2016 review banner

2016 in review

2016 review banner

It’s 31st December 2016, which means that it’s the end of another year. There’s been a lot of talk about the awfulness of the last year, particularly concerning deaths and politics, but I want to look back at the personal positives, month by month.

BBC Broadcasting House at NightJanuary – although it seems like a distant memory, I kicked off 2016 with a tour of the BBC with Media Society, where the people were so bright and cheerful that I knew I wanted to work there. I also wrote a LOT of articles for the Orbital and started doing radio on Thursday mornings. The month ended in Wokingham at the CU Weekend Away, which was a refreshing break.

Louise Jones and Beth Carr, Orbital Magazine award winners
Photo Credit: Laura Denham

February – again, February is very long ago! I used the lack of presenters on Valentine’s Day to do a Valentine’s special of Entertaining History and finished my day off by watching Bridget Jones’ Diary for the first time. However, my ultimate highlight of February, and perhaps my year, was winning Best Journalist for The Orbital at Societies Ball.

March – the month of my 20th birthday and lots of other cool things too! I was in the band for Pirates of Penzance by the Savoy Opera Society and I got elected to the position of Head of Training for Insanity Radio 103.2FM. I also went to my first Student Radio Conference in Cardiff, which was amazing fun, and built a TARDIS out of Lego.

Tim and Beth on Let Them Hear with Lizzy FretwellApril – revision is my main memory of April but I also cut my hair off to raise money for Evelina London and donated the hair to the Little Princess Trust to make wigs for children. Tim and I also successfully applied for a Christian radio show on Insanity Radio 103.2FM called Let Them Hear, which is still going!

May – exams always overshadow May but there were some good points too! Let Them Hear continued and a particular highlight was Tim doing the show solo while I was in an exam. I also gained a position on the editorial board for the Orbital as Deputy Arts Editor, which I had been hoping to achieve for six months.Beth Carr in the Insanity studio

June – so many great things happened this month! I attended the first Interfaith Ball in the Royal Holloway Picture Gallery with lovely friends from CU and amazing tiny bowls of food. I masterminded the pre-recording and summer holiday schedule for Insanity that secured us enough content to cover the whole summer. I started my two regular shows at Coastway Hospital Radio and aired a special show for International Scoliosis Awareness Day on Coastway and Insanity Radio. I also got the chance to cover the EU Referendum for the Argus newspaper, doing my first all-nighter to cover the count in Horsham. Oh, and we saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

July – the first full month of a long summer saw a new job unpacking and plugging in computers and my first major work experience at Create Productions as part of the Royal Holloway Placements Scheme. It was also the beginning of being part of the regional SRA Training Day, alongside Smoke Radio from Westminster.

Selfie with Paul Layzell
Credit: Paul Layzell

August – my dad retired and we went on a short holiday to Bournemouth (I ate a three course meal outside of my own house for the first time in years and I was so proud). I did have the slight misfortune of trapping my finger in a car door but that pales into insignificance compared to the amazing week I had as a small part of leading R4@Woolie! I also went back to the Science Museum for the first time in AGES and it was amazing.

The Insanity/Rhubarb team with the QuarterlightsSeptember – I met Paul Layzell and the Quarterlights, celebrated a whole year with Insanity, interviewed Alex Manzi on the eighth floor of BBC Broadcasting House: if there was one month that shows how amazing student media is then this is the one! I also started my third year with courses that I really enjoy.

October – one of the hardest months as I struggled with anxiety and depression but also one of the most amazing. I met rising star Tom Walker, saw #SRADayLondon turn out amazingly, and joined a brand new family: Voices of Holloway! A Night At The Theatre was a great experience and the following week I went to Come In Your Socs (which is the societies club night at the Students’ Union) with three societies (I started at Voices, then Insanity, then actually arrived with the Orbital but mixed around once we arrived)

Credit: Student Radio Association
Credit: Student Radio Association

November – I kicked off the month at home for a well-earned rest, but also went to the wonderful Sorted, which was a spiritual recharge and accidental R4 reunion. The following week was the SRAs, where we didn’t win but had a fun time together as a radio station, and then the rhubarbTV Training Day, which was a fab day learning about all things broadcast and something Jon and Catriona (the organisers) should be very proud of. It ended with another CU Weekend Away too, both productive and restful. I also started my podcast, ‘Doctor Who and the Dissertation’.

Nativity castDecember – the month just gone has been as busy and good as all the others. I’ve had the Voices of Holloway Christmas Concert, multiple Christmas meals, R4 reunion, the Unscene Festival, Create work experience for the second time, chances to see friends from slightly far, the Let Them Hear Christmas Special with added audio drama, work, rest, study, relax, seeing family…

Of course all of the events above don’t count the wonderful friendships I have made and maintained over the year. From those who have been there for years and years to those who I’ve only just had the pleasure to meet, this year has been one I wouldn’t have got through without your love and support. I couldn’t possibly list everyone for fear of accidentally forgetting anyone so I hope you all know who you are!

Obelisk Pond through trees

Blogmas 24: I did it!

Today is Christmas Eve, which marks the end of Advent, which means the end of Blogmas! And I’ve completed it! 24 daily blog posts consecutively! Going into this I knew it would be a challenge and half expected myself to fail part way through but I managed one post every single day, written the same day.

2016 has been an interesting year. In some respects its been amazing. In others it has been awful. A lot of unexpected events happened in politics, a lot of people have died and a lot of things have altered. The public feeling is that the end of 2016 can’t come soon enough.

However, great things have happened in 2016. Malaria is decreasing, more children are getting an education and Harry Potter returned. I want to do a more detailed post about the amazing things that happened this year, but a few highlights are going to the BBC (twice!), getting elected as Head of Training, being reminded of how amazing my friends are, getting involved in the fabulous R4 and so many more wonderful things.

Whether you’re having a huge family Christmas or spending the day alone in bed, have a fabulous Christmas Day! And if you’re wondering what it’s all about, have a look at the Nativity story in the gospels of Matthew and Luke and then…keep reading to see what baby Jesus becomes.

Carpet with cinematic reels

Blogmas 21: Five minute review – Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them

Today I finally saw Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them in my local cinema and thought I would give a brief, spoiler-free review consisting of however much I can type in 5 minutes. It’s 22:35 and I start now.

Fantastic Beasts captivated me for a large part of the film. The score is what comes to mind first – the film began with a motif from Harry Potter that caught my interest immediately. Not so much the interest of many of the rest of the cinema, which included a surprising number of children – I wouldn’t really have taken my child along to this until they are at least 10, if not 12 (the film is certified 12A, meaning that children from the age of 8 can attend with their parents, although I don’t believe this is greatly enforced). There’s a lot of adult themes (mainly death) in the film, and although it has some morals contained within it, there’s a lot of peril and bad decisions. The film was also a tad long – 130 minutes, meaning that the time sat in the screen is over 2 and a half hours if you sit through the adverts.

The protagonists were good – not as strong as Harry, Ron and Hermione but these are grown-ups we are dealing with. Eddie Redmayne surprised me by being a very good Newt Scamander, and the audience surrogate of Jacob, a No-Maj (Muggle) who gets caught up in magic, was really great to see. There was a degree of inferred knowledge involved but I caught on to the American magical customs quite quickly.

The ending was sad but right, and I am quite pleased with how the film turned out. There’s also plenty of lines for the sequels – I’d like to see the main four characters return certainly! I’ll give Rowling’s first film of her second film franchise 4 stars (out of 5!)

It is now 22:40. That was very hard – I benefit from being able to type fast! There’s so much more I could say, but I’ll leave it at that. I would recommend it and the cinematic experience is excellent.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Blogmas 10: Harry Potter and the Dilemma of the Spoilers

Back in June, I had the pleasure of attending the second preview of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the hotly anticipated eighth Harry Potter story by J. K. Rowling. At the time of writing, details of the story remain mostly under wraps, only known by those involved in the production and the lucky few thousand people who managed to acquire tickets to the previews. Free badges were even handed out at the end, emblazoned with #KeepTheSecrets as a final reminder for guests not to ruin the surprises of the show.

However, given that I had the unique opportunity to see the show so early in the run, I wanted to review it for The Orbital, but in a spoiler free manner to respect Rowling’s wishes. It was actually a very hard review to write because the play was so good and it is tempting to write praise of each scene in detail, but with time and care I got the review written and published on the website.

Now that the book of the script has been released, it’s a lot easier to talk about the plot of Cursed Child, and similarly with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (a film I still have not seen so no spoilers please!). However, the release of these script books brings up another issue – is the experience really the same between book and play/film? With the original Harry Potter series, the books came first, meaning that they should be read first in my opinion – I’d far rather imagine a world for myself before seeing someone else’s depiction on screen because if you know what it looks like before you lose some of the joy of reading. However, Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts were both written to complement the play and film respectively, and the former certainly cannot recreate what actually goes on within the theatrical experience.

Of course, tickets to the Cursed Child are few and far between, meaning that the book provides a way of hearing the story when there’s no way of seeing it on stage. But your imagination will always create an altered scenario to how a play or film shows events. For instance, my script was performed at the Unscene Festival last Monday: the director, Ellie Cozens, and cast staged it far better than I had imagined, with symbolism alongside the reality, but it did not look as I had initially envisaged. The impatience to devour Rowling’s work could be, in a way, robbing the spectator of their ability to see the story with fresh eyes, having already read the full text.

This is a dilemma too large and too petty to have been fully explored here – it’s a matter of personal opinion and if knowing the full details of Harry and Newt’s stories through page is what you want, then that’s fine. But I continue to maintain my stance that the stories are best explored in their original form, whether that be on screen or on the printed page.