The Nottingham Culture Review of 2023

Words: Jared Wilson
Illustrations: Raphael Achache
Friday 29 December 2023
reading time: min, words

Welcome to 2023, a year where we saw the cost of living crisis continue to ravage lots of local things we know and love. However, it was also a year of local success in various sports and one with various familiar faces being part of big things on screen…

Leftlion 2023 Review R.Achache


HBO launches one of the television events of the year, adapting the video game The Last of Us for the small screen. The two main stars are Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian, Narcos, Game of Thrones, etc) and Notts-born Bella Ramsey. Everyone in the universe agrees it’s completely brilliant! If you haven’t watched it yet, we strongly advise you do. A couple of months later, when she has a break from filming, Bella pops by our offices to do a mag interview and podcast with us about it all. What a star! 

Beat The Streets takes place marking the annual return of real live events. Do Nothing, Church of the Cosmic Skull and Melonyx are among those performing. The festival raises another £89,500 for homeless charity Framework (making a total of over £400k raised by the festival since it began in 2018). LeftLion goes carbon neutral to kick off our twentieth birthday.  


Light Night and the Festival of Science and Curiosity, both now staples in the Nottingham family events calendar, take over the city. Gedling-born featherweight boxer Leigh Wood loses his WBA Featherweight title to Mauricio Lara, marking only his third defeat in a 29-fight career. However, don’t be too downhearted as Leigh is going to be mentioned a few more times this year and it’s all uphill from here. 

Conservative party Chairman and Ashfield MP Lee Anderson has a barney on Radio Nottingham with local presenter Verity Cowley, who accuses him of dishonesty. Who’d have thought our most senior politicians could be dishonest?


Sleaford Mods release UK Grim, their twelfth studio album. It features guest appearances from Florence Shaw (Dry Cleaning) and Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction). As usual they’ll spend most of the year touring with dates in the USA, New Zealand, Australia and most of Europe. A couple of months later they’ll be namechecked by Robert Downey Junior while he’s doing press for Oppenheimer. 

Lucy Askew is appointed new CEO of Broadway Cinema, replacing Steve Mapp after fifteen years as CEO and 33 years at the venue. Veronica Pickering becomes the first Black female High Sheriff of Nottinghamshire. 

Notts County CEO Jason Turner dies suddenly, aged fifty. Widely respected in football, he’d spent seven years with the club helping to turn their fortunes around. George Akins Sr dies aged 94. A colossal businessman in the city, he started out with a string of bookmakers and opened several nightclubs, including Rock City. He leaves behind his two sons Sean and George Jr. Nottingham’s Creative Quarter company wraps up after ten years. 


Wrexham AFC pip Notts County to the National League title, with both teams finishing on over 100 points. Wrexham are owned by Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and Rob McElhenney (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) and it feels pretty weird seeing them on TV and in the media describing the Magpies as ‘one of the most exciting teams in sports’.

A three-bed house in Eastwood, where DH Lawrence once lived, sells for just £91k, less than a third of the national average. Former Notts midwife nurse Catherine Foster is now an international Opera star and takes the lead role in Puccini's Turandot at the Royal Opera House in London. A very enjoyable podcast documentary about former Notts record shop Selectadisc launches on BBC Sounds.


The local football season wraps up with Nottingham Forest surviving their first season back in the Premier League and Notts County gaining back their league status after a nail-biting play-off promotion. Attendance figures for both clubs are at their highest levels for years. Gedling's Leigh Wood wins back his WBA Welterweight title after a dominant win over Mauricio Lara. 

Film and TV director Shane Meadows releases The Gallows Pole on BBC Two and iPlayer. It’s his first new work since 2019’s The Virtues and is a slightly odd but enjoyable romp starring local actor Michael Socha and several deer skulls. Actress and local legend Vicky McClure releases a children's book called The Castle Rock Mystery Crew. 

Nottingham singer Jerub opens up King Charles’ Coronation concert at Windsor Castle, sharing a stage with Take That and Lionel Richie. LeftLion Editor George White is poached by the Radio Times less than a year into his tenure and replaced as head of this magazine by Sophie Gargett. 

Oscar and Rosie’s pizza restaurant closes up after ten years, citing the cost of living crisis. If we tried to mention every business that closes in the city this year we’d be here all day, but this one hurts as they were based in our old office, were friends and we always had our Christmas do’s here. 


A series of horrific events happen in the early hours of 13 June that become known nationally as the ‘Nottingham attacks’. These take the lives of students Grace O'Malley-Kumar and Barnaby Webber (both just nineteen years old) and school caretaker Ian Coates (aged 65). Everything stops and there are a series of public gatherings in the city as people take time to process, mourn and grieve. 

Green Hustle, the new-ish environmental string to the Hockley Hustle bow, takes over the Market Square for a couple of days and smashes it out of the park. Nottingham Castle reopens (again!) back under the management of Nottingham City Council. Nottingham Craft Beer Festival takes place in Sneinton Avenues, welcoming over 4000 punters over the three sessions. 


Notts cricket maestro Stuart Broad ends his career in the most spectacular way possible. He announces his retirement a day before the Ashes and then wins the game for England by hitting a six and taking a wicket with his final two touches. 

The Women’s World Cup 2023 kicks off in Spain with Notts-born Mary Earps in the sticks. Despite her increasing hero status, kit manufacturers Nike initially can’t be bothered to put replicas of her shirt on sale to fans. England’s lionesses go all the way to the final, before losing to Spain, whose win is ultimately overshadowed by an ill-judged kiss by Spanish football president Luis Rubiales. Earps wins the ‘Golden Gloves’ award. 

The Nottingham Pride main event takes place at Binks Yard for the first time. DJ Todd Terry headlines after Howard from Take That was dropped for saying and liking stupid things on X (formerly Twitter). Journalist and broadcaster John Holmes (aged 76) announces his retirement from BBC Nottingham after more than fifty years.


Nottingham’s most high-profile couple Vicky McClure and Jonny Owen get married. They have their ceremony at Nottingham Council House and their evening do at Metronome. It’s all proper Notts with everything including food, gifts and wedding planning services locally-sourced. Nice one, ducks!

Nottinghamshire Police Officer Graham Saville does the bravest thing someone can do, losing his life to help save someone else’s in a rail incident out near Newark on Trent. TV Presenter and former Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University Sir Michael Parkinson dies aged 88. Local roller derby team the Hellfire Harlots announce they are disbanding, citing the difficulties involved in running a grassroots sports team for well over a decade.


Homeware and household high street retailers Wilko go under. Though founded in Leicestershire, with a dozen stores across Notts suburbs and a head office in Worksop, Wilko felt like a part of our local community and it's a sad day for many.

Dizzee Rascal stops by Victoria Park in Sneinton to play a quick and unannounced free gig, to promote his forthcoming appearance over the road at Motorpoint Arena. Nonsuch Studios announce they will be vacating their studios space on Lower Parliament Street in the new year, a serious blow to independent theatre lovers in the city. We at LeftLion celebrate twenty years of publishing online and in print. 

Nottingham music manager and promoter Darren Blair is found dead whilst on a trip to Vietnam. He’s only 32 and it’s a sad day for many in the local music scene. We fondly remember his cheeky grin from when he shared an office with us back in his I’m Not From London days of 2016-2017. A crowdfunder is set up to help his family cover some of the costs of flying his body back and reaches £25k.


The Great Escaper, a film written by Notts' own William Ivory and starring Sir Michael Caine in his final screen role, is released in UK cinemas. HRH Princess Kate Middleton visits Nottingham and NTU for World Mental Health Day. Boxer Leigh Wood wins his third fight of 2023, knocking out Josh Warrington and completing what the BBC describe as a ‘Cinderella story’. 

Hockley Hustle comes back to the city centre bigger than ever, putting on around 350 musical acts in a single day. Deerstock, an annual charity music festival based out near East Bridgford announce they will not be putting on a 2024 event.

Silly season begins as The Sport ‘newspaper’ prints a front page with the headline ‘Taylor Swift To Buy Notts County’. This is followed a day later by an art gallery in Long Eaton announcing a show by actor Pierce Brosnan and £500 tickets for a meet and greet. Brosnan’s representatives quickly respond saying they know nothing about it.

Tragedy strikes for our local ice hockey team as American forward Adam Johnson is injured during a Nottingham Panthers match in Sheffield and dies shortly afterwards. The opposition player is later arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and you get the feeling this will be a case that takes years to resolve and could set new precedents in sporting law. 


John and Lauren, the couple who run Nottingham independent gig venue The Chameleon post that ‘time is running out’ for the venue on their Facebook page. The venue will continue into at least early 2024, but it’s a stark reminder of how precarious things can be in our grassroots music scene.

A documentary called Inside the Undertakers airs on BBC with presenter Stacey Dooley spending several weeks working alongside Nottingham firm A.W. Lymn in an effort to confront her fear of death.

THePETEBOX, a musician and human beatboxer from Notts who headlined our tenth birthday do in 2013, appears in the blind auditions of ITV’s The Voice UK. All four judges turn their chairs around and beg him to be on their team. Fingers crossed he can go a step further than both Long Eaton’s Olivia Mason and local estate agent Mark Howard did last year and win it. 


At this point I should probably point out that this piece is written and printed in mid-late  November, so covering December is always something of a step into the dark. So if there’s anything obvious missed from this time onwards you know why.

However, Eastenders’ Shane Ritchie and Strictly Come Dancing star Dr Ranj will be living in digs in Nottingham for the month as they star in Dick Whittington at the Theatre Royal. Nottingham-based YouTubers LadBaby have booked a theatre show at the Royal Concert Hall and will probably celebrate another year as Christmas number one with a song about the delights of meat and pastry.

A lad called Darren and a girl called Sharon will meet in the Market Square at 11.59pm on Sunday 31 December, fall in love, have babies and live happily ever after. You and yours will experience a joyful and peaceful Christmas and new year. 

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