Notes on politics, arts and entertainment

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Diana, framed by some crafty editing. Photo: BBC/Love Productions
Diana was framed: why did the Great British Bake Off throw an innocent WI judge to the wolves?
By Caroline Crampton - 28 August 12:40

Accusations of a stitch-up are flying after the baking show’s most controversial episode to date.

Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan in Masters of Sex. Photo: Showtime
Masters of Sex: a drama of sex, ambiguity and darkness
By Caroline Crampton - 14 August 16:25

This US cable drama about William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the American sex researchers who pioneered physiological study of human sexuality, just keeps getting better and better.

The composer William Walton, photographed in 1965. Photo: Erich Auerbach/Getty
Proms 2014: the sound of silence in Walton’s Violin Concerto and Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony
By Caroline Crampton - 13 August 17:54

Performances by James Ehnes and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales had the Royal Albert Hall audience listening intently.

Lauren Bacall in 1951.
Lauren Bacall, leading lady of Hollywood’s Golden age, has died
By Caroline Crampton - 13 August 13:16

The star of To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep has had a stroke aged 89. But did she always get the roles she deserved?

Clare Teal with the Count Pearson Proms Band & Duke Windsor Proms Band at the Battle of the Bands, BBC Proms 2014. Photo: BBC/Chris Christodoulou
Proms 2014: a triumphant blaze of 1930s jazz with Clare Teal's Battle of the Bands
By Caroline Crampton - 10 August 13:51

Clare Teal brought an imagined “jazz off” between the Duke Ellington and Count Basie bands to the Royal Albert Hall.

Proms 2014: Commemorating the outbreak of WWI with John Tavener and the Tallis Scholars
By Caroline Crampton - 05 August 15:32

100 years after British foreign secretary Edward Grey said that “the lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime”, a programme of John Tavener’s music provided the perfect soundtrack for quiet remembrance.

Louise Dearman, Tony Yazbeck, Alexandra Silber and Ben Davis in Kiss Me, Kate at the Proms. All photos: Chris Christodoulou
Proms 2014: the John Wilson Orchestra thrills with Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate
By Caroline Crampton - 03 August 13:11

A triumphant return to the Proms for the John Wilson Orchestra with the original 1948 version of Cole Porter's great musical.

The bands are talented, but the music is terrible. Photo: Getty
Proms 2014: Remembering WWI with anthems for doomed youth
By Caroline Crampton - 25 July 10:20

Disciplined it might be, but military music is awful. Luckily, there's greater depth to this season than a first glance suggests.

Martin Freeman as Richard III. Photo: Marc Brenner
Stop clap-shaming first-time theatregoers who like Martin Freeman from off the telly
By Caroline Crampton - 07 July 14:12

So-called “seasoned theatregoers” have complained about the audience clapping during Martin Freeman’s West End appearance as Richard III, in what is nothing more than a display of blatant snobbery.

It was Sidney Webb, not Beatrice, who first supported women’s suffrage. Photo: Getty
The Women’s Library: a treasure house of women’s literature
By Caroline Crampton - 15 May 10:00

The LSE recently took over custodianship of the Women’s Library, which houses everything from Emily Wilding to Barbara Cartland and has close links to Beatrice and Sidney Webb. 

Queen Caroline. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
Caroline of Ansbach: the Georgian queen who brought the Enlightenment to Britain
By Caroline Crampton - 01 May 15:07

Three hundred years ago, an unlikely set of circumstances led to a minor German aristocratic family becoming the British royal family. Once the Georges arrived, Britain took the first steps towards becoming the nation it is today.

Mark Heap as Jeeves, Robert Webb as Bertie Wooster and Mark Hadfield as Seppings. Photo: Craig Sugden
Pure, unadulterated entertainment: Jeeves and Wooster on the stage
By Caroline Crampton - 24 April 17:05

Robert Webb and Mark Heap take their turn at portraying P G Wodehouse’s beloved toff and his omniscient butler.

Popular in Poplar: Angela Lansbury at the Angela Lansbury Film Festival, Poplar, April 2014
Angela Lansbury: “Peach queens are stars. I’m an actress”
By Caroline Crampton - 15 April 14:00

The veteran actress best known for Murder, She Wrote had an emotional return to her East End roots this month with a series of screenings and a personal appearance.

Stephen Mangan as Adrian Mole in a 2001 BBC TV adaptation.
The best moments from Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole
By Caroline Crampton - 11 April 10:06

The author, who has died at the age of 68, created in Adrian Mole a character who spoke to a generation of teenagers growing up in suburban Britain. Here, we recall a few of his finest moments.

Moving image: filmmaker Anthony Powell has yet to find cold-beating tech solutions on his feet. Image: Anthony Powell for his film "Antarctica: A Year on Ice"
What happens when your dishwasher breaks down in Antarctica?
By Caroline Crampton - 10 April 15:12

When you're living at the bottom of the world, you can’t just pop out to a hardware shop when something breaks, so your appliances are like part of the family.

Why, when we say "I'll just stay for one", does that never turn out to be the case? Photo: Getty
Peering through beer goggles: the pub that wants to improve your health
By Caroline Crampton - 28 March 12:56

Psychologists at London South Bank University have cunningly disguised a lab as a pub in order to research our drinking habits.

Little Britain, starring David Walliams and Matt Lucas, got its start on BBC3.
Should it really be BBC3 that gets the chop?
By Caroline Crampton - 05 March 15:12

If approved by the BBC Trust, the decision would see BBC3 lose its on-air slot and become online-only. Does it deserve the axe?

Alan Davies as Jonathan Creek, resplendent in his duffel coat.
The return of Jonathan Creek: why do we love it so much?
By Caroline Crampton - 28 February 16:06

Nearly seventeen years after the first episode aired, Alan Davies’ duffel-coated sleuth is shuffling back onto our screens.

A Margaret Thatcher Spitting Image puppet. Photo: Getty
The voice of the Iron Lady: how hard is it to imitate Margaret Thatcher?
By Caroline Crampton - 27 February 15:00

Meeting the man behind Spitting Image's rubbery Maggie.

Strong, interesting female characters are the secret of House of Cards’ success
By Caroline Crampton - 14 February 15:00

Unusually for a political drama, Netflix's remake of House of Cards has a brilliant and independent political wife its heart, and is all the better for it.

Britain’s love for an imaginary Nordic paradise
By Caroline Crampton - 11 February 13:07

The cosy jumpers, the vast brooding sky: what’s not to like about Scandinavian television?

The problem with analysing Girls – it's TV, not a unified theory of feminism
By Caroline Crampton - 27 January 12:32

Some commentators are saying that either Girls speaks for all women, representing some kind of unified theory of feminism, or it is nothing. Neither is the case: it is a television programme.

Sofia Helin, Dag Malmberg, Frederik Nilsson and Hans Kim in The Bridge
Why are crime dramas like The Killing so hooked on rape?
By Caroline Crampton - 16 January 11:12

It's not just the “Nordic noir” phenomenon, though - TV shows like CSI and NCIS seem to find it hard to get through a 60-minute episode without making reference to at least one mutilated female corpse.

Kristen Bell as high school private detective Veronica Mars.
Veronica Mars: Can a crowdfunded film ever be good?
By Caroline Crampton - 03 January 13:16

Once your audience are also your investors, can you ever do anything innovative or surprising?

The wonder boys: meeting Winchester Cathedral's choristers
By Caroline Crampton - 21 December 15:43

Being a chorister is hard work, and their commitment to their music tends to give them a startlingly mature outlook on certain aspects of life.

Rebecca Benson as Eli in Let the Right One In
Roamin’ in the haemoglobin: Let the Right One In at the Royal Court Theatre
By Caroline Crampton - 19 December 12:48

Having already appeared as both Swedish and American film versions, this vampire story is coming to the stage.

The lesbian Dead Sea Scrolls: Anne Lister's diaries
By Caroline Crampton - 05 December 16:54

“I love and only love the fairer sex and thus, beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any other love than theirs.”

Borgen stars Sidse Babett Knudsen (far left) as Birgitte Nyborg
Borgen was supposed to be a failure — so why did it succeed?
By Caroline Crampton - 28 November 14:22

"I didn’t want to tell a political story where all the politicians were shits, just devious bastards who were self-sufficient and only wanted power for the sake of power. I couldn’t write even ten episodes of that, because it would just be ... evil."

New Statesman
Who were the most extraordinary women of the fifties?
By Caroline Crampton - 31 October 6:56

Those who made dangerous choices when the only choice seemed to be "marry or die".

The Great British Bake Off: Why do we love to tear down women who are good at what they do?
By Caroline Crampton - 22 October 15:12

Raymond Blanc's comment that the hugely popular baking show contains "not much skills, female tears" is symptomatic of widespread prejudice about women's roles at home and at work.

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