It's rude to gawk, but there's something worthwhile in these stop-and-stare documentaries
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Friday 15 August 2008
Long ago, in the magical land called the Good Old Days, the entire nation was in permanent paroxysms of indignation due to the scandal of "repeats". How people seethed at the clogging up of the schedules with stuff that had been on already. What was a person supposed to do? Read a book? Listen to some music? Have an early night? Unthinkable!
Wednesday 02 July 2008
There's a disturbing note on the Classic Serial page on the Radio 4 website, explaining that the slot is devoted to "Works which have achieved classic status – or are on their way to achieving it." Hang on – "on their way" to being classics? That could apply to anything; it's like crossing your fingers so it doesn't count. They may as well call it the Classic Serial (Not!).
Sunday 11 May 2008
A 243-year-old wizard, played as a lisping simpleton by Dustin Hoffman, is planning to hand over his magical toyshop to his assistant, Natalie Portman. And that's the whole story. There's forced whimsy by the candy-striped basketload, some shoplifting from Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl's own wonder emporia, and innumerable lectures about believing in yourself. But if you take away all the quirkiness and preachiness there's almost no plot left on the shelves. 'Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium' is the setting for a film. Now someone just has to come up with the film. Nicholas Barber
Friday 11 April 2008
It's rare to read a collection of short stories from beginning to end, but Sophie Hannah's debut in the form will leave you feeling genuinely tickled and wanting more. Better known as a poet and crime novelist, Hannah introduces some very contemporary twists into these old-fashioned tales of the unexpected. The award-winning opening entry, "The Octopus Net", sets the book's confident narrative tone. A domestic chiller about a young family's brush with an unidentified stalker, the story is menacing enough to keep the pages turning, and astute enough about rocky relationships to make even the narrator wince. Yet more terrifying are Hannah's stories of shame and humiliation. The more comic the scenario, the scarier the consequences. In "The Tub", a jilted young woman resolves to enjoy a one-night stand with a man she finds repulsive; in the title story a former deputy director of a literature festival so embarrasses herself in front of Ian McEwan, she's forced to move to Loughborough and take a job in a hotel laundry. Stories of ill-judged memos, lavatorial mishaps and petty crimes follow, related with a relish rarely matched since the outré offerings of Roald Dahl.
Sunday 06 April 2008
It sold 1.5 million copies and has been widely credited with introducing a generation of young couch potatoes to the joys of conkers, outdoor games and tree houses, complete with bumped heads and scraped knees. Now The Dangerous Book for Boys is to make its debut on large and small screens.
Thursday 07 February 2008
An evening with H K Gruber is unlike most concerts. Gruber, whose musical career began in the Vienna Boys Choir, has moved a long way since then, but he remains steeped in a Germanic heritage encompassing Weimar Republic cabaret, nasty tales and songs to scare children, and the fierce energy of the great classical conductors. He composes, conducts, sings and plays a variety of odd and customised instruments, including an artfully prepared plastic penny whistle and toy saxophone.
Sunday 16 December 2007
Sunday 23 October 2005
Friday 29 July 2005
Charlie and the dream factory
Thursday 10 February 2005
Sunday 13 June 2004
Monday 05 April 2004
Saturday 18 October 2003
Wednesday 05 April 2000
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
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