Surprise Surprise: Exclusive Interview with guest star Amy Fricker

IMG_0422I know you lot perceive me as a strong, butch, muscular, tough shelled alpha male beast of a man (and that IS partially true) but if there’s one television show that brings out my emotional side then it has to be Surprise Surprise. For those of you who are too immersed in the adventures at Waterloo Road, the concept is that Holly Willoughby and friends spring surprises on members of the public who give a lot and achieve a lot in their lives. It’s people who have done good or brave things and seek no reward for it receiving well deserved pats on the back and the stories are always inspiring.

We have had a lovely young chap who runs youth clubs and hostels for young people being surprised with a newly refurbished kitchen and we also had the lovely Jodi Ann Bickley who spends much of her time writing and sending letters of hope and love to people in need of a boost being surprised with the funds to be able to send more letters. This week we met Amy Fricker, who, at the young age of 26, has endured more hardship than most people do in their lifetime.

The thing that sets Amy apart from others is the sheer positivity she exudes despite her tough times and her bravery in the face of the numerous adversities she has faced. In pictures taken at the height of one of her illnesses, she was seen smiling and, with the help of a very supportive family, she defeated not one, but two life threatening illnesses. This came after a family tragedy when she was just 12 where she lost her mum. To even imagine the difficulty in enduring all of this before you turn quarter of a century old is just futile; there can be no words to describe what it must have been like for Amy and her loved ones.

Against all odds, she is here today, positive as ever, in a successful career with pre wedding party planners, the brilliant Hen Heaven and Stag Company. On top of that, Amy has just got married herself to life partner John, who supported her through her toughest times and it was her wedding that was the focus of Surprise Surprise.

I was honoured to be able to have a chat with the amiable and down to earth Amy, where she discussed with me her experience on the show and of the difficult times leading up to it.

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The Apprentice: series 10, ep 8 – a petri dish of twonk

Top Twonk

Top Twonk

The delicious smorgasbord of idiocy that is The Apprentice got turned up to 11 last night. We’re at episode eight –  or roughly stage two as laid out in Qwerty’s series opener blog. Some chaff has been fired. Plenty more left to sneer at.

We know their names. We could do a set of Apprentice Twonk Top Trumps card featuring those qualities of imbecilic delusion that make them so annoying. But into the mix, we got the pleasure of the Royal Bath & West Show this week (best cider bar this side of Yeovil), hot tubs, flat cap handbags and Nick Hewer looking hella cool on a ride-on lawnmower.

Team Summit comprised Bianca; sexist über-knob 1 James; Solomon; calm, collected Roisin and Sanjay. And Team Tenacity included domineering Aussie Mark; the adorable Paddington bear-like Columbian Felipe; sexist über-knob 2 Daniel and the normal-seeming Katie. UK1 James got to be PM for Summit, Felipe was made PM for Tenacity over Katie, for no explicable reason that I could see, other than the fact that she carelessly forgot to be born with a penis.

This is the episode where members of each team gets to select from a parade of random objects, which in this series included a pet finder and a flushable cat loo. It’s the sort of motley collection that you used to see on the Generation Game conveyor belt or as prizes on Sale of the Century. Teams decide what they want most, then the PM has a conversation with the manufacturer of said chosen objects to try to convince them they are right team to sell to. Continue reading

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I’m A Celebrity: Too many chests…

Im-A-Celebrity-Get-Me-Out-Of-HereJimmy and Foggy locked in a shed together, Kendra using her thrusting head and her tongue and Tinchy Stryder trying to orienter; yes it was another bizarre 90 minutes in the Australian jungle packed full of Z Listers and critters. Don’t ask me which is which.

The viewing public had very kindly decided that we were to endure another trial full of Kendra whining (‘Oh my gawwwwd, I cyaaaan’t you GUYS’ etc) and doing little else, leaving the producers a bit narked that they were spending thousands on putting these trials together and they were hardly being used. You’d think that using her mouth in order to guarantee being fed at the end of the day would come naturally to Kendra, given her past career choice, but alas, she was barely able to burst her head through Mona Lisa before she was giving up on each segment of the trial. Even Ant and Dec were starting to lose their trademark cheeriness and you could tell that they just hoped she would get her head stuck in one of those frames. If so, could we just leave her there for the remainder of the series?  Continue reading

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Waterloo Road: Kevin, stop the worm now!

kevin waterloo road(Series 10, ep.7) “Waterloo Road is home to a bunch of highly sophisticated cyber criminals,” said Allie upon seeing the school’s IT systems being dismantled and computers being removed by the police. When did these revered and relied-upon learning aids become Evidence? When Leo inexpertly hacked into the system of that mega corporation Wire Data. Because Waterloo Road isn’t full of sophisticated cyber criminals, as Allie knew because she was being witty and ironic. It’s home to Kevin Chalk, who knows his way round a computer, and Leo Fitzgerald, who would love to be a sophisticated cyber criminal but is actually a bit of an idiot.

Were Kevin’s actions based on supporting Audrey’s campaign against Wire Data, who are endangering the crested tit (“It could become the dodo of its day,” according to Audrey)? Nope. It was all to prove that he’s still the smartest boy in the school, even after his stroke. He impressed the boss of Wire Data, anyhow, and he didn’t even have to mention his phone app fortune. And just in case Mr Wire Data was thinking of prosecuting (he was), Kevin had found a secret hidden laptop and installed a worm on Wire’s system as “insurance.”  Continue reading

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The Missing: Blood is thicker than water…

The-Missing-6Okay, we’re onto Episode 5 of this thrilling crime drama set in Paris (how very Broken Sword!) and quite a lot has taken place since Oliver Hughes disappeared in the French footie fracas. Is anyone lost yet? Never fear, your friendly TV Guru from the North is here to get you up to speed and take a closer look at what was a very grim and violent episode indeed.

So, where are we up to? Perhaps a bullet point list will be of use as this is a complex tale.

  • Oliver Hughes has gone missing (If you’re not with me this far, give up now and turn over to Channel 5)
  • A rather helpful chap by the name of Ian Garrett turned up and started chucking money to help the parents, Tony and Emily, find him.
  • The case was being investigated by Julien Baptiste, who has my favourite male French accent of all time.
  • The first suspect in the case was a young man called Vincent de Bourg, who had a conviction for downloading child pornography
  • He has been ruled out as a suspect, given that he has an alibi for the time that Oliver went missing.

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Holby City: Getting back to normal

zosia holby(Series 17, ep.7) “The best way of getting me back to normal is getting me back to normal,” Dr Zosia March told her father. Hard to argue with her logic, apart from the fact that “normal,” to Zosia, means being at work.

For the past week or two she’s been at an expensive and exclusive-looking clinic and the verdict from the doctor in charge of her was that she may be bipolar. As usual, Selfie was in denial. Mental illness? Goodness. Nothing that assisting with a bit of seriously tricky brain surgery won’t sort out!

zosia holby cityObviously that didn’t work out well at all, and even Selfie was finally forced to admit that having a grown-up daughter who writes all over the table in Pulses in salt isn’t quite right. He went back to see the psychiatrist and admitted that his views of mental illness were “unenlightened.” You don’t say. Even so, despite Sacha offering some father-to-father advice and Zosia’s odd behaviour being the elephant in every room she sets foot in, Selfie is still determined to keep the issue just between the two of them.  Continue reading

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Coronation Street: All about Steve

17_11_coro_steve_steph_michelle_01I’ve been where Steve McDonald is right now; and it is, without a doubt, the worst thing that I have ever felt. Even though it is estimated that a massive 1 in every 3 of us will experience first hand some form of mental health issue, there is still an alarming amount of education and awareness required on the matter of depression and anxiety.

That is why I couldn’t be more proud of Britain’s top soap, Coronation Street, for tackling this issue head on with the sensitivity, honesty and realism that it is currently expressing. Those millions of you who read my soap musings both here and on social media will know that I have been fairly critical of Coronation Street over the last few months. But where it has been lacking in other areas, it has more than redeemed itself in this particular storyline.

For quite some time, and very subtly, we have seen Steve struggle with his moods to the point where he currently finds himself at; thoroughly sapped of the joy and energy that the character is famous for. Simon Gregson is playing a blinder of a performance with this story he’s been given; it is a huge challenge to portray accurately but I embargo-18-nov-coronation-street-steve-2recognise so much in Steve. From the blocking out of important everyday worries to the emptiness in his eyes and the lost expression on his face, Steve is a broken man. And yet, the regular comments and tweets I am seeing from people saying ‘What is even wrong with Steve?’ and ‘Steve needs to man up and pull himself together’ proves that many people still don’t really understand the horrendous effects depression can have on the sufferer and on the people around them.

The people tweeting ‘Carla has been through much worse and you don’t see her going on like Steve.’ are not being malicious or tactless; it’s just that there is still a genuine stigma around metal health that perceives people who are overcome by depression as being weak. As Corrie is setting out to prove, that is far from the case. Steve isn’t just being miserable or feeling sorry for himself; he is ill. And that illness is preventing him from feeling any pleasure or hope in life. He is being swallowed by a darkness that really cannot be described in words and it is heart-rending to watch.

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