Culture: High culture, low culture and dirty nappies

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The Independent Online

For me, the high point of 2007 was the moment my wife gave birth. This meant that I was temporarily forbidden to leave the house and, consequently, I'm not particularly well qualified to judge the best cultural moments of the year. For instance, I only had time to see one exhibition Hogarth at Tate Britain and while I got a huge kick out of it I can't tell you whether it was better or worse than, say, the Turner exhibition at the National Gallery.

I fared slightly better when it came to the theatre, managing to squeeze in The Seagull, Boeing Boeing, The Pain and the Itch, Equus, Glengarry Glen Ross, Absurd Person Singular and Shadowlands. Chiwetel Ejiofor in The Seagull was probably the high point, but I also enjoyed Aidan Gillen's performance as a cutthroat real-estate salesman in Glengarry Glen Ross and Charles Dance's surprisingly warm portrayal of CS Lewis in Shadowlands.

I can speak with a little more authority with respect to movies because, as a member of Bafta, I'm sent most of the year's releases on DVD. So far, the films I've liked the best are American Gangster, Death at a Funeral, Eastern Promises, Hot Fuzz, In the Shadow of the Moon, Knocked Up, The Lives of Others, Michael Clayton, Tell No One, 300 and Zodiac.

Of this fairly extensive list, my out-and-out favourite film is Knocked Up, though I don't suppose it will win any major awards because comedies rarely do. I had vague hopes for it in the category of Best Original Screenplay, but, generally speaking, only one comedy is ever nominated in that category and at the 2008 Oscars that will almost certainly be the teen pregnancy comedy Juno, which I haven't seen yet.

Television is another matter. Being more or less confined to the house, up to my neck in nappies, the little box in the corner of the room is my only escape. Best sitcom of the year by a country mile has been the fourth series of Peep Show (left) which, incredibly, managed to be as good as the first three. I'm a sucker for literary adaptations and, on that score, I thought Cranford eclipsed A Room With a View but only just.

Of this year's crop of new American imports, my favourite was 30 Rock, with Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip coming in second. On the reality front, it's a toss up between The Apprentice and I'm a Celebrity... You'd expect both formats to be exhausted by now, but, judging from this year's offerings, they'll both be with us for some years to come.

The best book I've read this year is Edward St Aubyn's Mother's Milk. Although first published in 2006, its precise distillation of middle-aged angst spoke to me like nothing else this year.

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