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From Benedict's fiancee to rubber sharks, it was a fine week for tweet outrage


Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter at the French Open tennis final in Paris in June

Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter at the French Open tennis final in Paris in June

French Select/Getty Images

Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter at the French Open tennis final in Paris in June

In a week when many of those heading to watch Christopher Nolan's latest bloated epic - the sci-fi adventure Interstellar - may have thought 'God, it must be great to travel on a big rocket', a couple of recent events would certainly have served to soften their cough.

In short order, we've had a Nasa supply rocket explode on take-off and the other day a Virgin Galactic craft blew up over the New Mexico desert.

For the best part of a decade now, Virgin supremo Richard Branson has been enthusiastic about the possibility of privatised space travel for those who could afford it.


The actual trip itself would only take passengers into space for a couple of minutes but, given the economic times that were in it back in the day, there were no shortage of Celtic Tiger golden boys informing the papers that they'd be only too glad to splash the cash in order to be Ireland's first certified spaceman, as opposed to the freelance specimens we see on our streets every day.

Hmm, I wonder how enthusiastic they feel now.

Most of the interesting stuff happened across the water rather than at home over the past seven days. The increasingly ludicrous Russell Brand (who was never much short of ridiculous to begin with) appeared at a 'Million Masks March' rally in favour of general anarchy or some-such vague nonsense, only without a mask and only for a few minutes before heading off to a showbiz party.

Good man Russell, showing true revolutionary spirit there.

Then we had yet another example of the infantilisation which comes with the anonymity of the internet as howls of protest went up at the news that Benedict Cumberbatch had announced his engagement to Sophie Hunter. Abuse was heaped on Ms Hunter from clearly deluded women old enough to know better but behaving like teenagers did when Robbie Williams signalled his departure from Take That.

But if it was truly entertaining howls of protest you were after, then the place to be was London's Royal Opera House where the opening night of Mozart's Idomeneo witnessed what one critic described as 'a residual tsunami, a Mexican wave of booing' directed at director Martin Kusej. Apparently, it wasn't the mighty Moz's music which generated such ire but rather the artistic decision to stage the opera in modern dress, including a crowd scene which involved a rubber shark being lifted aloft. Such protests are becoming all too common across Europe according to opera aficionados, with audiences using - what else? - social media to generate and manufacture outrage in advance of people actually seeing shows for themselves.


Mind you, while we can chuckle at opera audiences in Covent Garden losing it because of a rubber shark we'd do well to remember that we have a pretty bad track record here when it comes to the same thing.

The debut of JM Synge's The Playboy of the Western World in January 1907 led to an actual riot caused by riled religious hard-liners and, 19 years later, a similar reaction to Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars led to WB Yeats taking to the stage of the Abbey to inform the braying mob "You have disgraced yourselves again".

Heckling is generally seen as an occupational hazard for stand-up comedians and can be really annoying. However, professional comedians are generally extremely well-prepared for such eventualities and can usually rip any would-be show-stealer to shreds with a zinger of a put-down.

Which reminds me of Sil Fox supporting David Essex at a Midnight at the Olympia gig back in the 90s... ah, maybe another time.