HIM is a “domestic horror drama,” for those who like their genres mixed.
HE is, at first sight, your average antisocial, slightly messed up, weed-smoking teenager, forever staring at his phone or shut away with his headphones on. I’m going to have to refer to HIM as HE, because for some reason the writer (Paula Milne) has decided not to give HIM a name. This makes interactions with HIS family somewhat tricky – have you ever heard a parent give a kid a good telling off without mentioning their name at least once?
The set up is that HE (Fionn Whitehead, who is excellent) is the son of divorced parents (James Murray and Katherine Kelly), who have both moved on, found new partners and produced new children. HE has found HIMself pushed out, particularly by HIS father (nobody plays an arrogant twonk quite as beautifully as James Murray, and he’s a surgeon in this one – Holby City casting people, please make a note), whose house is full of studio-produced photographs of his “new” family – a wife who would rather ignore the fact that her husband has another family, plus their son and twins on the way. 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
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
(Series 5, ep.8) The episode featured a wedding, and who doesn’t love a wedding? Well, the bride’s mother and the groom’s father, for two, but that just added to the fun and made for an extremely awkward dinner party at the Crawleys’ London residence, as the families of Rose and Atticus apparently competed as to who could be the most offensive. I think Rose’s mother, Mrs Shrimpy (soon to be ex-Mrs Shrimpy) won that particular contest. The wedding itself was a tad low-key, though, but I suppose they hadn’t had long to arrange it because the happy couple only got engaged last week.
Thomas is now fully recovered from the side effects of his “gay cure” and had enough energy to join forces with temporary footman Andy in getting one over on Lady Violet’s scheming maid Denker. This involved a visit to ‘The Velvet Violin,’ which sounds more like a euphemism than a gambling den. Continue reading
(Series 5, ep.7) In possibly the most aristocratic thing they’ve ever done, we left Lord and Lady Grantham at the end of last night’s episode preparing to go to sleep with a dying dog in the bed with them. At least it’s got Lord G back in the marital bed after Mr Bricker’s midnight creep.
Lord G’s beloved Isis wasn’t at her best last week, and this week a vet delivered the terrible news that Isis is very soon destined for the Great Kennel in the Sky. Lord G is now carrying Isis everywhere rather like Tom Cruise carries Dakota Fanning everywhere in War of the Worlds. Continue reading
(Series 5, ep.5) At the moment I’m finding Downton entertaining but not unmissable, while the rest of the family have given up on it altogether. Basically, quite a lot happens, but not much happens. Each week the continuing stories get nudged forward a little, new characters appear and old ones disappear, but I don’t feel any strong story arc. Frankly, it’s feeling just a little bit stale.
So what was happening this week? The Dowager enlisted the doctor’s help to split Lord Merton and Mrs Crawley up, but then they both agreed that actually Lord M and Mrs C are quite well-suited.
Mrs Patmore inherited some money and asked Carson for investment advice just because he’s a man. Then she ignored the advice he gave – mainly because he’s a man, but also he doesn’t know anything about investments. Continue reading
(Series 5, ep.4) I watched this week’s Downton online on the ITV Player, for which I had to register. Then every fifteen minutes or so the gentility of country house life was punctuated by a loud woman wanting “to bust the myths about female intimate health.” This did not enhance my enjoyment of the programme, though the glimpses of Tom Hiddleston in the Jaguar car ads made up for it a bit.
To the action now, and Lady Mary bobbed up to London for an overnight stay, during which she visited a fashion show with her Aunt Rosamund and had dinner with Charles Blake. The real reason for her visit was to tell Lord Gillingham that she wouldn’t be marrying him. She arranged to meet him at the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. He must have felt all romantic meeting her there, but not when she told him that their week of lust in Liverpool hadn’t convinced her that he was the man for her. “Am I a bad lover?” he said anxiously. If only it was that simple. But the problem is that it doesn’t look like Tony is going to take no for an answer, and he still has the ace up his sleeve of being able to destroy Mary’s reputation if the truth about Liverpool became known. Continue reading
(Series 5, ep.3) You’d think in the pre CCTV, snail-mail world of 1924 Downton Abbey that it would be easy to keep things that took place in another city secret from your family. Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham thought they could relax in beautiful Liverpool, away from any tittle tattle and prying eyes. Unfortunately they were in Liverpool at the same time that the Dowager’s butler was in the city for a wedding. And he couldn’t wait to tell the Dowager. She covered beautifully for Lady Mary, then summoned her for a proper dressing-down about her racy behaviour. Apparently women aren’t supposed to let themselves be seduced without their mother’s prior approval.
It looks like Lady Mary might not be seeking Cora’s approval for any further seduction by Lord Gillingham anyway, because it seems that a week of hot Tony lovin’ hasn’t quite hit her spot as far as accepting him as the future Mr Lady Mary is concerned. Continue reading
Anyone who is anyone in the UK British soap magazine world knows that today, the results of the Inside Soap Awards 2014 are revealed, about half a year since they were launched. I call them the Inside Soap Awards 2014, but I prefer to know them as ‘The ‘Which Soap has the most dedicated multi-voting fans awards 2014.’
Either way, it’s got me thinking (dangerous stuff, I know) about the last year in the world of soap. Here, I reflect on a year of underwater escapades, murders of beautiful young women, collapsing attic floors, rooftop death dramas, dramatic house fires and Steve McDonald.
I know, given the fact that I write here about all soaps, that I should display some degree of impartiality, but I’ll openly declare that I have mostly voted Emmerdale this year. So, that’s as good a place to start as any. It’s been a blockbuster year in Britain’s most eventful village and not a leek show in sight. Instead of village fetes and sheep shearing, we’ve seen armed sieges, rooftop plunges and Charity Macey getting slapped about the chops with her husband’s meat tenderiser. Continue reading