Tim at the Edinburgh Festival singing 'Harmless Flirting'.

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We have added images from Edinburgh and reproduced a diary Tim wrote for the Sunday Herald.


7 days in the life of …
Tim Firth, scriptwriter and one half of The Singing Playwrights

Desperately need meeting with Willy Russell to cut our show down to 90 minutes. My daughter slips on a three-inch high water slide at the swimming baths and we spend eight hours in casualty instead. Willy organises set on his own.

Packing for Edinburgh at three in the morning I am reminded of the last time I went to Edinburgh 17 years ago. I was performing as part of the Cambridge Footlights, two words which were the festival equivalent of the words "kick" and "me". After a dismal three weeks of performing at midnight, I was so desperate to leave that I managed to find a train departing at 3am, reluctant even to leave it until the following morning. Willy's recent experiences have been much better. I am hoping this visit will lay some ghosts to rest.

Today I travel up to Edinburgh. I get on one of the new Richard Branson Virgin cross country trains at Warrington. This turns out to be 15ft long and contains 4000 passengers and an electronic toilet. The toilet is run by a series of computers that alert an office somewhere in Karachi every time it gets full. Due to a computer error our toilet is convinced it is full by Wigan when I know for a fact it only contains four jimmy riddles and a possible number two. Worse, the corridors are so crammed no-one can get to the buffet. When we finally arrive in Edinburgh, the house I am staying in is wonderful so I fall asleep and forget my death-threat letter to Branson.

Our first day as a company in Edinburgh. Things are going great until 06.49 when our sound engineer phones from Liverpool to say he unfortunately can't do the show. Actually he texts us. Our tour manager forces us to realise that things could be worse. Keep our chins up. Then our tour manager has a suspected heart attack and is whisked off to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Everything's going fine.

This morning the replacement sound engineer arrives. He's great, young, chirpy, ready for anything except the sudden collapse he is about to have due to his kidney stones. He is whisked off to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where he meets our tour manager. Willy and I are starting to consider doing the show in A&E.

After various health scares we finally get a full day of rehearsal. This is in the Commonwealth Swimming Pool, the only place left in Edinburgh that hasn't already got a show in it. We rehearse to the background noise of an aqua-aerobics class doing exercises to the tune of Copacabana. We finish in time for me to race to the Book Festival to hear David Baddiel reading excerpts from his new novel. Afterwards we have a drink in the "author's yurt". This is the first time I have been in a yurt, and may also be the last. It seems to be living proof that ancient civilisations read The Guardian.

Final sound check day. In middle of mayhem get a call from an old mate who is coming to see the first show - which is great - except he's en route to his surfing holiday on the Isle of Arran and doesn't want to leave his surfboard on top of the car. Have to arrange with The Pleasance for two surfboards to come into the dressing room which I do trying to pass them off as props for the show. We are fortunately not going to be sharing a dressing room with XXX, the live porn show from Spain, who have left. We had to share with them during the press preview for the Festival last month and the things they had lying around are beyond description but haunt my dreams.

One show done, 11 to go. Must see someone else's show now. The last show we tried to see was a school version of Blood Brothers which was sold out when we turned up and Willy had to pull rank and blag his way in as the author.

Next week the family come up and I will spend five days going to see children's shows so going to try to see a late night thing by one of Willy's mates called Tim Fountain - Sex Addict. It's a slide show featuring about 400 penises. Hope I don't have bad dreams afterwards.

TIM FIRTH - SUNDAY HERALD - 22 August 2004



Tim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004
Tim and Willy Russell at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004
tim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004
tim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004

Vidar Norheim (percussion & Drums) at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004

Tim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004

Andy Roberts at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004

Tim and Willy Russell at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004
The Band
Tim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004
Tim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2004

"This is a really enjoyable show and well put together..."