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Posts Tagged ‘Miranda’

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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Any Gary and Miranda kiss is heartwarming. image credit BBC

image credit BBC

The internet tells me it’s National Kissing Day. This senselessly manufactured day of swapping spit prompted me to devise a list of cheer worthy TV smooches. You know, the kind that take forever to actually happen and warm your heart when you finally witness them. For example, any kiss that ever transpired between the constantly on again off again Miranda and Gary.

 

So without further ado, here are a few more telly kisses you might remember fondly…

Caroline and Mac proposal kiss – Green Wing

 

 

2.  Mark and Sophie first kiss at a wake – Peep Show

 

 

3. Tim and Dawn Christmas party soulmate kiss – The Office

 

 

4. The Doctor and River Song first and last kiss – Doctor Who

 

Which kiss will you try out on your loved one today?

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Welcome back to my Who Did It Best series. If you recall last time we talked about telly butlers. Fifty-two percent of those who participated in my poll voted Downton Abbey’s Mr. Carson as the one who did it best, followed by the “other” category at twenty-four percent. I assume from the comments people offered, “other” includes Mr. Hudson from the original Upstairs, Downstairs and Magersfontein Lugg from the Campion mystery series. Jeeves came in third with nineteen percent and sadly I must conclude that I was the lone vote for Edmund Blackadder. He might not have been the best example of a dutiful butler on TV, but he made me laugh the most and that counts for something in my book.

Onward and upward. This time I’m asking you to consider the enterprising local shopkeeper.

Dead Parrot

How not to handle a customer complaint image credit BBC

You know you were thinking of  Michael Palin as the inept and quite possibly dishonest pet shopkeeper in Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch.

Small business entrepreneurs must bring every bit of consumer psychology, organization and persuasiveness they possess to the sales floor everyday in order to make a profit particularly in today’s world of quick and cheap superstores and on-line shopping. From books to novelties to the neighborhood grocers’, all these vendors have an uphill battle when it comes to keeping their business viable.

Now it’s time to take a look at our match-up for British telly shopkeepers and discover their tricks of the trade…

 

Albert Arkwright (Ronnie Barker) – Arkwright’s is a small neighborhood grocery store in Doncaster and is the setting of the classic sitcom Open All Hours. Its proprietor and namesake is a master salesman and a tightwad as well. Just ask his beleaguered nephew and errand boy Granville (David Jason).

Arkwright makes it his mission to see to it that no one who walks through the door of his shop leaves without making a purchase. His true genius is in his ability to convince people to buy the items he needs to move most.

 

 

Bernard Black (Dylan Moran) – Black Books is a chaotic, disheveled looking establishment. Shop owner Bernard Black has no discernible customer service skills nor does he seem to have any desire to sell any of his disorganized stock. His assistant Manny (Bill Bailey) does his best to help the shoppers, but Bernard’s rude manner and total disregard for his business is impossible to overcome. Or is it? Perhaps it’s all a brilliant ruse and Bernand is employing reverse psychology tactics on his customers with no self-esteem. Why else would people keep coming back to put up with his abuse?

 

 

Miranda (Miranda Hart)- If you had inherited a decent amount of dosh what would you do with the proceeds? Miranda thought it would be fun to buy a joke/novelty shop with hers. Apparently her interest in running the place wore off fairly quickly because she’s left the day to day operations of the business to her far more organized best friend, Stevie (Sarah Hadland). And thank goodness because if she were stuck in the store all day we’d never get to witness all the Miranda-ish shenanigans she gets up to such as fashioning friends from fruit and using alternative appliances to wash her unmentionables. That being said, Miranda doesn’t shy away from enthusiastically greeting her customers when she encounters them in the shop.

 

 

So there you have it, my candidates for the telly shopkeepers who did it best. I didn’t consider department store moguls like Mr. Selfridge, but might do so in a future contest. Whose shop would you want to frequent? Which character has the ability to sell ice to an Eskimo? Vote for your favorite or write in your own choice in the comment section.

 

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I just finished series one of Sky’s The Cafe. (Thanks Hulu!) Set in scenic Weston-super-Mare, it’s about a multi-generational family who own…you guessed it…a cafe.

Cyril's  image credit Sky 1

Cyril’s
image credit Sky 1

 

Cyril’s was once run by Mary Ellis (June Watson) and her late husband named Cyril, I assume. It is now under the management of their daughter, Carol Porter (Ellie Haddington).  Carol’s daughter Sarah (Michelle Terry) has recently returned to Weston after her relationship in London fell apart and she ran out of money when her writing career didn’t get off the ground.

This gentle 2011 sitcom features quirky characters including Sarah’s best friend, a ditzy hairdresser named Chloe (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), the town’s human statue, Kieran (Kevin Trainor) and Big Issue Frank (Jack Roth). Aspiring musician/nursing home attendant Richard (Ralf Little) and Sarah were an item when they were in school together, and it would appear the flame never went out for the kind, but slightly boring, Richard.

Carol is having problems making ends meet and tries to boost profits with an exotic new menu; however, her clientele are obviously not the adventurous type.

 

By the end of the first series, Carol finds herself in quite dire financial circumstances. That’s what comes of giving Big Issue Frank free leftovers at the end of each day. You must watch The Cafe for yourself if you want to discover if Cyril’s will survive to serve another cream tea, but I’ll give you a hint – there is a second series.

Watching this show got me to thinking about other cafes I’ve seen portrayed on British television. I’ve heard them referred to as caffs and although cafe is from the French for coffee, they sure seem to serve an awful lot of tea. Maybe it’s an American thing, but while I occasionally buy coffee at a restaurant or coffee house, I never buy hot tea out. Perhaps because it seems silly to order hot water and a tea bag and be expected to pay for it.

Here are a few telly cafes that serve not only casual food and beverages, but provide places for social interaction as well:

Being Human – The Cafe on the Corner

Vampire Hal and his werewolf pal Tom work at this cafe on Barry Island in Wales. Hal needs order and routine to keep his blood urges under control and the mind numbing tasks of cleaning the cafe and manning the counter seem to be fitting the bill. That is until a pretty and somewhat forward Scottish lass comes in for tea and gets him quite flustered.

 

Count Arthur Strong – Bulent’s Cafe

Former variety performer Count Arthur Strong and his friends John the Watch, Eggy and Katya come to Bulent’s Cafe like clockwork to enjoy his all day breakfasts and the non-existent two-teas-for-the-price-of-one special offer. And while the eggs are most likely delicious, it’s the company that really keeps them coming back.

 

Miranda – Name Unknown

Miranda’s friend Gary Preston is the chef at the cafe next door to her joke shop. Do cafes have chefs? Anyhow it is a gathering spot for lunches, blind dates and parties as well as a source of free food for Miranda.

Despite the large number of scenes that take place at Gary’s establishment, I had a difficult time finding a self-contained clip at the cafe. If you want to skip ahead to the 1:15 mark, you’ll find yourself in Miranda’s favorite hangout.

 

Dinnerladies canteen

While not exactly a cafe, the employee canteen at HWD Components is a place for nourishment, employee meetings and quite a lot of gossip. Also if you’re a picky eater, you’re not likely to get much sympathy from head caff lady, Bren Furlong.

 

Do any of you frequent a place like Cyril’s? Is there room for such places with the rise of Starbucks and Panera Bread or their equivalents in the UK?  And if anyone can explain the preparation process for cafe tea, I’d be quite grateful. It’s got to be more than dunking a tea bag in hot water, right?

 

 

 

 

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Over Christmas our Dyson vacuum cleaner bit the dust…and picked up dust for the last time.  True, it had been a very expensive purchase, but I’d always been happy with its performance since it had lasted over twice as long as any other vacuum I had owned previously. When the poor thing stopped picking up big pieces of sock fuzz, we had to admit that our Dyson probably had, in fact, been losing suction since my husband dropped it down the stairs and pieced it back together with duct tape. A replacement had to be found.

Not having the funds available to finance another top-of-the-line appliance and since my husband does most of the vacuuming, he volunteered to do the research and find a comparable sweeper at a much reduced price.  Though not the same model as in this advert, we did go with a Shark which I suspect must be a generic version of the original, and therefore more expensive to develop, Dyson.

 

 

If I had been in charge of choosing the new vacuum I might have looked into the possibility of purchasing an import called a Henry Hoover which, despite the name, is made by Numatic International Limited, not the Hoover Company.

Henry Hoover, a  very cheery vacuum popular in Europe and manufactured in the UK

Henry Hoover, a very cheery vacuum popular in Europe and manufactured in the UK

 

A hoover, for those who aren’t aware, is what the British call a vacuum – in the same way we in the US might call a facial tissue a Kleenex even when it isn’t a brand made by Kleenex.  In fact, “hoovering” is actually the term they use for sweeping the floor.

Even though he’d been around since the early 1980’s, the first time I saw a Henry Hoover was on the sitcom, Miranda. If you know anything about the show, you’re probably aware that Miranda has a tendency to decorate inanimate objects in an effort to fill the lonely hours.

 

Miranda's Fruit Friends and Vegetapals

Miranda’s Fruit Friends and Vegetapals

 

So it’s no wonder that when I first saw her Henry, I thought she had embellished a basic canister vacuum cleaner to serve as a substitute for her friend and not-so-secret crush Gary.

 

Then I saw this shocking story involving police corruption and that cherubic vacuum coveted by housewives and professional cleaners alike:

 

So as you can see all Henrys have shy friendly smiles and expectant adoring eyes.  All he wants to do is bring a chuckle to your heart while he helps you clean your carpets. If my husband had known of my infatuation with Henry it might have been worth the extra cash to order one online.  Who knows? I might have been willing to take the hoovering duties back from him.

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On Mother’s Day, one would normally expect to see inspiring tributes to patient, selfless mums.

The Queen and baby Charles image credit diamondjublilee.org

The Queen and baby Charles image credit diamondjublilee.org

 

But when I started scanning my telly memory for heartwarming mother-child moments, I’m afraid I came up a bit short.  What I kept finding  instead were mothers and their grown children at odds.  From colicky babies to toddler tantrums to teenage rebellion, mothers love their sons and daughters dearly, even when they aren’t very likable.  And in turn, children do exactly as they are supposed to – they grow up and apart which makes us proud and terribly sad simultaneously.

I’ll be honest.  Being a mother has been the most wonderful thing I’ve ever been a part of despite being comprised of some of the most painful, frustrating moments of my life.  So on this Mother’s Day, look at this list and feel better about your relationship with your own children. That’s what we all really want anyway, a little reassurance that we haven’t screwed it all up.

Penny – A posh snob with little patience for Miranda’s choices, deep down Penny wants the best for her…and in her estimation the “best” is a proper job and any man who will marry her awkward daughter.

 

Agnes Brown – Loud, foul-mouthed mother of five, Mrs. Brown loves her large brood, but her well-meaning ways often get her into trouble.  If she weren’t so nosy, maybe there wouldn’t be misunderstandings like this one.

 

Petula Gordino – After dropping her off at an orphanage as a child and “forgetting the address”, Bren’s mother is back in her life.  Just as well she wasn’t around when Bren was young. Petula lives in a fantasy world wherein she hobnobs with celebrities and gets engaged to 16 year old boys among other things.  Skip ahead to 3:35 if you want to get right to Petula’s antics.

 

Tanya – Simon’s mum likes having a famous son. Now that’s he’s left his successful presenting gig , practical Tanya isn’t very understanding about his quest to heal and find himself.

 

Eddie – Immature, emotional and excessive in all areas of her life, Eddie and her sensible daughter Saffron are constantly at odds.  And while Eddie truly loves her, Saffy is often forced to take on the mothering role in their relationship…except, of course, when it comes to personal grooming!

 

Of all the telly mothers out there, which one reminds you most of your own mum?  

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The time between now and New Year’s Eve is prime party season.  Such parties require an extraordinary amount of planning and preparation, not to mention the actual hosting duties.  Therefore, it’s not something I’m very likely to consider doing.  However, if I were to decide to expend the energy, I’d want to go all out.

The secret to a successful party is not the food, drink or decorations.  It’s inviting the right mix of guests, each with specific strengths and talents.  And the best pool of invitees, in my opinion, would be my “friends” from the telly.  My carefully thought out list would read as follows:

1. Sally from Twenty-Twelve

Sally would be the very first person I would invite because, as personal assistant to the Head of (Olympic) Deliverance, her thorough and efficient planning skills are second to none.  I hate to admit it, but I would subtly try to exploit Sally’s very eager-to-please nature and convince her to do most of the organizing.  Believe me, you don’t want me to put this shindig together unless you like attending crap parties.

2. Sherlock Holmes from Sherlock

It’s a good idea to have someone at your soiree with a clever party piece, an impersonation or some unusual talent, to serve as an ice breaker of sorts.  The downside of Sherlock’s talent is of course his tendency to insult people, so I’d want to expose him to the other guests in small doses. He doesn’t like people much anyhow, so I don’t think he’d mind terribly if I locked him in my closet for the rest of the evening.

3. The Doctor and Donna Noble from Doctor Who

Once the first round of drinks has been served and people are comfortably mingling, it’s time to bring out the party games.  With their playful, platonic rapport, The Doctor and Donna make perfect game leaders.  Their specialty is the classic charades, but I think any game that requires witty banter and running is within their scope of expertise.

4. Maurice Moss from The IT Crowd

By now the party should be in full swing and people might have begun to behave a bit carelessly.  That’s why it’s wise to invite someone who keeps a cool head and knows what to do in a crisis.  Moss is conscientious and a whiz on the computer so in the unlikely event of an emergency, I’m almost confident he would be able to contact the proper authorities.

5. Stephen Fry (and guests) from QI

A good conversationalist is a must for any successful holiday bash.  Someone who can speak with wit and intelligence about current events as well as those weighty, eternal questions is a valued commodity.  Having Stephen Fry and his QI friends (particularly David Mitchell and Sue Perkins) in attendance would lend more than of smidgen of gravitas to my gathering.  They’re all Cambridge Footlights alums, by the way.

6. The cast of Gavin and Stacey

At first I was going to invite just Bryn and Nessa and I’ll tell you for why…because of their excellent karaoke skills. (I won’t lie to you, Nessa can tell an interesting story as well). Then I discovered the entire Gavin and Stacey cast could line dance so I decided to invite the whole lot of them.

7. Miranda

Despite, or perhaps even because of, her many faux pas, pratfalls and windy expulsions, Miranda would be the guest of honor at my party.  She may be awkward but she’s the Queen of Awkward.  She is what I call “awesome”!

8. Mr. Bean

Eventually my lovely, dream party will have to come to a close.  I believe a responsible host should have some sort of arrangement in place for shuttling her less than sober guests safely back to their homes.  Mr. Bean has an ingenious set-up for transporting a considerable amount of freight (or people) in his tiny little mini. Always the innovator, he also has a back-up crash safety system much more comfortable than any air bags.

Which telly character/personality would you most like to invite to a holiday gathering?

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All I want for Christmas?  A VPN (Virtual Private Network) so I can gain access to even more British television programming.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Good God, you’d have to quit your job in order to make time for all the extra telly and your husband would NEVER get his hands on your computer again!”   And yet, I want it anyway.  It appears that, for now, I must continue to rely on the kindness of strangers who post stuff on YouTube, often with reckless disregard for copyright infringement.

I admit it’s a sickness, but there’s just so much I long to see, especially this time of year.  My fondest wish is to discover why Miranda is inexplicably embedded amongst a youth caroling group.  Hallelujah!

If you’d like to read more about this year’s Christmas telly highlights, click on over to Smitten by Britain for my full report.

http://www.smittenbybritain.com/2012/12/a-christmas-telly-feast-for-the-eyes/

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All right, it’s time to investigate the female side of  lifelong friendship, better known as the BFF.  I have two very different examples to share, the first pair being Eddie and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous.  From flashbacks and other exposition, we learn that Patsy was a reviled and neglected child and thus relied on Eddie’s family for comfort and stability.  From the purity of this sister-like bond, a horribly dysfunctional relationship developed which encouraged an exceedingly self-absorbed lifestyle for both women.  While they don’t work or live together, they do spend an inordinate amount of time in one another’s company, skipping out of work for half day lunches, going on holiday together and just hanging out at Eddie’s house mixing recreational drugs with a never-ending supply of alcoholic beverages.

As in our earlier discussion of childhood friends, I would identify Patsy as the alpha in this relationship since she was the more confident and beautiful of the two (Actress Joanna Lumley actually was a successful fashion model in the 60’s). As adults, Patsy is usually the instigator of bad behavior, be it indulging in illegal substances or indiscriminate sex.  Dumpy, uncoordinated Eddie tries to keep up with Patsy as best she can, but her biggest weakness seems to be her susceptibility to every New Age trend she comes across.  Apparently she has an army of practitioners at her disposal to aid her in reaching self-actualization, from aromatherapists and homeopaths to reflexologists and organic hairdressers. Only Eddie’s sensible and long-suffering daughter, Saffron, saves her from total self-destruction.

Ab Fab has never been a favorite of mine.  Too much farce and not nearly enough redeeming qualities in the characters to make me want to spend any time with them, I guess.  But the absurdly co-dependent nature of Patsy and Eddie’s relationship demonstrates how intense the bond between best friends can be.  In the following clip, Patsy stands in for Saffron in order to make Eddie’s pleasures truly guilty ones.

It’s no secret how much I adore Miranda so I’m quite excited to move on to a pair of BFFs I really like, Miranda and Stevie.

Unlike Miranda’s snobby boarding schoolmates, Tilly and Fanny, Stevie has known Miranda since childhood and is a true friend.  In fact, when the decidedly un-business minded Miranda bought a joke shop, she asked the organized and efficient Stevie to come manage the place for her.  Yet despite working together, they still make time to hang out after work where they take painting and French classes together and invent fun theme nights like Miranda and Stevie’s Okey Dokey, No Room for Blokies Karaoke.

As you’ve probably gathered by the photo at the left, Miranda and Stevie are physical opposites.  Stevie, blond, perky and petite was probably the more confident and attractive child.  Miranda, on the other hand, clumsy and quite above average in height for a female (and unfortunately often called “sir” by unobservant passersby) would be a classic follower.  However, their adult relationship dynamic doesn’t really hint that Stevie had the upper hand during their younger years.  While Miranda’s school chums christened her “Queen Kong”, she and Stevie don’t seem to have that kind of cruel history.  That’s not to say they’re never at odds since there’s always some little competition brewing between them. For example,vying for the friendship of a young, new waitress next door to determine who’s the most fun was topped only by the inappropriately sized dog each woman bought in order to tempt an attractive male customer to ask one of them out.  And while there’s plenty of girly slapping and shoving, nothing says Best Friends Forever like a special high-fivey kind of handshake ritual and a round of Where’s Miranda?

 


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Valentine’s Day is over and with it the avalanche of flowers, chocolate and other outward displays of romantic sentiment.   I just read about an online survey stating that the British and Irish are the least romantic Europeans based on how much they spend on Valentine’s trips.  Quite self-serving since it was sponsored by a travel site and also suggests that money equals love.  I mean look at the film Love Actually.  There are big romantic gestures there with little to no financial burden involved – Colin Firth learning Portuguese so he can speak to his beloved in her language, Andrew Lincoln and his handmade PowerPoint love confession, Liam Neeson helping his stepson sneak past airport security to tell the girl of his dreams how he feels about her.  To be fair a Richard Curtis film may not be the most accurate measure of British romance.  So let’s look the medium of television and see how romantic British couples really are:

Miranda and Gary (Miranda):  I absolutely love this couple for at least two reasons.  They were good friends first and, despite appearances, Gary is almost as dorky as Miranda.  Now they’re trying to find their way, ever so awkwardly, towards a romantic relationship.  The second thing is that every time they’re together Miranda has this adorable expression on her face as if to say she can’t believe this man is interested in her.  But even better, Gary never looks as though there’s any reason he shouldn’t be.  However, it is one of those budding relationships that keeps getting derailed which of course is what keeps us coming back.

 

Rachel Bradley and Adam Williams (Cold Feet)

This couple definitely had their problems (more of them caused by Rachel than Adam, in my opinion) but there was always such chemistry and playfulness which grew into something deeper.  Through infidelities, illness, and various other misunderstandings they emerged a couple destined to go the distance.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have yet to see the last two series which I am aware end on quite a tragic note.  But I prefer to remember them when their love was new and Adam romantically serenaded Rachel in the nude with a rose stuck up his bum.

 

Amy Pond and Rory Williams (Doctor Who):  

If you search for Amy and Rory on YouTube you will find about a million fan-made videos of this couple yet it’s a relationship too complicated to explain. I can’t think of any traditionally romantic gestures between them.  But then again, they’re not your traditional couple what with all that time travel and having to save humanity, if not the whole universe, on a regular basis.  Amy tends to be the more no-nonsense, less demonstrative type.  (On more than one occasion, she  refers to Rory as “stupid face”).  Rory is actually the more nurturing one (he is a nurse after all) and has a nagging suspicion that Amy prefers the Doctor to him.  But in the end, they’re always there for one another.  For example, Rory watched over Amy for 2000 years while she remained in stasis in the Pandorica.  In return, Amy gets very distraught every time Rory dies.  It’s just something you have to watch to understand, I’m afraid.

So I would conclude that romance is valued and expressed in the UK.  I mean, if it can be found in sitcoms, dramedys, and classic sci-fi series, love really must be… all around.

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