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The 12 most-read 2011 articles in Arts & Entertainment

From PR slip-ups and movie mega-flops, to radical art movements and the best joke of the Edinburgh festival, John Hall runs through the most popular arts articles of 2011.

Every day, The Independent's Arts & Entertainment channel is packed full of news, features and reviews in its film, music, classical, visual arts, architecture, television  & radio, theatre & dance, comedy and books sections.

As you'd expect from such a wide-range of coverage, the 12 most read articles in 2011 are a particularly diverse bunch, featuring four articles on film, one on television, two on stand-up comedy, two from the world of visual arts, two on books and one on celebrity in general. The list also suggests The Independent's arts readers have a greater interest in lengthy features articles than straight news, interviews or pop reviews. While this list contains the 12 'most read' articles of 2011, The Independent's Deputy Arts Editor Alice Jones has also provided what she feels is the most important story of the year. Leave your thoughts on the list in the comments section below.

The 12 most read are those Art & Entertainment articles published in 2011 that have been visited by the greatest number of separate users to date.

The list (click the headlines to read articles in full)

1. Harry Potter's secret is out after PR slip gives the game away

By Rob Sharp

This was the story of how a Scottish PR company accidentally leaked 'highly secretive' memos on the future of Harry Potter. After weeks of secrecy and speculation about 'Pottermore' - the online follow-up to the Harry Potter books - StonehillSalt inadvertently sent emails to almost a dozen national newspaper journalists containing details of the project, its PR strategy and, fairly ironically, what to do should details leak out ahead of time.

2. Inbetweeners boys bullied on set

By Bang Showbiz

Our Bang Showbiz entertainment news feed may not be popular with all readers, but that didn't stop this jokey, 'behind-the-scenes' story from The Inbetweeners film set becoming the second most read arts story of 2011. The story tells the tale of how, while taking a break from filming, the film's stars had their football stolen by a group of 'hard looking lads'.

3. Cult British teen drama shocks the Americans

By Alice-Azania Jarvis

Skins' UK success is undeniable but the premiere of the cult teen drama's American remake was denounced by US commentators as sleazy, depraved and, somewhat histrionically, "the most dangerous show for children…ever seen." Alice-Azania Jarvis' article delved into the furore, as well as looking at the Skins phenomenon in general, and went on to become the third most arts article this year. Unfortunately for Skins the controversy failed to fan the flames of popularity and MTV didn't renew the show for a second series.

4. The 50 books every child should read

By various authors

Following Michael Gove's comments that he wants 11-year-olds to read the equivalent of a book a week, we asked three leading authors (Phillip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo and Michael Rosen) and two of The Independent's in-house book buffs (John Walsh and Katy Guest) to each compile a list of ten books suitable for Year 7 students to read.

5. McIntyre hurt by 'nasty' remarks of fellow comics on awards night

By Anthony Barnes

This is the revealing story of how Michael McIntyre was left feeling 'awful' after becoming the butt of fellow comedians' jokes at the British Comedy Awards. Our report of how McIntyre told Radio 4's Desert Island Discs show how he was 'shocked' by the hostile reaction he provoked from people he considered his peers, came in at number five.

6. The 'best' joke at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival, according to 3,000 fans

By Adam Sherwin

Our comedy and theatre pages were bulging in August as the annual Edinburgh Festival entertained thousands of readers online. By far the most popular article from the Fringe was Adam Sherwin's news piece detailing the result of a 3,000 fan poll by the television channel Dave to find the 2011 festival's best joke. The winner was Nick Hare's gag: "I needed a password eight characters long so I picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.' The article also detailed the runners-up and why it was veteran magician Paul Daniels who picked up this year's wooden spoon.

7. Library emptied in bid to fight closure

By Ellen Branagh, Press Association

The budget cuts have had a dramatic effect on the UK's creative communities, with libraries among the hardest hit areas of the arts world. Our seventh most read arts story details how, in a bid to fend off closure, users of one library near Milton Keynes withdrew their maximum allocation of books, completely emptying the library of stock. The Facebook-organised protest saw over 16,000 books removed from the library at a rate of 378 an hour.

8. No more heroes: Why no one else can make films like Steven Spielberg

By Tim Walker

Will we ever see the likes of Steven Spielberg again? That's the question asked by Tim Walker in this feature article from mid-September. As Spielberg's heirs set about making summer movies of their own, Tim looked back at what exactly made a 'golden era' Spielberg film such a captivating experience.

9. The $175m flop so bad it could end the 3D boom

By Geoffrey Mcnab

Disney was desperate for 'Mars Needs Mums' to be a box office hit to help justify the cost of 3D cinema tickets, not to mention earn back some of the $175 million it cost to make. Unfortunately for them the film was a flop, making less than $7 million on its opening weekend and, as Geoffrey Macnab points out, raising serious questions about the long-term sustainability of 3D filmmaking.

10. Haunted by that photo: One for the album?

By Tim Walker

Another entry from Tim Walker - the only journalist to appear in 2011's most read arts list twice.  This one is all about those unfortunate celebrity photographs that help to undo years, sometimes decades, of careful image control. The article came about after former Blur bassist Alex James was caught looking on with a glint of admiration as Jeremy Clarkson and David Cameron chatted to one another during September's Harvest festival.

11. The artists who crossed the line

By Shaun Walker

A fascinating feature from Russia Correspondent Shaun Walker looking at the county's radical art collective Voina. After enraging Russian authorities by staging orgies, throwing cat's as cashiers and overturning police cars in the name of art, the group saw members arrested and facing sentences of up to 20 years in prison for 'organising a criminal group'.

12. The gloves are off: Graffiti legend King Robbo has resurfaced to settle a score with Banksy

By Matilda Battersby

The remarkable story of one of the modern art world's fiercest rivalries. The Independent's Online Video Editor Matilda Battersby spoke with graffiti legend King Robbo, in his first ever interview with a newspaper, to discuss how his feud with Banksy turned from tongue-in-cheek banter to something altogether more serious.


While the list above reveals the most read arts articles of 2011, we asked The Independent's Deputy Arts Editor Alice Jones to pick what she felt was the most important arts story of the year.

Chinese police detain dissident artist Ai Weiwei at airport

The most important arts event of the year wasn't an exhibition opening, or a movie premiere, or a stadium gig, it was the vanishing of one man. In April, the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was arrested at Beijing airport on trumped-up charges of "economic crimes", and disappeared.

He remained imprisoned in secret for 81 days, during which time he was interrogated some 50 times. The treatment of the internationally acclaimed artist, best known for filling the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall with eight million porcelain sunflower seeds, provoked extraordinary scenes of outrage at arts institutions across the globe, and angry outpourings on the internet. The fight to free Ai Weiwei united and mobilised the art world like no other story in a year filled with protests and political upheavals.

Long a thorn in the side of the Chinese government, Ai has now become a potent symbol, both of China's creative potential and its human rights abuses. The authorities may have tried to silence him - and indeed, they continue to persecute him with extortionate tax bills and pornography accusations - but the story is now bigger than one man. Whatever happens in 2012, his art and legions of supporters will ensure that his voice is heard.


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