Watchlist: Feb into March


The Tempest – Shakespeare’s Globe

I went with our Year 8s to a special Schools Production of The Tempest at the open air Globe in London. Cut down to ninety minutes. So we got Prospero and Ariel’s magic, Miranda and Ferdinand’s love story, the drunken antics of Trinculo, Stefano and Caliban (the latter in a neon pink puffa which did make him look like a ‘tortoise’), and very little of the politics with the shipwrecked nobles and their entourage. It was bright and fun, and the actors did their best to speak over the general loud background murmur of the teenaged crowd who didn’t really understand keeping quiet. We did all whoop and cheer when the young lovers kissed and gasped when Ariel came down from inside the roof with huge iridescent wings though. I’d forgotten how many of Shakey’s best lines are in The Tempest.

This was my first experience of the Globe, and I’m glad it was a short play, as the cushions for hire weren’t available. The wooden seats are not deep, with very little legroom, and I was surrounded by 12-13yr old boys! Also, by the end of the performance, being open to the elements, it was freezing and drizzling hard when we got out.


Allelujah – 12A – adapted from Alan Bennett’s 2018 play.

The Bethlehem – aka ‘The Beth’ is a geriatric hospital under threat of closure. Its all-star cast of mature actors (Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi, David Bradley and Julia Foster amongst others) are joined by Jennifer Saunders as the fierce and efficient ward sister, Bally Gill as Dr Valentine – a young Indian doctor working towards getting his British citizenship and Russell Tovey, who works for the Minister of Health and thus one of those who would close it down, as the son of one of the patients (Bradley as a former miner).

It has plenty of Bennett drollery, a few good gags, and is, of course, a love letter to the NHS. But there is a darker shocking side to this drama, which is telegraphed fairly early on and I will say no more on that. The film does add a Covid coda to the play, which both jars and works at the same time. The reviews have mostly been lukewarm and think Saunders miscast as Sister Gilpin; she is channelling her inner Ratched. Bally Gill is absolutely lovely, Dench and Jacobi dial in their expected performances. David Bradley as the miner Joe struggling to come to terms with his gay son Colin (Tovey) are the stand outs. Directed by Richard Eyre, and produced by Bennett, it’s Bennett-lite – an undemanding drama – but I enjoyed it a lot.


  • Clarkson’s Farm (Prime) – Series 2 – more of the same but whatever you may think of him, Clarkson’s journey as a farmer does highlight the sector’s problems big time. His planning battles are legend too.
  • Three Pines (Prime) – Alfred Molina as Inspector Gamache in the dramatisation of Canadian Louise Penny’s novels. Lower key than most crime series, I enjoyed it.
  • Picard (Prime) – Series 3 – Very much a getting the old crew back together vibe – with Riker, Crusher, Worf, Ro, joining La Forge’s daughter, and Seven in a terrifying adventure to save the Federation again. Loving it.
  • Daisy Jones and the Six (Prime) – follows the book pretty closely. My only gripe is that the interview segments are meant to be at least 20 years later and they haven’t aged enough! Great fun though.
  • The Apprentice (BBC1) I wanted Simba or Megan to get to the final, but had picked Marnie. The editing has been to exploit the nasty this year, which has made the candidates seem largely poor in comparison with previous cohorts. I can’t see Rochelle beating Marnie though.
  • Shrinking (Apple+) – Harrison Ford supports in this drama series about a psychiatry practice in Pittsburgh. Jason Segel is a grieving therapist having lost his wife, and starts to break the rules by telling his clients exactly what he thinks. Ford is the practice boss and his irascible older mentor. Fun.
  • TED LASSO IS BACK (Apple+) – Wednesday evenings are 100% better again with the final series of the philosophical football comedy that warms the heart of the most hardened soccer-phobes. Like all good sit-coms – the situation may be a football club in this case, but the comedy comes from the people.

What have you seen over the past month or so that you’d recommend?

5 thoughts on “Watchlist: Feb into March

  1. Calmgrove says:

    I’d love to see this Bennett production, so will look out for it. As for the Globe, we saw Romeo and Juliet there several years ago, but had the chance to watch it from a side box in the gallery, so no noisy smelly groundlings for us!

    Not watched any of the shows you mentioned, and there are a small handful I never would (Clarkson being the standout). On terrestrial TV our most recent favourite was Channel 4’s The Piano, which was moving, inspirational and reinforced our faith in humans’ capacity to be empathic, sensitive, creative and supportive. All now available on All4 – have a box of hankies available for the inevitable outcome.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      It may be meteorological spring, but it ain’t the real thing yet! The Globe was a bit chilly for the tail end of winter, but I would be keen to see another production with a quieter audience!

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      The interviews weren’t fun were they (apart from Mike Souter reprising his website acquisitions from last year with the map of gyms for Marnie). The women candidates are all such a type too, there was more variation in the men.

  2. Liz Dexter says:

    We are excited to see Ted Lasso back and now Taskmaster is back this week, too, hooray! We also loved The Piano. I have got very drunk at the Globe at a university alumni night years ago (decades ago) – my friend Annabelle scared Chris Tarrant by ranting at him about when she never received her prize from Tiswas … But I’ve never seen a play there!

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