Monthly Archives: October 2011

Waterloo Road: The Jeremy Kyle holding pen

(Series 7, Ep.16) Finn Sharkey has managed to put his heartbreak over losing Sam to one side. After a short wobble when grief made him steal cars and drive them round the playground, he’s back on the dating scene with a spring in his step. Sadly his choice of new girlfriend is Trudi Siddiqui. While it’s true she’s beautiful and smart, she has one big drawback. Her brother is a nutter. He’s also the only prefect in the school, but that’s Michael Byrne’s idea of giving the lad responsibility. Does this make Tariq Siddiqui the head boy by default?

For a while, a nice little bromance was brewing between Tariq and Finn, but this only held for as long as Tariq remained blissfully ignorant about Finn’s designs on his sister. They even went out together to do a spot of revenge beating up of some lads who’d stolen Madi Diamond’s phone. En route to the beating up (Tariq knows jiu jitsu, you know. Like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, only Keanu didn’t learn it in a Young Offenders Institute) Tariq admitted that Her Majesty’s Pleasure hadn’t been all that pleasurable. Finn already knew this, as Trudi had told him Tariq spent most of his sentence crying down the phone to his mum.   Continue reading

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The X Factor: Hate some, like two, feel sorry for the rest

(Week 2) Its official: this is the worst X Factor year ever. What? It’s not official? Well, it ought to be. This year’s crop of wannabes needs to up their game if they hope to hold our attention till Christmas. I think the problem is that it feels like we haven’t had a chance to emotionally invest in the acts.  So many of the faces at judges’ houses were new to me that I didn’t give a toss if they got to the lives or not, and then there’s the bands that have been  stitched together like some sort of five headed Frankenstein’s monster. They barely know or care about each other, so why should we care about them?

Usually at this stage in the game I’m indifferent about most of the contestants and love one or two. This year I hate some of them, feel sorry for the others and only like two.

The Groups

Wowzers, I wasn’t expecting Rhythmix to rock out the bashment/Notting  Hill Carnival version of I’m Like A Bird. As an ethnic, usually I only get to hear these versions in black hairdressers or takeaways. The girls did it justice and managed to sing well enough to distract us from their hideous styling. It was like a graffiti fight had taken place in H&M and the girls had to wear the outcome. I still don’t know any of their names but I think they’ll do well this year, as the other groups feel a bit dated.  Their vocals aren’t even that strong but as they seem like nice girls, I hope they survive for a while.

NuVibe.  Poor babies. They sang as if they knew they didn’t deserve to be there. Their version of With Or Without You was kinda off. I think there were about four notes that didn’t sound horrendous. The boys should have known they were on borrowed time as they had the death spot and even Louis didn’t like them.

The Risk had moments where they sounded half decent and then others where they really didn’t. Luckily for them there’s no value in Syco splitting the boy band vote AND NuVibe were rubbish, so The Risk lived to sing another day. Regardless of their voices, their performance upset me for two reasons. One: they sang Bruno Mars and I feel like that man is plaguing my life. He is everywhere. Two: They were perched on chairs and didn’t do the stand up at the key change thing we’ve all come to expect. Proper shoddy work.   Continue reading

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Holy Flying Circus: Essence of Python for the 21st Century

I tuned into Holy Flying Circus with high hopes and a fair smattering of trepidation. I have loved Python since I first encountered it. I can (but won’t, I promise) quote the funny bits for hours on end. I have had a crush on Michael Palin since I was a teenager. “Re-imagining” the events around the release of the funniest (and most thoughtful) thing the Pythons ever did, Life of Brian, could easily have gone horribly wrong.

Not only did it not go wrong, Holy Flying Circus soared – it was the essence of Monty Python distilled for the 21st Century. It managed not only to be funny and insightful, but also quite moving too. It may not have been true to the actual events, but it was certainly true to the spirit of Python. Continue reading

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Holby City: Dig us out of this hole

(Series 14, Ep.1) A new series, and not much has changed (it’s only been a week, after all), apart from a few people have had haircuts. Among them is Eddi. Frieda, who so often says what the rest of us have been thinking, asks her if she got tired of the helmet head look. I do love Frieda. I do love Eddi, too, now that Tedious Josh has wheeled off into the sunset. This week Eddi was required to hold her ruler of professionalism against Chrissie to see if she measured up. Chrissie is striving to be a Nurse Practitioner, whatever one of those is (I think it involves wearing a suit, like Mark “Jesus” Williams used to do), and this means she has to pass a module in emergency medicine. Since everyone pretends A&E doesn’t exist most of the time, this means AAU and Eddi.

But this was a sub-plot. The meat of the story (vegetarian options are available) concerned Henrik Hanssen’s continuing attempts to salvage what’s left of the hospital’s reputation following the Bogus Boobs Debacle. Sir Fraser (I know I should hate him, but I rather like his icy cold eyes) installed a small team of experts to scrutinise all the hospital’s doings. Luckily one of them was an ex nurse, and when he pitched in to help Hanssen in one of those inevitable “Can we have some help here!” moments in a basement corridor, he witnessed the skill and passion of Holby’s finest Swedish medic. He couldn’t help but be impressed.   Continue reading

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Downton Abbey: Playing doctors and nurses

I’m still watching Downton Abbey during the current First World War period of action, but with less joy and pleasure than the previous one. There’s a rule Qwerty once explained to me about sitcoms and soaps. To work for the viewer, the action needs to take place in one setting. Downton isn’t a quite a soap or a sitcom, but the same applies as far as I’m concerned. I can cope with the Abbey becoming a hospital for injured officers. I watch Holby and Casualty, and know full well how much fun can be had from people playing doctors and nurses.

What I’m less keen on is all the moving of action between Downton and the tiny length of ditch representing the horrors of the trenches in France. It was batty that Matthew seemed to keep popping from place to place anyway. There wasn’t either Eurotunnel or regular weekends off as far I know from my visits to the Imperial War Museum.

Actually, do you know what? I don’t like the war setting full stop. I like my Sunday evening drama to be benign and predictable, largely taking place inside a lovely house, with pretty frocks, elegant soirees, lots of subtle interplay between the characters and bags of flirting and sexual tension. I don’t want Sunday night drama to be comprise, well, too much bloody drama. I don’t want my heroes to come back from the Front with a spinal injury and no operational sexual organs. It takes all the fun out of it.

Shallow? Why yes.

The subject matter of life, injury and death during any war distresses me, as it should of course. Poetry by Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon has enormous emotional resonance. I don’t take it lightly. In fact, I think we’re a nation still scarred and traumatised by war. During the First World War, shellshock was not recognised as a mental condition until long after many men had been shot for ‘cowardice’.

This is important stuff, but I don’t watch drama to be educated. I watch to be soothed and to be distracted from thinking about everyday troubles.

And in Downton Abbey, no-one can be happy in love. Everyone and everything in this series seems to be about being thwarted. The evil scheming Mrs Vera Bates, who looks like she might be quite a laugh to get hammered with, is hellbent on destroying her tedious estranged husband’s chances of happiness with saintly Anna. Earnest Nurse Lady Sybil wants to cop off with Tom the troublemaking Irish chauffeur but can’t because of their class differences. Continue reading

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Lustbox: Harry Pearce

As Spooks faces the final curtain on Sunday, and most of us cross our fingers for a happy ending for the top Spook and his favourite analyst, it seems
appropriate to welcome Harry Pearce and his almost-permanently clenched jaw into the PLA
Lustbox.

Spooks has given us much more conventional eye-candy over the years (Adam, Lucas and Dimitri, for example), but ten years’ exposure to Harry’s buttoned-up persona, super-dry wit and botched wooing of Ruth has left me with a soft spot for the head of Section D.

In our X Factor, look-at-me, sex-sells world, Harry’s understated, but always totally dedicated, approach shines like a  diamond in a pile of ordure.

Like my other favourite spy (Michael Westen), Harry may be the best in the intelligence business, but is undone time and again by his inability to manage his relationship with the woman he loves, Ruth Evershed.

Their relationship is like something out of a Jane Austen novel, all meaningful glances, misunderstandings, witty banter, brief touches of hands, bad timing and other people’s problems getting in the way. (Although as I recall, there weren’t quite so many dirty bombs and terrorists in Pride and Prejudice.)

I love the fact that the Harry and Ruth relationship has grown from the genuine affection and chemistry between Peter Firth and Nicola Walker. You really should hear the two of them talking on Radio 4 Extra while you can. Not only is it a lovely interview, it’s a chance to wallow in Peter’s wonderful voice too.

Now imagine that voice reading out these lines (just some of Harry’s greatest hits):

HOME SECRETARY: You know, back in my days as a student radical, our dreams were all about the glorious proletariat.
HARRY: We’ve still got those dreams on file somewhere.
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JOHN RUSSELL: What aren’t you telling me, Harry?
HARRY: John, I’ve been up all night, my psychic powers are at a low ebb. Please elaborate.
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FERNANDO TORRES: La vida no vale nada, as they say.
HARRY: Not an expression we hear very much around these parts, but then again we did have rather more success in seeing off the Spanish than you.
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HARRY: Did I not say to shut that bloody journalist up? We’re supposed to be MI-5, not the Stoke Newington branch of the Green Party.
linebreak
HARRY: I’m aware I have not played nicely with the other children.
HOME SECRETARY: Would it have killed you to pick up a golf club every once in a while?
HARRY: It may well have done, yes.
linebreak
DIMITRI: How was your, er, um, break?
HARRY: In one particularly dark moment I actually considered gardening.
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Farewell then Harry. All that remains is to keep our fingers crossed that he and Ruth get a good ending. For the rest of us, well, there’s always the boxed sets to fall back on…
Posted by Jo the Hat

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Strictly Come Dancing – It’s time to meet the Muppets…

Look, Strictly started it with Craig and Len doing their Statler and Waldorf impersonations. If they don’t want to draw our attention to the performers who are all startled expressions, fluff and jerky performances they shouldn’t lampshade them.

I’ll admit my heart sank at the concept of Broadway night. For one thing every night is pantomime night on the Strictly dancefloor, especially when it comes to the judges. Unlike the hair-trigger audience who appear to have been stuffed full of ’70s orange squash and pre-health and safety Smarties, my favourite of the judges is resident ‘villain’ Craig. He seems to me to be the only one judging dancing as opposed to national treasure status. And the day he finally loses it and punches Bruce on the nose for one of his homophobic comments will be Fab-u-lous.

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