Hot 100 2013: Tommy Sheppard's 5 highlights of 2013

The Stand and Assembly Rooms boss picks his five cultural highlights of 2013

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Hot 100 2013: Tommy Sheppard's 5 highlights of 2013

Alexei Sayle

The Hot 100 is our list of Scotland’s 100 hottest individuals and groups who’ve made a splash this year, from comic book writers to comedians, artists to actors. If they've contributed to Scotland's cultural landscape in 2013, you'll find them here.

Return to complete Hot 100 2013 index

My first cultural highlight of 2013 was Nigel Kennedy at the Usher Hall. The acoustics weren’t great, but no one plays a fiddle like Nigel, commanding an eclectic array of musical styles. Great to see the punk irreverence still intact, too, as the classical iconoclast showed the ruling class he can play the music they try to appropriate better than they can.

Top comedy moment of the year was the return of Alexei Sayle. I was mightily proud that he chose The Stand to perform at this Fringe, having tested the water with some work-in-progress gigs earlier in the year. Still as sharp as ever, he delivered a masterclass for younger comics.

The Shawshank Redemption was by far the single biggest production I’ve ever been involved in. It could have bankrupted us, but luckily people came in their thousands and loved it. It had a cast starring Omid Djalili and Ian Lavender, stunning sets and a soundtrack by Rolling Stones keyboardist Matt Clifford.

The most significant cultural development of the year was the formation of Creatively Campaigning for Yes, a loose collection of radical artists and performers who’d rather take their chances in a new Scotland than face a future of austerity and intolerance determined by a rich elite in the south-east corner of Britain. Watch out for the 2014 Social Club and a range of other cultural initiatives as the referendum campaign hots up.

I watch more television drama than is good for me. No question about this year’s highlight: Peaky Blinders is the best British TV drama in a decade. Tightly written and with superb lead performances from Sam Neill and Cillian Murphy, it’s a raw tale of gangsters in 1919. Best of all is the contemporary jangling soundtrack by Nick Cave and the White Stripes. Downton Abbey eat your heart out.

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