2012: The unmissable cultural treats

Next year promises to be a cultural jamboree, with world-class films, art exhibitions, gigs and theatre performances around the country. Our critics select the most exciting highlights

Friday 30 December 2011 01:00 GMT

Films by Geoffrey Macnab

Bel Ami

Twilight's Robert Pattinson plays an unscrupulous journalist on the make in 19th century Paris in an adaptation of Guy de Maupassant's novel directed by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod (from theatre company Cheek by Jowl.) Long before phone hacking and the Leveson Inquiry, the film shows that journalists were using the most devious means to get ahead.

Release date: 2 March

Under the Skin

It's the combination of Scarlett Johnasson and Arbroath, the home of the “smokie,” that makes visionary director Jonathan Glazer's long-awaited adaptation of Michel Faber's novel Under the Skin so tantalising. The Hollywood actress plays an alien who seduces hitchhikers – and they are then processed as gourmet food for the folk back home. She was filming on the east coast of Scotland in the dead of winter. The result promises to be an intriguing mix of glamour, sci-fi and social realism.

Release date: TBC

Cloud Atlas

With a budget of $140 million, this German-financed adaptation of David Mitchell's genre-hopping, time-travelling novel is a hugely ambitious and complex affair. Co-directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis, shot everywhere from Berlin to Glasgow and with a cast that includes Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant and Halle Berry, it's set either to take wing or be an embarrassing failure. Whatever the case, you can't help but admire the producers for basing a blockbuster on a literary novel.

Release date: TBC

The Dark Knight Rises

This will reportedly be Christopher Nolan's final Batman film. It is shaping up as another dark, Wagnerian epic in which Christian Bale's caped crusader fights against the forces of evil, this time represented by Tom Hardy's baleful terrorist villain, Bane. Nolan is to be congratulated for adding so much gravitas and angst to superhero franchise movies that used to be just about men in spandex suits saving the world.

Release date: 20 July

Anna Karenina

After Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, actress Keira Knightley and director Joe Wright are re-united for the umpteenth adaptation of the Tolstoy classic about the adulterous aristocrat. The hope is that this will be one Working Title movie that's not too stately or polite but that will deal frankly with the themes of lust, sexual jealousy, snobbery and social isolation.

Release date: 7 August

Skyfall (previously Bond 23)

Casino Royale was a step forward for the Bond franchise – and Quantum Of Solace arguably a small step backward. Now, with Sam Mendes at the helm, the emphasis is likely to be firmly back on characterisation. This won't be 007 done Donmar Warehouse style but the gadgetry and action set pieces are likely to sit alongside dialogue-driven sequences in which Daniel Craig's Bond won't just be wrestling with enemy agents but with his own inner demons.

Release date: 26 October

The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrmann is taking a small eternity to complete his huge budget adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel. Does Leonardo DiCaprio have the air of mystery and the quiet charisma to play Jay Gatsby? How do you recreate 1920s New England in a Sydney film studio? Why is he filming in 3D? These are all questions fans of Fitzgerald will be very eager to see answered.

Release date: TBC

Rust And Bone

“It's again a dark and tragic film with despairing characters,” French director Jacques Audiard has said of his follow-up to A Prophet. Adapted from Craig Davidson's book of short stories, the film has Marion Cotillard reportedly playing a double amputee. Opposite her is the brilliant young Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts. Cheery this won't be but Audiard is the one European film maker whose work consistently demands comparison with the best films of James Toback and Bob Rafelson in the 1970s.

Release date: TBC

Great Expectations

Mike Newell is one of the great craftsmen of British cinema, capable of helming everything from Harry Potter films to Al Pacino gangster pics. He is bound to do a meticulous job on this Charles Dickens adaptation, which features Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham, Ralph Fiennes as Magwitch and Jeremy Irvine as Pip. One key challenge will be to eclipse memories of the 1946 version directed by David Lean.

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Release date: TBC

Django Unchained

Every Quentin Tarantino movie is an event. The question already provoked by Tarantino's spaghetti-western foray into the world of plantation owners, slavery and its toxic legacy is has he finally gone too far? Will this be a Mandingo-style exploitation movie that will offend everyone or will his hip, ironic storytelling style help him steer away from controversy?

Release date: 26 December


A multi-millionaire young stockbroker heads across Manhattan in a limousine to have a haircut. It may not sound like much of a starting point for a film but David Cronenberg's screen version of Don DeLillo's novel promises to be a sleek and disturbing satire about narcissism and modernity. Robert Pattinson stars as the self-absorbed anti-hero.

Release date: TBC

Theatre by Paul Taylor

The Trial of Ubu

Playwright Simon Stephens reunites with director Katie Mitchell for a provocative new piece. It extradites the eponymous megalomaniac monarch from Alfred Jarry's notorious 1896 play, Ubu Roi, and puts him on trial at the present day International War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague. The show will start with a speeded-up 10-minute puppet version of the Jarry original.

18 January-25 February; Hampstead Theatre, London (020 7722 9301; www.hampsteadtheatre.com)

The Recruiting Officer

Having done a terrific job running the Bush, Josie Rourke inaugurates her new regime at the Donmar Warehouse with a revival of Farquhar's great 1706 comedy about ruthless, shifty conscription methods and sexual equivocation. Mackenzie Crook, Mark Gattiss and Nancy Carroll head a crack cast.

9 February-14 April; Donmar Warehouse, London (0844 871 7624; www.donmarwarehouse.com)

In Basildon

The excellent David Eldridge wrote two of the best plays of 2011 – The Knot of the Heart and The Stock Da'wa. Now he brings his acute emotional intelligence to bear on an epic family drama that sets out to investigate inheritance and the myth of place, as relatives converge round a deathbed. Dominic Cooke directs a cast that includes the incomparable Linda Bassett.

16 February-24 March; Royal Court Theatre, London (020 7565 5000; www.royalcourttheatre.com)

The Master and Margarita

This sounds like a marriage made in theatrical heaven. Simon McBurney and Compicite return to the Barbican with an English adaptation of Bulgakov's dauntingly rich, proto-magical realist novel in which the Devil makes an unscheduled visit to Stalinist Moscow as an expert in black magic. The brilliant Paul Rhys and Sinéad Matthews join an ensemble company of Complicite stalwarts.

15 March-17 April, Barbican, London (020 7638 8891; www.barbican.org.uk)

The Duchess of Malfi

Jamie Lloyd directs a revival of John Webster's Jacobean tragedy with the matchlessly spontaneous and warmly mercurial Eve Best as the eponymous heroine who marries beneath her class to the vengeful horror of her perverted, controlling brothers. Best was last seen at this theatre opposite Kevin Spacey in the triumphant A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Previewing from 17 March. 28 March-9 June, Old Vic, London (0844 871 7628; www.oldvictheatre.com)

Wild Swans

From the early days of Communist hope, through the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution, to the birth of a superpower: the epic sweep of China's recent history will be seen on stage in this first-ever theatrical adaptation of Jung Chang's best-selling book. Sacha Wares directs a Young Vic/American Repertory Theatre/ATC co-production.

13 April-13 May; Young Vic, London (020 7922 2922; www.youngvic.org)

Globe to Globe

For the London 2012 Festival, an astonishing multi-lingual celebration of all of Shakespeare's works by 37 companies from around the world. The six-week event kicks off on 21 April with a carnival exploration of the poem “Venus and Adonis”, presented in their unique blend of soaring song and dance by the Olivier Award-winning Isango Ensemble from South Africa.

21 April-9 June; Shakespeare's Globe (020 7401 9919; www.shakespearesglobe.com)

Pop albums by Andy Gill

Leonard Cohen: Old Ways

Cohen's first album in eight years offers the familiar blend of wry self-deprecation and spiritual wisdom we've come to expect from this self-proclaimed “lazy bastard in a suit”. As the title suggests, he pores over the passing and the past with insightful resignation and defiant, deadpan nobility, lamenting the waning of both youthful potency and, on a broader scale, moral standards.

30 January, Columbia

OutKast: TBA

OutKast's reunion album is definitely scheduled for “early 2012” – although both André “3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton apparently have solo albums to release first, so don't hold your breath. Big Boi's Daddy Fat Sax: Soul Funk Crusader is virtually ready to drop, featuring several tracks recorded with Swedish electro-popsters Little Dragon.

Early 2012, Epic

Spritualized: Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Recorded in Wales, Los Angeles and Reykjavik, Sweet Heart Sweet Light is, according to Jason Pierce, a more diverse, rock-oriented and upbeat album than Songs In A&E, “something that encompasses all I love in rock'n'roll music... everything from [Peter]Brötzmann and [Chuck] Berry right through to Dennis and Brian Wilson”.

19 March, Spaceman/Universal

Paul Weller: Sonik Kicks

If Weller continues his recent trend of getting better with each successive album, Sonik Kicks should be a stormer. It's described as featuring “pop art punch with soulful communication, jazzy explorations into psychedelia and dub with razor-sharp melodies, abstract soundscapes with clear-eyed forest folk”. Wow!

26 March, Island

The Ting Tings: Sounds From Nowheresville

The long-awaited follow-up to 2008's two-million-selling debut has been a struggle for The Ting Tings, who abandoned a batch of songs recorded in Berlin before more successfully relocating their muse in Southern Spain. According to Jules De Martino, the project became enjoyable when it was “being dictated by its own energy again”.

27 February, Columbia

Janelle Monáe: TBA

On a recent return to her hometown Kansas City to help turn on the city's Christmas tree lights, Janelle Monáe promised she planned to release not one but two new albums in 2012, plus a film based on The ArchAndroid album. “I will release them according to my soul clock,” she explained, “so I reserve the right to change that.” Watch this space,then!

TBC, Bad Boy/Atlantic

Gigs by Andy Gill

The Black Keys

Providing the most potent answer to the question of just how much noise two people can make in a big enough room, The Black Keys (left) ride their El Camino garage-blues rock triumphantly through the Ally Pally, preparatory to further gigs in Edinburgh, Manchester and Nottingham.

Alexandra Palace, London N22 (www.alexandrapalace.com) 9 February


LA quartet Dawes take time out from backing Robbie Robertson and Jackson Browne to bring the faded denim spirit of Crazy Horse and CSNY to the UK. Expect winsome melodies, sleek harmonies, wiry guitar breaks and sunny spirits.

Manchester Academy (www.manchester academy.net) 18 February

Little Dragon

Sweden's most intriguing new pop prospect since Abba bring their piquant electro-soul stylings to the UK for a tour, opening in Leeds.

Cockpit, Leeds (www.thecock pit.co.uk) 23 February

The Stone Roses

Comeback gigs of the year will surely be The Stone Roses' reunion shows in Manchester, which sold out in the twinkling of an eye. Here's hoping their new-found commercial nous will be matched by an improvement in performance. Perhaps decent monitors this time around?

Heaton Park, Manchester (www.thestone roses.org) 29 June to 1 July

Bruce Springsteen & the E St. Band

Tickets may cost an arm and a leg, but The Boss never gives short measure: expect around three hours of high-octane energy, with stadium shows in Sunderland and Manchester and gigs in Hyde Park and at the Isle of Wight Festival.

Stadium of Light, Sunderland (www.bruce springsteen.net) 21 June


If you can believe what you read, D'Angelo is set to break his 12-year silence with a new album (see 2012 Album Prospects) and a one-off UK gig at Brixton. Provided, of course, that he doesn't fall off one of several wagons, lose confidence, pile on the pounds again, or encounter any of a number of potential stumbling-blocks.

Brixton Academy, London SW9 (www.o2academy brixton.co.uk) 3 February

Visual arts by Laura McLean-Ferris

David Hockney

A long-awaited exhibition by Britain's best loved living painter. Famed for his 1960s paintings of London and glacial paintings of LA, this exhibition,focusing on recent work by Hockney, is to focus on the artist's landscape paintings and his relationship with his native Yorkshire.

21 January-9 April; Royal Academy, London (www.royalacademy.org.uk)

Mary Heilmann: Visions, Waves and Roads

Mary Heilmann, a wonderful American abstract painter who emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, has been little seen in the UK. Attempting to pack abstract painting 'with as much personal history or emotional content as it can hold' she manages to convey senses of dancing, driving, loving or grieving through shape and colour.

23 February-5 April; Hauser & Wirth, London (www.hauserandwirth.com)

British Design 1948 – 2012 & Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950

Two showstopper celebrations of popular British design for the Olympic year. British Design is the grand survey taking in everything from modernism to punk, while Ballgowns is sure to be a pleasurable chance the luxuriant end of the fashion design – by the likes of Alexander McQueen, Giles Deacon and Jonathan Saunders – for which the country is famed.

31 March-12 August & 19 May-6 January V&A, London (www.vam.ac.uk)

Hans-Peter Feldmann

When it comes to the art of found photographs, the German artist Hans-Peter Feldmann was there before the rest of the artists rocked up. His expansive collection of postcards, images, stamps and books, divided into pleasingly erratic categories, is often a joy to behold.

11 April-3 June; Serpentine Gallery, London (www.serpentinegallery.org)

Glasgow International

Historically one of Britain's best biennials in a city with a continually exciting arts scene that is a hothouse for Turner Prize winners, this edition of GI will include work by artists including Karla Black, Richard Wrightand Teresa Margolles.

20 April-7 May; www.glasgowinternational.org

Chisenhale Gallery, London

During the second half of the year Chisenhale will stage exhibitions of three of London's most interesting young artists – Amalia Pica, Ed Atkins and Helen Marten. Though each is very different, they have found unique ways to consider a very physical sense of our fast-changing world.

Amalia Pica, 25 May-15 July; Ed Atkins, 21 September-11 November; Helen Marten, 23 November-29 January (www.chisenhale.org.uk)

Turner, Monet, Twombly

It's hard to think of a more crowd-pleasing exhibition than this, but that's because these three painters worked with beauty on such a grand scale, each picking up where the other left off. Monet's stunning water lily paintings from Basel's Fondation Beyler and Vienna's Albertina will be seen in the UK for the first time.

22 June - 28 October; Tate Liverpool (www.tate.org.uk)

Comedy by Julian Hall

Frank Skinner and Friends

Following on from the success of The Credit Crunch Cabaret, the veteran stand up will keep up his live profile with a series of gigs where he will be joined by, among others, Al Murray, Micky Flanagan, Richard Herring, Nick Helm and Peep Show star Isy Suttie.

23 January-4 February; Noel Coward Theatre, London (0844 482 5141) (www.noelcowardtheatre.org)

Adam Riches: Bring Me The Head of Adam Riches

This tour-de-force of character and sketch comedy relies heavily on audience participation. However, everyone should feel safe in the hands of this professional whose incarnations are often surreal, silly and always entertaining even if the phrase “like starlings do” may haunt you for ever after.

13 February-17 March; Soho Theatre, London (020 7478 0100; www.sohotheatre.com)

Andrew Maxwell: The Lights Are On

This successful Edinburgh Fringe show from this popular Irish comedian will take to the road for Mawell's second only UK tour. The Lights Are On is an enjoyable romp around world events and Maxwell can be relied upon to seamlessly weave in any big stories that break during the run.

Touring 20 April-31 May, plus Altitude Festival, 26-31 March (www.getcomedy.com)

Miles Jupp: Fibber in The Heat

This gentle tale of Jupp bluffing his way in to the press corps for the 2006 England cricket tour of India gets a welcome reprise to publicise a book of the same name. Even those who are stumped by the allure of the game will be bowled over by Jupp's skilful storytelling.

Touring 2-3 May (www.milesjupp.co.uk)

Michael McIntyre's 2012 Arena Tour

The next instalment from a man revered and reviled in almost equal measure. Free from the duties of judging Britain's Got Talent, the 35-year-old will find out how much people missed his excitable brand of observational comedy after also taking a break from touring for a year.

Touring 22 August-3 December; 0844 248 5093 (www.michaelmcintyre.co.uk)

Television by Tom Sutcliffe


Damien Lewis plays a Marine Sergeant back in the US after being held by al-Qa'ida for eight years. Claire Danes plays the CIA officer who becomes convinced that he's a ticking bomb.

Channel 4 (Release date TBA)

Parade's End

Tom Stoppard adapts Ford Madox Ford's tetralogy, set between 1911 and the end of the First World War. There's also a quality cast (Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall) and director (Susanna White).

BBC2 (Release date TBA)

Eternal Law

Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah offer a new series featuring two angels who work for a York law firm. Sounds ghastly on paper, but then so did Life on Mars.

ITV (Release date TBA)


Julian Fellowes marks the centenary of the Titanic's sinking with a four-part drama. Each episode will feature the experience of a single passenger, before revealing whether they found a seat in a lifeboat.

April 2012, ITV

Shakespeare Season

The BBC is deploying the Big Bertha of national culture for its Olympiad programming with new versions of four history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two, and Henry V, with Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston playing the Kings and Rupert Goold, Richard Eyre and Thea Sharrock directing.

BBC2 (Release date TBA)

Sherlock: A Scandal in Belgravia

One for those who can't do deferred gratification. Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's witty updating of the great detective returns for a second series of three cases: “A Scandal in Belgravia”, “The Hounds of Baskerville” and “The Reichenbach Fall”. Word of mouth is so giddy that there'll probably be tears before bedtime.

1 January, BBC1

New Girl

Buy-in comedy from Fox Television, in which Zooey Deschanel flat shares with three men as she tries to get over her previous relationship. Not for anyone with an allergy to ditzy cuteness, but scoring well with those who can take their kooky neat.

6 January, Channel 4

Radio by Fiona Sturges

David Hockney: New Ways of Seeing

A rare and intimate portrait of David Hockney, imminent subject of a Royal Academy retrospective, in which the artist talks to Rachel Campbell-Johnston at his home in Bridlington about photography, plein-air painting and his fascination with new technology that has led to him to create art on an iPad.

15 January, Radio 3

Sport and the British

In anticipation of the London Olympics, this epic 30-part series will take an academic approach to the history of Britain's sporting achievements. The redoubtable Clare Balding examines issues of money, class, gender, media, national identity and imperialism from the 18th century to the present day.

30 January, Radio 4

World Book Club: A Celebration of Charles Dickens

Dickens's bicentennial celebrations continue in this special live broadcast of the literary series during which listeners across the globe will put questions to the actor Simon Callow and a panel of experts about the Victorian writer and his legacy. Acclaimed international novelists will also comment on how Dickens has affected their work.

1 February, BBC World Service

The Art of the Monarchy

Listeners won't be able to see the portrait of a young Queen Victoria modelling an off-the-shoulder number that, at the time, was deemed too racy for public consumption. But they will be able to hear about this and countless other depictions of British sovereigns spanning 900 years, courtesy of Will Gompertz.

February, date tbc, Radio 4

Michael Grade: My Life on the Box

Where better to reveal the secrets of television than on radio? And who better to dish the dirt than Michael Grade? This eight-part documentary series professes to “lift the lid” on the workings of Britain's television industry, covering such seismic events as the launch of Channel 4 and the axing of Doctor Who.

February, date tbc. Radio 2

Radio 1 Hackney Weekend

Broadcast live on Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra, this two-day music event at London's Hackney Marshes celebrates the opening weekend of the London 2012 Festival and will feature performances from Plan B, Tinie Tempah, Florence & The Machine and Hackney-born Leona Lewis in front of 100,000 fans.

23-24 June, Radio 1

Classical & opera by Edward Seckerson

Serge Prokofiev: Man of the People?/ London Philharmonic Orchestra

Vladimir Jurowski curates this intriguing profile of the most seemingly contradictory of all Russian masters. Was he a satirist or classicist, melodist or modernist, exile or patriot? Don't expect clear answers, but rather revel in the intrigue.

Southbank Centre, London SE1 (0844 875 0073; www.southbankcentre.co.uk) 13 January to 1 February

Shostakovich Symphony No 7 “Leningrad”/ Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/ Petrenko

Vasily Petrenko has turned around musical life in Liverpool and his complete cycle of Shostakovich symphonies has been raking in the awards. The “Leningrad” Symphony thrillingly emerged from the siege of Leningrad like the most explicit photojournalism, but its message pointed to a deeper oppression in the composer's homeland.

Liverpool Philharmonic Hall (0151 709 3789; www.liverpoolphil.com) 19 & 22 January

The Death of Klinghoffer

John Adams's inspiring “docu-opera” about the hijacking of the Achille Lauro achieves an even-handedness that this most emotive of subjects rarely enjoys. Staggering that this is the work's first London staging – and it comes courtesy of Adams's operatic home, ENO, with Tom Morris, co-director of the National Theatre's War Horse, at the helm.

Coliseum, London WC2 (0871 911 0200; www.eno.org) 25 February to 9 March


Dvorak's late operatic masterpiece has shamefully never before been staged at the Royal Opera House, but all eyes and ears will be on the house debut of the gifted young French-Canadian conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Royal Opera House, London WC2 (020 7283 4040; www.roh.org.uk) 27 February to 14 March

Daniel Barenboim's Bruckner Project

Daniel Barenboim's latest three-concert residency at the Southbank juxtaposes Mozart and Bruckner with the Staatskapelle Berlin, who bring their operatic credentials to bear on the last three of Bruckner's epic nine symphonies.

Southbank Centre, London SE1 (0844 875 0073; www.southbank centre.co.uk) 16, 17 & 20 April

Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

Residencies are now at the heart of London musical life – the public warm to the continuity. The great Dutch orchestra follows the New York Philharmonic into the Barbican Centre with three of its most beloved conductors at the helm. Harnoncourt scaling Beethoven's mighty Missa Solemnis shall be my tip-off.

Barbican, London EC2 (020 7638 8891; www.barbican.org.uk) 22 April, 12 & 20 May

Les Troyens

A veritable powerhouse of talents converge for this new staging of Berlioz's two-part epic of public and private passions. David McVicar directs, Antonio Pappano conducts, and three charismatic stars will guarantee high-octane performance: Jonas Kaufmann, Eva-Maria “Anna Nicole” Westbroek, and the riveting Anna Caterina Antonacci.

Royal Opera House, London WC2 (020 7283 4040; www.roh.org.uk) 25 June to 11 July

Carousel & West Side Story

Two of the very greatest in the pantheon of great musicals get very different, but equally unmissable revivals. Opera North gives Carousel – in my view the finest lyric score ever written for the Broadway stage – the full 40-plus band treatment, while the RSC take on Bernstein's epoch-maker with a raw, youthful company, all-new choreography from Will Tuckett and the Northern Sinfonia. John Wilson conducts.

Carousel, touring Leeds, Salford & London (www.carouseltheshow.com) 2 May to 15 Sept; West Side Story, Sage, Gateshead (www.the sagegateshead.org; 0191 443 4661) 4 to 7 July

Der Ring des Nibelungen

Four cycles of Wagner's monumental tetralogy – the greatest single achievement in the history of music theatre. Keith Warner's arresting and thought-provoking staging is rich in powerful, often puzzling symbolism, but richly repays all but those who prefer to check their brains at the cloakroom. Amazing casts, with Susan Bullock at last bringing her international Brünnhilde to the capital and Bryn Terfel's now seasoned Wotan.

Royal Opera House, London WC2 (020 7283 4040; www.roh.org.uk) 24 September to 2 November

Dance by Zoë Anderson

Beyond Ballets Russes

English National Ballet respond to the century's most innovative ballet company in a season including the world premieres of George Williamson's Firebird and a new work by Toer van Schayk, plus Kenneth MacMillan's The Rite of Spring and Balanchine's Apollo.

22 March-1 April; London Coliseum (0871 911 0200, www.eno.org)

New work at the Royal Ballet

Wayne McGregor's new work for the company will have music by Mark Ronson and designs by fashion designer Gareth Pugh. It shares a programme with a new work by young choreographer Liam Scarlett, following his award-winning Asphodel Meadows.

5-23 April; Royal Opera House, London (020 7340 4000, www.roh.org.uk)

A Streetcar Named Desire

Scottish Ballet's new ballet, based on Tennessee Williams' play, is a collaboration between theatre and film director Nancy Meckler and choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The jazz-inspired new score is by award-winning composer Peter Salem.

Tour starts 11 April at Theatre Royal, Glasgow (0844 871 7647) and runs to 12 May (www.scottishballet.co.uk)

World Cities 2012 – Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch

The dance centrepiece of the cultural Olympiad is an extraordinary bonanza of works by Pina Bausch, one of the world's most influential choreographers. The month-long season of international co-productions celebrates 10 different cities.

6 June-9 July; Sadler's Wells, London (0844 412 4300, www.sadlerswells.com) and Barbican Theatre, London (020 7638 8891, www.barbican.org.uk)

Dance GB

English National Ballet, Scottish Ballet and National Dance Company Wales perform together for the first time. Martin Lawrance's new work for Scottish Ballet will have designs by Turner Prize winner Martin Boyce, while English National Ballet and NDC Wales will dance new works by Itzik Galili and Christopher Bruce.

19-23 June, Theatre Royal, Glasgow (www.atgtickets.com/glasgow); 28-30 June, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff (www.wmc.org.uk); 4-8 July, Old Royal Naval College, London (www.ballet.org.uk)

Books by Boyd Tonkin

Capital, by John Lanchester

Various authors have tilted at the post-financial meltdown novel, but Lanchester looks a safe bet as the most creditworthy so far. A London panorama, Capital braids the lives of rich and poor, the dealers and the toilers, as the global crisis converges on a single street.

March, Faber & Faber

Bring Up the Bodies, by Hilary Mantel

As a popular phenomenon, Mantel's follow-up to Wolf Hall may eclipse many Olympic disciplines. It's 1535, and her volcanic royal husband will soon blow the whistle on Anne Boleyn's dangerous games.

May, Fourth Estate

Mrs Robinson's Disgrace, by Kate Summerscale

An Edinburgh party in 1850, an adulterous affair, a legal battle that gripped Victorian high society... after Mr Whicher and his suspicions, Summerscale has chosen another keynote scandal as the basis for a mesmerising historical narrative.

May, Bloomsbury

Canada, by Richard Ford

Readers who think Jonathan Franzen the great American novelist of the moment may change their tune when a real king returns. Canada promises a story, and a vision, as sweeping as its landscapes, as crime, family and questions of belonging converge in a saga that crosses both borders and decades.

June, Bloomsbury

The Dream of the Celt, by Mario Vargas Llosa

Roger Casement, the knighted human-rights activist hanged as an Irish revolutionary, has never lacked literary attention. But no one has brought him and his Edwardian global world to life with such vigour as Vargas Llosa, Peru's Nobel laureate.

June, Faber & Faber

Lionel Asbo, by Martin Amis

Trust Amis to rain on the Olympic parade. Timed to skewer any mood of celebration, his scabrous satire on low-life England will feature, potentially, his most noxious anti-hero yet in the shape of a newly-enriched “Lotto lout”.

July, Jonathan Cape

Who He? By Pete Townshend

Since Keith Richards raised the bar for the rock giant's memoir, Townshend's long-delayed testimony has been awaited more keenly than ever. If it lives up to the Who guru's potential, look out for lively social history and searing self-scrutiny from the frontman for a generation who did get old – but didn't die.

October, HarperCollins

Untitled Memoir, by Salman Rushdie

Assuming that it surfaces according to schedule, Rushdie's own account of the Iranian fatwa and its aftermath will prove the hottest autobiographical property of the year. Knowing the author, the form of his recollections will defy convention as much as the heretical views that he voices.

Autumn, Jonathan Cape

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