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Saturday, 17 December 2011

It's A Small World (On Twitter)

On September 15th 2011, while staying with my girlfriend @tlchimera in Chichester, I took it upon myself to make a book purchase - an already exciting thing to me - a little more interesting. The book I was buying was @gracedent's 'How To Leave Twitter'. I'd wanted the book for ages so bought it. 

Being a nerd of epic proportions when it came to Twitter - and being one to never miss an opportunity to mingle with the like-minded - I popped a note (pictured) into a copy of the very same book a little deeper into the shelf. 

I didn't think anything of it, "since," thought I, "nobody will answer anyway!" but it was worth a try. It wasn't a pathetic attempt to up my number of Followers, more an experiment to see a) how long it would take to get found and b) whether the instruction would be followed. I wasn't hopeful. But my reasoning was thus: A person buying a book called 'How To Leave Twitter' would very probably be someone who uses Twitter regularly. That someone would then probably relish the thought of "something weird happening" like this.

But who'd have thought it could be so weird?! One of my long-time followers/followees (and a bloody nice chap) @fazzinchi Tweeted the following today: 

 Small World! I *know* , the guy who wrote the note! He's one of Twitter's finest! Gareth - 's been found

And so I got digging. It turns out that my note - as you see above - was found and that the person who found it was a friend of a friend. What a small world it is! Now, I shall plant more and more notes in more and more books that are Twitter-related in the hope of gathering a "viral crowd" - I may even start a brand new Twitter account for this very purpose. Watch this space...

(How To Leave Twitter by Grace Dent is one of the finest books you'll read. A must for every Tweeter. Click here to buy it!)

Thursday, 15 December 2011


Tom Hollander is a genius. Whether portraying Cutler Beckett in Pirates of the Caribbean or Cal "The Fucker" Richards in The Thick Of It (or Simon Foster in In The Loop) he always shines. He's one of the most believable comedy actors of modern times - all this in my opinion, of course.

But I think it is in Rev. on BBC Two that he shines brightest. For the uninitiated Rev. is about a rural C of E Priest who finds himself becoming the vicar of a run-down, eccentric inner-city London church. And it's that simple - it's a bit like an urban Vicar of Dibley but more relevant and without the horrible laugh track. It's sometimes dark, sometimes sweet and always very enjoyable. This is a "sitcom" that just happens to be about a religious man and his work. There's very little in this that could be called cruel; nothing that would really offend believers or non-believers.

It's on its second series at the moment and I completely missed the first series. Indeed, this second run is nearing the end (or may have already finished) but I urge you now, if you haven't seen it, dig it out from somewhere! I will be. I have to see the first series because this gentle comedy drama is not only a lovely change from today's "edgy take on religion" that so many favour; it's also very often beautifully told.

Hollander is great in the lead and Olivia Colman is wonderful as his wife. Miles Jupp also shows his face and in my book that's an instant plus.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

So So So Scandalous!

So, 'Sherlock' series two has finally been given a date for transmission: January 1st 2012, 8:10pm on BBC One. So, not long to wait now, really. And if we are to believe the hype (something I think we are safe to do with Sherlock) then we're in for one hell of a ride!

The first of the 90 minute films this series is 'Scandal In Belgravia', a 21st Century take on Holmes classic 'A Scandal In Bohemia'. This is the one with The Woman in it - the infamous Irene Adler, the only person to have outsmarted Holmes. 

This time round she's played by 'Spooks' and 'Robin Hood' star Lara Pulver. And she's... well. Not exactly what you'd expect. Sometimes refered to as Holmes' love interest, this time we get something a little different. "Well," says co-creator Mark Gatiss, "she's gay and he's only interested in the brain work ... Something happens. But it doesn't have to be something as mundane as a love story. It's far more interesting than that!"

So, what? Word has it Adler is 'a high-class dominatrix with a camera phone full of dirty secrets" and I can think of no better way of dragging the Adler character into the 21st Century, not so kicking and screaming - Adler was always one of the more "ahead of her time" characters in Doyle's stories.

Joining Pulver in the "newbies" caravan is Russell Tovey as Henry Baskerville in episode two, 'The Hounds Of Baskerville' - no prizes for guessing the source material on this one!

And returning with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman's Sherlock and John are Mrs Hudson, played once more by Una Stubbs (don't mess with her or you'll get it!) and...

...well, let's look at where we left off last series. At the pool where Carl Powers met his end so many years before Sherlock confronts his nemesis, Jim Moriarty - a smarmy, smart and shockingly original take on the well-known villain, played by the incredible Andrew Scott. So obviously he's back too! But how on earth will our heroes get out of the "gun pointed at bomb" cliffhanger? I'm guessing it'll be more "change of mind" than "change of underpants" when push comes to shove, though that's no bad thing. The only real way they can get out of it is by "it" not really being as threatening as it seems. I could be wrong, who knows?

Well, a select few at the moment. All of us soon enough. And I cannot wait! There's clearly got to be a lot more of Andrew Scott's wondrous Moriarty in this series given that the finale of the three-part mini-series (though I feel nasty calling it that seeing as each offering is an hour and a half in length - longer, really, than a standard six-part series of, say, [anything clocking in at 30 minutes per episode]) is based upon 'The Final Problem' - here called 'The Reichenbach Fall'. The original sees hero and villain go hand to hand in combat on a dangerous cliff top. Both fall to their death (*wink, wink*).

How Moffat and Gatiss' show will handle this story in Steve Thompson's finale script is anyone's guess. I don't really want to know before it airs and I can't wait to see what they have for us! This finale is little more than a month away! Yet, don't want it to end! I want it to go on and on and on! Lucky, then. Because as aficionados know, 'The Final Problem' is far from the final story told, so I'm already looking forward to a third wonderful series. And series two hasn't even aired yet... Brrrr! Exciting, isn't it?!

I will be reviewing each episode of 'Sherlock' series two as they air, right here on the blog.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Black Mirror - The National Anthem

Charlie Brooker has given us some of the most provocative television ever. From his hilarious satire Nathan Barley (a must for those who have never seen it) to zombigbrother comedy drama Dead Set to his often acerbic Screen- and News-Wipe programs.

His latest offering, Black Mirror, is no less controversial or thought-provoking. In fact, I would personally argue that Black Mirror episode one, The National Anthem, is not only Brooker's finest fictional work but also an important piece of television that everyone should see.

The premise is this: Popular "people's princess" Susannah - a member of the Royal Family exceptionally well loved by "The Facebook Generation" thanks to her social-media-savvy relationship with the iPublic - is kidnapped by person or persons unknown. The culprits post a chilling video ransom message on Youtube demanding that, in order to secure Susannah's safe return, the Prime Minister must have full sexual intercourse with a pig live on television.

So the clock ticks. The PM has until 4pm to "do the deed" - but the public's access to the facts via Twitter and other social networks does not make the decision making process any easier than you would imagine it would be.

Along the way there is press-snooping, double-dealing subordinates with the PM's best interests at heart and an audience of millions (I think the show stated that it was about 1.4 billion actually) waiting patiently to watch a man they seem to approve of do something repulsive and illegal with a farmyard animal live on all channels.

So, is this a parable? Is this just the Schadenfreude-fuelled need for celebs eating animal anuses a la I'm A Celebrity... taken to an extreme; a warning that if we don't buck our TV ideas up we'll end up tuning in to see the PM shag a pig to save a princess in our millions? Or maybe you, like many on Twitter, didn't get that from it. Maybe you were content with simply taking the material at face value and found yourself just laughing at this bloke shagging a pig, as you would at Joe Swash eating a slug on ITV. There's another question for us all here too: Would you watch?

I really don't want to give away any particular details about this show because it is far more impacting if you just watch it yourselves. It's available on 4OD and is more than worth an hour of your time. I want to say more (indeed, I typed a far more detailed and more interesting and structured version of this blog but deleted it because I want you to WATCH IT YOURSELF!) but I shan't. I'm tired. Goodbye.

(Read more about Black Mirror RIGHT HERE after its last episode airs...)