About Tim Hunter

Tim Hunter is a Melbourne-based writer and reviewer. He loves films, TV and Arts, and has written about all of them for longer than he'd care to admit. His favourite TV show is 'Doctor Who', followed closely by 'Torchwood', and his top five films include 'Rebecca', 'The Sound of Music' and 'The Purple Rose of Cairo'. He is also partial to fashion, and has a thing for men's swimwear and sportswear. And yes, he's gay.

Meeting my Teenage Hero – Peter Davison!

This week, the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular is back in town – and I got to meet and interview the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison! The interviews been published on the Doctor Who News website, but I thought I’d add it here as well, with added photos!

Even though Tom Baker was in the lead role when I became a teenage Doctor Who fan in 1980, Peter Davison as the Fifth Doctor was MY Doctor. There was something about his portrayal that I identified with: his youth made him a more accessible ‘hero’ figure than Baker did; his preppy cricketing look influenced my own fashion sense; and his vulnerability was something I could relate to.

Time-flight book

The much-maligned Time-flight in novelisation form – all the way from 1983!

Davison visited Melbourne, Australia in 1983 to attend the Logies, Australia’s TV awards. As a giddy 16-year-old, I took the day off school and went into the city where he was doing a promotional book signing appearance in the department store Myer. In front of quite a crowd of excited fans, he tried hard to look enthusiastic as the matronly Myer book department manager, while chatting with him, gushed about the special effects in ‘Time-flight’, which was having a repeat screening on the ABC at the time, and everyone knew she was talking through her hat – even then, ‘Time-flight’ was considered naff. I did feel a little embarrassed that the book he signed for me was the ‘Time-flight’ paperback, just released, but I was too excited. I was there, on the platform, with THE DOCTOR!

Here's Peter Davison's autograph from 1983...

Here’s Peter Davison’s autograph from 1983…

Fast-forward 31 years, and I receive a media release email from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra publicity department announcing interview opportunities with Davison to promote his role as host of the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular’s Australian and New Zealand tour. Over the years as a freelance writer, I have interviewed many other Doctor Who stars, including Katy Manning, Elisabeth Sladen, Russell T Davies, David Tenant, Matt Smith and Steven Moffat, but this was different. You can imagine my excitement at the prospect of a one-on-one interview with my teenage hero. So I emailed the publicist, explained my position, and was kindly granted an interview with Peter Davison. And here it is.

Tim Hunter: It has been 30 years since your time as the Doctor on TV, but you’ve never really left the role, what with conventions, anniversary specials, audio plays, and now hosting this Symphonic Spectacular. Did you think, back in 1981, that’d you’d still be involved today?

Peter Davison: No. Well, because I really didn’t think that far into the future; you’d realise how old you’d be. I realised when I left it and Colin (Baker) and Sylvester (McCoy) took over that I was still carrying on making appearances as the Doctor, so it was obvious it was going to carry on at least as long as the show did. And I suppose when the show went off the air, I thought it would fade discreetly away, but it didn’t do that, and it’s kept me quite busy. So here we are, the longest-running job in show business.

TH: Do you enjoy it?

PD: I don’t mind it at all now. The good thing about when I left, I managed to move on very quickly to other things, like A Very Peculiar Practice, which meant I was then free to continue my association with Doctor Who; it wasn’t affecting my career, so I felt very happy about doing various things.

TH: Now with the show’s very successful return to TV, and the 50th anniversary last years, there’s obviously been a lot of exposure to the classic series and the new series, including your Five(ish) Doctors Reboot, which was a lot of fun – there are some people say it was more fun than the actual 50th anniversary special –

PD: Yeah!

TH: The thing I liked about it was that everyone was so keen on having fun with it and taking the mickey out of themselves, from yourself and Colin and Sylvester right up to Russell (T Davies), David (Tennant) and Steven (Moffat), which was great. Have you enjoyed that resurgence of interest? Has there been more phone calls and knocks at the door?

PD: Well, I realised that last year was going to be a year of Doctor Who, what with various conventions – we came here with The Four Doctors thing, and I was also filming The Five(ish) Doctors, if not writing and planning it, then getting everything together. Once everyone had agreed to do it, just the nightmare of trying to find a day when we were all in the same country proved to be quite difficult. But everyone was quite keen on doing it and sorting it out, and it all worked out very well. So last year was everything Doctor Who, although I did do two other series last year as well, which quite annoyed Janet Fielding (who played Tegan opposite Davison). But I did spend a lot of time on Doctor Who – which is fine and which I love doing.

TH: Apart from the difference in special effects and budget, do you think the new version of Doctor Who is essentially the same show as it was when you were in the role?

PD: I do think it is the same show. Obviously things have changed; not only the budget, but the fact that there’s so much more you can do with that budget, such as digital effects. The role of the companion has changed somewhat too; we were struggling to come up with a good companion character during my time. The difference is really is that where we had the occasional Doctor Who or science-fiction fan writing for the series, now you have exclusively Doctor Who fans and science fiction writers. The producer now writes an awful lot of the series; Russell wrote a lot and now Steven writes a lot; Mark Gatiss writes a lot, and they are all people who grew up watching the classic series. They haven’t come to it wanting to change it completely; obviously they have to update it, but they want to keep it the same – you couldn’t have a bigger fan of the classic series than Steven Moffat. He is the world’s biggest geek. So while he’s changed the way things are done and added various things, essentially, as far as he’s concerned, he’s making the same series.

TH: So what is it for you that indefinable quality of Doctor Who that remains the same?

PD: It started during my time; I tried bringing an area of uncertainty in the Doctor’s mind about whether what he was doing was the right thing to do. He certainly did everything with the best of intentions, but sometimes those intentions didn’t work out quite as they should have. I think that’s something that’s been built on in the new series; that area of doubt the Doctor has. Things go wrong, and it’s not all the Doctor coming in and going ‘Right, I’m doing this and this’. He’s operating on the skin of his teeth a lot of the time, and I like that. He has to pull himself out of the soup.

TH: And now you’re hosting this Symphonic Spectacular. How did you become involved in it?

Symphonic Spectacular 2014

PD: I was asked to take part in the Doctor Who BBC Proms in the summer, I introduced one segment. It was a great occasion, I loved it, because you go out there, and there’s such a vibrant atmosphere, and hopefully we’ll have the same here. And I was asked then if I would be interested in doing it, and I said yes, certainly. I’m very fond of the idea of what we call classical music, which encompasses a whole lot of orchestral music; it’s not strictly classical, but that’s a finer point. When I was growing up, I did music, and went to a lot of concerts, and early on I was aware of the power of a live symphonic orchestra. It’s something we take for granted; we often hear orchestral music as ‘muzak’, and for young people who don’t go to an orchestral concert, it’s a very good way of letting them hear what it’s like to experience it as a wall of sound.

TH: I attended the Symphonic Spectacular here two years ago, and it is a very vibrant atmosphere. We attended the afternoon session, so there were lots of family and kids, and not only were they thrilled with the live Daleks and Cybermen, but to see them enjoying the music, and the euphoria and emotion the music elicits from you. I was there with my partner and two other friends, and during one of the themes, we were all moved to tears.

PD: Yes, it’s powerful stuff!

TH: And now the orchestrated score is an integral part of the show now; it can be haunting, it can be stirring, it can be frightening, and it can be very moving. How do you respond to it?

PD: Music, in one form or another, has always been very important in Doctor Who. Early on it was the Radiophonic Workshop, which was similarly iconic, although you are limited with what you can do with that. So it’s wonderful that Murray Gold is writing amazing music for the show. Still I think sometimes the irony of music like this is the fact that when you’re watching the programme, it adds to things, but you don’t notice it particularly. What I noticed during rehearsals yesterday that you’re watching the clip, and you have the orchestra just below the screen playing the music, it really brings home to you what it does add to the scene.

TH: Actually last time when I saw it, there was a software glitch, and they were going to play the music live during the clip, and for some reason the clip started but the orchestra weren’t able to join in, so it was interesting watching the clip without any music at all – and the funny thing was that everyone in the audience pulled out their sonic screwdrivers and pointed them at the screen – but when the music finally did start with the clip, it was a really inadvertent but good demonstration of what the music adds to a scene and how the music tells the story, and you don’t realise how important it is. So, you’re hosting, Tom Baker’s doing a clip – is Matt Smith doing one too?

PD: I don’t think he is. He’s obviously on the screen, but he’s not doing something to camera, as far as I know.

TH: Well, he’s done with now anyway.

PD: Exactly. He’s old news. Matt who?

TH: So, any thoughts of what to expect from Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor?

PD: He’s a brilliant actor, and I think he’ll bring a lot, and I’m looking forward to it.

TH: In some ways, he’s in the same boat as you were.

PD: In that he’s different.

TH: Yes, but with All Creatures Great and Small, you were already an established actor, and Capaldi is as well. So like they did with you, and called you Doctor Vet, ha ha ha, they’re doing that with Capaldi and his role in The Thick of It, and saying he’ll be a loud shouty swearing Doctor.

PD: Hahaha, that’d be interesting. Yes, you’re right, and he’s also a complete contrast to the previous Doctor, as I was. But I don’t think there’ll be a problem. My son was very worried because he’s enjoyed dressing up as Matt Smith, but I’m sure it’ll take but a moment and he’ll be won over.

Here's Peter and I - he's looking a bit bemused; which seems appropriate.

Here’s Peter and I – he’s looking a bit bemused; which seems appropriate.

After the interview, Davison agreed to sign a DVD sleeve (‘Castrovalva’ this time, and he marvelled at the ‘Mild Violence’ classification) and have a photo taken with me. I showed him a photo on my phone of my signed copy of ‘Time-flight’ (he remembered the book signing and the crusty matron), we chatted briefly about Melbourne’s crazy hot summer (he’d arrived on a 40 degree day), how Katy Manning was as mad as a cut snake, and how gracious Elisabeth Sladen had been, and then it was over. Even though it was only 20 minutes, Peter was warm, attentive, articulate and candid – just as I expected him to be. I’m just glad I didn’t gush too much, or melt into a fan-geek mess. So thank you, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, not only for the Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, but for allowing me to me MY Doctor.

And Peter's 2014 autograph.  His handwriting hasn't changed a bit!

And Peter’s 2014 autograph. His handwriting hasn’t changed a bit!

Great Film Expectations met and missed

Every now and then, a film pops up that has a really interesting pedigree, and actually lives up to all expectations. Stoker is one of those films. Elysium isn’t.

Let’s talk about the second film first. Elysium is the follow-up to South African writer-director Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, a sci-fi film that was highly original and caught everyone by surprise. This is his first big budget Hollywood film, and while there’s some weight in the presence of Matt Damon and Jodie Foster in the cast, ultimately it all feels quite thin.

Come on, I had to include this gratuitous shot of Matt Damon undressed...

Come on, I had to include this gratuitous shot of Matt Damon undressed…

Elysium starts off promisingly enough. It’s the year 2154, Earth is overcrowded, and the rich and beautiful have created a lovely new life for themselves on the space station Elysium, while the poor and common struggle to live and work in overcrowded conditions with little in the way of money or benefits. As a vision of the future, it’s both fresh and not as far-fetched as many other celluloid scenarios. Blomkamp’s uncompromising gritty and grimy representation of the future does carry some credibility, and the concepts are reminiscent of quite a few Doctor Who stories. I was reminded of 1971’s Colony in Space, 1975’s The Ark in Space; there were echoes of the Cybermen, a touch of 1984’s The Caves of Androzani, and the David Tennant stories New Earth (2006) and Gridlock (2007). And Elysium was remarkably similar stylistically to the setting of The Girl Who Waited (2011).

RoboCop, Terminator, Borg or Cyberman? Take your pick as Damon gets ready for the big shoot-em-up finale.

RoboCop, Terminator, Borg or Cyberman? Take your pick as Damon gets ready for the big shoot-em-up finale.

The trouble is that the actual plot of the film doesn’t hold up to extended scrutiny. Max (Damon) and his story arc, exposed to lethal radiation and forced to don a computersied exo-skeleton to carry out a perilous trip to Elysium in the hope of ridding himself of the radiation (they have machines up there that diagnose and cure or heal humans of all injuries, diseases and conditions, naturally), are so heavily sognposted, it’s more like a Join-the-dots puzzle. And Foster, as the cold and ambitious Delacourt, is wofeully underused. But most disappointingly, the film’s climax is a full-blown CGI chase and fight sequence filled with numerous explosions, plenty of gunfire and an alarming body count, and what started out as an intelligent and intriguing premise ended up just as another Hollywood sci-fi action film. Which is disappointing.

Jodie Foster's looking good, but criminally underused.

Jodie Foster’s looking good, but criminally underused.

Not disappointing at all is Stoker, which is great news, because on paper, it sounds too good to be true. With the Ridley brothers Tony and Scott as producers, a script from newly-out Wentworth Miller and directed by Korean Chang-wook Park – his first English language film, it stars Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode, with a small part played by Jackie Weaver.

Grief-stricken Evelyn and India at the funeral. Evelyn's grief is short-lived once Charles arrives...

Grief-stricken Evelyn and India at the funeral. Evelyn’s grief is short-lived once Charles arrives…

Essentially it’s a psychological thriller, an American Gothic tale that has more than a touch of Hitchcock about it, especially Shadow of a Doubt (1943) and a shower scene reference to Psycho (1960), and a whoile lot of style. At the funeral of her much-loved father, India (Wasikowska) metts her far-too-charming uncle Charles (Goode), who she never knew existed before that day. India’s mother Evelyn (Kidman) takes a shine to Charles, but the truth behind him, and the sudden death of his brother are shrouded in mystery. Of course.

Evelyn has trouble coming to grips with her brother-in-law Charles.

Evelyn has trouble coming to grips with her brother-in-law Charles.

We may have seen variations on this theme before, but the style, the storytelling, and the performances in Stoker make a formidable combination. It’s interesting that for a standard American story, all the key players are not. A Korean director working with two Australian and one British leads are detached enough from the cultural and stylistic baggage than an American cast and director would have brought with them.

Wasikowska is mesmerising as the introverted and troubled 18-year-old, Kidman is statuesque amnd jaded, and makes good use of her own looks and icy reputation, and Goode’s smooth elegance works perfectly and makes his character a truly complex beast.

The very suave but mysterious Uncle Charles.

The very suave but mysterious Uncle Charles.

So thank goodness for films like Stoker, that demonstrate how remarkable collaborations can work, and show up films like Elysium that just miss the mark. But then, that’s the nature of filmmaking – there is no real and idiot-proof rule book. And that’s a good thing.

Are Bastard Children Australian TV’s New Gay?

Thanks to Packed To The Rafters, Australian television is enjoying something of a domestic drama renaissance. This new breed of show centres around families and, depending in the show, a variety of extended family members and satellite characters. It makes a nice change from dramas set in police stations, hospitals and law practices, I must say, but with our TV screens inundated with so many dysfunctional – and entertaining – families, a new sub-trend, shall we say, has emerged.

It wasn’t so long ago that the inclusion of positive gay and lesbian characters in such shows was seen as progressive, but now that’s par for the course. Gay characters are so passé now. So, welcome to the screen a veritable bevy of unknown siblings, lost birth parents and traumatising progeny of pre-marital flings.

Coby Rafters

Thank goodness Coby got rid of that bogan hairstyle…

As you’d expect, the recently-finished Packed To The Rafters was the first out of the gate, with Dave (Erik Thompson) seeking out his birth parents Chel (Gillian Jones) and Tom (John Howard), and discovering a hitherto unknown set of unsavoury step-relatives, including the troublesome petty thief half-nephew Coby (Ryan Corr), who soon became part of the Rafters family unit, and underwent a character reformation (his art showed a softer side to the disaffected youth) and thankfully a style makeover, including a less-bogan hairstyle.

georgia flood

Teenage, pregnant and sulky. No wonder Phoebe had a character makeover.

House Husbands made it clear from the outset that Lewis (Gary Sweet) had an adult daughter Lucy (Anna McGahan) from his first marriage, but towards the end of the first season, he was joined by another daughter from a previous relationship, Phoebe (Georgia Flood), a pregnant, sulky runaway teen. Like Coby and the Rafters, she and her baby Gem were soon incorporated into Lewis’ home and family unit, and transformed into a much more likeable character.

 

Meanwhile, 60 years ago in A Place To Call Home, one of the many ‘scandalous’ secrets the Bligh family has been hiding has been recently revealed, and that’s the fact that George’s (Brett Climo) daughter, the thoroughly modern Anna (Abby Earl), who was pregnant to her secret Italian lover before a miscarriage, is actually his niece! Yes, on a trip to Sydney to consult her favourite aunt, Carolyn (Sara Wiseman), Anna discovers that she was the result of an unmarried affair, born overseas while Carolyn was travelling with George’s wife and brought home as their daughter. Of course, being a rather self-contained series, Anna’s real father isn’t just some random bloke Carolyn hooked up with, but someone very close to the Bligh family. Naturally. No one else in the family knows she knows yet, but when it hits the fan, it’ll give James’ gay lust for Harry a run for its money in the scandal stakes.

Anna Carolyn

To Anna’s complete surprise, she discovered that her favourite aunt was actually her mother. That explains a lot, she thought…

The Time of Our Lives is still in its early episodes, and so while no illegitimate children have been revealed yet, it may only be a matter of time. At least we have Luce’s (Shane Jacobson) oldest daughter Georgie (Elise MacDougall) from his first marriage to Maryanne (Anita Hegh) to act as half-sister to the younger twin girls and step-daughter to Bernadette (Justine Clarke). Maybe that’s enough steps and halves for the moment.

Phillip may not be a Proudman by name, but he's cetainly proud of his daughter, Nina.

Phillip may not be a Proudman by name, but he’s cetainly proud of his daughter, Nina.

Not too far removed from that in Offspring Land, Nina Proudman (Asher Keddie) leads a pretty complicated life as it is, but last year she discovered that Darcy (Jon Waters) wasn’t her real father at all, and that she was the result of a one-off fling between her mother Geraldine (Linda Cropper) and her doctor at the time, Phillip (Garry McDonald). She, of course, had to go and find him, and he is now back with Geraldine and an accepted and integrated member in the very messy Proudman family.

That awkward moment when the daughter you never knew you had meets the rest of your family...

That awkward moment when the daughter you never knew you had meets the rest of your family…

Winners & Losers is back for its third season, and starts off with Jenny Gross (Melissa Bergland) and her family – the wholesome, moral core of the show – dealing with the emergence of Sam (Katherine Hicks), a daughter that dad Brian (Francis Greenslade) didn’t even know about. No one’s dealing with it very well at all, to be honest, and as Brian tries hard to invite Sam into the family, son Patrick (Jack Pearson) isn’t having a bar of it, wife Trish (Denise Scott)is having trouble with the whole idea of it, and Jenny too is struggling to process this new information. And all of this is on top of Frances (Virginia Gay) finding her half-sister Jasmine (PiaGrace Moon), another recalcitrant teen whose bad behaviour has mellowed. Clearly it’ll only be a matter of time before Sam overcomes the Gross’ discomfort and becomes a part of the furniture, but not before the series writers milk it for all it’s worth.

Funny, isn’t it, that all the surprise children are all female, aside from Coby (who doesn’t really count, because he’s not a direct son of an established character). Is that because illegitimate daughters are easier to accept just because they’re female? It’s certainly a lot more convenient for scriptwriters to crank up the femininity and ‘softer’ side of these characters than it is to polish the rougher edges of spiky and unwanted male characters, and that opens up a whole new can of worms about the representation of male and female characters in Australian drama, but let’s not go there right now.

Of course, love children storylines aren’t new – soap operas have been using them for years, and apart from adding new dramatic subplots to these dramas, it also reflects the complicated family lives many Australians experience. Let’s just hope then that this sub-genre doesn’t spread much more than it has now. Hopefully it’ll stay out of other current Australian drama series, because the last thing we need right now is to discover that Dr Lucien Blake is actually the illegitimate lovechild of Miss Fisher and the dashing detective Jack Robinson. Because that would be silly. And we can’t have silly television now, can we?

Adventures in Cabaret

Anybody who believes Melbourne shuts up shop in winter is wrong. In many ways, winter is when classy, cultural Melbourne wakes up and shows itself off. And the Melbourne Cabaret Festival is fast becoming another of our city’s popular winter attractions. This week I’ve seen two very different shows that really demonstrate the range of what’s on offer during the festival: one sublime, one ridiculous, both intentionally so, and both worth seeing.

Michael GriffithsSweet Dreams: Songs by Annie Lennox is written and directed by Dean Bryant and performed by singer and pianist Michael Griffiths who gets under the skin of Annie Lennox and revisits and recounts her career as a singer-songwriter and her life of love and heartbreak. With just his voice and a grand piano, this sexy, dapper and slightly cheeky gay singer transports the audience back to the early ’80s when Lennox, along with her one-time lover Dave Stewart, were hugely successful as the Eurythmics.

Griffiths doesn’t try to to impersonate, or even ‘channel’ Lennox; he simply inhabits her life through her music and links it with first-person reflections, often dry, wry and witty (just the way we like reflections). And it’s this simplicity that makes Sweet Dreams so effective.

MICHAEL_GRIFFITHSWith his strong and clear singing and evocative and accomplished piano arrangements, Griffiths shows how timeless and poignant Lennox’s songs are, full of raw emotion – mostly pain, jealousy and self-deprecating irony. He weaves songs and anecdotes from different periods in and out of each other, and tells a compelling and entrancing story. You can’t help but find yourself reassessing those old Eurythmics songs and albums and hear them afresh.

Of course, Griffiths does justice to songs such as ‘Love is a Stranger’, ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’, ‘Why’, ‘Who’s That Girl’ and ‘Little Bird’, but what he does with other songs is quite incredible. By stripping away the 80’s over-production, songs such as ‘Right By Your Side’, ‘When Tomorrow Comes’ and ‘There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart) sound new, gentle, even wistful, and ‘This City Never Sleeps’ is truly hypnotic.

It’s an emotionally charged show, full of joy, sorrow, bitterness and hope, all the more effective thanks to some well-considered lighting design and the occasional use of some retro reverb on the microphone. Even if the Eurythmics and Annie Lennox weren’t an important part of your teenage years and musical development, Sweet Dreams will haunt your waking hours and sit nicely in your subconsciousness as you sleep. It’s an inspiring show not soon forgotten.

Maybe a little more immediate in its tone and production is Trevor Ashley’s new adults-only panto, Little Orphan trAshley. While the show was originally called ‘Trannie’, objections from the transgender community and the producers of the musical Annie required the name to be changed, Ashley’s not letting that stop him. He drops in quite a few bitchy one-liners about it – and just about everything else, from the recent Labor leadership spill to Linden Gallery’s ‘pornography’exhibition hoo-ha and many other cheeky, crass and downright wrong comments.

TrashleyWhich is what pantomime is all about, and as such, there is a loose, off-the-cuff feel to the show, but I don’t see that as a problem. In a nutshell (so to speak), it’s the story of Fanny (played, of course, by Ashley), an orphan left in the care of the drunk and nasty Miss Trannigan (played with wicked relish by Rhonda Burchmore, of course), but who is then ‘adopted’by millionaire Daddy Warhorse (Gary Sweet, having a great time, even if he looks like her has no idea of what’s going on – again, part of the point). But Fanny is actually transgendered and looking for someone to fund her gender reassignment surgery, and Daddy Warhorse fits the bill perfectly.

Naturally, the cast have great fun singing, dancing and swearing their way through the brisk parade of jokes and set pieces, held together tenuously by a bit of story, and while everyone is showing off their natural talents (Rhonda’s legs and stage prowess, Gary’s blokeyness and bald head, Trevor’s sharp tongue and comedic timing), Rhys Bobridge as the leathered-up dog Bullshit is the one who almost steals the show. Not just because he’s running around the stage on all fours yapping and whimpering like an excitable puppy with his bare arse in the air, but because he almost makes you believe he’s an actual dog.Rhys B

According to those who saw the show in Sydney, this incarnation is much tighter, which is a good thing. Pantomime can easily become self-indulgent and smug, but Little Orphan trAshley isn’t. It’s self aware enough to know when to leave things alone, when to milk what’s working, and when to change horses midstream if necessary. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of wrong fun, and another show worth seeing.

 

And… 12 months later, I’m back online!

Yes, apologies. It has been over twelve months since I last posted something here, and in that time, I’ve experienced my second trip to Bali (Seminyak, naturally) and my first trip to Europe (London, Cardiff, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Venice). Work fortunes have fluctuated and yes, I have seen plenty of theatre, comedy, exhibitions and films – most of it good, some of it questionable, but that’s the way it goes, really. I’ll be seeing some Melbourne Cabaret Festival shows this week too, so more of that later this week. But in the meantime, here are some thoughts about television, in particular new Australian drama and classic Doctor Who.

We’re being spoilt for choice with new Australian drama on TV, especially on Sunday nights. ABC1, after treating us with the two-part miniseries Paper Giants: Magazine Wars last month, is now indulging us with The Time of Our Lives at 8.30pm, a new series from the creators of The Secret Life of Us, Judi McCrossin and Amanda Higgs, all those years ago. It’s new territory, but familiar ground for them; it’s wonderfully recognisably Melbourne, mostly around the bayside suburbs, and is about an extended family of siblings in their 30s, maybe a little older, and the hurdles they face in their domestic lives. That of course includes being left at the altar, infidelity, separations, ex-wives and children, and it certainly has a ring of truth about it.

claudia karvan

Claudia Karvan as Caroline ponders her parenting skills in The Time of Our Lives

There’s also some fine acting talent here: William McInness and Claudia Karvan as the central couple Matt and Caroline, struggling with a dead marriage and a son who is developmentally challenged. Karvan as the uptight, controlling mother who believes her son is ‘gifted’, and isn’t dealing with her husband’s departure, plays her with just enough detachment and obsession for us to be able to sit back and comment on her self-delusion, but adds enough vulnerability to truly elicit sympathy. McInnes has his spent and callous, if not selfish, character down pat. Justine Clarke is a delight as Bernadette, new partner to Shane Jacobson’s Luce and stepmother to his 11-year-old daughter, and Anita Hegh is perfect as his slightly bitter ex-wife. I get the feeling that Stephen Curry’s character, the unofficial adopted son to the family Herb, still has some development coming, and it seems we’ll be seeing more of Michael Dornan as the jilter of real adoptive daughter Chai Li (Michelle Vergara Moore).

a place to call home

The Bligh family in a Place to Call Home has its fair share of secrets…

There’s more family drama on Seven in the same timeslot but from a different era in A Place to Call Home. Set in 1953 on a wealthy country property just outside Sydney, it’s dealing with privilege, racism and homosexuality in post-war Australia, and while it’s unashamedly in soap opera territory, terrific performances from Marta Dusseldorp, Noni Hazlehurst Brett Climo, Craig Hall and David Berry make it great Sunday night viewing. Oh, and some hot topless masculinity in the shape of the gay farmer/object of desire doesn’t go astray either.

place to call home 1

Not quite topless, but gay farmer Harry still gets James Bligh excited…

 

Kane_Shot1_0111

Tim Campbell and Gyton Grantley as gay dads in House Husbands. Lucky Stella!

Just two channels away on Nine is House Husbands, a surprise hit for the network, especially since it features a gay couple very prominently in the mix. In many ways, House Husbands is very safe viewing, with its focus on more Melbourne domestic scenarios and popular names such as Gary Sweet. Julia Morris, Rhys Muldoon and Firass Dirani, and that’s why it’s both a surprise and a delight to see the gay couple Kane and Tom, played by Gyton Grantley and Tim Campbell (read my interview with Tim for Time Out Melbourne), as such an important part of the show without being tokenistic or stereotyped.

 

 

offspring - season 4

Patrick is worried that Nina’s Post-It notes are multiplying…

Wednesday nights is Offspring night again, and continues its slightly heightened treatment of its familial dramas to great effect. Witty, well-written and wonderfully performed, it’s encouraging to see Australian drama can do this sort of programme well. And I guess all of these shows have a debt to Packed to the Rafters, which is calling it a day. Maybe it should have pulled the plug about a year ago, but it’s still sad to see it finish.

I’ve also been celebrating Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary by re-watching stories from its Classic days (1963-1989) in a random fashion. Covering all seven Doctors and all 26 seasons (The 1996 TV Movie will get its own one-off viewing soon), I’ve been selecting stories least watched and remembered, and that’s provided some very interesting viewing indeed. From the remastered Hartnell story, The Reign of Terror, now with animated missing episodes, to the unfortunately dull and earnest Colony in Space, Pertwee;s first trip in the TARDIS, the camp double-dealings of Tom Baker’s The Androids of Tara, and the slightly homoerotic Davison story, Planet of Fire.

doctor_who__planet_of_fire_beach

Turlough is exhausted after saving Peri from drowning. Well, that’s the ‘official’ story…

Homoerotic not just because Mark Strickson strips down to Speedos as Turlough rescues a drowning Peri (Nicola Bryant in a very brief bright pink bikini) off the coast of Lanzarote, and subsequently spends the rest of the story in short 80’s shorts, but because the not unattractive, for once, male natives of the planet Sarn run around in even shorter shorts and their leader Timanov, played by Peter Wyngarde, wears heavy eyeliner, and new companion Peri’s stepfather Howard’s first appearance is topless, in tight denim shorts and a fetching bandana around his neck (this is 1984, after all). Howard was played by Dallas Adams, who was 37 at the time, and is best known, it seems, for receiving the then-biggest palimony payout from his former boyfriend. He also died, apparently from AIDS, in 1991, aged 44.

dallas adams

Peri had no idea that her new stepfather was much more interested in hauling phallus-shaped artefacts out of the sea…

Eye candy aside, Planet of Fire isn’t a great story. It had a lot to do, what with introducing Peri as the new companion, writing out Turlough, while explaining his murky past, and getting rid of failed robot companion, Kamelion. Oh, it also killed off the Master – again; something of a habit in the 1980’s Master stories. But that’s no excuse for wooden acting, bad dialogue and that old ‘alien visitor worshipped as a god’ scenario.

Which, strangely enough, rears its head again in the story I’m watching now: The Trial of a Time Lord parts 1-4, also known as The Mysterious Planet. While the whole concept of an on-screen trial to mirror its off-screen troubles must have seemed like a good idea at the time, and there are some astute self-aware asides about censorship and screen violence, it does feel forced and very contrived as an umbrella for this 14-part, four-story 1986 season.

glitz and dibber

Glitz and Dibber didn’t understand why they were taken captive. No one told them their facial hair was offensive, clearly…

It’s also sad to remember that this is Robert Holmes’ last full story for Doctor Who – he died not long after writing this and before he finished the last episode of the season (that confused mess was penned by Pip and Jane Baker, desperately trying to pull everything together), and it’s not one of his best efforts. The galactic criminal duo Glitz and Dibber give the story some much-needed relief from the clunky robots and unmemorable supporting characters (apart from a dreadfully over-acting Joan Sims), and Colin Baker, who is trying way too hard. He is, I’m afraid, still my least favourite Doctor, and while it’s good to see he and Peri aren’t bickering as they were in their previous season, his brashness still grates.

Anyway, I’ll keep you updated with other developments and reviews soon. Or I’ll try to…

Television’s blurring reality and fantasy…

The Voice is done for 2012, and Karise Eden has won Nine’s hugely successful ratings bonanza. Well done, Karise, with a voice like that, you deserved to win, and I’m sure there’ll be no escaping it for at least the next three months.

Karise proved she had the biggest and best Voice this year.

That’s no a bad thing, necessarily; previous winners of TV talent shows have gone on to forge successful careers, but I have to say I am glad The Voice is finished. I watched a couple of the early episodes, in the heady chair-spinning audition days, but even the strong voices weren’t enough for me to commit to watch it religiously – I’m not even watching MasterChef as avidly as previous years. But for me, regardless of how The Voice was dressed up, and who the judges and mentors were, it was still another reality/talent show, pulling out the usual manipulative tricks and following the talent show formula.

There’s no shortage of these shows. Australia’s Got Talent is in semi-final stage and The X Factor‘s next season is being promoted already. No sign of a return for Australian Idol, of course. But stranger things are happening…

Johnny Ruffo shows he has more than the X Factor now…

It’s not just these talent reality shows that are saturating our TV screens: Seven’s Dancing With The Stars finished on the weekend, with Johnny Ruffo, himself a product of last year’s X Factor, taking the trophy home; The Block is still banging away, and MasterChef is also bubbling away. The Amazing Race Australia is also mid-stride, and (heaven forbid), the reinvented Big Brother, now on Nine and hosted by Sonia Kruger, is not far away.

MasterChef contestants wait patiently for ‘The Voice’ to finish, so they can start rating again…

These shows have dominated the television landscape for over ten years now, and reality TV has developed its own culture, formulas and screen language and grammar. That’s not always helpful; MasterChef is struggling to maintain its ratings this year, but the trouble is, everyone’s wised up to their tricks – the drawn-out announcements, the contestant backstories, the ‘cliffhanger’ ball of flame before an ad break, and the excessive recaps. Now that The Voice has finished, it may pick up some viewers, hungry to feed their reality TV appetites.

‘Offspring’s heightened reality is proving successful – much to Nina’s relief!

But, more interestingly – for me, at least – is what reality TV has done to TV drama. Take a look at the popular dramas du jour: Revenge, Downton Abbey, Offspring, Game of Thrones, True Blood, Doctor Who, even Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries; they’re either melodramas, sci-fi/fantasy, or ‘heightened’ dramas. And by ‘heightened’ drama, i mean shows like Offspring and Winners & Losers, which are set in a recognisable world with familiar character types and scenarios, but it’s an exaggerated version of reality seen through a different set of eyes.

It’s also interesting that a show like Revenge, which is so far removed from reality that it’s high camp and hugely entertaining, is one of the most popular dramas on TV right now. Likewise with Downton Abbey. Yes, it’s set in a familiar historical period, but again it’s so over-the-top, I can’t help but love it. No wonder then that Dallas is making a return to TV as well.

This ‘Revenge’ isn’t served cold – it’s steaming hot!

Then you have all the fantasy and sci-fi shows that are so popular, and it’s a new take on fantasy. Game of Thrones, popular on Pay TV, is a soapy political melodrama set in Lord of the Rings territory, and True Blood is also an edgy and adult drama populated with vampires and other supernatural beings. Similar are the UK shows, Being Human (and its US version) and Misfits, that create soap opera dramas for their mythical characters. Doctor Who, since its reboot in 2005, has a much more emotional connection with its audience, with recognisable characters thrust into alien cultures and other worlds, but still maintaining personal relationships.

Fangs for the ratings! ‘True Blood’ pulls them in.

The demand for these shows is as high as reality TV’s – just one look at my Facebook feed shows it’s dominated by people’s thoughts on who will win the reality show of the moment, or updates on freshly-downloaded episodes of True Blood or Doctor Who. And of course, Facebook and Twitter have changed the way we watch TV; it’s all interactive and immediate now.

So it appears we like our reality trimmed and edited and packaged into palatable chunks, and we like our fantasy infused with real people and identifiable scenarios, but we don’t want our drama ‘gritty’ or ‘real-life’ anymore. Maybe it’s because our day-to-day lives are gritty and real enough; now when we watch TV, we want to be entertained and transported into fantasy worlds, or we want to see other people’s dreams either dashed or become reality, because really, we all still to like dream, and escape…

Catching up on comedy, nudity, big-budget superheroes and no-budget Classic Who

Yes, yes, I know; it’s been well over a month since I last posted, but unfortunately, other things have been getting in the way: work commitments, a sick husband, family functions… you know how it is. It doesn’t mean I’ve been idle, though.

It’s been a mixed bag of cultural experiences, from three very funny but very different Melbourne Comedy Festival shows to a blockbuster movie, a naked stage show, and a dodgy DVD. Let’s go on a quick cultural tour of my last month.

April in Melbourne of course means the Comedy Festival, and while I didn’t bust a gut to get to too much, I did see three shows: Dixie’s Tupperware Party, Nath Valvo’s Walk of Shame and Joel Creasey’s Naked. All gay shows, but all very different. Dixie Longate – essentially a drag show from a Deep South trailer trash mother and her newfound love of Tupperware. Yes, it was fun, and Dixie was quick-witted and well-rehearsed, but while there was plenty of laughs and sharp off-the-cuff material, there was no real payoff at the end, and it felt like a camp, dressed-up Tupperware party – which is all it was, really. Great fun, but not groundbreaking.

Nath Valvo contemplates how far he can push the envelope in 'Walk of Shame'.

Nath Valvo was pushing more boundaries though. In his show about being on the dole and his achievement of passing two kidney stones – with very clever and funny stops along the way – he doesn’t apologise for being gay, or for a fairly confronting (well, for the straight audience members anyway) tale about a foursome. And while he may seem scattered and random, you can tell he knows exactly what direction he’s going – even if it almost derails when he involves the audience at the end.

Joel Creasey's promotional material exposed more flesh than he showed on stage...

Joel Creasey, surprisingly with a show called Naked, was a little more ‘family-friendly’, but just as funny as he spoke about his fear of being naked in front of other people – and his country gig where he was chased by anti-gay protesters. It wasn’t his flesh he was exposing – but there was some of that as well. As there should have been.

Both Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans had their work cut out for them when faced with their gay admirers.

 

 

 

 

No naked flesh however in The Avengers, Marvel’s blockbuster movie featuring six – count them – superheroes. And that’s despite Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth reprising their roles as Captain America and Thor respectively. At least we got some great views of Evans’ arse and Hemsworth’s arms, some fun banter between the Avengers (yes, Robert Downey Jr came out on top there), and the decimation of Manhattan by Loki and his alen allies that makes Independence Day look like a senior citizens’ sightseeing tour. While not as earth-shattering as the CGI would suggest, The Avengers was an enjoyable, overblown piece of superhero cinema.

Thor wonders how many bicep curls he'll end up doing tonight...

Captain America finds sprints achieve the perfect bubble butt...

 

 

 

 

 

 

One show that needed some extra fluffing – at least, the night I attended – was Naked Boys Singing, and it wasn’t their tackle that needed tending to. Unfortunately, two of the cast were unable to perform, which left five naked boys, and the dance captain stepping up to help out.

Two of these Naked Boys were missing - can you pick which ones?

The problem was, while the boys did an admirable job singing and dancing in the buff, it was obvious that they were covering the missing boys’ arses, and some numbers seemed lacklustre and the performances uncertain. Which was a great shame, because some of the other numbers were very good. But good-looking naked boys and in-your-face tackle wasn’t enough to carry the show.

Check out the flares on those Mandrels!

Not all my cultural pursuits have been in theatres and cinemas. There’s been plenty to keep me entertained at home. Released recently on DVD was the 1979 Doctor Who story, Nightmare of Eden. Starring Tom Baker as the Doctor and Lalla Ward as Romana, from the oft-ridiculed Season 17, Nightmare of Eden is one of the most reviled, and that’s essentially because of the very cheap studio-bound sets (a staircase shifts as Baker races down it), equally cheap, but camp costumes (the designers had clearly just discovered Spandex and sparkly fabric), and the flare-legged Muppet monsters, the Mandrels, who managed not to be menacing at all, and whose flares were already out of fashion.

Even the Doctor has trouble coming to grips with these - erm - monsters...

I first saw this story in 1980, when it first screened on Australian TV, at the very start of my love affair with Doctor Who. I was 13, so still able and willing to be impressed, and there is much to admire in this story: the drug addiction backstory, the hyperspace collision, and of course Baker and Ward relishing their witty asides and double act. Watching it now, it alternates between being inspired, dreadful, camp, boring, sobering, and a lot of fun. Even when Doctor Who is really bad, there’s always something worth watching it for.

So that’s me caught up, in time for the end of autumn. Now I’m immersing myself in trashy television of many kinds – but more of that later…

 

The Safe and Comfortable Marigold Hotel

My film reviewing has slipped a bit recently, and after my Melbourne Queer Film Festival overdose in March, I’m still catching up on recent releases. Last week I finally saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

I’d seen the trailer, and that pretty much told me everything I needed to know: a strong British cast, including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, that woman from Downton Abbey(Penelope Wilton, otherwise known as Harriet Jones, Prime Minister – we know who you are), that other woman’s who’s not Imelda Staunton (Celia Imrie) and Maggie Smith (naturally) playing a group of older people who all decide to live out their twilight years in an unlikely hotel in India. There’ll be awakenings, enlightenment and endings, all presented in a safe and comforting tone peppered with pithy one-liners and lashings of stiff upper lip sensibility.

Welcome to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - now with guests!

And that’s exactly what you get. Not a bad thing, but there’s a certain contrived and formulaic approach here as well – the nature of the beast really. It’s territory that director John Madden has traversed before – with good and bad results. Mrs Brown (1997) and Shakespeare in Love (1998) are two of his better films; Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) not so successful. But here he does get reliably solid performances from stalwarts like Dench and Smith; immediately making the film worth seeing.

Judi Dench is delighted to be in India.

But I couldn’t help thinking that pushing a boundary or two wouldn’t have hurt, beyond putting these archetypal British characters in a chaotic and completely foreign environment where some will thrive and some will not. Maybe the fact that Wilkinson playing a gay man entering his retirement was enough of a nudge of the boundaries, but even that felt tokenistic.

What was more telling though was the audience at the screening we attended. It was at the Rivoli, so there’s always that ‘respectable’ Camberwell presence, but for this film, most of the audience were the same age, and in the same situation, as the characters – there was quite a lot of laughter as people recognised familiar scenarios and even conversations from their own lives played out on the silver screen.

And that’s where the comfort factor comes into play again. These people weren’t seeing the film to be challenged, or even educated. They were there to be entertained and engaged, and on that level, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel succeeds. And that was enough.

The Good, the Bad, and the Thought-provoking at Melbourne Queer Film Festival

So that’s a wrap for the 22nd Melbourne Queer Film Festival. And after 14 sessions, and an interesting selection of films, I hit my queer film threshold, and piked on my final session. We went hard, and then we went home. But not before we’d seen a number of good films, and at least one disaster.

The Argentinian film 'Absent'

I kicked off last week’s screenings with an Argentinian film, Absent, directed by Marco Berger, whose first film Plan B screened in 2010. Absent is about a 16 year-old boy who contrives a way to stay the night at his swimming instructor’s apartment. It’s clear – although not to the instructor, initially, that this boy is infatuated with said instructor, and the sexual tension literally drips off the screen. The infatuation is not returned, but it does trigger something of a sexual awakening in the instructor. Absent says a lot with very little dialogue, and explores desire and sexuality in a detached but compelling way. If only some US filmmakers could tell stories like this too.

The AIDS documentary 'We Were Here'

Wednesday night was a two-films back-to-back night, both very good, and both sobering and thought-provoking. The first, We Were Here, was a documentary about the beginning of the AIDS crisis in San Francisco. A series of first-person accounts from people who lived through the late ’70s and 1980s as many of their friends and lovers died around them. A moving way to see how far we’ve come, and a reminder that the battle isn’t over yet.

The very repressed Francois in 'Beauty'

The South African film, Beauty (Skoonheid), treads a dark path, with a middle-aged married man, Francois, who attends men-only sex sessions but denies he’s gay, becoming obsessed with a friend’s young and very attractive son, the flipside to Absent, really. With more than a touch of Death in Venice, it’s a tense story about a fairly unlikeable man, but its ambiguity and an enlightening final act make for engaging viewing.

Vito Russo, gay activist and writer

An interesting companion piece to We Were Here is the doco Vito, the story of gay activist and writer Vito Russo. It charts similar territory, focussing on Russo’s activist work in New York during the ’70s and ’80s. And like We Were Here, it’s a very moving and timely portrait of an important figure in queer history.

I only got to see one short film package, Sex Drives & Videotape, and what was most interesting about that was the number of short films now dealing with how gay man relate to each other, either in relationships or sexual hookups. The quality of the filmmaking has gotten better, and demonstrates a growing confidence in storytelling.

The cliched and insubstantial 'eCupid'

Unfortunately, confident storytelling isn’t something I can ascribe to eCupid: Love on the Download. This was my Festival Fail for the year. Essentially a gay rom-com that had a promising premise – a smart phone app interferes with the lead couple’s relationship – it just couldn’t fulfill. With wooden acting, dreadfully trite dialogue, and a cheesy and annoying habit of spelling out everything the characters were feeling, this was a throwback to the kind of US gay comedies I thought we’d seen the back of five years ago.

My own Private Romeo...

Private Romeo, on the other hand, was a brave fusion of a group of young and attractive military cadets rehearsing an all-male version of Romeo and Juliet. The more they rehearse it, the more it takes over their lives, and results in a simmering sexual interpretation of the play, complete with Shakespeare’s original text. Not everyone’s cup of tea, and hard-going for a late Friday night film, but rewarding nonetheless.

'Hollywood to Dollywood'

Another film that could have benefited from a different time and venue was the doco Hollywood to Dollywood. Midnight at the Greater Union in Russell Street on a Friday night wasn’t ideal, especially when punters were encouraged to dress up as Dolly Parton. Suffice to say, there was only one, a woman. the fact that a pack of drunken straight men passing the cinema before the session and wondering loudly why there were ‘so many poofs’ in the cinema may have had something to do with that. the film itself was a fun road trip with gay twins Gary and Larry on a mission to drive to Dollywood in Tennessee to hand deliver a screenplay they’ve written for Dolly.

An important and weightier documentary was The Cure – an exploration of ex-gay programs run by Christian churches in Australia. Having had a rigorous Pentecostal upbringing myself, many of these stories were very familiar to me, and credit must go to the interviewees for being so open and honest about their experiences. Hopefully this film will be picked up by SBS or the ABC, because it really needs to be seen by a wider audience beyond queer film festivals.

A hot 'August' day...

My final film was August, one that I’d heard mixed reviews of. Starring Australian actor Murray Bartlett as Troy, a man returning to Los Angeles after living in Spain, and reconnecting with his ex, Jonathan, whose heart he broke when he left. Of course, Jonathan has a new boyfriend, Raoul, but that doesn’t stop him from having some hot, and very setamy sex with troy. Unlike eCupid, August doesn’t spell everything out, and maintains a smouldering sexual tension throughout the film, and just enough subtext and commentary about relationships to keep it interesting. And it made for a fitting end to the festival – for me at least.

And, as always, MQFF has left me with plenty of food for thought, especially regarding my own feature film script. One day it too will screen at MQFF. I hope…

Kylie’s Anti-Tour no anticlimax

I’m a little surprised I haven’t heard more about Kylie Minogue’s Anti-Tour show in Sydney. Aside from a couple of delirious Facebook posts from some Sydney friends, I’ve heard around about nothing. That’s probably because I live in Melbourne and the majority of my Facebook friends do as well; which means last Sunday was the big Kylie Day on Facebook. And even though it’s a couple of days ago now, I thought I’d write about the concert anyway.

My partner Kieran is a HUGE Kylie fan, in the way I am about Doctor Who, so when the Anti-Tour was announced, there was no way we weren’t going to go. And being a good husband, I was online on the ticketing site from 11am the day the tickets went on sale and made sure that as soon as it hit midday, I was there, buying tickets – successfully, for the first show, which sold out in seven minutes (or ten, or fifteen, depending on who you believe).

So, on Sunday we got into the city around 1pm, and went to queue for our entry wristbands before heading off to the Melbourne Queer Film Festival. I have never seen the top end of Bourke Street so gay before! Of course, we ran into friends and plenty of other gay men (now there’s a surprise) who were doing the same, and the excitement was palpable.

Nothing, of course, compared to the barely-contained anticipation in the line later that night waiting for the doors to open at 7.30pm, a line that snaked down the laneway next to the Palace, around a corner, down another lane to Little Bourke Street, and then almost up to Spring Street. All devoted, die-hard Kylie lovers, and it was gayer than Mardi Gras.

Position sorted - good view of the stage!

It was even more excitable once we were inside, and soon Kieran and I had our position (just at the top of the stairs down to the dance floor) sorted. We were surrounded by more gay men, all posting photos pictures of themselves on facebook, and then it was 8.30, and – an hour before the advertised time – Kylie was on stage!

Starting with ‘Magnetic Electric’, an extra track from X (2007), Kylie, her band and the crowd were on fire. But it really reached fever pitch when Kylie’s first step back in time took us all to 1988’s ‘Made in heaven’. Looking back at the crowd behind us, there was something heartening to see so many gay men (and lots of straight girls too) in their 30s and 40s singing and dancing gleefully along, reliving more innocent times.

It was like that all night. As Kylie jumped around her extensive back catalogue of b-sides and album tracks – with incredible vocal skill, I must say, and not one mimed song at all – there were obvious highlights; more often than not the quieter songs, such as ‘Tightrope’, ‘Bittersweet Goodbye’ and ‘Paper Dolls’., and a number of Impossible Princess (1997) tracks, ‘Drunk’, ‘Say Hey’ and ‘I Don’t Need Anyone’. But everything she performed was greeted with delight and enthusiasm, and there was only two songs I wasn’t familiar with.

Despite the intimate, stripped-back nature of the show, and Kylie’s unguarded and obvious enjoyment, it had to end – with ‘Enjoy Yourself’ (1989), naturally enough, and a glitter explosion. Well, it wouldn’t be a Kylie concert with out a bit of glitter.

Kylie pumps it in the second show. Photo by Matthew Noonan

And then she turned around and did it again for the second show an hour later. I’d like to see Madonna do a show like this. Just sayin’…