A Year to Remember

Daily Echo: Hampshire born TV star Amanda Holden went through a life-threatening childbirth ordeal in January Hampshire born TV star Amanda Holden went through a life-threatening childbirth ordeal in January

JANUARY

Hampshire-born sword fight teacher to the stars Bob Anderson died at the age of 89. His first silver screen fencing pupil was Errol Flynn. The British Olympian went on to become a go-to teacher, film fight director and fencing choreographer for movies including Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Performers from Collingwood RSC dedicated their sword fight sequence from The Three Musketeers at the Daily Echo’s Curtain Call awards to their hero and aide. n Daily Echo readers were nearly neighbours with a Hollywood legend. A Romsey mansion was said to have caught the eye of Pirates of the Caribbean star Johnny Depp. The rumour mill went into overdrive when helicopters and security cars were seen in the vicinity of the luxurious £7.5m pad on the outskirts of the market town. n Hampshire-born TV star Amanda Holden went through a life-threatening childbirth ordeal. The Britain’s Got Talent judge, who was brought up in Bishop’s Waltham, was eventually discharged from hospital with her new daughter Hollie. She was in intensive care for several days.

FEBRUARY

West End and Broadway favourite Sister Act dazzled Southampton audiences. Star of the future Cynthia Erivo went down a storm as the nun on the run, alongside former soap stars Denise Black and Michael Starke. The show opened as The Mayflower, the largest theatre in the south, celebrated its 25th birthday. n Visitors started pouring in to the new Bond in Motion exhibition at Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum. The largest official collection of original Bond vehicles ever seen was due to be on display for one year only to mark the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film series and the 40th anniversary of the National Motor Museum. But the display proved the most popular in the venue’s history and was extended to the end of 2013.

MARCH

 Hundreds of Hampshire youngsters battled it out in the Global Rock Challenge 2012. The week-long event sees students from schools and colleges across the south performing rocking dance at Southampton Guildhall. n It was like the script from a Hollywood blockbuster. Southampton pub The Hobbit was caught up in a legal face-off with a massive multi-national American company. The legal row was described by regulars as “like hobbits versus orcs” – a famous scene from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. n The first nationwide musical countdown event for the London Olympics, Southampton’s Musical Alphabet took place. A host of musicians took over the city to perform an unprecedented 26 hours of alphabetical music. Over one weekend, audiences experienced bell ringing, chamber music, tango, African drumming and hip-hop orchestra among other genres.

APRIL

 THE 2012 Southampton Festival of Music and Drama drew to a spectacular close with a special finale concert. All the winners from the two-week event, which included classes in everything from strings to singing and clarinet to choirs, were invited back on stage at Thornden Hall to show off their talents. The festival is one of the longest running in the UK and has been showcasing talented youngsters since 1926.

n Southampton’s new £15m SeaCity Museum was finally ready for business, in time to form the centrepiece of the city’s commemorations of the 100th anniversary of Titanic sailing from the city on its ill-fated maiden voyage in April 1912.

n Titanic 3D sailed into cinemas as the city from where most lives were lost marked the tragedy. Various concerts, talks and walks took place across Southampton. Residents and visitors were able to walk from prow to stern at an art installation in Andrews Park and a Titanic memorial cruise even departed the city. n Hollywood stars Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway arrived in Winchester to film Les Miserables. Cameron Mackintosh’s adaptation of Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil’s musical based on the Victor Hugo saga set in early 19th century France used Winchester College and College Street as backdrops and will be released in January 2013.

MAY

 When it comes to fancy footwork, it definitely runs in the family. Kai Widdrington, the teenage son of former Saints star Tommy, and his dance partner Natalia Jeved cha cha cha-ed their way into the final of TV talent contest Britain’s Got Talent. n An eclectic mix of sounds made up the programme for this year’s Eastleigh Festival of Music. The programme got under way this month with two consecutive evenings of professional performances, followed by a weekend of free local music and the Mela in July. Audiences enjoyed the sounds of folk sextet Lanterns On The Lake and Treacherous Orchestra, tipped to be the next big folk supergroup. n Mayor of Southampton Terry Matthews joined the circus as trailblazing Guinean troupe Cirque Mandingue arrived in town. Members of the troupe, who star in the show Fote Fore at The Nuffield, performed part of their act, even getting the mayor involved in one of the lifts in his parlour. ·

JUNE

Jubilee fever hit Hampshire with thousands of red, white and blue-themed street parties, concerts and gatherings to celebrate the 60-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Despite a shaky start of rain and traffic chaos, Isle of Wight Festival was its usual resounding success in 2012. An American trio of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Pearl Jam had 55,000 rocking at Seaclose Park.

Blissfields Festival, Hampshire’s award-winning and longest running boutique festival, got under way near Winchester. Organisers nodded their school cap to the world of sport, offering a dandy revival of the Great British summertime and a golden age of playground camaraderie and frivolity with a Game For It theme. Highlights of the festival included The Noisettes, Guilletmots and Theme Park.

JULY

Winner of Best International Artist at the 2012 BET Awards, Wretch 32 visited Southampton to spread the Olympic message along the torch route. The teen favourite wowed the crowds in Mayflower Park with hits from his back catalogue.

Girl bands Vanquish and Primrose Hill and pop sensation Ben Montague helped to welcome back to Ocean Village crews taking part in the Clipper 11-12 Round the World Yacht Race after 51 weeks of ocean racing.

The popular annual Mela Festival in Southampton was washed out in the dismal summer weather. Organisers promised the colourful cavalcade, which attracts tens of thousands to the city’s parks, will return next summer. 

AUGUST

KT Tunstall, Jools Holland, The Proclaimers, The Levellers and Bellowhead headlined the sell-out Wickham Festival which hosted over 100 acts, an impressive record for a tiny Hampshire village.

n The Manfreds, fronted by Radio 2 broadcaster Paul Jones, opened Cowes Week on the Isle of Wight while celebrating the band’s 50th anniversary.

n The Concorde Club, which has hosted the likes of Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton and Sir Elton John during its illustrious history, celebrated its 55th anniversary with a glitzy birthday bash.

SEPTEMBER

Stevie Wonder, Florence and the Machine and New Order headlined Bestival, which became the first UK festival to be live-streamed across the Internet via YouTube

Multi-award winning theatrical phenomenon Stomp came to The Mayflower for the first time, fresh from the London 2012 closing ceremony. Audiences were treated to unique musical theatre of choreographed percussion, movement and physical comedy.

The first So:Fest proved to be a hit headlined by Mark Hill, also known as Artful. The four times Ivor Novello award winner was one of the duo who launched the career of Craig David. Audiences in Guildhall Square enjoyed Rewind and other back catalogue hits as well as new material.

OCTOBER

Ahead of the release of the 23rd Bond instalment Skyfall, 007 Sir Roger Moore released a book Bond on Bond, to mark 50 years of the film franchise. It came with a tour of UK theatres, including Southampton’s The Mayflower, The Pavilion Theatre in Bournemouth and Basingstoke’s The Anvil.

Hundreds of artists performed at 11 unusual venues across Southampton for Music in the City. There was everything from electronica to classical and folk and roots to jazz on display in everywhere from the historic vaults to shopping centres. That was followed by Southampton Film Week, organised by CityEye, which presented over |40 screenings including Tennessee Williams’ classic Baby Doll.

Some of the top names in comedy in the UK came to Winchester. Tim Minchin, Stewart Francis, Jeremy Hardy and Jason Byrne were among those at the inaugural Winchester Comedy Festival. n Aswad founder Brinsley Forde performed the music of Bob Marley and the Wailers at Southampton Guildhall. Celebrating 50 years of Jamaican Independence |and as part of |Black History Month, he was backed for Catch A Fire by Jazz Jamaica All Stars & Urban Soul Orchestra.

NOVEMBER

 Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, the world’s longest running stage production, became the most successful ever week-long play to have been performed at Southampton’s Mayflower theatre. It was an appropriate swansong for chief executive Dennis Hall, who retired after completely rejuvenating the venue during 26 years at the helm.

n Festival fans got a series of early winter treats. After learning they could keep their licence despite traffic and parking problems last year, Isle of Wight Festival organisers announced revellers could enjoy the sounds of headliners The Stone Roses, The Killers and Bon Jovi in 2013.

n And footie fans had the chance to meet one of the game’s most controversial characters – Paul Gascoigne – during An Evening with Gazza at The Concorde Club.

DECEMBER

Oasis, Coldplay, Green Day, Manic Street Preachers, and Arctic Monkeys are among a host of era-defining bands to have graced the stage at Southampton’s legendary Joiners Arms. But a show this month became the fastest-selling in its history, with tickets snapped up in just 90 seconds. Winchester’s Frank Turner, a celebrated folk-punk singer-songwriter, promptly added another show to his benefit gig after bosses admitted they were facing financial problems.

Hampshire TV naturalist Chris Packham took on the X Factor winner and a host of others in the battle to reach the coveted Christmas number one spot. The wildlife campaigner featured on drums alongside wildlife documentary maker Sir David Attenborough, Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank and weather forecaster Michael Fish on the charity single The Present Of Life. Money raised went to the Badger Trust. 

Hampshire’s host of pantomimes went Strictly Come Dancing crazy this Christmas. Lisa Riley missed some of her slots in the Kings Theatre Southsea’s version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as her success in the show continued. Meanwhile, Lee Mead spent the interval of The Mayflower’s Jack and the Beanstalk cheering on wife Denise Van Outen in the show’s final.

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