Monthly Archives: June 2014

Who Do You Think You Are?

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The line up of celebrities for the 11th series of geneology series Who Do You Think You Are? has been announced.
They are: actor and larger than life personality Brian Blessed (pictured), sitcom star Brendan O’Carroll, comedian and actor Billy Connolly, actor Martin Shaw, presenter and radio DJ Reggie Yates, sixties model icon Twiggy, actress Tamzin Outhwaite, actress and musical star Julie Walters, actress and musical star Sheridan Smith and Food writer and celebrity cook Mary Berry.

This seems a good line up with people from across the UK and Ireland, and hopefully should uncover some interesting stories.

This series will have the 100th episode, so there will be a special episode looking back at previous series. So many famous faces and fascinating stories have been on past series, there should be plenty to enjoy.

The series air date on BBC1 will be announced shortly.


World Cup of the Underdog?

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 Pictured centre is Bryan Ruiz celebrating scoring his (what would be the winning) goal for Costa Rica against Italy. This ultimately sealed England’s fate because Italy needed to win this game for England to have the slimmest chance possible of getting through the round. So, taxi for England then, but they are by no means alone in the expectations dashed category. With the exception of France and the ever reliable Germans, it seems that some of the highly fancied teams are being very lacklustre this tournament.  Tournament trophy holders, Spain, have already got in the taxi, and as I watch now, Argentina are being severely tested by Iran.  

So, is this the tournament of the underdog? Have Costa Rica, Uruguay, Iran and others decided to rewrite the script and prove that you can win the World Cup without highly paid players and a large population to draw from?  The will to win and team spirit is at the heart of this, and if the underdog can win, then maybe football is the true winner after all.

Freesat Awards 2014

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The Freesat awards were held on Tuesday night and I’m particularly pleased that a number of my favourite shows got awards.  Line of Duty won best drama which was well deserved and even managed to beat Sherlock! Keeley Hawes (pictured) put in a stunning central performance in this and I hope she gets specific recognition for it when BAFTA determine their TV nominations for next year.

Matthew Baynton and James Corden both wrote and starred in The Wrong Mans which got best sitcom. It was a situation comedy like no other, not being filmed in front of a studio audience and being more of a Hollywood comedy caper/drama in style and ambition. Truly ground breaking and brilliant.

Doctor Who won Best of British for its 50th celebration episode, Day of the Doctor, and I wholeheartedly agree with that!

BBC2 won channel of the year, which in its 50th year is great to see. It consistently produces great programming, and Line of Duty and The Wrong Mans were on the channel. Very well deserved.


The full list of winners

Freesat Channel of the Year – BBC2 

Best of British: TV Programme or Series – Doctor Who, The Day of the Doctor (BBC1)

Best Factual TV Programme or Series – Educating Yorkshire (Channel 4)

Best TV Sitcom – The Wrong Mans (BBC2)

Best TV Drama – Line of Duty (BBC2)

Best Live TV Programme or Series – Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV) 

Best Children’s TV Programme or Series – Katie Morag (CBeebies)

Best Digital Radio Channel – Absolute 80s

Best Specialist Channel – The Travel Channel

Best News Channel – Radio 5 Live

Personality of the Year – Ant and Dec (ITV)

Best British TV Soap – Coronation Street (ITV)

Castle Season 6 Finale review

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One of my favourite shows, Castle, recently finished its current run on the Alibi Channel in the UK.

So what happened and did the season finale come up to scratch?

Spoilers …

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Sam Kelly dies

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Actor Sam Kelly has died at the age of 70. He was best known for his roles in classic sitcoms ‘Allo ‘Allo and Porridge. As a fan of the latter sitcom, I knew him as Bunny Warren, and it was only a week ago I saw him celebrate his role in that sitcom, on a behind the scenes programme on the Gold channel, with the few remaining members of the cast. He was very proud to be part of it. 

Very sad news.

Honours for Barrowman and Gardner

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John Barrowman and Julie Gardner have been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.   Both have very strong connections with the world of Doctor Who.

John (pictured right) with Julie Gardner and Bill Pullman at the Torchwood photo call,  is an entertainer and actor,  who played Captain Jack Harkness in many episodes of Doctor Who opposite the Eccleston and Tennant Doctors, and the lead in the show’s spin-off  Torchwood.

Julie Gardner was instrumental in bringing Doctor Who back to our screens in 2005. She was executive producer alongside Russell T Davies and oversaw the programme till 2009. She also worked on the spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. She was highly successful in her role and took over from Jane Tranter as Controller of Drama Commissioning at the BBC before moving to L.A. to work for BBC Worldwide America.

Many congratulations to both of them.

Stars of Years Gone By : Reg Varney

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As mentioned in the last post, I am creating a new category of posts to remember those stars who were once household names but are now consigned to history. This is the first of such posts.

When I was a kid in the 1960s and 70s this man was one of the most famous faces in Britain.  He was Reg Varney.

He is pictured here on the 27th June 1967 being the first person ever to make a withdrawal from the very first cash machine in the world located in Enfield, North London. Barclays obviously wanted a star to show off their new facility and Varney was a customer so he fitted the bill perfectly.

Varney made his name in sitcoms. In the 60s he was known for The Rag Trade about a clothing factory, and Beggar My Neighbour about social climbing neighbours. However, it was the ITV sitcom On The Buses, which started in 1969, for which he would be best remembered. He played bus driver Stan Butler who lived with his doting Mum, frumpy sister Olive and her reluctant husband Arthur!  In those days buses still had separate drivers and bus conductors, so Stan was paired with conductor Jack. Jack was a serial womaniser despite his less than handsome looks, and was also always up for making a fast buck. He always dragged his mate Stan into his schemes, who really just wanted a steady girlfriend. They both enjoyed making life as difficult as possible for the bus Inspector ‘Blakey’ Blake who was always trying to catch them out.  Blakey’s often repeated frustrated cry of “I hate you, Butler” was the catchphrase of the time!

The series was very successful and ran for a number of years, and three very successful films were made, but Varney finally left as he didn’t want to be typecast. Varney never did escape the role which made him famous. The series itself was very much of its time and hasn’t dated well, being very un-PC. It is the star quality of Varney which keeps it afloat. He had excellent comic timing and a very easygoing charm about him which  endeared him to the viewing public.

Varney was also a rather good piano player and I remember him being on some variety shows at the time.

He has a star on the pavement in Elstree where the On The Buses series and films were made.

He died in 2008 aged 92.

Stars of Years Gone By

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Regarding the untimely sad death of Rik Mayall yesterday, I read a post on a forum from someone who said that the young people he worked with didn't know who Mayall was. Mayall has been a well known comedy actor in the UK since the 80s so it seems rather surprising and shocking that he is already unheard of by new generations coming up. This made me think of all those stars of TV and film who were household names in their day and yet sadly are now unknown by the vast majority. So, I have decided to do an occasional post where I'll feature a British star from the past who was famous on TV or in British films, with a picture and a brief description of their work.

They will go into new category “Stars of Years Gone By”.

Rik Mayall has died

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Comedy legend Rik Mayall has died at he age of 56.  It seems incomprehensible that someone known for being so energetic has gone.

Mayall was best known for The Young Ones, Bottom, The New Statesman and scene stealing turns in Blackadder.

Very sad news.

A (not so) Pointless experience

It’s like any ordinary town in the UK. People bustle up and down the high street going about their business. There’s a train station at one end of the street and travellers are hurrying in and out as the tannoy announces the latest departures and arrivals. Yet …  if you care to look down at the pavement near the station or glance towards the roadside as you walk down it, or if you look right towards that hangar, on what on the face of it, looks like an industrial estate as you leave the supermarket, you might notice something not ordinary at all. That hangar’s roof has lettering on it naming it ‘The George Lucas Stage’ and down at your feet are star names and near the road are large commemorative plaques honouring some famous actors.

This is Elstree, the home of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and more recently where The King’s Speech and Sherlock Holmes: Book of Shadows were made. It has also been the home of numerous other films and British TV series for decades. It is currently the home of Strictly Come Dancing and a popular quiz show, which I and my husband happen to like, called Pointless.


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