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Duration: 50 minutes

Kirsty Wark and guests discuss a selection of the new year's artistic highlights, including the much anticipated film version of Les Miserables and Pow!, the latest novel from the winner of last year's Nobel Prize in Literature, Mo Yan.

  • Les Misérables

    Les Misérables

    The film adaptation of the record breaking musical Les Misérables is released in UK cinemas on Friday, and this week it was announced that the film is in the running for eight Oscars and nine BAFTAs. Tom Hooper directs an all-star cast which includes Hugh Jackman as the long suffering prisoner Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Javert, his nemesis. The tragic heroine Fantine is played by a waif-like Anne Hathaway and her daughter Cosette by Amanda Seyfried. Valjean promises Fantine on her deathbed that he will rescue her daughter from the wretched innkeepers (Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter), and nine years later Cosette meets the wealthy yet liberal student Marius, played by Eddie Redmayne, and a romantic subplot develops. Will the film be as popular as the stage show? Can the starry cast sustain the much-loved musical’s big numbers? And is Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” the best thing since Susan Boyle’s celebrated rendition?

    Les Misérables
  • Blandings


    P.G. Wodehouse comes to Sunday evenings on BBC One as his Blandings Castle stories are adapted for the small screen for the first time, by Guy Andrews who wrote Lost In Austen. Timothy Spall leads a cast of top comedy talent playing the bumbling yet affable Lord Clarence Emsworth, whose dysfunctional aristocratic family are an unwelcome distraction from his beloved prize pig, The Empress. Britain’s appetite for country house drama remains insatiable but will this latest comic offering – which also stars Jennifer Saunders, Mark Williams and David Walliams - have the nation tittering? Blandings begins on BBC One on Sunday at 6.30pm

  • Pow! by Mo Yan

    Pow! by Mo Yan

    The award of last year’s Nobel Prize in Literature to the Chinese writer Mo Yan was a controversial one. While the Nobel committee likened his work to that of William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, others such as Salman Rushdie and the artist Ai WeiWei denounced the award of the prize to a writer who has refused to condemn state censorship in his native land. Now his 2003 novel Pow! has been published in English. It’s an absurdly comic tale of capitalism and corruption intruding on the values of rural life. Centring on Lao Xiaotong, a boy with a prodigious appetite for meat, who lives in the aptly named Slaughterhouse Village, the book examines immoral practices at a new meat processing plant which has brought prosperity to the village. As an examination of the changing face of China is Pow! a mouthwatering treat, or difficult to digest?

    Mo Yan at Nobel website
  • The New Normal

    The New Normal

    This sitcom from the pen of Ryan Murphy (the creator of Glee and Nip/Tuck) was inspired by the writer’s own experience of having a child via a surrogate mother. The series sees professional couple David and Bryan arrive at a point in life where they are missing just one thing – a child. After a number of disastrous attempts to find a surrogate, they chance upon a down-on-her-luck single mum, Goldie, who is looking to fund a new life at law school. Together they help to fulfill each other’s dreams, but not without the unwanted intervention of Goldie’s bigoted and staunchly Republican grandmother. Starring Justin Bartha (The Hangover, National Treasure), Andrew Rannells (Girls) and Emmy Award winner Ellen Barkin, the series brings Ugly Betty-style humour to a story founded on traditional parental values. But does this offering add a sufficiently distinctive new twist to the traditional family sitcom?

    The New Normal
  • Derry-Londonderry: UK City of Culture 2013

    Derry-Londonderry: UK City of Culture 2013

    January sees the start of an exciting year for Northern Ireland’s second largest city Derry, also known as Londonderry. There’s a £16 million programme of some 140 events as the city becomes the UK’s inaugural City of Culture. Initiated by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as a direct result of the great social and economic success of Liverpool’s designation as European City of Culture in 2008, the title will be awarded to a different UK city every four years. What can we expect to see over the next 12 months and what will this new prize mean for the UK in the years to come?

    Derry-Londonderry: UK City of Culture 2013


Kirsty Wark
Executive Producer
Andrew Lockyer


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