Back on-song Fascinating Aida never tire of satire after four decades of topical bite

Liza Pulman, left, Dillie Keane and Adele Anderson raise a glass to Fascinating Aida returning to the stage. Picture: Johnny Boylan

SATIRICAL cabaret trio Fascinating Aida are heading for their 40th anniversary next year.

How they will celebrate remains under wraps, but the comedy singing group’s founder, Dillie Keane, is delighted to be back on the road for 61 winter and spring dates with key writing partner Adele Anderson, who joined in 1984, and Liza Pulman, who first teamed up in 2004.

Among the shows will be York Barbican on Saturday and Scarborough Spa Theatre on May 13.

“We first toured this new show in the autumn, and it was such a relief. It felt like going home,” says 69-year-old Irish actress, singer, pianist, comedian and columnist Dillie.

“Sometimes, I’m overwhelmed in the wings, thinking ‘’I’m home’. I love being backstage too and all the routine that goes with that.

“After nearly four decades, I’m enjoying it as much as ever, having started the group as something to do when we weren’t acting!”

During lockdown, Dillie penned three songs that she posted on YouTube. “I’m not one for livestreaming,” she says. “There’s something depressing about seeing people performing a ‘show’ from their bedroom.

“Instead, I wrote these rather bitter and angry songs. There was one about Cummings ‘wanting all us old people to die’ [Song For Dominic Cummings], and one about Gavin Williamson ‘stuffing up the education system’ [Song For Gavin Williamson].

“Then, Nothing To Do Blues (‘and all day to do it in’), that came about from the moment when I was queueing in a little farm shop and a chap turned round and said, ‘Sorry, I’m taking ages’, and I said, ‘that’s OK, I’ve got nothing to do’. I got that one properly edited and made a little film of it.”

Those songs will not feature in Fascinating Aida’s set. “No, they were of the moment and they would only have been in my solo show,” says Dillie.

She had anticipated spending her pandemic-enforced hiatus from the stage rather differently. “I always felt in my year off, ‘I’ll write my autobiography’; ‘I’ll write the novel of my dreams’; ‘I’ll read [James Joyce’s] Ulysses and Proust’…

… “Well, I did start Proust – I’m halfway through the first book! – and I listened to 13 Anthony Trollope stories read by Timothy West and enjoyed some audio books, and I grew a lot of vegetables. I’ve now used almost all the courgettes; pounds and pounds of them.”

Experiencing the Nothing To Do Blues, Dillie missed seeing shows as much as she missed playing them. “It broke my heart,” she says. “I will go and see anything. I’m very eclectic. High opera. Low opera. Mongolian throat singers. Anything you can name.

“Not being able to see stuff was a killer – then someone told me it took 18 years to reopen theatres after the plague.”

From 1984’s Sweet FA to 2012’s Cheap Flights and onwards, Fascinating Aida have captured the political and social fixations of our times. For 2022, Fascinating Aida’s cabaret compound will combine “old favourites, songs you haven’t heard before and some you wish you’d never heard in the first place” as Dillie, Adele and Liza are joined by musical director, composer and pianist Michael Roulston, under the direction of Paul Foster (whose credits include Kiss Me, Kate and Annie Get Your Gun at Sheffield Crucible).

“I think there are several reasons for our longevity, and one of them is that we’ve always had a director for our shows, which is incredibly important,” says Dillie. “You should have someone on the outside to say, ‘no, this is better’.

“Working with a director makes it sharper focused, and we now have the wonderful Paul Foster, who I worked with on another project [a solo show off-Broadway and on tour].”

Summing up Fascinating Aida’s chemistry that will be clicking once more from January 29 to June 20, Dillie says: “We’re terribly finickity, driving each other crackers!  But when we get a line right, when we’re together in Liza’s kitchen, or mine, it’s wonderful.

“Like when we were writing a song about one thing, and Adele came up with a few lines that were nothing to do that but were all to do with ‘fake news’, I thought, ‘that’s awfully good, we should use that for the opening song’.

“We stopped what we’re doing and wrote the new song in full, writing everything in black and white terms: that’s how True True True Or Fake News came about.”

Further assessing the trio’s bond, Dillie says: “A very silly sense of humour helps too. That’s never changed. People come up after a show and say, ‘have you been hiding in my kitchen? You are singing about my life’.

“We’ve also never been starry. We’ve been relentlessly down to earth; there’s a genuine rootedness about us, and we’ve never been seduced by the idiotic side of showbiz.”

One other factor lies behind Fascinating Aida’s continuing success. “Satirical songs are different to doing stand-up, where the rules of comedy say you’re not allowed to repeat old jokes, but though a song like Cheap Flights is no longer topical, people still sit there in hysterics,” says Dillie.

“Songs are a different discipline altogether. Give us a stand-up script and we wouldn’t be very good at it, so we say, ‘let’s keep the chatter to a minimum; let’s stick to the songs’ as we seem to be rather good at them!”

Fascinating Aida, York Barbican, Saturday (12/2/2022) and Scarborough Spa Theatre, May 13, both at 7.30pm. Box office: York,; Scarborough, 01723 376774 or

Copyright of The Press, York

More Things To Do in York and beyond as something wickedly funny this way comes. List No. 64, courtesy of The Press, York

When shall we three meet again? When the hurlyburly’s done in The HandleBards’ Macbeth at York Theatre Royal

AS the pantomime season draws to a close, Charles Hutchinson turns his focus to new seasons and new reasons to venture out.

The skittish play: The HandleBards in Macbeth, York Theatre Royal, January 25, 7.30pm; January 26, 2pm and 7.30pm

THE HandleBards were the first professional company to play York Theatre Royal after Lockdown 3, lifting the long gloom with a ridiculously funny Romeo And Juliet. Now the three-pronged troupe opens the Spring! Season with an all-female, bewitching, unhinged, bicycle-powered, dead funny take on Macbeth, starring Kathryn Perkins, Natalie Simone and Jenny Smith.

Expect music, mayhem, murders, unusual applications of cycling paraphernalia and more costume changes “than you can Shake a spear at” in this irreverent, skittish romp through Shakespeare’s tragic “Scottish play”. Box office: 01904 623568 or at

Charles Court Opera in The Mikado, visiting Harrogate Royal Hall on Sunday. Picture: Bill Knight

Oh, Vienna: International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival’s New Year celebration, Harrogate Royal Hall, today and tomorrow, 7.30pm.

ENCHANTMENT awaits in the Magic Of Vienna New Year Gala Concert today when the National Festival Orchestra, conducted by Aidan Faughey, presents works by Johann Strauss, Mozart and Lehar. International opera stars James Cleverton and Rebecca Bottone will be the soloists.

Charles Court Opera’s London production of G&S’s The Mikado will be performed on Sunday night, accompanied by the National Festival Orchestra. Box office: 01422 323352 or at

One Iota: Debut album launch at the JoRo

York album launch of the month: One Iota, supported by Odin Dragonfly, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, January 21, 7.15pm

YORK band One Iota are launching their debut album, More Than You Take, recorded at the venerable Abbey Road studios, in London, and Fairview Studios, Willerby.

Adam Dawson, James Brown, Andy Bowen and Phil Everard’s alt-pop group grew out of their three-piece tribute to The Beatles – The Threetles, of course – when they acquired a taste for writing their own songs in lockdown.

One Iota’s debut live show promises a full line-up, featuring live string arrangements for the Fab Four-influenced songs marked by rich vocal harmonies, innovative melodies and “more hooks than a cloakroom”. Box office:

Jacob George: Soloist for Schumann’s Violin Concerto at the Academy of St Olave’s January concert

By George, he’s back: Academy of St Olave’s Winter Concert, St Olave’s Church, Marygate, York, January 22, 8pm

THE Academy of St Olave’s Winter Concert features Jacob George, son of musical director Alan George, as soloist for Schumann’s Violin Concerto. He returns to solo duty for the York chamber orchestra after performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto in 2019.

The ASO’s first concert since last September’s sold-out resumption also includes two works inspired by Italy: Schubert’s Overture in the Italian Style, and Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony No. 4. Box office:

Nunkie Theatre Company’s artwork for the third instalment of their M R James Project, A Warning To The Curious

Ghosts at play: Nunkie Theatre Company in M R James’s A Warning To The Curious, Theatre@41 Monkgate, York, January 28, 7.30pm

NUNKIE Theatre Company bring two of M R James’s eeriest and most entertaining ghost stories back to life in Robert Lloyd Parry’s candlelit one-man show. Lost Hearts, an early work, is constructed around one of his most memorable villains, the predatory scholar Mr Abney.

Lloyd Parry pairs it with perhaps James’s most poignant and personal story, inspired by his holidays in Aldeburgh: A Warning To The Curious’s account of a young archaeologist being haunted and hunted by the guardian of an ancient treasure. Has the English seaside ever looked so menacing? Box office:

Yvette Stone’s life-size puppet of The Creature, as first seen in Blackeyed Theatre’s Frankenstein in 2016. The new tour visits Scarborough next month. Picture: Alex Harvey-Brown

Monster smash: Blackeyed Theatre in Frankenstein, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, February 9 to 12

NICK Lane has reinterpreted John Ginman’s original 2016 script for Blackeyed Theatre, built around Mary Shelley’s Gothic novel, wherein nothing can prepare Victor Frankenstein for what he creates in pursuit of the elixir of life.

Eliot Giuralarocca’s highly theatrical production combines live music and ensemble storytelling with Bunraku-style puppetry to portray The Creature, in the life-size form of Yvonne Stone’s 6ft 4inch puppet, operated by up to three actors at once. Box office: 01723 370541 or at

Four decades of topical songs and glamour: Fascinating Aida’s Liza Pulman, left, Dillie Keane and Adèle Anderson. Picture: Johnny Boylan

Never tire of satire: Fascinating Aida, York Barbican, February 12, 7.30pm

DILLIE Keane, Adèle Anderson and Liza Pulman’s latest Fascinating Aida tour show features old favourites, songs you haven’t heard before and some you wish you’d never heard in the first place.

“But the songs are mostly topical and the glamour remains unstoppable,” say the satirists, who have been capturing the political and social fixations of our times for nigh on 40 years, from 1984’s Sweet FA to 2012’s Cheap Flights and beyond. All tickets remain valid from the postponed May 5 2021 date. Box office:

Marc Almond fronting The Loveless, headliners at late-October’s Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival in Whitby

Looking ahead to Halloween: Marc Almond’s The Loveless, headlining the Saturday bill at Tomorrow’s Ghosts Festival 2022, Whitby Pavilion, October 29

THE Loveless make their Tomorrow’s Ghosts debut with a headline set of their devilishly dark arts at Whitby Pavilion next Halloween.

In a project designed to take its constituent parts back to where they all began, Soft Cell singer Almond, Sigue Sigue Sputnik axeman Neal X, Iggy Pop’s touring rhythm section of Mat Hector and Ben Ellis and haunting Hammond organist James Beaumont “pledge themselves to the pulp appeal of garage rock in its rawest, most gripping guise”.

The Loveless draw material from Almond’s expansive back catalogue, Lou Reed and David Bowie’s canons, warped 1960s’ R&B staples and lost garage-rock gems. Box office:

Artist Stephen Todd in his Sheffield studio

Weekend opening: Kentmere House Gallery, Scarcroft Hill, York, today and tomorrow

NEW year, New Beginnings and a website “going live again at last” adds up to the start of 2022 for Ann Petherick’s gallery in her home at Kentmere House, York.

Among the works on show today and tomorrow from 11am to 5pm are Allotments In Autumn paintings by featured artist Stephen Todd, from Sheffield.

Kentmere House Gallery also will be open for the York Residents Residents’ Weekend on January 29 and 30, 11am to 6pm each day.

Fascinating Aida never tire of satire as they book York Barbican date for next spring

Cheers! Liza Pulman, left, Dillie Keane and Adele Anderson raise a glass to Fascinating Aida announcing their 2021 show at York Barbican

FASCINATING Aida are “back at last”, although the wait will stretch to May 5 2021 to see the satirical cabaret trio at York Barbican.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (October 2) at 10am for Dillie Keane, Adèle Anderson and Liza Pulman’s 8pm show, part of a 28-date tour.

Expect a “selection of old favourites, songs you haven’t heard before and some you wish you’d never heard in the first place”.

“The songs are hilarious and topical – the glamour is unstoppable,” say Fascinating Idea, who have attracted more than 25 million YouTube and Facebook hits for audience favourite Cheap Flights and their Rudest Christmas Song…Ever?.

Laconic, ever-quizzical Irish founder member, pianist and singer Keane co-writes most of Fascinating Aida’s material with Anderson, joined in the line-up by Drama Desk Award-nominated singer and actress Pulman.

For tickets, go to: