Under The Spotlight

Published on March 10th, 2017 | by Mike Ainscoe


Ciaran Algar – Under the Spotlight

Arguably the most illustrious of our guests on the Bandwagon, the current FATEA instrumentalist of the year is also a double BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner. Last seen fiddling with The Lost Boys, Partridge and Coldplay aficionado, Ciaran Algar reveals all in the latest Uunder The Spotlight……….


 What are your top 5 favourite songs?

  • Fix You- Coldplay
  • Sounds of Earth- Jim Moray
  • Trusty and True- Damien Rice
  • Even if it’s a Lie- Matt Maltese
  • Hurt- Johnny Cash

Who are your top 5 favourite bands/artists?

  • Coldplay
  • Biffy Clyro
  • Kodaline
  • Seth Lakeman
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers

Who is the greatest rock star of all time?

 Freddie Mercury or Noel Gallagher. I think Mercury is undoubtedly the greatest of all time, combining incredible song writing with a level of performance matched by nobody else, but in my lifetime, Noel Gallagher has to be one of the coolest men, and he’s written some wonderful songs that have been present all through my life.

What song best describes you?

Apologies for the (inevitable) bombardment of Coldplay, but Politik from the album Rush of Blood to the Head.

What is your favourite song lyric?

‘When your wheels stop turning and you feel let down, when it feels like troubles have come all around’

What is your favourite thing about being in the music industry?

Entertaining people and making a positive difference to at least one person’s life. There’s nothing quite like giving people enjoyment through music- it’s a great feeling.

What’s been your most rock n roll moment to date?

Cambridge Folk Festival with the Lost Boys- we were the last act in the Club Tent of the whole festival. I entered rock star mode (aided by a few beers) and got the whole tent to jump with us. It’ll be very difficult for anything to ever match that moment for me- it was magic.

Name one underground/unsigned band that deserves to make it?

They’re not as underground as they were when I first heard them, but Amber Run are a band I’ve been following for a few years now from the time when they had only released one E.P. Now they’ve just released their second album and are heading for great things.

What has been the best gig you’ve attended?

Coldplay Live at Glastonbury. Seeing them there was the dream, and that dream coming true was as incredible as I expected. Anybody who watched that show will know exactly what I mean!

If you’re a musician what is the best gig you’ve ever played?

The gig in the Club Tent at Cambridge Folk Festival. We’d done a Stage 2 slot earlier in the day which was great, but the atmosphere that night was just unreal, and the adrenalin rush was electrifying. Everything about that gig was perfect (even Toby turning up 15 minutes before the end of the set to join in because Sam had told him the wrong time).

If you could perform at any venue in the world where would it be?

Etihad Stadium- Definitely NOT because I’ve seen Coldplay there twice. Definitely not.

What is your karaoke song?

 Karaoke is something that I’ve only ever done twice, and the two songs I sang were ‘Little Lion Man’ by Mumford and Sons, and ‘Love Machine’ by Girls Aloud. The funny thing is, I think some of the old folkies would rather I sang a Girls Aloud song than a Mumford’s song. Priorities.


TV / Film / Literature

 What are your top 5 favourite films?

  • Lord of the Rings- Return of the King
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Inglorious Basterds
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Up

What are your top 5 favourite television shows of all time?

  • The US Office
  • The Jinx
  • Breaking Bad
  • Scrubs
  • Game of Thrones

Which ‘Binge TV Box Set’ are you watching at the moment?

Recently finished watching ‘The Crown’ and re-watching ‘Fresh Meat’. The Crown has taught me a lot about the monarchy over the last 60 years, and Fresh Meat has become even funnier since I’ve had some of the university experience and lived in the place it’s set. Brilliant comedy.

Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?

Chris Pratt but when he was chubby and not extremely ripped like he is now

What is your favourite music related film?

Coldplay Live 2012- Because it’s just amazing. No other reason.

What is your favourite line/speech in a film/TV Show?

A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!

Which fictional character would you most like to date?

Claire Dunphy from Modern Family. Maybe a slightly weird choice, but I’m sticking with it.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?

Alan Partridge- to be so blissfully ignorant about what other people think would be amazing. Also, a job in regional radio would be nice!

What fictional character reminds you most of yourself?

Jim Halpert from The Office

What is your favourite book?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

What are you reading at the moment/last book you read?

Alan Partridge- Nomad

What would you name the autobiography of your life?

‘On the Fiddle’- I might as well join in with the Fiddle jokes



Name one of your favourite quotes?

‘Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.’- Charlie Chaplin

What is your biggest fear?

Looking back on my life when I’m old and feeling like I haven’t made a difference to the world in any small way.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Winning the Radio 2 Young Folk Award in 2013- It was a complete shock to me and it’s been the start of an incredible journey which I’m still loving every second of.

What makes you laugh the most?

British Comedy. David Mitchell and Lee Mack on ‘Would I Lie to You’ have caused many late-night laughing fits

Describe yourself in 1-5 words?

Funny, Burnt-out, Kind, Humble (Obviously)

What is your life mantra/ultimate goal?

Just to make life better for people, be it one person or hundreds.

Who is your hero/idol?

David Mitchell or Chris Martin

You can choose your last meal. What will the menu consist of?

Starter- Fried Brie

Main- Domino’s Pizza

Dessert- Double chocolate gateau with double cream

Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?

Stoke-on-Trent. We’ll be on the rise once we get City of Culture for 2021- mark my words.

What place would you like to visit that you haven’t already?


What’s been your favourite holiday?

Disneyland 2012

What’s your first drink on a night out?


What’s your last drink on a night out?




What superpower would you have for one day?

The power to relive past events (not alter them in any way)

What’s the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?

Buy a fairly nice house somewhere, get an upgraded Vauxhall Insignia and then keep the rest so that I could continue to be a poor folk musician without being poor.

If you were ruler of your own country what would be the first law you would introduce?

I’d ban cyclists and slow-walkers.

What one item would you take with you on a desert island?

Xbox and Call of Duty/ My Lowden Guitar

If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like and what would it be for?

It’d be a Coldplay listening party where every Coldplay album plays continuously and we all talk about our feelings whilst eating Pizza. With plenty of beer.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

Play the piano. It’s something I’ve always regretted not learning but I think I’m past the point of being able to be good now

If you could know the answer to any question, besides “What is the meaning of life?” what would it be?

It’d be ‘What can I realistically achieve in my life?’. Knowing what was possible could possibly change the course of my actions significantly

If you could go back in time, what is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Don’t give so much heart for people who wouldn’t do the same for you

If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be?

Past- Madeleine McCann disappearance. Present- Donald Trump’s cabinet meetings. Future- My own funeral

If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be?

David Mitchell, Chris Martin, Chris Pratt and Jack the Ripper. You need a bit of variety.


Inside the ‘Pure Studio’ (If you have ever watched Inside The Actor’s Studio you will understand this round)

What is your favourite word? Fantastic

What is your least favourite word? Maggot

What switches you on? A love of music

What switches you off? Prejudice or lack of humour

What sound or noise do you love? The sound of the sea

What sound or noise do you hate? Nigel Farage’s voice

What is your favourite curse word? Wanker

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? CSI

What profession would you not like to do? Anything remotely important 

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? ‘Coldplay’s guitarist Jonny didn’t quite make it up here- are you free for a rehearsal this evening?’


About the Author

Mike's mellowed in his old age, discovering the delights of traditional folk and acoustic music and the constant stream of new music coming through his passion as a gig-goer, music photographer and writer. With favourite artists and favourite songs which change daily, even hourly, he adds another spoke to the Sonic Bandwagon wheel of fortune.

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