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Excerpts from the Sunday Mail
(thanks Claire | 05.25.03)
'Izzard makes no secret of his cosmopolitan instincts and his disdain for little-Englander
isolationism. "Everybody's worried aboutlosing the British identity", he says.
"But remember this whole United Kingdon thing - we did a deal with Scotland, and
if you watch a Scotland-England football match I think you'll notice there's something
of national pride going on there. We're not going to lose that just because of
the euro. After all, the Germans haven't become Dutch; the French haven't become
'For Izzard, our sense of identity needs to take a reality check. "We've got
to decide whether we are all very British in the Victorian way or whether we are,
in fact, Romans, Normans, Danes, Vikings and Celts moving left, right and centre.
In truth, we have always been moving around."
'Izzard has done his own bit for pan-European understanding by performing
his stand-up in French when he appears in Paris, something no other British comic
has attempted, even though his French is, he says, about as good as Antoine de
Caune's English. "I have decided that the only way to really play to French people
is to speak French", he declared. He has also learned German in preparation for
shows in Germany.'
'It's a linguistic versatility that is all the more impressive when you learn
that Izzard suffers from dyslexia, but this is a comic who takes his internationalism
seriously. "We should be proud to be English because we ARE so cosmopolitan",
he argues in Mongrel Nation. He then drives the point home with a characteristic
image: "It's the mongrel dog that's really wily and clever and steals all your
biscuits and sells them to the local kids. The pedigree dog is kind of pretty
but thick as two short planks and he chokes on the biscuit and dies".
From U. of Leicester E-Bulletin
(thanks Sarah M | 05.01.03)
with access to the Discovery Channel will be able to see comedian Eddie Izzard
later in the spring presenting a series for Outline Productions on English identity.
In his own inimitable way he will be filmed speaking to people in Old English,
a skill he owes entirely to Elaine Treharne, who spent three hours giving him
a crash course.
Discoverychannel.co.uk Unveils Mongrel Site
| thanks Peggy | 05.01.03)
Historian and Izzard on silk
of Hertfordshire | thanks Peggy | 03.25.03)
comedian Eddie Izzard swapped his usual sexy heels and high fashion for a decidedly
more retro look when he presented a programme for a history series called The
Mongrel Nation (a working title) with Dr. Lien Luu, a history lecturer at
the University of Hertfordshire. The series, due to be screened on the Discovery
Channel later this year, examines the impact and influences of immigration on
England from the Romans to present day.
Looking remarkably dapper in hose and a silk doublet made in London by the
Huguenots c.1710, Eddie interviewed Lien, an expert on immigration in the 16th
and 17th centuries, about the Protestant refugees.
These made up of several groups: Dutch and Walloons came from Belgium, and
Huguenots from France.
These refugees fled to England to avoid religious persecution in their homeland.
They were mainly artisans, craftsmen and professional people. Silk weavers settled
in Spitalfields (near Aldgate), spinners, weavers and hat-makers settled in other
parts of London and the country. Industrious and unassuming, they were welcomed
by the English and the other countries to which they fled.
They profoundly changed English fashions by introducing skills in silk manufacture
to London c.1560s. In 1500 Englishmen generally wore, in Eddies words, very
unsexy clothes made of heavy, coarse woollen materials. Silks were
not available for mass consumption as they were very expensive and had to be imported
from Italy. Silks were woven in England from 1560 with the arrival of the Walloons
from Belgium. However, they were wool-silk mix, cheaper and probably aimed at
the middling market. These materials, sold at various prices and in
a wide range of designs, were very popular because they were lighter, more fashionable,
more colourful, and more glossy. Silk manufacture was only perfected with the
arrival of the Huguenots from France. From 1700 high quality and expensive silks
were being woven in England, largely London, Canterbury and Norwich. By 1713,
the English silk industry was quite large, employing some 300,000 people. To demonstrate
visually these changes Eddie got dressed in three costumes: a traditional woollen
outfit, a half-silk outfit and a pure silk doublet.
Lien added: "Eddie enjoyed dressing up in the various historical costumes
and he looked absolutely great in them. We worked without a script. Eddie is a
very natural and spontaneous person. It was like having a conversation about clothes
with a friend. I think it made the programme more interesting, intimate and informative.
Many English people are descended from Huguenots but do not realise it. Eddie
himself has Huguenot ancestors.
Izzard breaks his word on TV
by Jonathan Donald | thanks Carole | 03.25.03
Surreal comedian Eddie Izzard has broken a vow never to work as a TV presenter
- to host a series called Mongrel Nation.
Izzard has been employed by the Discovery Channel to reveal how numerous symbols
of Englishness, in fact, originate abroad.
Stunts include revealing that roast beef was introduced by the Romans. He also
reveals how old English is a German dialect by using it to talk to a cow farmer
Discovery director Katie Thorogood said: "We wanted to show how everything
that we think is English comes from a variety of influences.
"Eddie Izzard was top of our list to be the presenter. Despite vowing not to
do TV presenting, he agreed. He was happy to get his hands dirty."
The programme - to air in June - is part of the Discovery Channel's newly unveiled
spring and summer season.
Other highlights include Dambusters: The Bouncing Bomb, which will see experts
attempt to rebuild the weapon used to such effect by the Allied forces during
the Second World War.
Altered Statesmen will explore the impact of being in power on the physical
and mental health of leaders such as JFK, Yeltsin and Churchill. And The Alternative
Rock 'n' Roll Years looks at crazes outside the West during the heady '60s, '70s
Eddie's Discovery Special
Eddie Izzard swapped the cross-dressing for a more retro look
when he presented a programme for a history series with the working title The
Mongrel Nation with Mr Lien Luu, a history lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire.
The series, due to be screened on the Discovery Channel later this year, examines
the impact and influences of immigration on England, from the Romans to present
Dressed in a silk doublet and hose, and looking remarkably dapper,
Eddie interviewed the lecturer.
Mr Luu, an expert on immigration and Protestant refugees in the
16th and 17th Centuries, said: "These refugees were mainly artisans, craftsmen
and professional people. "They profoundly changed English fashions by introducing
skills in silk manufacture to London in the1560s." In 1500 Englishmen generally
wore, in Eddie's words, "very unsexy clothes" made of heavy, coarse woollen materials.
Silks were not available for mass consumption as they were very expensive and
had to be imported from Italy. Silks were woven in England from 1560 with the
arrival of the Walloons from Belgium.