Notes on politics, arts and entertainment

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A man waits outside the Royal Albert hall during the BBC Proms. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Why every progressive person should sing the Proms' praises
By Caroline Crampton - 17 July 12:12

An image of elitism still hovers around classical music - but the Proms have a democratic history that ought to be celebrated.

Sandi Toksvig welcoming her guests for her last News Quiz. Photo: BBC/Lucy Eliot-Higgitt
Black tie, BBC “bias” and blubbing: at Sandi Toksvig’s last News Quiz
By Caroline Crampton - 26 June 15:33

The host of BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz is stepping down after nine years to go into politics. Caroline Crampton was there at her last recording.

The Queen on a visit to Berlin. The hats don't buy themselves, you know. Photo: Getty
Is the SNP really trying to break up with the Queen?
By Caroline Crampton - 24 June 13:16

News that the Scottish government could withhold money from QEII has been exaggerated, but there is a political point to the SNP defining itself against the monarchy.

James Horner won both his Oscars for his work on “Titanic”.
James Horner, Oscar-winning composer of the Titanic soundtrack, dies in a plane crash
By Caroline Crampton - 23 June 12:02

Best known for co-writing “My Heart Will Go On”, Horner wrote innovative and popular scores for a whole host of Hollywood films.

The entrance to Dreamland. Photo: Paul Hudson on Flickr via Creative Commons
We all wanted to go to Dreamland
By Caroline Crampton - 19 June 15:16

Margate’s seafront theme park is reopening to the public after years of legal battles, arson and dereliction. Caroline Crampton looks back on a fascinating, troubled history of darkness and fun.

James Rhodes performs at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Photo: Amy T. Zielinski/Getty Images
In pianist James Rhodes' self-hatred, there is a compelling case for empathy
By Caroline Crampton - 18 June 12:06

In his memoir Instrumental, it feels at times as though Rhodes is daring you to dismiss him, to find his story trivial or inferior.

Angela Eagle addresses  Labour Party conference. Photo: Getty Images
Angela Eagle: “We just have to get over it and get on with it”
By Caroline Crampton - 09 June 7:30

The deputy Labour leadership candidate talks to Caroline Crampton about her pitch to the party, what went wrong at the general election, and why she wants one of the top jobs after 23 years as an MP.

A giant head formed the set for the Royal Opera House's Król Roger. Photo: Bill Cooper/ROH
Król Roger’s music is beautiful – but overwhelmed by constant symbolism
By Caroline Crampton - 21 May 13:59

The production makes it very clear what we are supposed to think, which sadly detracts from the variety and ambiguity the composer worked into his score. 

It can cost over £30k to stand for parliament. Photo: Getty
How much does it cost to stand as an MP?
By Caroline Crampton - 20 April 9:57

If you want to stand on the stage on election night wearing a rosette, you'll have to buy it yourself.

The Culture Debate in progress. Photo: @BBCArts
Four things we learned from the culture debate
By Caroline Crampton - 08 April 21:34

Everyone agrees about everything. Almost.

Bryn Terfel and Emma Thompson in Sweeney Todd at the ENO. Photo: Tristran Kenton
Meat is murder: Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel in Sweeney Todd at the London Coliseum
By Caroline Crampton - 02 April 16:24

A subversive semi-staging of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd brings the infamous barber back to London.

Herdwick and Swaledale sheep roam the hills in spring. Photo: Ashley Cooper/Rex
James Rebanks: “Shepherding is beautiful and interesting. It’s a dignified and decent way to live”
By Caroline Crampton - 30 March 12:36

Caroline Crampton spends the day with James Rebanks, Twitter’s best-known shepherd and author of The Shepherds Life, and learns how he’s updating the centuries-old sheep-farming traditions of the Lake District for the modern day.

The BBC National Orchestra Of Wales. Photo: BBC/Guy Levy
Budget 2015: Why George Osborne’s tax cut for orchestras is really unfair
By Caroline Crampton - 18 March 15:13

When is an orchestra not an orchestra? The way this policy defines it, northern brass bands and Scottish bagpipe groups will be excluded from the tax relief.

Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid in “Last Tango in Halifax”. Photo: BBC
Sally Wainwright: There’s no such thing as “northern comedy”
By Caroline Crampton - 11 March 13:41

The writer of such “northern” hits as Last Tango in Halifax and Happy Valley explains why she finds such categorisation redundant.

Podcasts are for everyone. Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images
Downloading a parallel world: Helen Zaltzman on what it takes to make a successful podcast
By Caroline Crampton - 19 February 22:43

For over a decade now people have been making and listening to podcasts - it didn't all begin with Serial, you know.

James MacMillan in action.
Conjuring sound: James MacMillan conducts a retrospective of his own works
By Caroline Crampton - 19 February 16:27

Appearing at the Barbican with the BBC Singers and London Sinfonietta, the composer's hands seem to shape music out of thin air.

Prodigy: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a child. Picture: Rex features
Extended play: the world's longest Mozart festival debuts at Wigmore Hall
By Caroline Crampton - 05 February 15:15

On Mozart 250 and Sarah Connolly in America.

Grave matters: a relief from Djehutyhop II's tomb. Photo: British Museum, London
The mummy returns: the first Senusret III exhibtion is a reminder all things must end
By Caroline Crampton - 08 January 15:10

A new exhibition at Lille's Palais des Beaux-Arts reveals the life of an ancient image-maker.

David Tennant as DI Alec Hardy and Olivia Coleman as DS Ellie Miller in Broadchurch. Photo: ITV
It’s a miracle: the new Broadchurch avoided all the usual pitfalls of a sequel
By Caroline Crampton - 06 January 11:34

It looks like the second series of ITV’s popular thriller is going to be far more interesting than we can usually expect from such a highly-anticipated follow-up.

The Reverend Libby Lane, the new Bishop of Stockport.
Meet Libby Lane, the Church of England’s first woman bishop
By Caroline Crampton - 17 December 17:57

After decades of wrangling, the Church of England has finally appointed its first woman bishop. Caroline Crampton went to meet Reverend Libby Lane, the new Bishop of Stockport.

Other Mary: a statue of Mary Magdelene in San Salvador. Photo: Getty
Magdalene sisters: John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary
By Caroline Crampton - 05 December 16:18

The piece is an attempt to see the Passion through the eyes of the women who surrounded Jesus, with particular emphasis on Mary Magdalene.

Inspiring: Malala Yousafzai speaks at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia on 21 October. Photo: Getty
Hear their voices: a choral celebration of Malala Yousafzai
By Caroline Crampton - 13 November 10:00

Young British composer James McCarthy and Pakistani writer Bina Shah have collaborated to produce Malala, a dramatic work for choir and orchestra that attempts to capture the spirit of her story.

Woman and fiction: A portrait of Virginia Woolf, c. 1927. Photo: Getty
Women writers after Woolf: Still fighting for a room of one’s own
By Caroline Crampton - 16 October 10:00

Superficially, women who write fiction today seem to get equal billing with their male counterparts. Yet their work will never get the kind of avid coverage given to men. 

God's own composer: John Tavener in 2007
Sound and vision: John Tavener's Flood of Beauty
By Caroline Crampton - 09 October 10:00

Lasting 100 minutes and requiring an orchestra, dozens of singers, cello and vocal soloists, the piece assaults the senses, deliberately seeking to encompass the listener within the scope of its sound.

Emma Thompson attends a photocall for BAFTA's Screenwriter Lecture series at BFI Southbank, 20 September. Photo: Getty
Emma Thompson’s leap into the dark
By Caroline Crampton - 09 October 10:00

Thompson is best known for playing complicated intellectual women, often in period dramas. But at the outset, sketch comedy was where she saw herself.

Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for West Lothian from 1962 to 1983. Photo: George Freston/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
What is the West Lothian Question?
By Caroline Crampton - 19 September 8:32

The thorny issue of “English votes for English laws”.

The New Statesman’s Scottish referendum coverage
By Caroline Crampton - 18 September 15:36

We’ll be here all night!

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.

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