TV programme of the month: I've unexpectedly adored Love Soup (BBC1), the quirky weekly drama that's been brightening Tuesday nights throughout October. Brief plot summary: Alice and Gil are perfectly matched but never meet. The six part series has been little more than a sequence of disjointed but highly amusing 'romantic' situations for our two lead characters to endure, stoically, but writer David Renwick has such a fine eye for both the outrageous and the mundane that the result is quite charming. And very funny. Last part tomorrow night, and surely these two have got to finally meet up, at last, somehow, please?
Album of the month (probably): Who'd have thought a quarter of a century ago that three lads from the cheesy side of Basildon would still be making top ten albums and filling rock stadia. But Depeche Mode are, somehow, still together, and every album these days is a treasured rarity. The latest is Playing The Angel, continuing Dave & Co's drift into edgy atmospheric rock. The best track is definitely the first single Precious, a golden and uplifting slice of understated melody, but the rest of the album is naggingly addictive too. I just wish that one day they'd sneak in a good old-fashioned one-finger synth melody in place of all these modern guitar noises. Album of the month (possibly): Generation by the Audio Bullys, released today.
Gig of the month: After the premiere of Saint Etienne's latest film at the Barbican last week, the band returned to the stage to perform tracks from their latest (rather wonderful) album, Tales FromTurnpikeHouse. Singer Sarah was a little nervous, but she soon got into her stride (and enunciated so clearly that I finally understood some of the songs' lyrics). I knew that Milk Bottle Symphony would be my favourite, but the performance showcased the full diversity of musical styles on the album. Quite lovely, and all the better for being performed within half a mile of tower block Turnpike House itself.
Film of the month: You must have seen Wallace And Gromit - the Curseof theWere Rabbit by now, surely? If not, don't wait to watch it on BBC1 just after the Queen's Speech on Christmas Day 2008, because this feature length cartoon is a national treasure. It's all the better for being quintessentially British, and quintessentially northern, with an emphasis on wit, charm and root vegetables. It's a great shame that so few other mass-market cinema releases have this level of invention and intelligence.
Book of the month: I don't read a lot of proper science fiction (you know, the epic stuff based in far-flung planetary systems where everyone's name is either all consonants or all vowels), but I made an exception and bought TheAlgebraist by IainMBanks. It's epic stuff (based, yes, in a far-flung planetary system) where a disparate mix of alien societies join together to battle to combat acts of intergalactic terrorism. Iain's future may be unreal but it's brilliantly inventive, unexpectedly realistic and expertly written. In particular there's a very real sense of the scale of the universe, i.e. instellar journeys take centuries, not hours, and (almost) every life is wholly insignificant. If all sci-fi were this good, I might read more.