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SJ Super 7

by: Leslie Bunder and Caroline Westbrook - Last updated: 2004-09-28



The seven most amazing things you will discover in Jewish life and culture.  This week: Rowetta gets the Jewish X Factor, Channel 4 visits Manchester Jewry, Four play for the BBC's Mark Damazer, and Sellers' Semitic side is on celluloid.

1. The Jewish X Factor: Former Happy Mondays backing singer Rowetta has made it through to the next round of the ITV talent show The X Factor.

The eccentric chanteuse impressed judges with her rendition of Lady Marmalade, before talking them into submission and telling them why she would be great as the next big thing. Of course, SJ was most interested by her Jewish background – she revealed on the show that
she had to make the next round otherwise her Jewish mum wouldn't be happy.

In an exclusive chat with Something Jewish, Rowetta revealed that her late father was Nigerian and her mum is from Crumshall in Manchester. Her mum said that it's about time her daughter got a break. "It's long overdue," she said. The 38-year-old has also appeared as a backing vocalist for Julia Fordham and Billy Ocean, as well as writing songs with Stereo MCs and Mick Jones from The Clash. She also starred as herself in the film 24 Hour Party People, about the Manchester music scene. Rowetta went to Bury Grammar School, and of her Jewish background, she says "I definitely embrace the food and the community spirit." She goes on to name blintzes and chicken soup with matzo balls as her favourites. Here at SJ, we're pleased to see Rowetta in the next round and hope she makes it even further. Oh, and she has a website – it's:

2. More Jews on TV: As if it wasn't enough to see one Jew on TV, Channel 4 now gives us an entire community's worth of Jews, in its new three-part series Jewish Law. The documentary takes a look at the ultra-Orthodox community of Manchester, and the lives they live, from
the laws of kashrut through to family life and traditions. For both Jews and non-Jews, it provides a fascinating insight into the world of our frum cousins. Just one quibble though – the first show was on Monday at 8pm, yet the final two instalments have been given a Sunday
night slot after 11pm. Why, Channel 4? Finally we get a programme that offers a serious and thought-provoking look at Jewish life, and it's being tucked away in a graveyard slot. Put it back at 8pm where it belongs, so more people can see it, and hopefully it will dispel urban myths about Jews. Of course the one mystery the programme didn't reveal, that even baffles SJ, is why kosher smoked salmon has to be so oily.

3. Four play for Mark: The BBC has named Mark Damazer as the new controller of Radio 4 as well as the radio station BBC7. Damazer, 49, first joined the BBC in 1981 and since then has risen through the ranks, working mainly in BBC News. Interestingly, he attended the same
school as Daily Express owner and business tycoon Richard Desmond.

4. Spock gets into the Jewish groove: Actor Leonard Nimoy is to host a radio series devoted to American Jewish music. The 13-part series, to be broadcast on stations across the US, is in conjunction with Milken Archive, who are responsible for the music programming. Milken Archive are a Jewish music foundation who are re-releasing a lot of rare and undiscovered Jewish music as well as contemporary recordings. Many of these will be featured on the shows. No word, however, on them being broadcast in the UK – but you can find out more about the Milken Archive at their website:

5. Yet more Jews on TV: Hit US sitcom Arrested Development makes its UK debut on Wednesday September 29 at 10pm on BBC2. The show, which picked up three Emmy awards last week, focuses on the eccentric Bluth family, whose father George (Jeffrey Tambor) is imprisoned for dodgy dealings. It's down to his son Michael (Jason Bateman) to take over the family business and keep the clan together; in the mean time George is busily rediscovering his Jewish roots behind bars. Can't wait.

6. Shabot Strikes Again: Our favourite Jewish comic strip, Shabot 6000, just gets better. Their Yom Kippur edition featured the following words of wisdom: "Yom Kippur is our most solemn holiday. It is a day to atone for our sins". Replies Shabot: "So we can commit
them again in the New Year!" For more Shabot shenanigans, visit:

7. Sellers' Jewish roots: A new film which takes a look at Peter Sellers' life and Jewish background opens in the UK on Friday. The Life and Death Of Peter Sellers stars Aussie actor Geoffrey Rush as the Semetic comic legend, and as well as taking a trip through his screen career, the film also looks at his relationship with his Jewish mother Peg (played here by Miriam Margolyes). Well worth a look.