Part 3 of our 2019 Entertainment Top 25 as chosen by the entertainment fanatics at Red Bee.
If you believe as we do that comedy is a much harder art form to master than drama, then Booksmart should be showered with accolades come awards season, pulling off a wonderful balance between laugh-out-loud farce, larger-than-life characters and pratfalls, and a tender, true story of female friendship. Wise, funny and compassionate, Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever are destined for stardom, and Olivia Wilde in a directorial debut showed real ambition to stretch the genre.
14) PROM 45: MISSISSIPPI GODDAM - A HOMAGE TO NINA SIMONE
In their review of the 2019 Proms season in the run-up to the last night, the BBC presenters agreed that Prom 45 – Mississippi Goddam, A Homage to Nina Simone – hadn’t just been one of the best of the year but plausibly in the top 5 of all time. Since the Proms date back to 1895, that would be an extraordinary accolade, but Prom 45 truly was extraordinary. Featuring breathtaking performances from two extravagantly gifted singers, Lisa Fischer and Ledisi (who seemed to be trying to outdo each other for the most spine-tingling impact), backed by Jules Buckley’s Metropole Orkest (a symphony orchestra meets big band), this was a spectacular tribute to “the high priestess of soul”. The full broadcast has now disappeared from BBC iPlayer but, for a taste of a magical evening, watch this Lisa Fischer medley of I Loves You Porgy and Dido’s Lament and try to keep a dry eye by the end.
13) CALL OF DUTY: MOBILE
In October Call of Duty Mobile smashed records to become the fastest downloaded mobile game in history. With over 100 million downloads in one week, it more than quadrupled the equivalent numbers achieved by Fortnite, its arch-rival in the battle royale shooter genre. Within two months it had made $87m via in-game purchases, and went on to be named the Android Game of the Year and Users’ Choice Game of the Year. To quote the Play Store “This isn’t just the best shooter on mobile, it’s hands down the best game of 2019.” And it demonstrates that the gaming industry has shifted from a traditional retail model to a newfound democratic system whereby the hard-core gamers pay to soup up their experience with additional weapons etc. and in doing so everyone else gets to play at no cost. Now we can all fight to the death, for free!
12) FLEABAG SEASON 2
We liked Fleabag a lot. It was quirky, funny, and perfectly formed. So, when series two was announced, we shrugged, assuming it would be an unnecessary cash-grab sequel, benefiting from the buzz around the original. But, fifteen minutes in, we realised we had been deeply mistaken. Waller-Bridge had even trumped her own previous effort, and delivered a masterpiece. That long opening sequence around a restaurant table played out like an intense piece of theatre, cleverly introducing the entire cast whilst cranking up an agonising tension that had viewers hooked once again. And perhaps most satisfying of all was the deft storytelling that sees Fleabag’s existential crisis taking a theological detour, unexpectedly giving her coy look-to-camera an entirely new lease of life.
11) DO THE RIGHT THING
Proof that podcast panel shows are not just the preserve of BBC Comedy - and in fact, in DTRT’s case, are all the better for being freed from the editorial constraints of Auntie Beeb. Brilliantly conceived, written and hosted by Danielle Ward, with team captains Michael Legge and Margaret Cabourn-Smith, the triumvirate’s sibling-like friendship and banter shines through at the show’s warm heart. Start out with Series 7 Episode 2 from this August with panellists Richard Herring and Deborah Frances-White, and you will genuinely struggle to find a funnier, filthier hour of listening anywhere.