13 items from 2013
The drama slate includes the previously announced Anzac Girls (Screentime), which stars Georgia Flood, Antonia Prebble, Laura Brent, Anna McGahan and Caroline Craig in the saga of five young military nurses from Australia and New Zealand during the Gallipoli and Western Front campaigns; The Code (Playmaker Media), a political thriller about two brothers who stumble across information that people in power will kill to keep secret, starring Ashley Zukerman and Dan Spielman; and Old School (Matchbox), which features Bryan Brown and Sam Neill as a retired crim and ex-cop who solve crimes and unravel scams while avoiding the wrath of the police and the underworld.
- Don Groves
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw (Fourth Estate) is a brilliant, sprawling, layered and unsentimental portrayal of contemporary China. It made me think and laugh. I also love Dave Eggers' The Circle (Hamish Hamilton), which is a sharp-eyed and funny satire about the obsession with "sharing" our lives through technology. It's convincing and a little creepy.
By strange coincidence two of the most intriguing art books I read this year had the word "Breakfast" in their titles. They were Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig (Jonathan Cape) and Breakfast at Sotheby's by Philip Hook (Particular). Greig's fascinating, intimate biography of Lucian Freud was a revelation. Every question I had about Freud – from the aesthetic to the intrusively gossipy – was »
- Hilary Mantel, Jonathan Franzen, Mohsin Hamid, Tom Stoppard, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, William Boyd, Bill Bryson, Shami Chakrabarti, Sarah Churchwell, Antonia Fraser, Mark Haddon, Robert Harris, Max Hastings, Philip Hensher, Simon Hoggart, AM Homes, John Lanchester, Mark Lawson, Robert Macfarlane, Andrew Motion, Ian Rankin, Lionel Shriver, Helen Simpson, Colm Tóibín, Richard Ford, John Gray, David Kynaston, Penelope Lively, Pankaj Mishra, Blake Morrison, Susie Orbach
Wisdom and wonder in an interview singing with gratitude, plus the joy of experiences recollected in the fading light
It's almost 20 years since Melvyn Bragg recorded his classic interview with Dennis Potter at Channel 4's London studio. Fortified by flutes of champagne – Potter's laced with morphine – the pair cheerily discussed the esteemed writer's imminent demise, the substance of his life's work and determination to complete two last scripts.
In late June, Kerry O'Brien travelled to Cambridge to record a valedictory conversation with another significant writer and television identity, Clive James. Born four years after Potter, the "kid from Kogarah" is in steep decline as a consequence of emphysema and leukemia but, like Potter in 1994, fronts up chipper, sanguine and »
- Doug Anderson
It's a helluva weekend for legendary film folks celebrating birthdays. Yesterday marked Robert De Niro's 70th, and today, director Roman Polanski is blowing out the candles on his 80th. And while his controversial and colorful past means some won't be raising a glass to the filmmaker, when it comes to his work, he's left more than few films that will be remembered for years to come. But as always with Polanski, there is much to talk about when it comes to both his personal life and career. And that's just what Australian TV personality Clive James does with this in-depth and also sort of garish (that restaurant is kind of amazing) 1984 TV interview. Sitting down to break bread with the director, James dives right into Polanski's films, the death of Sharon Tate and more across one hour. This vintage piece of TV, which has found its way to YouTube, »
- Kevin Jagernauth
"I'm told that I'm looking quite shiny," says Clive James, putting his best face on things with a vintage display of Anglo-Australian stoicism. It's an instinctive optimism that is what you'd expect, but still it is moving.
Almost everything in the life of this great literary polymath is edged with darkness. James now dwells in a kind of internal exile: from family, from good health and from convivial literary association, even from his own native land. His circumstances in old age – James is 73 – evoke a fate that Dante might plausibly have inflicted on a junior member of the damned in one of the less exacting circles of hell.
James's health has lately been so bad that, last year, he »
- Robert McCrum
Wimbledon 2013 | Don't Call Me Crazy | The Borgias | Traveller Feuds | Precision: The Measure Of All Things | The Greatest Shows On Earth | Storyville: Power, Money, Greed And Oil
It may have ended in defeat to Roger Federer but last year's Wimbledon men's final marked the start of a brief golden period for Andy Murray. After winning over a wary centre court crowd with an emotional concession speech, he returned a month later to win Olympic gold and then managed his first grand slam at the Us Open. Yet a Wimbledon title eludes the Brit, and the competition intensifies this year with the return of Rafael Nadal. In the women's draw, Serena Williams, fresh from a French Open victory, is again set to dominate. Gwilym Mumford
Don't Call Me Crazy
Beth is 17. She's lively and funny. She loves dancing and gymnastics. But Beth also has deep problems with her attitudes towards food, »
- Gwilym Mumford, Jonathan Wright, Julia Raeside, Ben Arnold, Andrew Mueller, Ali Catterall, Martin Skegg
Heard the one about what you're meant to do after 20 years in one of Britain's most popular double-acts? Robert Webb's not yet sure of the punchline
Robert Webb arrives at the pub not looking much like a man who's later having his photo taken for a national newspaper: there's a hole in the knee of his jeans and two more in the elbow of his cardigan. He suggests we sit outside so we can smoke, which endears him to me enormously. When I offer to go to the bar, he eschews mineral water, instead asking plaintively, "Can I have a proper drink?" and ordering a pint of lager, which endears him to me even more.
Webb is friendly and funny and extremely likeable, but he seems unnecessarily worried about how he's going to come across in print. He says he doesn't like the kind of interviews in which journalists »
- Alexis Petridis
I liked Paul O'Grady and his dogs – but not as much as the Chinese would
• For the Love of Dogs on ITV Player
I'd like to show Paul O'Grady: For the Love Of Dogs (ITV) on Chinese television. I think it could be a hit over there. It would be a bit like when Clive James used to show clips of Japanese TV and Britain fell about laughing, remember? Look at the funny Asians behaving weirdly. But this would be the other way round: look at the funny Europeans behaving weirdly. And I'm taking Po'gftlod to China obviously, not Japan – not just because China is the emerging world superpower that is going to make me, or at least Po'g, very wealthy; but also because the Japanese can be almost Europeanly soppy about pets, whereas in China animals are mainly for kicking and eating, or both. (Obviously this is a massive generalisation based mainly on ignorance, »
- Sam Wollaston
Jack Reacher; Love Crime; She Monkeys
Of the few physical descriptions offered in Lee Child's source novel One Shot, one fact is clear – the hero of this ongoing avenging angel series is very big (Clive James's phrase "a condom stuffed with walnuts" has been invoked) and very tall. Not so Tom Cruise, who brings many qualities to the title role of Jack Reacher (2012, Paramount, 15), of which both heft and height are notable only by their absence. Replacing physical bulk with bankable box-office power, Cruise ambles through this oddly inert actioner as the eponymous, ghost-like figure, (re)appearing from nowhere after a clearly culpable crackpot is arrested following an apparently random daylight massacre. Teaming up with Rosamund Pike's glamorously attired defence lawyer, whose district attorney father (Richard Jenkins) has sent several prisoners to their deaths, Reacher follows the money to the Zec, a milky-eyed maniac with a very »
- Mark Kermode
As journalists we are, of necessity, all about what's happening Right Now. So it's nice to take a step back and lose ourselves in stories that have stood the test of time. Tell us what you think of our vintage choices - and let us know what you're reading. Caitlin Keating, News Assistant Her Pick: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy I'm reading Anna Karenina right now for the fifth time. It's one of my all-time favorites. I am constantly quoting Tolstoy. "If you look for perfection, you will never be satisfied." If only more people understood how true that statement is, »
The artist daughter of the critic Clive James is emerging as a force in her own right, says Vanessa Thorpe
Clive James will one day be known simply as "Claerwen James's father", the television critic and author has predicted. On the eve of his elder daughter's new solo show of paintings, however, she points out wryly that the day has not arrived quite yet. "The subject of my father does still come up from time to time," she said.
"My strategy has been not to tell people, so for a long time nobody had the faintest idea." Her striking portraits, many of young women and girls, have been attracting growing attention for James, who was spotted by her gallery soon after leaving art school.
Sad and powerful, the faces that James paints are "not cheerful", she concedes. "I am basically a cheerful person, but it is true my paintings do »
- Vanessa Thorpe
Britain's Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are holding a reception to honour Australians and New Zealanders. The royal couple will today (06.02.13) be taking the time to meet and greet outstanding personalities who have received or been past finalists of national achievements in the UK and congratulate their success. Recently-titled Young Australian of the Year in the UK - Rhodes scholar Rebecca Richards - is one of the many guests attending the event, along with previous winner Yasmin Sewel and further nominees and recipients of the UK New Zealander of the Year prize. Previous winners and short-listed personalities of the Australian award include author and TV personality Clive James, London bombing victim Gill Hicks and »
It's homecoming time as, for the latest leg in their Italian journey, chef Giorgio Locatelli shows Andrew Graham-Dixon around his home region of Lombardy. The overarching theme is how the people of the area, plugged into the rich markets of industrial northern Europe, value innovation and engineering know-how. The journey to Milan, for instance, takes the duo along the A8, the world's first motorway. There's a dark side to all this modernity, though, as Graham-Dixon holds forth on Futurism founder Marinetti's links with fascism. Jonathan Wright
There's been room for a while in the schedules for a show that reflects the relentless mickey-taking that bonds groups of young males, and this is it. Set in Stockport, amid the world of pub outings, iffy jobs and the faintest hint of recession, »
- Jonathan Wright, David Stubbs, John Robinson, Hannah Verdier, Ben Arnold, Julia Raeside
13 items from 2013
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