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Posts Tagged ‘Mr. Bean’

As you probably know the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio are officially underway. My family watched the opening ceremonies Friday night and I have to say I found the event a let down compared to the 2012 London spectacle. I mean Gisele Buchchen strutting across the stadium for what seemed like an eternity…or Her Majesty and James Bond parachuting into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium. It’s like they say, the Brits do pomp and pageantry extremely well.

A performer playing the role of Britain's Queen Elizabeth parachutes from a helicopter during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (BRITAIN - Tags: OLYMPICS SPORT)

image credit REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

 

After all the samba dancing and selfie-sticks, the athletes are presumably back to focusing on their respective competitions. Years of training will come down to seconds in the pool or on the track; the scrutiny of judges regarding mechanics and style; or on which team has the better day on the court or pitch.

It occurs to me that, as in most things in life, British comedy offers important lessons that can apply to many aspects of human endeavor. Vital truths lie beyond the laughs and these can benefit anyone striving to excel in sport.

For example, A Bit of Fry and Laurie demonstrate how important it is to start your training with an experienced and reputable coach.

 

One of the major roadblocks to athletic excellence is fear as Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) so adeptly illustrates.

 

The late, great Victoria Wood (it still hurts my heart to say that) bears witness to the absolute necessity for an athlete to have a dedicated and reliable support system.

 

In this sketch Big Train‘s Simon Pegg and Kevin Eldon showcase how working tirelessly to get the little things right can pay big dividends in the end.

 

And finally, don’t despair if your athletic passion isn’t even on the list of sports recognized by the IOC yet. The cast of Not the Nine O’ Clock News encourages you to always keep in fighting form in anticipation of the day when you get to the opportunity to achieve your Olympic dream.

 

Best of luck (and laughter) to all the athletes competing in Rio!

 

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"The Library" is a planet sized book repository. Or is it? image credit BBC

“The Library” is a planet sized book repository. Or is it?
image credit BBC

 

As you probably already know, I work in a public library. I’ve talked about British related programs I’ve organized like the Time Lord Trivia Tournament, our British Car Day and, of course, the monthly gatherings of my support group for expats and lovers of British culture, Anglophiles United.

But when most people think of libraries, these fun, out-of-the-box activities are not what come to mind. They think of implacable librarians, drab in appearance and stern in attitude; scholarly and musty volumes, as dry in content as their fragile pages; and a vault-like atmosphere that is quiet as a tomb.

What follows are some British telly clips about libraries. I really had an enjoyable time searching for them. Some support the stereotypes above and others paint a more modern or friendly picture of libraries today.

 

Psychoville – Jeremy Goode (obsessive guardian of library material)

 

Later in this story, Jeremy actually shows up at the woman’s house hoping to recover her delinquent book. Real library staffers don’t actually fixate on things like this. People lose stuff all the time. We do send them to collections though if they misplace too many of the precious things of library and neglect to pay up of their own accord.

 

Mr. Bean – clumsy patron

 

Where I work, we don’t have such ancient and rare tomes and no gloves are required to touch anything on our shelves. That being said, we do unfortunately get items back in our book drop in less than pristine condition: food and beverage splatters, crayon scribbles, pages torn out and, yes, even sand under the plastic dust jacket of the book of the latest copy of ‘Girl on the Train’ or ‘Game of Thrones’.

 

Derek (and Kevin) – patrons with specific interests and tastes

 

We do get individuals like Derek who want to take out the same book over and over again. They are usually children, but Derek has a child-like quality about him. On the other end of the spectrum, we get blokes like Kevin in as well, but they are more likely to be using our computers to find  “adult images” than magazines.

 

The Old Guys – A mature, attractive librarian

 

We’re not all middle aged ladies in cardigans with glasses hanging on a chain around our necks.  In fact, harmless flirting has been known to happen across the circulation and reference desks. I work with women (and men) of various ages, fashion sense and style and temperaments. Some are enthusiastic and energetic while others are more reserved and timid. And believe it or not, there are some quite confident and ambitious librarians as well, rather like Barbara (Cherie Lunghi) the new librarian in the clip above.

 

Doc Martin – play group

 

Libraries don’t have to be deadly silent places, particularly in the children’s areas of the building. Young patrons are encouraged to sing, move and create. My library has a wide range of kids’ programming including infants and toddlers’ lap sit story times. You typically see mums with their little ones at events like this, but kudos to Dr. Ellingham for even showing up at a baby sing-a-long/play group.

 

Individual libraries, even within the same general area, can have very different amenities, rules and staffers. But universally, they are places for people who love books, stories, and learning. Besides being a full-time telly watcher, there’s no other job I’d rather have.

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Paper hats? Check. Organic Twiglets? Check! Homemade “wine”? Check. Just add a chorus of Auld Lang Syne and you should be ready for a cracking British New Year’s Party. Here’s hoping your guests don’t surreptitiously move your clock ahead and sneak off to a better party next door.

 

 

Thanks to everyone who read, commented on or shared posts from my blog this year. It is a privilege to have so many of you participate in my obsessive passion for Great Britain. I hereby identify you as my enablers.

2014 was a year of quality telly with great dramas like Happy Valley, The Missing, Line of Duty and Our Girl. Notable comedies for me were Moone Boy, Rev. and Detectorists. I discovered the guilty pleasure of Gogglebox. I watched the live feed of the Scottish Referendum results and we got a Scottish Doctor. The Germans, however, won the World Cup (sorry). We said goodbye to Miranda, Derek, Alfie Wickers and the Brockman family. We said rest in peace to Roger Lloyd Pack, Bob Hoskins, Rik Mayall and Lord Richard Attenborough among others.

At this time please let me wish you and yours a prosperous New Year. Fingers crossed 2015 will be an even better year for telly as well!

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On occasion I’ve shared with you the summer exploits of the Anglophile/expat group I lead at my library.  Well, this year we decided to put on a British car show.

Our parking lot was a showcase of British motor engineering  – Lotuses, Mini Coopers, Jaguars, MGs, a Triumph or two, a Landrover, a Mini Moke and the most rare of all – a 1950 Healey Silverstone.

Our winner received a gift certificate for auto detailing and an almost one of a kind Stig Pincushion Cat.  If you want to buy one for yourself, check out Fat Cat Crafts here.

I was really chuffed with our first attempt.  We attracted 21 area car owners and drew a crowd of about 100 British automobile enthusiasts. We had beautiful weather, but it was the generous assistance of my fellow Anglophiles that made this inaugural event so successful.  From helping with set-up to recruiting car owners, from donating crisps and biscuits to being my cheerful greeting staff, their attendance and participation was key to such a wonderful day. They’re the best!

But as much as I enjoyed marveling at all these unique and sometimes exotic vehicles, when it comes to cars I’m a very practical woman. ( I drive a 1998 Toyota Camry with over 215,000 miles on it after all). So  I thought it might be nice to organize a little virtual cruise-in right here featuring some functional, hard-working, telly automobiles.

Welcome and please enjoy the Working Man’s British Car Show:

1. Ford Cortina TC Mark III GXL   – Life on Mars

Gene Hunt’s beloved Ford Cortina was involved in its share of police car chases in and around 1970’s Manchester.  I think he loved this car more than his wife…who we never did see, by the way.

2.  British Leyland Mini 1000 – Mr. Bean

Mr. Bean’s Mini was definitely an extension of the man himself.  It was quirky and reckless and multipurpose- whether he needed it to be a dressing room or a delivery van.

3.  Reliant Regal Supervan- Only Fools and Horses

Del Boy and Rodney ran their dodgy black market business, Trotters Independent Trading Company, out of their dilapidated Reliant Regal Supervan so it literally was a working man’s vehicle.  Though perhaps they shouldn’t have chosen such a conspicuous color or model if they wanted to avoid the notice of local coppers.

4. The Reasonably Priced Car- Top Gear

Top Gear‘s newest model for it’s reasonably priced car segment was the Vauxhall Astra.  That’s all anyone needs really, even a star like Benedict Cumberbatch.

5. Type 40 TARDIS – Doctor Who

I know. You’re saying hold on, the TARDIS isn’t a car.  But it’s my list, my blog and this classic British mode of transportation is exactly what I would choose if I could find one in working order. Besides they come with a Time Lord chauffeur.

Vote for the People’s Choice award by commenting below.  If you’re not satisfied with the entrants, write-in candidates are welcome.

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I recently watched the first, and fortunately only, series of The Royal Bodyguard starring septuagenarian, David Jason.

Captain Guy Hubble, the center of whirling vortex of clumsiness and ineptitude.

Captain Guy Hubble: a danger to himself and others, a whirling vortex of clumsiness and ineptitude.

That in and of itself should give you a clue that this sitcom was doomed to fail.  Who would allow Her Majesty to appoint a 70-year-old man to be in charge of royal security?  Are we supposed to believe that the Queen doesn’t know that the man who inadvertently keeps rescuing her family is the one putting them in danger in the first place? She has to be a smarter cookie than that, surely.

But let’s give Sir David his due.  He was able to get away with pratfalls once upon a time:

Not to worry, The Royal Bodyguard is merely a jumping off point from which to introduce other clowns of British telly fame.  Those who can master the art of slapstick are quite talented indeed and the ones who come off as klutzes walk a tightrope (sometimes literally) between humor and being perceived as annoying twats.  For example…

1. Howard Steel from The Worst Week of My Life

Basically Meet the Parents with a British sensibility, TWWOML features Howard,  a well-meaning bumbler who, when subjected to the stress of crucial events in his life, becomes a full-on buffoon. In the week leading up to his wedding (series 1) and then the week before his wife delivers their first child (series 2), Howard commits an endless string of blunders, posing a danger to himself and especially to his in-laws.  Sound familiar?  Well it just so happens that both The Worst Week of My Life and The Royal Bodyguard were created by the team of Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni.  Interestingly (well, probably not so interesting) I discovered the connection when I realized that Geoffrey Whitehead appears in both shows as the primary annoyee:

As Captain Hubble's superior and Howard Steel's father-in-law, Whitehead possess a sour, disapproving, put upon attitude - the perfect foil for a klutzy character.

As Captain Hubble’s superior and Howard Steel’s father-in-law, Whitehead possesses a sour, disapproving, put upon attitude – the perfect foil for a klutzy character.

2.  Roy Mallard from People Like Us

An unusual choice you might say, since this fictional documentarian is primarily heard and only inadvertently appears on camera, but when I think clumsy, I think Roy Mallard.  In the course of following people through their daily work routines, Roy is the antithesis of the fly-on-the-wall presenter he strives to be. His attempts at verbal virtuosity constantly fall flat.  For example in trying to describe the difficult duties of a tech company managing director, Roy explains that  “being cruel to be kind is never easy – and since Peter isn’t doing this to be kind, his task now of simply being cruel, is even more challenging.”  The most brilliant part is that even though we don’t see Roy, the reactions of the other characters tell us he is spilling, stumbling, and breaking things on a regular basis.

3. Miranda

Not since the screwball actresses of my youth (Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett come to mind) have I seen such an adept physical comedienne as Miss Hart.   At 6’1″, Miranda is in a perpetual state of unintentional tripping, stripping and wind ripping.   Mix with a healthy dose of awkward social habits such as singing at job interviews and categorizing her favorite words and you can see why Miranda has attained the status of comedy royalty.

4. Mr. Bean

Our list would not be complete without mentioning the indomitable Mr. Bean.  His sketches pass the true test of physical comedy which is the ability to bridge language barriers. All of Mr. Bean’s predicaments, frustrations and triumphs are conveyed through his actions and that very expressive face.  No words are necessary and that’s a very rare skill to be sure.

The ironic thing is that looking clumsy on purpose requires quite a bit of coordination and overall body awareness.  Mr. Bean himself, Rowan Atkinson, has been bandying about the idea in recent interviews that at 58 he is too old to be playing the clownish Bean and might be retiring the character for good.  Perhaps he should have had a little heart to heart with David Jason awhile back, hmm?

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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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Boston Duck Tour - Amphibious transport

An unexpected benefit of a recent family vacation to Boston was that my experiences on that trip have made me a more informed commuter and therefore completely qualified to complete this series of posts.  During this vacation, I relied on just about every form of public transit possible from airplanes to the subway; commuter trains, buses and a duck.   Don’t get me wrong.  I felt good about what mass transit does to help the environment and the lessons I learned about bus and subway etiquette were very valuable.  The people-watching opportunities alone were worth the experience.   But by the time I got back home, I was looking forward to hopping into my trusty 1998 Toyota Camry and driving where I wanted, whenever the fancy struck me.  Americans love their cars and the freedom driving represents.  So what has television taught me about the British attitude towards automobiles?  Let’s look at a few examples:

Mr. Bean shows us that sitting inside your car is for the conventional and unimaginative driver.

 

Minder – Used car salesmen are slimy and suspect on either side of the pond.

 

Open All Hours – In the UK, a Morris Minor can double as a changing room.

From the reckless speed of tedious car chase scenes in The Sweeney and Minder (and later Life on Mars  featuring a 1974 Ford Cortina) to gingerly navigating narrow village lanes and the even more treacherous winding country roads of All Creatures Great and Small, Doc Martin and Ballykissangel, I don’t think the British are all that different when it comes to taking to the open road.  The biggest difference of course is that whole driving on the left side of the road business and maybe roundabouts…

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