Film Review: Tower Block (2012)

A youthful Sheridan Smith, Russell Tovey and Jack O’Connell liven up the doom and gloom of Tower Block

“I did a bad thing, doesn’t mean it wasn’t right”

James Nunn and Ronnie Thompson’s Tower Block is one of those (many) films that somehow passed me by so when a pal mentioned it during a boozy night out, I resolved to get around to watching it, especially since it features early career Sheridan Smith and Russell Tovey.

Written by James Moran, this grittily urban thriller took me by surprise as for once, I had no idea what it was about. I will say that it is set inside a tower block which has been condemned, with just the residents of the top floor waiting to be rehoused and then…a rather bad day starts for them.  Continue reading “Film Review: Tower Block (2012)”

TV Review: No Return

Sheridan Smith’s takeover of our airwaves continues with ITV drama No Return, with great supporting work from Siân Brooke, Michael Jibson and David Mumeni

“You are no longer on holiday, this is hell”

Danny Brocklehurst’s (Brassic) newest show is No Return, which in one of those fickle turns of scheduling fate, means Sheridan Smith has now headlined three major dramas on three different terrestrial channels already in 2021. And given that this one is on ITV means that it is of the pleasingly trashy variety (in the best possible sense of the word).

Smith plays Kathy, living the dream on a long-awaited family trip to Turkey, whose holiday glow is seriously ruined when her teenage son Noah is accused of sexual assault and arrested. And as matters quickly snowball, the harsh reality of being enmeshed in a foreign legal system turns into an enduring nightmare for their extended family. Continue reading “TV Review: No Return”

TV Review: The Teacher

The televisual equivalent of a trashy airport novel, Channel 5’s drama The Teacher is silly but watchable fun, helmed by Sheridan Smith

“What am I supposed to do? Go to All Bar One?”

Written by Mike Benson, Barunka O’Shaughnessy and Jon Gilbert, the Sheridan Smith-starring The Teacher was a rather entertaining piece of nonsense that definitely appealed to the trashier part of my nature. A four-part drama centred on Jenna Garvey, a secondary school teacher accused of having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old pupil, it was ridiculous and farcical and fun.

Which may well have not been the original intention but let’s face it, the level of improbability of this type of twisty would-be psychodrama is what makes them so diverting. Whether in its interpretation of school life, legal processes or general interactions with people, The Teacher’s ridonkulous contrivances and dangling plotlines did the job for me.  Continue reading “TV Review: The Teacher”

News: Tristram Kenton’s stage archive – the musicals edition

Since it is the season of goodwill to all men, I’m not going to belabour the point that it is a shame that ‘musicals’ have been lumped together as a category here, whereas the likes of Pinter and Kane got their own specials, whither Sondheim, Herman and Tesori. Still, it’s lovely as ever to stretch back over years of musical theatre productions to see some of Tristram Kenton’s most iconic shots for the Guardian:

Photos: Tristram Kenton

News: The Royal Variety Show 2020 is confirmed

Comedian, actor and singer Jason Manford is to host The Royal Variety Performance at the historic Blackpool Opera House in the Winter Gardens Complex. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales will deliver a special message to the charity and the artistes performing in the show, as he looks forward to this exceptional evening of entertainment.

Returning to the North after nine years, the show promises to be an unforgettable evening of exceptional performers, world class British theatre and superb comedy, plus some exciting surprises. Continue reading “News: The Royal Variety Show 2020 is confirmed”

TV Review: Jonathan Creek Specials (2009–2013)

The Jonathan Creek specials from 2009–2013 undo much of the damage from Series 4, with Sheridan Smith largely to thank for that

“I’ve got a very important presentation to Weetabix in five minutes”

After the horror show that was the fourth series, Jonathan Creek disappeared from our TV screens for five years and for the subsequent five, returned only intermittently for three feature-length specials from 2009–2013. And I think the break did everyone a world of good as these episodes rival some of the show’s best in recapturing the sense of investigative fun that lay at its heart.

Chief in this is the casting of Sheridan Smith as wise-cracking paranormal investigator Joey Ross. Their buddy relationship is well drawn, wisely kept clear of any romantic entanglement and yet still deeply affectionate at its heart. Complex, multi-faceted mysteries are allowed to unfold more effectively in the longer format, although Renwick can’t help himself with women as porn stars and clod-hopping trans jokes. For the most part, everything just hangs together  better – until Jonathan get a wife that is…More of that in Series 5. Continue reading “TV Review: Jonathan Creek Specials (2009–2013)”

News: Tristram Kenton’s stage archive – the before-they-were-famous edition

One of the joys of seeing so much theatre in London is that sense of seeing any number of actors at the beginning of their careers and Tristram Kenton has been doing that for years now. Here’s just some of those big names as whippersnappers on the British stage:

Photos: Tristram Kenton

News: You Will Be Found by #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends to be released on 15th November

Auburn Jam Music are delighted to be releasing ‘You Will Be Found’ by #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends, a fundraising charity single in aid of youth charity The Diana Award, on Sunday 15 November to tie in with the start of National Anti-Bullying Week (16-20 November).  

The star-studded single is led by ten-year-old Charlie Kristensen from Wokingham, whose experience of being bullied started the viral #CheerUpCharlie campaign. Charlie is joined on the song by numerous stage and screen stars including Wendi Peters, Layton Williams and Michael Xavier, with Iain Armitage, Michael Ball, Rufus Hound, and Faye Tozer amongst many famous faces reading their supportive messages on the song’s video. The single is available to pre-save now on iTunes, Deezer, Spotify and Tidal at Continue reading “News: You Will Be Found by #CheerUpCharlie & West End Friends to be released on 15th November”

Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand

Simon Annand’s Time To Act is a beautiful book of photos capturing actors in the minutes before they go on stage

Tackling the constraints of the pandemic in its own way, Simon Annand’s fantastic new book of photos Time To Act has launched a virtual exhibition of some of the photographs which has now been extended to until Christmas. It’s an ingenious way of sharing some of the hundreds of images from the book and should surely whet the appetite for either just buying it now or putting on your list for Santa to collect soon.

Continue reading “Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand”

Album Review: Amanda Holden – Songs From My Heart

Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden releases her debut album Songs From My Heart, full of musical theatre treats and Sheridan Smith

“You pulled me in and together we’re lost in a dream”

I’ve never actually seen an episode of Britain’s Got Talent so the rise of Amanda Holden to “undoubtedly one of Britain’s best loved entertainers” is one that has largely passed me by. That’s not to denigrate a career that has impressively straddled many media though and with the release of her debut album Songs From My Heart, it is clear that she hasn’t finished adding strings to her bow.

The album sees her delve mainly into the world of musical theatre (I did see her in Shrek the Musical back in 2011) and it is an endeavour in which she acquits herself well. Holden has a lovely clear voice but more impressively, an interpretative style that is blessedly free of unnecessary riffs and that pervasive need that many have to make the material ‘their own’. Continue reading “Album Review: Amanda Holden – Songs From My Heart”