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My cultural life: Phil Cunningham
The Scotsman, 28th October 2007 (View original article)

What's your favourite film and why?

It really has to be Cinema Paradiso if only because I'm embarrassed to say Bedknobs And Broomsticks. I'm a huge Ennio Morricone fan, and I originally watched the movie to hear his soundtrack but went on to fall in love with the whole package. I also travelled for a week in Spain with Andrea Morricone who co-wrote the music with his dad. That personal link sealed it for me.

The piece of music that means the most to you?

It would probably have to be Meditation from [Massenet's opera] Thais. The version that means the most to me is performed by Itzhak Perlman. That melody and Perlman's playing just seem to push all the buttons for me. Nothing gets done when it's playing. I'm immobilised.

The best performance you've ever been to?

James Taylor at The Playhouse in Edinburgh circa 1988. I'm a rubbish "audience" and normally find excuses to leave the auditorium and hang out in the bar. But when it came to James Taylor's performance, I never moved for the whole show - he even sang informally during the break. What a star.

The book you have read more than once?

I'm a lazy, lazy reader and really only read factual books about wildlife. The odd crime thriller does me well on the road but reading something twice...? I think I read David Attenborough's Zoo Quest Expeditions a couple of times though.

The fictional character whose life you'd like to lead?

I've come pretty close to Homer Simpson a couple of times - I think he's a hoot. There used to be a comic character called Janus Stark, who could escape from the most incredibly difficult places. I used to try to copy him at school, I even got rescued by the fire brigade once with my entire body stuck between the school railings.

Your idea of classic TV?

Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson and Morecambe and Wise. Unbeatable humour. Great telly. Jackanory, The Magic Roundabout, Animal Magic and Tomorrow's World come to mind too. We had a black and white telly with coloured polythene over the front... now that's classic.

Your favourite work of art?

The Critical Hour Of 3am by Jack Vettriano. I won a signed print of it at an event in the National Museum in Edinburgh. It shows the artist wondering if he should continue working beyond 3am. I loved it because 3am has been my own personal cut-off time in the studio for many years. If it hasn't happened by then, then it's time to call it a night. It hangs with pride of place in my studio now.

Prediction for star of the future?

There's a young fiddle player from up around Inverness way called Graham Mackenzie who has tremendous promise. If he keeps going the way he's been going then we are going to have an amazing musician on our hands. He's a star already.

Essential website?

www.iwantoneofthose.com. I am gadget daft and you can find loads of really useless, great fun gear here. It's also great for gift ideas. I also rely heavily on www.motu.com, the website of the recording software that I use.

MySpace and Facebook have lured me in over the last wee while although I struggle to find time to communicate as fervently as my fellow users.

The entertainment gadget you can't live without?

I would be lost without my Macbook pro. It serves as work, rest and play for me. I compose on it, surf the web and e-mail on it. I listen to music and watch films on it. I also use it as a great tool for learning. There's not much time for anything else. I'm also currently travelling with a radio controlled helicopter - I fly it round the theatres after sound check. I am totally obsessed with it. It cost me £130 and I've already spent £150 on repairs.

• Phil presents the new six-part series, Scotland's Music with Phil Cunningham, BBC2 Scotland, November 3, 8.10pm (repeated Tuesdays, 7pm) www.philcunningham.com

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