Boys and girls of every age – wouldn’t you like to see something strange?

… come with us and you will see

this our town of Halloween!”

It’s Halloween! Woo hoo! The day of the year where we crack out the pumpkins and dress up as Mike Myers to scare the willies out of the neighbours. To coincide we naturally have a Halloween section on Hive, with products for children and adults alike. And check out the book on the making of Michael Jackson’s iconic Thriller video – it’s on the homepage and it has a very cool holographic cover, detailing from start to finish how his arguably greatest ever video was made. Spookness galore!

The Phantom of the Opera comes to DVD & Blu-ray in two weeks

Les Miserables celebrated its 25th birthday last year

Staying with all things Gothic for a bit, yesterday I finally got to see the 25th anniversary concert of the Phantom of the Opera at my local cinema. In the same way as one of Cameron Mackintosh’s other stratospheric phenomenons, Les Miserables, was celebrated last year when it saw its 25th birthday too, the concert was broadcasted live to various cinemas around the UK from the Royal Albert Hall on the night it was staged earlier this month. And so I went to see it yesterday, all three glorious hours of it, and what an absolute show it was. The lead roles were perfectly casted by Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess, both fresh from playing the same roles this year in the West End in the Phantom’s sequel, Love Never Dies. These two were perfect as the Phantom and Christine respectively, and you could more than be forgiven for wondering, “Sarah who?” as you powerlessly allowed yourself to be captivated by Boggess, effortlessly gliding her way through the much-loved songs as the Phantom’s tortured heroine. I certainly did. Karimloo I know has played the Phantom many times before and incidentally has just won the role as the new Jean Valjean in Les Mis, so to see him here onstage where he belongs as our tragic disfigured composer of operas was something I just couldn’t wait for. Prior to this I have only heard him play the Phantom on the LND soundtrack, so this was a real treat for me. The film was followed by a small speech from Lord Webber after which he then introduced four Phantoms from past and present, Michael Crawford, who made the role what it is today, and his original Christine, Sarah Brightman. Crawford had chosen not to sing at the event, but one hardly missed this because Brightman was more than happy to as she sang an absolutely electric performance of the title song with the five Phantoms; three from past incarnations including the legendary Colm Wilkinson, the current West End one, John Owen-Jones, and Ramin Karimloo. The DVD and Blu-rays of the concert will be released on 14th November and I highly urge anyone who didn’t get to see it live or the live broadcast, or even if you did and you want the memories, to splash out on yourself and make it yours. That’s all I ask of you.

The Frozen Planet is on BBC1 right now

Back on television last week was David Attenborough and his latest series for the BBC about life on Earth, The Frozen Planet. I will brag a bit here and say I had the luxury of seeing it in HD and to be honest, this is the kind of television high-definition was made for. From the sped-up forming of snowflakes to the isolating-tragic beauty of vast plains of ice, Attenborough once again took us on a journey were very few – if any –cameras had taken us before. Being made by the same team as my favourite of his, the Blue Planet, I knew I would not be disappointed. A highlight for me was seeing the courtship of polar bears which had never really been filmed before in the wild. I tried not to focus too much on the bizarre and barbaric way orcas catch and “play” with their pray; they are one of the eternal mysteries of our oceans as we learned of their behaviour in the Blue Planet. While I understand that animals eating other animals is nature and all part of the food chain, quite why killer whales behave in such macabre ways is still a great sphinx-like riddle for marine biologists. However the majestic beauty of the ice and snow which Attenborough and his team endured through on their trek from the North to the South pole made up for it, and I for one cannot wait to see the next episode this Wednesday and to eventually own it on Blu-ray.

If you like your television slightly less glacial but still with ice-stares, perhaps you watched the start of the new series of Young Apprentice, which began its second run on BBC1 last Monday. The same formula as the adults’ version applies to Lord Sugar‘s new bunch of young candidates; a team of 16 and 17-year old boys and girls prove how good their business acumen is and that they can outsmart a calculator in order to win guidance and nurture from Lord Sugar to kick start their futures. A lot of the teenage contenders are self-made businessmen and women in their own right, but by appearing and battling it out against their rivals – which they can only do by working in a team – one of them in the end will win over and impress Lord Sugar and his sidekicks Karren Brady and Nick Hewer. It makes for great television at the very least, watching the young business-brains of today struggle now and again with basic mathematics and discounts, profit and margin. I’m sure it makes a lot of us adults at home secretly think, phew, I don’t know what 35% off £7.99 is either, or sigh in relief as you realise you thought you knew which part of London Hackney was in, and it certainly wasn’t West, but that’s okay because they don’t know either!

One other thing that I was excited to learn about last week was that my favourite TV chef, Nigella, has announced that she will be releasing a brand-new cookery book next autumn. This book will see her very much focusing on her roots and heritage as she goes right back home to Italy, where she promises to show us traditional and non-traditional dishes from her motherland, complete a coinciding TV series too. The recipes will be given the “express” treatment also, so I’m already looking forward to lots of authentic Italian dishes with the Nigella twist on them. Not that I can always afford her ingredients, but she is a joy to watch in all her programmes and no doubt she will deliver another iconic and must-have dish somewhere along the line. Marmite spaghetti, anyone?

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