2012 – A Retrospective

Posted on December 31, 2012


2012 has been a remarkable year for many. From a legion of torchbearers for the Olympics to the nation uniting for the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen and defying predictions of the end of the world, 2012 has been a year that won’t be forgotten in a hurry. It’s also been a formative year for me running this blog. December 21st marked the first birthday of the blog, and what better way to celebrate than to look back at my top ten highlights of a tremendous year?

1. Coronation Street 1968corrie1968cast.jpg

How could this not be one of the highlights of 2012? An exciting and ambitious start to the year saw three scripts by Jack Rosenthal reimagined for the utterly authentic stage of the Lass O’Gowrie pub to enormous critical success including plaudits from Coronation Street cast past and present and even Jack Rosenthal’s wife, Maureen Lipman. For me, it was a unique experience that I thought I would never see again. Good job I was partly wrong then!

2. My Child the Rioterriots2

February saw violence in the Eurozone echoing events in the UK in 2011. Indeed, there was no let up in the response to the riots across the country as TV and print probed with searching questions that were not easily answered. BBC’s shocking, or frank (depending on your point of view) documentary looked , very simply, at those involved or caught up in the riots and the reactions of their loved ones. An astonishing and upsetting story. The reaction continued inspiring Cathy Crabb’s tremendous play The Bubbler – well worth seeing if you get the chance.

3. Sea Odyssey – the Giant’s Spectacular 20120422-195234.jpg

Whilst London celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Liverpool saw an invasion of its own in April as a 30 feet diver stomped across the city in search of a little girl in an audicious piece of street theatre. Culminating with a trip for the pair down the Mersey, Royal De Luxe did it again with a captivating piece of theatre that brought in visitors from far and wide and engaged young and old alike. I wonder what will they do for 2013?

4. Waterstones and Amazon joined forcesWaterstones

It was announced back in May that Amazon and Waterstones had done a deal to sell the Kindle in stores towards the end of 2012. This joint venture generated a lot of press and opinion on its announcement, despite the fact that the Kindle wasn’t going on sale for nearly six months. Now a couple of months on from the Kindle actually going on sale it has to be said that things are not much different. The Kindle is definitely on sale, bolstered by the launch of the Kindle Fire tablet – but it hasn’t rocked the high street in the way that Waterstones had perhaps intended. Or am I speaking too soon? The Fiction Stroker will be following this up in the New Year!

5. Dead Harvest by Chris Holmdeadharvest

Chris Holm’s Dead Harvest still remains my favourite book of the year. Perfectly paced and an astonishing debut, it mashed up gritty urban noir with fantasy thriller. Slickly written, it has stuck in my mind since publication. Blurring the lines between heaven and hell, it teases out revelations in a way that left you gasping for more. Luckily, the second in the series, The Wrong Goodbye, is out now to tempt you further..!

6. Together in Electric DreamsElectricDreams

July saw not only Olympic success, but the success of the Greater Manchester Fringe. Together in Electric Dreams was my highlight of an extraordinarily packed month. Dan Thackeray’s masterful script took a little acknowledged, but probably wider known than you think encounter. Concerning a business deal between then unknown Alan Sugar and Sir Clive Sinclair to save the ailing Spectrum computer, Thackeray’s script was warm and funny and is very deserving of a wider audience and I hope will be seen again in 2013.

7. Einstein’s Daughtereinsteinsdaughter

Another sell-out hit at the Fringe was Einstein’s Daughter, the harrowing tale of a father struggling to maintain order in his autistic daughter’s life. I have to be honest and say that the vague synopsis didn’t really let me know what to expect, but Einstein’s Daughter was one of my highlights of the year with an unforgettable central performance and a superb cast.  Top notch theatre that you simply must see given the chance.

8. The Sweeney on Blu-raysweeney

Network Distribution issued another hit, there were it not for the cars and fashions could have been made today. Series One of The Sweeney came out on Blu-ray back in the summer reminding us of what a team John Thaw and Dennis Waterman were. We also had the opportunity to hear first hand about the genesis of the series from series creator Ian Kennedy Martin. My box-set of the year, there wasn’t a duff episode in the collection, and with the series having been faithfully restored into crystal clarity, now is the perfect time to revisit the real Life on Mars.

9. Adam Christopher InterviewAdamChristopher2

Rising star Adam Christopher very kindly took time out to talk me through his latest novel back in October. Having had enormous success earlier in 2012 with his hit alternate universe story Empire State (of which you can read the sequel The Age Atomic next year), he very quickly came back with another hit and very different story in superhero smash up Seven Wonders.

10. The Ballad of Halo Joneshalo

My final pick for the year saw an audacious attempt to stage one of the best loved graphic novels of recent years. The Ballad of Halo Jones by Swamp Thing and V for Vendetta scribe Alan Moore is a tale that takes you from the rundown world of the Hoop, a place for the great unemployed through to ice planet Charlemagne via a space liner. It was impressive that the commitment of the cast and crew made it work, not once, but twice as Halo was updated in time for Leeds’ Thought Bubble festival. Halo Jones ought to serve as a reminder that you can bring anything to life with the right

Just to round off the year, here’s a few Fiction Stroker facts:

  • Over 10,000 visitors have read 104 posts this year
  • The most visited post was My Child The Rioter
  • The Fiction Stroker has had visits from over 90 countries

Naturally, none of this is relevant without your support and views. Please do let me know if you have any feedback and stay tuned throughout 2013 for more!

Happy New Year!

Posted in: Opinion