2017 In Film

This year, for the first time, I kept a list of every film I saw at the cinema. Because I always get to the end of the year and think “I know I saw some good films this year, but what were they…?” And now I’ve got the data, I may as well analyse it a bit…

In 2017, I saw 78 films. (And two live theatre broadcasts, Amadeus and Follies.)  I feel that’s a little lower than usual: there were several big franchises I simply didn’t bother with, either through boredom or because of their insistence on casting known abusers. On the other hand, I now have an unlimited cinema pass, and there are several movies I saw because they were basically free, movies I might not have risked money on in previous years. So it may just even out.

Splitting them down roughly into my preferred genres, that’s 26 science fiction, fantasy and horror (including superheroes), 25 action, adventure and thrillers, and 27 other genres (mostly arthouse drama, to my slight surprise!)

Five of the movies were animated, with Captain Underpants and Paddington 2 the stand-outs in this rather small field. Twenty were sequels, prequels and other franchise continuations. Of the ones that weren’t sequels, ten were adaptations of books, video games, myths and legends, and other pre-existing material. Seventeen of the 78 were biopics or true-life stories.

It was a great year for British film, especially films about the countryside and the peculiar stresses of living and working there: God’s Own Country, The Levelling, and the London noir City Of Tiny Lights stood out. A Monster Calls was a difficult watch, but an extraordinary one, and Lion was surprisingly gripping and emotional.

Overlooked gems from the other side of the pond: Loving, The Founder, Battle Of The Sexes, American Made, and Mudbound were all excellent. I had issues with Atomic Blonde and Wind River, but they had a lot going for them nonetheless.

From further afield, Okja, Your Name, The Nile Hilton Incident and In Syria (aka Insyriated) were terrific genre movies that proved popular cinema doesn’t have to be in English.

The well-received movies that just didn’t work for me? Blade Runner 2049, Suburbicon, La La Land and Guardians Of The Galaxy 2 didn’t light any fires, alas.

Movies That Were A Lot Better Than I Expected And I Really Enjoyed? Split, Geostorm, and Beyond Skyline all provided solid entertainment.

And my big movies of the year? Very much the same as everyone’s, I fear. Get Out, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Moonlight, Logan, Baby Driver, Wonder Woman, War For The Planet Of The Apes, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi lead the field.

On to the next crop…


The Real World

In the few days since America inexplicably elected a frequently bankrupt sexual abuser and racist blowhard as their new President, I’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t want to live in his world, or the world of his alt-right crybaby trolls.

I understand why you’re saying this, I do. I don’t want to belittle your pain, or the problems to come. But let me put it to you that we don’t live in his world. No matter how much he yells and stamps his feet, he still lives in ours.

Because no matter what he says, the facts of human existence have not changed. Women are the equals of men. Black lives do matter. Latinx are as much a part of America as any other race. Sexual assault is wrong. LGBT+ people are as valuable and as “normal” as anyone else. Those are facts, and no amount of speeches, laws and publicity stunts can change that.  And every time he does something that denies those facts, he isn’t changing the world – he’s simply lying about the nature of reality.

Those lies will, of course, cause cause terrible suffering for those that they are turned against. Lies tend to do that. And it’s all of our duties to mitigate that suffering in any way that we can.

But like the cult leader who insists that a UFO is about to descend and ferry the faithful to paradise, he’s living in a fantasy world. The “Great Again” America that he and his followers are looking to create is a bubble of delusions, and eventually it will burst, and everyone will have to face up to the lies he told them, and they told themselves.

There are hard times ahead for the world. That bubble may yet expand far beyond America. But those of us who can see the world as it is still have that much to cling to. Human lives still have the value they have always had, and a single act of kindness, however small, is more valuable than all the political posturing and hatred he can muster.

It’s our world, not his. Let’s live like we believe that.




Wolfblood Secrets

Can’t wait until next year for new episodes of Wolfblood? Well, it’s your lucky day!

Starting on the 21st September CBBC will be broadcasting Wolfblood Secrets, a series of ten mini-episodes bridging the gap between series four and five. Written by Neil Jones, and set just after the secret is revealed to the world, the episodes will introduce a team of government investigators tasked with investigating this new threat, ‘wolfbloods’. One by one, they interview Jana and her friends, trying to find out whether these creatures hiding among us are dangerous…

Five episodes will be broadcast in September, and the final five near the end of February, leading into the next series.

They’re really fun episodes, and I hope you enjoy them!

(NB – if you’re outside the UK and you want to know when/if you can see Wolfblood Secrets, you’ll need to contact CBBC, or your local television channel, and ask them. As always, I don’t know the details of availability in all the different countries Wolfblood is shown in.)

Since a lot of people are asking –  no, Wolfblood Secrets is not happening instead of series five, or replacing the regular series in any way. It’s a one-off extra, just like the secret episode or Jana Bites. Series five will be shown in the spring of 2017, date to be confirmed…


Wolfblood Season Four BAFTA Event


Excellent day at BAFTA London today, showing the first two episodes of Wolfblood season four to a very excited audience! You can see a lot of the event, including the Q&A, on the BAFTA training site, baftaguru.org, which is full of great information about working in the creative industries.

On Tuesday 8th March, CBBC will be showing the red carpet interviews and the Q&A from the Newcastle event, interspersed with the first two episodes. From the following week, Wolfblood shows two episodes a week, on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Hope you enjoy!









Wolfblood Season 4 Preview Screening

Though a final transmission date hasn’t been decided yet (we won’t be sure until about a week before transmission) season 4 will probably be hitting your screens some time in March. And if that’s not fast enough for you, you can see the first two episodes at a special screening in London on Saturday 5th March! I’ll be there, with the production team and some of the cast, including Leona Vaughan (Jana), and we’ll be answering questions afterwards.

You can book tickets at http://www.bafta.org/whats-on/bafta-kids-tv-preview-wolfblood-qa . Hope to see some of you there!


Wolfblood BAFTA Nominations

Wolfblood season two has been nominated for two awards at this year’s Children’s BAFTAs – best drama, and I’m nominated for best writer! The awards will be announced at a ceremony in London on Sunday 23rd November.

None of this would have happened without our fantastic team – production staff, crew, cast and writers – and I’m hugely grateful for all the hard work they’ve put into the show.

However, we’re also nominated for another award – and that’s where you can help! The BAFTA Kids Vote is a separate series of awards that are voted on electronically by kids aged 7 – 14. And you can vote for Wolfblood in the TV category! Go to http://www.baftakidsvote.org/vote/ to cast your vote for Wolfblood, and all the other categories too…


August Is The Busiest Month…

… as T.S. Elliot probably didn’t say. Anyway, this is just a brief post to say that I’m having a very busy month writing, and something’s got to give, so I probably won’t be posting anything here until September.

Until I change my mind and post something anyway, that is.

See you in the autumn…