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And so, another year without my beloved Glastonbury. It has been the highlight of my social calendar for more than three decades, but now, due to the pandemic, the festival has been cancelled for the second year running. Whilst I understand the reasons behind why the organisers, Michael and Emily Eavis, have reached this conclusion, my heart sank at the news. People often ask why I’m still so enamoured of the festival at my age (I’m 60). From the first moment I stood knee-deep in the mud watching Radiohead’s seminal set in 1997, Glastonbury has been one of my favourite places on Earth. I’ve been every year since. I even went midway through cancer treatment once – but more on that in a moment. I love everything about Glasto, even the camping – although we’re more tipi than tent nowadays (I’ve learned to tailor the experience so that the many deprivations of living in a field for a weekend are offset by having some comfort while you sleep). But that doesn’t mean we don’t throw ourselves into the experience whole-heartedly. We still trudge from stage to stage, managing our schedules to try to catch as many bands as possible; drink non-stop; and maraud around until dawn in the late-night party areas. One of my favourite places in the festival is The Park, quieter and more laid-back than the rest of the site and a great place to hang out in the daytime, its skyline dominated by a huge, rainbow-striped helter skelter. Or Strummerville, Joe Strummer’s legendary campfire community, nestled in a beautiful area of woodland with out-of-this-world views where we go to drink, stay warm, talk and laugh with like-minded souls. And then there’s The Stone Circle, a spot where festival-goers gather to watch the sunrise, listen to the bongo players, and marvel at the twinkling lights spreading as far as your eye can see. A city bigger than Bath.
It’s the series that has turned period drama on its head and it’s given everyone something to smile about this January. In its first two weeks on Netflix, Bridgerton was streamed by an incredible 63 million households across the globe, making it the streaming platform’s fifth most successful show ever. But what has this instantaneous success meant for the stars of the show, most of whom have become household names almost overnight? “It is so unreal for us all right now – we’re all trying to keep our feet firmly grounded,” says Kathryn Drysdale, the Wigan-born actress who plays society milliner extraordinaire Genevieve Delacroix. At 39, Drysdale is no stranger to the spotlight, having starred in films including St Trinian’s and Vanity Fair, as well as hit comedy series The Windsors and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps – but she admits the Bridgerton effect has been on a different scale. “It’s been thrilling to see the show blow up, and I’m so glad it’s brought so much enjoyment to people around the world at a time when there’s a lot of darkness. We’ve craved colour, we’ve needed romance, dancing, vibrancy, we’ve needed human connection. It’s escapism at its best.” About that “human connection”… There is a lot of it on the show. The most risqué moments in British period drama up until now have been Mr Darcy getting his shirt wet in a lake and Poldark scything in a corn field. Bridgerton – or “Binge-ton”, as Drysdale dubs it – ups the ante somewhat. There have been romps against a tree, sex-capades on a ladder and even a rather sticky sub-plot about a particular method of birth control. We’re treated to repeated sightings of Anthony Bridgerton’s (Jonathan Bailey) and the Duke of Hastings’s (Regé-Jean Page) posteriors and, if anything, there’s more male nudity than female on show. Though Drysdale won’t be drawn on reports that the men have bottom make-up artists (“I need to pay more attention…” she laughs), she will admit that “there are a lot of racy scenes you didn’t get to see”.
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The prolific dramatist has returned with ‘It’s a Sin’, a joyous if heartbreaking new Channel 4 series, but where does it rank among his output? Chris Harvey dives into his extensive career so far…