David Lynch’s surreal 90’s hit Twin Peaks may be overlooked by a new generation hooked on blue meth and coming winters, but for a hard core of viewers the spirit of the show is still live and kicking. Jess O’Kane, Screen Online Editor, joined the superfans down in London this weekend.
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Riverside Studios in Hammersmith became a hive of nostalgia and obligatory donuts this weekend as hundreds of “Peakies” descended on the capital for an annual trip down cult TV lane.
Now in its fourth sell-out year, Twin Peaks UK Festival is both eccentric and utterly charming – fitting, perhaps, for a festival about a show that features murder, dwarves, personified logs and a truly unsettling villain.
Revisiting the spirit of such a beloved and bizarre show would be a challenge for any festival, but TPUK managed it admirably.
Downstairs, one room had been christened the Red Room Diner, where fan artwork, jewellery, David Lynch coffee and Twin Peaks manicures were on offer (one girl I spoke to proudly showed me her nails, which had a tiny typed letter glued to it where the murdered Laura Palmer’s would have been).
Upstairs, in a blood-red and sweltering cinema, there were screenings of various episodes and a surprise message from absentee cast member Kimmy Robertson.
The necessary dose of darkness came in the form of the Double R Club, a Lynch-themed cabaret act. A satirical take on the waitress Shelly Johnson (played by Madchen Amick, one of the festival guests) from fetish model Miss Miranda had a few pulses rising under their wristbands as she performed a strip tease for her comatose boyfriend Leo.
Best of all was comedy singer-songwriter Laurence Owen, whose witty ditties like “Bob’s Your Uncle” cleverly re-imagined the show’s characters with Tim Minchin-esque delivery.
As the evening progressed, the fans became the focus. A Q&A session lived up to every expectation, with stars Ian Buchanan, Charlotte Stewart and Madchen Amick proving to be both charming and full of anecdotes.
Whilst the focus was mainly on Amick, Buchanan and Stewart proved equally entertaining, and both seemed pleasantly surprised at how strong the Twin Peaks legacy has proved to be.
The crowd were surprisingly diverse – I spoke to Brummie students, kids from Slovakia, eager Londoners and people who’d only seen a few episodes. None of the furthest travelled seemed bothered that they’d be flying back the next day or the day after.
Niklas, a friendly 30-something from Sweden, had been to the US festival in Snoqualmie twice, had named his child after one of the characters, and had sought out the exact branch where the bird sits at the beginning of the titles. His love of Twin Peaks, he said, was pure “nostalgia” – growing up, Twin Peaks was one of the few adult shows he was allowed to watch, and it had never left him.
For many, though, the allure of Twin Peaks seemed to be a kind of exoticism. A beardy man proudly bore a “BRING BACK TWIN PEAKS TO TV” t-shirt, and further inspection revealed that the campaign has over 20,000 likes on Facebook – impressive, for a show that’s now 23 years old. The love of Lynchian styling was a frequent theme; Ben and Maria, two first-timers, were there because “there’s not much else like it”. Ain’t that the truth.
As the night came to an end with a screening of Lynch’s 1997 Lost Highway, and a few stragglers stayed for “Twingo” (Twin Peaks bingo) and cherry pie, I was happy just to wander. I may not have been the biggest Peakie in the room, but I could feel the love everywhere: from the packed out cinema right down to the donuts.
Jess O’Kane, Screen Online Editorbookmark me