Archive for the ‘Lists and Compilations’ Category

This week has been about recognition of strong women – Thursday was International Women’s Day and today is Mothering Sunday in the UK.

Make no mistake, motherhood is definitely not for sissies; especially for those women who are raising the children (and sometimes, grandchildren) all on their own due to divorce or widowhood. Their grit, persistence and fierce love is inspiring.

Here are just a few examples of tough telly mums:

Louisa Durrell (Keeley Hawes) – The Durrells in Corfu

A widow and mother of four, Louisa takes a leap of faith to start a new life for her family in Greece. It’s a daily struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads, never mind maintaining the animal sanctuary her youngest child has established.

Sgt. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) – Happy Valley

A 47 year old police officer, Catherine is divorced, lives with her sister who’s a recovering heroin addict, has two grown up children; one dead and one who doesn’t speak to her, and a grandson.

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Polly Gray (Helen McCrory) – Peaky Blinders

When she became a widow, Polly had her children removed from her care. She’s recently been reunited with her son Michael who made the choice, contrary to his mother’s wishes, to join of her crime syndicate family.

bbc two peaky6 GIF by BBC

DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman)- Broadchurch

Ellie is divorced and a working mother of two. First she had to come to grips with the fact that her husband was a murderer. Then her teenage son starts peddling porn. This mum is not a happy camper.

Image result for broadchurch ellie gif

Violet Crawley, The Dowager Countess of Grantham (Dame Maggie Smith) – Downton Abbey

The no-nonsense matriarch of an aristocratic family, the Dowager’s main concern is keeping her family’s reputation and fortunes intact. She expresses her love in blunt, but constructive terms.

Image result for dowager countess gif



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Being a telly addict, I often have several series on the go at once. So understandably I get characters, plots or other details confused from time to time.  Especially when the genre of the shows are similar.

However, over this post-holiday week my goal was to finish not only Game of Thrones season 7, but also series 4 of Peaky Blinders. Who knew a medieval fantasy epic and a post WWI crime drama would have so much in common? I started to get a bit muddled going back and forth between the two programs and put it down to binge fatigue.  However, when I stopped to examine the situation more closely, I found it wasn’t just a middle-aged brain with too little sleep to blame. The two shows actually have more in common that you might expect.

What follows are just a few examples. (BEWARE! OODLES OF SPOILERS LIE AHEAD!)

1. Family Vendettas

Game of Thrones – Multiple blood feuds including Arya Stark avenging her family by poisoning the Freys


Peaky Blinders-The Changrettas ambush the Shelbys for a start


2. Characters who have second (or more) sight

Game of Thrones – Bran Stark- the Three-Eyed Raven


Peaky Blinders – Aunt Polly, especially since her brush with the noose


3. Fist Fights where the little guy wins

GOT- Theon Greyjoy finally grows a pair (figuratively, of course) and stands up for his kidnapped sister


Peaky Blinders- Tommy’s fighter Bonnie Gold faces an aptly named Goliath


4. Unexpected Resurrections

Game of Thrones – Dead Viserion = sad! Viserion reanimated by the Night King = bad!!!


Peaky Blinders – Arthur became the second Shelby fatality of the vendetta, or did he?


5. Aidan Gillen played a killer

Game of Thrones- The Irish actor gave his swan song as slimy manipulator Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish


Peaky Blinders- New character introduced this series, Romany hitman, Aberama Gold


They say there are only seven basic plots in storytelling, right? Additional comparisons are welcome as I’m sure I haven’t exhausted the list.







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Twitter UK logo

Twitter UK logo

It’s been five years and a few months since I started my Twitter account.   A slow and frustrating process, I’ve learned by trial and error what and how to tweet. I like to think I’ve got a handle on this social media medium by now despite the fact I’ve only amassed 328 followers thus far. It’s definitely a two steps forward one step back sort of proposition.  I don’t know if being on Twitter has driven previously unreachable readers to my blogs, but I have found it to be rewarding as means of communication with all sorts of people.

I’ve had the opportunity to talk to published authors about their books. I found @LissaKEvans to be particularly gracious and approachable.

I was sent movie stills for a library screening of Tell Them of Us (@ww1Film) though Twitter contact.

I have voted to rescue talented young people from being eliminated from TV singing competitions. (#VoiceSaveOwen)

Mostly I can discuss British telly and culture in instantaneous and verbally economical exchanges with a subset of people who know who and what I’m talking about. They’re my witty, supportive virtual friends and they include bloggers such as @FrivolousMonsta and @LukeCustardtv.

But if the fan girl in me is honest, I have to admit the possibility of celebrity contact is what brings me back to check my feed time and again. I follow mostly British comedians and other creative types because, above all, I want my Twitter life to be more sparkling and clever than my real one. While one can never be certain, it’s painfully obvious in some cases that the feed isn’t maintained by the actual celebrity. Some like the tweets of Noel Fielding (@noelfielding11) are obviously being generated by the man himself. Besides all the photos he’s sharing from his North American tour, who else would say something like this?

In a way, Twitter has become, for me, a sort of metaphysical autograph book if you will. What follows are examples of some of my close encounters with luminaries across the sea.

Chris O’Dowd aka @BigBoyler – Mr. O’Dowd follows me on Twitter which, in my universe anyhow, is a huge deal. I’m not sure how it happened, but my best explanation is that I was reading a tweet by Chris followed by the resulting replies when I came upon a spoiler for a movie O’Dowd was featured in called Calvary. I called the guy out for ruining the ending before people in the US had seen it and next thing I know, I get notified that Chris is following me! I like to think he liked my chutzpah, but he probably was trying to make up for the rogue tweeter’s faux pas. No matter, since then I’ve had no interactions with the lanky Irishman whatsoever, but at least he’s stayed around silently in the shadows, reading my tweets and smiling.

Chris O'Dowd twitter


Brenda Blethyn aka @BrendaBlethyn – More exciting than having this amazing actress follow me on Twitter (which she does) is the fact that I got to conduct a phone interview with her last year. When I tweeted about my experience, she kindly acknowledged our meeting. A classy lady and a judging by her tweets, an avid theater and arts supporter to boot.

Brenda Blethyn twitter

Count Arthur Strong aka @Arthur_Strong – I’ve had the great fortune to have several exchanges with Arthur (or the actor who created him, Steve Delaney). His tweets make and his sitcom make me laugh like nothing else. We’ve discussed trouser fires, show rankings and his  aversion to Game of Thrones. But my favorite was the very Arthurian answer he came up with below.

Count Arthur Strong twitter

Miranda Hart aka @mermhart- I never could have imagined I’d ever achieve Twitter communion with one of my British comedy idols, but it finally happened about a year ago. And just so you know, I kept my promise and went to see Spy in the theater. No lie, Miranda was in it quite a lot.

Miranda Hart twitter


Chetna Makan aka @chetnamakan- I have had likes and brief replies from several GBBO contestants including Richard Burr, Iain Watters and Luis Troyano. But I’ve found Chetna to be the most responsive of the former TV baking show contestants. She responds promptly and her appreciation of your interest and support feels so genuine.

Chetna Twitter

Reece Shearsmith aka @ReeceShearsmith- Now with Mr. Shearsmith I had to work a bit harder. I’d been tweeting complimentary remarks about his work in hopes of getting him to acknowledge my presence. Finally I pestered him for info about the upcoming series of Inside No. 9…and he took the bait!

Reece Shearsmith twitter

Others have retweeted and liked some of my input, most recently the two fine gentlemen you see pictured below. Each notification brings with it a little thrill that someone whose work I value has taken a moment to affirm my wish to connect with them.                                                        

Eddie Marsan @eddiemarsan

Eddie Marsan @eddiemarsan


Greg McHugh @gregjmchugh


In fact my very first celebrity “favorite” (now designated as “likes”) came from Russell Tovey aka @russelltovey. At that time I thanked him for his small but meaningful gesture which he then proceeded to “like” as well.

Russell Tovey twitter


I still have others in my sights including the aforementioned Noel Fielding, Richard Ayoade, David Mitchell and Sarah Millican to name a few. Just to clarify, I will not resort to the out and out plea for them to follow me because it’s my birthday or something. It’s annoying and requires no real thought. I will earn my tweets the hard way – with ingenuity, perseverance and maybe just a bit of old fashioned flattery. I can only imagine those hard earned tweets will be the sweetest of them all.

I’d really enjoy hearing who is in your Twitter “autograph book” or about your experiences in general. If you don’t follow me currently and would like to, you can remedy that by clicking the Follow button to your right under Telly Quotes and Other Tweetables!


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It’s that time of year again when thoughts turn to hearts and flowers and bloggers try to find a new angle on the Valentine’s Day post. Looking back I have explored telly couples who were obviously destined for one another and, on the flip side, other pairings that probably weren’t a very good idea. This year I’m examining that tried and true plot device, the love triangle, in which one character has to choose between two (and sometimes more) suitors. I’ve compiled five examples of this exhilarating yet often heartbreaking scenario and at the end I’m going to ask you to vote for the trio who you felt did it best.

Miranda, Gary and Mike from Miranda

Once the poster girl for lonely hearts, now Miranda’s facing an embarrassment of riches (or proposals, as it were)!


Ross, Elizabeth and Demelza from Poldark

This is what happens when everyone thinks you’ve died in a far off war and it’s best for your betrothed to just move on. And then you meet a fire-haired street urchin…


Amy, Rory and The Doctor from Doctor Who

Miss Pond has carried a torch for the Doctor since they met (as adults anyway). Despite the fact that she married Rory, it takes some time for her husband to believe she prefers him over the fascinating Time Lord.


Assumpta, Leo and Peter from Ballykissangel 

What to do when you fall for a priest? Get married to an old school beau, that’s what.


Gillian, Robbie and John from Last Tango in Halifax

Considering Gillian’s track record with men, you could argue this one is a love square or perhaps even a pentagon. But since Robbie and John are her only age appropriate suitors, I feel I this qualifies as a three-sided love affair.

image credit Courtesy of Ben Blackall/© Anthony and Cleopatra Series Ltd

image credit Courtesy of Ben Blackall/© Anthony and Cleopatra Series Ltd


Now you decide. Take our poll and have your Valentine’s Day say!





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When I read that Channel 4’s The IT Crowd debuted ten years ago this week, I thought, “Great! This will be a fun and easy topic to write about.” As a dedicated fan of this slightly surreal, smart and sometimes slapsticky sitcom, I wouldn’t need to do any research. In fact, I could talk about Jen Barber (Katherine Parkinson), Maurice Moss (Richard Ayoade) and Roy Trenneman (Chris O’Dowd), the staffers of Reynholm Industries’ subterranean IT department, ad nauseam. Easy peasy, right?

Not at all! Counting this version you are reading on your screen, I have started this post over four times. I thought of highlighting each character, choosing my favorite episodes out of the show’s four series run or focusing or what I felt was the strongest of the lot which for me would be series three. Series four was the weakest in my opinion. I had too much to say and no original thoughts on how to organize them.

My Chris O'Dowd autographed copy of The IT Crowd Series 3

My Chris O’Dowd autographed copy of The IT Crowd Series 3

One problem I tend to have with any post is finding just the right YouTube clips to illustrate my point. This issue gets magnified when you know the show so well that you spend hours looking for a certain scene only to find the video just isn’t out there.

So in the end, what I decided to do is share ten of my favorite YouTube-accessible IT Crowd moments. I figured if I don’t do it now the moment will have passed and I will have deprived you all of the laughs you desperately deserve this weekend – particularly if you aren’t an American football fan. In fact, think of these clips as alternative viewing – the anti-Superbowl, if you will. Those familiar with the show have to know where I’m heading with this, right?

Are We Not Men? Series 3 Episode 2

Roy and Moss think the key to happiness is knowing how to behave like manly football hooligans. That is until they actually attend a match…


Meanwhile in the same episode Jen has to find a way to break up with a new boyfriend. Again.


Calamity Jen Series 1 Episode 2

Moss shows his capacity to keep a cool head when an emergency strikes at the office…


Italian for Beginners Series 4 Episode 4

And speaking of fires in strange places…


50/50 Series 1 Episode 3

Roy has a disastrous date and sets out to prove to Jen that woman only love bastards…


The Work Outing Series 2 Episode 1

When Jen allows her co-workers to accompany her to the theatre, she learns that Roy and Moss probably shouldn’t leave the basement. Ever.


The Dinner Party Series 2 Episode 4

Despite the experience immediately preceding this one, Jen foolishly invites her employees to a dinner party…


Calendar Geeks Series 3 Episode 6

In his never-ending quest to pull one of the pretty women on the 7th floor, Roy agrees to be the official photographer for a charity calendar celebrating “geek chic”…


The Speech Series 3 Episode 4

No retrospective of The IT Crowd would be complete without including Reynholm Industries’ culturally ignorant, lecherous but somehow likable CEO Douglas Reynholm (Matt Berry). Here’s an example of how he charms the press…


Reynholm vs Reynholm Series 4 Episode 6

And finally I’m killing two birds with one stone by featuring my favorite recurring character Richmond Avenal (Noel Fielding) while also showcasing one of the clever fake promotional clips that were featured on show over the years. This is the return of Richmond (who disappeared after series two) and his new business venture.


If you enjoyed this stroll down memory lane, please share your favorite moments from the basement and beyond. If you’re new to The IT Crowd and these snippets have made you peckish for more, you can watch all four series on US Netflix or Hulu. Only Hulu offers the one-off special which aired in 2011 and you don’t want to miss that one. Moss learns about the magic powers of women’s slacks!

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Today is the Great American Smokeout, a day when the American Cancer Society encourages people to make a plan to stop smoking. So of course my mind turns to British TV and some of its characters who could probably use a little help kicking the habit. Granted some of them come from period dramas set in a time when the deleterious effects of smoking were not fully known.

Perhaps they can take a page out of Sherlock’s book and stock up on nicotine patches?


1.Thomas from Downton Abbey

Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) with the ubiquitous fag hanging from his lips image credit Carnival Film & Television and ITV

Villain-ish Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) with a ubiquitous fag hanging from his lips. You may recall he used to take smoking breaks with his partner in crime O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) before she left Downton for warmer climes
image credit Carnival Film & Television and ITV


2.  Jane Tennison from Prime Suspect

DCI Tennison's (Helen Mirren) high pressure job surely takes a toll for which smoking (and drinking) provide some temporary relief image credit Granada Television

DCI Tennison’s (Helen Mirren) high pressure job surely takes a toll for which smoking (and drinking) provide some temporary relief
image credit Granada Television


3.  Bernard Black from Black Books

Bernard Black (Dylan Moran) might be happy if he could just smoke...and drink  and read. image credit Assembly Film and Television and Channel 4

Bernard Black (Dylan Moran) thinks he could be happy if he could just smoke…and drink and read.
image credit Assembly Film and Television and Channel 4


4.  Eddie and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous

Hedonistic Eddie (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are rarely seen without a ciggie or a drink. (Is a pattern emerging here?) Image credit French & Saunders Productions and BBC

Hedonistic Eddie (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are rarely seen without a ciggie and a drink. (Is a pattern emerging here?) Addiction is a way of life for these best friends.
Image credit French & Saunders Productions and BBC


5. Dr. Turner from Call the Midwife

Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann) and the former Sister Bernadette, now Shelagh Turner (Laura Main) share a smoke. Even though it's the late 50's/early 60's, you'd think medical professionals would know better image credit Neal Street Productions, BBC

Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann) and the former Sister Bernadette, now Shelagh Turner (Laura Main) share a smoke. Despite being set in the late 50’s/early 60’s, you’d think medical professionals would know better, especially our good doctor.
image credit Neal Street Productions, BBC


Wishing the best of luck to all those who are attempting to quit smoking today! It road is hard, but the benefits are undeniable.

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Just thought I’d shoot off a quick Five for Friday to remind everyone that it’s Mo-vember, that month-long campaign to raise awareness of men’s health issues by growing some hair above your lip. For those of you who are already sporting a bit of stubble, here are a few examples you might want to aspire to.


Ronnie Barker as Albert Arkwright in Open All Hours image credit BBC

Ronnie Barker as Albert Arkwright in Open All Hours
image credit BBC


Stephen Fry as General Melchett on Blackadder Goes Forth image credit BBC

Stephen Fry as General Melchett in Blackadder Goes Forth
image credit BBC


David Suchet as Hercule Poirot image credit Carnival Film & Television

David Suchet as Hercule Poirot
image credit Carnival Film & Television


John Cleese as Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers image credit BBC

John Cleese as Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers
image credit BBC


James Nesbitt at Tommy Murphy in Murphy's Law image credit Tiger Aspect Productions

James Nesbitt at Tommy Murphy in Murphy’s Law
image credit Tiger Aspect Productions

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