Clairevoyant Review

by Claire E Fitzgerald

Claire Fitzgerald offers us the (surprisingly familiar) cultural highlights of the month of October, 2011. Remember, you read it here first!
Without doubt, the highlight of this season's presentations has been the long-awaited release of the sequel to Lionel Bart's Oliver!. The lavish new production, Jamie!, follows the further adventures of the tousle-haired little urchin with the famously slappable grin, as he returns to the workhouse with a new menu of fresh organic carrot and coriander gruel with sundried tomato foccaccia for the unfortunate orphans. The staging, sponsored by the Sainsbury's Considerably Better Off Than You range, is impressive, and some of the song and dance set pieces are positively electric. I particularly enjoyed Jamie's spirited rendition of "Consider Yourself (A Bunch of Fucking Morons)". If there's one brief quibble, it's that the leading man really needs to work on his accent.

In the pre-Christmas lull, studios seem to have concentrated on churning out reliable box-office fare, rather than experimenting with anything which may cause controversy or shock. Comfortingly predictable has been the ratings battle between two traditional British comedies: the gently risque slapstick of Carry On Klansman, (starring Jimmy Carr as the Grand Dragon of Einall-Fystinge) and the equally fluffy coming-of-age yarn Four Weddings, Two Bar-Mitzvahs and a Pogrom, worth watching for the hilarious cameo by Borat - possibly the funniest ever film appearance by a serving Home Secretary.

Publishers now have their eye firmly on the Christmas market. Tipped to be big sellers this holiday season is the touching inside story Living the Dream: My Rise to Fame, by Crazy Frog, and Lynne Truss's latest offering The F*cking F*cker's F*cking F*cked! , which tackles the burning contemporary issue of her printer breaking down, and her ensuing mild annoyance.

The much-loved teatime drama Robin Hood, (starring Joe Cole and Shami Chakrabati) continues to delight family audiences, while remaining true to the BBC's strict insistence on historical and cultural authenticity. In the first episode, Robin and his robot dog swashbuckled their way through a submarine full of Nazis which had been washed up in Sherwood Forest, on its way to join up with Gengis Khan's invasion of Cornwall. The action was thrilling, and deftly set up the plot arc for the rest of the series. Will Robin be able to reach the giant space laser in time to stop the Sheriff's nuclear enrichment programme? I, for one, will be on the edge of my seat.

On a more serious note, the government's new, hard-hitting anti-smoking campaign came to our screens this month. Following the success of the Department of Health and Bedtime's tactic of using 'social pressure' to deter us from sparking up (starting in 2005 with the slogan 'If You Smoke, You Stink', followed up in 2007 with 'Smokers Have Small Willies', 'Smokers Smell of Wee', then 'If You Smoke, Your Mother Wanks Tramps'), this year's effort focuses on the simple message: "Smoking Makes You Gay".

Another excellent year for British classical music. To think only five years ago, the whole sector was apparently plummeting into precipitous decline, thanks to Paul Bloody McCartney and the unfortunate mass epidemic of vomiting caused by the Classic FM Mozart for Babies, adverts. And then Sir Trevor Nunn had the brilliant idea of arbitrarily deciding that things were operas when they clearly weren't, and since then, we've gone from strength to strength! This week, the Royal Philarmonic Orchestra played to packed crowds with their spirited rendition of Bananarama's First Symphony (previously known as I'm Your Venus!,) and Coldplay's latest collection of concerti, the playfully entitled Dull as Crap, is at the top of the album charts for the 45th week running.

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