Saturday, 30 April 2011

Eurovison: Blue's campaign trail - "We've been to Azerbaijan"

Everyone's favourite four piece pop/r'n'b-lite singin' and dancin'-about man-totty fun-combo - or Blue for short - are stepping up their pre-Eurovision campaign.

Their song, I Can, an ode to determination and self-belief (probably) is out on May 2 and the band themselves are in perky mood, as seen on Paul O'Grady's Friday night programme, two weeks ahead of the big day itself.

You'll recall, of course, how the band reformed 'especially' to represent the UK in the annual song competition, a contest we - that is to say, 'the UK' - hasn't won since 1997, and before that in 1981.

This year we've bypassed all the usual Song for Europe/Your Country Needs You nonsense (where viewers select our entry from four finalists, which last year gave us a candidate who came last which in a way is quite an achievement in itself).

Instead, the BBC has gone (probably), "We're havin' Blue," and Blue have, like, gone, "Ok, we've got a song, and it's called I Can, and it's like, appropriate?"

I imagine Lee probably said that bit.

They're a safe pair of hands though, Blue - they turned in a decent singin' and dancin' turn on Paul O'Grady - or rather the Friday Channel 4 programme in his name - complete with a live vocal, and Lee doing some high bits that he better bloody pull off on the night itself.

They also mentioned how they've been getting an "absolutely amazing" reaction promoting the single around Europe.

"It's been absolutely mental," added Antony, needlessly.

"We've been to Spain, Azerbaijan, Malta, Italy, Ukraine and Latvia."

Whether that amazing and mental reaction translates into votes for the UK from those countries and all of the others where they've turned up and sang their song, remains to be seen of course (it won't).

But, the song itself is a track that could happily sit in the top ten for a few weeks (ie it's not at all bad).

Of course, that doesn't make it a Eurovision winner, but the hope is that putting in an established act as our entry may make all the difference.

But at least we know Malta'll vote for us, because they always do. They love us, them Malteasers.

Er, the Eurovision Song Contest 2011 is on May 14 anyway.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

William and Kate's royal wedding: a hunt for excitement

We are witnessing something of an international feeding frenzy at the mo, as every media outlet on Earth (probably) finds itself desperate to cover the wedding of the year/decade/century amid rapidly peaking enthusiasm.

Even the latest issue of Angler's Mail is at it (Royal wedding fishing boom!).

And quite right too, you might think. But many of those same media outlets are in a unique position of not actually having a lot to say - so actual excitement ahead of the big day itself is being found wherever it can, and if it's not genuinely exciting, let's try and make it exciting.

Jean from Essex, you've been camping out since Tuesday and had to go to A&E for advanced pneumonia you say? Goodness me! Wave your Union Jack flag again!

But one of the many time-filling highlights has been presenter Tim Willcox on the BBC News Channel valiantly trying to talk around a lingering shot of a parked truck containing the royal flowers... no oak trees... for the ceremony... to go inside the Abbey... Westminster Abbey... which will be carried off the lorry any minute now... we hope.

Elsewhere, some of the tv coverage has not been too unlike the comedy KY-TV, a BBC show from 1990 (1990!) that spoofed the awkward guests and amateur presentation of a fledgling UK satellite news channel...

Have a look at it's Royal Wedding special.

Best of luck Wills and Kate ;)

There's also a parts two and three if you wish.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Candy Cabs: Women are great; men are not

Candy Cabs (BBC One): Jo Joyner (Jackie), Lisa Millet (Elaine). They run an all-female cab company, but Elaine remortgaged her house or something and then her husband went mad when he found out, as his younger brother tried to kiss her and then... etc.  Pic: BBC/SplashMedia

In the colourful world of Candy Cabs, everything is black and white. DO YOU SEE?

A curiously brief (only three episodes) BBC One series about a firm of women-only cab-drivers, it feels instantly familiar, very predictable and extremely undemanding.

These could be either good or bad things.

The 'comedy drama' - ahh, that term - is set in a fictional picturesque part of the north west of England, and according to Lisa Millet, who plays lead character Elaine, and writing on the BBC Comedy blog, it's a "deliberate move away from the 'it's grim up north' approach".

Oh. She also writes that there's "something for everyone" - especially, you might suggest, if that 'everyone' mainly refers to 'women who like their TV fluffy'.

Millet is joined by Jo Joyner - better known for chronic misery over on EastEnders - and they play business partners who take on the challenge of running a new cab company, even after their best friend Shazza, and third business partner, dies suddenly in Asda.

There's no time for talk about cash flow, or a quick check of how sound their business plan might be - mere details! - because instead they've got hen nights to attend! Guests of a footballer's wedding to collect! In fact, there are japes aplenty.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Nurse Jackie: Received wisdom IS WRONG

Nurse Jackie, a 'dark comedy' set in a New York hospital, is both dark and funny - often at the same time - and should be a much bigger hit than it is (cue stamp with 'FACT' on it, stamping).
(Pic: Showtime)

Aww, telly programmes about nurses - because they always do such marvellous jobs don't they, nurses; and they work so hard for peanuts and are quite simply angels and so on and so forth.

Or so received wisdom goes.

But in the case of Nurse Jackie, received wisdom IS WRONG.

In what is described on the BBC's website as a dark comedy, the New York-based Nurse Jackie, shown on the Showtime network in the US, and whose central character is a nurse called Jackie, is all the things you might not expect from a lead character who wears blue overalls and is qualified to administer pain relief to people who are bleeding.

Complex - but not complicated 

You see, even though she does do a marvellous job and probably does work hard for peanuts, Jackie is also selfish, an adulterer, and has a drug problem.

But it's not that simple - the plot is as complex and involved as the most involved of soap operas, only a lot more involving.

Deep breath: Jackie, a married mother of two young daughters, and played by Edie Falco who was in The Sopranos you know, is having an affair with her former colleague.

But he also happens to be a bit psychopath, and is befriending Jackie's husband Kevin, after she tried to end the affair. Meanwhile, Jackie herself has a secret problem with painkillers, with an equally secret credit card on the go to pay for them.

So that's where we are. And although it's complex, it's not complicated. But it's also brilliant - in turns funny, shocking, engaging and back to funny.

And you might wonder why it's not a much bigger hit here in Britain, as it deserves to be.

It's probably down to scheduling - it's on BBC Two late on Saturdays, and, as we approach the end of the 12 episode-long season two, we can breathe a sigh of relief that potentially inconvenient scheduling by BBC Two has ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING on the show's future.

Because season three's just begun in the US. Yay!

There's a season three trailer bobbin' about below if you dare.

Tv-ooh's not watching it though as one doesn't like to be spoiled *dabs corners of mouth with a dainty napkin*.

Update: Nurse Jackie season three is to air on Sky Atlantic in the UK, rather than BBC Two, which isn't great news for the show's fans who don't have Sky. *adds Nurse Jackie to 'box-sets to buy' list*

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Doctor Who trailer: this is quite exciting and momentarily diverting

It's the trailer for the new series of Doctor Who, but if you're a bit funny about very quick editing and flashy lights and that, perhaps you'd best click onwards, sad smiley, perhaps to here, maybe.

If you're a bit breathless after all that, Lord knows how you'll be when the series itself begins, on Saturday April 23.

Following the press screenings for the first two episodes, The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon, much of the internet, like here and here, has been talking about how dark and forbodin' the new series will be.

And most intriguingly, there's also lots of talk about how one of the main characters - the Doctor, Amy, Rory and River Song - will die in the first episode.

Who can it be? How will it happen? Will it be the Doctor and if so what will the programme do then? (But it probably won't be)

Production photos show the actors who play the Doctor, Amy and Rory making later episodes of the series, and as we saw River Song die in her first story, as she saved David Tennant's Doctor, it's anyone's guess.

Which is all a bit annoying/exciting really, all told.

But then of course that's the idea - it's a strategy to make you watch the programme, you see.

There are no flies on tv-ooh you know.

Whatever that means.