6 items from 2012
Big Brother, meerkats, movies – and plenty of crime drama repeats. We've got a marathon choice of alternative opening weekend viewing for you
It's hard to believe it's only been seven years since the UK won the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Sometimes it feels like we've been talking about logos and medals and corporate sponsors for decades. The torch relay alone feels like it's been going on for eons, like a X Factor tension pause where Dermot O'Leary holds a burning stick for 70 days before finally announcing the winner in a festoon of bunting.
For many, two weeks of Olympic sport will be the TV highlight of 2012. (You can read our guide to negotiating BBC coverage here). But for every crowd of people glued to dressage and wrestling, there are a handful who couldn't give two hoots for Team Gb. And with you in mind, here's some alternative TV viewing for the opening weekend. »
- Heidi Stephens
The Midnight Beast
There's friction in the band this week. Ash is warned that his randy gland is among the issues causing the fissure, as is Dru's distinct lacking in the same department. A romantic intervention in the caff seems to have a temporary effect, until Dru's new love interest proves less a steadying influence than an obsessive loon. With a hit rate of about one in 20 gags, the sitcom from these YouTube sensations is considerably less likely to grab the 40-odd million views it has had online. Ben Arnold
Natural World: Tiger Island
The habitat of the Sumatran tiger has been destroyed by the island's deforestation, turning the majestic creatures, among the last island tigers on the planet, into maneaters. As such they are hunted and killed, »
From Snow White to Jack White, and Cumbria to Cannes, the Observer's critics pick the season's highlights. What are you most looking forward to? Post your comments below
Download the spring arts calendar 2012
4 Art Damien Hirst The world's richest living artist enjoys a major survey of more than 20 years of his work, including medicine cabinets, diamond skull and a certain preserved shark. Tate Modern, London until 9 September.
6 Film This Must Be the Place Sean Penn plays a retired rock star scouring America for the fugitive Nazi who tormented his father in Auschwitz. Paolo Sorrentino escapes from the art house in his first English-language film.
7 Theatre Where Have I Been All My Life? Following the success of London Road, her verbatim musical at the National, »
When Beethoven died on 26 March 1827 in Vienna, he had been ill for over three months, in which time he completed no compositions. It was the culmination of a long string of illnesses; his work was seriously interrupted in 1811, 1812, 1816-17, 1821, 1825, and from December 1826 to his death. (His extensive meddling in the lives of various relatives had also interfered with his musical productivity.)
We ran an Anniversaries piece for Beethoven's birthday in 2010 that looked at recordings of his symphonies. Now, to mark the anniversary of his death on, we look at his piano sonatas. Beethoven transformed the sonata nearly as much as the symphony, his 32 canonical works (which doesn't include the early C major sonata and F major sonatina without opus numbers or the three "Elector" sonatas Wo47) in the form varying greatly and achieving, especially in the last five or six, an epic, questing quality that's highly personal.
But even »
He lived a remarkable life: a French resistance fighter, a friend of Jean-Paul Sartre and lover of Simone de Beauvoir. Yet he is best known for his epic film, Shoah, the definitive oral record of those who survived the Holocaust. Now, aged 87, he tells his own extraordinary story
One evening – we are not given a date, but it must be the early 1960s – the great French philosopher, essayist, novelist and pioneer of feminism Simone de Beauvoir was, as so often, at the theatre. But this was a stranger night than most. On De Beauvoir's left sat her lifelong companion and erstwhile lover, the greatest philosopher of his generation and founder of existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre. To her right was her current lover, the writer, former resistance fighter and film director Claude Lanzmann. And on stage: Lanzmann's sister Évelyne, a foremost actress of the day, playing the lead role in Sartre's play Huis Clos. »
- Ed Vulliamy
While 2011 was all about cuts, the arts community puts its best foot forward in 2012 as the Olympics come to London
The arrival of the Olympics in London will mean that British culture is on show like never before. Commentators will be poring over what these headline events say about us as nation, whether they were planned to tie in with the Games or not.
The Olympics opening ceremony
Directed by Danny Boyle, in November this extravaganza had its budget doubled to more than £80m – either an encouraging sign or an extremely bad one. It was thought impossible to top Beijing's opening ceremony, but the ballooning costs have raised the stakes vertiginously. Could either be a triumph, or that most British of things – a glorious disaster.
Indie's past comes back to haunt it
It's a landmark year for three indie institutions. In April, NME is 60. Three months later, the music weekly »
- Alex Needham
6 items from 2012
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