity leave shortly after. Most of the filming was conducted around that time, and Kate wasn't partaking in any royal engagements. "Kate was largely out of action during the main filming," People reported. "CHOGM (the British meeting of the heads of government from the Commonwealth) was a focal point and she was due to give birth any minute then."

But don't freak out just yet; Kate is actually in the film, she just isn't a part of any of the conversations. "There is film of events and receptions which she attended, so you do see her," a source told the outlet. Phew! Catch Queen of the World when it airs in the US on HBO on Oct. 1.

Related: How Well Do the Queen and Kate Middleton Really Get Along?

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