A Place To Call Home ~ TV Series Review

Star rating: *****

If you’re looking for a television drama featuring all the usual ingredients – love, grief, social dynamics and an unpredictable plotline – A Place To Call Home comes highly recommended. The difference with this television series is that it’s set in the 1950’s so there are plenty of historical elements to maintain interest together with exceptional writing and a talented cast who play characters it’s easy to care about. The boxset of series 1-5 is available to buy on DVD, so if you’re not familiar with the series the good news is that you can binge watch! If you need a reason or two – here are some of my personal highlights from across the series:

Troubled Central Characters

Every good drama has central characters with a past and Sarah Adams (Marta Dusseldorp) arrives with baggage and then some. She’s been brought up as a strict Catholic, however she followed her heart to Paris to be with the man she had fallen for. Changing her faith for him, she has recently been led to believe that she is a widow as he had been involved in World War II. Sarah is settling into her new life when she hears news which is distinctly unsettling.

I think that Marta Dusseldorp is a fine choice for this role, she engages me as a viewer and plays a believable character. If I were to choose a favourite character I would lean towards Sarah, even though I can find her frustrating as much as I find her fascinating.

The Bligh Family

The Bligh family are a mixed bag, there’s a matriarch, a widower, a daughter with a secret daughter, a daughter-in-law who’s starved of affection because her husband is gay. You name the complication and this family has it! A tangled web of complex characters, none of whom appear to be able to find peace or happiness. Will this come for any of them in the season finale? I hope not, wrapping it up neatly wouldn’t follow the thread consistently. The Bligh family need to be messed up! They do it well!!

Location, Location, Location

New South Wales is the setting and it completely captivates me, I’m as drawn to the series for the scenery as I am the melodrama. A glorious region of Australia which provides the perfect backdrop for the action.

Medical drama

Add to the heady combination of family feuds, troubled newcomers and amazing setting that this is also has a medical element as Sarah is a nurse – and that completes the picture. It’s even more compelling due to the nature of the decade the show is set in. Medicine isn’t as dominant a feature as in Call The Midwife, Casualty or Holby City, of course!

I believe that the sixth and final season is set to air in August this year, so there’s plenty of time to catch up beforehand!

Click the image to get your hands on the DVD boxset, you can also purchase individual series on DVD:

 

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Weekend Watch List ~ 24th & 25th March 2018

Telly at the weekend is a must for all of us at Entertainment Views HQ, we all enjoy a relax in front of the box and last weekend there was plenty to keep us all entertained. Here’s a few of the top picks from our chilled out couple of days as couch potatoes:

Milkshake!

This is usually the start of our weekend, Saturday morning kids television and I love it as much as my little boy does! Milkshake! is a great ‘magazine’ style show which includes an episode of a number of different children’s television favourites. Thomas the Tank Engine, Peppa Pig, Noddy, Shimmer and Shine, they’re all there keeping the smallest member of the family amused. The presenters are all bubbly, energetic whirlwinds, Amy Thompson is the favourite in our house, though.

Pointless Celebrities

Grange Hill week on Pointless Celebrities! I think this should be a monthly thing, it was fantastic to see all the old favourites, including Mr Robson who hasn’t changed one iota. An amazing episode and worthy winners, too.

The Voice UK

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and I have no idea who will win, there’s no front runner in my humble opinion. Some of the judges’ picks for the final have been a surprise, there are three artists in the final line up who may appear too similar to one another and therefore would they stand the best chance? If I were to back a team at this point? Team J Hud!

Casualty

Robyn (Amanda Henderson) and Glen (Owain Arthur) got married and then tragedy struck! Argh!! I suppose it was always going to head in that direction when the episode kicked off with Glen having a scan due to his worsening condition. At least the pair made it up the aisle without a hitch… almost. It was certainly a lovely moment with Duffy (Cathy Shipton) and Charlie (Derek Thompson) part of the big day. I know there’s been plenty of excitable fan comments about the ‘selfie’ that Duffy insisted on, too!

The Durrells

I’m late to the party with this one, The Durrells has long been a favourite of my husband’s however I’ve really got on board this series. I like the comedy elements and the absurdity. The location is pretty extraordinary too. I now need to binge watch the episodes I’ve missed. See you on the other side! I have a connection to the show because I have visited Jersey Zoo many times as a child so I’m delighted to have ‘discovered’ this.

Requiem, Episodes Four, Five & Six ~ Review

Feelings on BBC One’s Requiem? It’s still creeping the daylights out of me! However, my over-riding feeling is that it’s been shot to appear like a movie and that watching the episodes back to back would create a very long yet highly engaging movie. Here are a few highlights from the final three episodes:

Upon reflection…

As the pieces start to fit together, mirrors continue to feature as one of the methods of communication favoured by the spirits (for want of a better term!). One of the most horrific uses of mirrors came when Hal (Joel Fry) was driving and spotted something so awful in the rear view that he crashed his car. Then he went missing, and when he reappeared in the series, he was feasting on sheep! Yes – it got weird and weirder!

High spirits

When Matilda (Lydia Wilson) comes to realise that whatever is wreaking havoc can be found in the caves she takes her life into her own hands to face the consequences of throwing herself into their path. What follows is entirely unnerving as she has no recollection of what’s just happened. The plot thickens.

Danger

David Morgan (Brochan Evans) is walking into danger when he is babysat by Stephen Kendrick (Brendan Coyle) and Sylvia Walsh (Tara Fitzgerald). As Matilda uncovers the truth about their involvement in her disappearance and that they were responsible for the death of another child before she was taken. It’s a race against time to get to David, but he’s part of the plan to lure Matilda to the truth, albeit unwittingly.

The Truth

Walsh, Kendrick and the Satlows (Pippa Heywood and Simon Kunz) are all at the heart of the mystery, with their claim that they require a child’s innocent mind in order to contact the ‘spirits’ who they believe will bring marvels beyond wildest dreams. Walsh finally confesses that this was always about Matilda though and while David is asleep under the influence of a ‘sedative’, Matilda is sent to confront the reason behind her kidnap. Meanwhile Walsh, Kendrick, the Satlows and Nick (James Frecheville) has been dragged in to join them. We see an extraordinary transformation occur in Matilda’s eyes as she falls prey.

The Reality

It feels like not much has changed at all given the build up to the finale, however, once Matilda gains consciousness when ‘the cult’ have fetched her back – we become aware that something is unfolding and there is unrest in the house. First, Matilda approaches Nick, who is apologetic for his part in it. The episode is mostly based round what we don’t see as the ‘cult’ are nowhere to be found.

The reunion with Rose (Claire Rushbrook) in hospital is glorious, beautifully played out, similarly with Matilda’s brother, David – it’s implied that they will be a family again. However, once Matilda is alone in the hospital toilets, we see the dirt on her hands and there’s a sinister turn. Leaving way for a second series? I hope so!

Verdict

Writing of this calibre has been lacking in recent dramas and Requiem had me glued to the screen, running for a hiding place and gawping, frozen in abject horror at times. Cast superbly, directed like a film rather than a television drama and with a plot packed with twists, turns and uncertainties. If you purchase this on DVD (see image below for the link) you won’t regret binge watching, it’s a seamless series.

 

Two Doors Down, Series Three, Episode Six ~ Review

New neighbours! Just the ticket to round off what has been a phenomenal series of the hit television comedy. The highlight of my Monday evening which will be much missed. If you haven’t watched this third series of Two Doors Down, you have missed a treat. Surely a fourth series will be on the horizon. Here’s the low-down from Eric, Beth, Colin, Cathy, Christine and the people who’s moved in across the road…

Alan & Michelle

Two new characters are introduced into the street and they’re soon being welcome into Beth (Arabella Weir) and Eric’s (Alex Norton) home. They’re invited there by Christine (Elaine C Smith). Alan (Graeme Stavely) and Michelle (Joy McAvoy) seem to be a fairly ‘normal’ couple, Michelle’s worried about making a good impression – Alan doesn’t seem bothered either way! Not too long into the episode, we discover that Alan likes his food (eating three twixes one after the other is one example!) and thinks he’s scored when Beth says he can have a hot drink and a Fanta! Michelle, meanwhile is clearly embarrassed by his ‘devil may care’ attitude and also has her hands full when Cathy (Doon Mackichan) arrives on the scene.

Meeting Cathy…

Colin (Jonathan Watson) knocks on the door in his usual neighbourly fashion, on his way to the dump and checking in to see if he can take anything for Beth and Eric. Of course once he spies the new neighbours in the lounge, he’s sitting down with them and inviting Cathy over to meet them. Cathy waltzes in expecting applause, I think! She compliments Michelle on her jeans just to incite a compliment in return, which doesn’t come. However, things soon start to go wrong when Michelle is frog-marched to Cathy and Colin’s house to see what they’ve done to the place. The kitchen in particular causes ructions.

One of the lads

It was amusing to see Christine staying behind with the lads while the tour of Cathy and Colin’s house took place. Even cracking open a Fosters while she indulged in the out of date banana loaf that she’d bought as an offering for Beth (it was only 19p!).

Having a dig

Cathy and Michelle are certainly not the best of friends and our favourite neighbourhood alcoholic is getting ore and more riled by the new couple o the block. Alan and Michelle have been talking about removing the porch from their house and they’ve got the equipment there to do it – so guess who decides they’re off to help remove said porch there and then….? What makes the scene all the funnier is Colin offering to take the remnants to the dump! That’ll certainly teach Michelle for insinuating that Cathy’s kitchen is impractical…

So long, farewell, f**k off!

Meant in the nicest possible way (have you seen the outtakes featuring Elaine C Smith? Clip is in the link below) – I will be so sorry to see this series go. There’s definitely an open door for another hundred episodes if you ask me!

Bloopers and Outtakes

 

Two Doors Down, Series Three, Episode Four ~ Review

It’s Beth’s (Arabella Weir)  birthday in BBC Two’s Two Doors Down and a low key jaunt for a pub meal has been organised, with the birthday girl, Eric (Alex Norton) and the boys about to set off, it was inevitable that Christine (Elaine C Smith) would rock up. Of course she goes with them and has a comment to make at every turn. Here’s a few highlights of one of the funniest episodes so far (and that’s saying something, this show is comedy genius at its highest possible level):

Musical tables

It’s up to Beth where they sit when they arrive at the pub, because it’s her birthday they’re celebrating. So naturally they have to sit where Christine wants to sit!

A bit fishy

With three member of the party wanting fish and only two left, someone has to choose an alternative. Well Beth shouldn’t because it’s her celebration, and Christine isn’t going to change her mind either. The result? Eric is served an empty plate so that Beth can share hers! Happy Birthday Beth!!

Detox(ish)

Colin (Jonathan Watson) is also in the pub (where else would he be?!) and his wife is away on a detox spa break – although she’s not really detoxing. Who would believe that Cathy (Doon Mackichan) could stay off the booze anyway? A detox break is wasted on her, as she would rather get wasted!

Pished

Colin’s well and truly ‘pished’ so he’s all over Eric, especially in the loos! Plus he’s a liability generally and the gang can’t wait for a taxi to arrive to take him home.

Bye bye birthday cake

Just as Colin is about to leave (reluctantly) in his taxi, the boys produce a birthday cake for Beth and their drunken friend heads straight back into the pub. Naturally he manages to create a disaster with the ‘Tesco’s Finest’ cake and it lands on the floor. In fact the mess reflects Beth’s celebrations – it’s a farce, the funniest farce on television!

Call The Midwife, Series Seven, Episode Five ~ Review

Call the Midwife – there’s always something to cry about, I say it every week and this episode was no different. Jam packed full of emotional exchanges and scenes so beautifully filmed that each one made an impact. Here’s my personal highlights of one of my favourite episodes to date:

Picnic Panic

Violet’s (Annabelle Apsion) planning a communal outing for a picnic and in her usual panic about getting everything just right. Thankfully it’s a great success and what a gorgeous setting it was too! I loved Fred (Cliff Parisi) putting the signage on the poster the wrong way up!

Small Pox (or is it?)

When Ade Babaaro (Jordan Peters) goes into hiding having been thrown off the boat he was working aboard, he’s quick to stop anybody from touching him in case he’s infecting them with Small Pox. When Reggie (Daniel Laurie) find him and decides to take pity on him, Fred and Violet are anxious in case he’s caught it. However, when Phyllis (Linda Bassett) draws Ade’s whereabouts out of Reggie, she soon discovers that the suspected Small Pox is Leprosy. Cue a mission to get the right help and a cure for the poor chap!

Tokophobia

Learning that fear of giving birth is called Tokophobia in one of the most harrowing yet exceptional scenes ever was one of the absolute highlights of the episodes for me. Brilliant, I can’t articulate it any clearer than that!

Seeing the light

Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) has her operation scheduled for her cataract removal, I can’t help but feel that this storyline will make for more tear-jerking moments yet. There’s nobody better than Judy Parfitt to carry this story, either.

Barbara’s Back!

Barbara’s (Charlotte Ritchie) back to stay! That made the episode complete for me, one of my favourite characters and Richie is an amazing actress. Exciting times!

Happy New Year!

2018 – a new year to embrace new shows and experiences in the theatrical bubble I often find myself mooching around in. As I’ve said in my previous more personal blog posts, I rarely take to my own blog to have a chat – but it’s a new year and I felt an update was long overdue. So, put the heating on (it’s freezing out there innit?!), put your pjs on (I certainly have!) and I’ll let you in on all things Break A Leg for the mighty 2018.

Regional Theatre ~ Break A Leg started life as a Midlands based blog where I could share my reviews of local shows and promote local theatres. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to venture further afield to review and I LOVE it. Pantomime season saw me welcomed to more regional theatres and I’d like to grow that this year. It means you won’t see as much of me in London, because I’m handing reviews for most shows in the big smoke over to a couple of guest reviewers who I’m delighted to have on board. In the meantime, I’ll be based in and around the midlands more often and visiting other regions and cities to find out what they have to offer.

Guest Reviewers ~ I’d like to welcome Francesca Mepham and G Wood to the team as my London based Guest Reviewers. They are a god-send and will enable Break A Leg to keep an eye on what’s going on in London when I can’t be there personally. Both are talented writers and what they don’t know about the arts ain’t worth knowing.

Blood Brothers ~ It’s no secret that Blood Brothers is one of my all-time favourite shows and this year I’m aiming to see the show as many times as I can in as many different theatres as I can. It’s a challenge and one I’m looking forward to having a crack at! I know there’s a couple out there who have seen the show zillions of times – I doubt I’ll ever catch them up but I’ll happily follow in their footsteps!

More Pantomimes ~ My pantomime/festive season for 2017/2018 consisted of 8 x pantomimes at a variety of different theatres and 101 Dalmatians at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Next season I’m aiming for double figures – oh yes I am! I might also try and see my favourite shows more than once…

TV & Movie Scene ~ If you haven’t visited my sister blog yet hop on over and take a butchers at it. I felt it was time to move my television and movie reviews over to a separate website and I’m in the midst of working on it to increase content. Loads coming up this year including National Television Awards towards the end of this month. Exciting times! TV & Movie Scene

Break A Leg Awards ~ It’s back and this year we’re separating the Television and Theatre awards. Break A Leg Awards will be awarded to all Theatre nominees and Television & Movie Scene Awards for the Television nominees. There’s a chance we’ll include movie-related nominees – watch this space!

What’s next? ~ In 2017 you may have been aware that I left my job at the NHS and took to more creative work on a permanent basis. I learned loads, ended up in all sorts of different areas of the arts which was fascinating and overwhelming all at once. Saying no to an opportunity to be involved in something that I have a passion for is not in my nature – but, as we’ve established with my guest reviewer section, there’s only one of me and a work/life balance is what everybody strives for.

There are so many projects I’d like to get involved in and opportunities cropping up for this year which are all really exciting. Some of the options I have to consider will actually enhance the blogs and networking further. It’s time to take a deep breath and dive in to see where it will all take me. I might not always be my own boss on a full time basis – but I don’t know if I like me as a boss, haha! I’m too bossy…. (pauses for groans from the audience)…

I’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone who drops in to read my reviews and interviews and to anyone who’s paid this article some attention. It does mean a lot, which is easily said, but definitely meant – more than you all know.

I’ll close with a collage of my little boy loving Pantomime life, because if I ever needed a reminder as to why I keep up with this crazy blogging career, these images give me a reason!

 

 

 

Coventry Comic Con ~ Review

Comic Cons are one of mine and my family’s favourite things to go to together and Coventry Comic Con offered every opportunity for some fantastic memorabilia and nostalgia in the company of cosplayers and a number of celebrities.

The venue, Sports Connexion was the perfect venue for an easy and effective layout. Plenty of space between the stalls and no shoving and pushing to have a look at the all important merchandise (yes, I came home with not one but TWO bags to satisfy my loud and proud geeky side). There were stars at every turn signing autographs and enjoying selfie time! Notably, David Prowse (Darth Vader… DARTH VADER!!) was present and Sylvester McCoy, my Doctor, was also in attendance with his companion, Ace (Sophie Aldred). Patricia Quinn of Rocky Horror fame was also looking resplendent as ever and loads more cult television series and movies were represented – it was an impressive line up.

The piece de resistance was the panel talks – well organised, a good range of guests and I loved listening to Sylvester McCoy, everyone should hear him talk about Doctor Who and anything else for that matter.

Comic Cons are great fun, where else can fans walk around in costume with the only form of judgement being the cosplay competition they can enter. There are so many to choose from and if you’re taking young children, the smaller-scale events are often a better starter – not so overwhelming but still generating excitement in the little ‘uns. Our three year old is still talking about Coventry’s.

Want to know amore about this fantastic event for all the family? You can read more about it here: Coventry Comic Con

 

W1A Series Three, Episode Three ~ Review

W1A, oh how I wish we could have a weekly dose of this, 52 weeks of the year! I’m already preparing myself to be missing it desperately when it finishes in a few episodes’ time!! This week’s instalment saw a disaster befall the team as the BBC Swing Band went on the attack. 

Will Humphries (HUGH SKINNER) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Jack Barnes

Ben & Jerry ~ It’s D day for Ben and Jerry, so they’re trying to out-do one another with additional dialogue and they’ve both looked at ways of streamlining the BBC services. With hilarious consequences ….and disastrous consequences, yes exactly yes!

BBC Orchestras ~ The BBC has six orchestras, Ben or Jerry, or Jerry or Ben have found that out during in-depth research(!) so the suggestion of amalgamation is raised. It’s also thrown out, however word gets around the BBC Swing Band is in line for the axe. How are they going to get around this one? I don’t wanna sound negative or anything but I have a bad feeling about this…

Sub-titles ~ The sub-title voice-recognition system is up the swanny (b*llocks!) and Neil is tearing his hair out. Baggy Smith (instead of Maggie Smith) being the final straw. It’s always going wrong in the news department and Neil is always apologising for something – and I admit to having a slightly warped liking of watching it all go wrong!

BBC Me ~ BBC Me is still in its pre-launch stage and Siobhan, together with her team at Fun are brainstorming ideas with fuzzy felt. Michael has a winning idea, get rid of the bikes and just film a selfie. Cue silent disco to S Club 7!

Ailing Anna ~ A bit of a cliff hanger to end on too, this week as Anna keels over in the taxi on the way back from a meeting with the charter renewal team. What will become of our favourite BBC ‘robot’? yes, exactly yes!

Credits

Role Contributor
Jack Patterson Jonathan Bailey
Barney Lumsden Alex Beckett
Ian Fletcher Hugh Bonneville
Faiza Rajah Priyanga Burford
Tracey Pritchard Monica Dolan
Jerry Guildencrantz Ivan Gonzalez
Siobhan Sharpe Jessica Hynes
David Wilkes Rufus Jones
Izzy Gould Ophelia Lovibond
Chloe Rose Matafeo
Ben Rosenstern Max Olesker
Anna Rampton Sarah Parish
Fiona Craig Pooky Quesnel
Zoe Emma Sidi
Will Humphries Hugh Skinner
Lucy Freeman Nina Sosanya
Simon Harwood Jason Watkins
Neil Reid David Westhead
Karl Marx Joel Fry
Adam Brady Laurence Howarth
Matt Taverner Daniel Ings
Ray Fredericks Jeffery Kissoon
Fiona Craig’s PA Emily Lloyd-Saini
Michael Chung Will Sharpe
Coco Lomax Sara Pascoe
Donna Fredericks Shauna Shim
Himself Lenny Henry
Himself Jeremy Paxman
Herself Louise Minchin
Himself Dan Walker
Narrator David Tennant
Producer Paul Schlesinger
Director John Morton
Writer John Morton
Executive Producer Jon Plowman

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