6 items from 2013
ITV's revival is a reminder of how central women's friendships are to most classic comedy shows
Rock bands go on for ever, it seems. And even when they break up, they re-form later. So perhaps popular sitcoms should have the same leeway. News last week that Birds of a Feather, the BBC show that first standardised the Essex brand across Britain, will be back on television screens with its original female cast implies that, as the age of pensionable retirement recedes, so the sell-by date on comic scenarios has lengthened too.
Birds of a Feather ran for nine series between 1989 and Christmas 1998 and told the story of two sisters, Sharon and Tracey, played by Pauline Quirke and Laura Robson, both married to imprisoned bank robbers and living in Chigwell. Diverting them from their squabbles was their neighbour, the libidinous and aspirational Dorien, played by Lesley Joseph. Written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, »
- Vanessa Thorpe
Having directed an earlier movie set in Birmingham's black community, Penny Woolcock was called in by local gang leaders a couple of years ago to document an attempt to effect a truce there. It starts with representatives of the Burgers and the Johnsons meeting in a neutral hotel room, everyone suspecting it might be an ambush. Both gangs belong to areas with high crime rates and high unemployment whose postcodes are separated by a mile. Subsequent discussions are conducted mostly on the streets, though one conversation between gangsters, a local white parliamentary candidate, and Jonathan Powell, former Downing Street adviser and participant in the Ulster peace process, takes place in a smart hotel where no alcohol is consumed or grass smoked.
There is some revealing material about relations with the cops (which are pretty bad) and the problematic trial of the alleged killers of teenagers Letisha Shakespeare and Charlene Ellis. »
- Philip French
Director: Penny Woolcock
Starring: Dylan Duffus, Matthias Thompson (Shabba), Jonathan Powell
Running time: 90 minutes
Synopsis: Penny Woolcock investigates violent tensions between opposing gangs in Birmingham and how two contrasting members try to stem the hatred.
Back in 2009, Penny Woolcock directed the Hip-Hop musical 1 Day, following the life of an inner-city hustler. What better way to follow-up that story than with a documentary confronting the real-life violence which inspired the fictional story.
One Mile Away documents the tensions between two opposing Birmingham-based gangs: the Burger Bar Boys (B21) and the Johnson Crew (B6). While filming 1 Day, Woolcock developed a trusting friendship with Dylan Duffus (part of the B21 gang – also starred as Flash in the original musical) and members of his ‘opposition’. With violence spreading throughout the neighbourhood, Dylan decides to use Penny’s close relationship with both sides to try and build a bridge between the groups, with hopes »
- Jazmine Sky Bradley
A frank new book about Doctor Who is full of shocking claims
Doctor Who is the most documented programme in the history of television. It has generated hundreds of scholarly books and articles. Over 34 years Doctor Who Magazine has examined every episode, spin-off novel, audio drama and comic strip in microscopic detail. Remnants of rejected scripts from the bottom drawers of dead screenwriters have been reconstructed and recorded. The memories of production team members have been sifted by convention delegates and the makers of DVD extras. Every dispute, tantrum, writ and nervous breakdown; every all-nighter at the keyboard or in the Colony Room has been logged, archived, discussed. We – and when I say "we", I probably don't mean "you" – know that Ridley Scott was originally on the rota to design the Daleks, that Tom Baker looks weird in "The Ribos Operation" because a dog bit his face down the pub, »
- Matthew Sweet
Both sides visit London, Belfast and Dublin to learn methodology and psychology that led to negotiations breakthrough
While Turkish and Kurdish leaders wait for the music to start in their fragile "peace process", they have already jointly taken to the dance floor, warily exploring whether enemies can become partners.
Two places they have been doing this are Britain and Ireland, with politicians from both sides visiting London, Belfast and Dublin to learn about the methodology and psychology of negotiations that led to the breakthrough Good Friday accords under Tony Blair.
"Although there are historical differences between Northern Ireland and Turkey, it was very important. I learned a lot," said Ayla Akat, a Kurdish MP who took part. She recalled meetings Jonathan Powell, Blair's chief of staff, and learning of his "bicycle theory" of conducting negotiations. "You've got to keep pedalling or you fall over."
Cengiz Çandar, a veteran commentator with »
- Ian Traynor
A brutal dispute between street gangs blighted Birmingham for 20 years, making national headlines in 2003 when two teenage girls were shot dead. But an uneasy truce reigns now, brokered by a former cabinet minister and a film-maker, who tells the story in an extraordinary documentary, One Mile Away
Ashley "Woody" Woodcock was 15 and hanging clothes on a washing line in his back garden when a bullet came whistling towards him. At first, he didn't understand what was happening but when he looked at his hand, he saw it was bleeding. The edge of his palm had been skimmed by the shot, a wound that would leave a burned-out blackened scar that is still visible now, 10 years later.
Matthias "Shabba" Thompson is 33. He was shot in the leg a few years back. He was in such a state of shock that he didn't even notice until he jumped in a car to »
- Elizabeth Day
6 items from 2013
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