I actually quite enjoy this version, truth be told. Not so much the personnel in question, who range from quite endearing to making you want to put your fist through the wall, but because they have some rather good challenges in this incarnation. The ingredient recognition test was always one of my favourites and I’m pleased to see it’s made a comeback, even though some of the items are insultingly simple. Red pepper, seriously?! Although I’d suppose you’d technically get brownie points for knowing it is a bell pepper, but this wasn’t adhered to.
The disparity between competence levels is both amusing and frustrating and makes you realise all the more they had to take who they could get, so thinly stretched is the ‘talent’ available. These Celeb versions littering the schedules rely on us, the ever-slavering public, giving two figs as to whether so-and-so who once presented something on an obscure cable channel is now able to boil an egg satisfactorily. You do get one or two bona fide big names per series, Vic Reeves being one this time round. Shame he couldn’t have been paired with Ulrika Jonsson. Or Ulrika-ka-ka, as she’s better known from their time on Shooting Stars. He might have relaxed her slightly. She looks like she’s being almost constantly tortured, which makes you wonder why she’s subjected herself to it. Oh yes, for cash probably. Continue reading
Burly miner struts across the Cornish cliff, rippling his muscles. ‘I’ve a message from Trenwith. Where’s Poldark…?’
‘He’s behind youuuuuu….!’
Sorry, I thought we’d got lost in panto-land for a minute. I’ve watched both the previous series and it seems they’re certainly ratcheting up the ham-factor this time round if the opening episode was anything to go by. Perhaps this is inevitable after the first couple of series – Downtown Abbey certainly suffered the same fate.
Maybe it’s the new telly I got last year, but the colours seem to be set permanently to one of those especially lurid filters, such as Lark or Juno, that you find on Instagram. Our three central heroines – Demelza, Elizabeth and Caroline look like Charlie’s Angels in olde worldy frocks or maybe a Timotei ad, so lustrous are their floating manes and improbably perfect white teeth and flawless complexions.
There was much consternation in the nation that Ross, Every-Woman’s eye-candy (hashtag #hotstuff), didn’t flash his torso in Episode One. Normal service was swiftly resumed in Episode Two, with Demelza’s brothers also plunging obligingly bare-chested into the sea for good measure.
No, Episode One was about LAYING ON THE DRAMA. Continue reading
‘I’m a pig in a sweetshop’. Ooh Wallace, with your Wildean bon mots, you are rillllly spoiling us. Actually, he said ‘kid’ not pig, but he doesn’t enunciate properly and it’s all much of a muchness with our fruit and veg man anyway. Yep, Masterchef, in all its infuriating glory, is back. So, what’s new? Well, they’ve got their names embroidered on their aprons, rather than one of those badges you get at conferences, so the budget must have been upped. Anything else? Yep, there’s a new challenge. ‘It’s called the market test’, announced Torode proudly, as if his toddler had just taken its first step. ‘We’ve built you a market.’ Woah, slow down there with these breakneck speed ideas. I thought he was going to say he’d built a brand new combine harvester! Continue reading
by Maggie Gordon-Walker
When you hear the words ‘boot camp’ you envisage bloodied, muddied, exhausted bodies staggering to a finish line. Something at the very least to stretch you. Back in the halcyon days of X Factor, when Simon still had passing acquaintance with a razor and Sharon looked older than she does now, I seem to remember they did about three challenges; numbers being whittled down painfully and agonisingly before the weary survivors learned their fate on a grand stage reminiscent of A Chorus Line. Now they had a right royal knees-up on Friday night on Cowell’s dollar, then the next day performed one song that they chose from a wide selection. Continue reading
British comedies with a central female character usually fall into two camps. If she is young, she must be impossibly cute and winsome; the main premise being her woeful love life, her quest to get hitched, or her attempts to have a baby. If she is older, it’s possibly all of the former, but more likely her status within her family, her juggling of her exceedingly busy life, or her illicit affair with Roger from Number 36. What drew me to the five-parter ‘Love, Nina’ was that it was less about her traditional role as female and more about a young person coming of age in London in the early eighties, working as a nanny for an eccentric family.
Faye Marsay was the titular heroine, a fairly under the radar actress, who will no doubt pop up more in the future. Cute, but not impossibly so, she captured that sense of gangling awkwardness of the just turned twenty but still feeling like a little girl and not quite knowing how to be grown-up. Padding barefoot between the supermarket, her yoga class and her almost-boyfriend Nunney’s house while trying to fathom her place in the brave new world she found herself in was captivating. She often puts her bare foot in it, frequently embarrassing herself, or acting thoughtlessly, but still very endearing. Continue reading
Filed under Comedy, Drama
by Maggie Gordon-Walker
I was in two minds as to whether to watch ‘The Durrells’. I read ‘My Family and Other Animals’ for the first time when I was about eleven and regard it as an exceptional work, parts of it still reduce me to helpless laughter. Like meeting your heroes, a misjudged adaptation can sour the original, especially if it’s on ITV, which recently gave us the mangled Dr Thorne.
Happily I can report this is not the case. I’ve not seen any of the other versions of it, but so far, this manages to capture both the spirit of the novel and the eccentricity of the family versus that of the islanders rather well. It follows the fortunes of the widowed Mrs Durrell and her four children as they flee a damp and depressing England to start a new life in Corfu in the 1930s. Larry, Leslie and Margo are young adults, Gerry, the narrator and author of the book, is the youngest and strikes terror into the hearts of his family by his fondness for bringing any number of living creatures (rampant gulls, scorpions and tortoises) into the house as pets to be admired. Continue reading
By Maggie Gordon-Walker
Hurrah, it’s olde worlde rural England. You can tell that from the font they’ve used for the titles. Ah yes, let’s settle down to a nice bit of light gossiping over the teacups – bloomin ‘eck! It’s all gone Midsomer Murders.
Ian McShane creeping about, looking sinister, wondering where all the antiques are, and then bumping someone off. Yes, brutally kills him, by, um, pushing him over. His victim doesn’t even bang his head. That’s a bit like lighting a match to a birthday cake and the whole thing going up in flames because someone’s secretly covered it in brandy. Unexpected. It certainly was for McShane who looked deeply puzzled that one push had proved fatal.
Phew, here we are in olde worlde England, a rural garden with some ladies and teacups. But, shield my eyes – the colours are so bright and garish they must have let a five year old with some Magic Markers loose on the film. It looks exactly like that Specsavers ident crossed with an Utterly Butterly ad. I couldn’t actually concentrate on what they were saying a) they were so OTT and b) I was wondering if a bee was going to alight on their floral headgear. But one of them was getting married and another one wasn’t going to be a bridesmaid. Continue reading
(Episodes 5 & 6) In the words of the great Mr Swayze; Nobody puts Napoleon in the corner. Contrary to my last report, he’s very far from calm and wants all of Russia for his plaything. The score for this drama has been wonderfully majestic and stirring, but I couldn’t help thinking of Ini Kamoze whenever Napoleon oiled his way onto the screen.
‘Here comes the French leader, Napoleon
He’s the ear-rubbing gangster, murderer
Splice all de men in de area, Napoleon
Or blow dem up like dat, murderer!’
He swaggers into the chandelier-laden glamping-style tent, flourishes his magnificent tassels and dulcetly informs hapless messenger Boris, ‘I am going to take your country.’ [Mr Bond] ‘But don’t worry, it’s not your fault.’ He will apparently be merciful to the Russians, he announces magnanimously, as if he’s doing them a favour. Continue reading
Three episode special!
Honestly, you wait YEARS for a bloke, then several turn up at once. So it is for Natasha, who’s all grown up and decided fringes are SO last season. As is any other facial hair. The nice, uncomplicated (once he’s got the prostitutes out of his system) David Mitchell lookalike is rejected, despite the splendour of his mazurka (and his moustache). Uber-villain Dolokhov twigs she prefers a clean-shaven look and being unwilling to shave off his own splendid ‘dot and dash’ restrains himself to a mere mental undressing of her before trying his luck with Sonya. That doesn’t work, for Sonya is far too sensible. Natasha – pay attention. Continue reading