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Busy, Busy, Busy !!! [Oct. 30th, 2012|11:21 pm]
[Current Mood |busybusy]

Going through various holiday dates at work today made me realise how we're nearly at the end of the year !!! October has passed by in a blur and November looks like doing the same, but it's usually the calm before the December storm.

Last weekend, F & I spent a weekend at home for the first time in a month and had to catch up on 3 weeks worth of Great British Bake Off, a couple of weeks of Corrie and sundy other house buying shows that I love. The previous three weekends had all been packed out - the first was Blackpool with the lovely Harry and Paul. H & P usually come for switch-on in September but were in New York that week (how dare they ??!!). Not to have them miss out, we took them to a new innovation at our end of the Illuminations, a mini-switch on that takes place for prize draw winners every Saturday !!

The weekend after that was Cheltenham Literary Festival time. It actually started the weekend of H&P's Blackpool visit so we had to sacrifice a few talks that weekend including Benedict Cumberbatch. However we did see (and meet) Clare Balding, Jeremy Vine, Paul O'Grady and David Walliams. The weekend was rounded off by a talk on the excellent Olympics spoof documentary Twenty Twelve which is Francis' current (well, it's actually finished) favourite programme (after Corrie and Downton!!).

Following that weekend we were in Manchester for my friend Toni's 40th birthday - she was actually 40 in September but had had a fabulous holiday in Hawaii and Canada so celebrations were delayed until October. It was great to meet up with the girls again (Toni being one of my university friends) and we had a lovely Chinese meal (with line of the weekend from Lisa who said "It feels too Chinesey for me" !!) and then a 3 hour private karaoke session. The next day, by an amazing coincidence, Miranda Hart was doing a book signing in Manchester's Trafford Centre. It was to take place at 3.30pm and we went there at about 12 just to check things out - however, there was already a queue of 200 people which we were forced to join so we didn't miss out. Lucky we did as at 1pm the queue was closed at 400 people !! The bizarre thing was that the crowd was predominantely made up of teenage girls and not gay men or single 30-somethings who I thought were Mirand's target audience !! These girls were bessotted with her - loads had made homemade Miranda t-shirts and when she appeared the scream that went up was like that for a boyband !!

Yesterday we popped down to Malvern to see Haunting Julia - unusual for us to go to the theatre on a Monday but we had met one of the producers of the play, the actress Tracey Childs, a number of times at Doctor Who conventions. We had been badgering her to come to these events with full details of her shows and she did so in May and said she'd be at the first night in Malvern. Well, as it turned out she was busy filming, but the director and co-producer was there who turned out to be Andrew Hall who played one of Geoffrey Palmer's sons in Butterflies and also recently had a stint in Coronation Street. So he was nabbed for the autograph/photo combo !

We've a few shows coming up in November at Malvern - Driving Miss Daisy, The Ladykillers, The Mousetrap and One Man, Two Guvnors in Blackpool. Luckily this year we've only committed to one panto - last year we did 5 !!

At the end of this month is my 40th birthday bash of which preparations continue apace - all the guests are confirmed and final meetings are taking place soon for food etc. Then, it's Christmas !!

I've already had to start thinking well into 2013 as we take our holiday to Scotland in February and need to book train tickets around 12 weeks in advance to get the best deals, which takes us to, well now !!
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Doctor Who !!!!! [Oct. 2nd, 2012|09:02 pm]
Well, actually I'm not posting about NEW Who - the last episode of that I saw was the Christmas Special 2010 (the Katherine Jenkins one) and even then I only half watched whilst fiddling on the PC.

No, last weekend saw the DVD of one of my all-time Who faves plop through the letter box, The Ambassadors of Death, with Jon Pertwee and and much-missed and fabulous Caroline John. The big selling point for this one ws that it's been restored to FULL COLOUR !!! In the usual 1970s BBC way, all (except episode 1, rather randomly) episodes were wipded but black and white recordings were kept. An off-air recording of an American broadcast did exist and, like a few other Who stories of the same vintage, an attempt was made to create a colour copy by merging the b/w recording with the colour. Sadly, for Ambassadors, severe interference on the US copy meant only roughly half the story could be recoloured. Thanks to advances in technology, these issues have been overcome and it's now colour all the way for the first time (in the UK anyway) since 1970 ! What was interesting (to me anyway) was that the half colour, half b/w VHS release of this story was a U certificate but the full colour DVD is a PG with "mild violence and threat" - who thought colour could be so menacing ??!!!

Anyway, I can't squeeze New Who into my packed TV schedule - during the week I'm watching Corrie, Watchdog, The Great British Bake Off (loved Mary Berry's floral jacket last week!), Double Your House For Half The Money (gotta love The Beeny!), Location Location Location, Celebrity Juice, and next week Friday Night Dinner and Strictly are back (yayy!!). Francis also has to squeeze in the emergency services documentary that's on Channel 4 (filmed in Blackpool) and Downton Abbey.

Maybe I'll give this Christmas a whirl (especially now The Ponds have gone - hoorray!).
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Breaking Radio Silence....... [May. 9th, 2012|11:26 pm]
[Current Mood |highhigh]

Well, doesn't time fly.......I've noticed that my last post on here was nealy a year ago - whoops !! Mind you it has been a bit of a crazy year but anyway, two reasons for breaking silence and both involve superheroics !!

Firstly last week I got hold of The Six Million Dollar Man DVD box set - OMG, what a work of art it is and they've clearly read fans minds with the extra features - featurettes on the title sequence, sound effects, action figures !!!!! I've died and gone to Fan Heaven !!!!!! Add to that lengthy interviews with the cast (the Lee Majors interview feature alone is about 70 minutes), it's the way TV box sets should be made.

Six Mill was my first big fandom at the tender age of 6 and it's never left me, although I've had to make do with cut Sci-Fi Channel episodes for years until the DVDs finally came out. I'm now working my way through the box with EVERY episode including The Bionic Woman cross-overs plus the three reunion movies.

Second is The Avengers movie - i refuse to call it Avengers Assemble as it sounds like a piece of Ikea furniture. Wow, what a movie !! I've actually not seen any of the previous movies - Iron Man, Thor etc - but knew the characters so had no problem with the storyline or plot. Francis also found it fine despite knowing very little about the characters - there was the right balance of explanatory dialogue for newbies without boring old hands. The near on 2 and half hour running time flew by and I felt everyone got their fair share of the spotlight. We saw the 3D version and it was OK but you could tell it was a conversion rather than made for 3D as the effect really just added a bit of depth to the picture rather then things flying out at you etc. I'd never seen a 3D movie so enjoyed it but it didn't addd anything to what I imagine 2D would have been like. There was a 3D trailer for the new Spiderman movie and that looked a blurry mess so I may give that a miss in 3D !!! I'll say no more about The Avengers for fear of giving away plot points but Joss Whedon came up trumps big style - I'd totally lost faith in his abilities after falling out of love with Buffy around season 5 and having zero interest in Firefly or Dollhouse but he didn't put a foot wrong here. Roll on The Avengers 2 !!

I'll try not to wait so long until the next posting :)
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Rush & Bush [May. 24th, 2011|08:38 pm]
[Current Mood |geekygeeky]

I've not posted for a while but 2 events in music have inspired me to come out of hiding !!

Firstly - a new Kate Bush album !! Well, not strictly "new" as her new album is basically rehashed versions of songs from previous albums 'The Red Shoes' and 'The Sensual World'. Still, some Bush is better than none, as evidenced by this album, 'Director's Cut', entering the charts at number 2 behind the unmoveable Adele. Overall I'm a bit disappointed as I don't think the new versions of the songs are that much different from the others, with a couple of exceptions, and I personally didn't think there was anything wrong with the originals anyway. The two exceptions are 'This Womans Work' and 'Moments of Pleasure' which are radically different from the originals and are two stunning pieces of work but the rest, although excellent, just seems a bit pointless.

Still, better to have below par Bush in the charts than none at all !! More interesting to me would be if she'd done new versions of some of her early songs - Kate, now 52, interpreting songs written and performed in her late teens and early twenties.Or perhaps if she made an album of cover versions and performed them her way similar to the Tori Amos 'Strange Little Girls' album.

On Sunday, Francis and I went to see a very different act from Kate Bush at the LG Arena in Birmingham, Canadian rock band Rush. This is the third time Rush have toured here in the UK since 2004 and that tour came after a 16 year gap of UK touring. A sell out crowd saw them perform for 3 hours - with a 20 minute interval "because we're old" said lead singer Geddy !!

This tour was called The Time Machine Tour and the band performed their 1981 album 'Moving Pictures' in it's entirety (including the 11 minuite track 'The Camera Eye') along with a mix of songs from across their career. For three guys with a combined age of 172 to perform for that length of time and put on an amazing show is unbelieveable. You're never short changed from a Rush gig !! And this is repaid by the loyalty shown them by the fans. Thanks to that concert I'm now listening to non-stop Rush, with a smattering of Kate Bush in between !!!!
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The Chase On YouTube [Feb. 23rd, 2011|08:44 pm]
[Current Mood |busybusy]

Finally, here's the moment you've been waiting for (!!). My edition of The Chase is now up on YouTube at the following links :-

Pt 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NPPii544Rc

Pt 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_wKBrVxTAo

Pt 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lzACm9UEqs

Pt 4 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3QEHpmYTy4

Pt 5 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAX6aCmry9E

Enjoy and spread the word as I'm sure I can get as may views os Gaga or Beyonce !!!!
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The Chase - YouTube [Feb. 22nd, 2011|05:23 pm]
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Mood |amusedamused]

I am working on this - hopefully the full edition will be up by tomorrow evening (it's quite slow isn't it or is it just me ??)

In the meantime, here's something to keep you going, thanks to another YouTube poster who put this up :-

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The Chase !! [Feb. 19th, 2011|06:27 pm]
[Tags|, ]
[Current Mood |geekygeeky]

So on Thursday 17th February, the edition of teatime quiz The Chase I appeared in as a contestant was shown on TV. I've been an avid viewer of this quiz since it started airing in the summer of 2009 as ITV's many attempts to rival BBC's teatime ratings winner, The Weakest Link. The Chase has been one of the few ITV shows to successfully challenge Anne Robinson's ratings so has been commissioned for longer runs.

I sent in an application on a whim last summer when the second series aired and spent probably 5 minutes filling in the form but was invited for an audition at the Hyatt Hotel in Birmingham City Centre. My fellow auditionees all seemed to be quiz show veterans - one even appeared on Bob's Full House which was about 25 years ago !!! So, faced with this competition, I thought I had no chance. The audition basically was chatting about yourself and answering some questions. Anyway, when it all ended, we had to wait a few minutes and then all of us were told we were on the shortlist it be on the show. For a full series, 160 contestants would be needed and the shortlist was about 250. We were handed factsheets with various dates for recording during September, October and November and told to be ready to be contacted if successful. Presumably the spread of recording dates was to fit in with the availability of the show's host, Bradley Walsh, who is also a main cast member of the UK version of Law & Order.

Anyway, most of these dates came and went with me hearing nothing - I had various plans for weekends in November (when the last recording blocks were to take place) so I took the bull by the horns and emailed the reserachers to see if was going to appear or not. Anyway one of them gave me a ring and said I was going to appear and could I come down to London for the final recording date in November, which I could.

Francis came down with me, but he had to spend the day going round London on his own as The Chase has no studio audience - it's recorded in what seems like a miniscule studio in The London Studios complex on the South Bank, next to the National Theatre. My fellow team-mates seemed a nice bunch and everyone did as much as they could to put us at our ease including the make-up girls who I had a good gossip with !!

Once we got in the studio it all seemed a bit more "real" but everyone was still lovely and we met our host, Bradley Walsh, who was great despite having already recorded one show that day with another after us.

I won't spoil proceedings for those who haven't yet watched it but, watching the episode back, we did better than I thought at the time !!

The episode can be viewed online here :-


Sadly, this won't work for those outside the UK but I am working on it being on YouTube so stay tuned !!!!
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Shameless Plug and Updates [Feb. 6th, 2011|09:25 pm]
[Current Mood |busybusy]

I ahev been meaning to update this for a while but have, well, not done so !!!

Here's just a quick update of stuff since my last posting - went to a few shows including Blithe Spirit with Alison Steadman, Hermione Norris and Robert Bathurst, Spamalot, King Lear with Derek Jacobi (brilliant!) and Dick Whittington - this seasons only panto for us starring Joan Collins, Julian Clary, Nigel Havers and Keith Harris and Orville !!

For my birthday Francis and I had a quick trip down to Devon and met up with a couple of university friends and New Year period was in Blackpool with a day in Manchester for another catch-up.

Christmas was quiete, at home - TV was fairly dire and I thought the Doctor Who Christmas special was absolute rubbish.

Just after Christmas we went to Glasgow for the 40th birthday of the fabulous and lovely Paul Dillon - Francis drove up and it was quite amusing to notice that in England there was no snow but as soon as we crossed the border to Scotland the white stuff was everywhere !!! Luckily it didn't cause us any travel problems.

The rest of January was fairly quite but last week we went to Scotland - again! - for a holiday in Newtonmore (about 45 miles south of Inverness) in a converted signal box with two lovely friends, Kenny McGuiness and Ben Morris plus Parsley the dog. Due to my work commitments we could only stay until Wednesday but we both had a brilliant time with lots of laughs and wine - we wished we could have stayed for the whole week as we missed snow that appeared on Thursday !! The location is fabulous, although the train journey was quite lengthy as you can imagine !! We broke it up on the way by going to Glasgow and Paul very kindly gave us the use of his flat overnight. Then we met Kenny at Glasgow and then Ben and Parsley at Perth. Due to getting cheap train tickets we had to get a train from Droitwich Spa at 6.12 am which was a killer for me !! The journey back we did all in one go, leaving Newtonmore at 10.18 am and getting back to Droitwich at 7 pm !!

The signal box is right next to the station platform so we used to , sadly, wave at every passing train we saw but very little waving was returned ! Photos can be seen here - be warned, there are a lot !



Not much on the convention scene - we did Dimensions in November which was not that great apart from the company, who as always, provided a huge amount of laughs and entertainment. There are a few lined up for this year but, to be honest I'm really going for the social side as the guest lists are pretty exhausted.

Shameless plug time - in November, I took part in an episode of ITV1's daily game show The Chase, presented by Bradley Walsh. The episode I appear in airs on Thursday February 17th at 5 pm on ITV1 although if you liove in Scotland - as a chunk of my friends do - then you don't get The Chase, you get some awful talk show called The Hour but it can be seen online on ITV Player and if people tune to ITV London on Sky - Channel 993 Virgin Media - Channel 853 or Freesat - Channel 977. If you've never seen the chase, info on the quiz can be found here :-




Don't forget to tune in/set your video etc !!!
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October Shows and Updates [Nov. 2nd, 2010|10:53 pm]
[Current Mood |busybusy]

A bit of a bland heading I'm afraid but I just realised I haven't updated my LJ since the end of September and it's now November - where has the time gone ??!!

September actually ended very nicely with F & I going to see "The Habit of Art", the latest Alan Bennett play at the Birmingham Rep. This seemed to us one big "goodbye" letter from Mr B but we could be totally wrong ! Its the old chestnut of a play within a play which I always think must be hard work for the actors as they have two characters to play and have to switch in and out of them within a scene if not quicker e.g Desmond Barritt had to play a scene where he was "playing" his character in the play-within-the-play but had to ask for prompts as his main character was asking for them if you see what I mean !!

The next play we went to see was "Inspector Morse - House of Ghosts" at Malvern with Colin Baker in the lead role. This was an excellent play with the nusual Morse twists and turns and Colin was very good as always but I wasn't sure whether he was able to achieve the levels of light and shade that John Thaw brought to the part on TV. He gave Morse an air of vulnerability as well as the bluster. That maybe just because this play is in the theatre rather than on TV so it had to be more immediate to reach the back rows.

Following this was "Doctor Who - Live" which is a heavily plugged arena tour of a show with Doctor Who monsters parading about. Oh dear, this was not very good really and, IMO, a bit of a flop. We went to see it at the 12,000 seater Birmingham NIA and maybe 3000 people attended ! Tickets were £38.50 and, although the show was OK it wasn't worth anything like £38.50. There was a paper-thin plot that basically was that the son of Vorg, a character from the 1973 story "Carnival of Monsters" (a story all the kids in the audience will know for sure *rolls eyes*), was setting up his own Monster-holding machine and had trapped The Doctor inside - who was represented by video clips, so hardly "Doctor Who - Live". The kids seemed to enjoy it but a cynical 37 year old and 64 year old felt roaylly ripped-off.

Then it was to Blackpool to see Kyran Bracken's Ice Party - fab show with stars and celebs from "Dancing On Ice" including this years winners, Hayley and Dan who did their perfect-score "Jai Ho" routine. This was amazing and such a treat to see live. Obviously autographs were grabbed after the show !!

Our final show of the month was "The Rivals" at Malvern. I remember studying this for my A Levels and we did read throughs in class and I always played Sir Anthony Absolute !! Sir Anthony here was played by Peter Bowles and his "To The Manor Born" co-star Penelope Keith played Mrs Malaprop. I wasn't sure if I would find this play a bit of a drag as we saw "She Stoops To Conquer" a couple of years ago which is a contemporary play to "The Rivals" and that did drag a bit. However, this production whizzed along at a great pace with excellent performances. Of course I stage doored Ms Keith and Mr Bowles who were both very approachable and friendly.

Not much else to report other than the above - my computer finally gave up the ghost recently so my parents bought me a new one which has to be a combined Birthday/Christmas present for this year !! Francis and I have started going ice skating on my Friday off which has been an interesting experience. I previously skated for about 6 weeks at school in 1989 so I'm getting the hang of it and no falls yet, although I get frustrated that it takes a while each week to get my "skating legs". We went to the ice arena in Blackpool to skate to a public session and that was even more intimidating as everyone else in the session were clearly pros practicing for Hot Ice or Kyran Bracken's show !!! I'm very organised for Christmas - I'm determined that EVERYTHING will be done by the beginning of December e.g. cards written, presents bought etc but as I only work 3 days a week I have no excuses really !!!

November is currently shaping up to be be fairly busy but much lighter on the shows - just one so far !!!
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Blackpool & Enron [Sep. 28th, 2010|09:02 am]
[Current Mood |chipperchipper]

Another weekend, another trip to Blackpool ! But first, on Thursday night, Francis and I went to see "Enron" at the Birmingham Rep. I was dragged along to this as Francis was very keen to see it after all the rave reviews it had in London contrasting with it's dismal showing in America by lasting just a month including previews.

Anyway, the theatre was rammed which is always a good sign and the play was actually very enjoyable. I was worried you'd need a degree in accountancy to understand some of the jargon but it was fine. We guessed that perhaps it didn't go down too well in the States is because it was critical about a period of recent American history but written by a Brit and maybe some Americans found that off-putting/offensive. American readers out there, feel free to tell me I've got that wrong !!

The main star was Corey Johnson who Doctor Who fans may remember as Henry van Statten from the 2005 episode "Dalek". No stage dooring as there was one of those dismal After Dark sessions where sweating, exhausted actors take Q&A from the stage after the show and we couldn't be arsed to stay !! This Thursday we're also at the Rep to see Alan Bennett's "The Habit of Art". We have to make the most of the Rep as it cloases in January for near on 2 years as part of the rebuilding of the Birmingham Central Library next door. It's productions are going to be scattered around the city as a result.

So Friday morning we went to Blackpool and had a relaxing afternoon doing bugger all. Then on Saturday morning we were planning to go to Cleveleys to pick up the Daily Mail from WH Smiths as there was free DVD of "Take Me High" a terrible Cliff Richard but also starring 60s Doctor Who girls Deborah Watling. Interestingly, this film isn't available on DVD in the UK so Cliff fans must have been in heaven !! Anyway, trams were sailing past full and the promenade bus has been downgraded to a single decker so was also packed. We ended up going into Blackpool town centre as the trams weren't as busy and picking it up there.

The weekend was also a celebration of 125 years of trams in Blackpool so we went on a celebratory tram ride and got off part way through at Pleasure Beach but the journey continued on up and down the line for several more hours. It's interesting to see tram enthusiasts are just as anal as Doctor Who fans at conventions !!! The town was packed all weekend no doubt in part due to the good weather we had this weekend. We're back in Blackpool in three weeks time and then spend 3 out of 4 weekends there (again!). !!
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