News, Reviews & Interviews

Daytime Telly ~ Helen’s Highlights of the Week (week commencing 12/2/18)

Another week over and many more daytime television programmes devoured by yours truly! It’s amazing how interested I’ve become in the variety of daytime television programmes that I’m spoiled for choice with. Here’s a few more of my must-watch shows:

Good Morning Britain

OK so Piers Morgan isn’t exactly a big attraction when it comes to this breakfast television choice, however the likes of Ben Shephard, Alex Beresford and Kate Garraway make up for that. The guests are mostly interesting and the topical debates of the day set me up for the morning. It’s one of my favourite breakfast television programmes ever, in fact. Great format, a good mixture of presenters and we’ll gloss over Piers!

Lorraine

Lorraine Kelly would have been my presenter of choice to add to the Good Morning Britain line up so the fact she’s got her own show post-GMB makes me happy. She’s a breath of fresh air and I love her interviewing style. Christine Lampard has stood in for her this week and done a fine job, however I have to confess I missed Lorraine a wee bit.

Escape to the Country

This isn’t a television programme I could have imagined getting on board with, however the more time I spend in the hub of the West Midlands, the more idealistic a place in the Country becomes. I was particularly glued to Monday’s episode where the couple it centred around were looking to up stick in and around North Yorkshire. I’m familiar with the area and I’ve already made plans in my head!

Antiques Road Trip

I love antiques fairs and visits to antiques shops, so this programme ticks the box for me. Catherine Southon and Philip Serrell were head to head on this week’s instalments and they’re one of my favourite duos. I always enjoy seeing the exploration of the West Country as it’s a region my family and I frequent, so I’m logging all of these antiques hideaways for future trips. I like the Celebrity Antiques Road Trip programmes too so more of those, please!

Friends

Let’s throw in Comedy Central channel for a change and the fact that its reunited me with my love of ‘Friends’. What I feel is such a clever and innovative format with this amazing series is that revisiting the episodes feels like catching up with old friends. It’s great cheer-me-up television for a gloomy February day. I’ll never tire of tuning in and reciting the script!

 

 

 

 

2017 Television Highlights

2017 was a storming year for television and there are so many top programmes for me to choose from for my list of highlights. I was also delighted to realise that my telly highlights could be enhanced by the discovery of Oled TV Panasonic.

The selection of programmes below are without doubt amongst a cornucopia of TV favourites which really captured my imagination last year and had me glued to the box.

Bancroft ~ Oh my, what can I say about this AMAZING four part ITV drama? It was breath-taking and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for Bancroft (the outstanding Sarah Parish) to be found out. A second series must surely be in the offing and what made this stand out other ‘murder’ dramas is that Sarah Parish has become such a comedy series star in recent years that to see her in a totally different character moved me.  Bancroft was exceptionally well written too.

W1A ~ One of my favourite television comedies, the script is side-splittingly observational and I only have to look at Jason Watkins’ expressions to start chuckling. It looked as though this series might be wrapping everything up with Anna (Sarah Parish) leaving for a job abroad and the amalgamation of job roles. If this is the end – I need to know if Will (Hugh Skinner) gets the girl!

The A Word ~ Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder, I’m familiar with it due to many factors. Watching this exceptionally well crafted series was an emotional experience yet it was so watchable. Cast brilliantly with Chris Eccleston and Pooky Quesnel particularly outstanding.  An intense, thought provoking series which I’m so glad I tuned into.

Bucket ~ The best comedy I’ve seen in a long time, certainly the best new comedy. Frog Stone has written a master-piece and it was cast so well with Frog and Miriam Margolyes as mother and daughter. A pairing de force in a series bound to make you laugh so hard you’ll cry. I’m also thrilled to have been introduced to another fantastic comedy writer – more please!

Strictly Come Dancing ~ I love BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, it’s the only reality television show I watch and I was backing Ruth Langsford and Anton Du Beke this year. That pair were entertaining on their own, and should have their own television show! I was enchanted by the introduction of Shirley Ballas as new Head Judge. Firm, fair, witty and hugely experienced – she brought a wealth of knowledge and allowed her emotions to run freely too, what a breath of fresh air. I was over the moon for the winner, Joe McFadden, very worthy of the glitter-ball.

Photo Credits: BBC Pictures, ITV, National Television Awards 

 

Requiem, Episode Three ~ Review

Requiem is one of my favourite television dramas at the moment – such a stellar cast with an ever-deepening and intriguing storyline. I only hope the finale won’t leave me disappointed and questioning like so many television programmes have done during 2018 so far. Here are a few of my personal highlights from this week’s exceptional and revealing instalment:

Flashbacks

Trudy’s (Sian Reese-Williams) part in the story is made clearer this week as it becomes apparent through a flashback that she was supposed to be sitting with Carys in the park while her child-minder mother was in a call box. Carys disappeared at about the time that Trudy ran over to get up to no good with some local boys. Her offer to take Matilda (Lydia Wilson) to Carys’s home in order to find out if it prompted memories showed that she has some acceptance that Matilda could indeed be Carys. Although it’s still not definite, there’s also a birth certificate in the mix, now – but we don’t know what it says!

Another death

Meredith (Jane Thorne) knows more than she has let on, I’m sure of it – and she had the capability of filling Matilda in on her insights. However, coincidentally, it isn’t long after Matilda’s latest visit to see Meredith that the elderly lady passes away having suffered a Stroke. I can’t help but wonder if it really was that straight forward.

Music

Hal (Joel Fry) hears music in his mind in a rather uncomfortable scene and he’s quick to put it all down on paper. Was I on my own in thinking he was going to be ‘infiltrated’ and led to take his own life when that rather haunting music was playing? I’m intrigued to see how the score he’s written will fit in.

Ghostly encounter

Matilda’s been digging around and now she’s found out what her birth certificate says, so that was a cue for the ghost of her mother (Joanna Scanlan) to appear and basically give her a dressing down for interfering. However, I might say this lightly, but I’d want to know what possessed someone to kill themselves in such a horrific way. Regardless, I’m sure ‘mum’ is right at the hub of this.

The plot thickens

Rose (Claire Rushbrook) is next to attempt to take her own life as Aron (Richard Harrington) leaves their home and takes their son with him. It’s for her own good apparently, except it really wasn’t the best way forward given what the grieving mother has already been though. Hence Matilda finding her face down in the bath.

Rose is OK, or so we think, so that leads me to comment on Trudy’s dad and what part he’s played in the sorry tale. My mind’s working overtime and yet he could well be a red herring…

Trauma ~ Review

It’s been a long time since a television drama has taken me on such an intense rollercoaster journey, although I have a tendency to agree with the viewing public who feel that the ending was a disappointment.

The premise of the ITV drama was the fall-out following the stabbing of Alex Bowker (Albie Marber) who loses his young life on the operating table. Jon Allerton (Adrian Lester) the Surgeon in charge of the case has been drinking alcohol as its his birthday, but he’s called in to work to plug the staff shortage. Nobody should go to work after a few drinks, but he does and it’s set to haunt him. Dan Bowker (John Simm) is also intoxicated as he has received news of impending redundancy from his job. He arrives at the Emergency Department to find Alex being wheeled into theatre and Jon quite confident that all will be well.

When time ticks on and there’s no news, so Dan takes it upon himself to track down his son and walks in on a very ‘bloody’ scene. Sadly, it’s not long before he and his wife, Susie (Lyndsey Marshal) are given the bad news. Dan can’t get it straight in his mind, to him it’s more than simply bereavement – and he wants answers.

The three-part series which was shown on three consecutive nights saw Dan infiltrate every area of Jon’s life in order to get to the bottom of the reason for his son’s death. From getting a job at the hospital coffee shop to engaging in Psychiatric appointments with Jon’s wife, Lisa (Rowena King) – the man is on a mission and it takes a sinister turn. Jon and Lisa’s daughter Alana (Jade Anouka) is the target of Dan’s discontent, eventually. This turn left audiences quite literally on a knife edge as it seemed as though Dan was going to take Jon’s child’s life in exchange for the death of Alex on the operating table.

The series dealt with class differences, deception and diversity too. The capacity this piece had to be an exceptional television programme was immense, however it didn’t quite follow through on the promise I felt was made at the start.

Was Alex’s ultimate untimely death due to Surgeon’s error? Yes it was, although to begin with I had expected Jon’s admission to be a lie in order to save his daughter. However, yes the Surgeon was at fault and to close, we saw Dan just beginning to get his life back on track with a happy family around him. Whilst simultaneously in the luxurious Allerton home Alana is moving out to live with her girlfriend.

John Simm and Adrian Lester were undoubtedly well cast in the series and I was extremely impressed by Jade Anouka’s portrayal of daughter, Alana, she put heart and soul into her performance. In fact, the whole cast were strong and worked brilliantly as an ensemble with powerful scenes peppered throughout. It’s the overall storyline which was full of flaws and inconsistency which was the unfortunate distraction.

 

Trollied, Series Seven, Episode Seven ~ Review

 

Sky One’s Trollied certainly adds an air of mystery to my tele-viewing week! The mystery being why Lou (Sally Phillips) is still employed as Night Manager!! However, all that look set to change – which is actually rather sad and his repercussions for Gavin (Jason Watkins). ‘Dr’ Brian (Stephen Tompkinson) has his knickers in a twist as usual, this time he’s trying to compete with Boots. Then there’s Cheryl (Sarah Parish) and the case of the peach tie (wedding stuff!). Valco – serves your right!

Green eyed monster

“Neville is lovely, oh lovely Neville” sings Megan (Nina Wadia) and what’s weird is that Neville (Dominic Coleman) has been singing the same song about Megan! We’ve entered the twilight zone where unlucky Nev has met his match. However, Linda (Faye McKeever) isn’t happy that Nev is happy, especially as Craig (Danny Mac) couldn’t be more disinterested in her and as Sue (Lorraine Cheshire) perceives it – that makes Linda the Neville in her new relationship. The question being, does that mean Linda will make a bid to reunite with Nev? Probably, anything could happen at Valco!

New Lou

Lou has been making an effort to change her ways, she’s hopeful that the week’s figures will be much better. It comes as a blow when Gavin has to tell her that she’s still not making any progress, Head Office are hot on Cheryl’s heels and Lou looks set to be fired. Gavin’s last ditch attempt includes a pep talk with Lou while she swills a bottle of pine flavoured bubble bath and some on the job training. It’s too little too late though and Gavin comes clean with Cheryl about his reasons for hiring Lou in the first place. Uh oh, Gav’s on the sofa…

Pharmacy Envy

Brian is determined to stop Boots from laughing at Valco (which is only happening in his twisted mind, of course!) and with Margaret (Rita May) having been to Boots consulting room (albeit for confession), he’s soon knocking on Gavin’s door with a plea for his own consultation room. The only problem is that Brian’s stomach is more than tickled by some of the problems the shoppers are bringing to his ‘cubicle’ and Margaret is holding his calls!

Gavin’s gloomy day

Gavin’s not having the best of days, he’s already had to break the news to Lou that her sales figures are continuing to fall. Add to the mix that he’s been fearful of having to wear a peach tie to his wedding and now it looks dicey as to whether the wedding will even go ahead, given that Cheryl is fuming with him after his confession regarding Lou and his reasons for employing her. Poor Gav!

Lisa

I think Lisa (Beverly Rudd) is the best, the character is a great culmination of all the horrendous employees I’ve come across in my consumer experiences. This week saw Lisa refusing to open her till for no reason other than she doesn’t want to. She gets away with it as well, even Gavin is unwilling to approach her about opening her till. I’m sure there’s a tiny part of all of us that wishes we could get away such blatant impertinence isn’t there? Feet up on the conveyer belt as queues build up. Brilliant!

Click the images to purchase the series on DVD, either by individual series or as a boxset…

 

Two Doors Down, Series Three, Episode Three ~ Review

It’s my highlight of the week – Two Doors Down, I view this show as a complete treat from beginning to end and I’m already fully aware of how bereft I’ll be when this series comes to a close. The campaign for series four start here! Favourite moments from this weeks’ episode are (as ever) plentiful, however I’ll try my best to set the scene!

Break-In

Cathy (Doon Mackichan) and Colin (Jonathan Watson) return from their holiday at their deluxe time share to discover that they’ve been burgled. Colin left a door open so it was more than just an opportunist moment! The police think there’s not much chance of catching whoever did it – so it’s down to the neighbours to help out. Christine (Elaine C Smith) soon makes an appearance once she hears what’s going on, she’s keen to have a cuppa after she’s had a good nose around at the situation. Cathy is distraught of course, even more so once she discovers her pills are missing. It’s not long before the gang de-camp to Beth (Arabella Weir) and Eric’s (Alex Norton) house though and Christine is telling tales of their neighbour, Pat, who sleeps with a knife under her bed. “It’s for buttering crackers but it can double up!”

Chinese Laundry

When Colin realises to his disgust that the burglar has wanked off in his wife’s knicker drawer Cathy’s bilious and requesting that her clothes all be disposed of. However, washing it all seems to be the more obvious plan. With Cathy wincing at the thought of a launderette, Colin suggests that Beth wouldn’t say no to washing it all. Poor Beth, ending up in the kitchen as usual and with Cathy giving orders as to how she wants it all washed, too.

Suits you sir!

The break-in takes a back seat for a while once the Ian (Jamie Quinn) and Gordon (Kieran Hodgson) mention new suits purchased for their friends’ wedding. Cathy is delighted to get a gander at Gordon’s legs, while encouraging Ian not to try his trousers on. Gordon’s long trousers lead to Beth getting handy with her sewing kit and Cathy… just getting handy…!

(un)Grateful!

Back-handed compliments are Cathy’s specialty. She’s been quite happy to let Beth do all her laundry, run her a bath, top up her alcohol levels and lend her a dressing gown. However, Cathy has to have her own dressing gown because “I just don’t like it” and as usual, she’s horrifically ungrateful for everything her neighbours have done. Not to mention that the bath is tiny and the dressing gown is cheap – hence why she doesn’t like it! Even Colin unwittingly causes offence as he slips in a remark about the bath. I do feel sorry for Beth and Eric, taken for granted and then some.

Ian

I have to mention Ian and how few lines he has! His silence is often palpable and his facial expressions speak volumes! I’m waiting for the day when he loses his temper, I think it would be a shock for everyone, parents included…

If you want to watch series one and two of Two Doors Down, you can own a copy of each on DVD – just click the images below to purchase and enjoy!

Credit: BBC Pictures 

 

Call The Midwife, Series 7, Episode 4 ~ Review

Call The Midwife had me in tears again, what a surprise! This time because Helen George who plays Trixie has taken a ;eave of absence and it was dealt with so exceptionally well give the reason for her departure. Of course in real life Helen has left so that she can be a mummy! Which is super-exciting and I’m sure she won’t be absent forever given that there’s some way to go with the series of Call The Midwife. Here’s a few of the episode highlights, anyway including a few other tear-inducing moments!

Sister Monica Joan

Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) has cataracts and refuses to go under the knife to have the situation rectified. The Turners can’t persuade her and Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) was also unable to change her colleague’s resolute mind. However, Fred (Cliff Parisi) is on hand to sit down with the troubled Sister and it’s not long before she’s prepared to have the operation. Sigh of relief!

The Turners

I love the Turners and think they’re a superb, tight little unit of a family. What I particularly enjoyed about this instalment was that Dr Turner (Stephen McGann) made a comment about his family being far from conventional. It’s never occurred to me that their family isn’t as conventional as families were in that era – because they all fit together so well. Hurrah for the Turners, say I!

Phenomenal Phyllis

Phyllis (Linda Bassett) was so wonderfully supportive of Trixie (Helen George) once she discovered her colleague’s situation. Of course she was firm and had to pull her up, professionally – however on the other side of the coin she was just the sort of understanding mentor anyone would want. The nuances of both characters are stunningly penned. The scenes between the two characters were remarkable in every respect and in the best possible way.

Ta-ta Trixie!

Get your hankies out because Trixie is off, she’s decided she needs to go away from it all to sort out all of her problems, it’s the right thing – but I think I speak for most fans when I say she’ll be missed. Sister Julienne is keeping the job open for her too, revealed in yet another exceptional scene between two established characters. So it’s ta ta for now Trixie… such a shame her old issues got the better of her but there was nobody better than Helen George to play that situation.

Sister Winnifred

I want to put in a word for Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates) because although she’s not headlining the storylines, she’s a brilliantly layered character and Yeates plays her fantastically well. Huge fan of her and I’d love to see her at the hub more regularly.

Weekend Watch ~ 10th/11th February 2018

Weekends come and go so quickly I could swear to not having had a weekend! However, memories of my telly-viewing remain. I’m still loving some of the series I’ve shared with you in previous posts and there’s a new contender in my top picks, in fact I’m surprised that I’m late to the party with ITV’s Endeavour as I’m known to take guilty pleasure in a murder mystery or two. Here’s the highlights of my weekend in front of the box:

Pointless Celebrities

Sarah Millican on BBC One’s Pointless Celebrities! That’s all I have to say really… except that I feel she ought to be on the show on a weekly basis as an extra presenter! I adore Pointless and the Celebrities format is my favourite, however it really was an exceptional instalment last Saturday. I was also delighted to see the wonderful Helen Lederer, I admit that I fantasised about her teaming up with Harriet Thorpe and them playing the game as Catriona and Fleur – how fab ab would that be?

The Voice UK

We’re almost at the battle rounds on The Voice UK and I can’t wait! I’m finding it almost painful to watch the blind rounds now with so few spaces left on each team. I know that there are various singers who would have made it if they’d been heard earlier in the competition. I thought that Carol Smillie’s daughter was particularly outstanding and has a beautiful quality to her vocal range. I am eternally impressed with Jennifer Hudson’s positivity and she can often be heard softly uttering “he/she should definitely come back”. Which, if the contestant she’s referring to happens to catch her saying when they watch the show back – ought to give some hope. If at first you don’t succeed…

Casualty

I always felt that the storyline featuring Elle (Jaye Griffiths) and Jacob (Charles Venn) would head in the direction of Blake (Kai Thorne) deciding to move in with his new-found dad for a while. It was a strong and powerful episode last Saturday with fine performances from Griffiths and Venn. I enjoy the on-going storylines that run through consecutive episodes and appear to disappear only to rear their head again. The format fits the series superbly.

Dancing on Ice

I don’t know what I did with my Sunday nights before I had Dancing on Ice back in my life! It was definitely time for Lemar to go, I was beginning to wonder if there’d be a miracle and he’d wind up winning the show. I was impressed by Alex Beresford and Brianne, again – my votes went that way again, I happily admit. I also want to mention Antony Cotton who I felt put heart and soul into the routine even though it was pointed out that this appeared to be missing. I must also point out to Ms Torvill (much as I absolutely admire the woman to the zillionth degree) that Mr Cotton isn’t likely to be performing at the capacity he could manage prior to the broken ribs. I’m not sure why she needed to question the inconsistency… I stand by my comment in last week’s post, bring Torvill and Dean back as mentors, they were much better suited to those roles.

Endeavour

I enjoyed an Inspector Morse episode as much as the next armchair detective, so why Endeavour has only recently landed on my radar is a mystery itself. However, I’m so glad I’ve found it and I was glued to the two hour instalment offered by ITV last Sunday. Shaun Evans is brilliantly cast as a young Endeavour Morse, every emotion flits across his features, identical to John Thaw’s portrayal. Roger Allam is also perfect casting in this drama.  I’m fully intending to have a back catalogue watch-a-thon to catch up on all I’ve missed so far. ITV drama at its best!

Daytime Telly ~ Helen’s Highlights of the Week (week commencing 05/02/18)

Daytime television, I love it, there’s so much to choose from and you’ll note that in this week’s faves I’ve added Classic Coronation Street to the mix! What a treat to dip back into life on the cobbles when the characters were such an eclectic selection of big personalities. I don’t think you can beat it! Without further ado – here’s my week of top telly-viewing:

This Morning

Last week I made it clear I have a proper allegiance going on with regards to Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes. They’ve still been one of the main highlights of one of my favourite television programmes, especially with Valentine’s Day approaching. I must also mention Deidre who is a fantastic agony aunt, I loved Denise – she was a ray of sunshine, however Deidre is just as sensitive, engaging and I feel I could tell her my problems too. There was also a glorious moment this week when a Cancer survivor, Gemma thanked Kate Winslet for saving her life. She joined forces with Leonardo DiCaprio to raise money for Gemma’s costly treatment. Heroes, the pair of them!

Dickinson’s Real Deal

I am such a fan of antiques programmes and Dickinson’s Real Deal floats my antique gravy boat! I enjoy watching some of the more assertive folks pushing for the amount they’ve had their item valued for and it’s fascinating to see how interested (or not) the dealers are in securing a purchase. Long may the show reign, Dickinson is the King of antiques-based television programmes.

Classic Coronation Street

There’s nothing like a cat on a roof in opening titles and it takes me back to a weekday night when I had school the next day (giving away my age!). You can’t beat Rita (Barbara Knox), Mavis (Thelma Barlow) and Emily (Eileen Derbyshire) joining forces with the legendary Bet (Julie Goodyear). This week saw Bet desperate to host a successful dinner party now that she’s married to Alec (Roy Barraclough). Cue cancellations galore and even Rita pulling out at late notice because she has a poorly tum. Mavis and Emily are soon dragged in to make up for the lack of guests, but it doesn’t go as swimmingly as Bet would like. Aww!

Tipping Point

Ben Shephard is one of my best-loved presenters and he’s a highlight of Tipping Point, that’s for sure! However, what I also enjoy about this show is the fact it reminds me of the two pence machines at the seaside! How many of us watch this  television programme with the same anticipation as at the fair? I love it!

The Chase

I have to confess that this is one of my favourite quiz shows of all time – all of the Chasers are great sports as well as amazing quizzers. I think I’d like to face The Governess aka Anne Hegerty if I was given the choice although I also think Jenny Ryan (The Vixen) would be a pretty awesome opponent. Without a doubt, this show will appear in my daytime television highlights list frequently!

If, like me you love The Chase – you can purchase a version of the game to play at home, just click the image below if you fancy having a go at beating the chaser. Highly recommended by my family!

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