The world’s premier festival rolls around again, with the BBC’s superlative coverage secure thanks to a new rights deal that means these glorious music-filled weekends will continue until 2022 at least. Next year is, however, one of Glasto’s regular “fallow” years, and with the event set to move venue in 2019 it’s best to make the most of the 2017 line-up.
What’s it like? Typically strong, extensive and eclectic without being too exciting would probably be a fair view. Tonight’s headliner is, however, one that will cheer anyone who loves the festival itself more than the individual acts: Radiohead’s 1997 show remains one of Worthy Farm’s greatest ever. Twenty years on, BBC2 covers the awkward Oxford beauties’ main-stage set from 10pm, with a Friday round-up before that at 8pm. BBC4 leads with the Pretenders at 7.30pm, followed by Kris Kristofferson and Royal Blood at 8pm, and Dizzee Rascal at 10.30pm.
This could have been a terrible idea. Bringing The Crystal Maze out from the depths of the 1990s with a brand-new host? Thankfully all fears are allayed within minutes: the look, feel and even theme music have been retained, while presenter Richard Ayoade is a revelation. Hilariously deadpan, he plays it as a more serious, cerebral version of his IT Crowd character Maurice Moss.
It might sound odd, but it works. So much so that (whisper it) he might actually be better than harmonica-toting original presenter Richard O’Brien. Strictly champ Ore Oduba, The Last Leg comedian Alex Brooker and reality TV stars Lydia Bright, Vicky Pattison and Louie Spence are the first to dash between zones (with Ayoade harping “fast and safe – I’m not liable”). Collecting crystals, they need to earn time in the dome to win money for Stand Up to Cancer. Will you start the fans, please!
“A funeral photographer is not something that people will want,” says an exasperated Michael at another of Arthur’s disastrous schemes. Arthur blames his ideas people, Eggy and John, and suggests a “Soupover” to brew some fresh ones. (It’s like a sleepover, but with soup. And held during the day, even though pyjamas are worn. Go with it…)
But that’s the appeal of Steve Delaney’s wonderful creation, Arthur Strong, who’s never downhearted for long despite his myriad failings.
Michael (Rory Kinnear), keen to avoid an audience participation show that Sinem has wangled them tickets for, is initiated into the arcane ways of the Soupover – but quickly regrets his decision when he’s plunged into a Beckettian nightmare. It’s a crazy world of male weirdness and near-masonic ritual, plus one very unfortunate malapropism about Archimedes. Kinnear, the glue that binds the craziness together, is the indisputable star of this one.
Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann make for a bubbly double act in this comedy pitched squarely at the fizzy-wine crowd. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is the man who inadvertently brings the pair together, initially at loggerheads, when it becomes apparent that he’s dating Diaz despite being married to Mann.
They aren’t the only women in his life, either, but Kate Upton proves to be a bit of a gooseberry as the third conspirator in a sketchily plotted mission to bring the love rat to his knees. Despite taking top billing, Diaz generously allows Mann to shine in a slapstick turn that finds her character swinging between grief and rage like a drunken ninja. Director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, My Sister’s Keeper) is certainly guilty of dragging out the action and overcooking the finale, but this all makes for good naughty fun, nonetheless.