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The week in arts

Will Gompertz | 16:14 UK time, Friday, 18 March 2011

So, what happened in the arts this week? Well, there were some awards ceremonies, obviously.

Sheridan Smith won an Olivier for her starring role in Legally Blonde.

Sheridan Smith

And boy, did she deserve it. I saw the show and it didn't spark into life until she came on, and then it was good. She's now in Flare Path at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, where, if anything she's even better: a Maggie Smith for the 21st Century.

La Boheme production

A fringe production of La Boheme beat off the mighty ENO and Royal Opera House to win Best New Opera Production, which everybody seemed to think was a jolly good show.

Except for the production's chorus singers who thought it was a jolly bad show that they didn't get paid. The producers told them to put it down to experience.

The Plumen 001 low energy light bulb won the Design Museum's Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award. Will Self said it was not the dernier cri of light bulb design, which Deyan Sudjic, the director of the Design Museum, suggested had already been arrived at more than 100 years ago. But, Sudjic said, the Plumen design "goes a long way to make up for the loss of the Edison original".

Plumen 001

If I was on the panel I may have been more inclined to have chosen this chair.

There were lots of festival announcements this week:

Manchester's biennial International Festival announced its 2011 programme, which looks a lot like its 2009 and 2007 programmes.

And Robert Redford popped over to tell us next year he's going to bring a little bit of Sundance into our lives. A little bit, meaning the American bit. He wants to show us the very best of American Independent cinema. That was Winter's Bone last year, which was very good - and on general release here.

The Bolshoi ballet got itself into a fine mess. Just before a major tour to Paris their artistic director has quit because of a photo of someone looking just like him, but without any clothes on, was posted on the internet (who would do a thing like that?)

So, now he's off to the naughty step where he will meet Brian True-May, the producer of ITV's Midsomer Murders.

Neil Dudgeon (centre) in Midsomer Murders

In a Radio Times interview Mr True-May was asked what's with the lack of ethnic representation in Midsomer. Because it was the "last bastion of Englishness" he said. Cue journalist looking down at their tape recorder to make sure it was switched on.

What else? Oh, yes. There was nearly the "third British invasion" of America. This is where UK pop acts dominate the US charts. It happened in the 1960s with the Beatles 'n' all. And again in the 1980s with the New Romantics (who had a little help from Led Zep and Pink Floyd). It nearly happened again last week when the top three albums in the Billboard 200 were British acts (Adele, Marsha Ambrosius and Mumford & Sons). That's the first Brit one, two, three since 1985 when the line up was: Dire Straits Brothers in Arms, Sting's The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Tears for Fears 'Songs from the Big Chair (which explains why it's taken them so long to forgive us). But a top three doesn't make an invasion, more dropping round for a chat. In 1985 UK acts had 41 albums in the chart, last week there were 15. Mind you, anybody going to this year's SXSW in Austin, Texas might feel differently, where a record number of British acts have rocked up.

And finally, still on pop music (sort of). Professor Brian Cox, the good-looking chap who used to play the keyboard in D-Ream, has been upsetting people with his music. Just when he thought things could not get better, having won a Royal Television Society award for his science programmes on the BBC, he found himself being criticised for using too much music in his latest series Wonders of the Universe. The BBC pointed to its audibility report, which reveals that a mumbling presenter can be difficult to understand. Reveals?


  • Comment number 1.

    Designers. Light bulbs. Hmm.

    If they have succeeded in making an energy saving one with the same spectrum as tungsten then people might even care.

    Can we have a proper description as to what it does, please, rather than a picture of what it looks like?

    This seems to be the job description of UK designers: "Folks overpaid to worry needlessly about what stuff looks like".

  • Comment number 2.

    The wretched light bulb again. Joie de vivre from a curly light bulb? Brian Cox's infinite smiley delivery gets my goat so much that I can't seem to take in all that stuff about eternity, non-stop Big Bangs and how old the sun is. He'll be reading the news next, to the sound of 'D-Ream'. If he's that clever, why couldn't he come up with something better than that feeble pun for the name of his popular music combo?

  • Comment number 3.

    Will Gompertz.

    "..more inclined to have chosen this chair."


  • Comment number 4.

    There is nothing to "forgive" regarding Sting and Dire Straits..


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