Best of 2010

Theatre: Shakespeare

1. Romeo and Juliet (RSC).

2. King Lear (RSC).

3. As You Like It (West Yorkshire Playhouse).

4. Measure for Measure (Almeida).

5. The Winter’s Tale (RSC/Roundhouse).

6. Henry IV part 2 (Globe).

7. Macbeth (Globe).

8. Antony and Cleopatra (RSC).

9. Antony and Cleopatra (Liverpool Playhouse).

10. Hamlet (The Crucible, Sheffield).

11. King Lear (Donmar).

12. Henry VIII (The Globe).

13. The Tempest (Old Vic).

14. As You Like It (Old Vic)

15. Macbeth (Belt Up/York Theatre Royal).

Theatre: Not Shakespeare

1. Jerusalem (Apollo).

2. After the Dance (National).

3. An Enemy of the People (Sheffield Crucible).

4. Women Beware Women (National).

5. London Assurance (National).

6. Enron (Theatre Royal, Newcastle)

7. The Habit of Art (National Theatre).

8. Corrie! (Lowry, Salford)

9. The Real Thing (Old Vic).

10. Canterbury Tales (West Yorkshire Playhouse/Northern Broadsides).

11. La Bete (Comedy Theatre).

12. Death of a Salesman (West Yorkshire Playhouse).

13. Three Sisters (Lyric, Hammersmith).

14. The Misanthrope (Comedy Theatre)

15. Beating Berlusconi. (York Theatre Royal).

  

Exhibitions

1. Gauguin (Tate Modern).

2. Van Gogh (Royal Academy).

3. Renaissance drawings (The British Museum).

4. The Book of the Dead (British Museum).

5. Venice. Canaletto and his rivals. (The National Gallery).

6. Sargent and the Sea (Royal Academy).

7. Rude Britannia (Tate Britain).

8. Summer Show (Royal Academy).

9. Beatles to Bowie (National Portrait Gallery).

10. Chris Ofili (Tate Britain).

  

Books

1. Andrea Levy The Long Song.

2. Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall.

3. AS Byatt – The Children’s Book.

4. Rose Tremain – Trespass.

5. Colm Toibin Brooklyn.

6. Ian McEwan  Solar.

7. Paul Magrs Diary of a Doctor Who Addict.

8. Tony Blair The Journey.

9. Kate Atkinson Started Early, Took My Dog.

10. Alexander McCall Smith The Double Comfort Safari Club.

TV

1. Coronation Street –  especially for Jack’s Death and the Live episode (ITV).

3. Ashes to Ashes (BBC1).

4. Doctor Who – The End of Time part 2 (BBC1).

5. Doctor Who – especially for the eleventh hour (BBC1).

6. Downton Abbey (ITV1)

7. I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (ITV1).

8. Macbeth (BBC 4).

9. Luther (BBC1).

10. Silent Witness (BBC 1).

and my guilty pleasure of the year

Peter Kay at the Studio, Lowry (and again at the Manchester Evening News Arena).

Doctor Who 'The Eleventh Hour' 5.1 (3rd April 2010, BBC 1)

A Serpent, an apple and a garden. With the new Doctor Who series we are on familiar story-telling territory, but with an electrifying and stimulating twist.

In ‘Blink’ (3.10) Steve Moffat utilises the horror genre beautifully, as the rain is pouring down and a young woman (Sally Sparrow) enters a deserted house. In the ‘Eleventh Hour’, Moffat again builds on the audience familiarity with certain narrative tropes to great effect. At the start of the programme the Doctor in his TARDIS whirls over London and a shot of the Millenium Dome from the air is a reminder of the Eastenders opening titles, but London is passed over and the TARDIS falls into a typical English Countryside scene. Here there is a local post office (which is closed), a Duck Pond and a Village Green, a pub and a red telephone box. There is even an old lady (Annette Crosbie) living in an a pretty cottage. The Doctor seems to have landed in the landscape of a murder mystery, which is more like Agatha Christie or Midsomer Murders than the landscapes of the Bill and the Sweeney familiar in the Russell T Davies era.

In the episode there was a nice balance of humour and moments that made hearts skip beats. 20 minutes to save the world is cliché and the countdown to 0 on all clocks reminds us of all those moments in films when the hero saves us all and just in time. This didn’t really matter though, because the monster was really a sub plot to the main plot which was about introducing the viewers to the new Doctor and companion. I felt that the episode was about the imagination, and the childhood world that actually come alive in adulthood. The idea that the simple crack in the child’s bedroom wall conceals secrets and monsters was played out to great effect in this episode. I liked the juxtaposition between the Doctor and Prisoner Zero as they are still both evolving into what they should be, Prisoner Zero getting the voices wrong and the Doctor is still ‘cooking’. The putting on the clothes was symbolic. Once Matt Smith had his tweeds and bow tie he ws the Doctor and that montage of the previous Doctors confirmed the Eleventh Doctor as here. Gone was the idea that the regeneration as a death and the emotional pull of the tenth Doctor’s last line, ‘I don’t want to go’. As the Doctor left the garden and entered the TARDIS, this was just the beginning.

It's a crime (drama) again.

Recently, I feel like I’ve been binging on Crime dramas. Is it that time of year…

From the wrong side of the law perspective, I watched the new Minder (4th February 2009 Five) last night on Sky Plus. I had heard some of the reviewers which weren’t that keen. Why produce a remake and George Cole had said it was a programme for the eighties and didn’t have the same relevance now. Though with the credit crunch so maybe the remake will be more relevant than we first thought. The new version wasn’t the most gripping drama in the world and it was light and fluffy, but it was entertaining when you’re just winding down and don’t want anything too deep. Maybe, I’ll watch another ‘new’ Minder when I’m chilling, but not sure if it will be something I’ll want to become a regular viewer of. The ‘new’ Minder with Shane Richie as Archie Daley, Arthur Daley’s nephew, and Lex Shrapnel as Archie’s ’minder’ Jamie Cartwright, moved quickly to establish the partnership between the two men, but Archie and his new minder are too much like each other. Shane Richie looks like he could look after himself if he could be bothered and Jamie felt, at times, like he has come out of Kill Bill because he had to be extreme to make us believe he was the perfect minder for Archie. The thing about the original was that as a viewer you felt that Arthur was vunerable and you didn’t mind the petty stuff, but felt on his side when he got dragged into the more dangerous and heavy crime stuff. ‘Lovable rogues’ comes to mind and this is really the concept behind the new Minder, which might mean it still has some appeal as a concept. Someone mentioned that Arthur Daley was built on George Cole’s Flash Harry character in St Trinians. So why didn’t Five cast Russell Brand as the new Daley character. Now that would have been a different Minder from the original.

In contrast, I watched Moses Jones on Monday (2nd February 2009, BBC 2) and that was really gripping, but you couldn’t miss a minute and had to concentrate on every line. This was clearly heavy stuff and like most of these kind of dramas you’re not spared the gruesome visual images of damaged bodies. I shall certainly be watching Moses Jones again and it will be one of my regular Police/Crime/Murder Mysteries dramas along with Trial and Retribution, Midsommer Murders etc. I liked the relationship between Jones and his sidekick (Matt Smith, the new Doctor Who). Will we get fed up with Matt Smith though, if we are exposed to the hair and cheekbones too much before he gets to the Doctor Who moment.

I was disappointed when I read that Wire in the Blood wasn’t coming back, that was a programme that I really enjoyed. This was a programme that like Prime Suspect pushed boundaries in terms of the evidence of real evil that could be shown on the screen. In many ways, I don’t need to see all the blood and rotting bodies, what I liked was Robson Green’s portrayal of Tony Hill and that he didn’t always act as we would expect a police psychologist to act. It was the quirkiness in the character that was attractive and Green had the perfect looks for the part. There was the love aspect – won’t they will they which might never be resolved in the TV programme now.