Arts Q&A: Film critic Ali Plumb on Terry Pratchett, Radiohead and his best and worst films

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra's film critic Ali Plumb on Terry Pratchett, Radiohead and his best and worst films

BBC Radio 1 film critic Ali Plumb is taking part in this month's Cinemagic Festival in Belfast

1. When did you think about a career in the media and what were your first steps into it?

For the longest time, I never dreamed of working in the media: too far-fetched, too exciting, too impossible. I think when I started mucking about on student radio, that's when it became some sort of conceivable reality. There I was, talking into a microphone, playing music, being an idiot... and then - and only then - did I begin to think "maybe it's not 'that' impossible. Maybe if I get very, very, very lucky..." As for speaking to my film-making icons professionally, getting face to face with the likes of Spielberg, Scorsese, Cameron, Tarantino and so on? I never dreamed of it. I'm still not over that, and I hope I never will be.

2. Best gigs you've been to?

Loudon Wainwright III at the Royal Festival Hall with my dad. LW3's lyrics are a never-ending source of delight, and his ability to play any song from his extensive back catalogue at the drop of a hat will always put a smile on my face.

Radiohead at Glastonbury 2011. It rained, it was the King Of Limbs period, it was the least surprising 'surprise guests' slot in the history of the festival... but I was with my friends, we'd found a great spot and we were happy. Plus it was the Beyoncé year and that was electric.

A really noodly Indie guitar swinger for my last one - David Bazan at 93 Feet East in London.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

If we're talking 'fantasy', let's not muck about - The Beatles.

4. The record you would take to a desert island?

Pearl Jam's Ten. Not only is it a flat-out belter of an album - and my Eddie Vedder howl is getting better and better by the day - but it'll always make me think of my brother, which is an excellent thing.

5. And the book you would bring to a desert island?

I've read the Discworld novels all so many times, I feel morally obliged to bring a Terry Pratchett with me, so let's go with Thud!.

6. Top three films?

The honest truth is that my answer depends on my mood at the time. Today, I'll go for the three films I've watched most in my life: The Big Lebowski, Die Hard and Singin' In The Rain.

7. Worst film you've seen?

Nine Lives, in which Kevin Spacey is turned into a cat. It is monstrously unfunny, despite also featuring Cheryl Hines, Christopher Walken and Jennifer Garner. Avoid.

8. Favourite authors?

Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde and Douglas Adams.

9. Sport you most enjoy and top team?

If pressed, I'd say Formula 1 and Red Bull, and my family traditionally supports West Ham, but I'm no Gary Goals or anything.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Scotland in the sun, walking somewhere incredibly remote.

11. Pet hates?

Too many to mention, so I'll go with a biggie: non-apologies. "If it seems I've caused offence, I apologise for that" is very easily fixed with an "I'm sorry." Sorted.

12. What's your favourite:

Dinner? Chicken katsu curry.

Dessert? Apple crumble or apple strudel.

Drink? Timothy Taylor's Landlord Ale or some moderately absurd gin and tonic concoction.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

We met when we worked together at Empire magazine. She's called Ally. Yep. Ali and Ally.

14. Is there a God?

Yes, and from all accounts they sound just like Morgan Freeman. I've also met Chris Hemsworth a few times and I am starting to think he is Thor.

:: Ali Plumb will be holding a workshop for aspiring film reviewers and journalists on October 30 at Belfast's QFT as part of the Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People. For tickets and full festival programme visit

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