On my radar: Tim Burgess's cultural highlights

The Charlatans singer on lightsaber exercise routines with his son, getting Prefab Sprout on his Twitter listening party and Louis Theroux’s podcast

Tim Burgess was born in Salford in 1967, and joined the Charlatans in 1988. Since their first top 10 single in 1990, The Only One I Know, the group has become one of Britain’s most enduring bands. Burgess also has a solo career and his new album, I Love The New Sky, is out now. Since lockdown, his Twitter listening parties in which people play albums together and comment online, have been a huge internet hit. He lives in Norfolk with his partner, Nik Colk Void of Factory Floor, and their son.

1. TV

The Mandalorian


‘Baby Yoda’ in the Mandalorian
Baby Yoda in the Mandalorian. Photograph: DISNEY+/Reuters

My little boy is seven and obsessed with Star Wars, so we’ve had to subscribe to Disney+ during lockdown, which has all the films. He was disappointed that Baby Yoda wasn’t in The Rise of Skywalker, but Baby Yoda’s here! We watch this on a projector in his room so it’s the size of his wall, and I’d really recommend this film, even though I’m probably not the target audience. Its stories have a real feel-good factor, although my son’s more into the Dark Side. We also do his daily exercise for school in the garden with us practising lightsaber moves.

2. Album

Steve McQueen

by Prefab Sprout

Prefab Sprout's Steve McQueen album cover and record.
The album Steve McQueen by Prefab Sprout has Burgess’s ‘favourite song of all time’. Photograph: CBS · Kitchenware Records

The Twitter listening party thing’s gone crazy. What’s been brilliant is getting artists to join in and comment along, although some musicians are quite rightly a bit nervous of Twitter. There’s been lots of great ones – New Order, Dave from Blur and Bonehead [Paul Arthurs] from Oasis pitching in – but the listening party to this was really special for me. Appetite from this album is my favourite song of all time, and I love Wendy Smith from the band – she’s sung with me and the Charlatans a lot. She took it to another level, tweeting pictures and memorabilia, and I found it really emotional.

3. Book

Broken Greek by Pete Paphides

Pete Paphides, centre, with group of other boys.
Pete Paphides, centre, whose book Broken Greek charts the formative influence of music when he was a child. Photograph: Pete Paphides

Pete’s a music journalist, and this is the story of his love of music as a child, and how it gave him a sense of identity. His parents had come over from Greece with great promises of work that fell through, and they ended up running a chip shop. He writes about the acts that first made sense to him as a child, like Leo Sayer and the Barron Knights, and I really got that: my equivalents were the Bay City Rollers from a few years earlier. Pop music that means the world to you when you’re young doesn’t often get written about.

4. Podcast

Grounded With Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux on sofa with mug and books.
In Grounded, Louis Theroux talks to other celebrities in lockdown. Photograph: BBC

A friend recommended this to me: it’s Louis Theroux interviewing people who, like him, are in lockdown. The episode with Jon Ronson, who’s in New York, is great. They consider each other rivals, given they started out doing similar things, but they both seem OK about that, which is interesting. Jon talks about how Robbie Williams once called and said: “You’ve got to interview me in a haunted house!” It fell through, of course, as things do which are driven by a huge amount of bluster. I also want to mention Boy George’s podcast about self-isolating in Soho. It’s lovely to hear voices like these in your ears at the moment.

5. Song

99 Glimpses by Sofie

Sofie in a parking lot wearing a glamorous  orange top.
Sofie, whose songs reflect her background in the US and Vienna, gives her music a classic feel. Photograph: Miriam Marlene / Stones Throw Records

I’m obsessed with this song. Sofie was in her mid-20s and a DJ in America and London when she had a sudden change in her life and went back to Vienna, where she’s from. It comes across in her songs. They’re like classic Todd Rundgren or Carole King, but this one is really incredible. It starts off like… I don’t want to say John Lennon’s Imagine, but it has that same classicism about it. I’ve been saying to people – come on, you have to hear her!

6. Film

Marriage Story

Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson and Adam Driver in the 2019 film Marriage Story.
Scarlett Johansson, Azhy Robertson and Adam Driver in the 2019 film Marriage Story. Photograph: Allstar/Netflix

This film is strangely really rewarding to watch in lockdown, as you’re reminded that every detail of life is there to be seen at the moment. It feels quite uplifting to do that, somehow, rather than self-punishing. I’ve lived in America, and been through an experience like this [divorce], and it translated. I’ve also loved Laura Dern’s acting since she was in Blue Velvet. She’s so believable as Scarlett Johansson’s character’s attorney.


Jude Rogers

The GuardianTramp

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