Onwards to 2022

And a look back at 2021

2021 proved another challenging year for us at Shambles, as it was for everyone.

More cancelled shows and more big plans thrown into disarray. But we still managed to put out a load of new shows that we’re thrilled to have heard you enjoyed and we’ve got big plans for 2022. Let’s hope we can carry them out!

We have to start by giving a massive thanks to our fans and, in particular, our Patreon supporters. Without your support we wouldn’t have been able to produce a small fraction of what we did so, truly, from all of us at Shambles, thanks for your ongoing support of what we put out into the world. We get that we’re niche, and we’re delighted you’re part of it!

So, what did we get up to in 2021, then?

Book Shambles entered its sixth year and another 46 episodes of our most popular podcast were released. Robin Ince and Josie Long (with the occasional guest co-host) welcomed a slew of amazing authors, comedians, scientists (and broadcasters) into our virtual studio in 2021. We’re hopeful we can get back to in-person recording some time in 2022. Just some of our guests over the year included Alan Davies, Annie MacManus, Tim Minchin, Musa Okwonga, Eddie Glaude Jr, Jessie Cave, Chris Hadfield, Katy Wix and Yasmin Khan. Our first guest of 2022 will be the brilliant Dara McNulty.

The Science Shambles podcast, and livestream show, continued apace as well, hosted by Robin and Dr Helen Czerski. We released 40 episodes in 2021 including 30 livestreams shows as part of our Sunday Science Q&As, which will return in 2022. We covered everything from outer space to the deepest ocean, COVID to weather, dinosaurs to particle physics. Some of our guests included Nicole Stott, Helen Sharman, Kevin Fong, Christina Pagel, Lisa Harvey-Smith, Alice Roberts, Brian Greene, Riley Black, Steve Backshall and Ella Al-Shamahi.

As mentioned, we wouldn’t be able to do any of this without the support of our Patreon subscribers and they got to enjoy more of our Patreon exclusive podcast series in 2021, Tips for Existence, An Uncanny Hour and A Book You Might Not Know. The latter two will definitely be back in 2022 with new episodes as well. On Tips, we welcomed special guests including Carolyn Porco, David McAlmont, Natalie Haynes, Rusty Schweickart, Carlo Rovelli, Chris Jackson and Ann Druyan. On An Uncanny Hour, we produced documentaries on Silent Running, The Exorcist III, the work of John Carpenter and Derek Jarman and much more with special guests including Mark Kermode, Stewart Lee, Toyah Wilcox, Samira Ahmed, Priyamvada Natarajan, Reece Shearsmith and more.

We also released new series of Dean Burnett and Rachel England’s podcast series on mental health, Brain Yapping: Battled Damaged and Joanna Neary’s comedy series with Celia the House Wife, Wife on Earth.

There were all sorts of other livestream shows too including Robin Ince’s A Billion Thoughts and Reality Talks, Robin and Josie’s special The Young Ones quiz, a celebration of Ernest Rutherford with the Royal Institution, Rutherford, Radioactivity and the Future of Physics, various Patreon specials and last night’s Books of the Year special.

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On the rare occasions we could get out and do something live this year, it was a real treat. We did a variety night for the Cheltenham Science Festival, a Sunday science take over at the Latitude Festival and staged a series of events for the Norwich Science Festival too. COVID willing we’ll be back at all sorts of festivals in 2022.

In association with our friends at JSM Events we went on tour with Rutherford and Fry’s Complete Guide to Everything* Abridged around the UK for 10 dates in October. And of course, Robin Ince covered 10 000 miles and more on his epic 100 Bookshops Tour.

Robin visited over 100 independent bookshops across the UK to celebrate the launch of his new, acclaimed book The Importance of Being Interested. You can read all about the tour, the brilliant bookshops and some of the secondhand delights he picked up on the way in Robin’s blog. The tour also included a special London launch event at Kings Place with Robin and special guests such as Katie Mack, David McAlmont and Helen Zaltzman. Oh, and if you’d like to get a signed copy of the book, you can do so from our new independent bookshop of our own that we launched this year. An official, registered bookseller now, you can get signed copies of your favourite Shambles authors direct from us, like Robin, Helen, Brian Cox, Dean Burnett, Ginny Smith, Katie Mack, Hannah Fry, Suzi Gage and more. All sales help support us to produce more shows for you!

And speaking of blogs there was new writing from Robin, Dean Burnett, Jon Butterworth, Sheena Cruickshank, Ginny Smith, Jenny Rohn, John Tregoning and more.

After the 25 hour (plus encore) madness that was Nine Lessons and Carols for Socially Distanced People in 2020 we had full plans to return to the stage for Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People and Brian and Robin’s Compendium of Reason good and proper in 2021. And we almost did…

Pics by Dave Hughes

We managed to get in three shows of Nine Lessons at Kings Place before COVID came knocking once more. On stage Robin was joined by a myriad of brilliant special guests including Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Charlotte Ritchie, Robyn Hitchcock, Pragya Agarwal, Anjana Khatwa, Tom Shakespeare, Isy Suttie and more. When we had to postpone the last two shows (to April 16 and 17, tickets here) we ended up doing a three hour online show instead with Robin, Helen Czerski, Helen Sharman, Brenna Hassett, Gecko, Priti Parikh, Jon Butterworth and more. This year’s shows raised money for COVAX and Maytree. Full wrap up of the shows here.

And of course there was Compendium. This year we moved to the iconic Royal Albert Hall for Brian and Robin’s Christmas spectacular. In what turned out to be our final live show of the year we, alongside our pals at the Hall and Phil McIntyre Live, put on an end of year treat that featured appearances from Boy George, Marc Almond, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Helen Glover, Steve Backshall, Tanita Tikaram, Nina Conti, Chris Jackson, Anil Seth, Helen Czerski, an inordinate amount of lasers and a whole lot more. As ever profits went to charity and you can check out pics and a wrap up from the event here.

Pics by Natalie Shaw and Paul Clarke

And so as we look ahead to 2022, there’ll be all the stuff we’ve mentioned above, returning podcasts, more festivals, more Nine Lessons, more Compendium and hopefully a lot more besides. We have some extra special live shows and tours planned that, Omicron and its nasty friends permitting, we’ll be undertaking. We’ve got some proper audio and video documentaries in the works too including one about Robin’s bookshop tour that will be released in conjunction with Go Faster Stripe. And, as ever, Robin and Trent will probably come up with 100 over hair-brained ideas over the course of the year. It was rumoured they each had a few hours off in the summer this year but you shouldn’t believe such awful lies.

So keep your eye on the site and our Twitter feed for all the news. Support us on Patreon if you can. And have a lovely and safe New Years.

See you in 2022.

Trent, Robin, Melinda, Helen, Josie and all at Team Shambles.

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The Cosmic Shambles Network relies on your support on pledges via Patreon so we can continue to provide great, new, exciting content without the need for third party ads.