has updated. Up until a few years ago, the domain still hosted the final incarnation of the classic run of Sugababes with a background video of the chorus to Get Sexy blasting out on a loop. Which then gave way to various dummy pages for hosting companies with Go Daddy the most recent (according the Now we find the original One Touch logo with letters spelling twenty sprinkled across, some social media and music links and a newsletter sign up box. The impression seems to be that something is happening related to the 20th anniversary of the album release although that was 27 November 2000 in the UK which we've well missed.   But it wouldn't be the Sugababes if there wasn't some lag between intention and result.  Flatline was released in 2013 and we're still waiting for the follow-up.
‘Sexual predator’: actor Noel Clarke accused of groping, harassment and bullying by 20 women.  Extremely uncomfortable and important reading. It's not for me to comment on anything in the article, the words of the victims speak for themselves.
Discussing Skateboarding with Filmmaker Werner Herzog. Skateboard magazine Jenkem decided to approach the director and ask him about their discipline and he's predictably extremely eloquent on a subject he has little or no connection to. But by the end, you'll want him to make a film on the subject even if it's just a collection of found footage and his voiceover, although that's sort of what we have here.
Third time lucky? Inside the RSC’s much-delayed Winter’s Tale. The Guardian visits the RSC during production on the re-imagining of this production which didn't make it to the stage last year.  There will be changes - not as much human contact for one thing.  We also have a transmission date and time.  It'll be on BBC Four at 7pm on Sunday 25 April, as part of the BBC’s Lights Up season.  The programme page is up.  Later that night, there'll also be a repeat of Scuffles, Swagger and Shakespeare: The Hidden Story of English unseen since its first and only broadcast in November 2019.

The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Textual Studies.

Shakespeare   Not having met anyone with the same fannish zeal about Shakespeare as your blogger does, on a par with Doctor Who, films and whatever new album Taylor Swift has released that week, I've no idea if we share the same interests or what's in vogue.  Is it the production history or a connection with a particular playhouse?  Is it the language of the plays, the sheer level of poetry beaming out of every page?  A particular play which seems to contain all of life's answers for better or worse?  Or is it the textual history, the inquiry into how a play's been transmitted, from the hand of Shakespeare and his collaborators, through the first printshops, to successive editors to the Arden Shakespeare currently to hand.  How much what we're reading or watching is by the man himself or a corruption which has inevitably cropped up across the centuries?

It's all of the above, of course it is, at least for me.  But it's the latter on which I'm particularly laser focused, the impossible search for the complete authorial voice, because there's a huge gap between what's generally known about the canon and how much of it was written by Shakespeare and the actually, that at least a dozen or so of the plays in the canon have been filtered through other hands and yet more anonymous plays for which he may have contributed.  Not to mention how mis-readings of manuscripts by weary "hands" in the print shops have led to some lines losing all sense, compounded by subsequent editors trying to rationalise what was originally meant creating yet more misunderstandings.

You can imagine the excitement (yes, excitement) with which I greeted the news of The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Textual Studies, a guide to current research related to the plays on the page from the book trade within which they originally found publication, through a history of canonical studies to plays are edited and attributed in the modern age.  After seeing the press release from Arden, I put in a request, expecting perhaps a watermarked pdf but a couple of weeks later a hardback academic edition arrived by courier.  Even after all these years, it's still quite thrilling to have a book which would otherwise be on the shelf of an academic library all to myself, especially considering the price.

For the most part, this is a fully accessible read at least for this amateur with a pretty strong working knowledge of the subject.  As the preface explains, this new series of handbooks is designed to "provide researchers and graduate students with both cutting-edge perspectives on perennial questions and authoritative overviews on the history of research" or other words in this case, the state of play for textual studies in 2021.  It's to be used as a companion to material that appear in standard Shakespeare editions, some of which may be reprints of materials originally prepared twenty years ago, if not decades earlier and demonstrate that the discussion continues, that the publication of a play is a comma, not a full stop.

The book is split into four sections.  The introduction and first part set the scenes on textual studies, what they encompass and how they'll be investigated further as the book progresses.  Part Two offers the protein of this protean effort covering Shakespeare's manuscripts, the status of the earliest printed texts, how they fit within the early modern publishing industry, canonical studies and a history of editing from Rowe onwards.  Computerised processes are covered by part three, from algorithmic attribution studies to internet editions of the plays.  The final section offers a chronological publication history, a glossary of key terms, a full bibliography and list of resources.

As expected the key takeaway is that nothing is settled.  Everything I'd read to this point seemed to imply that Shakespeare's identity as hand D on the manuscript copy of Sir Thomas More held at the British Library was boiler-plated but the opening pages of the essay on manuscripts casts doubt on the methodology which has led to that attribution, suggesting that even if they're Shakespeare's words, there's no proof that it's his handwriting.  This logical, if emotionally dispiriting approach pervades the whole book, which lays bare the fallibility of academics and how even with decades of study behind them, that they're more than likely to bend the evidence around a misty-eyed fantasy of this genius and reflect that in their books.

There are two Shakespeares.  There's the working playwright who did well enough in his career to retire to Stratford and leave some money and property to his family on his death and a legendary being who's developed since,  Starting with the promotional material that preceded the collection of plays the publishers of the First Folio had the rights to, this transmogrification continued through Alexander Pope's edition which relegated to footnotes the sections he thought were unworthy of the writer to the proliferation of collected and individual editions in the twentieth century developed by editors with their own mission to find the platonic ideal of these plays either my conflating them together or publishing different versions as separate entities.

Except such things are impossible.  Everything is guesswork.  In his chapter on early printed texts, John Jowett demonstrates by printing them as a list how the single line from 1 Henry IV, "This matcht with other did, my gratious L." as originally printed in the first quarto in 1598 had by the seventh publication in 1632 become "This match with other like, my Gracious Lord," which is more readable to contemporary eyes but changes the underlying sense of what the line means (noting in the endnotes that Q1 itself is a reprint, Q0 only surviving as a few odd pages).  A modern editor has to somehow rationalise these differences and then make these value judgements a thousand times across the whole play.

But as the book demonstrates, as facsimiles of particular editions become much more widely accessible through digitisation, with online databases set up collecting such vagaries as contemporaneous margin notes, editors are no longer just at the mercy of the surviving printing of a play.  There's a much wider context of materials across the theatre and publishing industry of the time which can illuminate how inconsistencies within the text could be as a result of a barely legible original manuscript being worked from because we have the publications and the handwritten papers upon which they were based.  Editing a play may be guesswork, but the process is more educated than its ever been.

All of which leaves me in the condition of looking at an edition of any play with Shakespeare's name on it and thinking "well, yes, possibly".  My assumption is most schools work from a standard edition and certainly when I was at school we were given copies of the Arden 2 to work from.  But I also owned the Penguin editions of both, little appreciating that the texts in each were either subtly or significantly different.  How do university students writing about the plays from a critical perspective navigate this, especially a play like Hamlet and its three versions.  Do they find themselves having to constantly compare and contrast a given characters motives across all three?

But the fact of me asking those questions is the point and why the book succeeds in its aims, to demonstrate that textual studies is much more than whatever end point an editor proposes their new edition to be.  There's no doubt that this will be of use to students who're interested in delving deeper into the texts they're studying but there's enough here to be of interest to a wider audience so I'd certainly recommend you put in a reservation or request at your library to get your eyes on a copy, assuming Arden don't release it in a cheaper paperback format somewhere along the line.  This is important work, at least in the sphere of literature and deserves the widest audience possible.

The Arden Research Handbook of Shakespeare and Textual Studies edited by Lukas Erne is published by Bloomsbury. £117.00 hardback. ISBN: 9781350080645. Review copy supplied.

Inside the world’s first 3D printed house. Linking to this mainly for the images and shape which resemble something from Tatooine which look cool but would only be possible to live in by someone who doesn't own or read too many books, films or want to personalise any element of the structure. There aren't any corners. There's more here about the construction of the building and how the walls can be light, rigid and insulated.
‘Rocky Horror’ played to an empty theater for 54 weeks. Now, audiences return to Portland’s longest-running movie. A projectionist, sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend, visited the location every week and screened the film so as not to destroy the record, a level of commitment I haven't seen since the Small Cinema in Liverpool screened Groundhog Day non-stop for twenty-four hours.
Filming underway of RSC The Winter’s Tale for BBC debut. Short report from the Stratford-Upon-Avon Herald on filming of the postponed production which sounds like it's now being shot in theatre, albeit in a more intimate atmosphere, for broadcast on BBC Four around Shakespeare's birthday.  Kemi-Bo Jacobs from Doctor Who's Hide plays Hermione.
BBC iPlayer has uploaded a collection of Adam Curtis films almost everything he's produced for broadcast on the BBC since 1992 including the short films he created for the various Wipe series.  Every Day is Like Sunday, his documentary about press baron Cecil King is still available elsewhere on the website, along with all the other odds and sods he curated for his blogIt Felt Like A Kiss, the art piece he did in collaboration with Punchdrunk is there too.  The Wikipedia has a filmography should you want to binge it all in chronological order.
But why on earth is an elephant VETOED?  Detective work from @DoctorSimeon on Twitter explaining how a particularly surreal piece of set design from Doctor Who's Dalek Invasion of Earth exists.  Mother of God.
A Report from the After Times. Laurie Penny has moved to Melbourne to be with her partner and after being released from quarantine walked out into a land in which COVID-19 is all but extinct and found herself overwhelmed.  This is my fear. It's over a year since I even set foot in the city centre and at the moment, even ten minutes away by bus, it feels like a dangerous country with a no-visit warning. What will it be like to walk down Bold Street as I used to? Will I be ok when I return to Forbidden Planet or FACT?  When will I feel that it's OK?
Turner's Modern World, an essay by writer and publisher Jenny Uglow looks at the intersection between the painter's work and his interest in science and how the former was influenced by the latter in both subliminal and obvious ways, clouds in skies resembling Faraday's work on magnetism using iron filings, that sort of thing.  The exhibition has now been extended until 12 September at Tate Britain, which already has a mini-museum within a museum dedicated to his work.
Watergate was a 1994 prestige BBC series about the break-in and fall out and the TV Cream Creamguide highlights that it's having it first ever repeat on BBC Four next Wednesday 14th. Here is the programme page which will hopefully flourish with content after the broadcast. Or at least a nice picture. Incidentally, the research archive for the series is available for consultation at the University of London archive. In person.
How New Voting Procedures Created a BAFTAs Diversity Surge in One Year. After the embarassment of all-white shortlists in 2020, the Baftas took a good long look at themselves and implemented numerous changes in order to increase diversity across the board. One of these included "providing every member with a list of films — a mix from across the board — that they had to watch in order to take part in the first round of voting. And these could all be seen on BAFTA View, its new online screening platform." Such things have been compulsory in the likes of the Booker prize and Cannes and you would think it wouldn't have needed for it to be the case that voting members at the Baftas would have needed to have seen examples of the work created by their industry, but there we go.

The Unity Theatre Liverpool has announced its 2021 programme and as well as offering limited in venue seating they're also streaming their programme online on a pay as much as you can basis.  Full programme here.  

Everybody Still Needs a Place to Think.

 TV  The BBC's new annual plan has been released an oh boy do it make some reading for those of us who enjoy the kind of low stakes, lower overhead documentaries about niche subjects BBC Four produces.  Their approach to documentary is to shift towards the more expensive landmark type series like Civilisations, which presumably cover more of the four quadrants are easier to sell in the US.  The upshot of that is BBC Four is going to properly shift to become the "arts and archive" channel originally proposed in 2011 (which I got really excited about here) but became forgotten in the meantime.  To quote the report:

This approach will necessitate a shift away from commissioning a high volume of lower cost programmes on BBC Four, which are less effective at reaching audiences on the channel and on iPlayer. Instead, BBC Four will become the home of the most distinctive content from across the BBC’s archive. It will also remain the home for performance, such as the BBC Proms, BBC Young Dancer and BBC Young Musician. It will continue to showcase arts and music acquisitions and maintain its unique role in partnering with arts institutions (e.g. The Lyric Theatre, Belfast; Opera North; The National Theatre Scotland and The Royal Shakespeare Company ). The proposed changes to BBC Four will build on the channel’s current archive content offer which already comprises 76% of BBC Four’s broadcast hours and 69% of the channel’s broadcast viewing hours.

These are fine words, but there has to be some follow through.  Throwing around lines like "distinctive content from across the BBC's archive" would hopefully include material like the Face to Face interview with Simone Signoret from 1960 and indeed anything made in the previous century that isn't a music programme or sitcom.  

Honestly, I'm mostly fine about all of this.  The BBC's budget has been slashed and it has to justify commissions on the basis of audiences.  If not enough people want to watch an hour long documentary about the gut especially when BBC Radio Four had already covered the same subject four an hour and a quarter without pictures, you can't really argue against that.

Similarly, there's been a *lot* of content duplication in documentaries, much walking and talking across the same ancient monuments by different academics across the years saying roughly the same thing.  If a topic is already adequately covered by an old episode of Chronicle, what's the point in going again if nothing new has been uncovered?

So Britain's Lost Masterpieces doesn't seem long for this world because people prefer Fake or Fortune or something and it doesn't look like we'll get the much needed three part history of black hair presented by Emma Dabiri.  But if the result is a tarted up BBC Two which actually feels like it has a creative direction again and a repeat of Churchill's people, well, fair enough.

That's not just amazng ...


Audio That is indeed, FANTASTIC! We live in strange times, but none stranger (ish) than the fact there now exists in the world a Big Finish audio adventure featuring the one living actor who at no point, in any way shape or form, seemed like he would ever play the Doctor again. Having wondered why in the meantime, I've just noticed this 2018 interview which said that his relationship had broken down with Russell T Davies, Julie Gardner and Phil Collinson during the first recording block but he kept to his word that he agreed not to effect the show's reputation and indeed praised RTD in subsequent interviews. 

It also didn't show in his performance, which was impeccable throughout, just as it is in these few snippets which highlight what are sure to be the more manic elements of the recordings. When previous Doctors have returned for the audios, there has always been the brief moment before pressing play on a trailer or full adventure when you wonder if they'll sound "right" or "like themselves", if they'll be able to pick up where they left off and by golly he does.  This is thrilling stuff, helped immeasurably by the visuals and the return of that Deviant Strain font, typos and all.  It’s Saturday night tea time in 2005 all over again!  Sixteen years.

When will these be set?  Rose was famously written (the episode not the person) in such a way as to suggest that he'd only recently regenerated, but this has since been retconned at Big Finish and Davies himself in The Day of the Doctor novelisation to indicate that he did indeed travel for a bit before turning up at the Powell Estate but literally tried to avoid looking at himself because of all the children he thought he'd killed when destroying Gallifrey (having forgotten he did nothing of the sort).  But The Beast of Bablyon suggests he also had whole adventures during the dematerialisation moment at the end of Rose, so it's 50/50.
‘Promising Young Woman’ skips UK theatrical release to debut on Sky Cinema in April. A small but significant update to my post about where all of this year's Oscar nominations are available to watch. Other than The Man Who Sold His Skin in the International film category, Promising Young Woman was the only feature film not to have a UK release date confirmed.  Now it does. But instead of the theatrical release by all accounts it richly deserves, Universal and Focus Features have decided to simply bung it out on NowTV which during the past few months has become the clearing house for what would have been 2020's mid-range release slate (see also The Glorias, Palm Springs and Antebellum).

The Bosch Project is a selection of ultra high definition images of Hieronymus's paintings that offer the ability to zoom in close enough to see brush stokes and individual cracks in the paintwork.  Bosch's scenes often include minute background elements which would be difficult to see with the naked eye even if you're standing right in front of the actual painting.  It's the work of Rob Erdmann of the Rijksmuseum and he's also given a similar treatment to Rembrandt's Night Watch.

Doctor Who's limited edition boxsets are finally being reissued in a more standard amaray packaging starting with seasons 12 and 19, which will be great news for fans who missed out on the original releases and find themselves unable to justify spending some of the outrageously high prices on eBay (this £1200 is an outlier but not uncommon).  Judging by the artwork, these will include a booklet, although the press release indicates this is a basic 12-page affair with disc breakdowns and "selected artwork".

Black Widow is not dead.

Film At this point I remain convinced that in the post credit sequence of the Black Widow, Natasha Romanov is going to wake up at the bottom of the cliff on Vormir wondering how the fuck she's going to get home. I don't see how any other conclusion to that film could be anything other than a downer, especially if its a hit and they're turning it into a trilogy. 

Fortunately for those of us still under the dark shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic and sheltering at home, Disney have announced that it'll be getting a Mulan-style day and date release in July 2021 on Disney+ so that those of us who don't want to return to cinemas (assuming they're open!) can enjoy whilst sat in our own lumpy chair. 

I've long been an advocate of day and date releases, giving us audience members the choice of watching films without having to hike out to a drafty auditorium and deal with people who're treating that space as their lounge. Paying £10 to listen to someone masticate through a box of popcorn before walking just before the credits role is not fun. 

As the pandemic recedes, presumably studios will return to the theatrical model but perhaps with a slightly more relaxed attitude to how it effects the bottom line to release things for home simultaneously. Cinema chains too, who've traditionally owned release windows and such, will be in a slightly weaker position now that they know that to an extent, the studios don't need them as much. 

Back in 2016, Sean "Napster" Parker was pitching "The Screening Room", a DRM heaving special streaming box so consumers could watch films day and date for $50 a pop with revenues flowing back to cinemas, which many of us rolled our eyes at because we already had a pretty decent streaming box already.  Seems like the pandemic has forced studios to realise the same thing.

Immediately, as with Mulan, critics and fans were moaning about Disney+ charging extra for Black Widow as though its some great scheme to steal money out from under people.  I saw one goober indicate that he wouldn't be paying "because it's just a prequel and she's dead already anyway". 

But Disney isn't a charity. They're well within their rights to charge extra for Black Widow and not just throw it up on Disney+ as part of the subscription especially in territories were the cinemas, which would have been its traditional home, are closed.  Including advertising, Disney have sunk at least $300m into this thing and a cut of the subscriptions won't be enough to cover that.

Without the pandemic it would have been in cinemas a year ago and we'd all have it on shiny-disc. They waited a year in the hopes of protecting it as a theatrical experience but that hasn't worked out so they doing the next best thing and charging cinema rates.

Of course, the fairer option would be the Wonder Woman 1984 route of making it available on all the pay-per-stream services outside the Disney+ cordon and give subscribers a discount, but again they don't need to.  The MCU is a big enough brand that people will most certainly come.

Not to mention the old lobster pricing rule. Around a decade ago there was a glut of lobster available to restaurants and very cheap prices. But they kept the prices the same as they were when there was a smaller overhead in order to protect their status as a luxury item. 

I can understand why studios spending hundreds of millions of pounds on films don't want them to become essentially valueless and part of a content farm, as so much of the new material on Netflix has become, mostly uploaded without much hype unless there's some awards potential.

Just to add that I know they are putting some things like Nomadland on the service, but such things have a limited box office spotential by comparison and aren't four quadrant releases and are perfect drivers for the Star section of the service.  Although that is admittedly one film I would have gone to the cinema for.
Ipswich, we have a problem: Space Cadets, the reality show that never left the ground. This wasn't something I watched much at the time. After the seminal 2004 season of Big Brother, I'd given up on reality television, having decided I'd seen the apogee of the form with John Tickle attempting to hack the system from the inside. Plus the premise seemed unintentionally cruel, trying to convince gullible people that they'd gone into space. This Guardian piece shows that even the presenter, Johnny Vaughn had misgivings and actually managed to water down some of the things the producers wanted to do, and made sure the contestants received some compensation for their humiliation.
Talking Stock: Hi-de-Hi’s Opening Titles features some typically specific and totally fascinating research from John Hoare which makes an excellent central point about the gatekeeping of historical footage by some news organisations. Pathe have been quite liberal about uploading their old newsreels online (especially on their YouTube channel), whereas Reuters still consider them to be of commercial use and so haven't been quite as rigorous (although they too have recently made more footage available through the Pathe channel). Incidentally, yes, I'm trying another blog post format, only using the big titles when it's for a much longer piece.

All of the Oscar Nominees in 2021 and where to watch them.

Film  The clue is in the title.  Unlike most years, when the films nominated for Oscars aren't available in the UK for some months afterwards, thanks to the slow apocalypse only Promising Young Woman doesn't yet have a UK release date and the vast majority of everything else is already on the main streaming platforms or will be by the end of April.  So I thought you might like a guide to what's available where.  Anything with an (*) is a short film.

Amazon Prime

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

One Night in Miami

A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Sound of Metal (12th April 2021)






Burrow *


Nomadland (30th April 2021)

The One and Only Ivan




The Mole Agent


Da 5 Bloods

Crip Camp

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

Hillbilly Elegy

If Anything Happens I Love You *

The Life Ahead

Love and Monsters (14th April 2021)

A Love Song for Latasha *


Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The Midnight Sky

My Octopus Teacher 

News of the World

Over the Moon

Pieces of a Woman

The Present *

The White Tiger



Promising Young Woman (16th April 2021)

The United States vs Billie Holiday


A Concerto Is a Conversation *

Feeling Through *

Collette *

Vimeo Free

Do Not Split *

Rent or Buy Only

Better Days

Judas and the Black Messiah




Vimeo Rental

The Letter Room *

Yes-People *

Curzon Home Cinema

Quo Vadis, Aida?


Another Round (25th June 2021)

The Father (11th June 2021)

Not Currently Available

Genius Loci *

Hunger Ward *

Opera *

The Man Who Sold His Skin

Two Distant Strangers *

White Eye *

Five Things I Liked About The Wandavision finale.

 TV  It's been a while since I've been this excited about seeing an episode of television, but after eight simple weeks of build up, with so many question to be answered about the show, you bet I was sat in front of my television at 8am this morning waiting for the Disney+ upload.  Any-hoo I have some thoughts, so let's fulfil the promise of the title of this blog post.  Spoilers, obviously.

(1)  No Huge Cameo

After weeks of speculation based on some veiled comments in publicity videos, neither Doctor Strange, Mr Fantastic or Magneto wandered in at the last moment to distract us from the big emotional arc of the show.  The appearance of Luke Skywalker at the close of business in The Mandalorian had already been baked into the storyline, whereas a surprise cameo in Wandavision, an even bigger boss than Agatha, perhaps Hayward being revealed to Mephisto in disguise, was not on the agenda here.  He was just some human tool.  Instead, quite rightly, the climax focused on the characters who we'd become attached to over the previous eight episodes, that it truly was Agatha All Along.  

(2)  The Triumph of Intellect and Romance Over Brute Force And Cynicism

Although both Wanda and Vision enjoyed the MCU trope of fighting a mirror enemy who shares their powers, lots of flying in the sky and throwing magic or lasers at one another they both ultimately won their respective competitions by outthinking their opponents, Wanda using the same technique Agatha employed initially to kerb her powers and Vision and White Vision having a meeting of minds which resulted in the latter rekindling his memories of being the former B-4.  The source for the title for this paragraph in case you're wondering.

(3)  Symmetry 

I've already seen criticism which suggests that the show simply becomes another action action fighty fighty thing from its humbler origins, especially from those who liked the earlier funny ones.  But the show actually has a very symmetrical structure, the opening episode filmed completely on a sound stage in front of a studio audience in academy ratio, the finale with all of the tools of big budget filmmaking in a scope setting, a production decision which itself comments on the development of the television as a whole.  

(4)  Evan Peters

Absolutely amazing.  After weeks and weeks of speculation in YouTube videos, on social media, on here, it's revealed the production team have just been fucking with us and that Evan Peters isn't playing the alt.Quicksilver from the FoX-Men but just some random bozo with a euphemistic surname who like everyone else in town has had his identity replaced.  As I've said previously, the MCU is going to want to do its own spin on mutants as and when and acknowledging the existence of the cast from the other franchise would simply draw away from an endeavour which will already be a source of comparisons.  Can you imagine the actor who's going to play Wolverine next?  Damn.

(5)  Consequences

The show acknowledges that although Wanda has somewhat come to terms with the tragedies in her own life and become stronger because of it, she herself has brought pain to others.  Even though Wanda is clearly the protagonist of his series, unlike most of the MCU's heroes, she now finds herself in the ambiguous place of having destroyed even more lives, albeit psychologically.  So although she's allowed to walk away at the end much as she did after Lagos, it's more because she's too powerful to contain at this point having absorbed Agatha's gifts too.  Much like the rest of the MCU  actions have consequences and there are no reset buttons or easy outs.