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Tonight Britain’s TV  industry will honor its own at the House of Fraser BAFTA Television Awards. Seeing as telly is my bag, I’ve decided to offer my picks on the categories – at least the ones where I’ve been able to watch the programs and have an opinion. My choices are based on my personal taste and not on who should or probably will win so don’t place any bets based on this post please!

So without further ado, the envelopes please!

Mini-Series

Cilla

The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries

Our World War

Prey

I only had the opportunity to watch Cilla and Prey. I tried to find a way to see the Christopher Jeffries biopic, but to no avail so. I enjoyed learning about Cilla Black and if Aneurin Barnard had been nominated for supporting actor I probably would have given him the nod.

However, Prey stood out as a Fugitive-esque thriller about a policeman framed for the murder of this family and on the run while trying to prove his innocence. The twists were well-placed and the betrayal was surprising but not from out of nowhere. John Simm delivers as usual especially when playing the maligned man with a wrong to make right.

John Simm in Prey image credit Red Production Company, ITV

John Simm in Prey
image credit Red Production Company, ITV

 

Drama

Happy Valley

Line of Duty

The Missing

Peaky Blinders

I saw all four of these nominees and enjoyed each one except Peaky Blinders. They all deal with crime and they all had great writing. Happy Valley and The Missing had the most masterful performances. In the end, I chose The Missing because of its plot twists, back and forth storytelling and James Nesbitt’s portrayal of a guilt and grief-stricken father.

James Nesbitt in The Missing image credit New Pictures, Two Brothers Pictures, BBC

James Nesbitt in The Missing
image credit New Pictures, Two Brothers Pictures, BBC

 

Scripted Comedy

Detectorists

Harry and Paul’s Story of the Twos

Moone Boy

The Wrong Mans

I’m not even sure what H & P’s Story of Twos is, but I have seen the other three contenders. Being such a huge fan of Chris O’Dowd (I traveled to NYC to see him on Broadway last summer if you’ll recall) you might expect me to choose Moone Boy. But I had to follow my heart and go with the gentle, quirky comedy about two friends who happen to be metal detecting hobbyists. It’s hard to explain, but the characters and stories stuck with me long after the jokes faded.

Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones image credit Channel X and BBC

Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones
image credit Channel X and BBC

 

Female Performance in a Comedy

Olivia Colman -Rev.

Tamsin Greig – Episodes

Jessica Hynes – W1A

Catherine Tate – Catherine Tate’s Nan

All these ladies are talented comediennes, but I’m going to cast my vote for Olivia Colman every time, even if she was just doing a advert voiceover.

Olivia Colman in Rev. image credit Big Talk Productions, Ingenious, BBC

Olivia Colman in Rev.
image credit Big Talk Productions, Ingenious, BBC

 

Leading Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock

Toby Jones – Marvellous

James Nesbitt- The Missing

Jason Watkins – The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries

I respect and enjoy watching every one of these actors in whatever roles they undertake. It might be wishful thinking to believe Nesbitt could beat the red hot Cumberbatch, but Sherlock is no longer the new buzz worthy show so I’d like to think the luck of the Irish could be with him tonight.

James Nesbitt in The Missing  image credit New Pictures Ltd.

James Nesbitt in The Missing
image credit New Pictures Ltd.

 

Leading Actress

Georgina Campbell –Murdered by My Boyfriend

Keeley Hawes – Line of Duty

Sarah Lancashire – Happy Valley

Sheridan Smith – Cilla

Sarah wins this one hands down in my book. Lancashire’s Catherine Cawood was the heart and soul of Happy Valley and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to in the next series. There is going to a next series, right?

 

Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley image credit Red Production Co. and BBC

Sarah Lancashire in Happy Valley
image credit Red Production Co. and BBC

 

Male  Performance in a Comedy

Matt Berry – Toast of London

Hugh Bonneville – W1A

Tom Hollander – Rev.

Brendan O’Carroll – Mrs. Brown’s Boys – Christmas Special

This one was a toss up between Bonneville and Hollander since I actively dislike Mrs. Brown’s Boys. And while Matt Berry makes me laugh, I prefer him as a supporting character. I leaned in favor of Bonneville because his Ian Fletcher who works at the BBC is even better than Ian Fletcher who worked on the Olympic Deliverance committee in Twenty Twelve.

Hugh Bonneville from W1A image credit BBC

Hugh Bonneville from W1A
image credit BBC

 

Supporting Actor 

Adeel Akhtar – Utopia

James Norton – Happy Valley

Stephen Rea – The Honourable Woman

Ken Stott –The Missing

Another tough category filled with some very convincing baddies, but Stephen Rea’s complex portrayal of a soon-to-retire MI-6 agent had nuance and sensitivity that the others lacked.

Stephen Rea from The Honourable Woman credit image Drama Republic

Stephen Rea from The Honourable Woman
credit image Drama Republic

 

Supporting Actress

Gemma Jones – Marvellous

 Vicky McClure -Line of Duty

Amanda Redman – Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This

Charlotte Spencer –Glue

On this one I wavered between Gemma Jones as a dying mother trying to ready her son to care for himself and Vicky McClure’s undercover cop on the corruption squad. In the end I went for McClure since Line of Duty is an ongoing series and Marvellous was limited to the length of a TV movie.

Vicky McClure from Line of Duty image credit BBC Drama and World Productions

Vicky McClure from Line of Duty
image credit BBC Drama and World Productions

 

Fellowship 

Just wanted the opportunity to say – “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

News presenter Jon Snow image credit Channel 4

News presenter Jon Snow
image credit Channel 4

 

Special Award 

Thanks to writer Jeff Pope for teaching me about serial murderers, train robbers, pop singers and just about any other British person of note through his compelling biopics. You make my British Celebrities I Still Don’t Know list much shorter.

Screenwriter Jeff Pope Image credit The Guardian

Screenwriter Jeff Pope
Image credit The Guardian

As I write this, the British public are voting for their new government. I hear it could possibly be the closest election in UK history and another coalition will probably have to be created.

I have watched this election cycle with some interest. While today’s polling outcome will not affect me directly which I admit is part of the attraction, I believe it has held my attention mainly because the campaigning hasn’t gone on so long that I’ve become numb to the main players and their party messages. It may not feel like it to UK citizens but your democratic process is a sprint compared to our grueling marathon of a system.

I mean in the US, our next presidential election is eighteen months off and already we have half a dozen Republican candidates who’ve thrown their hats in the ring with who knows how many more on the horizon. Forgive us if our eyes glaze over because the American public will soon be enduring infuriatingly negative TV ads, incessant campaign phone calls (for those still possessing a land line) and a whole lot of mud-raking, fact twisting and pseudo-patriotic rhetoric being thrown about for the next year and a half. Not to mention the caucuses, primaries and conventions that predict, eliminate and finally anoint the official candidates for the actual general election. The UK’s twenty-five day campaign period sounds like an impossible dream that could never be achieved matter how desperately we wish it to be so.

So how have I been following this more imminent election, you may ask? Well, I did watch a portion of the Leaders’ Debate on YouTube.

Seven party leaders on one stage - debate or game show image credit ITV

Seven party leaders on one stage – debate or game show
image credit ITV

It was a bit overwhelming, but I got the gist of it. Farage is a xenophobe. Cameron, as you would expect, is defensive. Miliband is being mistaken for Tony Blair and Nick Clegg is still in the doghouse for breaking his no-tuition fees promise from the last election.

I realize I have no right to suggest what’s best for another country’s people, but based on that debate performance perhaps your best option is to allow the ladies to form a coalition and let them get on with running things. Though with the SNP and Plaid Cymru as two-thirds of equation, you might not have much of United Kingdom left in the end.

Apart from the aforementioned debate the rest of my political research comes from my telly viewing (of course). I have the background of shows like Yes, Minister, The Thick of It and House of Cards. That’s not to insinuate that any of the current leaders would go to the cold-blooded extremes of Francis Urquhart.

I also watched the TV movie Coalition for more understanding on how the current government was negotiated.

 

I was taken with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s dilemma between joining the Tories or Labour and his idealistic desire to finally put his party in a position to make a difference in government. Alas I didn’t know about Tuition-gate nor the fact that Clegg had the option to pull out of the coalition when it was obvious the Tories weren’t going to play nice. I understand this would have forced another election, but he apparently chose to go with the status quo which turned him into an ineffectual deputy prime minister instead.

There has been one series, however, that has really given me the clearest picture of this highly-contested national campaign and that is the satirical sitcom, Ballot Monkeys. In it we follow the campaign teams of the four major parties as they travel up and down the country trying to inspire the British public to vote for them. There is nothing more revealing than seeing things from the point of view of a politician’s staff.

Conservatives

Desperate for the women’s vote and trying hard not to come across as posh toffs, the Tories seem to be sending a mixed message about who their leader really is – David or Boris.

 

Labour

Ed Miliband has the loyalty and trust of his party staff. Nevertheless, their campaign strategy is to focus on the team rather than their leader who they perceive as having some public appeal issues.

 

Lib Dems

Having your leader be seen as a failure has put a lot of pressure on Lib Dem coordinator Kevin Sturridge (Ben Miller) in particular. He carries on his shoulders the stress of supporter apathy and the virtual shunning of his entire party in the media. It’s bound to take a toll on such a committed supporter.

 

UKIP

And finally we come to UKIP. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Farage’s Army are portrayed as ultra-nationalistic, anti-immigrant and homophobic as well as violent. Poor Gerry Stagg (Andy Nyman) seems to be the only level head in the entire party, but he’s wasted by constantly having to stamp out fires created by supporters, candidates and the party leader himself.

 

I realize Ballot Monkeys is deliberately exaggerating the foibles of the candidates and the character of their voter base. That being said, no party gets preferential treatment and everyone gets roasted equally. Another aspect of this show is that they waited until the last minute to film each episode so national events and the inevitable campaign trail gaffes could be included in a timely fashion. If that’s not a commitment to accuracy, I don’t know what is.

Since I’m not a UK citizen (and under a UKIP government, I never will be), I obviously don’t have a vote. Nor do I have the perspective of one who lives under the unique conditions and problems of that country. However, I did take a 25 question on-line quiz which identified the party with which I most agree philosophically. Let’s just say my coalition’s color would be orange…

As my British readers go to the polls today  I bid you to vote your conscience whatever your political views might be. It’s the way democracy works and if you don’t like the outcome you only have to wait five years at the most to change it!

In this blog I have often referred to British people, both celebrated and notorious, who I have learned about solely through my telly viewing. From Mrs. Mills and Tommy Cooper to Fred West and the Cambridge spies, telly biopics and mini-series have taught me about the real people behind some faintly familiar names. This week I got to know two such people- a beloved entertainer and a convicted wife murderer.

Cilla Black

The real Cilla Black

Cilla Black in 2014

I’d heard of Cilla Black but knew virtually nothing of her story. I decided to watch Cilla purely based on the casting of lead actress Sheridan Smith. I saw her prior BAFTA-award winning performance in another biographical series, Mrs. Biggs wherein she portrayed train robber Ronnie Biggs’s wife. I also read that she did all her own singing for the Cilla Black role.

I found Cilla’s story fascinating – a Liverpool girl with big dreams and a big voice who found herself in the right place at the right time. A teenager when the Beatles were first becoming a sensation in their hometown, Cilla already knew Ringo Starr and was a sought after “girl singer” with many of the Merseybeat bands of the day. According to the show, she was given two chances to audition for the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein; during the first one she choked but the second time Epstein showed up unannounced and Cilla impressed him enough to offer her a contract.

The one who made me sit up and take notice in this series was Aneurin Barnard who played Bobby Willis, Cilla’s manager and love interest. Bobby was loyal, hardworking, supportive and apparently musically talented as a songwriter and singer in his own right.

 

He also tolerated being strung along for what appeared to be years since Cilla had to put on the facade of availability for her fans.

One can never be sure of the accuracy of series such as this, but at one point Brian Epstein offered Bobby his own recording contract. Upon consulting Cilla, she reportedly told Bobby in no uncertain terms that he was forbidden from accepting the offer. She was adamant he not become a competitor for attention from Epstein. Bobby appeared to be stung more by her total lack of happiness for him than her demand that he not accept the contract.  I can’t say I agreed with his devotion to Cilla in putting her career first; however, in hindsight, Epstein died not long after this incident so Willis’ performing career might have ended as quickly as it began.

I probably don’t have to tell you Cilla transitioned from a chart topping singer in the 60’s to a television presenter and actress in the 70’s and beyond. Bobby and Cilla married and remained together until his death in 1999, very rare in show business especially these days. Watching Cilla just left me hoping Bobby got the respect and attention he gave so freely to Miss Black all those years before their marriage.

Malcolm Webster

Malcolm Webster jailed in 2011 for killing his wife

Malcolm Webster jailed in 2011 for killing his wife

The other mini-series I watched recently was a true crime drama called The Widower. It told the story of Malcolm Webster played by Reece Shearsmith. This was a murder case I hadn’t heard of, but if Shearsmith was involved it was sure to be creepy. Indeed I found the actor’s appearance more unsettling without all the customary prostheses, make-up and costumes I was used to seeing from his work on The League of Gentlemen, etc.

According to the story, Malcolm Webster married Claire Morris (coincidentally portrayed by Sheridan Smith) in Scotland. Shortly after the wedding, he began to drug her tea and drinking water with the sleep-inducing drug temazepam when she starting nagging him about his extravagant spending habits. As a nurse, he had ready access to such medications and for a while was able to convince his wife that she had a virus and therefore had no reason to go see a doctor. When he found out she had consulted a physician who wanted to run some toxicology tests, Malcolm knew he had to prevent them from finding the drug in her system.

He took a nearly comatose Claire out in the car, faked an accident he claimed was caused by a motorcycle driving on the wrong side of the road and then, after splashing petrol under the hood of the car, set the engine alight with Claire inside. Predictably the car blew up and Malcolm played the devastated spouse who was too dazed from the accident to rescue his wife.

In the course of the series, Malcolm married a second wife, Felicity, in Australia, embezzled her money, set up insurance policies and drugged her as well. He didn’t succeed in killing #2 before her family got suspicious so he had to make a run for it back to the UK leaving his baby son behind in the process.

Mr. Webster’s downfall was falling for Simone Banerjee (Archie Panjabi) who worked in the same Scottish hospital as Malcolm. To earn her sympathy and attention, he pretended to have leukemia even resorting to shaving his head and eyebrows to simulate the symptoms of chemotherapy. After gaining her affection and trust, Simone undergoes IVF in hopes of giving Malcolm a child to carry on his name assuming he will succumb to the cancer sooner rather than later. Thankfully the procedure is unsuccessful.

As far as we know, he never drugged Simone but later she discovers Malcolm tampered with the life vest in her sailboat so he may have planned on pushing her overboard at some point. By now the police have caught onto Webster’s spree of fires, cons and murder and warn Simone that she may be in danger. His lies finally catch up with him and even Malcolm can’t charm, wiggle or run his way out of it.

It’s difficult to know if Malcolm Webster intended to harm these women when he first got involved with them. It may have been financial circumstances and his great aversion to being told what to do which prompted the drugging and plans to do away with these women he claimed to love. Regardless he remains in prison today despite several appeals and the women who survived their involvement with him can count themselves, if not fortunate, at least wiser.

 

Oddly enough both these mini-series were penned by the same writer, Jeff Pope. He seems to have a knack for true stories as he’s also written the screenplays for Philomena, Appropriate Adult,  Lucan and the aforementioned Mrs. Biggs. I’m glad someone adapts these compelling lives for the screen and makes them entertaining in the bargain. They boost my awareness of British public personalities and,even better ,they increase my chances if winning if I ever enter find myself competing in a pub quiz in the UK. You wait, it is gonna happen one of these days.

Did you know today is National Siblings Day? No, neither did I until I heard it mentioned on The Today Show. But apparently there is such a thing so I’m taking advantage of the internet searches that will inevitably be undertaken to find out what this needless public recognition of our brothers and sisters is all about.

My complaint with a day commemorating this relationship is do we really need to be reminded? Siblings are our first playmates and our first adversaries as well. We’re unlikely to forget the injustices and pranks we survive at the hands of our closest relatives after all, are we?

That’s not to say siblings don’t bring positive things to our lives as well. They are the people with whom we share our formative years and, if all goes well, the ones who we know the longest. I have had an interest in birth order for some time and studied psychology in college so of course this makes me totally qualified to talk about the impact TV siblings have on one another.

Just look at the example of poor Martin Moone, the only boy and youngest child of four children in his family. His three older sisters ignore, belittle and abuse him at every turn. Sinead is probably the worst because she seems to delight in causing her baby brother pain and embarrassment. Take for example the time she painted Martin’s face with make-up in his sleep and he ran off to school without realizing he was sporting a slightly more feminine look that morning.

Martin Moone upon discovering his sister Sinead's prank image credit Baby Cow  Productions

Martin Moone upon discovering his sister Sinead’s prank
image credit Baby Cow Productions

Childhood experiences are usually quite vivid and so we carry them forward into our adult lives. If we are fortunate enough to get to see our siblings much as grown-ups they are often our best friends. That closeness, however, doesn’t come without some emotional baggage. Here are a few telly examples of brothers and sisters who despite their love for one another tend to dwell on childhood bones of contention.

 

Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock)

There must have been quite a lot of competition in the Holmes house seeing as their mother was a eminent mathematician and both the boys could be described as bright to say the least. This sort of youthful antagonism is bound to have residual effects in adulthood with one sibling feeling to need to dominate the other.

 

Del Boy and Rodney Trotter (Only Fools and Horses)

In the case of an older sibling raising a younger one, often a surrogate parent-child relationship develops. The problem is that in adulthood the older sibling, in this case, Del Boy, can tend to interfere in his brother’s life more than in a more traditional nuclear family scenario. Also long buried resentments can bubble to the surface revealing the pain of a childhood cut short out of necessity.

 

Connie and Clarence Emsworth (Blandings) 

Children of privilege are expected to grow up to be upstanding, decisive administrators of their estates. Unfortunately for Connie Emsworth her older brother Clarence shirks all family duties and only wants to spend time with his prize pig, The Empress. As a result, Connie has become a nagging and bitter woman who knows in her heart she could run the affairs of manor if only she were a man.

 

Edith and Mary Crawley (Downton Abbey)

I’m not exactly sure why Ladies Edith and Mary don’t get along. Sure, Edith is the plain middle daughter who never gets a second look or any of the good marriage prospects. (Sort of the Jan Brady of the Edwardian upper class). But why Mary is always so mean-spirited and condescending to her less fortunate sibling, I’m not sure. If she showed just a bit of patience and sisterly kindness, perhaps she could have avoided a scandal like this one.

 

Adam and Jonny Goodman (Friday Night Dinner)

These two young men have only recently moved from the family home so when they reunite weekly for family dinners, they tend to bring some lingering sibling rivalry and brotherly horseplay along with them.  Also Adam is still a chronic tattler, a strategy that he probably employed to make up for the fact that he is significantly smaller in stature than his brother Jonny.

 

So do any of these relationships remind you of you and your brothers or sisters? Did I miss one of your favorite sets of telly siblings? Make sure to tell your siblings you appreciate them and then thank (or blame) them for making you the person you are today!

Sitcoms are full of archetypal characters and the fool is but one. Yet what better time to celebrate the silly, the slightly dim, the individual that marches to a different drummer than April Fool’s Day? So without further ado, a short list of telly twits.

Not Going Out – Daisy

 

 

Father Ted – Father Dougal McGuire

 

 

Up the Women – Eva

 

 

Blackadder – Baldrick (admittedly there are more fools than not spread throughout the this series)

 

 

And the Fool of the Hour – Mr. Jeremy Clarkson

Jeremy Clarkson

image credit Mark Kehoe

SPOILER ALERT for any show listed below especially Bluestone 42!

So it’s tatty bye to Bluestone 42‘s Captain Nick Medhurst. The bomb disposal detachment’s charismatic Ammunition Technical Officer played by Oliver Chris has finally run out of luck.

Tower Block and Nick running from yet another explosion image credit BBC

Tower Block and Nick running from yet another explosion
image credit BBC

 

He was critically injured while trying to free a fellow soldier from a booby trap and though he survived, Medhurst did lose a leg. Looking back over the past series I suppose there were clues; the tricky Taliban bomb maker who seemed to be targeting the Captain specifically, the IED and ambush that resulted in a tense situation for the team and a serious concussion for Nick. He was definitely on his way out though we couldn’t know exactly when or how.

Anyhow, an amputee explosives expert just won’t do so, of course, Nick will be sent home to Old Blighty. Meanwhile  his replacement has already arrived in Afghanistan. We’ll have to see how new ATO Ellen Best (Laura Aikman) fares in his place.

So why is this television event significant, you may ask? Well, for those who don’t know, Bluestone 42 isn’t a war drama or even a “dramedy”. It’s a proper 30 minute sitcom. And while it’s not unheard of to dispatch a character from a comedy, it seems more jarring than when a crisis is encountered in a more straight forward drama.

For example, after suffering a miserable forced retirement you’d hope that One Foot in the Grave’s Victor Meldrew (Richard Wilson) might be granted a happier ending in the series finale.

 

Considering the cantankerousity of the man and his constant state of misfortune, perhaps the writers believed killing him off in a hit and run accident was the kindest thing they could do for him. RIP Mr. Meldrew.

Derek, on the other hand, breaks the mold. It disguises itself as a traditional sitcom with its format and the presence of its creator, director and star Ricky Gervais. The thing is Derek has as many touching, sad moments as funny ones. It is set in a retirement home after all so illness and death are a daily occurrence. Many of Derek’s friends succumb to old age and infirmity and every time, he is grief-stricken.

But for me the most shocking exit on the series was the episode when Ivor, a dog that was brought to the home to visit with the residents, was euthanized on-screen. Not “Say goodbye, Derek. Ivor’s going to sleep now,” then fade out. They re-enacted with painful detail exactly how it is to have a beloved pet put down. It was more devastating, by far, then when Derek’s own father died a few episodes later.

Derek and Ivor saying goodbye image credit Derek Productions and Channel 4

Derek and Ivor saying goodbye
image credit Derek Productions and Channel 4

 

Finally, tragic comedy is stunning even when you know something bad is coming. However, because you’re watching a comedy you think there’s a chance the characters will cheat their fate. Blackadder Goes Forth is a perfect example of this. As we watch one cunning plan after another fail, the viewer wants to believe that there is no way this band of misfit WWI soldiers will be sent over the top to their inevitable deaths.

 

And yet they do, in stiff upper lip, dark British humor style, they do what they must. I still shed a tear every time I watch that scene. I believe it has such emotional impact precisely because it’s placed in a comedy framework.

So next time you’re watching a UK sitcom, don’t let yourself get too comfortable with your favorite on-screen friends. Appreciate them while you have them. Their chances might be better than soap opera or Game of Thrones characters, but no one is ever completely safe in the harsh and sometimes fickle world of British comedy television.

 

When I realized Mothering Sunday was approaching, I wondered if I might give the annual mum-themed post a pass this year. I’ve written about TV matriarchs several times now and I figured I’ve covered that ground rather thoroughly.

But recently I watched Game of Thrones with my son and have wanted to write about it in some capacity. Granted it’s not a British series. However, with the number of UK actors in the cast and a substantial amount of it being shot in Northern Ireland, I think it’s fair game for my blog.

One thing I noted about this show from the start was the relatively large number of strong, powerful female characters featured in it so it occurred to me that marrying Mothering Sunday with this epic fantasy might just be the way to go this time around. That being said, strength is a relative term which can bring out the best or the worst in a mother. Let’s take a look at how the following characters chose to utilize their tenacity and internal fortitude, shall we?

In my book, Cersei Lannister one of the most hated characters in all of Westeros and environs. The only thing worse than this heartless, unforgiving woman is her son, King Joffrey, an alarmingly sadistic monarch with an exaggerated sense of self-importance (or as he’s known in my house, that little weasel-faced bastard).

And while the creation of a demon child can not always be attributed exclusively to the parents, I think we know that Joffrey learned much of his narcissistic attitudes and disdain for his subjects from dear old mom. But Cersei’s not blind to her son’s cruelty and I’m sure she’s smart enough to fear the child despite her love for him. To her credit her other children seem to be adequately normal human beings at this time.

I believe Cersei’s problems date back to the loss of her mother (she died giving birth to Cersei’s younger brother Tyrion). Her lack of a maternal figure and the presence of a domineering, power-hungry father molded her into a vindictive, calculating Queen who seeks “solace” with her brother and doesn’t truly know how to use her heart.

Cersai Lannister

Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) image credit HBO

 

 

Catelyn Stark, on the other hand, is an exemplary mother who truly knows what it is to sacrifice for your children. After the execution of her husband Ned for treason, her oldest son Robb resolves to dethrone Joffrey and bring the justice his father sought to the Seven Kingdoms. While Catelyn supports her first born’s intentions, she has five children to protect. Her instinct to save her daughters Sansa and Arya from the Lannisters forces her to go against Robb’s orders and secretly has their prize prisoner, Jaime Lannister, released in hopes his family will free her girls as well.

In the end, Catelyn does what all mothers are certain they would do if in the same situation. When her family and cohorts are ambushed at the infamous Red Wedding she first takes their attacker’s wife hostage and then heartbreaking pleads with him to let her son go and offers to remain a hostage in his place. Her heroics alas are all to no avail, but we all felt a twinge of recognition as she attempted to save her own flesh and blood.

Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) image credit HBO

Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley)
image credit HBO

By her own admission, Catelyn could not find it in her heart to love her husband’s bastard son, Jon Snow, thus proving no mother is perfect.

 

Even the most uneducated and unworldly of women have motherly instincts. Gilly Craster is no exception. Forced to live in an incestuous, wildling cult, Gilly and the other women have learned that male babies are not part of the family, but instead are given up as a sacrifice to the terrifying White Walkers. While her father/husband is providing lodging to the men of the Night’s Watch, Gilly has the sad misfortune of giving birth to a boy.

Luckily for her, she finds a protector in watchman, kind-hearted Samwell Tarly. She risks everything she’s known by first hiding her son from Craster and then escaping with Sam at an opportune moment when a battle has broken out in the compound. When Sam sends her away to Mole’s Town to keep her and the baby safe, Gilly uses her wits to hide from a band of wildlings who attack the village. She then finds her way back all on her own to The Wall and to her trusted friend, Sam.

Gilly (Hannah Murray) image credit HBO

Gilly (Hannah Murray)
image credit HBO

 

Olenna Tyrell is the matriarch of an influential family and the grandmother of the future Queen Margaery. Technically that means she is a mother even though she doesn’t speak very well of her son Mace or any other man for that matter. Lady Olenna is the Game of Thrones’ equivalent of  Downton Abbey‘s Dowager Countess – both are witty, sarcastic and feel they’ve earned the right to speak their minds. She is an expert on court politics and knows how to manipulate the system. She is also fiercely protective of her granddaughter and has taken some rather extreme measures to see that Margaery is safe and well-placed in the power structure of Westeros.

Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg) image credit HBO

Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg)
image credit HBO

 

Lysa Arrryn could not be more different from her sister Catelyn Stark. Both have lost their husbands to the Lannisters’ treachery yet Catelyn soldiers on for her children while her sister has retreated into madness, which is putting it politely. The woman is batshit crazy, if you like.  She still breastfeeds her beloved son Robin despite the fact that he looks to be eight or nine years old. The boy’s a bit touched as well to say the least. She caters to his whims and encourages him to delight in their special form of execution, pushing people to their death through the Moon Door. Another entitled sadistic nobleman; that’s just what is needed in the Seven Kingdoms…

Lysa Aaryn (Kate Dickie) image credit HBO

Spoiler: We find out later that Lysa was in cahoots with a lover and killed her own husband so she can’t blame her irrational behavior on the grief after all.

 

Daenerys Targaryen, while not mother to a human child, is known as The Mother of Dragons. In fact, it is an official part of her extremely long and quite pretentious name. How did she earn this unusual title you might ask? She walked into a fire with three dragons’ eggs and came out the other side unharmed and with a trio of dragon hatchlings. As you can imagine, even in a fantasy world, dragons are the stuff of legend yet this remarkable young wannabe queen had the power to bring mythical creatures into reality.

For a while, the dragons are like her children. She dotes over them and they adore her. But just like a human offspring, the adolescent dragons become more and more uncontrollable as time goes on. The reptiles’ aggression moves from rowdy fire play to stealing livestock. It isn’t until one of the dragons incinerates an innocent child that the sanctimonious Khaleesi realizes how truly difficult it is to be a mother even to children of another species.

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) image credit HBO

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)
image credit HBO

 

In the Game of Thrones world, being a mother isn’t about baking cookies, carpooling, or attending soccer games. It’s a deadly serious business what with rival houses partaking in poisoning , birthing demon assassins, and throwing children out of tower windows. Survival of your family line is of utmost importance and a courageous, smart and selfless mother is key to that goal.

Tell your mums you love them and appreciate their sacrifices today! Even if they didn’t have to kill, lie, scheme or die for you, you can be sure that they would.

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