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Heroclix and more: Review on Doomsday: What are they doing?

Heroclix and more: Review on Doomsday: What are they doing?

Accessibility links Tuesday 26 September 201712:01AM BST 19 May 2007 And now - as Charles Dickens did not write - for something completely different. We have done Ann Hathaway's cottage. We have done Wordsworth's cottage. We have done Thomas Hardy's cottage. We have bent ourselves double, banged our heads on oak beams, traipsed through six-by-six bedrooms talking in whispers, all in search of our "literary heritage": those iconic spaces in which famous writers ate and slept and put pen to paper. But suppose "discovering" writers is not about trying to connect with their roots, or even poring over their work, but simply having fun - fun of a kind that the writers themselves would have recognised and loved?That is the premise underpinning the new Dickens World in Chatham, a £62 million development that, on the face of it, owes more to Walt Disney than to the author of Oliver Twist and David Copperfield.The idea for the attraction was first mooted in the 1970s by the theme park king Gerry O'Sullivan-Beare, who died last year. It has been dogged by difficulties. First, there was the problem of finding a suitable location. King's Cross in London was considered, but had to be abandoned because of soaring property prices. More recently, the opening had to be delayed because of glitches with some hi-tech animatronic figures from the United States.There is no danger of banging your head on an oak beam here - certainly not on an oak beam that has been around since the 16th century. The entire attraction has been built from scratch, in a vast aluminium warehouse on the Medway waterfront, half a mile from the old Chatham dockyard.Dickens spent part of his childhood in the town - his father was a clerk in the Navy pay office - and remained loyal to the area to his death. Gad's Hill Place in Rochester, the house where he died, is just a few miles away.But the poet of dark alleys and stinking alehouses would have not have recognised this bright, clean, antiseptic townscape, with an Odeon cinema on one side of Dickens World and a new shopping mall on the other."Am I really in Kent?" I think, looking at the stark modern buildings. My mind flies back to Mr Jingle in The Pickwick Papers. "Kent, sir - everyone knows Kent - apples, cherries, hops and women." The only cherries here are on the fruit-machines in the arcade.As for what is inside Dickens World... water rides, animatronic rats, school desks with LCD displays, Miss Havisham on stilts, life-size ghosts, walk-through prisons, mock-ups of the London sky at night... It is not for the purists. "Maybe not," says Kevin Christie, the managing director, "but I still think Dickens would have loved the place. He was not just a populist, but the ultimate showman. His novels were published in serials, with cliff-hanger endings, like TV soaps.''When his career hit the rocks, he took his show on the road, going around the country reading his books on stage." With his ruddy face and his long straggly hair, Christie could be a fop in Great Expectations or Nicholas Nickleby: a man not afraid to enjoy himself."I prefer the lighter Dickens stories," he admits. "The Pickwick Papers is probably my favourite. The darker stuff, like Bleak House, is not really my cup of tea." So Dickens-lite it is: a fun day out for people who might find the original novels heavy going; a place of entertainment that owes more to the circus than the library; an all-singing, all-dancing attraction for the 21st century. Pride of place goes to the Great Expectations ride, inspired by the pursuit of the escaped convict Magwitch across London to the Kent marshes.The ride is more than 200 yards long, with much plunging, swooping, splashing, hurtling through darkened sewers, etc. It beats revising for GCSEs. The same goes for the Haunted House, a walk-through attraction where you will feel like Ebenezer Scrooge on amphetamine, with ghosts popping out at you from every direction.At Dotheboys School, the horrors of Victorian education are lovingly reproduced. You will not get six of the best from the cane of Mr Wackford Squeers if you get the answer wrong, but you will have to satisfy that arch-pedant Mr Gradgrind, the stickler for facts in Hard Times. "DO AS YOU WOULD BE DONE BY," reads the motto on the wall. Multiple-choice questions on touch-screens enable a little serious information on Dickens and his world to slip through the pervasive levity."We do want to give visitors a real feeling of Victorian England," says Christie. "The Dickens Fellowship, who are very much the keepers of the keys where his legacy is concerned, have been closely consulted at every stage. We have tried to recreate the kind of urban environment Dickens would have known, from the houses to the street-hawkers. Mind your head, Max." This as we pick our way through Newgate prison, as grim and cheerless and claustrophobic as it would have been in the 19th century.Only the stench is missing. That, and perhaps, too, the sense of horror lurking beneath the novels of Dickens, even when he is at his most entertaining. If Dickens World has an obvious flaw, it is not that there are not long excerpts from the books plastered on every wall, but that the emphasis is too much on have-a-laugh entertainment, with social history taking a back seat. How can Fagin's Den, a soft-play area where children can get their pockets picked by the Artful Dodger, even begin to hint at the grim underworld which Dickens was portraying - and which, in mutated forms, like child prostitution, is still with us?As I take a peep into the themed bar, based on the Six Jolly Fellowship Porters pub in Our Mutual Friend, I can almost hear the first mutterings about "dumbed-down Dickens" from the groves of Academe. But I suspect, somehow, that Dickens World will outflank its critics. Its management hopes to draw 300,000 visitors a year and, for an attraction so close to London, that looks feasible.Our greatest novelist - and one can only whisper the words when the Blessed Jane seems to be on every TV channel - deserves some suitably flamboyant memorial. For students of the author who want to make a more serious literary pilgrimage, there is still the Dickens Museum in London, the birthplace museum in Portsmouth, the Dickens exhibition in the Guildhall Museum in Rochester. And there are, of course, the books.Dickens World offers something else. Call it excitement. Call it simple stimulus. An actor dressed as Mr Pickwick can be no substitute for the Mr Pickwick of the novel. But 50 actors in Dickensian costume, bustling along mock Victorian streets, working the crowds, stirring affectionate memories - of Mr Micawber, of Tiny Tim, of Oliver Twist, of Little Nell - offer a glorious reminder of a writer whose relish of character was his trump card. Learn more about the writer Dickens World in Chatham (08702 411415, www.dickensworld.co.uk) opens on Friday, May 25. Open daily, 10am-7pm, except Christmas Day. Admission: £12.50 adults, £7.50 children aged 5-15. The Charles Dickens Museum at 48 Doughty St, London WC1 (020 7405 2127, www.dickensmuseum.com ), is open 10am-5pm Monday-Saturday, 11am-5pm Sunday; adults £5, children £3, family (two adults, up to five children) £14. Charles Dickens's Birthplace at 393 Old Commercial Road, Portsmouth (023 9282 7261, www.charlesdickensbirthplace.co.uk ), is open most days, 10am-5.30pm - phone before you visit; adults £3.50, children £2.50, family (up to four) £9.50. The Dickens Discovery Room in the Guildhall Museum, High Street, Rochester (01634 848717, www.medway.gov.uk), is open daily, 10am-4.30pm; admission free. 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By Chris Spargo for MailOnline Published: 06:54, 3 December 2014 | Updated: 09:58, 3 December 2014 e-mail var twitterVia = 'MailOnline'; DM.later('bundle', function(){ DM.has('shareLinkTop', 'shareLinks', { 'id': '2858586', 'title': 'Bill O\'Reilly slammed by Fox News contributor for Ferguson remark', 'url': 'http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2858586/Bill-O-Reilly-slammed-fellow-Fox-News-contributor-claiming-St-Louis-Rams-players-staged-Ferguson-protest-aren-t-smart-know-doing.html', 'eTwitterStatus': ' http://dailym.ai/12m9fPS via @' + twitterVia, 'articleChannelFollowButton': 'MailOnline', 'isChannel': false, 'hideEmail': true, 'placement': 'top', 'anchor': 'tl'}); }); 140 shares 142 View comments DM.later('bundle', function(){ DMS.Article.init('top'); }); 142View commentsBill O'Reilly has remained a controversial voice in the aftermath of a grand jury deciding not to indict Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, but on Monday the anchor went so far he even manged to alienate a fellow Fox News contributor. Remarking on a group of St. Louis Rams players who adopted a 'hands up, don’t shoot' stance in a show of solidarity for Ferguson protesters prior to Sunday's game, O'Reilly said on The O'Reilly Factor; 'Quite frankly, I don’t think they’re smart enough to know what they’re doing.'He then added again, 'I absolutely don’t think they’re smart enough to know what they’re doing.'Scroll down for videos Protest: Five members of the St. Louis Rams adopted a 'hands up, don't shoot' stance before taking the field on Sunday in a show of support for the protesters in FergusonSpeaking out: Bill O'Reilly said on his show Monday that the players weren't 'smart enough to know what they were doing' and that they were propagating a lie He went on to say the men were propagating the lie that Brown's hands were raised at the time he was shot. Not agreeing at all with this statement however was Mary Katharine Ham, a regular Fox News contributor, who seemed disgusted with what O'Reilly had to say.Ham said she thought that the players 'non-violent' protest was fine, and then later defended her comments on Twitter, saying, 'Thing is I DON’T CARE if NFL players make displays w/ which I disagree. Not being as upset as you doesn’t mean I betrayed America.'Fox News yst Juan Williams, also a guest on Monday, disagreed with O'Reilly as well, and his take away that the football players were somehow coming out against all police.'Look, you’ve got crazy people on all sides, Bill,' said Williams.'But if you think that those football players identify and say, "Oh, all cops are bad"? That is not true.'Other side: O'Reilly's guests on Monday, Fox News Contributor Mary Katharine Ham (left) and yst Juan Williams (right) did not agree with his statementsOn Sunday, St. Louis Rams players Stedman Bailey, Jared Cook, Chris Givens, Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt took to the field making the same gesture many protesters have been making across the country these past two weeks.This as crowds gathered outside the stadium during the game chanting 'Hands up, don't shoot!'It seems that even Fox News may have had a problem with O'Reilly's statement, as they took down the clip after posting it earlier in the day on Tuesday.O'Reilly has been very vocal about his disdain for Ferguson protesters, saying that even those who did not loot or set buildings on fire should still be considered criminals for continuing to protest as these events happened. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Police Officers Association has called on both the NFL and the Rams to discipline the five players.They called the moved 'tasteless, offensive and inflammatory.'The NFL and the Rams said Monday that the players would not be punished. Unrest: A protester is dragged away outside the St. Louis Rams home game on SundayCook spoke about the gesture following the game, saying; 'There has to be a change that starts with the people that are most influential around the world.'He then added, 'No matter what happened on that day, no matter how the whole situation went down, there has to be a change.' St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar has claimed that Rams' chief operating officer called him to apologize about the incident, something he vehemently denies.'We did not apologize,' Rams spokesman Artis Twyman told CNN. The Officers Association then responded to that claim by posting on their Facebook page; 'Even though Mr. Demoff stated he never apologized, the Chief believed it to be an apology and the Chief sent the email to police staff to let them know about the call, after he told Mr. Demoff he would share his sentiments with his staff.'  Published by Associated Newspapers LtdPart of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group





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