'Twin Peaks' comes to London

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To mark the 20th anniversary of David Lynch's controversial TV series 'Twin Peaks', Riverside Studios will be hosting the UK's first Twin Peaks Festival, an all-day event featuring screenings, cast appearances and a performance by Julee Cruise. Tom Huddleston looks back at a show which transformed television forever.

Looking at today’s TV schedules, it’d be easy to forget that, in the late ’80s, American TV drama was something to be avoided, not celebrated. In place of ‘Mad Men’, ‘The Wire’ and ‘CSI’, we had ‘LA Law’, ‘Moonlighting’, ‘St Elsewhere’ or, at best, ‘Hill St Blues’ and ‘Thirtysomething’: big hair, big themes, big performances, but little creative ambition.
 
All that changed in 1990 – not overnight, perhaps, but the first stone in the road to this remarkable rebirth was laid by David Lynch, Mark Frost and ‘Twin Peaks’. And yet this groundbreaking show remains, to a large extent, a niche interest: recent DVD box sets have revived its fortunes, but the show is chiefly remembered as a weirdo one-off, a sad fate for what is, in this writer’s opinion, not just the single greatest TV series ever made, but one of the defining works of twentieth century art in any medium.
 
But in this twentieth anniversary year, a small but vocal minority has decided to stand up and reclaim the show. In London alone there have been ‘Twin Peaks’ themed club nights, burlesque shows and one mammoth all night screening, but all this was just scene-setting for the main event: the forthcoming UK Twin Peaks Festival at Riverside Studios.
 
Beginning at 11am on Saturday November 27 and going on late into the night, the festival will incorporate screenings of key episodes (focusing on the ones Lynch directed) and prequel movie ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me’, which hasn’t been publicly screened in UK cinemas for a decade, live performances from burlesque artists the Double RR Club and, of course, Lynch’s chanteuse muse Julee Cruise, a costume competition, a quiz and, most excitingly, appearances from some of the iconic residents of ‘Twin Peaks’, including ‘Log Lady’ Catherine Coulson and Charlotte Stewart, a lifelong friend of Lynch’s who appeared in both ‘Eraserhead’ and ‘Twin Peaks’.



With the addition of Mark Frost’s ‘Peaks’-era assistant and on-set photographer Paula K Shimatsu-U, the festival will be a decidedly female-fronted affair, though organiser Lindsey Bowden says it wasn’t planned. ‘It’s pure coincidence,’ she insists. ‘When Michael J Anderson (the show’s iconic ‘Man From Another Place’) had to cancel, we realised it was going to be all women. But it’s all been organised by women, so power to us!’
 
With all profits from the festival going to Portsmouth’s Rowan’s Hospice, who looked after Bowden’s mother during her recent illness, there’s a real sense that the festival will be a positive, celebratory affair. ‘I just thought it was about time we had something for UK fans who can’t afford to make it to the official US festival in Snoqualmie, Washington, where the series was filmed,’ Bowden tells me. ‘There’s a whole new generation of fans coming to light, as well as us old timers, and it’ll be nice to do something for them.’
 
The festival promises to be a dream come true for homegrown ‘Twin Peaks’ fans: as if the screenings and cast appearances weren’t enough, this will be a unique chance to get seriously geeky over lashings of cherry pie, doughnuts and David Lynch brand coffee. To quote Agent Cooper himself: ‘I have no idea where this will lead us. But I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.’
 
The first UK Twin Peaks Festival takes place at Riverside Studios on Saturday November 27th. Tickets can be purchased from www.riversidestudios.co.uk.

Author: Tom Huddleston



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