Tag Archives: Gillian Anderson

War and Peace: Pass the Ferrero Rocher

by Maggie Gordon-Walker

war and peaceHaving never had one of those debilitating, but not too painful, illnesses that confine you to your bed for a couple of weeks, there hasn’t been time to read the epic that is ‘War and Peace.’ Now perhaps there’s no need, having this jolly romp to keep me going. Everything looks gorgeous, the people, the houses, the countryside.

The first scene is a grand party, with beautiful creatures flitting to and fro. I can’t help a momentary snigger when they address each other in names that take half a minute to say, Alex PopDownToTheShopsonov, that sort of thing. Into this veritable Eden lurches an outsider. You can tell he is, because he’s wearing ordinary clothes, rather than looking as if he’s wrapped himself in ornamental brocade curtains like everybody else. Also, GASP, he doesn’t regard Napoleon as the devil incarnate. He bowls about, gesticulating madly, while the ladies titter in the background.  Continue reading

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Halloween Special: TV’s Scariest moments

simpsons-shinning-treehouse-of-horror-homerWhat’s the best part about Halloween? Is it terrifying the elderly into handing over their possessions in exchange for you to leave them alone? Is it sticking on a pair of horns and going scantily clad to a drunken party which mildly passes itself off with a Halloween theme? Maybe it’s just a milestone which means it’s officially time to start panicking about Christmas. (Yeah, 7 weeks in case you’re wondering)

To us in Pauseliveaction, Halloween means one thing and one thing only. The chance to reflect on those spooktacular TV moments that made us hide behind a cushion in sheer terror, spilling our Fizzy Haribo ghost and ghouls shapes all over the blood red carpet. So without further a-boo, here is my rundown of some of the most ghoulish TV moments of all time…


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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?


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…


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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Great Expectations (episode 3): Show me the money

But Pip! Me 'air's long now, an I looks like a gentleman.

So the Beeb’s Xmas showpiece reached its conclusion last night with Pip in a jam. Not only was the arrival of Magwitch a serious embarrassment to a young man with pretensions, but it left him with the problem of how to get rid of a villain wanted by both the constabulary and the rascally Compeyson. The latter, who was the ruffian from the fens and Miss Havisham’s old swain, had offered a reward of £1000 for Magwitch. Enough to tempt Orlick from the forge into making some mischief. Though to be fair Pip had crossed Orlick so many times he’d likely have interfered for nothing. How would Pip to get Magwitch to safety? Why, by leaving it to Wemmick and Herbert of course, while he was left free to make pained expressions and high-mindedly refuse anymore of Magwitch’s lucre.

Pip’s facial rictus became yet more pronounced when he found that Estella was to marry Bentley Drummle. This pushed him to stop forelock tugging and finally tell Miss Havisham a few home truths. Whether it was this or her continued rejections by Estella I’m not sure, but Miss H was inspired to test the flammability of her old wedding dress (while wearing it), giving Gillian Anderson a terrific death scene to top a riveting performance.

Let go! I want to marry that Drummle over there. His sneer's well-cool.

Generally things were conspiring to grind Pip’s (by now extremely taut) face in his former smugness, and the revelation that Estella was actually Magwitch’s daughter was just one of many hammer blows. From here we rather galloped to the denouement, leaving quite a few loose ends along the way.


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Great Expectations (episode 2): I know thee not old man (and possibly old woman)

I look nothing like Hercule Poirot, okay?

So Pip is off to a strangely smoke- and horseshit-free London to claim his fortune. For us this affords the pleasure of a closer look at David Suchet’s Mr Jaggers. An expert turn this, from an old trooper. Not only do we get the cold efficiency of a man whose skills are completely dedicated to Mammon, but also the merest hint of exasperation at the fecklessness of the young bucks for whom he has responsibility. One feels quite sorry for him really, especially as Pip immediately sets out on the predictable trajectory of a lad with more money than sense.

New furniture, tailored clothes, fine wines, an effete accent and squiggly handwriting: it seems that the nouveau-flush Pip doesn’t want to deny himself any indulgence. The only thing he doesn’t seem to have is a moral compass, a feature accentuated by the contrast with Herbert Pocket, his guide to the world of the gentry, who has given up money for love. Joe Gargery arriving at Pip’s gentleman’s club like the ghost of plebs past provokes mortification. As I said yesterday Joe is played by Shaun Dooley with a harder edge than in many other versions and this sharpens the chill in his relations with Pip. Rather than a confused buffoon we get a man with pride and integrity who loves Pip and is heartbroken by his slide into dilettantism. Still, with Pip’s post-Twilight looks I’m not sure how Joe could ever have thought he was blacksmith material.

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Great Expectations (episode 1): Who’s the sugar daddy?


Who you calling scum?

Certain things in life are inevitable. Death and taxes, said Benjamin Franklin, but he might have added the certainty that one day Ray Winstone would loom out of a misty fen to scare the shit out of Pip in a Christmas production of Great Expectations. The move from being a prisoner  mashing someone’s head with a sock full of snooker balls in Scum to being an escaped prisoner (Magwitch) threatening to cut out Pip’s throat allows Ray to show us his full range. Luckily for him, Pip is a blacksmith’s boy and well-placed to help file off some inconvenient fetters (which in true Scum-style immediately become a very convenient cosh). Alas to no avail as Magwitch, after  stopping to wrestle another ruffian,  is soon hauled off by the local soldiery.

Pip is not short of other grotesques in his life however, a number soon added to by his summons to the house of eccentric toff Miss Havisham.  The reassuring familiarity of Sexy Beast Winstone as a hooligan is more than balanced by the shock of Gillian Anderson popping up playing Miss H.  It seems a mere eye-blink ago that she was the sexy, sceptical Scully in the X-files and an object of fantasy for adolescent boys everywhere. How can she now be the ghostly jiltee with the cobwebby wedding cake? Clearly celebs age faster than the rest of us. It’s why they need all that plastic surgery and personal training.  It does suggest some interesting possibilities though; I’m already looking forward to next year’s TV with Justin Beiber taking over as Grandpa in my Pocket. Continue reading


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The Crimson Petal and The White

The Crimson Petal and The White continues to be the highlight of the TV week for me. Episode two kicks off with another of Sugar’s (Romola Garai) fantasies whereby she wakes William Rackham (Chris O’Dowd) with a red-hot poker. In reality it’s a gentle hand on his chest, and she’s soon planting the seed in Rackham’s mind of acquiring more salubrious surroundings for their liaisons. “I’ll be carried off by the cholera by the time I’m twenty five,” she warns him, when he moans about the smell in her rooms. She’s well aware that Rackham is worth a bit, having rifled through his briefcase whilst being – ahem – taken from behind in the last episode, (commendable multi-tasking) and checking out his address.

Meanwhile, Rackham’s brother, Henry (Mark Gatiss) continues his visits to Mrs Fox (Shirley Henderson) – who happens also to be the sister of the evil doctor Curlew played menacingly by Richard E Grant. Poor Mrs Fox is clearly ailing, though Henry seems oblivious to this fact, so captivated by her that the first rule of period drama completely eludes him (the first rule being; if someone coughs, they’ll be dead by the end of the episode). When this is finally pointed out to him, Henry questions his very faith, and burns his bibles and himself, fantasising in his final moments about finally getting it on with the Foxy Mrs F.

Mrs Rackham (Amanda Hale) visits a pale and emaciated friend, with something of the Lady Gaga about her, who introduces her to a new health regime – a diet of green beans, supplemented by the occasional spoonful of well strained oxtail soup (no doubt it will feature in the Daily Mail  health section next week). Basically, we’re talking anorexia, with added pills (no doubt opium) washed down with ‘Godfrey’s cordial’. By the time she gets home, Mrs R is as high as a kite, looking strangely serene at dinner with her husband, until she reveals that the reason for her newfound calm is that she has a ‘guardian angel’ (this being Sugar, spied from her window at the end of episode 1). Poor old Rackham – it put him right off his grub.

It turns out that Mrs Castaway (Gillian Anderson, reminding me, at times of an evil version of Dorcas Lane from Lark Rise to Candleford – not sure why) isn’t just Sugar’s ‘Madam’, but is her mother as well.  When Rackham announces that he wishes to take Sugar away from her, their parting is choked with words left unsaid, although Sugar’s initial joy at being given a place of her own is very touching. Feeling out of place and lonely however, she keeps popping back to see her old friends, one of whom asks if she’s actually fond of Rackham. Sugar responds that she’s ‘used to him’, and when he’s away, ‘misses the world that comes with him’. Despite her protestations, one gets the impression that Sugar is becoming quite fond of Rackham. Although he has the cash, she clearly wields the power in the relationship. Continue reading

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