Archive | Featured articles

Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


June 13, 2008

Review: Wicked

Posted on June 13, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Wicked

Where: Apollo Victoria Theatre, London 
When: 7.30pm Mondays–Saturdays, 2.30pm matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays
How long: Two hours 50 minutes with a 20 minute interval
How much: £15-£60 (concessions available)
Tickets from: 0844 826 8400 or www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Okay, I'll admit that musicals aren't really my thing. But when you get given a "dinner and theatre" Red Letter Day by a nice person, there's not much to choose from except musicals: Wicked seemed the best option by far. 

I'm glad I went though, since despite the "tourist trap" rep and obvious singing and dancing, it's quite a fun evening out.

Continue reading "Review: Wicked"

June 13, 2008

Review: Andy McNab's Tour of Duty 1x1

Posted on June 13, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Andy McNab's Tour of Duty

In the UK: Tuesdays, 10pm, ITV4

Sometimes it's hard to be a man. Probably not as hard as it is to be a woman, what with the glass ceiling, low relative pay rates, systematic oppression by religions, etc. But it's still hard, sometimes.

Indeed, being 'hard' is one of those issues that affects men more than women. Just as (apparently) you can never be too thin – or have too much hair – if you're a woman, you can never be too hard if you're a man. 

Clearly, that's not true though. If you live in a city, are a teenage boy and everyone has knives or guns, trying to be hard is probably going to get you killed, so it's not always a good thing. But as books like Amazing Tales For Making Men Out of Boys, have demonstrated, in times of war or emergency, it's a great thing to be since you're going to end up saving lives. You're going to be a hero.

If you draw up a hierarchy of hardness – since no matter how hard you are, there's always someone harder than you – the SAS are going to be very near the top. Andy McNab, who led the ill-fated Bravo 20 SAS mission during the last Gulf War, has spent the last two decades writing books about fictional hard men, but now he's fronting a new documentary series for 'man's channel' ITV4 about the real deal.

Called Andy McNab's Tour of Duty, it aims to show what it's like for both UK and US soldiers who have been fighting in the Middle East and to show great battalions of British men what real-life heroes are like. Which is a laudable aim, even if it does involve SHOUTING EVERY WORD.

Continue reading "Review: Andy McNab's Tour of Duty 1x1"

June 12, 2008

Today's Joanna Page: Mine All Mine

Posted on June 12, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Mine All Mine

Today's proper Today's Joanna Page is Russell T Davies's Mine All Mine. Stick around Who-ers and Torchwood-ers, this might be about a girl but there's something in it for you as well.

Just kidding. I am awful, aren't I?

Now Russell T Davies has been mentioned rather a lot on this blog and it's not always been positive - which is a little unfair. So I thought I'd first take a moment to give some well deserved praise and thanks to the great RTD.

  • Thank you RTD for enlivening children's TV in the 80s and early 90s with shows such as Dark Season and Century Falls.
  • Thank you RTD for writing for Touching Evil. While I didn't like the UK version of the show much, the US version, which used your scripts, remains one of my favourite shows of all time.
  • Thank you RTD for rescuing us from stultifying conformity by increasing the range and number of gay characters on television, whether in shows you contributed to such as The Grand, or shows you created such as Bob & Rose, Torchwood and, of course, Queer as Folk. The effect can be seen as far afield as Footballers' Wives and Caerdydd
  • Thank you RTD for casting David Tennant
  • Thank you RTD for bringing back Doctor Who and revolutionising Saturday night television

Most of all though, thank you RTD for your “stealth Welsh” initiative.

The Welsh on television pre-RTD
It's hard to remember what television was like before Russell T Davies. For years, Welsh actors and characters either didn't get a look in or were there for comedy value. Back in the 70s, it was Pobol Y Cwm on BBC1, just before kids television started and that was about it. No, Ivor the Engine doesn't count.

Come the 80s, S4C started up and took Pobol Y Cwm with it. That left mainstream TV with Ruth Madoc in Hi-De-Hi, and the hysterical John Sparkes as Siadwell in Naked Video and in Absolutely. Catherine Zeta Jones's turn in The Darling Buds of May before her move to Hollywood helped up the Welsh profile a bit, but she never played any roles with her own accent - something that's been true for the vast majority of Welsh actors and actresses since. As for shows set and filmed in Wales, they were pretty few and far between - can you think of any?

Then along came Russell T Davies (joined by Julie Gardner later on) with his “stealth Welsh” initiative - his plan to “normalise” the Welsh accent as a feature of British TV shows, get Welsh people represented on-screen and to create a viable TV industry in Wales.

And he's doing it, too. There's Torchwood and Doctor Who filmed in Wales, with Welsh actors and Welsh characters; Gavin & Stacey does likewise, coming in those programmes' “Cool Cymru” wake. They're all some of the most popular programmes on their respective networks (BBC2, BBC1, BBC3).

There's a long way to go still and the scaling back of DW and Torchwood from 13 episodes plus specials to four and five episodes next year respectively, coupled with the impending end of Gavin & Stacey altogether, suggest it could all fall apart again. A certain Joanna Page, for example, has even remarked that's she's been to auditions, asked to do the role in her own accent, and been told "It's fine for you to have any regional accent apart from Welsh". But look how much he's achieved.

No wonder Cardiff is thinking of erecting a statue of the man.

But the first real strike in his “stealth Welsh” plan wasn't with the BBC - it was for ITV. Set in his home town of Swansea, Mine All Mine was a comedy drama starring Griff Rhys Jones as Max Vivaldi, a man who claimed to own the whole city, and a mostly Welsh cast able to use their own accents for once.

Now I really wanted to like this. Just about every possible checkbox was ticked for my liking it: Russell T Davies - check; Swansea - check; Joanna Page - check; Siwan Morris from Caerdydd - check; Griff Rhys Jones - check; Ruth Madoc - check; lots of Welsh people - check; etc.

Yet, even though rewatching it I liked it more than when I watched it the first time, it still wasn't what you could describe as “great”, unfortunately.

Continue reading "Today's Joanna Page: Mine All Mine"

Read other posts about: , , ,

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400  

Featured Articles

Twin Peaks

Lynch at his best in years