If there’s one thing The Big Issue has always prided itself on as a publication, it’s the calibre of its interviews.
“Interesting people saying interesting things” has been a guiding principle in the newsroom for making sure our vendors have a high quality product to get into the hands of loyal readers, and 2021 did not disappoint.
Now with a new-look magazine and website, The Big Issue is going from strength to strength in giving our readers an informative and entertaining read, wherever they might find us.
These are the most-read culture stories from the last year.
10. Michael Sheen: ‘I’ve essentially turned myself into a social enterprise, a not-for-profit actor’
Werewolves, prime ministers, angels… is there anything Michael Sheen can’t turn his hand to? The Welsh actor’s roles from Hollywood to Port Talbot have turned him into a cult hero, but it’s on the stage where he truly feels alive.
In this Letter To My Younger Self interview with The Big Issue’s Jane Graham he also revealed that he sold his house to fund the Homeless World Cup in Cardiff in 2019, an act of charity that surely pushes him closer to status as a national treasure.
9. An independent record store is boycotting Adele’s new album in a row over vinyl
The supply chain issues that dogged the country in the later months of 2021 weren’t just about food and fuel — they affected record shops too.
But while most recording artists formed an orderly queue to get their music laid in wax, Adele caused outrage when she jumped to the front for her album 30.
“She’s got half a million copies of her album pressed at a time when everybody’s struggling to get individual copies pressed,” manager of Skeleton Records Ben Savage told The Big Issue’s Evie Breese.
His campaign to boycott Adele became one of the biggest stories on The Big Issue website in 2021.
8. Dave Grohl: ‘For a while I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to play music again’
“There was a particular trauma after the end of Nirvana that lasted for a while… I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to play music again,” Dave Grohl told The Big Issue’s Jane Graham. “But it came back. And thankfully, just as I had hoped, it healed me.”
That was the insight which caught the attention of thousands of readers when the legendary musician gave his Letter To My Younger Self interview. But there were many more in the full conversation that revealed the homelier side of the man who said he used to “smash cymbals like teacups”.
7. James Bowen to unveil new Street Cat Bob statue in Islington
Street Cat Bob was a hero of The Big Issue, the ginger Tom who rose to fame on the shoulders of busker and Big Issue vendor James Bowen before becoming the subject of books and films.
Thousands around the world mourned his passing in the summer of 2020, so the announcement that a commemorative statue would be installed at Islington Green in London, just round the corner from where the pair would sell the magazine.
6. Marina Sirtis wants a Star Trek series based on Worf and the Klingon Empire
Star Trek fans are nothing if not eager for updates, so when The Big Issue’s deputy editor Steven Mackenzie had the chance to catch up with Deanna Troi — aka British-born actor Marina Sirtis — he knew he had a job on his hands.
It wasn’t the first time the pair had spoken, and this time they covered everything from further Star Trek spin-offs to gender equality and the January 6 insurrection.
5. Roger Taylor: ‘I just wish I’d got to say goodbye to Freddie’
“I just stopped the car on Kensington High Street, in a kind of shock. Because even when you know somebody is going to die, it’s still such a shock when they actually do.”
Roger Taylor’s retelling of the day Freddie Mercury died struck a chord with thousands of readers for its heartfelt honesty in October. But the full interview with Queen’s drummer also covered his childhood, Live Aid, and the band’s continued success.
4. William Shatner: Humanity won’t survive to reach a Star Trek future
What did we say about Star Trek fans? William Shatner will forever ben known. as Captain James T Kirk of the Star Trek Enterprise, despite only playing the role for a mere three years back in the 1960s.
2. 8 Hollywood A-listers Brian Cox trashes Logan Roy-style in his new book
When Steven MacKenzie had the chance to interview Brian Cox about his Golden Globe-winning performance as Logan Roy in Succession, he thought a bit of prep might come in handy. And Putting the Rabbit in the Hat, Cox’s recently released autobiography, did not disappoint.
Cox unleashed a torrent of pithy put-downs and borderline abuse throughout the books pages, largely directed at fellow actors from across his decades-long career. It’s a good thing they were also hilarious in their scorn and caught the imagination of thousands upon thousands of readers when Steven pulled them all together.
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