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The New Statesman presents: An evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer

A New Statesman event.

 

The New Statesman is excited to offer the opportunity to its readers to pre-register for our upcoming event with author Neil Gaiman and singer Amanda Palmer on the evening of the 28 May in London.

This event has now SOLD OUT. 

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Neil Gaiman 


 

Neil Gaiman is the bestselling author of books for adults and children. He is the recipient of numerous awards, and his works have been adapted for film, television, stage and radio.

Some of Gaiman’s most notable books include The Graveyard Book (the first book to ever win both the Newbery and Carnegie medals), American Gods and the winner of the UK's National Book Award 2013 Book of the Year, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. His latest collection of short stories, Trigger Warning, was published earlier this year.

 

Amanda Palmer


 

Provocative, irreverent, controversial and wildly creative, Amanda Palmer is a fearless singer, songwriter, best-selling author, playwright, blogger and an audaciously expressive pianist. She simultaneously embraces and explodes traditional frameworks of music, theatre and art.

Palmer first came to prominence as one half of the internationally-acclaimed punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls. In 2008, she released her debut solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer, produced by Ben Folds and accompanied by a fine art photography book featuring text by Gaiman (who Palmer has since married). After parting ways with her record label in 2010, she self-released two EPs: Amanda Palmer Performs The Popular Hits of Radiohead On Her Magical Ukelele and Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under, along with the musical theatre-esque Evelyn Evelyn concept album and tour with Jason Webley.

Amanda is widely known as “The Social Media Queen of Rock-N-Roll” for her constant and disarmingly intimate engagement with her fans via her blog, Tumblr, and Twitter (1,000,000+ followers), and has been at the vanguard of using both “direct to fan” and “pay what you want” business models to build and run her business. In May 2012, she made international news when she raised nearly $1.2m pre-selling her new album, Theatre is Evil, along with related merchandise and “experiences” via Kickstarter.

Theatre is Evil went on to debut in the Billboard Top 10 when it was released on 11 September 2012, and has been released in over 20 countries on her own label, 8ft Records. She recently launched a page on patreon.com, a new subscription-style crowdfunding platform, and is currently being paid over $22,000 directly by her fans every time she releases a piece of content.

Amanda was invited to present a TED Talk at TED’s 2013 conference. To date, her Talk, “The Art of Asking”, has been viewed more than 10m times worldwide. That year also saw the release of “An Evening with Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer” – a three CD collection of tracks culled from a live tour with her husband.

2014 found Amanda expanding her philosophy into a book after the success of her TED Talk. The Art of Asking was released worldwide on 11 November and made the New York Times’ bestseller list.

Don't Tell the Bride YouTube screengrab
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How did Don’t Tell the Bride lose its spark?

Falling out of the love with reality TV’s wedding planning hit.

Steph, 23, from Nottinghamshire, is standing in a drizzly field wearing a wedding dress. Her betrothed, Billy, is running around in a tweed flat cap trying to make some pigs walk in “a continuous parade”. A man from Guinness World Records is watching with a clipboard, shaking his head. Bridesmaids gaze sorrowfully into the middle distance, each in a damp pig onesie.

Thus ends the second wedding in E4’s new series of Don’t Tell the Bride – and the programme’s integrity with it.

When the classic programme, which follows grooms attempting to plan their wedding (punchline: human males doing some organising), began a decade ago on BBC Three, it had the raw spark of unpredictability. For eight years, the show did nothing fancy with the format, and stuck with pretty ordinary couples who had few eccentric aspirations for their wedding day.

This usually resulted in run-of-the-mill, mildly disappointing weddings where the worst thing that happened would be a reception at the nearest motorway pub, or an ill-fitting New Look low heel.

It sounds dull, but anyone who has religiously watched it knows that the more low-key weddings expose what is truly intriguing about this programme: the unconditional commitment – or doomed nature – of a relationship. As one of the show’s superfans told the Radio Times a couple of years ago:

“It’s perfect, and not in an ironic or post-ironic or snarky way. The format has the solemn weight of a ceremony . . . Don’t Tell the Bride is not about ruined weddings, it’s about hope. Every wedding is a demonstration of how our ambitions curve away from our abilities. It’s a show about striving to deserve love and how that’s rarely enough.”

It also meant that when there were bombshells, they were stand-out episodes. High drama like Series 4’s notorious Las Vegas wedding almost resulting in a no-show bride. Or heart-warming surprises like the geezer Luke in Series 3 playing Fifa and guzzling a tinny on his wedding morning, who incongruously pulls off a stonking wedding day (complete with special permission from the Catholic Church).

For its eight years on BBC Three, a few wildcard weddings were thrown into the mix of each series. Then the show had a brief affair with BBC One, a flirt with Sky, and is now on its tenth year, 13th series and in a brand new relationship – with the more outrageous E4.

During its journey from BBC Three, the show has been losing its way. Tedious relationship preamble has been used to beef up each episode. Some of the grooms are cruel rather than clueless, or seem more pathetic and vulnerable than naïve. And wackier weddings have become the norm.

The programme has now fully split from its understated roots. Since it kicked off at the end of July, every wedding has been a publicity stunt. The pig farm nuptials are sandwiched between a Costa del Sol-based parasail monstrosity and an Eighties Neighbours-themed ceremony, for example. All facilitated by producers clearly handing the groom and best men karaoke booth-style props (sombreros! Inflatable guitars! Wigs!) to soup up the living room planning process.

Such hamminess doesn’t give us the same fly-on-the-wall flavour of a relationship as the older episodes. But maybe this level of artifice is appropriate. As one groom revealed to enraged fans in The Sun this week, the ceremonies filmed are not actually legally binding. “It makes a bit of a mockery of the process that the bride and groom go through this huge ordeal for a ceremony which isn’t even legal,” he said. Perhaps we should’ve predicted it would all eventually end in divorce – from reality.

Don’t Tell the Bride is on E4 at 9pm

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.