A Round Up of 2023

And a Look Ahead to 2024


2023 has been another big year at The Cosmic Shambles Network, and we’ve got more big things planned in 2024. Before we get into a rundown of the past twelve months, let’s begin by offering a huge thank you to all of you who’ve come to our shows, watched our online content or listened to one of our podcasts. And an extra big thank you to our Patreon supporters who make it all possible. More news for Patreon supporters, and a look forward to what’s on the slate for next year, at the end of this email. But first…


At the start of the year we released our first ever feature length documentary film, Rapid Motion Through Space: An Incomplete History of Speed. Made in association with The Royal Institution, the film, hosted by Amy Reynolds, features lots of Shambles regulars like Helen Sharman, Chris Jackson, Jim Al-Khalili and Matt Parker, plus loads of new faces such as Remy Gardner, David Gower, Desirèe Henry and Ella Podmore. The film had its world premiere at The Royal Institution in London before screening at a number of festivals around the country. We got lots of lovely reviews and the full film is available to watch for free on our YouTube channel. In true Shambles style it packs a lot into its runtime covering everything from snails to CERN and motor racing to mathematics. There’s also a very niche, even for us, reference to Philip Glass that only about two people have clocked so far.

We recently released our first panel show to the world as well. They’ve Made Us, hosted by Robin Ince and Helen Czerski, is an eight episode series that looks at the people that inspired the people that inspire us. Each week two guests nominate two people who have shaped their life. They might be famous or not. Dead or alive. Fictional or Real. Panellists included Steve Backshall, Helen Glover, Kevin Fong, Saiful Islam and Natalie Haynes with nominees ranging from school teachers to Faraday to Hobbes. The fictional toy tiger one, not the philosopher.

Shot at the wonderful RI, the series is available to watch free on YouTube or you can listen to the podcast at all the usual podcast places. Just search for They’ve Made Us or follow one of the links here.

We also released the first episode of Bibliomaniac: The Series. This show is a sort of documentary/stand up/travelogue series as Robin Ince traversed the country visiting as many bookshops and libraries as possible. It’s about Robin’s, and the people he meets, love of books and the importance they play in shaping our society. The first episode sees Robin visiting the vaults of Exeter Library and selling every book but his own at a local Oxfam and is free to watch here.

There’s been lots of other video shorts and one off documentary films we’ve released this year too.

We went to the Goodwood FOS Future Lab to meet with scientists and engineers, including astronaut Tim Peake, and talk about some of the technology that could shape tomorrow from quantum computing to returning to the Moon. We went out to CERN and headed deep underground to visit the ATLAS experiment. And we put out a free one hour comedy special from Robin Ince to commemorate the new edition of his book, I’m a Joke and So Are You.

We also got all the scientists at our Nine Lessons live shows to give us their exciting moment of science from 2023, and got all the speakers to let us know what the best thing was that they read this year.

There’s also been blogs and other special features from some of our regular contributors such as Robin Ince, Helen Czerski, Dean Burnett, Matt Parker and others. You’ll find it all on the site.

Offline and on stage it was also a big year for us. We toured LOADS of bookshops and libraries with Robin on the Bibliomaniac tour, as well as staging our first full Edinburgh Fringe run in over six years with Robin’s two shows Weapons of Empathy and MELONS! More about that in a minute.

They’ve Made Us was live at the RI and we did some Blue Machine book event shows with Helen Czerski, hosted a number of events at various festivals as ever from Leeds to Swansea to Latitude and we took a special festival edition of Nine Lessons to the Norwich Science Festival.

And of course, there was Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People in December which was the biggest staging of the shows in a long time! With our Compendium of Reason show taking a well earned break, we held four Nine Lessons shows in London, and two in Manchester, to sold out audiences, raising loads of money for our chosen charities this year, Two Wheels for Life, BookTrust and Young Lives vs Cancer, as well as collecting plenty of urgently needed items for some local food banks. The shows were as eclectic as ever with close to 100 different performers taking the stage including lots of returning favourites like Josie Long, Chris Jackson, Grace Petrie, Chris Lintott and Natalie Haynes, amazing Nine Lessons first timers like Harry Hill, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Turi King and Mya-Rose Craig plus, naturally, some exciting surprises including David McAlmont and a special Christmas ghost story from Kiell Smith-Bynoe.



As we opened this email with, the support of our amazing Patreon supporters is what makes most of what happens at Shambles possible. Being able to release an entire feature documentary, free for all, is no small feat and without those subscriptions it’d be an absolute impossibility. The same goes for all the other free content we release, like the They’ve Made Us series, heading out to CERN and alike, and it’s also what means we can continue to put on Nine Lessons every year and donate all the profits to some amazing charities. Your support doesn’t just get you exclusive extra goodies, it also means the shows you enjoy get to exist in the first place, enabling us to spread science, literature and art around the globe especially so that those, who might not be in a position to be able to support financially, get to enjoy them too. So, once again, THANK YOU from all of us at Shambles! If you’d like to sign up, you can do so right here from as little as £2 a month with our new Shambles Supporter tier.

This year Patreons got plenty of exclusive goodies to go with that warm glowing feeling too. LOTS of extended interviews from Rapid Motion, exclusive stand up specials and lectures, including a mammoth two hour plus chronicle of Robin’s first 150 bookshop tour, Q&A panels from festivals with the likes of Armando Iannucci, meetings of the Bibliomaniac book club, free tickets and a lot more!

In 2024 there’ll be even more of the same including stand up specials, more from Rapid Motion and behind the scenes of future programmes, ticket offers and the long awaited return of An Uncanny Hour.


There is MUCH to look forward to in 2024.

As we just said, An Uncanny Hour, our audio series that explores the counterculture, returns for series 3. Two live specials have already been recorded looking at the history of home video certification in the UK and a Bibliomaniac cross over looking at great horror books. Both will be out soon. And production on the full series starts next month with some of the topics being covered including Picnic at Hanging Rock, the films of Nicolas Roeg and the world of Paul Jennings.

There’s some exciting documentary projects in the works too. Our second feature documentary is deep into production already so look out for news on that (although it won’t be in your eyeballs till 2025). As you might be able to work out from the image below, there’s some amazing people in it…

We’re also into the post production period on a retrospective documentary on the history of Nine Lessons and Compendium that will be out in the summer. There will be more episodes of the Bibliomaniac documentary series (the next episode, which focuses on our trip to the European Booksellers Conference in Prague, will be with you rather soon).

And we’re very excited to say we are one of the special media teams granted full access to the the biennial Ocean Sciences Meeting, which is the worldwide flagship conference for the ocean sciences. We will be at the conference, held in New Orleans this February, with Helen Czerski, to make a series of films of all the latest exciting ocean based science. Expect whale poo chat.

There’ll be loads more other stuff to come as well, including something very special around Robin’s Edinburgh Fringe shows, because, as you know, Robin, Trent and the Shambles team are allergic to sitting still.

And, of course, there’ll be loads of chances to see us live with multiple events at UK festivals, across the country in arts centres and book stores and libraries, and, yes, Nine Lessons will be back for 2024 once again. And if you’d like to see a Shambles event, or one of our Shambles speakers, near you, get in touch, we’re always excited to work with new places and faces!


That brings us to the end of this wrap up of 2023 and look forward to 2024.

We’re on far too many social media platforms like BlueSky, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and the Artist Formally Known as Twitter.

And don’t forget to visit our online store to check out our new range of merch, or pick up a signed copy of one our Shambles chums’ books too. And, at the risk of repeating ourselves, we’re on Patreon too.

So thank you for all your support, in whatever form it came, throughout the past year and we look forward to bringing you more of what you love from Shambles in 2024.

Happy New Year from Trent, Robin, Melinda and all the gang.

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