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Star Trek, Doctor Who and Street Cat Bob: The Big Issue’s top culture stories of 2021

“Interesting people saying interesting things” has always been a guiding principle in the newsroom, and 2021 did not disappoint.

If there’s one thing The Big Issue has always prided itself on as a publication, it’s the calibre of its interviews.

“Interesting people saying interesting things” has been a guiding principle in the newsroom for making sure our vendors have a high quality product to get into the hands of loyal readers, and 2021 did not disappoint.

Now with a new-look magazine and website, The Big Issue is going from strength to strength in giving our readers an informative and entertaining read, wherever they might find us.

These are the most-read culture stories from the last year.

And don’t forget to check out The Big Issue’s most-read news stories from 2021 as well.

10. Michael Sheen: ‘I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor’

Michael Sheen Photo: Camera Press / Andy Gotts

Werewolves, prime ministers, angels… is there anything Michael Sheen can’t turn his hand to? The Welsh actor’s roles from Hollywood to Port Talbot have turned him into a cult hero, but it’s on the stage where he truly feels alive.

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In this Letter To My Younger Self interview with The Big Issue’s Jane Graham he also revealed that he sold his house to fund the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff in 2019, an act of charity that surely pushes him closer to status as a national treasure.

Read the full interview here.

9. An independent record store is boycotting Adele’s new album in a row over vinyl

Ben Savage stands outside Skeleton Records vinyl store in Birkenhead
Manager of Skeleton Records, Ben Savage, holds nothing against Adele personally, even inviting her to the store’s 50th birthday next year Image: Ben Savage

The supply chain issues that dogged the country in the later months of 2021 weren’t just about food and fuel — they affected record shops too.

But while most recording artists formed an orderly queue to get their music laid in wax, Adele caused outrage when she jumped to the front for her album 30.

“She’s got half a million copies of her album pressed at a time when everybody’s struggling to get individual copies pressed,” manager of Skeleton Records Ben Savage told The Big Issue’s Evie Breese.

His campaign to boycott Adele became one of the biggest stories on The Big Issue website in 2021.

8. Dave Grohl: ‘For a while I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to play music again’

Dave Grohl is a very nice man. Credit: Danny Clinch
Dave Grohl is a very nice man. Credit: Danny Clinch

“There was a particular trauma after the end of Nirvana that lasted for a while… I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to play music again,” Dave Grohl told The Big Issue’s Jane Graham. “But it came back. And thankfully, just as I had hoped, it healed me.”

That was the insight which caught the attention of thousands of readers when the legendary musician gave his Letter To My Younger Self interview. But there were many more in the full conversation that revealed the homelier side of the man who said he used to “smash cymbals like teacups”.

Read the news story and full interview, published in February.

7. James Bowen to unveil new Street Cat Bob statue in Islington

Street Cat Bob was a hero of The Big Issue, the ginger Tom who rose to fame on the shoulders of busker and Big Issue vendor James Bowen before becoming the subject of books and films.

Thousands around the world mourned his passing in the summer of 2020, so the announcement that a commemorative statue would be installed at Islington Green in London, just round the corner from where the pair would sell the magazine.

Read the exclusive story here.

6. Marina Sirtis wants a Star Trek series based on Worf and the Klingon Empire

Marina Sirtis
Marina Sirtis is best known for playing Deanna Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation. Image: supplied

Star Trek fans are nothing if not eager for updates, so when The Big Issue’s deputy editor Steven Mackenzie had the chance to catch up with Deanna Troi — aka British-born actor Marina Sirtis — he knew he had a job on his hands.

It wasn’t the first time the pair had spoken, and this time they covered everything from further Star Trek spin-offs to gender equality and the January 6 insurrection.

Read the full interview here.

5. Roger Taylor: ‘I just wish I’d got to say goodbye to Freddie’

Queen drummer Roger Taylor. Image: Xavier Vila
Queen drummer Roger Taylor. Image: Xavier Vila

“I just stopped the car on Kensington High Street, in a kind of shock. Because even when you know somebody is going to die, it’s still such a shock when they actually do.”

Roger Taylor’s retelling of the day Freddie Mercury died struck a chord with thousands of readers for its heartfelt honesty in October. But the full interview with Queen’s drummer also covered his childhood, Live Aid, and the band’s continued success.

Read the news story and the full interview.

4. William Shatner: Humanity won’t survive to reach a Star Trek future

‘When I die, I want my atoms to nourish a tree’ Photo: © Glenn Hunt / Newspix / Headpress / eyevine

What did we say about Star Trek fans? William Shatner will forever ben known. as Captain James T Kirk of the Star Trek Enterprise, despite only playing the role for a mere three years back in the 1960s.

Now 90, he was in rude health when putting the world to rights in this interview with Steven MacKenzie, covering global warming, over-population, and falling off horses in his old age.

3. James Bowen reveals statue of Street Cat Bob in London: ‘It’s his legacy’

When the day finally came to unveil the statue of Street Cat Bob, The Big Issue joined fans, press and James himself for the moment.

We got an exclusive chat with James and sculptor Tanya Russell after the unveiling as well, and his message of hope and redemption reached thousands of readers.

Relive the moment here.

2. 8 Hollywood A-listers Brian Cox trashes Logan Roy-style in his new book

Brian Cox Succession
Logan Roy is top of the table in Succession. Photo: LANDMARK MEDIA / Alamy Stock Photo

When Steven MacKenzie had the chance to interview Brian Cox about his Golden Globe-winning performance as Logan Roy in Succession, he thought a bit of prep might come in handy. And Putting the Rabbit in the Hat, Cox’s recently released autobiography, did not disappoint.

Cox unleashed a torrent of pithy put-downs and borderline abuse throughout the books pages, largely directed at fellow actors from across his decades-long career. It’s a good thing they were also hilarious in their scorn and caught the imagination of thousands upon thousands of readers when Steven pulled them all together.

The subsequent interview didn’t disappoint either. The spiky, non-nonsense Logan Roy is “the part I’ve always been shaping up for“, Cox said.

1. Christopher Eccleston: ‘I’m currently sleeping in the Tardis’

Christopher Eccleston only made one series of Doctor Who but it was the runaway success which reinvented the show after an almost 10-year hiatus.

His work as a Big Issue Ambassador has always kept him close, so when Eccleston recorded a new four-part series of a Doctor Who audio adventure, our Adrian Lobb was among the first to know.

“Within minutes, it all came flooding back,” Eccleston said. “How to do it, how I like to play him, how I like to work, the joy of it. It was all there.”

It was the most-read culture story on The Big Issue website of 2021.

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