Waxing Lyrical: The Space

This Waxing Lyrical is about The Space, an Arts and Culture service managed by Arts Council England in partnership with the BBC. This service allows visitors access to all sorts of ‘the arts’ for free in their own homes, via their computers, televisions and smartphones. It was originally set up as a six month pilot project, but this has now been extended for a further six months (until 31st March 2013). I am ridiculously happy about this but want it to be a permanent presence in my life; it has allowed me access to performances and films that I would not otherwise have been able to see, has introduced me to new artists and works, and has allowed me to see shows again and again that I thought I’d only be able to see once.


If you want to see a string quartet performing in helicopters, go to The Space. If you want to see Stephen Fry interview Tracey Emin, go to The Space. If you want¬† to see a silent film version of King Lear, go to The Space. There is something for everyone here, and a lot of other things that you didn’t know were for you until you saw them; I’m constantly discovering new things. Long may it reign.

Below is a list of my five favourite things currently available on The Space.

1.    Shakespeare: Globe to Globe

Okay, this is actually 36 separate shows, but YOU NEED TO SEE THEM ALL (what do you mean, you haven’t the time?). At the start of the summer Shakespeare’s Globe brought together companies to stage performances of all Shakespeare’s plays, each in a different language; I attended all of these performances (of course I did, it’s very much a thing that I would do) and adore The Space for letting me see most of them again. All are worth a look, but if you really can’t face watching 36 productions, 35 of which aren’t in English, then I would highly recommend Othello: The Remix (Hip Hop), Troilus and Cressida (Maori), Richard II (Palestinian Arabic) and As You Like It (Georgian), as they are my personal favourites. Oh, and Love’s Labour’s Lost is the first full length production of a Shakespeare play in British Sign Language, and that is pretty wonderful too.

2.    ILL-Abilities

The first UK performance of this amazing Super Crew of disabled break dancers, at Breakin’ Convention 2012. There is a lot of Hip Hop from Sadler’s Wells on The Space, but this is my favourite show. No Excuses, No Limits.

3.    Hokusai

A little animation from 1978 about the artist behind The Great Wave. One of the more random things I have watched on The Space, but very interesting, and only five minutes long.

4.     The Trojans by Berlioz

This opera was streamed live on The Space from the Royal Opera House. There are five acts. It’s quite long. Good though.

5.     The Two Worlds of Charlie F

A great play based on the experiences of wounded, sick and injured soldiers, and performed by the soldiers themselves. Moving and funny, I’d recommend everyone see this show. I missed it in London and it had left Edinburgh by the time I got there, so I’m very glad I get to see it on The Space.

In the next six months I’m sure that a lot is going to change as The Space experiments and works out exactly what the public wants from it. This is exciting, and I’m glad that I’ve been with it from the beginning and get to continue to watch it grow and expand. I look forward to seeing what else it’s going to bring me. I think you should too.



Waxing Lyrical: Twenty Twelve

In the first of a new series of posts in which I am quite enthusiastic about things I like (not too different from my usual then) I am going to be talking about Twenty Twelve, a BBC ‘mockumentary’ about the run-up to the Olympic Games. The show ended last night after two successful series, and I’m honestly going to miss it.

For a start it’s got some amazing main cast members: Hugh Bonneville, Jessica Hynes, Karl Theobald, Amelia Bullmore, Olivia Colman, Samuel Barnett, Vincent Franklin and Morven Christie (I was actually just going to list a few favourites here but I seem to have ended up with the whole list; that’s how good they are). It also has David Tennant as the Narrator, who manages to steal scenes without being in them.¬†It’s had some great guest stars, including Nina Sosanya, Tim McInnerny and Jason Watkins, and cameos from people such as Sebastian Coe, Aled Jones and Tanni Grey-Thompson.

The characters are pretty much hapless or hopeless, overworked and¬†under-qualified, out of their depth and in at the deep end. Which is all perfectly recognisable, of course. And I don’t hate them, in fact I quite like them and want them to succeed. And mainly, over the two series, they do. The show isn’t meant to be cruel or depressing; we’re not willing these people to fail. They get away with their incompetence, they get things done and they get the Games ready on time.

Also, and this is important, I find it funny. Often mildly amusing,¬†occasionally¬†laugh out loud funny. The script is ridiculously good, and often subtle, so I don’t catch something first time round and have a lovely surprise when I pick up on it later. Each character’s language is full of their own catchphrases, from Sally’s ‘Not a problem’ ¬†to Ian’s ‘So that’s all good’. Usually I find catchphrases annoying but these ones are such a part of each character, sort of verbal tics that they can’t help saying, that I don’t find them quite so glaring. I actually didn’t notice how often Martin said ‘Classic’ until last week, and now feel a little stupid.

And Siobhan has a language all of her own.

But it’s really what they don’t say that makes this show special to me. The whole Sustainability/Legacy distinction has been a major part of the show since the beginning, and I still don’t know the difference between the two. But I suppose what I’m really getting to here is the relationship between Ian, Head of Deliverance, and Sally, his PA, who is hopelessly in love with him. It was never mentioned, only alluded to, and now the show has ended and we will never know for sure what happens. And I don’t want to. I really don’t. We’re not supposed to.