Simon Round

Amos Oz: When it’s OK to join the boycott

By Simon Round, November 8, 2012

When Amos Oz sits down to write at his desk in the study of his Arad home, he does not use a computer. Rather, he has two pens — a black one and a blue one. Each has a different function, he says.

“I use one pen to tell stories and the other to tell the government to go to hell.”

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You want ratings? I've got 'em

By Simon Round, October 29, 2012

Although I have never pitched a TV show before, I believe I have an idea that would win the ratings war for any channel that picks it up. Below is the proposal that I have sent to the BBC, ITV, Sky and Channel 4. I might even send it to Five.

Dear TV executives,

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Steven Berkoff's East Enders

By Simon Round, October 25, 2012

Steven Berkoff grew up in the East End and lives there now. He was, for a time, “rehoused in north London,” he says, but even then the East End remained his spiritual home. So much so in fact that during the 1960s the actor/writer would travel back to Stepney and Whitechapel with his camera to take photos of a world that was already beginning to disappear.

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TV review: Timeshift

By Simon Round, October 22, 2012

For all of you who think that klezmer is simply Jewish wedding music, this excellent documentary in the Timeshift strand proved that, well, you were absolutely right.

However, what you might not know was that klezmer was possibly the first and certainly the most enduring incidence of the musical mash-up.

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Hebburn: a British sitcom that avoids Jewish cliches

By Simon Round, October 19, 2012

Everyone has been attempting to get Jews into light entertainment and reality programmes recently, What with Grandma’s House, Strictly Kosher, Jewish Mum of the Year and Friday Night Dinner, the stereotypes have been flowing freely.

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Woody Allen's latest picture - made by his biggest fan

By Simon Round, October 18, 2012

Without Woody Allen, Sophie Lellouche’s life would have been very different. She might never have discovered literature, music or philosophy, and she would definitely not be attending the London gala premiere of her movie Paris-Manhattan, which opens this year’s UK Jewish Film Festival — a debut rom-com which features a cameo appearance by Allen himself.

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ITV's Michael Grade: why I love klezmer music

By Simon Round, October 11, 2012

Former ITV boss Michael Grade has revealed his affection for klezmer music ahead of a BBC documentary to be screened on Sunday.

Lord Grade, now a life peer, admitted that he knew little about the music of the shtetl until he was asked to narrate the BBC4 Timeshift programme, Klezmer: Now That’s What I Call East European Wedding Music… As Played by Yiddish Speaking People!

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TV review: Homeland

By Simon Round, October 11, 2012

The multi-award winning American drama Homeland, based on Gideon Raff’s equally superb Israeli series Prisoners of War, has returned for a second series.

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TV review: Friday Night Dinner

By Simon Round, October 11, 2012

In the week in which Jewish stereotypes were spattered all over our screens in the kosher car crash that was Jewish Mum of the Year, Channel 4 presented the flip-side with Friday Night Dinner.
This sitcom, which attracted decent viewing figures in its previous, er, Friday-night slot, is the Jewish show that dare not speak its name.

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Yasmin Levy: one day, I'll make an album with no Ladino on it

By Simon Round, October 11, 2012

When Yasmin Levy was signed up by her manager Paul Burger more than a decade ago, he joked that she would be unlikely to sell more than 128 records. You could understand why. After all, here was an unknown vocalist who specialised in singing half-forgotten songs in the language of Ladino — the Judeo-Spanish of the Sephardi world which is spoken by fewer than 150,000 people.

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Meet Mark Glanville, the ex-football hooligan who sings Schubert in Yiddish

By Simon Round, October 4, 2012

Mark Glanville is nothing if not eclectic. There cannot be many who have sung a Yiddish song cycle at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC and written a first-hand account of what it was like to be a football hooligan with Manchester United’s notorious Cockney reds.

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Remember me? I'm your dad

By Simon Round, September 24, 2012

A few weeks ago, my daughter Lucy was given a tablet computer for her 10th birthday. Until then, if she wanted to spend all day in front of a screen she had to use my boring old laptop or watch TV. Now, wi-fi permitting, she can get online just about anywhere and anytime.

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Jewish mothers on TV and in life

By Simon Round, September 20, 2012

H ow many Jewish mothers does it take to change a lightbulb? According to the old joke, the answer is none. “Don’t worry about me,” she says “I’ll just sit here in the dark.”

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How listening to jazz funk helped Michael Chabon create utopia

By Simon Round, September 20, 2012

Michael Chabon was brought up in a place called Columbia, Maryland. It was what was known in America as a planned community — a 1970s concept of a racially integrated, egalitarian, ecumenical community.

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The old East End revealed

By Simon Round, September 20, 2012

Just over 100 years ago, a man called C A Mathew wandered out of Liverpool Street Station to take some revealing and poignant photographs of Jewish Spitalfields. The pictures were lost for nearly a century but turned up last year at Bishopsgate Institute in the City. Now they are going on display at Sandys Road Synagogue.

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Martin Lewis: the money expert who can save on anything except kosher meat

By Simon Round, September 13, 2012

Yom Kippur is always a big deal for money-saving guru Martin Lewis, but this year it will be even more so. While he is at synagogue, fasting and generally attempting to ignore the outside world, his new prime-time show will be debuting on ITV.

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David Wolpe, the Democratic rabbi

By Simon Round, September 6, 2012

The Democrats and Republicans may have widely divergent candidates and policies but they do agree on one thing — it is best to use a rabbi to bless their conventions.

While the Republicans went for modern Orthodox minister Meir Soloveichik, the Democrats chose Rabbi David Wolpe of the Conservative Sinai Temple in Los Angeles to perform the invocation.

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Shalom, you’re in Norfolk

By Simon Round, September 3, 2012

By the time you read this, I shall be reclining on the beach watching the water lapping on to golden sands. Although, this being Norfolk, the likelihood is that the tide will be so far out that the sea will barely be discernible against the horizon - unlike the rain, which will be lashing in from the North Sea.

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Shmuley Boteach: ‘Gay relationships are no worse than smoking’

By Simon Round, August 9, 2012

Shmuley Boteach has never been what you might call shy. The man, whom others have described as a shameless self-publicist, would characterise himself slightly differently, as a shameless publicist for Jewish values — if he happens to become famous himself in the process, this merely means he is doing that job properly.

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Me, my piano and partying with Hugh Grant and Tom Cruise

By Simon Round, July 27, 2012

Great business ideas can come to people in a number of different ways. Sarah Balfour had hers when she was playing the piano for Hugh Grant.

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