My Autumn Television Favourites

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons, it’s a far more welcome sight when it takes over from a glorious summer and this year, us brits have been spoiled, sunny days making staycations the holiday of choice for many. Television isn’t always at the forefront of our minds, when outside looks so inviting we tend to forget the box indoors.

It might be just me, but I’ve long been of the opinion that the selection of television programmes reflects the fact that most of us won’t be lounging on the sofa at the end of a long day at work. However, with the change of season comes a change of TV shows and I am loving the full Sky Box planner. My top 5 must-watch programmes this autumn are a heady mix of variety and drama, take a look:

Strictly Come Dancing

When that glitter ball trophy’s up for grabs each autumn, I’m ready for BBC One to take over my television on Saturday and Sunday nights. I love everything about Strictly Come Dancing, from the judges (Shirley Ballas is a fantastic replacement for Len Goodman) to the inspired mixture of contestants from across sports, television, etc. I also have a thing for professional dancer, Aljaz Skorjanec! So the sight of him cheers me up no end as the dark nights draw in. I am sorry that he and Kate Silverton have been voted off the show, as not only does that reduce my Aljiaz time, but I also really like and respect Kate – she was coming on leaps and bounds. It’s the ultimate autumn AND winter telly, though and much as I miss Sir Brucie (RIP) you’ve gotta love Claudia with her one liners and dry wit. It’s a TEN from every member of the panel at Entertainment Views HQ.

Doctor Who

Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor has stolen my heart and mind! She is everything I hoped she’d be and more. Sunday evenings are so much better for a dose of Doctor Who and together with her band of companions, the Doctor is rocking some exceptional storylines. Chris Chibnall should be congratulated for injecting verve, vibrancy and very current topics into the scripts. The Tardis has never been in better hands. The guest stars are brilliant too, Lee Mack was certainly a favourite (if not short-lived) addition in one episode and I can’t wait to see Phyllis Logan, I think she’ll be awesome as usual. Whittaker is my new favourite since the wondrous David Tennant took over the Tardis. If I’m not mistaken, their characterisation of the Doctor is similar.

I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here

Dingo dollars, Kiosk Kev (ahhh see ya later Kiosk Keith!) and a brand new set of celebrities for Dec and his newly appointed assistant, Holly Willoughby to play with! With Noel Edmonds has been the first camp mate to cause a stir, all seemed fairly settled in both camps until he became Emperor. Harry Redknapp is already established as one of my favourites, his stories are fantastic and he’s such a down to earth bloke. Anne Hegerty is doing a great job of raising the awareness of Autism and actually not handling jungle life too badly, although she does like to use the phrase ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’ she has no qualms about it. Nick Knowles is proving himself to be a kind and useful sort of person and Rita Simons is so to the point, I love her. I haven’t picked a winner yet but there are a few who already deserve the crown. A superb line up this year!

There She Goes

This has just finished on BBC Four and it has been gripping yet hilarious drama. In fact it’s been the type of programme you feel it’s disrespectful to laugh at and yet that’s exactly what the script and performances are inviting the audience to do. There She Goes centres around a girl called Rosie who is learning disabled and although she’s age 9 she’s suffering from severe developmental delay. David Tennant and Jessica Hynes play her parents and they’re a great tag team, an ideal combination to take on a challenging drama peppered with light comedy. Watching their daily struggles, flashbacks to when Rosie was born and they were looking for answers and the brutal reality of the consequences of her impairment are at once cringe-worthy and life-affirming. It’s been a must-see series and if you can get it on catch up, I highly recommend you give it a watch.

The Apprentice

You’re fired! Good old Sir Alan is back with his straight-faced sidekicks, Karen and Claude (bring back Nick and Margaret!). Lord Sugar’s in search of a new business partner and as usual, there are a selection of candidates vying for the prestigious position and kicking each other when they’re down in a bid to be the one to win the prize. As much as there are always a number of candidates whom I find perpetually annoying, I always take a step back and remember that editing takes responsibility for the persona of each individual. Although the business world is dog eat dog and that is reflected in their behaviour. Some of the tasks have had me glued, the art gallery in particular was a fascinating watch and I had the fired candidate pegged from the start. Other weeks it’s not been so easy to guess. This series has renewed my love of the show, though and I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Photo Credits: BBC & ITV 

Advertisements

Interview with Casualty’s Cathy Shipton ~ What next for Duffy?

Duffy and Chuffy fans who tune in regularly to the BBC One drama, Casualty will be in for a few surprises. The popular Nurse, who’s already in the throes of dealing with her diagnosis of Clinical Depression and Anxiety, is set to behave uncharacteristically and become a worry to her husband, Charlie (Derek Thompson) for more reason than one.

Entertainment Views caught up with actress Cathy Shipton who plays the troubled Nurse.

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Cathy – we’ve seen Duffy diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Anxiety, which she hasn’t revealed to Charlie yet. What are you able to tell us about the latest storyline? 

You’ll have just seen the episode with the CQC inspection where Duffy was called in by Charlie even though she’d just done a twilight shift. Charlie’s been working days while Duffy’s working nights so they’re on parallel lines and not communicating very well. During Duffy’s interview with the CQC Inspector you might have noticed she’s a bit jaded in her response, she’s knackered though and almost pulled a 24 hour shift as well as al the while losing confidence in her abilities.

The miscommunication between Duffy and Charlie almost led her to make a fatal error on that extra shift…

Yes, but did she mishear Charlie’s instructions because of her anxiety which has made her slightly unfocused?

(C) BBC – Photographer:

So her way of dealing with the altercation with Charlie was to call Bill! 

She calls Bill and he meets her at the pub. What you’ll see next at the start of the subsequent episode is Bill and Duffy in a hotel room at a Boutique Hotel! The room is littered with all their clothes, Duffy wakes up not knowing where she is and Bill walks out of the bathroom in a robe!

Is this the beginning of the end for Duffy and Charlie? 

Duffy tells Bill to get out and is clearly angry that it has happened. She’s trying to get away and ends up called back to settle the invoice just as a guy runs out to alert them to the fact his girlfriend’s been in the hotel swimming pool and can’t breathe.

And of course, Duffy is a Nurse….!

Yes, so Duffy goes to attend to the hotel guest and upon calling 999, she’s met by Ian and Ruby who are questioning as to why she’s at the hotel. Duffy says she’s been attending a conference there but she cant look either of them in the eye.

Will she tell Charlie the truth? 

Duffy’s been AWOL over night so Charlie’s been worried about her and wants to know where she’s been. She tells him she had to clear her head and needed space and admits that she spent the night in a hotel. He’s trying to make it up to her by suggesting they do things together, like swimming at the hotel she’s just spent the night at. Duffy is desperate for him not to be nice to her though!

So it hasn’t taken long for Duffy and Charlie’s marriage to hot the rocks,  but is Duffy’s behaviour a ‘side-effect’ of her state of mind? We’ll have to wait and see! Thanks as always to Cathy for a fantastic interview, looking forward to seeing where this storyline will take the character. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Road ~ Television Series Review

Star rating: ****

A new BBC Four crime drama from Australia, Mystery Road is worth a watch if you enjoy this particular genre and fancy a fresh take on your standard whodunit.

From the first episode the scene is set, and the location sets the tone of the drama, the team behind the show have certainly made the most of what Western Australia has to offer and it makes for some superb shots. The areas of Aboriginal land which were also used and added to the atmospheric approach which provided a very real overall feel to the television series.

The central character of Detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pederson) came across as somewhat of an introvert in the loosest sense, my initial impression of him was that of arrogance and nonchalance – certainly not an instantly likeable individual. However, as he gets to work on the task in hand, investigating the disappearance of two farmhands (a backpacker and a footballer), it’s clear he’s the right man for the job. Thorough in the extreme and eventually works well with the local copper he’s paired with, Emma James (Judy Davis).

The six episodes, which were originally shown over the summer on the ABC network before their recent broadcast on BBC Four, culminate in a story within a story as the crime that is under investigation unravels another story. There is more to the community than meets the eye and it’s sure to turn you into an armchair detective.

The strong points of this drama are most definitely the solid characters, especially in the wider community, who each has their skeletons and whom it’s easy to care about. I also think that Judy Davis is a superb choice for the role of Emma James – a determined performance, quite fascinating characterisation too. Direction from Rachel Perkins is exceptional, she knows how to tell a story! I’m on the fence about Jay Swan, as the main man I wasn’t as inspired by him as I have been by previous detectives in other dramas. However, he’s an interesting person and engaging, there’s no denying that Aaron Pederson has captured the character well. He’s not stereotypical and that’s refreshing. 

Mystery Road is worth a watch, it’s a no holds barred, rough and ready piece of drama and there are a few edge of your seat moments too.

The good news is that you can own Mystery Road on DVD! Click the image below to get your hands on a copy:

 

Doctor Who ~ Series 11 ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’

I’m late to the Doctor Who party, although I did watch the first episode of the brand new series ‘live’! I for one was delighted that a female doctor had been chosen when Capaldi hung up the sonic screwdriver so my eagerness to see Jodie Whittaker in the role was bubbling over. The latest instalment not only did not disappoint, but Whittaker has brought a whole new persona to the doctor which hardly relates to the gender at all. There was also a stellar cast to back up the new recruit and it looks as though some famous faces are set to grace our screens in upcoming episodes too, including Phyllis Logan! Here are a few highlight of an episode jam-packed with goodness.

Jodie Whittaker

The arrival of the new doctor was typically chaotic, straight in through the roof of a train without so much as a bye your leave! From the outset Whittaker established the character as whacky, nonchalant, determined and with the kindness streak still flowing freely. I loved the throw away comment of her being an alien, the desire to be a friend to the crowd she found herself mixing with and the clumsiness. One of the defining moments was the costume selection in the charity shop! Chris Chibnall is undoubtedly a fine choice of writer for the series and hand in hand with Whittaker at the helm, there’s a short-hand here that will enhance the much-loved series further.

New Friends

I’d been dubious about Bradley Walsh taking on the coveted role of the companion, however, as Graham he has already shown what a superb sidekick he could be and the chemistry with Whittaker is already palpable in my humble opinion. Sharon D Marshall as his wife of three years was also a superb addition – it’s a pity it was a short-lived role. However, with Graham’s backstory including Cancer and now the death of his wife, he’s got a lot of personal experiences to bring to the table. Setting his back story up so early on will surely make sense of his reactions as we move through each story. He’s a steady influence too, which never hurts when you’re supporting the doctor!

Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) also seem to be a strong addition, each one having suffered loss and with a desire to embrace whatever life throws. Ryan might be a loose cannon though, which might be frustrating and exciting in equal measure, while I’m anticipating a more sensible approach from Yaz. It’s a team de force so far, with the doctor they make a formidable foursome!

 

Alienated

The alien enemy featured in this episode both fascinated and frightened me! It was a sight to behold once the armour was removed and the powers were believable too, as a sci-fi villain he was captivating and almost gained my sympathy once or twice – wholly unexpected.

Chibnall’s Vision

Chris Chibnall has fast become one of my best-loved drama writers, from back in the days of Sunday evening BBC favourite ‘Born and Bred‘ to the mighty ‘Broadchurch‘, his vision is one I can always get on board with and that I enjoy dissecting. By taking the reigns of Doctor Who he’s adding his uncanny ability to characterise a role fully to an already winning formula. His history with Whittaker from the ‘Broadchurch‘ series makes for the right combination to drive forward the new concept of casting a female in the title role for the very first time. So far so good, too!

Catch up here: 

Doctor Who on BBC iplayer

Photo credits: BBC

Downton Abbey Movie ~ Is It Too Late?

I’m a self-confessed fan of the popular ITV series Downton Abbey, to the point of fan-girling, checking out the fandom activity and feeling fairly bereft when the Abbey closed its doors at Christmas back in 2015. News of a movie to enable Downton’s enthusiastic following to take another peek into the upstairs and downstairs goings on was met excitedly, by me and by fellow fans of the Fellowes drama.

However, as the years have rolled by with (from what we mere members of the public could tell) not so much as a sniff of a script and longstanding cast members almost continuously cagey when asked questions about a possible movie by the media, the question mark over the potential movie hovered precariously. As a blogger who predominantly covers theatre I was delighted to discover so many of my favourite actors from the drama series treading the boards. Phyllis Logan toured with Noel Coward’s ‘Present Laughter’ which in turn offered a superb opportunity I might not otherwise have had.  I took a trip to Chiswick to carry out an interview and enjoyed coffee and croissants with Ms Logan while I was at it, she’s an actor who has been high on my radar since she played Lady Jane in Lovejoy. Her colleague, Lesley Nicol opened my eyes to fantastic and extremely worthy charities, so I was over the moon (bears!) to interview her for my blog, too. With the vast majority of the show’s famous faces being kept busy in various ‘jobs’ (just check out the credits that Lily James who played Lady Rose has wracked up!) the movie seemed a distant and not so urgent thought.

Phyllis Logan appeared in the UK tour of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter in 2016.

When the announcement of impending filming broke, not so long ago, and just over 2 1/2 years after the festive finale, my initial reaction wasn’t to jump for joy. What year are they planning on setting it in was top of my list of queries. Are we picking up straight after their new year celebrations therefore following Mr Carson’s (Jim Carter) journey of enforced retirement or will we pick it up long after life has changed for Downton’s inhabitants? I’m the first to admit that my over-active imagination already sees the Carsons living a different life and has Mrs Patmore paired off with widowed hanger-on, Mr Mason (Paul Copley).

With the Downton Abbey film’s release date now set for 20th September 2019, my humble opinion of a movie following long after momentum has been lost has shifted. I think it was the Instagram post from Michelle Dockery (the ever-popular Lady Mary – follow her: https://www.instagram.com/theladydockers/ to check out the post I’m referring to) that not only cemented in my mind that this IS happening, but also transported me back to the good old days when social media buzzed with anticipation of the next series of Downton Abbey. I recalled the Duchess of Cambridge visiting the set while the final series was in production, the excitement surrounding that was palpable. So maybe regaining some of that old Downton Abbey-inspired joy will be just the ticket for 2019?

One thing’s for sure, I’ve moved from sceptic to eagerly awaiting and hope beyond hope that Fellowes won’t let us down! In fact, I have one plea to make – do what you will with all of the characters but please let Mrs Patmore be happy!! Back in the day I would have begged for Lady Edith’s (Laura Carmichael) happiness, however unless a curve ball is coming our way, it seems that her future was looking rosy by the time we bid au revoir to the Crawley family.

Bring on 20th September 2019, then…

 

Photo Credits: ITV & Nobby Clark 

 

Coventry Comic Con 2018

Star rating: *****

Comic Con, a staple part of my geekery diet which must be dosed up on regularly – last year our team were delighted that a new convention popped up in Coventry and we were so impressed that we made damn sure that their 2018 sequel was in the diary. We were not disappointed, Coventry Comic Con has got it all – here are a few of the many positives:

  • Well organised – the organisation is top notch, this con has been well though out and the planning that must have gone into making it as successful as it undoubtedly was is evident. From the car parking stewards, to the security to the box office staff, everybody does a seamless job in helping us fans have a great time. No complaints from us!
  • Easily accessible – the event itself is very easily accessible, with the stalls, guests, attractions and talks all on the ground level. Likewise the facilities are also at ground level making this ideal for any fans who may have a disability. Fun for everybody, quite literally – that’s a massive double thumbs up.
  • Expanding each year – in comparison to its debut year, the growth and expansion is clear. From the larger variety of stalls and artists introduced to the additional space used to house the event which was also utilised for the guest talks. The layout was ideal and it’s fantastic to see the convention already going from strength to strength. Bigger and better again next year? Let’s do it!
  • Stalls offering affordable collectables – the number of stalls offering budget collectables made such a refreshing change. Often many of us save up for an event like this in case there’s a tempting item or two. However, if like us, your four year old has spent your pennies over the school holidays, there’s still plenty of merchandise available at affordable prices. Many pocket money options too which is superb for the four year old who’s gleefully continuing to spend the money you don’t have…
  • Cosplay galore – the number of extraordinary cosplayers on the loose appeared to have increased since the previous year. The grounds of the venue offer opportunities for cosplayers to have professional photographs taken too. The details that goes into the costumes is eye-catching in the extreme. Of course a convention isn’t a convention without a few Stormtroopers on hand and a flossing Chewbacca!
  • Plenty of space to walkabout (and run, skip, meaner about) in – is you’re easily claustrophobic, the amount of space left between stalls and attractions allows room to breathe. It’s notable how easy it is to have a proper look at the merchandise and the displays. Definitely a big plus and one of the top features that Coventry Comic Con has going for it. All the more room t floss in!!
  • Reasonably priced refreshments available – the refreshments available are at affordable prices too, so you don’t need to make a decision between the action figure and having a burger, you can have both! The staff who runs the facility are efficient and the food is delicious too. Big thumbs up to the best Comic Con catering!
  • A room to ‘chill out’ in – although we didn’t make use of it, we heard that there was a room to take a break in and that in itself is a genius idea. It can be an overwhelming experience to be in the hub-bub of a Comic Con, especially if it’s your first. This initiative should be adopted comic con-wide. It could be used as a time out room for cheeky Stormtroopers too…
  • Free retro arcade games – we all made use of these, a quick game of Street Fighter and even on Fix It Felix didn’t go amiss and was a welcome break from walking, looking and daydreaming over what we’d buy if money was no object. Making it a free area for everyone to enjoy was a bonus. We love a bonus!
  • Guest stars – the Guest Stars meeting and greeting fans appeared relaxed, with the volunteers looking after them well and plenty of chances for the Stars to chat with fans. A nice, easy approach was taken and surely that means repeat visits from the amazing Stars the convention attracted?
  • A friendly team – the overall atmosphere of Coventry Comic Con was spot on, all members of the crew should be commended on their approachable manner and thanks to all who gave our boy a bit of a boost by showing love for his Porg tee!

We’re only sorry that Coventry Comic Con is an annual event, every six months would be great thanks! Highly recommended by all three of us, it’s a good convention to take the small fans to, particularly if they’ve not explored the world of Comic Con before. Where else might you meet a baby dinosaur beside the rogue carousel horse of Mary Poppins fame? This event is not so large scale that you would worry that you’ve missed anything and it’s become one of the highlights of our yearly calendar of geekery!

Vanity Fair ~ ITV

This wasn’t a television adaptation I expected to like, let alone enjoy and desire more of. William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic has not only been transformed into a glitzy ITV period drama with a subtle modern twist, there’s a cast of names and faces whom many television aficionados will be familiar with. As we linger on the past three episodes and dwell on the highlights of what has become, for me anyway, a must-watch series – here are a few of the many best bits so far…

Carousel

I love the carousel which opens the programme so wondrously and the appearance of Michael Palin as Thackeray. The carousel itself and the characters we see riding the horses is utterly symbolic of the story and tells a take just in that simple scene. A genius idea.

Olivia Cooke

In the leading role of Becky Sharp, she has me hooked. Those facial expressions wouldn’t be out of place in a theatrical performance and her every move proves that she’s sharp by name and sharp by nature. The chemistry with every performer she crosses paths with is electric, quite as one would imagine it would be for those who fell under Miss Sharp’s spell. The character is the epitome of a person who falls into manure and comes up smelling of roses, and Cooke carries that air of smugness which this ‘trait’ necessitates.

Clunes behaving badly

As much as I’ve grown to love the series, I had found it a little slow going to begin with, therefore the introduction of Martin Clunes in the role Sir Pitt Crawley grabbed my attention. Clunes looks like he’s having a whale of a time playing the villain and he’s predictably bringing plenty of humour to the role too.

Tour De Force

Frances de la Tour as Miss Matilda Crawley is as resplendent and batty as I know she has the capacity to play, another television favourite who looks as though they’ve had great fun with a well written role. Her humour and raucous laughter enhance the character and she plays brilliantly opposite both Cooke and Clunes.

Crawley’s a Crawler

Tom Bateman as Rawdon Crawley, a character so overtly benign it’s a wonder Miss Sharp didn’t see spot it a mile off as his lack of money is surely a hindrance. However, whatever her game, it appears that he and she have married for love and that crawler Crawley may be blissfully unaware of his secretly wedded wife’s motives.

Summary

There’s tongue-in-cheek humour and nods towards the classic story not having been taken too seriously, perhaps to attract and retain a younger audience. However, from the pop soundtrack to the perfect casting – this adaptation has surprised me in the best possible sense. I can’t wait for Sunday evenings and hooray for autumn telly! Vanity Fair has landed on our screens at just the right time.

Photo Credits: ITV

Bing Live! ~ Town Hall, Birmingham

Bing Live! continues its tour of the UK, check out all the dates and buy tickets here: Bing Live!

Star rating: *****

Bing Live! has long been a favourite of my four year old son, Cbeebies being his channel of choice and the young bunny having been a frequent ‘visitor’ in our living room over the past few years.

Seeing the rabbit himself come to life by way of innovative puppetry in a live show full of fun, frolics and Bing thing antics was a treat from beginning to end. Naturally, Flop was on hand to guide Bing as he met up with his usual circle of friends (Sula, Coco and Pando) to play dress up and be creative.

The toilet train is a prominent feature of course, and there’s a 15 minute interval to allow the smaller members of the audience to take a toilet train and refreshment break. In fact for the youngsters of all ages, the timing of the show is perfect. It’s just long enough to capture their imaginations and hold their attention.

Audience participation is encouraged and there are plenty of opportunities for everybody to get involved with singing and dancing. The puppeteers are highly skilled and talented individuals and it’s easy to forget they’re there as they subtly operate the television favourites.

There’s a vibrant set to engage the small ones too, with lots to see and a great view to be had from any seat in Town Hall, Birmingham. Highly recommended for little kids and big kids alike, this is one of the best shows for the tiny theatre-goer that we’ve seen.

Peppa Pig’s Adventure! ~ Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Peppa Pig’s Adventure! is on UK tour, check out all the tour dates and book tickets here: Peppa Pig Live

Star rating: ****

Peppa Pig’s Adventure! What a fantastic opportunity to introduce young ones to the theatre and to pay a return visit to the theatre with your little ones who may already be seasoned theatre-goers, like the young critic we have here at Entertainment Views!

Peppa Pig remains such a popular television programme for children of varying ages, that the live show has something for everyone, from a tiny age to school age and beyond. There are well-known songs and some that were new to my son and I, all of which we enthusiastically joined in with. The characters are portrayed by multi-talented puppeteers and costumed actors all of whom seamlessly pulled off a thoroughly convincing ‘episode’ of the show. It took me some time to realise that the cast were using their own voices to voice the characters and that it wasn’t being done with pre-recordings, that’s how accurate they are. Kudos to Stephanie Houtman (Peppa Pig), Maryann O’Brien (George), Eleanor Aldridge (Mummy Pig/Madam Gazelle), David Sandham (Daddy Pig/Pedro Pony), Sarah Barbet (Suzy Sheep), Matthew Brock (Gerald Giraffe) and Bronte Tadman, who played a ‘human’ character, Daisy.

The characters go on a camping adventure with their school, the bus is of course driven by Daddy Pig and Madam Gazelle is at the helm. The Bing Bong Song has made it to the live show and the theatre was rocking with it!

If your kids love Peppa Pig, they will find this magical, seeing their favourites come to life before their eyes will doubtless be a special moment for them. It’s a great family day out too, even older children may well be fascinated by the portrayal of the characters even if they’ve outgrown the show itself. My one complaint is that a number of the popular characters were missing. I appreciate the reasons why all of them can’t be present, however my little lad was bereft at the lack of Miss Rabbit, even though I was delighted that Madam Gazelle was included (unashamedly naming her as my favourite character!!).

Go and see it, you’ll be sorry to miss this – from scenery to the atmosphere in the theatre, all absolutely brilliant.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: