I first watched The Sound of Music in the sixties at the tender age of seven. To see over the heads of the people in front of me, I sat on an upturned seat. Not that I saw that much anyway. I nodded off halfway through and didn’t wake up ‘til Dame Julie and co were heading for the hills.
Even though the film eventually became a Christmas staple on TV, I never actually sat through it. All I knew was that it was a tale of good versus evil with singalong tunes. And then the BBC exposed the truth about the von Trapps in a 2013 warts-and-all documentary. It turned out our heroes didn’t climb any mountain or ford any stream to escape the clutches of the nasty Nazis. No, they caught the 5.30 express to Italy. It was a bitter blow.
To restore my faith in the fairy tale, I jumped at the chance to see a new production at Norwich’s Theatre Royal by the Norfolk and Norwich Operatic Society. They’re amateur thesps but they always put on a good show.
As we necked our interval gins, I asked Liam,
So, when does the cute blond sing ‘Tomorrow Belongs to Me?’
That’s from Cabaret.
Seems I was mixing up my Nazis.
Overall, the production was charming, with some really sweet moments. Nuns and Nazis, what’s not to like? For us, the stand-out performance was from Sara Cubitt as the Mother Abbess. ‘Climb Every Mountain’ is a tough song to sing, and we held our breath as she warbled towards that devilishly difficult final note. Did she hit it? Oh yes.
With all the endless doom and gloom swilling around us, it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come. It says something incredibly powerful about our society when the three finalists of Strictly Come Dancing – the most popular show on British TV – were a black woman, a deaf actor and a same-sex couple, as voted for by the viewers. As critic Barbara Ellen put it in her Guardian review:
“A ground-breaking Strictly final in step with modern Britain.”
“… Strictly, and the BBC, at its best: everyone welcome, and everything all the better for it.”
Hot on the heels of Strictly came the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year, also a public vote. It was won by the child of Chinese-Romanian immigrants with a gay diver bringing up the rear in second place.
And then came the out-of-the-blue and very public marriage proposal on the stage of Norwich’s splendid Theatre Royal at the end of their Christmas panto production of Dick Whittington. When Joe popped the question, the kids went wild. Just as well Luke said yes!
We love ‘POSE’ – a must-watch on the telly box. The first two series were compulsive viewing and pioneering in the heart-warming but warts-and-all portrayal of the LGBT drag ball scene of 80s and 90s New York. Gritty, witty and fabulous, the edgy drama pulled no punches. Life on the margins was rough and tumble and then AIDS joined the party to make it deadly. The cast of largely unknowns delivered a sparkling script with conviction and passion. It’s no surprise that POSE has been lavished with critical acclaim and showered with gongs and globes.
We could hardly wait for the third and final season on the BBC. It had already aired in the US – again to universal praise – so we were on the edge of our seats with anticipation. Tragically, it didn’t start well. The clunky plot of the opening episodes seemed like it had been chucked together by committee using keywords. Usually we don’t have a problem with Yankee accents but during one particular mumbling scene we had to switch on the subtitles. Touches of former brilliance did emerge mid-series but the saccharine pep talks about lurv just went on and on. The hard edge was lost. We still lurv POSE but the romance has sadly cooled.
I know it can be tough on pets and those of a nervous disposition but I do love a pyrotechnic extravaganza, especially at New Year – all that sound and fury signifying nothing but the turning of time. When London was home, I’d jump on the Tube to enjoy the spectacle from the banks of Old Father Thames along with tens of thousands of other revellers. These days I’m content to watch from the comfort of a warm sofa, glass of bubbly in hand.
For obvious reasons, we assumed the fireworks would be off this year. But the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had other ideas. Without plug or promotion, sneaky Sadiq gave us the old razzle dazzle to cheer us up. The theatres may all be dark right now but London can still put on a show.
Despite a charming and traditional appearance, Loddon Village comes with all mod cons – well, almost. A decent mobile phone signal would be nice. So imagine our surprise when we stumbled on this classic thirties Austin Seven in the church car park.
A few days on, feet up and glasses clinked, we settled down to watch the newly rebooted ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ on the telly box. Imagine our surprise when we spotted this classic Austin Seven taking centre stage.
Must be a rural thing.
All Creatures Great and Small is based on the books of the British country vet Alf Wight, writing as James Herriot. The hugely popular original series was made by the BBC and ran from the seventies all the way through to the noughties, so the Channel Five remake has a lot to live up to. So far so good – classy and timeless, just like the cars. And it wouldn’t be the same without James Herriot’s arm up a cow.