Tag Archives: Susan

The Apprentice 711: Columbus at the Coliseum

Gratuitous pic of Tre from Series Three

In the normal run of things I don’t generally miss an Apprentice candidate once they’ve felt the wrong end of the pointy finger. I think back to the start of this series and can barely recall those who fell early. Alex? Felicity? Edward? (I had to look them up.) Even ones I thought I’d miss like Ellie (too normal for her own good) and Edna (off her head; leather gloves) are gone from my affections. Watching The Apprentice makes Roman emperors of us all. We sit on our comfy thrones watching funny little people doing crazy things for our amusement. If one of them gets gored by a lion, or whatever it was that went on in the Coliseum (why should I be expected to know this when other people think Columbus was the potato guy?), we just say ‘Who’s next?’ The Apprentice juggernaut is far bigger than its candidates.

Very occasionally a personality impresses itself so indelibly that it is remembered after its sell-by date. Stuart Baggs from the last series for instance; and I’ve always had a soft spot for Tre from Series Three because he was so stroppy and interesting. I might have to face up to the fact that actually I just really fancied Tre. But generally I don’t miss anyone after they’ve gone, except Margaret.

All that said, this week I did find myself missing Melody and her over-defined enunciation just a bit. I would have loved to have seen her in Helen and Tom’s team, insisting that ac-tu-ally it was Charlie Raleigh who liked to smoke potatoes and Byron studied poetry at Yale with Al Gore. I would also have been interested to see if Helen and Tom still decided to choose a nodding BNP bulldog equivalent of a restaurant with Melody present. Say what you like about Melody, go on, you know you want to, but she certainly didn’t look ‘100% British.’ Which was the best thing about her.

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The Archers: Beyond an Artichoke

Waaaah! I just found out that Hell-en is my mother.

I have a strange sense of déjà vu from when Shula was preggers with the uncharming Daniel. During that time, which surely went on for considerably longer than the regulation nine months, my default position was to yell, ‘That’s just TOO MUCH SODDING INFORMATION’ at the radio. I now find myself doing exactly the same, whenever Hell-en pops up to tell us earnestly about the triple-test, the pros and cons of water birth, or the position she fancies giving birth in (I guess she feels she’s owed an interesting position, having missed out on one to conceive the sprog). At least I can shout at the radio or pop outside for a brief sob. Poor Kirsty, Hell-en’s main confidante, has no option but to listen. It’s no wonder something snapped the other day and she came over all sarky and abrasive.

‘I had to talk to the midwife about a birth plan’, simpered Hell-en. ‘Ooh, a plan’, sneered Kirsty, her voice dripping in contempt, ‘Bet you liked that!’

Hell-en laughed uncertainly, then started banging on about tests for Down’s Syndrome.

‘What would you do if the tests showed up positive?’ Kirsty asked, bluntly. ‘It’s very unlikely’, Hell-en blustered.  ‘Yes’, insisted newly stroppy Kirsty, ‘But what if it WAS?’  ‘I’d have the baby anyway of course’, smarmed Hell-en.

As this exchange took rather a long time, and seemed to be sign-posted in big purple capital letters, it made me suspect the Hell-en pregnancy storyline will be filled with uncertain test results and all the resulting issues of the day: what if your result is a bit iffy? Should you have an amniocentesis? What are the stats for younger women having babies with Down’s? Will Hell-en be more or less insufferable if her baby has a disability?

Poor us. Poor baby. And poor, poor Kirsty.

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The Archers: Episode of the Year

So this is why we listen to the Archers. Why we stick with it through thick and thin. Why it’s worth our huge investment of time and sanity. Because very occasionally – rather less than once in a blue moon – there is a superb episode that sparkles like a well-polished beer mug hanging in the Bull. Not that the glasses are that clean at the moment, what with Fallon up to her eyes and Jolene trailing round the village like that mad caped bint in the Scottish Widows advert.

Ker-ching!

Alice and Christopher’s triumphant return from America to announce their quickie Vegas marriage was the episode of the year. From Jenny’s appalled ‘I’m related to a Horrobin!’ to Brian’s, ‘Well darling, you’ll just have to think of it as her starter marriage’, there was so much to enjoy. From Susan whooping for joy and getting hammered on Cava, to Neil shyly offering to give the newly-weds the handsome gift of, er, a peal of church bells (thanks Neil but I’d rather have a set of steak knives), every perfectly delivered line was a thing of joy forever.

This is why we’re with the Archers for the long haul. We know these people as well as we know our real friends (sorry, I know they’re real, I mean our non-Ambridge friends). When something out of the ordinary happens, as it does so rarely in Borsetshire as in life, we want them to behave as we know they would do, from our long and sometimes dreary study of their personalities. There’s nothing more frustrating than following a series in which people behave out of character simply to serve some ridiculous plot-twist.

This episode  was sheer class and rang true in every particular (apart from what Alice and Christopher see in each other, other than both being as boring as a wet weekend in Penny Hasset). Susan’s chavvy excitement at marrying into the Aldridges, Jennifer’s horrified snobbish wail of despair, and Brian reacting with urbane upperclass calm, pointing out that at least they’d saved on the cost of the wedding. Ooh it were marvellous.

After all these turgid weeks of Brenda, Kate, Kathy, Jude, bees, graffiti, New Zealand campers and the appalling village fete, when some of us were ready to hang  up our radios, how blessed we are. Yes, it’s manipulative: like a Vegas fruit machine that mostly sneers at you but very occasionally pays up with three strawberries, the Archers sucks you in and keeps you hanging around on the off-chance that a jackpot will come up. Last night, thank goodness, it did.

Posted by Qwerty. Listen to this episode here though be quick.

Read more posts about the Archers here.

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The Archers: Tipping Point

So glad someone's finally applied my theory to something meaningful

Malcolm Gladwell described a ‘tipping point’ as a moment of critical mass. He used it to explain how crime dropped dramatically in New York in the 1990s, but here I will apply it to something far more important: The Archers. I fear my favourite programme is on the verge of a tipping point, from which there is no return.

It’s been flirting with danger for some time, but The Archers has now almost reached the point at which the number of staggeringly irritating plots outweigh the enjoyable story-lines. Soon the whole edifice will come crashing down. It’s not just me who feels this way. Only the other night this comment appeared on The Archers message board: ‘Could someone get my radio back please? It’s in the garden and I’d get it myself but I’m just phoning the glazier.’  This cri de coeur was triggered by the episode in which Helen discovers she is pregnant. Right there with you, glazier-pal. Hell-en is unbearable whether she’s happy or sad, but happy is definitely worse.

Here are eleven pieces of evidence to support my thesis that The Archers is becoming so utterly annoying, it’s only a matter of days before every listener turns off their radio simultaneously at 7.05 pm, producing a surge of power to the National Grid large enough to cause a tsunami or earthquake (or something – haven’t quite sketched this part out properly yet).

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The Archers: A riot of ennui

And cut! Grandma, can you tell us how you did that pattern on the top? Wake up, Grandma.

Everyone’s got their favourite. I’ve got loads. My most recent is from just the other day. It’s the one where Josh films Jill making steak and kidney pie. He might just as well have painted a wall and set the camera to record it for fifteen minutes. If I tell you that the only vaguely interesting thing that happened was Kenton referring to the pie as ‘snake and pygmy’, it’ll give you some idea.

Boring episodes of the Archers. Lord knows, there’s an embarrassment of riches to choose from. All which feature the flower and produce show, for instance; and there’s so many of those, is it any wonder that Bert Fry has taken to phoning in his surprise at being awarded a rosette for the biggest marrow? All which centre around harvest festival, Easter or other Anglican red-letter day, and their counterpart, any based round a service in St Stephens, can be added to the teetering mound of mundanity. And naturally, any one in which Tom reveals that his sausages are organic. The presence of Tom alone counteracts any other possible excitement. He neutralises heists, earthquakes and Lilian’s giggle at a stroke.

Fanoflinda recalls fondly a particularly soporific episode in which Phil (god rest his soul) and Jill were showing holiday snaps. ‘Look at Jill in that hat!’ the poor actors were forced to cry. You could hear the sounds of their careers being flushed down the toilet – or you would have, if the flushing loo sound effect hadn’t been deemed too interesting.

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