Guests: Playwright Mark Ravenhill Historian Amanda Vickery Screenwriter Howard Schuman
The vampire genre has been around a long time, but remains resolutely undead. Its latest incarnation has come in American writer Stephanie Meyer’s sequence of novels about a girl who falls in love with a vegetarian vampire, which have become an international success since the first was published in 2005. Now that first novel, Twilight, has been adapted for the screen. So will the movie version carry the story beyond the books’ core fan-base of teenage girls? And is its bite as sharp as Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
Twilight is on general release across the country, certificate 12A.
The playwright Joe Orton, who was murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell in 1967, is now at least as well known for his anarchic life, traced in Alan Bennett’s 1987 film Prick Up Your Ears, as for his plays. Now, though, his first two full-length plays are being revived. The second, Loot, turns a black farce on the run-up to a funeral into a scathing attack on such 1960s taboo subjects as the Catholic Church and police corruption. But does it still shock today – and if not, what else does it have to offer?
Once on a Moonless Night
The France-based Chinese film-maker Dai Sijie is best known for his novel and movie Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. In his new novel, a young French woman in Beijing works on the Bertolucci movie The Last Emperor – and then discovers a story about the real last emperor and an ancient Buddhist text which leads the reader into stories within stories, covering almost a century of China’s past…
Once on a Moonless Night by Dai Sijie is published by Chatto and Windus in January.
As one of the comedy trio the League of Gentlemen, Mark Gatiss carved out a reputation for reworking British horror movies into pitch dark comedy. Now he has written a trilogy of short dramas set around a much-haunted house. So can he revive the tradition of the Christmas ghost story pioneered by the likes of MR James?
Crooked House is on at 10.30pm on BBC4 on 22, 23 and 24 December, with an omnibus edition at 9pm on 27 December. It will also be available on the BBC i-Player for a week after broadcast.
Each of this week’s guests have chosen a couple of seasonal treats worth seeking out and unwrapping over the Christmas period.
Amanda Vickery recommends the Hans Christian Anderson story The Snow Queen, and EH Gombrich’s recently republished Little History of the World.
Howard Schuman, having scanned the TV listings, is keen to draw attention to the original version of King Kong (11.30pm, Saturday 27 December, BBC4) and an Iranian movie called Offside from 2006 (12.40am, Saturday 20 December, Film4).
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