Author Archives: Velocity Girl

Lustbox: Gillian Anderson

INTERIOR . Meeting Room. Several people in office attire sit around a table.

HEAD OF DEPT: Now, if we can just get underway…

A woman in her late twenties, VELOCITY GIRL, bursts in, looking dishevelled.

VG: I am SO SORRY I am so late…

HEAD OF DEPT (wearily): What was it THIS time, VG? Broken down car? Cat vomit?

VG: No, actually it was *pauses* Gillian Anderson.

IT CHAP: What, the Thunderbirds dude?

WOMAN FROM ACCOUNTS: No, you twat, that was GERRY ANDERSON.

FACILITIES MANAGER: You mean her that was Agent Scully in the X Files?

VG: Yes!

OFFICE ADMINISTRATOR: She was so good in that, she was serious enough to play a sceptical Dr…

Image

IT CHAP: …whilst still being proper phwoar enough to win FHM’s Sexiest Woman In The World in 1996!

VG: The very same.

HEAD OF DEPT: So what happened to her after she was in it – she seemed to disappear for ages…

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Scott and Bailey: “If she says it’s Wednesday, then it’s Wednesday”

Regular readers of pauseliveaction may recall our love for Scott and Bailey and our excitement at its return. Turns out, it’s back slightly earlier than expected. Who knew that ITV knew a good thing when they saw it?

For newcomers, Scott and Bailey is a series based around the activities of the Major Incident Team (which, as one character points out, seems to deal almost exclusively in murders) of a Manchester-based police force. Its particular focus is on two of its officers; Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) and Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones). At first glance you’d think it was the archetypal chalk/cheese pairing with a healthy dollop of Wimmins Ishoos. It’s true that the younger Bailey is at times the hotheaded counterfoil to the more centred and professional Scott and that we see much of their respective personal lives. But both characters are portrayed as rounded individuals, capable of the same flaws and talents as, well, anybody. Tribute must be paid to both the terrific acting of Sharp and Jones and also to the perfect casting. Sharp’s enigmatic stillness and Jones’ nervy, emotional intensity are perfect both for their individual roles and for each other. They are perfectly balanced and entirely believable as a partnership.

It also says much for the acting and writing that other characters get a chance to shine alongside such a strong central relationship. Amelia Bullmore is terrific as Scott and Bailey’s boss Jill Murray and again the fact that the senior figure is a woman is perfectly done in that it is believable but not overplayed. The episode begins in the toilets with Scott and Bailey psyching up Murray before she goes into front of the TV cameras. But  at the same time you feel that the only relevance of their gender to this scene is that they are all the same so can be in the same toilet. No jokes are made about women in charge by the respectful, professional men around them. However, the minute this is hinted at, this is slapped down. A special mention must also go to Pippa Haywood as the head of another police syndicate, whose outrageous banter with Murray is almost worth the asking price alone. Continue reading

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Hacks: Watch All About It

Another New Year’s Day, another New Year’s Headache. And that was just from watching Sherlock. Thankfully, Channel Four are, as ever, on hand to provide something a bit less cerebral but even more fun.

Michael Kitchen as Stanhope Feast

Welcome to Hacks, telly’s first proper (fictional) pop at the phone hacking scandal that turned last year entirely upside down (thus making it 1105, by my reckoning) (sorry). The newspaper in question is the fictional Sunday Comet (motto – “Let The Truth Be Heard”) owned by the fictional Australian media magnate Stanhope Feast (Michael Kitchen, being good value as always) and watched over by the fictional new Prime Minister David Bullingdon (Alexander Armstrong being, well, Alexander Armstrong) but like all of these spoof docudrama things, it’s pretty damn obvious what’s actually what.

Pretty Damn Obvious is probably a fair description of Hacks. Its trajectory almost exactly mirrors real life events. And therein lies the problem – as Peter Kay found when he tried to satirise Reality TV with Britain’s Got The Pop Factor etc etc, it is impossible to spoof something that is already absurd. Hacks doesn’t tell us anything that we don’t already know and haven’t already thought.

Having said this, it’s still good, if somewhat cartoonish, fun. It’s written by Guy Jenkin of Drop The Dead Donkey and Outnumbered fame and the dialogue is predictably as superb in parts. In fact, it makes up a large part of my notes. “I’ve seen more of Ashley’s cock than Cheryl has – we’ve had to install more memory to cope with it”, “I won’t have a word said against the Royals – they always die on Saturdays so we can break the story on a Sunday”, “Our Weather Forecast is too depressing; I want less rain”, the newspaper headline that reads “BBC Bosses Gave Cake To Terrorists”; it’s pretty much spot on throughout. It even stops to make a few pithy observations on the way – my personal favourite being “they are ashamed they were scared of us so now they’re going to destroy us”. My favourite line, however, concerns the sacking of Mystic Marilyn. I won’t spoil it for you here, but suffice to say it sums up the programme nicely – glaringly obvious but still strangely hilarious. Continue reading

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Strictly Come Dancing: Comfort And Joy

Well, hullo. I really didn’t expect to be back here after last time. Me and Strictly were finished. The love had died, it was trying too hard and I discovered a new Saturday Night Chippy (The Blue Dolphin in Hastings, in case you’re interested – half-price gherkins if you mention PLA. Probably)

Anyway, thanks to The Quirks of Fate*(*The Blogging Rota) here I am for The Final! So, Strictly, can you win my love back? You feelin’ lucky?

Following the handy rundown of previous weeks and their themes – Broadway = Good, Halloween = Bad, Wembley = Ugly and Movies = Yawn – we now find ourselves at The Final in BLACKPOOL! It’s just like Old BLACKPOOL Times! After the Wembley Dancing Disaster 2011 (for all you Bee Gees fans out there),Blackpool actually works brilliantly for the final. It’s exciting, atmospheric, spacious yet doesn’t have that Bloody Awful Echo (…Bloody Awful Echo) (Sorry).

I Saw Three Chariots Come Strutting By

And the Opening Number. Oh My God. The dancers come out dressed as Gladiators to LIVING ON A PRAYER. Despite the fact that Artem really does still look far too nice to leave anybody off his Christmas Card list never mind kill them, they do damn well. And just when you think it can’t get any better: a) there is That Key Change (still The Greatest Moment In Rock in my opinion) and b) At the key change the finalists come in on giant foam Chariots! Bonus points to Chelsee Healey for belting the song out like she’s on a Hen Night. It’s camp, hysterical, entirely unnecessary and possibly the best thing I’ve seen on telly all year (take that, jumper-toting Swedish lady!).  Continue reading

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Strictly Come Dancing: Dear Strictly

It’s more than 12 hours after my once-beloved SCD finished last night. I am still in shock. So much so that this blog is going to be a different kettle of fish to previous missives on the subject. You’ll have to forgive me, dear reader – it has, as they say, Been Emotional.

Dear Strictly,

We’ve had some wonderful times, you and me. When we first met, I hated Saturday Night Telly, with its mix of gaudy gameshows, Dad’s Army, dry documentaries about Cholera and Noel Bloody Edmonds. I knew nothing about dancing and you were much derided for being a throw-back to a dying era. People (hi Mum!) said we would never work.

You came, with your random mix of people off the telly, off the Olympics and quite often off their heads. Your sequins sparkled. Your judges were daring but fair, caring only about the dancing and not about themselves. You had a slightly-neglected old-school host whom everyone was delighted to see again, who was merely grateful to regain his rightful place on primetime telly. More than anything else, you were characterized by your good humour. Sure, people were called “contestants”, but they were participants rather than competitors. They were encouraged to do well and by and large did so, or at least had a ball. Who knew that woman who got bashed about by Phil Mitchell on Eastenders would be so good? That Julian Clary would be so bad? Who even knew who Kara Tointon was?

I loved you, Strictly. But more to the point, everybody loved you. Which meant everybody wanted a piece of you and everybody wanted to be like you. ITV looked longingly at your ratings success as you tore up Saturday Nights. They came up with this thing called X Factor. It was just a tired old rehash of its previous entries into the class that I like to handily term Pop Factory Crap. How could it ever trouble you, Strictly? You were a class apart, you didn’t need all that. You had series after series of Feelgood Glory, where it was simply about the Dancing rather than the ridiculous sideshows.

But tragically, people lapped up the Pop Factory Crap in their millions. And you got scared, Strictly, You thought that every person that watched that wouldn’t want you anymore and that THIS was the future.

So you changed, Strictly. Firstly, you ditched one of your original judges for being Too Old. She was in fact younger than the oldest judge who was a man, but somehow that didn’t seem to matter to you.

BLACKPOOL!

Despite this, we were ok for a while. You still had lots of good dancers and did laudable things like going to Blackpool (BLACKPOOL!). It wasn’t quite like the olden days, but it looked like you were going to get your spark back. 

Where It All Started Going Wrong

Then you got a gift, Strictly. Ann Widdecombe. She couldn’t dance and didn’t care. People were split in their Marmite-style camps. But it was impossible not to have an opinion, so everyone did. Everybody was talking about you, writing about you, watching you again. It felt GOOD.

But it went to your head, Strictly. And look at you now. Bloated and self-satisfied. 100 minutes long! Even my patience is exhausted by the end, so it’s no wonder even the participants have apparently well and truly had enough. Sitting through endless smug jokes by Sir Brucie, who continues to think people watch the show simply for his grandstanding, tired old nonsense. Through puerile VTs prior to each dance designed simply to fill time with stupid, children’s tv-style antics? Through look-at-me use of props that add nothing to the dancing (except for Artem and Holly’s number, which was clever and beautifully choreographed)? Continue reading

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Strictly Come Dancing – Amazing Jase and the Boa-Constricted

Following on from OMITS’ sterling work, it is now my turn to take my rightful place in the Shadow of the Glitterball. From the safety of my laptop, you understand – me on a dancefloor is the sort of occasion that court orders were invented for.

Nothing unusual to report on the first bit, same as ever i.e. Bruce making the sort of jokes found on the floor of a Christmas cracker factory whilst Tess vacantly looks on in a dress that gives her that whole “toilet roll holder they forgot to finish” vibe. Has the show taken a leaf out of X-Factor and started theming? If so, this week must be Ghastly Novelty Fancy Dress week.

First up, Harry Judd from McFly. He too seems to have embraced the Fancy Dress theme by coming as a darts player. Meanwhile, his partner Aliona looks a bit like that girl that murdered her dad in Coronation Street. Despite this inauspicious start, their Cha Cha Cha (or Cha cubed, for those of you as sad as me), to probably the most insanely catchy pop song of the last 5 years is a lot of fun. A bit jerky and uncertain, for sure. But he’s an enthusiastic performer and they do seem to have chemistry. The whole thing is very enjoyable right up until the point where Bruno starts talking about spunk. I of course missed the next bit whilst I threw up but apparently they scored quite well. I did however make it back in time to see the non-dancing celebrities awkwardly mingling in the background and was struck by the similarities between Robbie Savage’s grinny facial expression and that of Roland Rat. Has anybody ever seen them both in the same room? Postcards to the usual address.   Continue reading

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Herb Alpert – Brass, Bopping and the Battle for BBC Four

It’s 8:35 on a Sunday evening and I am ironing. Only television can make this experience tolerable. But what shall I watch? I flick idly through the channels, until I come to the most spectacularly incongruous and unexpected sight; Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass!

Not only Herb Alpert but also his Tijuana Brass

Somewhat unbelievably, whoever it is programming BBC4 spotted a 25 minute gap in the schedule on a Sunday night in August in 2011and decided that the most obvious thing to fill this with would be archive BBC footage of Herb Alpert and co from the 1960s apparently miming to a selection of their light jazz hits on a set made to look like a beach scene but is quite clearly actually a draughty warehouse on an industrial estate in Slough.

So – is it any good? Well, most of Herb’s fellow band members look like accountants, used car salesmen or unholy mustachioed cross-breeds of both. Large parts of the set look prone to collapse at any moment. Festooned around it are glamour girls quite possibly plucked from the typing pool to gamely bop along. Herb himself seems to alternate between knowing hipster cool and huge embarrassment at the fact that his jazz legend dreams seem to have dissolved into delivering horrendously bad scripted puns about Mexicans whilst miming along to pre-recorded bilge like Spanish Flea.

Strangely, I wrote this blog before I found this picture. Cosmic, man.

To answer the question – yes, it is BRILLIANT. The bad bits are hugely entertaining and a welcome antidote to the po-faced, tedious “all about the music, man” attitude that seems to have a hold on modern music problems. Jools Holland, I am looking straight at you. And speaking of Jools Holland, Herb Alpert’s “presenting” makes Jools look like Melvyn Bragg in comparison. But the music, unexpected, is superb. There is little in the way of razzle-dazzle, besides the set. The band simply plays nice tunes in smart suits and Herb tells us a little about each song in between. There are no winks to camera by clueless shrieking presenters in Motorhead t-shirts that have probably been bought from Top Shop half an hour ago (Fearne Cotton, come on down!), no vox pops with witless audience members bussed in and pumped up with Red Bull, Smirnoff Ice and god only knows what else. It is Proper Music on a Proper Television Programme. I know I have essentially become my dad here but I remain unbowed – how sad it is that all of these things have become a novelty in music programming? A programme where one is simply allowed to enjoy the music?

Plus, there’s a wider point to be made here. This is on BBC4. Where else is this being broadcast? I accept the point that there are channels like Sky Arts but I don’t want to watch only what is “cool” or “worthy” and I don’t want to have to pay some communications-tampering Australian in order to do it. I want to watch it on my television, like I just have done. I want the opportunity just to stumble on these things without planning first, to get the singular pleasure of really enjoying something you would probably never have planned to watch in a million years – which I just have done. The BBC has tons of this archive footage. I don’t want to go to an archive or even go online to view it – it should be enjoyed on television, as it was originally designed to be. Continue reading

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