1. Friday at Glastonbury (as seen from my sofa)

    Due to a) being a tad skint, b) having no one to go with and c) having my heart set on Leeds, Glasto has once again passed me by for another year. Therefore, I’m reduced once more to the quite good BBC highlights over the weekend. Obviously, the performances will lose something with me not being there in the flesh, but I’ll do my best. One little moan though, no footage of Radiohead’s not-so-secret set on the Park Stage, although the fact it contained mostly material from “The King Of Limbs” probably meant it wasn’t exactly stellar. The premier music festival has an odd mix on its bill this year with safe bets such as Coldplay and U2 mixing with Beyonce, Friendly Fires and Wu-Tang Clan. Safe to say, there’s something for everyone.

    Love ‘em or hate ‘em, and I’m sure you more snobby types will pick the latter, but Bono & Co know how to write an anthem. Not anthems in the way a song is massive for a few weeks, sun along to by fans and newcomers alike then disappears into the ether of the pop-culture melting pot; anthems in that millions of people across the globe can bellow every syllable word for word, grown men can drunkenly sob and hug each other, and that they’re generally great songs. Deny that last point at your peril. Pop snobs can sniff all they want, but if Beautiful Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday or Pride don’t make your heart or chest swell even just a miniscule a bit, then I’m not sure you have much of a soul. Yeah, it can be glib, middle of the road, a tad bland, but in terms of festival headliners, what more can you want than a truckful of iconic riffs and rhetoric shouted at you from a miniature Irishman in sunglasses. At night. When it’s raining.

    Dipping into their extensive back catalogue, U2 were obviously going to bring out the big guns: Vertigo, Where The Streets Have No Name etc, as well as the odd stinker (*cough* Get On Your Boots) and chucking verses from “Jerusalem”, “She Loves You” and “Moving On Up” willy-nilly, whenever Bono felt like it. The stage show was surprisingly bare, save for a bunch of videoscreens (used to great/cringe-worthy effect during Beautiful Day, featuring a videochat with the International Space Station). The protests and naysayers seem to have had little to no effect on the set, it being rapturously recieved and even turning forcing some critics to re-evaluate their opinions of the Irish foursome. Coldplay sure have a lot to live up to.

    Primal Scream, still touring their Screamadelica album show, were always going to be popular with those too “alternative” for U2. Drawing in a sizeable crowd, “Movin’ On Up” and “Loaded” were raucous and brilliant as ever. Not quite sure why Mani chose a thick peacoat for his stage attire though. Meanwhile, Cee-Lo Green decided on equally bizzare clothing for his set, looking like a pimped out Road Warrior. Mixing solo work with Gnarls Barkley material, the two biggest hits were naturally Fuck You and Crazy, which was spliced with Moby’s Natural Blues and shifted sonically from Spaghetti Western soundtrack to funk jam to Hendrix rock-out. Damn good stuff.

    The less said about Chase & Status, the better. Okay they’re not as soul-destroying as Pendulum, but they’re pretty close in terms of brainlessness. Generic dance beats, a shrill female vocal hook and anonymous couple of verses. Which song you ask? All of them. Maverick Sabre is a name that has been floating around for some time, having featured on Professor Green’s single Jungle as well as a spot on Later with Jools Holland. Looking at him, he looks like the average Jack Wills connoisseur in your local Wetherspoons, but his vocals are surprisingly enigmatic and unexpected; a soulful Paolo Nutini-esque croon, just not awful.

    As I so eloquently summed up on my Twitter; Fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons, fuck Mumford & Sons. Mediocre, middle of the road, folksy twaddle played posh boy gap year students, reappropriating folk to fit their bland garbage… *ahem* I believe I’ve made myself quite clear on that matter, so we’ll move on to something of infinitely greater quality; Morrissey. No massive jump in direction or demeanour from the Mozfather (opening line “Hello Glasto, how strange it is to see me here…”), but another solid rocking set. Pops at U2 and David Cameron being par for the course, a Morrissey set seemed oddly fitting for a wet, miserable festival afternoon. Although the rockier, Marr-less This Charming Man ain’t too great, I’ll admit.

    Can we book Jimmy Cliff for every festival ever? Even just for that amazing gold suit. It’d certainly make a welcome change from Interpol and White Lies popping up everywhere. Biffy Clyro, shirtless as ever. You’d think they’d be cold, but then they’re Scottish, so it probably felt like a balmy summer’s day to them. Habing slowly become one of the country’s premier rock bands, it looks as if they pulled in a sizeable crowd, although singalongs were reserved for the choruses. Draw your own conclusions from that, if you will. Musically, the Biff sound as tight as ever, bringing some actual rock riffs to the Pyramid Stage. Never a bad thing.

    All in all, it seems like a damn fine opening day for Glasto 2011. Coldplay, Beyonce et al have a high standard to match over the rest of the weekend.


    Third in their trilogy of sitcoms, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant return to the BBC with Life’s Too Short, a combination of The Office, Extras and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The show has been described by Gervais as about “the life of a showbiz dwarf” and will follow Warwick Davis playing a twisted, fictionalised version of himself, with Gervais and Merchant popping up too. As shown in the trailer above, Keith Chegwin, Les Dennis and Shaun Williamson (Barry from Eastenders) will all have cameos along with a selection of starrier names such as Steve Carrell, Sting, Sandra Bullock and Johnny Depp. Gervais has also confirmed that ‘Keith from The Office’ will appear and has hinted that there will be a Doctor-Who related cameo at some point. What odds a certain Mr Pilkington turns up at some point?


    Well this is a pleasant surprise; yet another trailer for the upcoming second half of the 2011 season of Doctor Who. It’s still over six weeks away, but the excitement is reaching a fever pitch. Along with older footage, this newie contains a little bit more of Madame Kovarian (Frances Barber), a pyramid with the American flag daubed across it, a bunch of pterosaurs and the return of The Doctor's cowboy hat. Cowboy hats are cool, it would seem. So who's excited?


    Next week’s episode of Doctor Who looks like one of the best of the series so far. According to the synopsis, the Doctor, Amy and Rory end up in a hotel where the layout of the rooms keeps changing, and the rooms contain the greatest fear of each visitor. The promo pics sure give off a bit of a Shining vibe, whilst the minotaur-type creature shown roaming the halls in the adverts looks particularly nightmarish. Also, looks like the Weeping Angels are back. Have a pillow ready to hide behind on Saturday.


    Needless to say, this is one of the more unexpected covers of the year; the foremost psychedelic goths in music covering the biggest popstar of the past decade. Instead of epic pop balladry, Faris & co have taken Beyonce's "Best Thing I Never Had" and transformed it into a sprightly slice of swirling shoegaze that wouldn’t be too out of place on “Primary Colours”.

  6. In news that will have Hollywood producers seeing dollar signs whilst simultaneously horrifying fans of all things Time Lord, it looks like there’s set to be another Doctor Who film. David Yates, director of the last four Harry Potter films is working with the BBC in order to produce a version of Doctor Who for the silver screen, which will be the Time Lord’s first cinema outing since 1996 when Paul McGann made his one and only appearance as the Eighth Doctor.

    According to Yates: 

    "We’re going to spend two to three years to get it right. It needs quite a radical transformation to take it into the bigger arena. Russell T. Davies and then Steven Moffat have done their own transformations, which were fantastic, but we have to put that aside and start from scratch… We want a British sensibility, but having said that, Steve Kloves wrote the Potter films and captured that British sensibility perfectly, so we are looking at American writers too.

    A BBC spokesperson also commented:

    "A Doctor Who feature film remains in development with BBC Worldwide Productions in Los Angeles. The project is unlikely to reach cinemas for several years and as yet there is no script, cast or production crew in place.

    That rumbling noise you hear? That’s the sound of millions of Whovians rushing to put a stop to this monstrosity. Now it’s harsh to judge a project that’s barely just been announced and is two-to-three years away, with zero casting or plot details confirmed, but a Doctor Who film without any input from the current or past production staff and without any of the already established history sounds like a worse idea than a chocolate teapot.

  7. Yes, it’s rolled ‘round again; the BBC Sound Of 2012 longlist has today been revealed. Having previously been topped by the MOR likes of Ellie Goulding, Mika, Keane, Adele, and Jessie J, this year’s list sees very little in the way of a big potential chart star. The longlist is also lacking in guitar bands. Last year’s list contained The Vaccines, Anna Calvi, Esben & The Witch, Yuck, Warpaint and Mona as the six-string stars for the future whereas Spector are the only nominees representing the indie world this time around. The inclusion of Skrillex is a baffling one, not only because he’s awful but also because Sonny Moore, the man behind the moniker, has been around for ages. Most commentators are chipping in that it’s not only too late to include him on this year’s list, but last year’s too.

    The longlist in full is:

    • A$AP Rocky
    • Azealia Banks
    • Dot Rotten
    • Dry The River
    • Flux Pavillion
    • Frank Ocean
    • Friends
    • Jamie N Commons
    • Liane La Havas
    • Michael Kiwanuka
    • Niki & The Dove
    • Ren Harvieu
    • Skrillex
    • Spector
    • Stooshe

    If we were a betting blog, then our hypothetical money would be on OFWGKTA member Frank Ocean to claim the top spot, since he’s clearly got the biggest chance of success and crossover potential. Azealia Banks is another likely choice, considering the rumbling ball of hype surrounding her (first in the NME Cool List, opening slot on that publication’s Radar Tour, support from Pitchfork).

  8. Is one of these three actors the next Doctor?: As you’ve probably heard if you’ve been on the internet in the past week or so, Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who at the end of the year. The Eleventh Doctor is set to regenerate in the yet-to-filmed Christmas special, but his replacement is underwraps… or is it? As is tradition before a new Doctor is announced, speculation has been rife over who will become “Twelve”; names like Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart and Dame Helen Mirren have been bandied around by salivating Whovians, clearly eager for some huge star power in the role. But as amazing as any of those actors would be as The Doctor, think back to when David Tennant’s departure was announced; did anyone expect Matt Smith to be cast? Did anyone really even know who he was? The BBC tends to pick relative unknowns, or at least actors with only some minor name status to fill the Time Lord’s shoes.

    Rumours are abound that the new Who will be revealed tomorrow, thanks to a British Sunday paper supposedly discoverinthe identity of the actor, forcing the BBC to make their announcement much earlier than planned. It’s also suggested that there has been a photoshoot with the new Twelfth Doctor already, and Starburst Magazine has offered up the likeliest options to replace Smith.

    • Dominic Cooper
      Quite a well known face, if not name, in the contemporary film world, Cooper has starred in The History Boys, Captain America, Mamma Mia, An Education and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer in the last few years. He might suffer from the “pretty boy” prejudice which greeted Matt Smith in 2009, but he does have the talents to pull off the range of emotions required for our favourite Gallifreyan. However would Cooper want to give up a burgeoning Hollywood career for a trip in the TARDIS? Probably not.

    • Daniel Kaluuya
      If Kaluuya gets the job, he’ll join a number of actors (namely Freema Agyeman and Karen Gillan) to have reappeared in the series in a major role after first appearing in an earlier episode. However he’ll be the first to return as The Doctor himself, which may be evidence enough to put him out of the running. Kaluuya played Barclay in the Tennant-era episode Planet Of The Dead, but is best know for playing Posh Kenneth in the first generation of Skins. He also appeared in the Black Mirror episode 15 Million Merits, as well as Psychoville, Welcome To The Punch and The Fades, not to mention a role in the upcoming Kick-Ass 2. Kaluuya would be a fine choice for Twelve (his performance and especially his closing monologue in 15 Million Merits is something to behold), and would be the first black actor in the role. At 23, he’s even younger than Matt Smith too, which fits the trend of increasingly younger Doctors.

    • Domhnall Gleeson
      Possibly the least known of these three candidates, Gleeson is, as the name suggests, the son of Brendan Gleeson, star of In Bruges and Mad-Eye Moody in a little-known series called Harry Potter. Domhnall himself also appeared in the Potter saga as Bill Weasley, and like Daniel Kaluuya, was in an episode of Black Mirror. His filmography skews towards the independent side of things, although he has popped in up in larger productions like Dredd, Anna Karenina, Never Let Me Go and True Grit. If we had to choose, Gleeson would be our pick, purely for the payoff of the running joke of The Doctor wanting to be ginger.

    So, if the gossip is true (which is probably isn’t, and these three are the final candidates to man the TARDIS, which would you want saving the universe?

  9. Clicking onto iPlayer late at night, I confess I went into watching the new BBC Three docu-series Don’t Call Me Crazy with a lot of concerns. The trailer seemed to present the series as a kind of reality TV show, exploiting these young people at their very worst for some quasi-psychological insight for the everyman, and with a subject matter all too close to home that didn’t sound like fun viewing at all. But, so as not to judge without knowing what I was on about (and expecting to think very negatively about it), I clicked play.

    Based at Manchester’s McGuinness Unit For Adolescents With Mental Health Problems, this first episode focuses on Beth, a teenage girl with issues including self-harm, depression and an eating disorder, as well as her fellow patients with problems such as OCD, psychosis and suicidal thoughts. What the trailer didn’t reveal is that DCMC equally follows the staff who treat them and their ups and downs. Without being sensationalist, the BBC, in my opinion, offer a very realistic and well handled view of what these units are like. There are graphic and disturbing scenes where patients are being restrained and others physically struggling with food, which are the harsh realities of serious mental health problems. If you are looking for some light entertainment, this ain’t it. But what they do not lose sight of is the fact that they are still teenagers, with shots of them dancing to cheesy pop music and playing pool to pass the long hours. The patients mess about with the staff and the staff recount anecdotes about the teenagers under their care.

    Although 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems in their lifetime, institutes like the McGuinness Unit and other units that exist for adolescents remain a mystery to most. These are not the institutes of the Victorian past, and yet their locked doors, compulsory observations, and sectionings are enough to evoke these. With no fault to the public, the patients or the staff, these buildings become full of mystery and it is very easy to see their signs and instantly think of negative stigmas. For the many watching at home, I hope that their motive is of general interest towards something they will probably never access themselves, and not voyeuristic or sensationalist. The patients themselves are never treated as typical teenagers “just going through a tough adolescence”, but as young people with genuine problems, with the realities and seriousness of their illnesses on full display. 

    This is where the series redeems itself from its trailer: instead of being exploitative, it opens up the issuess of mental health and portrays these units neither in a positive nor negative light, simply a truthful one. They show a conversation between the patients in which they have a totally casual discussion about the negative stigma surrounding their mental health issues. In my opinion, there is no better way to show this issue to the general public than the patients themselves describing their problems or the fact that “if you had a cold, nobody would ask ‘Why do you have a cold? You have no real reason to have a cold’.” In general, the subject matter is handled delicately and correctly, with only a few patients giving all area access and others having their faces blurred or only appearing once or twice.

    This is not to say that the series is without its problems though. The main one for me is the shots of patients huddled in corners with staff walking by, which suggests a neglect in the health system. Although the series may defunk the stigma surrounding institutes and mental health problems, I can think of two ways in which a young audience might react to this (perhaps without realising it):

    • the triggering response - the problem with releasing a programme like this to the general viewer is that it you don’t know what state of mind this ‘general’ viewer is in. The series by no means glamourises mental health, but scenes of a patient with an eating disorder listing her coping methods of not eating, or how someone can self-harm with ‘literally anything sharp and easy to conceal’ could trigger or aid those who already have these issues

    • the patients as an example - as the docu-series is not uplifting and shows the harsh reality of mental health treatment, I worry that viewers may look upon the Unit with an ‘I-don’t-want-to-end-up-there’ response, setting patients as an example to be avoided. This gives the idea that mental health issues are a choice that can be avoided, and is counter-productive.

    So, do we go back to not making documentaries like this and leaving the general public in the dark? Or will Don’t Call Me Crazy help with mental health stigma? It is indeed compulsive viewing, but whether or not this is for the right reasons remains up in the air. The beginning seems promising, but let’s see what the rest of the series has to hold.

  10. First official image of the Twelfth Doctor: All we can muster for Peter Capaldi’s costume is a resounding meh. It looks a bit like it should be in an upmarket middle-age menswear catalogue; a bit dull compared to Tennant and Smith’s outfits and a lot less cool than Eccleston’s battered leather jacket. Oh well, let’s judge him on his actual performance as The Doctor and less on what he’s wearing.