Britain is offering commitment and cooperation to Europe on security and intelligence. It should do the same in its Brexit strategy
Fri 16 Feb 2018 22.30 GMT
A year ago, the annual Munich security conference – the most important gathering of international defence chiefs and ministers in the calendar – met to debate the proposition: “Post-truth, post-West, post-Order?” A year on, this weekend’s Munich conference has a new theme: “To the Brink – and Back?” The sense of relief implicit in the difference between the 2017 and the 2018 themes is unmistakeable and, to an extent, justifiable. The Trump administration has not, after all, trashed everything in the policymakers’ world, as it threatened to do 12 months ago. Explosions in relations with Iran, North Korea and even China have been averted, for now. Washington has not so far rolled over in the face of Russian aggression in eastern Europe. The so-called Islamic State has been pushed back, for the moment. The insurgent political tide that swept the US and the UK in 2016 has mostly been kept at bay elsewhere.
Yet while the worst may have been avoided, genuine positives are thin on the ground. Global confrontations continue and in some cases – the Middle East, for example – to deteriorate dangerously. The alliances that exist to control and resist them are still in shock at the Trump effect. Theresa May is in every context except Brexit a traditional multilateralist. She will certainly give a less thoroughly provocative speech at the Munich conference on Saturday than the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, did at the same venue 12 months ago, when he ludicrously described Brexit as a national “liberation”. Yet, viewed from elsewhere in Europe, Mrs May still leads a country that, by voting for Brexit, has made a serious contribution to the problem of instability, not one that is playing a reliable role in solving it.
Mrs May’s rhetorical answer is the mantra that Britain is leaving the European Union but not leaving Europe. Her visit to Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday and her appearance at the Munich conference are designed to underpin that message and to make it a springboard for her Brexit strategy. Britain, Mrs May says, is fully committed to European cooperation, through Nato and in other ways, to deal with common threats to security. She will cite the fact that British troops are on the frontline against Russia in Estonia, that she has just pledged a new support role with France in the Sahel, that planned troop withdrawals from Germany are now being reexamined, and that the UK is a heavy-hitting and reliable partner in intelligence sharing and police coordination.
Security and intelligence have now been placed squarely in the vanguard of Mrs May’s political effort to persuade the rest of Europe that Britain remains a reliable and committed post-Brexit partner. The head of MI6, Alex Younger, appeared in Munich on Friday with his French and German counterparts to commit themselves to cross-border information sharing. His predecessor Sir John Sawers and the former GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan took to the media with a similar message. And the prime minister will cap this all off on Saturday in a speech that repeatedly urges closer cooperation with Europe and proposes a new UK-EU security treaty.
There are things to welcome here. After a grim two years of government negativity about the EU, it is a relief to hear the prime minister praising the union and being practical about it. Yet it is hard to see what EU partners are supposed to make of a prime minister who embraces the union at one moment then turns her back on it the rest of the time. The one thing that she could do to make her protestations more credible is to bolster it with a soft Brexit strategy. But this, disastrously, is the one thing she is terrified of doing.
The British government may have breached a major “environmental democracy” law by failing to consult the public when drawing up Brexit legislation.
A UN-backed committee has confirmed it is considering a complaint from Friends of the Earth that the government’s EU withdrawal bill breached the Aarhus convention, which requires public consultation on any new environmental law.
Most of the UK’s environmental laws derive from or interact with EU law, and Friends of the Earth (FoE) has raised concerns that the bill gives ministers “unique and wide-ranging powers” to amend or delete EU-derived environmental law without public consultation, if ministers consider it appropriate.
According to Defra, “over 1,100 core pieces of directly applicable EU legislation and national implementing legislation” fall within the department’s remit.
William Rundle, lawyer for Friends of the Earth, said: “The government said Brexit was about taking back control, yet it has ignored the views of the UK people in taking it forwards. There has been no consultation on what the withdrawal bill could mean for the environment and environmental legal protections, or what is the best way forwards.
“The Aarhus convention requires effective consultation when new laws are being prepared that can significantly affect the environment, such as the EU withdrawal bill. This would have allowed environmental issues to be debated and understood, but also built democratic accountability and public confidence.
“The current approach by government in conducting Brexit fails to do this; they didn’t even try. Nobody thought Brexit would be easy, but the government cannot ignore its legal obligations, or the views of the people.”
According to the Aarhus convention’s three pillars, information relating to environmental legislation must be provided by public authorities “in a timely and transparent manner”, and the public must be allowed to participate in the development of new laws at an early stage of their preparation. The third pillar is public access to justice, should a party violate or fail to adhere to environmental law or the convention’s principles.
The government may have breached the convention in two ways, FoE says: by failing to set out a consistent legal framework to allow public participation in the preparation of new environmental legislation (article 3), and by not giving the public an opportunity to comment on the bill before it was presented to parliament to be made into law (article 8). FoE says the government failed to consult with the public, and by calling a snap election, any possible engagement with the bill’s white paper was prevented.
In a letter to Friends of the Earth, the Aarhus convention compliance committee says: “the committee has, on a preliminary basis, determined the communicant’s allegation concerning the preparation of the draft ‘great repeal bill’ and the alleged lack of a clear, transparent and consistent framework to implement article 8 … to be admissible”.
Michael Mason, associate professor at the London School of Economics, says the government remains legally bound by the Aarhus convention after withdrawal from the EU, and by abolishing laws relating to Aarhus provisions the UK would be in breach of the treaty.
He says: “The UK would not be able to cherry-pick provisions in the convention: the UK is either fully in or would have to pull out from the treaty. To stay in, the UK government will have to retain all EU-derived law implementing Aarhus obligations.
“A withdrawal from the Aarhus convention would be disastrous for UK environmental policy.”
A House of Lords report calls the EU withdrawal bill a “bill of the first order in terms of law-making powers being granted to ministers”. It says “this bill is expected to generate another 800 to 1,000 statutory instruments in the near future.”
The bill does not require that current environmental standards are maintained after Brexit, nor does it contain a general requirement that the public should be consulted on potentially significant changes to environmental legislation. It does not require ministers to replace the existing European commission complaints procedure on breaches of EU-derived environmental law, which is currently available to UK citizens free of charge. The UK government could still include a requirement for public consultation, however.
A government spokesperson said: “The purpose of the withdrawal bill is to provide a functioning statute book on the day we leave the EU – it is an essential bill in the national interest. While we can’t comment on proceedings, we believe we have complied with all of the relevant obligations in developing this crucial legislation and remain committed to maintaining the highest environmental standards. We will be submitting our full response in due course.”
The government now has until 5 June to provide its written response to the complaint. The committee will then decide whether the UK government is in breach of its obligations.
House prices in “prime” central London appear to be stabilising, while areas in the south and west of the capital such as Wandsworth and Richmond are now under increasing pressure, according to estate agent Savills.
The company is predicting that average property values in central London’s top-end enclaves such as Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Holland Park will record no growth for the next two years following three years of decline.
However, Savills said there were signs parts of the market “may be bottoming out” and the prime markets of south and west London could bear the brunt of Brexit uncertainty and concerns regarding future interest rate rises. This market is defined as running from Battersea through Clapham and Wandsworth to the south, and Fulham, Barnes and Richmond to the west.
Typical prices in prime central London ended 2017 down 4% for the year as a whole, but prime south and west London experienced a bigger annual fall of 4.2%. Within this segment of the market, Fulham was named by Savills as the area that recorded the steepest falls.
Prices in Fulham fell by 4.6% in 2017 and were down more than 14% on their 2014 peak, said the company.
It means average values in Fulham, which passed the £1,000 per square foot mark in 2013, have fallen back to £890, well below Chelsea’s £1,600 average.
While studio flats in Fulham start at around £285,000 and large family houses can easily command a price of £5m-plus, according to property website Rightmove, Savills claimed the price falls “effectively reposition Fulham as a value location for those looking to make their equity stretch further than in prime central London”.
The top-end areas of south and west London were “coming under increasing pressure from fragile buyer sentiment” with purchasers feeling the constraints of tighter mortgage affordability rules, as well as unease around the Brexit process and its potential impact on employment, particularly in the financial and business services sector, said the company.
Savills has already predicted average UK prices – both prime and non-prime – would rise by 1% in 2018, which would mean property values falling in real terms.
Many commentators have pencilled in UK price growth at around that level this year. Another estate agent, Knight Frank, has also predicted price growth across the UK of 1%.
Of the two big lenders that operate price indices, Nationwide has said it expected property values to be “broadly flat in 2018, with perhaps a marginal gain of around 1%”, while Halifax has predicted UK growth in the range of 0% to 3%.
•Follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk, or sign up to the daily Business Today email here.
What is it to exist, John? Am I just the sum of my senses? Am I merely what people say I am? Or is there more to existence than just space and time? Could it be that there is another dimension? I am pondering these questions, and I trust you have the answers.
President Donald J Trump
From: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: DO I EXIST??
Have you had your nap today Donald?
To: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: Re: DO I EXIST??
No I have not had my nap you SAD LITTLE MAN, and I will tell you for why. Because I am ABSOLUTELY LIVID!!!!1 Why???? Why don’t you search my name on Twitter you IDIOT DOG? Actually don’t bother. I’ll tell you what it says!! It says “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”
I ask again John you WEIRDO: DO I EXIST???
President Donald J Trump
From: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: Re: Re: DO I EXIST??
OK give me a minute I’ll call Twitter HQ.
To: Christopher Wray, director of FBI
I know you’ve BLOCKED MY TWEETS!!!!1! You will not stop me I HAVE A BIG PLAN A GREAT PLAN!!!!
President Donald J Trump
To: Barack Obama
I know you’ve BLOCKED MY TWEETS!!!!1! You will not stop me I HAVE A BIG PLAN A GREAT PLAN!!!!
President Donald J Trump
To: Kim Jong-un
I know you’ve BLOCKED MY TWEETS!!!!1! You will not stop me I HAVE A BIG PLAN A GREAT PLAN!!!!
President Donald J Trump
From: Kim Jong-un
Subject: Re: TWITTER!!!!!!1
Yeh I did it and so what stupid fat man???? Lol
To: Kim Jong-un
Subject: Re: Re: TWITTER!!!!!!1
DON’T CALL ME FAT!!!!1111
Subject: Very frightened
Donald I am very scared they are saying you do not exist? Mxxx
Subject: Re: Very frightened
Melanie, I DO exist! DO NOT FORGET ME!!! Kim Jong-un did it!!! I think the bosses at Twitter are sorting it. Nice guys! Can I use your account for a bit???
President Donald J Trump
Subject: Re: Re: Very frightened
No Donald, not again I lost too many followers last time. Why do you call me Melanie? Are you having an affair Donald? Mx
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Very frightened
AUTO CORRECT BABE!!!1
President Donald J Trump
From: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: Re: Re: DO I EXIST??
They’re on it. Apparently a prank by a rogue employee on their last day.
To: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: DO I EXIST??
Yes yes how long John? How long can I live in this PATHETIC PIT OF BOREDOM? Melania is petrified and I have a GREAT tweet about Crooked Hillary. How can I be SILENCED and yet CNN still be allowed to SPOUT LIES???
President Donald J Trump
From: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: DO I EXIST??
Any minute now Mr President. What’s the tweet?
To: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: DO I EXIST??
Don’t you DARE tell me how to use words John. I have THE BEST WORDS. NUCLEAR HORSESHOE!!! AMBIDEXTROUS BARNYARD!!!!!
The tweet is “Crooked Hillary should stop WHINING like a SAD GRASSHOPPER. We won!!!! Go and cry on Bill’s shoulder you HAIRY CANDLE!!!”
President Donald J Trump
From: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: DO I EXIST??
OK. Your Twitter is back online. Love the hairy candle tweet but maybe save it for later and do a statement about the rogue employee?
To: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: DO I EXIST??
It’s asking me to log in do you know what my pw is? Do the Russians know??? ASK THE RUSSIANS JOHN!!!!11
President Donald J Trump
From: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: DO I EXIST??
Your login is @realdonaldtrump and your pass is thispasswordisthebestpassword123.
To: John F Kelly
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: DO I EXIST??
Thank you John you are a good guy. I’ve always said that. I CALL THE SHOTS THOUGH!!! No calls for the next 30 minutes I’m having my nap. Nighty bless.
President Donald J Trump
Gráinne Maguire gets a peek at deleted chapters from Ivanka Trump’s manual for working women
In May, Ivanka Trump released a guide for women in the workplace, Women Who Work. Finally, after huge public demand, Wikileaks has released the chapters cut from the final edition.
1. Get your promotion
Say you’re a busy single mom working in McDonald’s and you don’t feel your skills are being utilized. I hear you, sister! I’m just like you. Architect your best life going forward. Get a mentor! Go for a coffee with Richard Branson, it doesn’t have to be as formal as a dinner; you’re both busy people. If Richard is out of town, see if Anna Wintour is free for a game of tennis. Yes, she doesn’t work in your field but maybe she has the insight that could stimulate the next idea. Then arrange your meeting with your boss and tell Mr McDonald’s why you deserve that raise. If he refuses, just smile and get your dad to fire him.
Inspo: “Design a life that honours you!” Queen Elizabeth The First
2. How to influence policy
A lot of people think making a stand means actually saying words out of your mouth. Not so. Think like Taylor Swift, she’s a feminist but in a way that manages to reassure people who love women and people who hate women, too. That’s winning. Say your boss has decided women in your office shouldn’t be allowed health insurance, maternity pay or access to inside toilets. That’s an opportunity! Offer to speak to your boss, but just use the time to sort out who is going where for Christmas and laugh about what a freaking mess your sister Tiffany is. Then leave and say your boss is really listening to women. You’re a woman and he listened to you. Just don’t let on about your secret private toilet because women are so horrible to the pretty girls, right? Nevertheless she persisted.
Inspo: “What is the blueprint to your happiness strategy going forward?” Cleopatra
3. How to check if your stepmother is a robot
Sometimes stepmoms can be hard to read: is she a mom, a sister or a cyborg programmed by the CIA because your real stepmom has scaled the gates again? The key is sudden loud noises, tickling behind her knee or suddenly shouting, “Dad isn’t breathing!” If “Mom” doesn’t react, let the nearest special agent know it’s a “bot” day. If she starts shrieking with joy, then angrily cursing you in Slovenian, it’s just a regular stepmom moment. Every day a woman inspires me.
Inspo: “If You Can’t Handle Me At My Best You Don’t Deserve Me At My Worst!” The Snow Queen
4. How to put the cool in complicit
Sometimes it’s hard to pick the right outfit that says, sure, I’m using the white blond conventional good looks society has trained us to associate with moral virtue to normalize the race war, but how can I still have fun with it? It can be tricky. You want an outfit that says by day, “I’m reassuring people it’s OK to blame Muslims for the banking crisis” but at night reads more, “I’m a hoot at dinner parties.” Luckily my fashion range bridges both those challenges – they’re sexy enough to guarantee a wolf-whistle from your dad but they’ve been made in China, so there’s the reassurance that a foreigner has suffered making it. Listen to women.
Inspo: “Sometimes you have to throw a tiara on and remind them who they are dealing with.” Margaret Thatcher
5. Emergency impeachment kit
We all worry we might have to flee at short notice, right? I keep a handy Ivanka Trump Diplomatic Immunity Suitcase under my bed at all times. You’ll just need your passport, a Russian phrasebook and cyanide capsules. Also, scented candles.
Inspo: “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!” Marie Antoinette
As women we are always too hard on ourselves. We all have bad moments! You know when your kids can’t sleep, your husband’s night screams are keeping you awake and you can’t shake off that vague sense of gnawing, corroding guilt? You want to sleep but every time you close your eyes you see your younger self pointing at you and shouting, “Shame!” and then everyone is pointing and shouting at you as you get bundled into a car by the FBI? I find crystals, lavender and listening to Disney songs on repeat at full volume helps, because it reminds you: you are a princess and everything is going to be just fine.
Inspo: “She believed she could, so she did.” Joan of Arc
The diary of David Davis, aged 69 years and one week
What’s the Brexit secretary been up to? Nish Kumar has the scoop
The Guardian has obtained a copy of what appears to be Brexit secretary David Davis’s personal diary from 2017, found on a bench outside the Tunbridge Wells branch of SuperSquad Paintball.
1 January 2017 Happy New Year, DD.
Spent NYE with the guys from my Andy McNab book group. Got a pounding hangover. I feel like I’ve got a Boeing AH-64 Apache helicopter hovering inside my skull. In spite of that, really looking forward to showing Brexit who’s boss (me).
Yours drunkenly, DD
29 March Morning, DD.
The PM triggered article 50 today, and there’s some chat in the office about how I should “spend more time at work and less time on the climbing wall in my shed”. I tell them to pipe down, and that the climbing wall is where I do my best thinking. (After all, that’s where I came up with the idea of having T-shirts for ladies to wear that say “It’s DD for me” across the boobs.) So I think it’s pretty clear I’m not going to solve Brexit sat behind a desk. I’m going to solve it by getting my climb on.
Yours at altitude, DD
9 June The morning after the election. Theresa’s had a shocker. Sending her a pick-me-up present. A “Keep Calm and Carry On” mug and an “It’s DD for me” T-shirt should suffice.
25 June What-ho, DD!
Just had to do an interview with the Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation (lol). They were asking about our Brexit reports – I fobbed them off nicely. “We’ve got 50, nearly 60 sectoral analyses already done,” I said.
Took the rest of the afternoon off to have a good old climb.
Yours muscularly, DD
17 July Bonjour, DD (obviously this is ironic; we both know I don’t approve of French in any way, be it the language, the people or the toast).
Turned up at the EU for a conflab with the pencil pushers of Brussels. I walk into the room and give it my classic greeting: “Achtung Eurowankers – it’s double DD.” True to form, the absolute squares had turned up with piles of notes. I had nothing, like a legend. Just flashed the pearly whites for a quick photo op that the papers lapped up. I pretended to pay attention for a couple of hours and then left to sink a few strong Belgian lagers. When in Rome (Brussels) and all that.
Au revoir (see above), DD
26 October Hey, DD,
More questions about the impact reports. I brilliantly bought us more time by saying they had “excruciating detail”. In reality, I’ve just got a piece of paper that says “Brexit?” on it, and then some ideas for possible SAS codenames for yours truly. Current fave – the Silver Cobra.
Yours anonymously, the SC
6 December Bad day. Had to fess up that we haven’t so much “done” the reports as we have “not started”. Copping some serious flak in the press for it. Might have to start doing some work. Been walking around the office, quipping that, “I’ve worked so hard pretending to work that the real thing will be easy”, and everyone was loving that comment, silently.
7 December To be absolutely fair, the EU’s Wikipedia page is very informative.
11 December Been riffing out some absolute gold in interviews in the last couple of days. My Territorial SAS training has really helped, especially the stuff about staying composed under pressure and how to do up your tie nicely. Got a question about a future trade deal with the EU, and I’ve said we want “Canada plus plus plus”. This basically means it’ll be the same, but it’ll be written in ALL CAPS and in a way better font.
Then clarified the stuff about the impact reports by saying we don’t need them, and dropped this pearl: “When you know those things, you know what you need to know.” I think I’ve got my next T-shirt slogan. As long as I can work in something about tits.
12 December Getting some blowback after saying the agreement was a “statement of intent” and not legally enforceable. Guy Verhofstadt has got his Euro-knickers in an almighty twist and is getting harsh. Normally I would admire the no-nonsense vibe of a man quite literally called “Guy”, but this bloke is absolutely doing my head in.
14 December One of the lads from the McNab book group suggested an afternoon of paintballing. And I needed it, I’ve been working upwards of three hours per day and DD is DDrained. This is what I need to clear my mind. I’m going to be a more considered and detail-oriented DD. Nothing is going to escape my attention.
That is the final entry. The diary was found among full printouts of the Wikipedia pages for Brexit and article 50, as well as a hand-drawn comic entitled The Silver Cobra.
•Nish Kumar hosts The Mash Report, which is back on BBC2 on 18 January at 10pm.
Amber Rudd’s election night in 10 text messages
As leaked to Ayesha Hazarika
00:21 to: Bestie
I cannot BELIEVE this. Two recounts??? I’ve just done some terrible interview with the BBC where I look like I’m about to lose it. Is it all over Twitter? What was I thinking of with that stripy jacket?
00:22 to: Bestie
How long before Quentin Letts calls me the love child of Tootsie and Bertie Bassett? Twat. D’you remember when he said I looked like Dustin Hoffman after the sodding election debate Theresa May forced me to do?
00:23 to: Evil twins
Hi Nick and Fi. Please call me. I haven’t heard a peep from Theresa or you guys? You did make me do that debate remember?
00:24 to: Evil twins
This is all your fault anyway. If you hadn’t put Theresa in a witness protection scheme, none of this would have happened. Snap election. I know what I’d like to snap.
00:26 To: Lynton Crosby
Hey Lynton. Long time, no speak. Left you a few messages since we spoke about the leadership thing. We should hook up again. I’m free now. Just waiting for my recount. I’m totally going to be OK.
00:27 to: Me
C’mon Rudders… get a grip… you’re better than this.
00:28 to: Bestie
Do you think I could go back into film? Remember Four Weddings? … I was so good at co-ordinating all the aristocrats. That’s why I’d be a shamazing Tory leader. If only Hugh Grant was PM!!
00:29 to: Constituency office
Why did I EVER want to represent this hellhole? I only went for Hastings because I wanted to be within two hours of London. What is “and Rye” anyway?
00:36 to: Bestie
Oh. My. God. 346 votes! That’s not a victory, that’s a prison sentence. How can I mount my leadership bid now? Bet Ruth D is loving this. She’ll be down here looking for a seat before you can say Barnett formula. I need some of whatever Emily Thornberry’s on.
00:38 to: Constituency office
Ignore last message. I am of course delighted to continue to serve the fine people of Hastings and Rye? (pls check), congratulate Theresa May and thank her for her strong and stable leadership. Issue that last bit to the press ASAP.
• Want to respond to this piece? To be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in print, please email email@example.com, including your name and address (not for publication).
It was around the start of the decade that TV began luring Hollywood A-Listers, but the multi-Emmy garnering Big Little Lies represents the dawn of a new era. For the first time, TV is where stars deliver their star-worthy performances, while movie roles mostly involve unflattering superhero spandex or kung fu fights with CGI aliens.
If you’re Catherine Zeta Jones, say, it makes perfect sense to follow up a glamorous supporting role in Ryan Murphy’s Feud series with the starring role in TV movie Cocaine Godmother. Or maybe you’re the formerly rubber-faced funnyman Jim Carrey, hoping to emphasise your spiritual side? What better way than by re-teaming with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry for a new Showtime series, Kidding? Details of its release are yet to be confirmed, but George Clooney has signed up for a serialised adaptation of Catch-22, nearly two decades after leaving medical drama ER. Even Jennifer Aniston, once queen of the TV stars who’d made it, is returning to her roots for the first time since Friends, by joining forces with Reese Witherspoon for a new Apple TV drama. The screen may be small, but the opportunities are big. EEJ
“We’ve got Brexit, so let’s exit,” declared John Lydon earlier this year, as part of a novel campaign to smear his own reputation using the medium of rhyme. But if the thought of the punk firebrand getting on board with Nigel Farage’s vision of Britain was depressing enough, there were more strident Brexiteers than Lydon lurking among pop culture’s old guard. Ringo Starr, who lives in the US, didn’t bother sending a postal vote but if he had: “I would have voted to get out … but don’t tell Bob Geldof!” Michael Caine explained his own leave vote by saying he’d “rather be a poor master than a rich servant. It wasn’t about the racism, immigrants or anything, it was about freedom.”
Elsewhere, Roger Daltrey was positive that “when the dust settles I think that it’ll be seen that it’s the right thing for this country to have done.” But if recent years have taught us anything, it’s that next year will be the same, only much worse. And so 2018 could well be when we get our very own Moe-Tucker-joining-the-Tea-Party moment. So who will provide the shock? Could Laura Marling promote her next album by rabidly extolling the flavoursome joys of chlorinated chicken in every interview? Will Idris Elba take to deliberately smashing an energy-saving kettle against a wall in every scene he’s in? Will the next Ukip leader be a straight-up choice between a presenter for CBeebies and Claire Foy? Or maybe it will just be more old white guys with precious little skin in the game crawling out of the woodwork for another long slow grumble stretched tediously over 12 arduous months? Thinking about it, it’ll probably be more of that. TJ
Cardi B effect
Until this year, Cardi B’s story had a typical rags-to-social-media-influencer feel. She dropped out of college and started stripping while posting inspirational Instagrams about sex, money and empowerment. Her online profile grew until she had half a million followers and could make money just from being an “influencer”. Soon enough reality TV came calling and she booked a place on season six of Love and Hip-Hop New York on VH1. Normally that’s where the story would have ended: a quick cash injection, a few club appearances, and then back to obscurity.
But Cardi B refused to let it be that way. Reality TV has always been able to launch its most eccentric stars into semi-real celebrities. But whether it’s Rylan, Jedward, Amy Childs or Spencer Matthews, their fame has always been tainted by their reality past. That initial deal with the devil means they’re always available for a Littlewoods Christmas advert or an Ant and Dec charity telethon; every booker’s back-up, never quite tasting the actual enigma of true fame. Even a global star like Kim Kardashian is still ostensibly lame.
Cardi B is different. She’s been on the cover of tastemaking music magazine the Fader and won the BET hip-hop award for best newcomer. Rarer still, she has coupled that credibility with unparalleled success: the first female rapper in 19 years to reach No 1 on the Billboard chart with her smash Bodak Yellow, which stayed at the top for three weeks after dethroning Taylor Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do. The impact of her rise may well change the way we think about new talent. Not only has she shown a cynical industry that female MCs can be just as successful as men, potentially opening doors for British artists such as Stefflon Don, she could finally erase the critical stigma around reality TV.
While traditional labels become less able to support new artists, reality TV could become a more legitimate place to scout new talent. It could be starting already: the Hills producer is launching a new scripted-reality show Studio City, about the Nashville music scene. SW
Which Doctor are you … Doctor Who, Doctor Foster or Doctors?
1) What was your life like a decade ago? a) Pretty much the same as it is now. b) I was 23 years younger than I currently am. c) Much happier, but with well-telegraphed allusions to my current discontent.
2) You witness a minor traffic accident. Do you… a) Immediately hurry over and offer medical assistance. b) Explain what has happened very quickly, over a score loud enough to render you inaudible. c) Have angry loud sex with your ex-husband.
3) An old lady comes to visit you. Is it because… a) She recently had a nasty fall off a stepladder. b) She’s from the planet Tujorb 249, and she needs help to ward off a Dalek invasion. c) Your teenage son sexually assaulted her.
4) At the end of a hard day, you like nothing more than… a) A glass of wine and a good gossip. b) Infuriating the internet by regenerating into a woman. c) Breaking the fourth wall to deliver a hugely unsatisfactory concluding monologue.
5) Who is your very, very, very, very best friend? a) My colleague. b) A 54th-century cybernetic alien from the planet Mendorax Dellora. c) I think you’re wildly overstating my likability here.
6) What do people usually do after seeing you? a) Switch over and catch the end of Dickinson’s Real Deal. b) Compose an angry tweet about Steven Moffat’s depiction of women. c) Literally just cry for an hour. SH
ANSWERS - Mostly As: You’re a doctor from Doctors! Mostly Bs: You’re The Doctor! Mostly Cs: You’re Doctor Foster!
Having spent years crafting his wince-inducingly well-observed YouTube sketches with his comedy partner Kate Berlant, the actor, standup comic, hip-hop dancer and peerless impressionist of Britney Spears finally has his own show. Hulu has ordered a pilot by the duo called This Is Heaven, directed by New Girl’s Lorene Scafaria and described as “a take on a classic half-hour comedy about two best friends Roger and Eva”. If you can’t wait until that emerges then catch him on kooky crime thriller Search Party, as flamboyant megalomaniac Elliott Goss, Netflix’s Wet Hot American Summer as bratty, deluded thespian Logan, or miniseries 555, Kate and John’s neon-lit comedy dreamscape on Vimeo. HG
Given the trajectory of Damian Chazelle’s directorial career so far – Whiplash then La La Land – it’s no surprise he is shooting for the moon next. With Hollywood’s hunger for content, it is surprising the story of Neil Armstrong and the moon landings hasn’t been told before (apart from Kubrick faking them in the first place, that is). Considering Armstrong’s notorious publicity shyness and refusal to cash in on his achievement, James Hansen’s authorised Armstrong biography – also titled First Man – became the best indication of what the man was actually like. Clint Eastwood bought the rights to it in 2003 but couldn’t get it off the ground. (Armstrong, who died in 2012, apparently didn’t like the violence in Eastwood’s movies.) Now it has passed on to Chazelle, whose choice of lead actor for the role will surprise no one: Ryan Gosling. Judging by the first on-set image – of Gosling in a plaid shirt lassoing a rocking horse – it’s not just going to be another Gravity-like space procedural. Other stars on board include Claire Foy as Armstrong’s wife and Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin. SR
Oxford-born actor Gugu Mbatha-Raw has been floating elegantly through the backwaters of culture for some time now. She played companion Martha Jones’s little sister Tish in David Tennant-era Doctor Who, a mixed-race 18th-century aristocrat in Amma Asante’s ground-breaking 2013 film Belle, and it was her vivacious energy that helped propel the Black Mirror episode San Junipero to its Emmy awards glory. Now it’s time the world went gaga for Gugu.
In February, she’ll star in God Particle, the highly anticipated, mystery-shrouded third feature film to be set in JJ Abrams’s Cloverfield universe. Later in the year, she’ll share a screen with Game of Thrones hottie Michiel Huisman in romantic drama Irreplaceable You. Then, perhaps most intriguingly, she is signed up for the lead role in the Gina Prince-Bythewood-directed adaptation of An Untamed State, the debut novel from lauded feminist academic Roxane Gay. Commercially adept, critically approved and culturally relevant: our Gugu’s got all the bases covered. EEJ
By Psychic Stu, AKA Stuart Heritage
Aries A natural leader like you should be an influencer. You should be telling me what to enjoy next year. What’s that? I should look out for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again? Hey, you’re just Meryl Streep with a fake moustache. Get out of here!
Taurus Your work ethic is exceptional, and you will enjoy all culture in 2018. Except for Eggplant Emoji, because that’s a film about a boy who cuts his penis off, and you’re only human.
Gemini As the most socially minded sign of the zodiac, it doesn’t matter what music you like, you’re just going to spend your entire time at quiet, intimate gigs using your iPhone, aren’t you? I bet you’ll even keep the keytones on when you message, won’t you? Idiot.
Cancer You enjoy security and adventure in equal measure, which is why you’ll be first in the queue to watch Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, because what an almighty bummer that looks like.
Leo The undisputed king of the zodiac, you will only accept the very best. This is why – as with all other years – your 2018 will be marked by bitter disappointment. You were looking forward to that Arctic Monkeys album, weren’t you? Sorry, pal.
Virgo Oh Virgo, nobody cares about you. Literally nobody. Go and watch Girlboss repeats on Netflix. Seriously, that’s all you deserve.
Libra The easiest to please sign of the Zodiac, you will literally lap up any old crap. Unfortunately, Hollywood knows this, which is why the makers of Gnomeo & Juliet came up with Sherlock Gnomes specifically for you. Enjoy it, numbnuts.
Scorpio Your born intensity will only become stronger in 2018, thanks to horror films such as Cadaver, Truth or Dare and The Nun. It’s important to mention, however, that intensity can sometimes mean you walk out of films that look and sound exceptionally stupid.
Sagittarius Nothing can dim your sunny outlook on life; not climate change, Brexit or the spectre of nuclear death. However, there’s another season of Arrested Development coming out in 2018, so kiss goodbye to your run of optimism.
Capricorn As an inherently ambitious person, your biggest goal for 2018 will be to complete and enjoy both the Maze Runner and 50 Shades of Grey trilogies. The enjoyment half is automatically doomed to failure, but God loves a trier.
Aquarius Aquarians don’t care what people think about them. This is why, if you’re an Aquarian, you’re most excited about that terrible-looking James Corden Peter Rabbit film. You are the worst.
Pisces As the most sensitive sign of the zodiac, you’re going to get steamrollered by 2018. Just bludgeoned to pulp. Don’t bother getting excited about anything, because you’re going to be too busy cowering under a duvet to see it, anyway.
I don’t wanna talk about it
It has been an odd time for pop star interviews. Rather than face a grilling from an actual human, Frank Ocean (pictured, above) opted this year to pen an “essay” for style mag i-D. Taylor Swift contributed what could generously be described as a “poem” to Vogue in return for not having to answer any hard questions (sample: “The only thing cut and dry/ In this hedge-maze life/ Is the fact that their words will cut but your tears will dry”). Beyoncé went one better and did nothing. All managed to spin this not as a sign that they were shitting their pants at one of their dumb answers going viral, but a signifier that they have reached a higher plane of fame and are above such behaviour. Social media has made it easier for artists to get their ideas across directly to their fans. But the press are to blame for indulging this nonsense, too. It makes you really look forward to 2018 and a world where pop stars are no longer answerable to anyone but their own egos. Still, we might at least get an exclusive sudoku from Jessie J. TJ
To some, Justin Timberlake is one of the last remaining pop megastars: he can sing, dance and wear a hat without looking like a wally. To others, he’s breezed through a career based on appropriating black culture, got away with throwing Janet Jackson under a bus (not literally) at the Super Bowl in 2004, and yes he can wear a hat but that’s because he’s got shit hair. To be fair, a mix of all the above is true, but only a fool could deny the imperial phase in the mid to late 00s that saw him knock out Cry Me a River, Rock Your Body and SexyBack like he was solely responsible for all the high points at any given wedding disco. After some ill-advised film work, an obsession with golf and a brief dalliance with interior design, Timberlake then tried to undo some of that goodwill in 2013 with the apparently never-ending The 20/20 Experience. In fact, the only thing more boring than The 20/20 Experience (Mirrors aside) was The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2, which followed six months later.
While 2016’s single Can’t Stop the Feeling was an Oscar-nominated success, it was essentially an even more grating Happy. So what can we expect from Timberlake in 2018? Film-wise, word is that he’s “embarrassingly out of his depth” in Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel, but seems to be on surer ground vis-a-vis his pop career. He’s doing the Super Bowl half-time show again in February (featuring, you would hope, a cameo from Jackson), so it would make sense for a new single at the very least to appear around that time. There are vague rumours that the album is called Man of the Woods, and we know – because he’s Instagrammed some intense pictures of him looking at some buttons – that he’s been working with past collaborators Pharrell, Timbaland and Max Martin; so all the clues are pointing towards a Timberlake-heavy 12 months, whether you like it or not. MC
Kenya Barris, the mastermind behind Blackish and Girls Trip, is writing the script for a Coming to America follow up. Yes, we’re talking about a sequel here. The very word may fill you with dread, and rightly so. Zoolander 2 was a lacklustre imitation of its predecessor, while the less said about Alien: Covenant, the better. But, enough with the negativity: there’s a real chance the next Coming to America instalment might not belong in the bin. The beloved 1988 comedy about an African prince (Eddie Murphy) who moves to America to circumvent an arranged marriage and find love by going undercover as a poor New Yorker, was an instant classic in a golden period of African American cinema. Three decades later, the next film seems to be in good hands. Original cast member Eddie Murphy is attached (although not necessarily starring), with Jonathan Levine directing. With Barris’s game changing comedy having captured the screen zeitgeist this year, if anyone can handle the sequel to a cult 80s classic it might just be him. SM
If you want to do a good remake, the golden rule is: pick a movie that wasn’t so great first time around. Clearly Luca Guadagnino didn’t get that memo, but what is he doing remaking Suspiria at all? Dario Argento’s original 1977 movie is the definitive giallo, an operatic, colour-saturated fairytale of gore and witchcraft set in a secluded academy for vulnerable ballerinas. Guadagnino, on the other hand, just directed the gorgeous gay romance Call Me By Your Name, although his previous film, A Bigger Splash, did have a few notes of horror (and not just Ralph Fiennes’s dancing). Guadagnino insists he is not simply remaking Suspiria, and would never want to “erase” the original. His is a more personal take, he says, “inspired by the same story, but it goes in different directions”. He’s lined up an enticing cast, including Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Mia Goth and Tilda Swinton. And Thom Yorke will hande the score, itself a daunting challenge: the original by Italian prog rockers Goblin is a classic in its own right. SR
As 2017 hangs up its hotpants, we’re further from Spinning Around than that song was from I Should Be So Lucky, so it is safe to say Kylie’s turn-of-the-millennium comeback has been something of a success. Kylie will be aiming for her 16th Top 10 album in 2018, with songs that showcase a new focus on lyrical storytelling via themes of “freedom, self-discovery, life and love”. “The album,” Kylie tells the Guide in a short but perfectly formed email that represents the absolute textual embodiment of that’ll-do-nicely, “is a collision of some elements of country and dance, made at the altar of Dolly Parton standing on a dancefloor.”
It will be Kylie’s first album for new label BMG, where she has been reunited with the A&R bigwig who oversaw her 21st-century relaunch, with collaborators including DJ Fresh and long-term associates Biff Stannard and Karen Poole. Recorded throughout 2017, it shifted gear following a trip to Nashville, where the album “found its heart”. “There’s a little bit of heartbreak, I would say,” Kylie noted in October. “But we bounce back. Most of it is super-positive and inspiring, as a note to self as much as anything else. I’m feeling great right now.” PR
Yee-haw! Other dance-country hybrids:
•Rednex Cotton Eye Joe •Shania Twain Man, I Feel Like a Woman •Avicii Wake Me Up •Steps 5, 6, 7, 8 •Madonna Don’t Tell Me
The title already makes it clear, this is not the Nico of Andy Warhol’s Factory, the Velvet Underground, Jim Morrison and all that. But this should still be one of the most intriguing biopics in the 2018 pile, partly thanks to its focus on the last years of Nico’s dramatic life, and partly thanks to the casting of magnificent Danish actor Trine Dyrholm. She doesn’t play “Nico”, she plays Christa (her real name): the rude, ravaged, resigned, black-haired fortysomething junkie who’s bored with being asked about the good old days and only puts on her stage persona when the occasion demands.
“I wasn’t happy when I was beautiful,” she says at one point. She’s not that happy now, either, trudging aimlessly through her European tour with a substandard band. Sadly, there are no original Nico tunes here, though Dyrholm nails the German singer’s doleful, only-just-in-tune intonation, and Italian director Susanna Nicchiarelli uses Jonas Mekas’s original Factory movies for flashbacks. A late attempt to detox and reconnect with her teenage son offers the prospect of a vaguely happy coda, although – spoiler alert – 1988 was the year Nico died. SR
Hollywood has been in a staring competition with its navel for so long now, you would imagine there was nothing left to re-examine after #OscarSoWhite and the post-Weinstein reckoning. But still there are blind spots. Openly LGBTQ performers are still experiencing discrimination off-screen and seeing their parts taken by straight actors on-screen, and it’s long been the rule that gay-themed movies will only win awards if they dilute the “gayness” down to trace levels, hence Crash beating Brokeback Mountain a few years back.
Last year’s Moonlight was celebrated as a triumph for the #OscarSoWhite campaign, but it was also the first gay-themed film to win best picture. Did it break down any barriers for gay movies? With a straight director and cast, perhaps it never could, but this is a good year to find out. Although, again, many of the prime awards contenders are actually straight: the leads in Call Me By Your Name, and Emma Stone as Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes. On the other hand, Chilean drama A Fantastic Woman’s Daniela Varga could become the first trans person to receive a nomination. SR
If you have been waiting for a Mary Poppins film sequel, then you’ve been waiting a long time – 53 years, to be exact. The early signs suggest it’s been worth it. Although it will be Christmas 2018 before we can be sure that Mary Poppins Returns truly is as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious as it would appear.
Short of conjuring up Julie Andrews in her prime, Emily Blunt seems the perfect choice for the lead. She comes across as exactly the sort of woman who’d keep all manner of useful things in her handbag and cheerily admonish small children. Screenwriter David Magee has also wisely opted to move the story on from Edwardian London to the mid-1930s, where the Banks children, Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw) are now all grown up, but still in need of some guidance from their old nanny. Word also has it that 92-year-old Dick Van Dyke has been coaxed out of retirement for a cameo. Will he be reprising that iconically awful cockney accent? We can only hope. EEJ
Dick Van Dyke-itis - other dodgy accents:
•Anne Hathaway in One Day •Joss Stone singing Sensimilla •Tom Hardy in everything
What a story Freddie Mercury’s life would make, with all the highs, lows, hits, outfits and intersex dwarves with platters of cocaine strapped to their heads. But 2018’s forthcoming biopic seems to have been cursed. Sacha Baron Cohen appeared to be the perfect choice for the lead, but by 2013 he wanted to break free. Reportedly, he felt the film should focus on the nitty-gritty of Mercury’s sexual exploits while the surviving band members preferred to focus on Queen “going from strength to strength” after Mercury’s death. Baron Cohen’s replacement, Rami “Mr Robot” Malek, very much looks the part, though whether this will be Mercury’s real life or just fantasy remains to be seen. In early December, the curse struck again: director Bryan Singer, lately in the frame owing to allegations of sexual misconduct, was fired in the wake of reports of “tensions on the set”. British director Dexter Fletcher has been drafted in, with two weeks’ shooting to go. Will it be a case of The Show Must Go On, or Another One Bites the Dust? SR
Japan-born, London-based independent superstar-in-waiting Rina Sawayama’s brand of springy, in-your-face pop music – showcased on her recent mini-album, Rina – is inspired by the classics. We’re talking Oops!... I Did It Again-era Britney on Take Me As I Am; early 90s Teddy Riley on Ordinary Superstar, and the digitised drama of a lost Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs-produced Destiny’s Child classic on Cyber Stockholm Syndrome. It’s the latter that really solidifies Cambridge graduate, part-time model and full-time video game obsessive Sawayama’s MO of marrying millennial-focused lyrics – in that song’s case a generation’s mobile phone-related anxiety – to hugely melodic (she’s mad for seminal hitmaker Max Martin), emotionally engaging pop with a capital P. MC
A mere 21 years after its “final” season, Roseanne Barr’s game-changing sitcom has some work to do as it returns. The 1997 swansong’s infuriating twist ending – the whole show had been a novel written by Barr’s screen alter ego, Roseanne Conner – left fans aghast at a narrative in disarray. The casting for 2018 implies we will need to pretend season nine never happened: John Goodman is in it, so husband Dan is presumably not in fact dead, while news that Darlene and David’s children will appear indicates that the reshuffling of the show’s relationships – that finale suddenly gave Roseanne’s daughters each other’s partners – will be reversed.
The necessary contractual wrangling has been done to keep Johnny Galecki, now a superstar on a rival network in The Big Bang Theory, as David – and both Lecy Goranson and Sarah Chalke, who used to chaotically share the role of Becky, are present. Chalke, however, will play a new character. Still with us? Logistics aside, Roseanne’s political relevance is why we’ll scrutinise the eight new episodes. The show was valuable for its depiction of a blue-collar couple for whom economic strife compounded the hardships of marriage and parenting: just the sort of people whose disenfranchisement helped Trump to power, and who still demand more attention from US storytellers.
The rub is that Barr has spoken out in support of Trump, with her recent tweets sliding into a Breitbart/InfoWars sinkhole. She says the new show won’t be about the Potus, but political neutrality looks beyond her, and a pro-Trump sitcom would be no laughing matter. Britain’s big comedy comeback also nods towards political meltdown: Alan Partridge returns to the BBC, reputedly as “the voice of Brexit”. Having presciently given us the perfect Brexit metaphor 15 years ago, when Alan tried to present an awards ceremony despite having speared his foot on a spike, Steve Coogan should be able to place his creation back into the national conversation with ease.JS
Roseanne’s best zingers
1 Darlene: “You guys think we don’t understand your corny sex jokes.” Roseanne: “You are our corny sex jokes.”
2 Becky: “Our school is having a food drive for poor people.” Roseanne: “Get them to drive some of that food over here.”
3 DJ: “Darlene called me a ‘prevert’.” Roseanne: “No you’re not a ‘prevert’ honey. You’re a pervert.”
Tina: The Musical
Until recently, the idea of 2018 being the year of Tina Turner looked about as likely as an X Factor contestant managing not to sing Proud Mary in the auditions round. The 78-year-old pop superstar has been, ahem, a private dancer since she retired with one last round of 50th-anniversary arena shows in 2009 and has lived quietly in Switzerland since the early 90s. But theatre great Phyllida Lloyd, who, with Mamma Mia!, gave Abba a permanent home in the West End and got Meryl Streep into denim dungarees, is about to bring the story of Turner’s extraordinary life – already told on screen in the harrowing biopic What’s Love Got to Do With It in 1993 – to the stage with the much-hyped “bio-musical” Tina. “This took me out of retirement,” Turner told the crowd at its launch, where she duetted with Broadway actor Adrienne Warren, who will play her in the show. It comes to London’s Aldwych Theatre, WC2, in March; expect a roaring trade in blond rock mullet wigs outside. RN
Bad news. Psychic Craig Hamilton-Parker – the guy who predicted Brexit and President Trump – has seen the future and to be honest, it’s not looking great. “2018 will be a year of political turmoil and environmental crisis caused by dramatic and unprecedented weather,” he wrote in a blog post. What next year lacks in global tranquility, it makes up for in cultural majesty, however.
There’s Disney’s luminous adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, the story of a girl’s fantastic quest across the universe to save her father, which features celebrity comfort blanket Oprah. Or Pixar’s musical adventure Coco, set in the Land of the Dead but warm as the cosier corners of Hell, while queen of celestial escapism Björk takes her album Utopia on tour, one date of which is at Cornwall’s appropriately leafy Eden Project. “It’s really important now to be intentional,” she told the Observer earlier this year. “If you feel this world is not heading the right way, you have to be DIY and make a little fortress, over here to the left.” Let’s hope whoever’s last into the giant greenhouse locks the door and swallows the key. HG
Not a year goes by without rumours emerging of a Spice Girls reunion celebrating some sort of anniversary. Last year, frustrated with Victoria and Mel C dragging their heels over a potentially lucrative trip down Girl Power lane (not a real place, sadly), Geri Horner, née Halliwell, announced “supergroup” GEM, as in Geri, Emma Bunton and Mel B, via a video seemingly knocked up in five minutes on iMovie (they’ve since disbanded). Perhaps Easy V, AKA Victoria Beckham, saw it because following more rumours of a proper reunion this year – apparently now including Mel “Melanie” C – she’s basically put a stop to the whole thing.
“It is not happening,” the hugely successful fashion designer told former Big Brother contestant Alison Hammond on This Morning. “At some point, you’ve gotta know when it’s time to say: ‘That was great.’ Girl power will always be out there and is something that we all still believe. What I do now is still all about girl power, but it’s empowering women through power. I don’t think I’ll be slipping into a PVC catsuit any time soon.” So there you have it. Sort of. “I still love the girls,” Geri said in a separate interview, “and there are other bits and bobs in the pipeline.” Fingers crossed, it’s not a GEM-related party hat. MC
It’ll be coming up to five years since 12 Years a Slave – what has taken director Steve McQueen so long? You can understand a decompression period, but his prolonged absence has become a matter of concern. But, after a few false starts (a scrapped HBO project here, a proposed BBC series there), McQueen is finally (hopefully) back in November, with a thriller based on Lynda La Plante’s 1980s TV series Widows. In the original, three women take matters into their own hands after their criminal husbands are killed in a failed bank heist. But of course, it gets messy. Working with writer Gillian “Gone Girl” Flynn, McQueen transposes the action from London to Chicago “in a time of turmoil”, presumably the present day. The cast includes Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Elizabeth Debicki and Carrie Coon. Plus a few token males such as Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell and Daniel Kaluuya. Given McQueen’s political convictions, Widows is unlikely to be a straightforward thriller, but while his earlier films were more critical than commercial successes, this one could be a real banker. SR
Gillian Anderson has hinted that this year’s run of The X-Files will be her last. That might be wise, following the travails of seasons eight and nine, which soldiered on with Anderson’s acting soulmate David Duchovny mostly absent, and 2016’s season 10, a box-ticking clutch of uneven episodes that fumbled their big comeback after 14 years away. As the alien-arrival cliffhanger from last time is resolved, and Mulder and Scully battle to save humanity from a nasty virus, all the pieces are on the board: crucial old characters and recently added ones are present. So are the writers from the glory years, all of whom are men, which has led to showrunner Chris Carter getting flak for his creative team’s gender bias. You’d think a show so strongly associated with the 90s would avoid giving us more reasons to think of it as dated. Still, nothing in the past two decades has replaced The X-Files’ shamelessly outre sci-fi hooey; if it finds a reason to exist in 2018, its audience is still out there.JS
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
One of the best books of 2017 was Lizzy Goodman’s Meet Me in the Bathroom, which told the story of the early 00s indie rock explosion that centred around New York City. While much of the book focuses on the Strokes, Interpol and LCD Soundsystem, it found a true hero in Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who seemed to embody all of the highs, lows and madness of the time. Of course, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs never really went away, steadily releasing albums for the last 14 years, but in many ways it felt like the right time for a triumphant victory lap and a reminder of what they had set in motion (not least providing Beyoncé with a sample for Lemonade’s Hold Up). So they reissued their debut album Fever to Tell, celebrated that with a handful of live shows (their first in four years), and released a documentary of their 2003 tour called There Is No Modern Romance. Blunt fringes at the ready: more live dates are promised next year.RN
Officially, 2017 should have been Zayn’s year. Having got his difficult post-One Direction debut out of the way – 2016’s sex-obsessed Mind of Mine, a US and UK chart-topper – and fully established himself as a sleepy-eyed style magazine cover mainstay, there were early murmurings he was already working on its sequel. Instead he followed up I Don’t Wanna Live Forever, his duet with Taylor Swift, with March’s Still Got Time, a PartyNextDoor collaboration that was relegated to a “buzz track” after it peaked at No 24. September saw him work with Sia on the billowy Dusk Till Dawn, which spent 11 weeks in the UK Top 10 but, once again, didn’t usher in an album. There is one, though: that same month he told Fader it was “pretty much there”, while in November, Billboard managed to hear bits of songs produced by the likes of Timbaland and Malay, suggesting it would be out “in the first quarter of 2018”. The Fader interview also promised live solo shows, an aspect of the pop star contract Zayn is yet to fulfil due to anxiety issues and the more prosaic “not having enough songs”. Let’s state it now, so it’s written: 2018 will be Zayn’s year.MC
Having predicted what 2018 will bring, here are three things that definitely will happen in 2019 ...
Florence Welch releases an Elizabethan-themed cookbook, co-authored with Orlando Weeks.
Anthea Turner and Lowri Turner join forces for a 10-part investigation into alcopops called Turners & Hooch.
Jake Gyllenhaal finally wins an Oscar for his lead in the White Guy Blinking Meme film.
Goodness what a year! Theresa has made it very clear that we can’t go into excruciating detail, in case it reaches the “oreilles” of a certain Monsieur Jean-Claude, but to share just a summary outcome, she started 2017 with a super visit to the US, then defied expectations with a splendid election victory, and finished with a stunning success in Brussels! Just in time for a well-earned break which we’ll spend relaxing with Mr Attenborough, after whatever feast our resident star chef is planning (Philip’s hoping it won’t involve too much washing-up!). Alas the cricket hasn’t been quite the triumph everyone wanted, but the Aussies will no doubt be relieved to hear that Theresa’s miracle-working is of the strictly political variety!
Most memorable moments? Frankly it’s hard to choose! That first crunchy crisp after we gave them up for Lent? Philip’s was plain, Theresa made it very clear she’d prefer cheese and onion. And like everyone privileged to be present in Manchester, Philip was left reeling by the most talked-about speech in conference history – is it just us or have we been hearing a bit less about roaring lions recently? Little did anyone guess that, a brief eight months after triggering article 50, Theresa would again do the impossible, striking a historic Brexit deal that, at a very reasonable £45 – or so – billion, left Monsieur Barnier & co looking just a tiny bit worried! We’ll certainly be exchanging a wry smile next time the vicar takes as his text “oh ye of little faith”!
Sartorial note from Philip: it’s really rather nice when your brilliant other half appears in Vogue, looking quite exceptionally fabulous! Perhaps you spotted that we went for quite a dramatic new look, darker tones in the LK Bennett dress and coat, accentuated by a striking upswept “do”? Not an everyday style, but Vogue isn’t everyday either, for us mere mortals, and the interview was super, though we were disappointed that “Brexit means Brexit” did not appear even once! Theresa says she must have said it a million times, though it was technically closer to 43.
We had much better luck with “strong and stable government”, mentioned 1,024 times by Theresa alone, in a super election campaign that showed off what friends know as her fun, “wheat field” side, as well as her integrity and tremendous willingness to listen. Philip has never been more impressed by Theresa’s leadership than when she delivered a bold manifesto pledge then did what they said was impossible – decisively scrapped it within four days. Stylewise, it seemed right to let the embellished shoe do most of the heavy lifting.
So, all in all, a truly memorable first-time election and a super learning experience – following which we wish Fiona and Nick all the luck for the future, we’re only sorry there wasn’t time for the sort of send-off they both deserved!
But that sums up our lives these days: “hectic” would be an understatement, though we did manage a blissful break in Wales – without that clear mountain air “Team May” might never have realised that a snap election was, after all, essential for the strong and stable government the country needs. Later, Italy’s beautiful Lake Garda, with its stable waters reflecting the strong peaks above, seemed silently to applaud our decision. Before too long we hope to roam “the emerald isle” with Arlene and Brian, a super couple who’ve been an absolute rock these last months. Theresa wants to make it very clear how much we look forward to welcoming another wonderful new friend, Mr Trump, and to his staying, owing to the steep stairs at No 10, with Her Majesty the Queen.
On a sadder note, those who remember Theresa’s former colleague, George Osborne, will be sorry to hear of his rapid decline on, we understand, a local evening paper. Both of us pray for a time when he can come to terms with his political failure instead of embarrassing himself on a daily basis. Our hearts also go out, this Christmastide, to David Cameron, last heard of living in a hut. Do join us, as we celebrate another outstanding year, in raising a glass to the “left behind”.
A super Christmas and a strong and stable new year to you all,
Theresa and Philip
• Want to respond to this piece? If you would like to be considered for inclusion on Weekend magazine’s letters page in print, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, including your name and address (not for publication).