Ones to watch in 2011: A new year of cultural highs

From a Da Vinci blockbuster to Frankenstein on stage, and from Scorsese in 3D to The Streets on tour, we select the best of the arts in 2011

Friday 31 December 2010 01:00

Films by Geoffrey Macnab

True Grit

The Coen brothers tackle the Charles Portis novel that yielded John Wayne one of his most famous roles. Jeff Bridges is not as large of girth as Wayne, and his dialogue delivery verges on the inaudible but his Rooster Cogburn is still wonderful: part Falstaff, part the Dude and part one-eyed gunslinger.

Released 11 February

Dardenne brothers – untitled

Belgian maestros the Dardenne brothers have won the Palme D'Or in Cannes twice but, in Britain at least, remain seriously under-appreciated. Their latest promises to be a real heartbreaker. It's about an 11-year-old boy who has been placed in a home by his neglectful father, who has promised to come back for him. The father never calls. In the end, Cyril runs away to the apartment where they once lived. Like Ken Loach, the brothers rarely use well-known actors. However, Cecile De France, the fast-rising Belgian actress, headlines the cast here.

No release date but likely to be unveiled in Cannes in May


Lars von Trier is touting his latest film as a disaster pic. It's about two sisters (Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg) with very different personalities who react in opposing ways to the prospect of Armageddon. "No more happy endings," Von Trier has proclaimed... not that many of his previous films have had happy endings.

Released 1 July

We Need to Talk about Kevin

A decade ago, the Scottish director Lynne Ramsay was seen as the great new hope of British cinema. She hasn't directed a feature since Morvern Callar in 2002 but hopes are very high for her comeback film, an adaptation of Lionel Shriver's novel. Tilda Swinton plays Eva, the mother trying to work out just what pushed her son Kevin into an act of horrendous violence.

Released 2 September

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Fans of John le Carré's book, and of the brilliant TV drama starring Alec Guinness as the spy George Smiley, will be very intrigued to see how Tomas Alfredson's new movie version measures up. Alfredson won huge plaudits for his direction of the Swedish vampire pic Let the Right One In. Now, the Swedish director is dealing with quintessentially British subject matter. If he puts a foot wrong, the legions of Smiley fans are bound to howl.

Released 16 September

Hugo Cabret

Martin Scorsese's first foray into 3D film-making is about an orphan boy living a secret life in the walls of a Paris train station. It is also an invocation of the life of the silent cinema pioneer and magician Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley). The boy becomes friends with Méliès, who in his old age is living in poverty. A project with such a strong fantasy element as this seems a radical departure for the director; on the other hand, Cabret should give Scorsese an opportunity to make a film in the same escapist and extravagant mode as the works of Powell and Pressburger he so admires.

Released December

This Must Be the Place

The Italian director Paolo Sorrentino has recruited Sean Penn to star in this drama following a wealthy rock star on a quest to track down the Nazi war criminal who tormented his father during the Second World War. European movies with Hollywood stars have proved a mixed bag – but Bertolucci elicited a superb performance from Marlon Brando in Last Tango in Paris.

Release TBC

A Dangerous Method

David Cronenberg may be best known for body horror, but the Canadian is delving into the world of psychoanalysis with this film about Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, adapted from Christopher Hampton's play The Talking Cure. Viggo Mortensen plays Freud while Michael Fassbender is Jung. Keira Knightley is the patient and later psychoanalyst whose intimacy with Jung provokes tension between him and Freud.

Release TBC

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Hergé's tufty-headed Belgian reporter is played by Jamie Bell in Steven Spielberg's film version of some of his adventures. It's a film with a very strong British involvement. Alongside Bell, Andy Serkis is cast as Captain Haddock, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the Thompson twins, there's a role for Daniel Craig, and the writers number two British talents (Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish) and one Scottish (Steven Moffat) heavyweight.

Access unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video Sign up now for a 30-day free trial

Sign up

Release TBC

The Moth Diaries

Mary Harron (American Psycho) has written and directed this adaptation of Rachel Klein's vampire novel. The film, starring English model-turned-actress Lily Cole and Sarah Bolger, promises to be a cross between a supernatural gothic chiller and a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl faced with her emerging sexuality. As Twilight has shown, teen vampire films have huge allure at the box-office. If it works, The Moth Diaries could start a cult all of its own.

Release TBC

Visual arts by Laura Mclean-Ferris

Keren Cytter

The films of the young Israeli-born artist create a kind of lo-fi poetry with their mixture of existential dialogue, bad acting and theatrical symbolism. Occasionally, she manages to create an emotional atmosphere with her films that is moving and hard to describe.

David Roberts Art Foundation, London ( 14 January to 12 March; Pilar Corrias Gallery, London ( 14 January to 10 February

Modern British Sculpture

It's definitely time for a rethink about British sculpture over the last century, and the Royal Academy has taken it on. Empire, landscape, history and the influences of other countries will be explored in a major exhibition linking Barbara Hepworth, Richard Long and Damien Hirst.

Royal Academy, London ( 22 January to 7 April

Jack Goldstein/Anne Collier

Two unrelated but complementary exhibitions from the excellent Nottingham Contemporary, featuring two masters of appropriated imagery. The late New York artist Jack Goldstein is extremely influential among artists for his performances and videos, and Anne Collier's photographs have a seductive psychological quality.

Nottingham Contemporary ( 22 January to 27 March

John Stezaker

John Stezaker is one of Britain's most important artists. In collaged images of classic movie stars, sometimes with cliffs or waterfalls for faces, he investigates the seductive power that images have over us, and makes this power appear by turns threatening, magical and melancholy.

Whitechapel Gallery, London ( 29 January to 18 March

Susan Hiller

Susan Hiller is interested in our ability to represent or imagine strange phenomena: the occult, the paranormal and the ghostly. Psi Girls, her otherworldly video installation featuring examples of young women with telekinetic powers from cinema, is included in this retrospective.

Tate Britain, London ( 1 February to 15 May

Laurie Anderson, Trisha Brown, Gordon Matta-Clark: Pioneers of the Downtown Scene, New York, 1970s

Gordon Matta-Clark cut a building in half, Trisha Brown choreographed a piece performed on rooftops and Laurie Anderson played the violin wearing ice skates frozen in a block of ice. A poverty-stricken New York City was the fabric from which these three artists made their work.

Barbican, London ( 3 March to 22 May

Revealed: Turner Contemporary Opens

A major new gallery for sunny Margate, designed by David Chipperfield, opens in 2011. The opening group exhibition is based around a little-known painting by J M W Turner, depicting a dramatic volcanic eruption that he never witnessed, so as to investigate the ability of the imagination to envision the unknowable and the fantastic.

Turner Contemporary, Margate ( 16 April to 4 September

Gerhard Richter: Panorama

The first major retrospective in London of the German artist Gerhard Richter, who resuscitated painting with photorealism, blurs, squeegees and unparalleled history paintings. Expect this to be a truly substantial exhibition.

Tate Modern, London ( 6 October to 8 January 2012

Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan

Although this will surely spell enormous queues, it will be for good reason: it promises to be the most complete display of Da Vinci's paintings ever held, and includes the recently restored The Virgin of the Rocks. Full of subtle wonders, this will be a blockbuster if ever there was one.

National Gallery, London ( 9 November to 5 February 2012

Dulwich Picture Gallery's 200th Anniversary Year

A fantastic year of celebrations for England's first public gallery. Dulwich will borrow paintings from the Prado, the Ufizi, the Met and more to exhibit one masterpiece every month: from Vermeer to Velázquez. An exhibition pairing Cy Twombly and Nicolas Poussin promises to be revelatory.

Dulwich Picture Gallery, London (

Television by Tom Sutcliffe

Famous and Fearless

Eight celebrities compete in a live two-hour show in a variety of "urban action sports", including BMX and monster truck-racing, target abseiling and street luge. Chris Evans and Clare Balding present. Expect a lot of shouting and the odd hospitalisation.

2 January, Channel 4

The Sinking of the Laconia

The overdue return of one of Britain's best television writers, Alan Bleasdale, with a two-part drama about the sinking of a British troop ship – and the decision of the U-boat commander who sank it to ignore his standing orders and rescue the crew.

6 & 7 January, BBC2


Navel-gazing comedy series starring Matt LeBlanc as himself, about a British sitcom-writing team (Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig) and the humiliations they endure when the show is remade for American television. Written by David Crane (Friends) and co-produced with Showtime in America, it sounds like a recipe for disaster but is actually very funny.

Starts 10 January, BBC2

10 O'Clock Live

David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne team up to produce a live, topical "comedy and current affairs" show. Think Newsnight with a steady laugh-track. Adrian Chiles is doing something similar for ITV in That Sunday Night Show but this is probably the one to watch.

Starts 20 January, Channel 4

The Promise

Four-part Peter Kosminsky drama in which an 18-year old Londoner visits Israel with a friend, and investigates her grandfather's experience as part of the British peace-keeping force in Palestine just after the war. Kosminsky's reputation as a director who heads to the hottest part of the battlefield is likely to be further consolidated.

February, Channel 4


Five-part ITV ghost story, based around three different families who successively occupy the same house – in the Sixties, the Eighties and the present day – all of them touched by the mysterious death of the daughter of the first family.

February, ITV1

The Village

Twelve families compete to win a house in a rural village; the community itself votes on who gets to stay. The rural escape seems to be a theme: BBC2 is offering A Farmer's Life for Me, in which nine couples compete to win a smallholding rent free for a year.

February, Channel 4

Long Lost Family

If you've lost touch with your family because you wanted to, look out. Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell present a series which sets out to reunite divided families. "Heart-warming, emotional and life-affirming," says McCall – surely warning enough. But it's created by Wall to Wall, who made Who Do You Think You Are?, so it might work.


Faulks on Fiction

A four-part series about the history of the British novel, presented by Sebastian Faulks and avoiding the timeline approach by considering the genre through four of its archetypal characters: the Hero, the Lover, the Snob and the Villain.


How TV Ruined Your Life

A six-part series from Charlie Brooker, exploring the fairground mirror British television holds up to reality, and how misguided it can be to treat the images you see on screen as a decent likeness.


Wonderland: Suburbia in Therapy

The film-maker Zac Beattie and the animator Jonathan Hodgson collaborate to take us inside the process of relationship counselling, fitting documentary sound to animated images. "Creature Discomforts", you could say.


Classic & opera by Edward Seckerson

Infernal Dance – Inside the World of Bela Bartok: Philharmonia Orchestra/Salonen

Bartok's music was the great driving force in 20th-century music. It sprang from the land, through the songs and dance rhythms of grass-roots Hungary, and powered its way into the urban landscape of the composer's exile in the US. The Miraculous Mandarin ballet opens this year-long retrospective.

Royal Festival Hall, London ( 27 & 28 January

Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra/Gustavo Dudamel

A chance to hear at first hand the work that is so stirring up La-La-Land. Dudamel's first London concerts with the LA Philharmonic would seem to have been programmed to draw comparisons with the young Leonard Bernstein: Bernstein, Beethoven and Mahler will separate the musician from the publicity.

Barbican, London (www.barbican. 27 & 28 January

Elgar – The Dream of Gerontius: London Philharmonic Orchestra/Gardner

English National Opera's brilliant young music director stands before the high altar of one of the great works of the English choral repertoire. Gerontius' life/death struggle is both intimate and communal in the best sense.

Royal Festival Hall, London ( 26 March

Wagner – Die Meistersinger: Glyndebourne Festival Opera

Only the second Wagner opera ever to be presented at Glyndebourne launches the 2011 season in style. David McVicar directs and Vladimir Jurowski conducts the heart-warming tale of romance and songsmiths in old Nuremberg.

Glyndebourne, Lewes ( 21 May to 28 Augustin rep

Verdi – Simon Boccanegra: English National Opera

The award-winning young Russian director/designer Dmitri Tcherniakov, whose sensational Bolshoi staging of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin was one of the best things to hit London in 2010, makes his ENO debut in Verdi's mature masterpiece. Edward Gardner conducts this tale of public feuding and private grieving, set against a turbulent backdrop of civil war.

London Coliseum ( 8 June to 9 July in rep

Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez & the Berlin Staatskapelle/ Daniel Barenboim in Recital

A summit meeting of two old musical sages at the Royal Festival Hall on the unlikely terrain of two oft-maligned romantic blockbusters: the Liszt Piano Concertos. And yet the wisdom of pairing Wagner with his most influential contemporary will doubtless yield a deeper satisfaction. The year's hottest ticket at Wigmore Hall comes two days later, as Barenboim takes on Liszt again, this time solo (and as yet unannounced) and as up close and personal as the concertos are swaggeringly public.

Royal Festival Hall, London ( 13 June; Wigmore Hall, London ( 15 June

Nico Muhly – Two Boys: English National Opera

Nico Muhly and Craig Lucas' unsettling, topical new opera feels like a far more intriguing prospect than the much-publicised world premiere at the Royal Opera, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Richard Thomas's Anna Nicole. Teenage suicide by internet could hardly be more relevant right now, and composer Muhly is a sharp young communicator across a wide audience.

London Coliseum ( 24 June to 8 July in rep

Pop gigs by Andy Gill

The Streets

With his forthcoming Computers and Blues album announced as Mike Skinner's last, The Streets' UK tour in February and March should be a celebratory affair with nary a dry eye in the house, mate, as he bids farewell and embarks on alternative career paths in the worlds of film and books.

18 February to 12 March

Janelle Monae

The most intriguing R&B prospect of early 2011 is surely the tour by Janelle Monae, the singer/ musician/dancer who previously worked with OutKast. Not the least fascinating aspect of the show will be how Monae manages to present the extraordinary range of styles on The ArchAndroid – from folk and glam to jazz and classical – within a single performance.

24 February to 1 March


Once barren of commercial success, the Bury-hailing rock band finally reach their goal with an arena tour. The layered melodies of their Mercury-winning The Seldom Seen Kid will sit alongside new songs set for release album scheduled for next year.

15 to 29 March


Those who answer the "Oasis or Blur?" Britpop war question with "Pulp" will revel in the news that the band are reuniting to headline Wireless festival at Hyde Park. Unlike many so-called reunions, this is the first Pulp show in 15 years – despite Jarvis Cocker's protestation that "Hell would have to freeze over first" – to involve all original members.

3 July

All Tomorrow's Parties: I'll Be Your Mirror

A potentially explosive reunion takes place at an ATP two-dayer at Alexandra Palace, where Portishead head a line-up including the reunited Company Flow, the Brooklyn hip-hop trio of producer/rapper El-P and MCs Mr Len and Bigg Jus, famed for the intelligent ferocity of their rhymes and the abrasive density of El-P's backing tracks.

23 & 24 July

Pop albums by Andy Gill

The Phoenix Foundation: Buffalo

There's a soothing, amniotic warmth about the music of New Zealand's psychedelic popsters The Phoenix Foundation, their enigmatic lyrics delivered by the frontman, Samuel Flynn Scott, with a laconic, offhand charm that recalls Damon Albarn. Cheerily downbeat dream-pop for dark times in need of a little light.

10 January (Memphis Industries)

The Decemberists: The King Is Dead

The Decemberists have been patiently expanding their following with each album, 2009's song-cycle The Hazards of Love finally cracking the US Top 20. A more stripped-down affair reflecting the influence of Neil Young, R.E.M. and Bruce Springsteen, The King Is Dead should hoist them to Arcade Fire mega-cult status.

17 January (Beggars Banquet)

White Noise Sound: White Noise Sound

The Swansea sextet White Noise Sound deal in a blissed-out trance-music floating in the ethereal space where psychedelia meets krautrock. Their self-titled debut has a calm, oceanic presence, in which waves of sound swell gradually to climaxes of opiated majesty.

17 January (Alive)

Gang of Four: Content

The most eagerly anticipated comeback of the year is the Gang of Four, whose Content bristles with the familiar declamatory discontent, set to their trademark brusque, jagged funk grooves. The "Ultimate" edition comes with sachets of band members' blood, a scratch-and-sniff booklet, and "Rotoscoped photographs of the band's emotions".

24 January (Groenland)

Bruno Mars: Doo-Wops & Hooligans

Following his 2010 single successes with B.o.B., Cee Lo Green and on his own "Just the Way You Are", Bruno Mars looks set to be 2011's pre-eminent R&B star. Doo-Wops & Hooligans reveals the Hawaiian singer-songwriter to be adept at reggae, rock and Jack Johnson-esque laidback island strummers.

24 January (Atlantic)

Riz MC: MICroscope

Working over the pulsing grooves of Lazersonic and dubstep of Redinho, "Muslim skateboarding Marxist" Riz brings deft observational skills to his rhymes, using a blend of humour and honesty to comment on street attitude, cultural trends and gentrification in tracks such as "People Like People" and the upcoming single "All in the Ghetto".

31 January (Confirm/Ignore)

Jonny: Jonny

Euros Childs used to sing with Welsh acid-folk whimsicalists Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, and Norman Blake with Scottish pop classicists Teenage Fanclub. Working together as Jonny, their debut album brims with lissom melodies and arrangements bubbling with the deceptively innocent insouciance of mid-period Beatles.

31 January (Alsatian)

Sea of Bees: Songs for the Ravens

Sea of Bees is Julie Ann Baenziger, a singer-songwriter from Sacramento who defies all the "California girl" stereotypes. Blessed with an idiosyncratic voice of keening fragility, and a distinctive slant on confessional songwriting, she played most of the instruments on this debut herself, including marimba and slide-guitar.

7 February (Heavenly)

East River Pipe: We Live in Rented Rooms

Painstakingly overdubbed on his lo-fi home recorder, the gently bitter tales of lowlife dreams told by F M Cornog, aka East River Pipe, occupy much the same territory as Bukowski stories and Edward Hopper paintings: melancholy, neon-lit missives from the underbelly of the American Dream.

15 February (Merge)

Miles Kane: Miles Kane

Miles Kane's debut finds the other half of The Last Shadow Puppets delving deeper into the area where the simple sincerities of Sixties bubblegum and psych-pop influences are given a sophisticated modern makeover. Reportedly produced by Gruff Rhys and Dan the Automator.

25 April (Columbia)

Books by Boyd Tonkin

We Had It So Good by Linda Grant

If the coming year proves to be a time of sober reckoning and hard scrutiny of the recent past, then Linda Grant's new novel will help us keep the score. From London in the age of affluence to Warsaw and LA, its family story sets good times and bad within the frame of drastic change.

20 January (Virago)

The Immortalization Commission by John Gray

Call it a sign of harsh times, but pessimistic views of modern ideals will loom large during 2011. John Gray is our sharpest critic of utopian fantasies on both right and left. From science to shopping, politics to philosophy, he skewers the crazed but enduring dream of cheating time, age and death.

27 January (Allen Lane)

The Tenth Parallel by Eliza Griswold

How do you invent the travelogue in an age of porous frontiers and uneasy globalisation? Eliza Griswold leads the way in this globe-circling tour around a single belt of latitude. As she shows, on it – from Nigeria to Sudan, Malaysia to the Philippines – Muslim and Christian cultures coexist or (sometimes) clash.

3 February (Allen Lane)

The Anatomy of a Moment by Javier Cercas

Always a nimble dancer on the edge of history and fiction, the Spanish writer returns with a closely researched but always dramatic account of the failed coup in 1981 that almost vanquished his country's fragile post-Franco democracy.

7 February (Bloomsbury)

Great House by Nicole Krauss

No US novel of 2011 comes trailing higher expectations than this multi-layered journey into memory and history. Nazi-occupied Hungary, Pinochet's Chile, modern London and New York, connect via a web of debts, dreams and secrets. Krauss's book seems destined to win the affections of readers for whom Michael Ondaatje and Anne Michaels set the standard for tapestries of private and public lives.

24 February (Viking)

Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso

If not quite (as the publisher claims) "Lolita from Lolita's point of view", Margaux Fragoso's memoir, a subtly crafted account of her 15-year involvement as a child and adolescent with a middle-aged man, asks urgent questions about the traffic between memory and art.

31 March (Penguin)

Rome by Robert Hughes

From Barcelona to Australia, the peerless art critic has also proved to be a cultural historian of terrific zest and panache. His tour of the Eternal City promises another Hughes classic of barnstorming narration and sophisticated critique.

9 June (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)

Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

India's latest superstar follows up his Man Booker-winning The White Tiger with a novel of corruption and transformation in Bombay. Broader in its scope and richer in its cast, his second book looks set to contribute a major addition to the illustrious shelf of fiction from the "maximum city" on the Arabian Sea.

16 June (Atlantic)

Ghost Milk by Iain Sinclair

Trust Iain Sinclair, East End literary archaeologist, visionary vagabond and grandaddy of the "psychogeographers", to get his Olympic revenge in early. His wander around ruined and forsaken "grand projects" amounts to an elegy for the Stratford follies a year before the Games begin.

7 July (Hamish Hamilton)

Young Prince Philip by Philip Eade

From Rupert Murdoch's less than deferential publishing stable comes this potentially explosive life of the Corfu-born "PoG" (Prince of Greece) during his energetic European youth as the offspring of a colourful clan.

15 July (HarperCollins)

The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq

Enfant terrible-turned-2010 winner of the hallowed Prix Goncourt, Michel Houellebecq, has lost none of his mischievous disdain for the follies of France – and the modern world. Deadpan, droll, savage, his wandering narrative matches satire aimed at the media and tourism with an odd kind of murder mystery.

1 September (Heinemann)

Comedy by Julian Hall

Sarah Millican: Chatterbox

The loquacious Geordie lass justifiably made it on to the shortlist for the Edinburgh Comedy Award this year. This tour will also include the recording of her first DVD – a rare accolade for a female comedian, even in the context of the current Vesuvial flow of comedy releases.

Touring 29 January to 20 April (

Tim Key: The Slutcracker

The first full tour from the winner of the 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Award. A master of the understated persona, Tim Key unlocks his audience with clever poems, one-liners and seemingly spontaneous attacks of whimsy.

Touring 15 February to 23 March (

Doug Stanhope

That this cult US "angry comic" can now play a venue normally reserved for the Bishops and the Manfords of the comedy firmament is a testimony to the growth of comedy in all its forms, but also to the renewed appetite for Doug Stanhope's own brand of erratic ire.

Hammersmith Apollo, London (venues.meanfiddler. com/apollo/home) 2 April

John Cleese: Alimony Tour

In a continuing bid to kit himself out with a financial cushion after his wallet-busting divorce from Alice Faye Eichelberger, the ex-Python legend will be silly-walking all over the country next year.

Touring 3 May to 21 June (

Jerry Seinfeld

Last time he was in the UK, in 1998, Seinfeld had to see off competition from the World Cup final to fill two shows at the Palladium. This time around the coast is clear for him to fill the 02, a feat that is fast becoming a rite of passage for UK acts.

02 Arena, London ( 3 June

Alan Carr: Spexy Beast

While his TV ventures have had mixed fortunes and debatable charm, on the live stage Alan Carr is supremely accessible. His gossipy style flows more freely as he turns his hand from celebrity stories to more ordinary mores.

Touring 11 September to 6 November (

Radio by Jane Thynne

The Genius of Mozart

The first 12 days of January will be an orgy of the nation's favourite composer as Radio 3 devotes its entire schedule to the works of Mozart. Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will present a programme looking at her favourite Mozart arias and Sara Mohr-Pietsch will host Play Mozart For Me nightly, alongside recordings, documentaries, live performances and an acclaimed dramatisation of Mozart's life.

1 to 12 January, Radio 3

The Archers' 60th Anniversary

The world's longest-running serial drama turns 60 with record audiences of more than five million. In its time, royalty and celebrities have scrambled for guest roles, but frankly it's the regulars we love. (I'm looking at you, Brian). What with all the websites, books and online communities, The Archers is probably the first radio series to attain the status of parallel universe.

2 January, Radio 4

King James Bible

An entire day devoted to the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible with three documentaries in the week on the impact of the King James Bible on British culture and 28 readings, introduced by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Simon Schama and Will Self, and recorded by actors including Samuel West and Hugh Bonneville.

3 to 9 January, Radio 4

Music Planet

If you've missed head-hunting music from Papua New Guinea or Inuit throat singing you'll welcome the return of Andy Kershaw, who with Lucy Duran, will be seeking out the most esoteric of world music. The series accompanies BBC One's Human Planet, a new anthropological series, and promises everything from Madagascan sea shanties to Alpine yodelling.

From 13 January, Radio 3

The Early Breakfast Show

Vanessa Feltz will harness her formidable energy to host Sarah Kennedy's old slot on Radio 2 between 5-6.30am every weekday, before going on to host her Radio London morning show, and deputising for Jeremy Vine into the bargain. A shot in the arm for early risers, whether they want it or not, expect forthright views, intelligence, and relentless good cheer.

From 17 January, Radio 2

Life and Fate

Vasily Grossman's 1959 novel, set around the Battle of Stalingrad and a German prison camp, is described by some as the greatest novel of the 20th century. Banned in the USSR, he died never having seen it published. The eight-hour dramatisation will fill every drama slot except for The Archers.

September, Radio 4

Dance by Zoë Anderson

American Ballet Theatre

A major company in a varied repertory, including the UK premieres of works by Alexei Ratmansky and Benjamin Millepied. The visit includes Balanchine's glorious Theme and Variations, Tudor's romantic drama Jardin aux Lilas and Paul Taylor's peppy Company B, danced to songs by the Andrews Sisters.

Sadler's Wells, London (0844 412 4300; 1 to 6 February

Rocío Molina

At just 26, Molina is already a major flamenco star, with fierce authority and dazzling footwork. Her company's visit, with her latest show Cuando las Piedras Vuelen, is a highlight of the Sadler's Wells Flamenco Festival.

Sadler's Wells, London (0844 412 4300; 15 February

The Forsythe Company

William Forsythe is one of the world's most influential choreographers, famous for his wrenchingly athletic steps and postmodern games. I don't believe in outer space is a personal look at the nature of existence, set to a soundtrack by Thom Willems.

Sadler's Wells, London (0844 412 4300; 22 & 23 February

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Christopher Wheeldon's new work for the Royal Ballet adapts Lewis Carroll's famous tale, to a score by Joby Talbot. Wheeldon has dancers playing Wonderland characters and people from his heroine's real life: Edward Watson is both Carroll and the White Rabbit. The actor Simon Russell Beale will appear as the Duchess.

Royal Opera House, London (020 7304 4000; 2 to 15 March

The Most Incredible Thing

Electronic pop duo the Pet Shop Boys have always had an eye for art and performance. Now they've written their first ballet, based on a Hans Christian Andersen tale. The former Royal Ballet dancer Ivan Putrov will star, and choreography is by Javier de Frutos.

Sadler's Wells, London (0844 412 4300; 17 to 26 March


2011 will be the year of the Alice ballet. Ashley Page's new version for Scottish Ballet starts with the heroine tumbling through a camera lens. Designs are by Antony McDonald, and Robert Moran contributes a new score.

Touring ( 12 April to 14 May

The Mariinsky Ballet

The artists formerly known as the Kirov return for a summer season. Highlights include Alexei Ratmansky's Anna Karenina, Balanchine's romantic Scotch Symphony and brilliant Ballet Imperial, Jerome Robbins' In the Night and an all-Fokine programme. The dancers will include Ekaterina Kondaurova, Uliana Lopatkina, Evgenia Obraztsova, Diana Vishneva, Vladimir Shklyarov and Igor Zelensky.

Royal Opera House, London (020 7304 4004; 25 July to 13 August

National Ballet of China

The Edinburgh Festival has an east/west theme this year, which will include a visit from the National Ballet of China dancing The Peony Pavilion, a sumptuously designed version of a classic Chinese love story.

Venues TBC, Edinburgh ( 12 August to 4 September

Merce Cunningham Dance Company

Cunningham, an icon of contemporary dance, died in 2009. His company will close after a farewell tour. Its final British dates will be part of London's Dance Umbrella festival – a last chance to see one of dance's great companies.

Venues TBC, London ( Autumn

Theatre by Paul Taylor

David Hare Festival

Sheffield Theatres honour David Hare with an ambitious festival. Key works that range in date from the 1970s to the Noughties (Plenty, Racing Demon and – in its first major revival – the 2002 play The Breath of Life) will be presented simultaneously in all three auditoria by a top-flight team.

Sheffield Crucible and Lyceum Theatres (0112 249 6000; 3 February to 5 March


Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller will alternate the roles of scientist and creature in this adaptation of Mary Shelley's urgently topical novel. After what he's jokily described as a 15-year "distraction" in film, the Oscar-winning Danny Boyle returns to his stage roots to direct.

National Theatre, London (0207 452 3000; 5 February to 17 April

The Knot of the Heart

One of our most emotionally intelligent dramatists, David Eldridge returns to the Almeida (scene of his triumphant adaptation of Festen) with this play about a woman whose successful TV career and charmed life come unravelled through drugs. It stars Lisa Dillon (for whom it was written).

Almeida Theatre, London (0207 359 4404; 10 March to 30 April

Cause Célèbre

Spearheading the Terence Rattigan centenary celebrations, this rare production of Cause Célèbre stars Anne-Marie Duff as the real-life Alma Rattenbury, who went on trial with her 18-year-old lover for the murder of her husband. There will be several Rattigan revivals around the country, including In Praise of Love at Northampton's Royal and Derngate and The Deep Blue Sea at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.

Cause Célèbre: Old Vic, London (0844 871 628; 17 March to 11 June; In Praise of Love: Royal and Derngate ( 1 to 23 April; The Deep Blue Sea: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds ( 18 February to 12 March

Betty Blue Eyes

Will Betty, the illegally reared pig, get to sing in the new musical version of A Private Function, the Alan Bennett movie about black market shenanigans in Austerity Britain? Cannily timed to open in the run-up to another Royal Wedding, the show will star Reece Shearsmith and Sarah Lancashire.

Novello Theatre, London (0844 482 5170) 19 March to 22 October

The School for Scandal

Deborah Warner makes her long-awaited return to the Barbican as associate with Sheridan's biting 1777 comedy about the vicious world of gossip. Anticipate surprises from a director renowned for blasting away the barnacles of tradition.

Barbican, London (020 7638 8891; 11 May to 18 June


After their haunting collaboration on Water in 2007, the brilliant Filter Theatre Company re-team with David Farr for this devised piece using actors from the RSC ensemble. Following a British journalist to Moscow, it promises "a multi-sensory narrative about artists and their voices".

Hampstead Theatre, London (020 7722 8301; 12 to 28 May

Luise Miller

With successful West End transfers of Don Carlos and Mary Stuart, Michael Grandage has been a powerful advocate of the plays of Schiller. In his last season at the Donmar, he directs a rare revival of Luise Miller. Felicity Jones will star as the humbly born heroine lost in a world of greed and corruption.

Donmar Warehouse, London (0844 871 7624; 8 June to 30 July

The Missing

The inspiring National Theatre of Scotland has commissioned Andrew O'Hagan to adapt his penetrating meditation (part reportage, part memoir) on what it means to fall between the cracks of society and go "missing" in the modern world. John Tiffany, who was acclaimed for Black Watch, will direct.

National Theatre of Scotland ( Autumn 2011


Michael Sheen is set to leave Blair and Frost far behind, as this electrically intelligent and dangerous classical actor makes his date with destiny and gives us what I predict will be one of the great Hamlets of our age. The excellent Ian Rickson directs from the fresh perspective of the new writing specialist.

Young Vic, London ( Autumn

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in