On my radar: Jessica Hynes’s cultural highlights | Jessica Hynes

Actor and director Jessica Hynes (née Stevenson) was born in south London in 1972 and raised in Brighton. She has worked extensively in theatre, film and television, including in Spaced, as a co-creator and star, and in The Royle Family, Shaun of the Dead, Years and Years and W1A, for which she won a Bafta in 2015. In 2018 she wrote and directed her first feature film, The Fight. Hynes will appear in series two of the outdoor survival-based panel show Outsiders, hosted by David Mitchell, from 16 November at 10pm on Dave. She lives in Kent with her husband and three children.

1. Music

Promises by Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & the London Symphony Orchestra

Pharoah Sanders at the Krakow summer jazz festival, Poland, 2018. Photograph: Wieslaw Jarek/Alamy

Pharoah Sanders died this year and I’ve always loved his music. Me and my husband went to see him at Ronnie Scott’s and met him briefly as he was leaving many years ago. This is an incredible album that came out last year: it’s Sam Shepherd – AKA Floating Points – collaborating with Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra, and it’s just magical. It’s beautiful, symphonic, twinkly acid jazz, perfect for a Sunday afternoon – deep-breathing, staring-into-space music.

2. TV

Dreaming Whilst Black (BBC Three)

Dani Moseley and Adjani Salmon in Dreaming Whilst Black.Dani Moseley and Adjani Salmon in Dreaming Whilst Black. Photograph: Anup Bhatt/BBC/Big Deal Films

It started as a web series and there’s only been a TV pilot of this so far, but it’s already award-winning. It’s written by and stars Adjani Salmon, is co-written with Ali Hughes and is about a young Jamaican writer and creative, Kwabena, who is trying to break into the world of British TV. It’s about the struggles, both internal and external, that he faces. But it’s hilariously funny: the scripts are so witty and the characters are really well observed. There’s also a love story between him and a woman called Vanessa – they’re having a burgeoning romance while he’s trying to make it and hustle. It’s my kind of comedy – feelgood and very funny.

3. Book

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard.SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard. Photograph: Profile Books

I’m enjoying this so much. I love to be subsumed into history and I’m learning a lot. I never realised how Romans felt themselves not to be Italian – they were Roman – and how that distinction made them more powerful, above the rest of Italy. There’s this story about Roman mercenaries watching a performance in a small town: a comedian was mocking important Romans, so they called him off stage and beat him to death. The next comedian then had to go on and perform – that’s a tough crowd. Apparently, he came up with something very cryptic, but which saved his bacon.

4. Theatre

My Neighbour Totoro, Barbican, London

My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican.My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican. Photograph: Manuel Harlan

This was originally a Studio Ghibli animation, but you don’t need to have seen the film to enjoy it. It is directed by Phelim McDermott, who is a brilliant physical theatre director, and it’s breathtaking. Obviously it’s aimed at children, but I defy any adult not to feel like a child when Totoro comes on stage because he is enormous. And the Catbus has to be seen to be believed. The cast is peerless – there are at least three actors who are playing children in the most beguiling and charming way.

5. Art

Carl Freedman gallery, Margate

Lindsey Mendick’s artwork I Drink to You Anne and MedusaLindsey Mendick’s I Drink to You Anne and Medusa (2022) from her exhibition Off With Her Head. Photograph: Ollie Harrop/Lindsey Mendick/ Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate

This gallery is very near us, so we often go. It’s worth making the trip for the posters alone – you can always walk away with a £10 poster that is such high quality and beautifully printed, and the exhibitions are phenomenal. Recently, Lindsey Mendick had an incredible show there, Off With Her Head, which explored the idea of demonising women over the centuries. Then there was To All the Kings Who Have No Crowns, which brought together performances from neurodivergent artists. Director Robert Diament is a big part of the gallery’s success – he has an amazing podcast with Russell Tovey, Talk Art.

6. Podcast

The Blindboy Podcast

Man wearing a carrier bag with holes cut in like a balaclava‘Every single one is fascinating.’ Photograph: The Blindboy Podcast

This podcast is out of this world. Blindboy Boatclub is part of a comedy duo in Ireland called the Rubberbandits, who wear carrier bags like balaclavas and make satirical songs. The podcasts have been going for several years now: sometimes there’s interviews, sometimes it’s just his thoughts, but every single one is fascinating. He talks about everything from algorithms to the CIA’s role in subverting the course of modern art, to Donald Trump and wrestling. And there’s no advertising – he’s supported entirely by the Patreon platform, so he is free to speak about anything he wants.


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