Posts Tagged ‘Noel Fielding’


Over the past few years The Big Fat Quiz has become customary holiday fare round my place, mainly because I force my loved ones to watch it with me. In fact, it’s very much like a family gathering if your relatives include an angry uncle who habitually rants about the state of the world and a constantly snacking, eccentric brother who wears flamboyant capes to Christmas dinner.

Certain aspects of this broadcast have become traditions in and of themselves.  For example, what could be cozier than Charles Dance seated next to a blazing fire reading from a reality star’s tell-all biography? Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow is always a festive addition when he delivers song lyrics as a news story and then dances like no one is watching…but we all are. And it isn’t The Big Fat Quiz until those adorable Mitchell Brook Primary School Players reenact an event of note from the year gone by.

This, of course, is coordinated by a man with all the dominance of an overwhelmed substitute teacher with a really implausible laugh.


But in the end it’s the the celebrity competitors who determine how entertaining a given quiz will turn out to be. Let’s look at how well our trio of teams performed.

The Tinsel Sisters (David Mitchell and Roisin Conaty)


Famed curmudgeon David Mitchell is the winning-est panelist in the history of the BFQ. He has made twelve appearances and won eight times (whereas chat show host Jonathan Ross needed sixteen tries to achieve the same number of victories). This year David was paired with a newcomer to the year-end quiz, creator and star of the very excellent sitcom GameFace, Roisin Conaty. In terms of an end result, this team worked well seeing as (SPOILERS!) they won the trophy with a total of 35 points. However, it was Mr. Mitchell who stood out in the comedy department with his diatribe about the substandard quality of a sign that was displayed behind Prime Minister Theresa May , a lesson about the specific vitamin deficiencies responsible for rickets and scurvy and finally, his insistence upon the importance of proper chronology and punctuation. It’s not that Ms. Conaty isn’t funny; their interactions just weren’t very dynamic.

Team Pain (Big Narstie and Katherine Ryan)

Now this was a more interesting pairing. If you aren’t familiar with either of these entertainers, Ms. Ryan is a Canadian comedian based in the UK and Mr. Narstie is an English grime MC? Yeah, I’m not sure what that is, but he turned out to be quite impish and entertaining. He had a problem with names, identifying most of the panelists by their CVs. Mitchell was continually referred to as Peep Show guy, Richard Ayoade as IT guy and rather insulting to Noel Fielding was that Narstie clocked him as Nigel Planer who played Neil the hippie from The Young Ones. Just a clarification to Mr. Fielding, Nigel’s age is 64, not 90 as you asserted. To Jimmy Carr’s chagrin, Mr. Narstie repeatedly made a heart shape with his hands and insisted on calling it the “Mo Farah sign” after the gesture made by the British distance runner to celebrate a win. The thing that worked well with this team was that Katherine acted as something of a cultural interpreter without being condescending. She was also very familiar with viral trends and other pop culture references which significantly contributed to their more than respectable second place finish of 33 points.

Cakes in the Maze (Richard Ayoade and Noel Fielding)

This twosome are the most experienced of the BFQ teams on the program.  With twenty-four appearances between them, they have won twice as a team and three more quiz titles separately. Admittedly their win/loss ratio isn’t as impressive as David Mitchell’s,  but it’s not as if they aren’t as smart or culturally aware. David Mitchell and Richard Ayoade were students at Cambridge University together; Noel Fielding has a background in art, a wildly creative mind and a mildly concerning obsession with satsumas. These two are obviously invited to this gig to be, as Jimmy Carr has described them, toddlers at a wedding. Don’t let their contrasting sense of fashion – Gandalf and the Professor – fool you. These two are in cahoots to undermine authority and infuse the proceedings with a bit of whimsy. Whether it’s Noel luring us into a surreal world of sharks with no knees or Richard making an appeal for their responses based on sub-text , several facts are clear. Jimmy Carr loses control of the quiz from time to time and this duo are major instigators of all that lovely chaos. It matters not a jot that Cakes in the Maze came in third place with 19 points. The Big Fat Quiz is at it’s best when Ayoade and Fielding are on the same team.




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According to the internet, this week marked National Relaxation Day (Aug 15) and National Tell A Joke Day (Aug 16). The juxtaposition of these days is rather fitting since I find a laugh is what’s needed when I want to relax. Whether I’m immersed in the intensity of gritty British TV dramas or just trying to survive the pressure of being a library worker in the midst of solar eclipse glasses mania, in my experience making the conscious decision to laugh is always the right one. And my genre of choice in these situations is usually a comedy panel show.

This week I happened upon series four a show called Taskmaster so I thought it the perfect time to share my feelings about this entertaining and stress-busting program with you. Heaven knows we’ve all got anxieties now more than ever.

Greg Davies, extremely tall stand-up comedian and star of Man Down, Cuckoo and The Inbetweeners, performs the titular role of the Taskmaster. His purpose is to issue simple, if not a bit bizarre, tasks to five comedians who are asked to complete them in the most efficient and out-of-the-box manner possible. His assistant (and also creator of the show) Alex Horne umpires the challenges and plays the part of Davies’ willing minion for laughs. At the end of each task, Davies ranks the performances of the competitors according to his whims and his penchant for mockery and assigns points accordingly.

Joining Greg and Alex on the show this season were Outnumbered dad Hugh Dennis; former GBBO presenter Mel Giedroyc; Mighty Boosh troupester and new GBBO presenter Noel Fielding and two young comedians previously unknown to me Lolly Adefope and Joe Lycett.

What kind of assignments must the comedians complete? Well, each episode starts with the Prize Task, in which Davies sets a theme and each contestant donates a prize to offer up. The motifs have included most unusual autograph on the most unusual vegetable, the most surprising picture of themselves and in this clip their best membership/subscription. At the end of episode, all the prizes are awarded to the comedian who earned the most points in that week’s show.

Other nefarious tasks set over the course of the eight week run of Taskmaster involved:

Identifying the objects in a sleeping bag without taking the objects out of the bag.

Hugh Dennis sleeping bag

Hugh Dennis feeling up a sleeping bag


Destroy a cake. Most beautiful destruction wins.

Destroy cake

Mel Giedroyc decides how to best obliterate a cake


And my favorite task of the series – as a team, get a wheelie bin across an obstacle course, while one person is in the bin, the rest of team move the bin blindfolded, and everyone cannot speak English.

Wheelie bin race

Lolly Adefope, Noel Fielding and Joe Lycett prepare for the foreign language wheelie bin navigation task

At the end of the final episode, the comedians’ points are totaled and the one who has accumulated the most over the course of the series wins this:

Greg's head

Gold Noggin

Indeed I think it’s rather fortuitous that (SPOILER ALERT!!!) Mr. Fielding was the victor because no one else would want these spoils, right? Noel really had the right set of skills for this type of competition. With his keen sense of the surreal and an art school background, he had the proper mix of creativity and reckless abandon. He also ended up being more athletic than some might expect from a self-professed goth. Sometimes his devil may care attitude missed the mark as when he was disqualified for putting a wet suit atop his head instead of on his body during the small talk with Fred the Swede challenge, but overall his risks and unique perspective paid off. Perhaps Noel can use this big gold replica of Greg Davies’ head in one of his future art installations or stand-up routines. I’ve seen his live show so I know whereof I speak.

That being said (and those who know anything about me know I’m an avid Fielding fanatic), my favorite contestant had to be Mel Giedroyc. She was so genuine, enthusiastic and supportive during the course of the show that they compiled a montage of her all her authentic positiveness that is guaranteed to make you grin. Then in true Taskmaster style turned around and presented poor Mel with a super frustrating special task that involved hiding a gigantic beach ball from Alex in a wide-open football stadium. (Apparently her favorite swear word is bollocks.)

So if you find yourself in need of a tension-relieving chortle, may I suggest an episode or two of  Taskmaster?  In the US I found series four on Daily Motion. I apologize in advance for the all the repetitive advert breaks. In addition, series five is on its way to UK audiences very soon – September 13th to be exact.

All photo images are courtesy of Dave UKTV except the one of Greg’s head which was posted on Twitter by Alex Horne.


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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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Should have taken this photo before the show when it was still light outside...

Should have taken this photo before the show when it was still light outside…

Before I get started with my story, I should probably make sure everyone knows who Noel Fielding is. After all, almost every time I mentioned I was going to see this show, most people had no face to go with the name. If the person I was talking to was a British TV comedy fan they might know Mr. Fielding played Richmond the Goth on The IT Crowd. Or if they were in my children’s age range, I could ask them if they know who Old Gregg is.

If not, I was pretty much at a loss to explain who this English celebrity is because if my American friends don’t know the Boosh or Richmond, they’re never going to have come into contact with him on Never Mind the Buzzcocks or the Big Fat Quizzes of the Year.

I can only describe Noel as a Renaissance man; stand-up comedian, actor, visual artist, frequent panelist on comedy quiz shows, and dabbler in music (particularly the crimp style). This talent, however, is beyond explanation. Channeler of Kate Bush perhaps?


Anyhow, you get the idea. So there I was, just arrived in Boston from Cleveland to experience Noel Fielding live with my son and co-conspirator in slightly deranged British comedy. We Ubered into the theater district on a rainy evening and pulled up in front of the Wilbur with a few hours to kill. We loitered across the street at the Rock Bottom brewery nursing our Roy Rodgers and lemonade until we could get in to the show.

Once inside we found our seats with the aid of a justifiably confused usher.  I ask you; post it notes on cheap restaurant chairs and seats from row 13 and 14 located right next to each other. Nevertheless, I was pleased at how close we were to the stage and was reassured that not everyone in attendance was dressed as a Noel Fielding creation though there were plenty of those as well. Including someone who looked a bit like this…

Incarnation of Noel in his sketch show Luxury Comedy (image credit E4)

Incarnation of Noel in his sketch show Luxury Comedy (image credit E4)

The point was we were all together, the flamboyant and the quiet Noel lovers, all eager to witness whatever hilarious weirdness he was about to throw at us.

And on that account Fielding didn’t disappoint. He made his entrance in this sparkly ensemble:

Noel Fielding at the Wilbur Theater Boston

Noel Fielding at the Wilbur Theater Boston


He quickly shed the cape and headdress and got down to business with a good forty-five minute stand-up set in which he bemoaned the descent into his 40’s, explained what “chavs”are and regaled the audience with a bizarre dream he had about being an herbal tea bag.


For those of us who arrived at the appointed time, we could delight in our host’s playful scolding of latecomers, giving one couple an in-depth recap of what they’d missed so far.

Being the first audience of this North American tour, we got to be Fielding’s guinea pig in some respects. Very considerately he had thought to translate certain terms and brands from British to American. Examples were the cheeses Dairylea and Laughing Cow and modelling clay brands Plasticine and Play-doh (which aren’t exactly the same but close enough).

The rest of the show featured Noel’s brother Michael as Hawkeye (a half bird half man creature that somehow has something to do with tennis umpiring) and Noel’s cheating wife. We got “treated” to a glimpse of his bum as well. American actor and frequent Mighty Boosh co-star Rich Fulcher played a multitude of characters including Antonio Banderas, a clueless harlequin and a triangle. That last one is just too convoluted to explain. For me Mr. Fulcher is fine in small doses but the crowd really seemed pleased every time he stepped on stage.

The cast interacted with Fielding’s famous animated moon and a menacing Plasticine Joey Ramone.

Joey Ramone as envisioned by Noel image credit E4

Joey Ramone as envisioned by Noel image credit E4


One of my favorite parts of the whole show was when Noel waded into the crowd followed by a camera (I can’t tell you why) and interviewed members of the audience. In fact, he stopped to talk to the couple seated in the row directly in front of us. Alas we didn’t get to tell him about our city of origin, interesting jobs in the library world, nor that we were in fact mother and son. For my dear boy it was a close call; for me a case of so close yet so far.

I have a new appreciation for Noel’s improv skills and rapport with the fans which you don’t get to see from his more structured TV appearances. He seemed surprised and chuffed that anyone in America knew who he was let alone a sold-out crowd in Boston. If he’s coming to a city near you and you’re game for some avante-garde comedy, I’d highly recommend taking in the show.

It was all that I could have hoped for and well worth the over 600 mile journey. In the end I didn’t even seek Noel out at the stage door to see if a selfie or autograph was possible (and as you may have gathered, I’m a shameless fan girl). Why ruin my perfect evening or mar the impression of a person I’ve found fascinating since early in my British comedy awakening? I was right about him all along. That’s all I need to know.




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image credit North One and Channel 4

image credit North One and Channel 4

Move over Michael Palin, Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry and just about any other British celebrity who has presented a travel program. Richard Ayoade’s in town and he’s leaving forty-eight hours after arrival.

Last weekend during Winter Storm Jonas I binge-watched both series of Ayoade’s offbeat tourism program and delighted in every quirky moment.  (In the spirit of honest journalism and full disclosure, the winter storm didn’t really affect my part of the country. However, it was a good excuse to curl up on the couch and obsessively watch something funny as a symbol of solidarity with my less fortunate neighbors.)

The premise of Travel Man is that IT Crowd star and frequent celebrity panel guest Richard Ayoade undertakes the task of making mini-breaks more efficient and less boring. In aid of this he invites a celebrity mate to join him on his journey. I find it comical that a man who suffers from a number of conditions that make traveling unpleasant- sea sickness, vertigo and horse allergies – was given a show like this to present. Travel Man doesn’t shy away from the dark side of holiday making and neither should we.

Once at their destination city, Mr. Ayoade and his companion attempt to cram as many cultural experiences as possible into 48 hours with the ultimate goal being to answer the question “We’re here, but should we have come?”

What sort of cultural experiences you ask? Well, one important aspect of any society is their cuisine. In Vienna, Richard tried Käsekrainer (Austrian cheese sausage). In Paris he sampled snails and a calves’ head casserole. Copenhagen brought its A-game with open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød (which you must eat from left to right on your plate). But probably the most courageous thing Richard attempted to ingest was this Icelandic delicacy:

While Ayaode doesn’t like everything he tries, he makes up his mind to give it a go without a lot of whinging, a la Karl Pilkington, for example. He also isn’t much of boozer, but he does imbibe at least a few sips of Carlsberg beer, schnapps, Sturm (that’s partially fermented grape juice), vodka at 10 am, and absinthe for God’s sake.

Seeing the city in some way other than a traditional bus tour is a must for our prudent sojourner. Be it mini hot rods, yacht, helicopter, or camel, it’s imperative to get a unique view and avoid a malodorous coach ride whenever possible. Nonetheless, if you can’t keep up with the tour guide, what’s the point?


Museums are another essential stop when it comes to travel abroad. From a self-guided street art tour in Paris or a stroll through the artistically lit Cisterns of Copenhagen to Moscow’s cosmonaut museum and collection of Soviet arcade amusements, interactive is the name of the game. Until someone or some thing gets hurt, that is…


At the close of a given episode we learn what each guest appreciated most about their holiday. Chris O’Dowd found Vienna clean, nice and he liked the shiny caravan with (almost)enough head room that Richard had booked for him instead of a hotel suite. Noel Fielding immensely enjoyed the midway horse racing game, Gallopen, that they played at the Tivoli Gardens (Walt Disney’s inspiration for his own Disneyland) in Copenhagen and Greg Davies marveled at their evening at the Moscow Cats Theater. However, the champion of answers came from Mel Giedroyc who sweetly claimed the best part of her holiday was hanging out with Richard. Perhaps she was angling for another mini-break in the next series, but I have to say despite my general distaste for the City of Lights, I thought the Paris episode was superior to all others.


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As promised I’m back with the second half of my quirky names series. I will admit I had a more difficult time compiling a list of unusual male British names. The traditional ones like James, John, Tom, Robert, Steve, etc. are still popular on both sides of the pond. Not unknown in the States, but heard less often, are names such as Martin, Simon, Hugh and the even more rare, Clive.

Below are five of the most distinctly British names I could brainstorm. As with the ladies segment earlier, if you can come up with a better, more characteristic example, please share in the comments section at the end of the post.

Benedict Cumberbatch

As far as I’ve been able to ascertain, this is indeed the Sherlock actor’s given name. In fact his father and fellow actor, Timothy Carlton, doesn’t even use the family surname in his professional life so I think young Ben took a calculated risk when he retained this unusual moniker.  The formality of “Benedict”and the whimsical quality of  “Cumberbatch” sets this actor up as a classic British character. Besides the iconic Mr. Holmes, Benedict has also portrayed illustrious Brits such as Stephen Hawking and Prime Minister William Pitt. Whether a choice of family loyalty or a dodgy gamble, judging by the trajectory of his career, Mr. Cumberbatch made the right decision.

Benedict as Sherlock image credit BBC

Benedict as Sherlock
image credit Hartswood Films


Rupert Grint

While almost any character in Harry Potter’s world could have made this list (Neville Longbottom, Barty Crouch, or Dudley Dursley for example), Rupert Grint is one of the few actors whose name fit right in with the quaint characters in the films. Rupert is common enough in the UK, but few and far between in America. And Grint, well it sounds as though it’s right out of Roald Dahl story.

Rupert Grint as Ron Weasly  image credit Heyday Films

Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
image credit Heyday Films


Noel Fielding

It might seem odd that the French word for Christmas has become a male British name.   However, with the change in pronunciation from the French (No-el) to something more like Noll, the English have made in their own and Noel Fielding is, in my opinion, a prime example of the country’s renowned eccentricity.  From the Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd to his self-titled Luxury Comedy sketch show, Mr. Fielding’s whole being screams that he’s an artsy, mod goth with a totally off-the-wall way of looking at the world and he doesn’t care who knows it. What could be more British than that?

Team captain Noel Fielding on NMTB Image Credit BBC

Never Mind the Buzzcock’s team captain Noel Fielding 
Image Credit BBC


Julian Rhind-Tutt

I chose Mr. Rhind-Tutt as a representative for all those Brits with hyphenated last names which we Yanks have been trained to associate with money and breeding. Although from what I’ve read in the past, aristocratic blood doesn’t run in his veins.  Julian’s  parents just did what a number enlightened couples do when they marry; they combined surnames. Still sounds classy though, right? Rhind-Tutt has portrayed a few posh blue bloods in his career in Blandings and The Lady Vanishes for starters. He’s also played a number of coppers and doctors, the most famous being Dr. Macartney in Green Wing.

Julian Rhind-Tutt

Julian as Angus McCain in The Hour image credit Kudos Film and Television


Ralph Fiennes

Ralph (pronounced Rafe) Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, to be exact. And according to Wikipedia, this talented gentleman is, in fact, a gentleman, reportedly an eighth cousin to Prince Charles. I had a neighbor named Ralph and we called him “Ralf”. To be honest, when I first heard this actor’s name spoken I thought he was Ray Fines. Regardless of spelling or pronunciation, Mr. Fiennes is a grand example of the British acting profession. He’s conquered Shakespeare, Dickens, and more recently the Bond franchise among other roles. He’s THE Voldemort for God’s sake! Never mind that most of us became acquainted with him as the most horrible Nazi on film ever!

Ralph Fiennes

Fiennes as Charles Dickens in The Invisible Woman image credit BBC Films



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If you are a regular reader of this blog, you may have noticed my recent spate of posts about “Things That Make Me Sad.” Lest you think me a chronically depressed Anglophile, I want to share something I watched this week that made me smile from ear to ear.


The IT Crowd Finale -The Internet Is Coming

The IT Crowd Special -The Internet Is Coming


Though it aired in the UK a month ago, it took a while for this one-off special episode of Channel 4’s The IT Crowd  to find its way onto YouTube.  I didn’t discover it had been uploaded until last weekend but rather than greedily watching it right then and there, I delayed gratification and waited until my son and I could experience it together.  And so it was that Tuesday evening we sat down to share a significant British comedy moment – the last chapter in the Jen, Moss and Roy story.



Creator Graham Linehan constructed a great episode for the show’s fans. It contained the signature elements we’ve come to expect from The IT Crowd; awkward situations, misunderstandings blown out of proportion and, of course, bizarre behavior from one of the most memorable geeks of all time, Maurice Moss.

I reckon the words “women’s slacks” will forever bring a chuckle to my throat.


There was also plenty of reminiscing and calls back to jokes from earlier episodes including this classic gag from series 3:


And as if a solidly funny episode wasn’t enough, my prayers were answered by a cameo appearance of my favorite recurring character:

Noel Fielding returns as Richmond Avenal

Noel Fielding returns as Richmond Avenal


For those fans who haven’t yet had the opportunity to watch “The Internet Is Coming”, I don’t want to give away much more.  It was a celebration of a sitcom beloved by many. ( Is that what makes it a “cult” comedy, I wonder?)  And though it’s not officially being called the finale of The IT Crowd, there was a definite air of finality to it especially when you hear the last line of the closing scene. Bet you you can guess what it is…

I also sensed a swan song feeling as I watched the interactions of Reynholm Industries employees Roy, Jen and Moss. There were quite a few moments when couldn’t help seeing actors Chris O’Dowd, Kathleen Parkinson and Richard Ayoade instead.  They’ve moved on in their careers.  So while it was gracious and sweet of them to return, this episode was about giving devotees closure and not a set-up for recurring specials.  Besides after this, I’m not totally certain I want to see this particular trio 10, 15, or 20 years down the road.

Actually this” thing that makes me happy” could also go into the “things that make me sad” column as well.  It’s not a sappy sad.  I don’t think The IT Crowd could ever do sappy anyhow.  It’s a satisfying sadness for an ending that you understand has to happen. Say farewell to Jen Barber, Maurice Moss and Roy Trenneman and know that they are in a better place. I mean it.  If you watch the special and they have literally gone to a better place.

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I was actually in the midst of writing about something quite mundane (the comedic contributions of mockumentaries and men dressing as women) when I realized that this next post would be my 100th.  Obviously, one hundred is a momentous and, well, very round number.  In just the past week, the 100th anniversary of the heartbreaking sinking of the Titanic was observed.  The broadcasting of the Downton Abbey-esque Titanic mini-series on ABC last weekend, not so impressive. (I’m disappointed in you, Julian Fellowes).

And today there’s this, of course:

100 days to the London 2012 Olympics depicted in soldiers?

So how could I let this occasion pass without doing something out-of-the-ordinary to commemorate this achievement?

When television shows reach 100 episodes they get a big cake or something…

Please note – this Office cake celebrated the century episode of the American version.  The original British show produced only twelve regular episodes and one two-part Christmas special, not all that unusual for a television series in the UK.  Let’s just say I don’t think  BBC producers would have much use for the services of The Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman.

When tv shows reach this milestone, sometimes they turn it into a trip down memory lane, full of clips from episodes past.  The intent of such an episode used to be to reward loyal viewers by allowing them to reminisce and relive their favorite scenes.  Now in these days of syndication, dvd box sets and online services, no one really wants to see a new episode wasted on something they could just as easily call up on YouTube.  If anyone makes a clip episode anymore, they’re definitely attempting to save a few bucks – or quid, whatever the case may be.

But since my blog budget is non-existent, I’m afraid you’ll have to be content with a summing up of the highlights and exclusive, little known facts behind “Everything I Know about the UK…I Learned from the BBC”.

1.  I often forget the precise wording of the title of my blog and have to pull it up on-line to double-check.

2.  My first post hit the blogosphere on January 17, 2010 and pulled in one, count ’em, one view during the rest of that month.

3.  “Is Bloody Really a Swear Word?” still remains my most viewed post which tells me there are an awful lot of people out there who should probably be joining Ralphie in a little snack.

Lifebuoy, yum!

3. According to my tag stats, I was not surprised to find I have referenced The Office more times than any other series.  Doctor Who came in a respectable second. The fact that I seem to have mentioned Noel Fielding more than any other performer, however, gives me cause for concern:

4. Thursday, July 28, 2011 was the busiest day my blog has seen so far with a total of 123 views in one 24-hour period.  I can’t account for this relatively large number of hits as there were very few referrals from other sites and barely any search terms used that day. My best guess is that one person toggled back and forth between the home page and each individual post.  I guess that’s double dipping but, hey, I’ll take what I can get.

5. After various search engines, Facebook is my biggest source of referrals.  Good for upping the blog numbers, maybe not so good for privacy…

6.  A little known fact, except to those who live in my house: I spend an exorbitant amount of time putting these posts together.  For example, I started working on the bones of this post Monday morning, searched around on YouTube and Google images last night for the media for this piece and have been typing and editing for three hours today.  Oh, and I also must mention that I create all this on a really crap, out-of date computer.  Please someone!  Pay me to do this so I can  justify this hobby/obsession!

7.  I check my blog stats multiple times a day to see if my view count has budged.  I can’t help it…the internet has ruined my attention span and any time management skills I used to possess.

8. I probably average three  hours of British television viewing daily in order to generate material for this blog.  Who am I kidding?  I’d watch that much (or more) if I wasn’t writing this.

9.  All of the readers who officially follow my blog are either family, friends or fellow bloggers.  In fact, my first comment was from a friend and blogger, kymlucas.  She kindly got the ball rolling by elaborating on a post entitled “Croeso I Gymru (Welcome to Wales)”.   Truth be told, I would have hoped to broaden my readership a bit by now, but I greatly appreciate the support of those who take the time to peruse my ramblings!

It doesn’t seem right to end this list here.  It should have 10 items to feel complete, eh? I think it’s that insidious metric system, still chipping away at us.

10. My greatest joy about doing this is when people share their recommendations with me.  My catalog of knowledge grows, which I love, and I usually get a chance to laugh in the process.  Here’s a laugh recommended to me that I’d like to share with you – the classic British comedy of Morecambe and Wise:

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Just for fun, here’s the clip from Let’s Dance for Comic Relief that I mentioned in my previous post – Noel Fielding performing the dance from Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”.  Watch until the end for the special guest appearance!

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Mr. Bean and Teddy support Red Nose Day

The first time I heard about Red Nose Day was on an episode of The Office (series 2, episode 5 to be exact).  The staff of Wernham-Hogg’s Slough branch are raising money for Comic Relief.  Amongst other things, Dawn is selling kisses for a pound, Gareth is hopping around on one foot, Tim is stealing Gareth’s belongings and David, in a fit of jealousy, performs an impromptu and quite bizarre interpretive dance, all in the name of charity.  It resembles a school Halloween party with most of the staff dressed in some sort of costume ranging from Wonder Woman to a simple red clown nose.  As is typical in this particular office, “whilst having a laugh” very little work gets done.  This entire episode is a great intro to the whole Red Nose Day concept.

After further research I found that Comic Relief was founded in 1985 by comedy television and film writer Richard Curtis and Alexander Mendis in an effort to raise money and awareness for the victims of famine in Ethiopia.  According to their website, Comic Relief has raised over 650 million pounds to fund projects which address the causes of poverty and social injustice in over 76 countries.  Red Nose Day is one of their two major fundraising campaigns and is held every other year on a Friday in mid-March.

Over the past 25 years, Red Nose Day has become something of a national holiday and certainly a philanthropic institution.  All around the UK on March 18th this year, Brits at home, work, and school will be doing silly, goofy, hilarious things to raise money.  The BBC devotes an entire evening to Red Nose Day as celebrities and comedians take to the airwaves to entertain and appeal for donations.

Some related events are already underway including Let’s Dance for Comic Relief, a dance competition in which celebrities perform famous dance routines to raise money.  The final this year will be held on March 12th.  I’m rooting for Noel Fielding (The Mighty Boosh) and his rendition of Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights”!  Check it out on YouTube.  Another amazing effort is David Walliams of Little Britain who participated in a panel show marathon.  For 24 hours straight on the 5th and 6th of March, he served as either a host, panelist, or team captain on 19 different panel shows including Mastermind, QI and Never Mind the Buzzcocks.  It streamed live on BBC.com and edited versions will be shown in the week leading up to the actual Red Nose Day.

It just seems like such a lovely way to get people involved in raising money for a worthy cause.  Who ever said the British were cold and reserved?  The following advert for the upcoming Red Nose Day certainly puts that notion on its head!  If you are interested in finding out more about Comic Relief and how you can help, click here.

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