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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Winter On The BBC

How do you fancy Three Doctors, one fake Doctor and a bunch of the best British talent ever to grace our screens? Here's winter on the BBC, offering us - what looks like - the best cold, telly months ever! Doctor Who Christmas Special, Single Father, The First Men In The Moon, Outcasts, Lip Service and Upstairs Downstairs are just a few of the great shows that will be splashed over the box.

Take a look at this...


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Scientology - What A Load Of Bollocks

Believe what you want. It's not my place - or anyone else's - to tell you what to put your money, your faith and your time into. I'm not a religious person; I'm almost religiously non-religious. However, I do have a mouth, a mind and a soapbox. So, read that first sentence again... "It's not my place - or anyone else's - to tell you what to put your money, your faith and your time into". THIS is why I am against religion as a "thing".

But - forgetting what reasons I might have for attacking religion - the big three have a basis in legend, myth, history even. Islam, Judaism and Christianity have age-old texts behind them, written by now-long-dead documenters of the acts and words of prophets and messiahs, around which a solid - if blindly obedient, in many cases - following has gathered. What the hell, then, is Scientology all about?!

A "religion" based on the belief that an alien warlord and the spirits of extraterrestrial beings from many generations past has as much clout in "the way" as a genuine and sometimes helpful "philosophy for life" written - not passed down, or mythologised, or "given" - but actually, transparently created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. I have not read much about the theory. But I have read enough to see that - at base - the ideas of Scientology (what does that even mean, by the way?) are not evil; quite the opposite. They are a valued and valuable set of suggestions about what may - that's may - make life a little nicer to live. Of course, for this to work you must suspend disbelief somewhat. Now, that's something I have no problem at all with when I'm watching Doctor Who, but when it comes to living my life everyday it's something I can't justify.

Then, like all religions, there's the money thing. Donate and thou shall be saved. And lo, the people did giveth plentifully, and the greasy, boy-buggering, hypocritical reps of [insert deity of choice here] on Earth smiled and thought it good. Well, of course they bloody did! GOD says give us all your money. If you don't - well, you're just not that into Him. At least the older religions give all they have and ask for the money later, though! With Christianity you get the book, the teachings and the support and you're encouraged to give what you can. That's almost a charity. With Scientology, absurdly, you're given the teachings in tiers, based on how "ready" you are and how "engaged with the way" you may be - for which read "based on how much money you've given us...". As one fellow Tweeter so eloquently put it earlier, using the unlikely, yet surprisingly apt "social networking analogy": "They only reveal the secret to the religion once you've clicked "Like" and invited 100 friends. #StupidScientology"

I don't have a conclusion to this post. I don't think there would ever have been a conclusion. The post itself may well have read just eight words and saved us all a few minutes' reading time. It may well have read SCIENTOLOGY IS A LOAD OF SHIT, ISN'T IT? Well, isn't it? If YOU'RE a Scientologist, or whatever you call yourselves, then please - get in touch with me using Twitter. Let me know what I'm missing. Set the record straight. Saying that, if you're a Muslim, a Jew or a Christian - or anything else - tell me your side! Why's religion helped you? I guarantee you won't tell me anything I've never been told before... I abhor religion and think it dangerous. Especially when the power is taken from the many and given to the few.

I'm also resigned to the fact that, if there is a hell, I'm going there... But just think how much better the conversation will be, than above, when I get there.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The X Factor - Bootcamp And Beyond

This year's X Factor has given little in terms of excitement and eye-catching auditions... Okay, so that girl punched her mate in the chops, Cher Lloyd (pictured) blew us all away with a song that I'd never heard before and "Storm" (also pictured) was told that that wasn't his name after all!

And now, as we head towards the last challenges of Boot Camp - where the wheat is well and truly sorted from the chaff - there are but a handful of stand-out contestants. There's Cher. As I've mentioned, she blew me away. She doesn't HAVE to win to become a mega-pop-star now, because really, she already is one!

She has something different. She has the X Factor in it's true guise... She's not brilliant, but give her a flashy light show, a skimpy outfit and some "buff backing dancers" and she's made. I will be very, very surprised if she doesn't sail through Boot Camp, Judge's Houses and into the live shows. And she would deserve it.

Then, there's Mary. An Irishwoman in her 50s who, she admits herself, is overweight and arthritic. But full of beans! The most fun I've seen anyone have is when she realised that the choreographed dance routine at Boot Camp was really too much for her knees to take, so proceeded to shimmy and shake her ample bosom at the judges, grinning, with a look of "oh bugger it, let's just let loose" on her face. Magic!

Then there's the aforementioned "Storm". It is his name... But Simon still refuses to acknowledge the fact... It's funny. And he's incredible. He IS a rock star. When I see him standing with the other contestants I'm reminded of the times when stars like George Michael or Barry Manilow come in to mentor... He just jumps out.

His voice is different, rocky, yet mainstream enough to pull off Abba Week. He's bound to go far, as long as they don't try to stick him in a tux and have him croon "Have You Met Miss Jones?" on Big Band Week.

And then, we have Diva Fever! Two lads who clearly love what they're doing and don't take themselves too seriously (a bit like Jedward, but with actually very good voices and impressive stage presence). They've got to get through too! Because, let's face it, apart from a handful of other impressive contestants who I've omitted - either for being too ordinary to mention or too bland to remember right now, despite their vocal talents - there aren't many other acts jumping out at all...

Apart from my favourite. Matt Cardle. Quite possibly the most unassuming of the contestants and truly a talent like no other on the show. He's a painter and decorator, by trade, living at home with his parents at 27. And if he doesn't win - if they give it to one of the countless Beiber-Clones contending this year - then something is terribly wrong with television and the British public. I've decided to include his entire Boot Camp challenge below. It's almost five minutes long, but please... have patience, watch to the end. It is beautiful. I only hope that they don't shave him and plop him into a white suit, having him sing "Picture Of You" while strutting like an uncomfortable toilet-roll.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Ed Miliband Is Labour Leader

So that's it. The Labour leadership race is over. The joke was that it would either be won by an "Ed" or a "Miliband" - since even bloody Diane Abbot considered changing her name to one or the other, especially for the contest it had to happen, didn't it?!

As it turns out, it was won by both an Ed and a Miliband. Vowing that Labour is now in the hands of "The New Generation" who will do all they can to unite a somewhat fractured party following a crushing defeat at the General Election, Ed delivered his acceptance speech with a quiet style. I supported his brother throughout this leadership election, but you cannot deny that Ed, the younger Miliband brother, has shone pretty brightly on his meteoric rise in popularity and appreciation. And, despite gaining his winning margin from Union support, all party faces - when interviewed - have said that they are 100% behind him.

It can't be a bad thing to have someone intelligent, capable, young and "in touch" - and on Twitter (@ed_miliband) - in charge of our party. So let's see, now, what he can do. I have faith...

Next up: filling his shadow cabinet. This one could be interesting... If I were you, I'd keep a keen eye on the Labour website in the coming weeks for the latest on that. 

Well Done Ed!


Nigel Planer talks DOCTOR WHO LIVE and his character in it, Vorgenson on The Michael Ball Show recently... I'm taking my nephew to this - and I think I'M more excited than him.

Take a look...

If you're interested in knowing more, then head to for info and tour dates!
Maybe this is a bit pre-emptive, but Vorgenson for the actual show one day?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Twitter TV Review Hashtag #TV140 Launched!

So, here we are! Who knows if this will catch on, but let's give it a go... We all (or most of us) enjoy television shows. We all (or most of us) use Twitter. So I've decided to combine the two in what I like to call #TV140! 

It's simple really; if you've watched a telly show and enjoyed it or hated it - or formed any opinion at all on it - then why not review it in a single tweet?

The rules are: The tweet must contain the show's title, your review and the hashtag #tv140 - all within the 140 characters available to you. I've set up a search in the sidebar, so any tweet with the #tv140 tag will appear on this blog. So far, I'm the only one who's had a go - but who knows where this will go! 

Here's an example of what we're looking for - my #tv140 review of tonight's "Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School For Boys": 

I'm sure you get the idea... PLEASE have a go... Let's see if we can make this as big as #followfriday, #musicmonday or #tweetyourtea! I'm interested, too, in knowing what everyone's watching... Then I know what to write about! So, come on! Give it a try - #TV140 - YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

We've All Been There...

Hard times, I've had. And this is how I've felt, in the best possible way...

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A 'Spooks' Post For Bish

I've been out of the Spooks-loop for years. I saw the first one or two series then reached that age where I'd rather be out chasing the ladies than watching TV. Needless to say, the ladies all ran far too fast for me, so back to the telly I came. And here I've been ever since. And - fair play - there's been plenty to watch! Until recently, when all the stuff I watched finished and I was left with the soaps or the news or the shopping channels. 

Then, Spooks began again. Monday night saw the ninth series (I think) kick off in... style? Well, no. Not that. It left me a little lost for thrills, to be honest. My BIG SPOOKS MEMORY is of the bit where that bird got her head deep-fried in front of the fella with the big lips. That stuck in my mind. But last night's? Nothing really jumped at me.

It was a bit like watching "24 - UK" (as it always has been, really) but without the violent, twisty thrills... Even the blinder of a cliffhanger couldn't save the episode. It was as though the writers needed to start with a big bang, and borrowed to do it. ALL from 24. 

There was the "random hostage situation played out to mask a terrorist plot" plot that 24 churned out in considerable style in every 'episode 2 - 5' that it's ever had. There was the "is the Asian good-guy computer nerd REALLY the Asian terrorist-super-hacker? NO!" guessing-game/pay-off. There was a bloody big EMP bomb! That's been done (albeit, not as chillingly as it was here). Basically, there were lots of good things crammed haphazardly into an hour, badly. And I'd had a drink, so that meant - and I don't know if anyone else gets this, too, when watching TV while intoxicated - that all the characters seemed to be acting with as much depth as Richard Ayoade's amazing Moss from The IT Crowd. I KNOW they're not that wooden - it's the beer what done it! 

And then there was the "super-famous, English hotty, much-publicised 'new member of the team' spending half the episode pretending to be a Russian sex slave/All Saint (it's the costume)' and fooling nobody... There are so many holes to poke... so many nits to pick! I didn't WANT to like it...

...And yet, despite all that, Spooks is back and I've missed 6 years of predictably predictable thrills and spills... Something tells me that my Monday nights will be separated by evenings lost on the net, cramming series 1 - 8 all over again... 

Television, you bastard. I know people who are married with families at my age. 

I also know people older than me who are not. And they like TV. They tend to be better company than "young family-men"; I have more in common with them, more to talk about. They're more interesting, with bigger, brighter imaginations. Bish is one such person. And this post is for him, with love. Here's to discussing next week's Spooks over a "swift half" at Bar 33, eh Bish?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Ay' Up, You Unbelieving Kufr Bastards

For political satire, watch In The Loop. For skewed belief and amateur terrorism 'satire', watch Four Lions. I did. And it was brilliant on many levels. Chris Morris' tale of a band of well-meaning (from their point of view) yet ultimately doomed mujahideen with a plan to blow... something... up as a "flip you, ya' bastards" to the non-believers. 

And as unattractive the subject matter, as unlovable these characters should be, it just isn't and they aren't. Okay, so when it comes down to it this is a comedy film about the Laurels and the Hardys of Islamic Fundamentalism - and it delivers awkward laughs aplenty. But there's more to this than "a cheeky giggle at something you know shouldn't really be funny". The characters make you more and more aware that they really believe - just like real suicide bombers - that what they are about to do will not only make things better, but give them a fast track to "the rubber dingy rapids - no queueing" - Paradise.

Omar believes. He really does. His wife supports him and, through a twisted take on The Lion King, he makes sure his young son understands the fight. Omar's brother believes too, though he wants peace and understanding - but he's stuck in the woman-hating, study-group, actionless past of Islam. He needs to get with the times! Waj believes. He thinks... he's not really sure. But Omar will stamp out any doubt in "the special-needs donkey's" mind - after all, God is in the heart, the Devil whispers in the brain... That is, unless the devil pulls a swap... Waj doesn't really understand, so he just does what he's told. Fessal believes. But he doesn't really want to die for those beliefs - he's got crows for that! Shame. Hassan sort of believes, but suicide bombing and terrorism is cool! Even if it's fake suicide bombing. Now, Barry! Barry believes... but he's too avant garde a bomber for Omar to see the results a bombed mosque would reap. They really are a "Mr Fuck Bean" operation... with lots of real explosives and a friend running the London Marathon.

The film flits from slapstick stupidity to hard-hitting dismay at just how far some people will go for a book. I found myself laughing out loud at poor Fessal's crow. Crying inwardly at the tale of "Simba's Jihad against Scar" and wondering how and why Omar and Sophia ever could, or would ever want to give up their clearly love-filled marriage for a fight that will never - no matter what's blown up - change the way things are. The movie, it's no spoiler to say, doesn't have a very happy ending... whether that means our antiheroes fail in their plot or that they succeed, you'll have to watch to see. If you leave this movie JUST laughing then you've missed the point entirely. If you leave thinking, but NOT laughing, you've missed the point again. 

As the film draws towards a chaotic and sudden finale, I found myself missing characters from earlier and hating the ones I laughed at most. And that was how it was meant to be, clearly. Throw in a couple of interesting cameos - Benedict Cumberbatch's "virgin negotiator", Kevin Eldon and Darren Boyd's ridiculous police snipers ("Is a Honey Monster a Wookie?") and Julia Davis' wonderful "girl next door with a twist" and you realise that this really is a British film for the times we live in. It's a difficult watch - you'll find yourself laughing and clapping and rooting for the main Lions, then realising that these are the same type of man who destroyed so many lives in London on 7/7. It sends a chill down your spine and makes you wonder how anyone could think this a good idea. 

And in true Morris fashion there are plenty of clever nods. I won't list them, just watch. And you really should, you know, because Four Lions is really something else. Comparisons in tone with In The Loop are valid, so if you liked that, you'll love this. One thing, though; Try not to miss a word of dialogue. The script is solid gold.

The whole movie is, come to that.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Remember! September 11th is...

That's right. International Burn A Koran Day. Over-enthusiastic, ignorant dullards everywhere Pastor Terry Jones invites you to burn a book which - whether right or not - means a lot to many people worldwide. Oh, breaking news, it's all off...

...the pathetic attempt at "lesson teaching" that one of the smallest religious groups were first all for has been cancelled for a reason too contrived, too clearly "that's what we'll blame", that I won't even go into it here. You can read the story (and the laughably dangerous tale's history) here. What I want to talk about is not how dangerous a plan the suggested would have been - useless, too, in getting their intended message across to the idiots they intended; the "Fundamentalist Muslims" associated with the atrocity that took place 9 years ago this coming Saturday - no, I want to talk about how that danger was nurtured and inflated by the world's media into what could have been a social and religious backlash similar to the nonsense surrounding the (mostly fabricated) Mohammed Cartoon outburst not so long ago.

You all know the story - it's been poured into our ears and eyes by news suppliers (from all bands of the credibility spectrum) for the last week. Some mentally unhinged religious freak in the good ol' U S of A, along with his flock of ever-prostrate human sheep, planned to hold an event where people are encouraged to burn the holy book of a "rival" religion in a veiled attack on the obviously-terrorists who they label "Fundamental Muslims" - for which, read "Muslims". Despite his "Church" (though what kind of god would want a church willing to put their "God-Fearing and obedient" mitts on this mess is beyond even the most broad-minded speculation) only having around 50 members, Pastor Jones (doesn't he sound like a character from Fireman Sam?) has succeeded in gaining hours and hours of airtime the world over. Now, call me a cynic, but how much of this do you think was about burning the book and how much was about getting his pathetic and frankly harmful "church" enough free advertising to net a couple more nutters to fill the pews?

If, when Pastor Whack-job announced his plans to ceremoniously destroy a book which he (hypocritically) sees as false prophecy and "the root of all evil" - going as far as adopting the laughably juvenile title "International Burn A Koran Day" (similar to "International Walk Like An Ostrich Day" presumably, in acceptance and credibility on an international scale) - if, when he suggested this Day, those around him had said "oh shut up you fucking header" and given him NO airtime, news coverage, interviews or soapboxes to preach his frighteningly misinterpreted "Christianity" from, then there would be no fear of religious/terrorist retaliation. There would be no gasping and opinionated tutting. There would be no half-hearted yet necessary back-pedalling. The world wouldn't care... Fifty people would have burned a book that, to them, means nothing at all. Those who CARE about the book would be none the wiser and the general public would be oblivious. The church would not gain any more members because there would be a deficit of "JOIN NOW" interviews available to the ignorant and intolerant.  

What should have happened is - and I'm not justifying the burnings at all here - there should have been a small news story on local stations on Sunday saying "ignorant and unsupported Pastor Jones and his flock burned Koran yesterday in an unsuccessful and redundant attempt to "send a message" to Terrorists the world over" What a silly billy, eh? Bless 'im!"

Or maybe, if we lived in a rational and excitable world, thriving for knowledge, not elected ignorance, there would BE no religion; therefore no 9/11, no church to protest in this way and no fear of vengeance. Okay, some may argue that 9/11 would have still happened, for different or more complex reasons, but that's a discussion for another day. It happened because those involved BELIEVED they were doing the right thing... Not wanting to sound like an Al Qaeda sympathetic here, but can you really blame the unintelligent, ignorant followers of any religion, regardless of which, when something terrible and life-altering happens by their hand, because they misinterpreted a text written long ago, unedited or revised for a thousand years?

September 11th 2001 was a terrible day... and every day we pray to any God for the "souls lost" on that day is terrible too. I'm getting heated now, so will sign off. Sorry for the rant.