IT’S been a busy year in the world of entertainments, with superstar gigs on Wearside, and a former Sunderland schoolgirl starring in one of the most talked about TV shows of the year. Entertainments editor Katy Wheeler brings you her best and worst of 2011.
TOP FIVE GIGS
Split Festival, September, Ashbrooke Sports Ground
THE third annual Split Festival attracted international acts including The Charlatans and The Drums, however, it was the local acts who seemed to impress most.
Step forward B>E>A>K, Frankie & the Heartstrings and the Lake Poets who all shone at the music extravaganza.
Take That, May, Stadium of Light
WITH Robbie in tow, Take That chose the home of SAFC to open their Progress Live tour.
The eyes of the world’s entertainment media were on Sunderland as the lads put on a spectacular show.
Highlights included a solo set by Robbie, retro Take That tracks and a 40ft robot who towered above the crowd.
Carols of Light, December, Durham Cathedral
A GALAXY of stars including Sir Tim Rice, Joe McElderry, baritone Sir Thomas Allen and musician Rick Wakeman were among those to raise the roof at this Christmas concert. The Countess of Wessex joined the audience at this festive spectacular, which raised £80,000 for the SAFC Foundation and the Durham Cathedral Music Endowment Fund.
Frankie & the Heartstrings, April, at Independent, Holmeside
THESE darlings of the Sunderland music scene put on a real show for home-town fans following a successful UK tour.
This year also saw the band release debut album, Hunger, which reached the Top 40.
Current single, Everybody Looks Better (In The Right Light), is out now.
Tinie Tempah, November, Newcastle Arena
THE man with the million dollar smile wowed on his first arena tour.
He rocked the venue with hit after hit including Pass Out, Miami 2 Ibiza, Frisky and Written in the Stars.
There wasn’t a still pair of feet in the house – one of the best solo singers I’ve ever seen live.
TOP FIVE THEATRE MOMENTS
Blood Brothers, March, Theatre Royal, Newcastle
DOING this job, I’ve seen most musicals, but this one had passed me by.
I’d been missing out. It was a delight from beginning to end: a real emotional roller coaster from big laughs to heart-wrenching sadness, it packed a real punch.
Sister Act, November, Sunderland Empire
LEAD singer Cynthia Erivo blew my socks off with her vocals in this remake of the Whoopi Goldberg film.
Packed full of energy, pizazz and more sequins than you can shake a stick at, this new musical far exceeded my expectations and is, in my opinion, better than the movie.
Beauty and the Beast, July, Sunderland Empire
A DELIGHTFUL production from Centre Stage North East, this show shone out as one of the top family shows this year.
Though a local company, the staging and production was spot-on with some charming performances from some theatre stars of the future.
Coquette Collective, July, Royalty Theatre
MY first foray into burlesque proved quite the eye-opener.
Definitely more tease than sleaze, this Sunderland troupe’s show is a whirlwind of glamour, comedy, music and retro fashion.
Macbeth, January, Royalty Theatre
I AM usually the only media reviewer at Royalty Theatre shows, but local TV and radio swarmed to the venue when Sir Ian McKellen visited in his role as patron of the Little Theatres Guild.
I sat next to the acting legend through this production of Macbeth. He seemed enthralled, making notes, and passing on handy hints to the amateur cast who he described as “absolutely terrific.”
TOP FIVE TELEVISION MOMENTS
Royal Wedding, April, across channels
THE fairytale wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, of Hetton mining stock, was one of the world’s biggest TV moments.
In the UK, TV audiences peaked at 26.3 million viewers with a total of 36.7 million watching part of the coverage. The ceremony was viewed live by 72 million on the YouTube Royal Channel.
X Factor final, December, ITV 1
MILLIONS tuned in to see former Sunderland pub singer Jade Thirlwall and the rest of Little Mix become the first group to win the X Factor in the programme’s eight year history.
They wooed the British public with an impressive performance of If I Ain’t Got You/Empire State Of Mind with mentor Tulisa Contostavlos.
I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, December, ITV 1
ONCE again it was a bush tucker trial which had everyone talking about this year’s show.
Former javelin champion Fatima Whitbread had to have a cockroach flushed out of her nose after taking part in the Fill Your Face trial against Pat Sharp.
Geordie Shore, May, MTV
THIS Geordie version of Jersey Shore, starring former St Anthony’s School pupil Charlotte Crosby, sparked acres of newspaper copy when it first aired.
Many were disappointed by its portrayal of North East nightlife but, whatever your views, viewers tuned in in their droves.
Former Ttonic barmaid Charlotte and the rest of the gang are back in January for a second series.
Downton Abbey, September, ITV 1
THE trials and tribulations of those living in a country pile during the late Edwardian era have captured viewers’ imaginations.
So much so, Downton Abbey has become the most successful British costume drama since Brideshead Revisited in 1981.
This year it entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the “most critically acclaimed television show” for the year, becoming the first British show to be so recognised. A third series will be broadcast next year.
THREE WORST ENTERTAINMENT MOMENTS
Britney Spears, November, Newcastle Arena
THOUGH I was criticised for panning Britters for her Femme Fatale tour, it really was, in my opinion, fatally flawed.
The once-glittering princess of pop appeared to lip-synch her way through a selection of tracks and was, at times, outshone by her dancers who put in a much more energetic performance.
Kings of Leon, June, Stadium of Light
MUSIC-wise, this band are up their with the best of them, but performance-wise they didn’t impress me.
They arrived late and had little interaction with a 55,000 crowd at the stadium.
A day’s drinking had also taken its toll on the audience, pockets of which were unnecessarily aggressive to fellow gig-goers.
Split Festival, September, Ashbrooke Sports Ground
FRANKIE & the Heartstrings have long flown the flag for the Split Festival and put on a cracking show.
However, the power went out on their final track – whether it was a power cut or the plug was pulled remains a mystery – but it put a dampener on the otherwise superb set.