This week Tom is joined by three novelists: AS Byatt, Patrick Gale and Catherine O’Flynn.
Clint Eastwood’s new movie Changeling stars Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins, a single mother whose only son is kidnapped in 1920s Los Angeles. When she is told her boy has been found, she is overjoyed – until the child turns out to be an impostor. The LA police insist she is wrong, and her campaign to find her son leads her into all-out conflict with the corrupt force, which doesn’t hold back from having her incarcerated in a psychopathic ward.
The film is based on historical but largely forgotten events; Collins’ campaign was instrumental in driving through reform of the LAPD.
Changeling is on release nationwide, certificate 15.
The Family Reunion
The poems which became the musical Cats may be the poet TS Eliot’s best known contribution to drama in verse, but The Family Reunion (1939) was one of his most ambitious purpose-built forays into this territory. There have been several new, high-profile verse dramas staged recently, by the likes of Michael Frayn and Tony Harrison. So are we witnessing a resurgence of this once-discredited form? And if so, will this revival of Eliot’s atmospheric story - of a man haunted by the Furies after the death of his wife – help blow the dust off this theatrical strategy?
The Family Reunion is at the Donmar Warehouse in central London until 10 January, as part of the theatre’s TS Eliot Festival, which also includes readings of Eliot’s verse and of his two best-known verse dramas, Murder in the Cathedral and The Cocktail Party.
The Fireman (Paul McCartney and Martin Glover)
The album Electric Arguments is the third collaboration between Paul McCartney and producer Youth, aka Martin Glover. Each track was improvised from scratch in a day.
The Fireman album, Electric Arguments, is out now on the MPL label.
After Rome: Holy War and Conquest
Before he became Mayor of London, Boris Johnson wrote and presented this exploration of the clashes between Christian and Muslim civilisations in the centuries after the fracturing of the Roman Empire. He explores the legacy of the Crusades, pinpoints key moments of harmony between the two faiths, and finds out why many Spaniards remain anxious to deny that Muslim Andalusia has any real role in their country’s history.
The first edition of After Rome: Holy War and Conquest is on BBC2 at 8.05pm on Saturday 29 November. The second and final part follows a week later.
The Secret Life of Words
Henry Hitchings’ exploration of ‘How English Became English’ won him the John Llewllyn Rhys Prize this week. He argues that the roots of our current vocabulary – traceable to more than 350 other languages – cast intriguing sidelights on our national history.
The Secret Life of Words is published in hardback by John Murray.
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