Friday, 26 June 2015

Closed For Holiday

Yes, it's that time of year again - my annual break. 

I'm off to the Yorkshire Dales once more and will be sans internet for the next week.

So I'll see you back here then!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

All Coppers Are... (1972) / The Strange Affair (1968)

I've spent the day today enjoying a double bill of two films shot within a few years of each other in the late 60s and early 70s that look at corruption and the negative image of the police force.

By the 1970s the media's representation of the police force had begun to accept the ugly truth. This was the decade that bid farewell to the reassuring paternal figures of Dixon of Dock Green and the squad at Z Cars and ushered in the warts and all tendencies of The Sweeney and Law and Order. Having read or heard of the increasingly widespread corruption within the force, the British audience was ready to accept that beneath the dark blue serge uniform lay characters who weren't whiter than white. They were prepared for a more hard edged realistic depiction.

Unfortunately, despite its inflammatory title All Coppers Are... (the missing word clearly being 'bastards', as the chant and series of tattoos and graffiti would have it) this film is surprisingly and resolutely conservative in its depiction of the police force. The only crime from our young PC here, played by former Fellini protege Martin Potter, is one of a lack of propriety as he finds himself cheating on his wife with Julia Foster and subsequently finding himself part of a ménage à trois with local small time criminal Nicky Henson, rather than being guilty of any actual corruption.

Indeed Sidney Hayers film, taken from a script by Allan Prior, takes great pains to depict society around the force as the issue rather than the boys in blue themselves; A pub landlord complains about Potter's presence because a copper in the bar upsets the ordinary decent folk (the joke here being that they're likely to be on the fringes of the criminal underclass and therefore are probably anything but decent), a GP called out to their sick baby initially resents the fact that Potter's wife didn't come to the surgery, but on seeing the uniform is immediately grovellingly helpful towards them and lastly, a student demo against an embassy representing a fascist embassy takes a violent turn - but its the students themselves who  start this by hurling bricks at the police.

Perhaps much of this is due to the producer, Peter Rogers. After all, the Carry On mogul was well known for his conservative politics and its true to say any trace of grit All Coppers Are... manages to convey is rather lost when his brother Eric overlays the action with an iffy unsuitably cheery and chirpy score that even includes some music later featured in the Carry On's themselves. This unfortunate decision also scuppered the thriller Assault which starred Suzy Kendall and Frank Finlay. Its commendable that Rogers chose to produce more than the moneyspinners that were the cheap and cheerful Carry On's, but its a shame he didn't make these efforts truly distinctive from them.

So whilst not wholly a success there's still a promising trace of gritty authenticity to proceedings, helped largely by the solid, unfussy direction from Hayers and the accomplished cast. Julia Foster as the girl in the middle is especially noteworthy. One of the 60s dollybirds, Foster never quite reached the heights that the likes of Julie Christie ultimately attained and this lack of comparable success actually works for the film in that she offers a kind of council estate glamour, a bit tired around the eyes and shabby around the edges, rather than an obviously out of place A-list chic. 

She was certainly, to quote the parlance of the day, a bit of alright, and the film goes to great lengths to display that and the effect she has on both Potter and Henson with close ups of her breasts struggling to be kept within an assortment of revealing tops. That said, I think Potter was made to cheat on his wife, played by the more subtly attractive and classy Wendy Allnutt who would later be known as the woman who wrote the 'dear John' letter in the 80s BBC sitcom Dear John.

The Strange Affair, now this is more like it. The concluding part of my afternoon double bill certainly delivers on the murkier aspects of the metropolitan police in a way that its companion All Coppers Are... failed to do.

On the surface you'd imagine 1968's The Strange Affair would be the more standard, tamer production of the two focusing as it does on Michael York's titular Strange, a fresh faced university educated and optimistic new beat bobby in a London seemingly still lit by The Blue Lamp - albeit dimly. But events soon takes a darker, seedier turn, made all the more affecting by both its swiftness and what feels like its inherent authenticity. The film also stands out thanks to the remarkably distinctive and classy direction of David Greene (responsible for that other overlooked gem from the joint-end of the swinging 60s, I Start Counting) which is determined to deliver a quirky definitively 60s look to the action as opposed to the grittiness the storyline would suggest, and to the impressive, modish and experimental jazz score from Basil Kirchin that enlivens the action and gives the film a flavour of the cop drama we had started to see on the other side of the Atlantic around this time. 

The corruption is satisfactorily shown in two ways; firstly the police officers who are depicted taking bribes to turn a blind eye to some crimes, as represented by the CID officer on the payroll of Jack Watson's character Quince, himself a former officer who now rules his patch of London and supplies heroin via the local heliport alongside a pair of psychotic pinstripe suited mod sons. And secondly, officers who are willing to bend the law they uphold to punish specific criminals, in this case the dogged Jeremy Kemp (himself a former regular on Z Cars) who will do anything to nail the Quince family. The Strange Affair readily and unflinchingly embraces the grey area of policing, presenting these situations as it sees them and offering up the lesser of the two evils.

From a modern day, post Yewtree point of view there's also the interesting subplot involving Strange’s love interest played by Susan George. She is the physical embodiment of the phrase 'gaol-bait' being as she is a deeply promiscuous and extremely underage Sloaney hippy who, along with her aunt and uncle, espouses the most permissive views - too permissive in fact as its revealed said aunt and uncle are an immoral pair who secretly film her having sex with Strange and flog the film round the seedy fleapits of Soho.  Everyone knows she is underage, including the seemingly honest to a fault Strange, but no one actually seems to care. As I say, interesting in these modern times.

Needless to say Strange gets in over his head (especially in one chilling scene where he's tortured by the Quince's with a pneumatic drill) and backed into several corners until before long he's turned into - if he ever even imagined it for one moment, that is - the very thing he thought he would never be thanks to a series of situations he is incapable of acting against. 

All in all this is an interesting 60s film that is long overdue some serious appreciation.

RIP Patrick Macnee

Another terrible loss to the showbiz world, Patrick Macnee, star of The Avengers, has died at his Californian home surrounded by his family aged 93

Friends of this blog may know me all the way back to the days of Myspace, when I ran a John Steed profile celebrating all things The Avengers and Mr Macnee. These people will appreciate how saddening this news is to me.The Avengers has always been particular favourite of mine and Macnee was the epitome of elegant English cool that I would often daydream as being in my younger days. He was always a delight to watch and I have many happy memories. 

Thank you Mr Macnee for those memories.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Monday, 22 June 2015

Voice of a (Left Wing) Angel

Blood (2012)

If you haven't seen Conviction, the excellent 2004 BBC3 drama series by Bill Gallagher than chances are you'll love Blood, the big screen adaptation from the same writer which BBC2 broadcast last night.

But if you have seen the original, this remake from director Nick Murphy is largely surplus to requirements. It's a stylish and gritty enough affair and it benefits from a tight focus condensing six hours into just 90 minutes but it's got several flaws that ensure it cannot achieve the same heights of the original drama series.

Conviction starred William Ash, Ian Puleston-Davies, Reece Dinsdale, Laura Fraser and Nicholas Gleaves as five detectives investigating the gruesome murder of a teenage girl in or around Manchester. Their main suspect is a local man with a history of sexual offences played by Jason Watkins but frustratingly the evidence they need to prove he did it remains elusive. After a drunken party, the Ash and Puleston-Davies characters kidnap their prime suspect and take him to the woods with the intention of gleaning a confession through scare tactics and interrogation, but Puleston-Davies goes too far and kills him. From there the two detectives have to cover their tracks and, when new evidence comes to light, they find they must face up to the sobering and shocking realisation that the man they killed was actually innocent all along and that the real killer remains at large. 

Blood follows this same plot but reduces the central characters in the squad from five to three, dropping Laura Fraser's character altogether, and excises several subplots. Stephen Graham takes on the William Ash role, whilst Paul Bettany plays an amalgamation of the roles previously taken by Ian Puleston-Davies and Nicholas Gleaves - who was Ash's older brother in the series. The film keeps the sibling structure at its heart but unfortunately I didn't buy for one moment that Bettany and Graham were brothers. The believability of the characters and the central conceit in Conviction was that Ash was an impressionable young detective standing in the shadows of both his older brother and his now retired and senile father (David Warner in the series, Brian Cox here) and falling under the spell of the bombastic, older Puleston-Davies. Bettany doesn't have the same force of nature style that Puleston-Davies brought to the character and its hard to see the assured Graham being easily led by him, older sibling or not, or indeed anyone. In fact its actually a shame they didn't cast Graham as the more quick tempered, manipulative character really. The cast assembled by director Nick Murphy is a strong one, but they're not firing on all cylinders. I'd argue Bettany is actually the weakest of the four so its a shame much of the film rests on his shoulders, meanwhile Mark Strong, normally always an effective presence on screen, is largely wasted as the quirky, quiet loner of the team played so memorably by Dinsdale in the original series.

As you've probably guessed from reading this by now, I am a fan of Conviction which told its story in a very satisfactory manner because it placed its characters at the heart of the story and allowed you time to explore them and understand them. Blood is an average, enjoyable film that benefits greatly from atmospheric direction and the use of the still, austere Wirral locations (though its refusal to specify its whereabouts on film, with Cox and Graham adopting cockney style accents to fit in with the predominantly southern English actors cast here is a bit disappointing) but it's only real plus  - that it tells the story of Conviction in a quicker and more efficient manner - is ultimately also the thing that scuppers it. If I want to watch Conviction but haven't 6 hours to spare, then Blood would come in handy but as it is, I'd recommend the original over this.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Where Adam Stood (1976)

Dear Mr Potter,

I would like to tell you how wonderful I thought your play Where Adam Stood. Everything about it - the characterisation, timing, photography, production - was superb. I shall long remember and treasure the memory. 

The above is an excerpt from a letter of praise received by the playwright Dennis Potter in April, 1976 from no less than Mary Whitehouse - a woman who was renowned for finding all other examples of his work to be deeply offensive and pornographic. One can only imagine the look on Potter's face when he opened that envelope one spring morning!

I'm not normally the kind of person who finds myself agreeing with the late and self appointed moral guardian of the morals of British television and radio, but I have to admit when it comes to Where Adam Stood we are both standing on the same ground ourselves. One thing that I found especially striking, which Mrs Whitehouse does not praise, is the sound of the production. Television today is often beset with criticism from many modern Whitehouses regarding poor audio quality; actors mumbling or music and sound effects drowning out dialogue. Where Adam Stood has none of these issues. No actor (beyond Jean Boht as the local madwoman) rarely speaks above a moderate tone or whisper throughout and yet every single word is so perfectly enunciated and clearly delivered by actors who knew how to properly project their voices, most notably the great Alan Badel. Each voice is so silky that I couldn't help feel like my ears were being swaddled and swathed by the finest plushest fabrics and it means you become firmly absorbed with what is being depicted. 

This Play For Today is on the surface, as you can imagine from Mary Whitehouse's gushing, something of a departure for Potter (though don't worry, he does place a fart gag from Boht's madwoman into the proceedings around the 35 minute mark and there's a definitive destruction of innocence towards the end involving her) in that it is a dramatisation of the 1907 memoir Father and Son which detailed the life of the naturalist and fundamentalist Philip Gosse from the eyes of his son Edmund. It is set crucially around the time Darwin's theory of evolution was introduced to academic society and the ensuing doubt, anger and claims of blasphemy can be viewed in the father played by the aforementioned Badel from the eyes of the infant Edmund, his son, played by Max Harris.

Look beyond the seemingly reverent and genteel proceedings however and you'll see Potter is still exploring the themes that he always did, notably the unsuitability of a strict, religious and pious upbringing when faced with the harsh, unfair realities of the mature, real world. Badel's Gosse attempts to justify not just the faith he has lived his entire life by but also the opinions his esteemed contemporaries are now advocating as the truth. His ultimate belief is that the Bible is still the truth and that the evidence of evolution was actually planted by God almost deceptively in the Garden of Eden, that ''Where Adam Stood'' was the opportunity to observe the world as it is now and as it always has been. Equally the play's title can be said to have another meaning; that the self-knowledge Adam and Eve discovered is comparable to Edmund's own self-knowledge - that he can claim to hear the Almighty just as much as his father to justify his own desires, in this case the desire to own the toy sailing ship from the village shop. "The good Lord says I am to have the ship, father" he claims, a checkmate to his devout parent and proof that, despite his physical frailty (he's announced by a villager to be ''nesh'' which I actually haven't heard outside of St Helens!) he has now learned something of the survival of the fittest that Darwin espouses. 

Potter satisfactorily plays with Darwin's theory with some scenes that are totally of his own imagination, most notably those which feature Jean Boht's madwoman, Mary Teague, who is the physical manifestation of weak animality. As she stalks the village, observing the day to to day activities of the civilised villagers around her or attempts to (and fails to) keep up with the horse drawn carriage of one of Darwin's emissaries  on a visit to the Gosse household, it is clear she is the poorly advanced outsider and the polar opposite of Philip Gosse. Potter depicts Teague as being the proponent of a crucial development in Edmund's character towards the end of the play,  when she takes the young boy into the woods and clumsily attempts to sexually abuse him before he overpowers her and runs away. This is a continuation of the writer's interest in depicting molestation and abuse as well as taps into his own personal experience of being abused as a child. In a 1993 interview with Graham Fuller, Potter discusses the scene and his own experience by saying "It was just one of those things that would happen in the village at the time. One of those realisations that the world is different and more complicated than the simple vision God is giving you" before adding "I am feeling uncomfortable. Please move on" Clearly, Potter's chosen way to deal with his psychological trauma was always to dramatise it, rather than to confront it in traditional therapeutic conditions.

Where Adam Stood is a truly absorbing and affecting film that works on a great many levels. Beautifully written and performed by Badel and Harris, I would totally recommend it though you may have to overcome in the initial stages between the pair the feeling that a good deal of their exchanges unintentionally border on this...

 All in all though, this was an interesting and suitable watch this Father's Day.

To get the BBC to consider repeating some of these classic Play For Today's please sign the petition I started here

Stocker's Copper (1972)

Set against the acrimonious and unsuccessful three month long Cornish clay miners strike in 1913, the 1972 Play For Today, Stocker's Copper tells the story of the seemingly avuncular and jovial PC Griffith (a pre Blake's 7 Gareth Thomas) who find himself billeted in the cottage of the striking miner Manuel Stocker and his wife, Alice (Bryan Marshall and Jane Lapotaire) when his squad of specially trained Welsh police officers are sent to the villages to keep the peace. Despite such initial reservations both Griffith and Stocker manage to rub along together well, listening to his keenly told stories of previous disputes or his habit of breaking into song, and generally treating the initial summery stages of the strike as little more than a holiday. But when blackleg labour becomes more and more predominant, threatening to break the strikers stronghold and desires for 25 bob a week plus union recognition, Stocker et al have no choice but to march on the clay pit to picket the work. However, it soon becomes apparent that the authorities feel they have no choice too and, despite being a lawfully assembled picket, the Riot Act is read and ultimately oppressive violence ensues with both Stocker and Griffith in the thick of it. 

Seen today, thirty years after the miners strike of 84/85 arguably this countries last biggest industrial dispute, Tom Clarke's play has an impressive, almost chilling resonance as indeed it must have had when it was last broadcast on television by Channel 4 in the late 80s or early 90s. It's impossible not to view the actions of these imposing beetle black figures representing the toughest and the 'best' of the Guards trained troops of strike breakers without thinking of the similar illegality of the bused in officers of the met just over a 100 years later at atrocities such as Orgreave. Jack Gold's direction ensures several scenes linger long in the memory, most notably that of the Welsh officers ostensibly at play, but in reality limbering up, playing a game of rugby against the backdrop of the idle clay pits. As the score is taken over by ominous, thunderous percussion and the villagers and strikers watch the action it's left to one old sage to remark that they hadn't come all this way to just offer them a game.

A ropey copy on YouTube is pretty much the only way you can view this powerful, important and still relevant film. To get the BBC to consider repeating some of these classic Play For Today's please sign the petition I started here

Silent Sunday : Fathers and Sons

Friday, 19 June 2015

A Couple of Beauties (1971)

Dismal on every level, this comedy short from 1971, shares a lot of similarities with Dick Emery's Ooh… You Are Awful feature film, in that it features a mix of drag queenery and gangsters, but it lacks the corny charm and even the relatively slim budget that Emery's production had. 

A Couple of Beauties is essentially a showcase for 70s female impersonator Bunny Lewis (pictured above) who was a fixture in Manchester's club land and the working men's clubs of the North West at that time. The plot, such as it is, features Lewis as Bernie Lewisham (see what they did there?) a hapless barman in London who one night witnesses his boss being shot down in cold blood by gangsters. With the criminals keen to take him, their only witness, out of the picture, Lewisham flees the smoke for his native Moss Side, Manchester with the help of his agent Tim Baxter (Tim Barrett) who decides his best chance would be to hide in plain sight as a drag act called Bunny Lewis. As you do.

The inevitable wearisome tropes swiftly follow in the slender 28 minute running time; the initial protestations of wearing women's clothing, followed by the realisation that he's actually good at it (well who'd have thunk it?) and Bunny/Bernie having to reign in his sexual urges around the female entertainers he's billeted with between shows, as well as having to fend off the equally unwelcome urges of lecherous bar owners such as James 'Pte Walker off Dad's Army' Beck. Yawn.

Directed by Francis Searle, a Butchers Films and B-movies/shorts veteran, A Couple of Beauties is a deeply unattractive film, shot on such rotten film and against such gaudy low rent 70s backdrops as to put you in mind of culty pornos of the day, the kind of film Doris Wishman would be at the helm for. It looks like it, but it never once descends into pure exploitative fare, unfortunately. A shame as I think a more X rated approach complete with some boobs and bum might have made this a little more eyecatching - as it is this is terribly clean stuff with dialogue and gags that sound like they were raided from the reject bin of the Carry On offices. Searle tries to tack the plot onto proceedings but in reality all he is required to do here is point the camera at the stage of various working men's clubs capturing not only Lewis but also a dreadful all-girl pop band performing a song written by none other than Kenny Lynch and the frilly shirted, cummerbund wearing Bernard Manning and shambolic lanky streak Colin Crompton - two stalwart comics of the club scene who would go on to host the strange art imitating life series The Wheeltappers and Shunters Club; a programme keeping people in from their nights out at the social clubs by depicting, yup, a night out at a social club.  (The North seemed to specialise in this kind of nonsense; by the end of the following decade the big draw post midnight was Pete Waterman's The Hitman and Her, which showed people at home what was going on at nightclubs around the region, though it always felt like it was just Mr Smith's, Warrington...clubs they could actually be in themselves if they just hailed a cab or jumped the bus) Like Wheeltappers, there's a kind of kitsch nostalgic value to A Couple of Beauties precisely because of this snapshot of entertainment from bygone times, as essentially - if you're from the north like me - you're witnessing what your grandparents and parents may have viewed themselves as a night out; only at least they got ratted on Double Diamond, had a face full of hot pot and a quick game or two of bingo out of it.  

I can't say I'm a big fan of drag acts and Bunny Lewis does little to change this opinion. Babyfaced and short arsed, he's a natural drag queen but a poor and unengaging leading man with limited acting abilities that are on stark display in the opening plot heavy scenes that require him to play a barman fearing for his life. He's naturally on safer ground dragged up and performing his routine, something he could probably do in his sleep, which is the kind of act that was clearly outrageous for its time, complete with that weird kind of irony of having hard drinking, working class men positively lapping it up whilst promoting homophobic opinions elsewhere. 

If A Couple of Beauties was intended as a platform for bigger and better things for Lewis, a chance to join the likes of Emery or Danny La Rue in the nation's hearts, then he was to be sorely disappointed. Though he remained respected by his peers, neither TV or film troubled him all that much and he continued to play the clubs and even own one in Manchester for the rest of the decade before resurfacing in the early 90s for a non-drag role in another slice of Mancunian B movie cultdom, Cliff Twemlow's GBH 2: Lethal Impact. He died in 2008 aged 71. Equally A Couple of Beauties faded into obscurity, there's very little online about it and wouldn't have known it even existed where it not for it appearing in the Talking Pictures TV schedules this week. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

John Hurt : Sending Get Well Vibes

One of my favourite actors, John Hurt has announced that he has been diagnosed with the early stages of pancreatic cancer.

Sir John said "I am undergoing treatment and am more than optimistic about a satisfactory outcome, as indeed is the medical team"

So here's hoping the very best outcome for him, sending lots of positivity and get well vibes his way.

Wasp (2003)

Andrea Arnold's Oscar winning 2003 short Wasp puts one in mind of early Ken Loach/Nell Dunn in that it is starkly realistic tragicomic and deeply poignant look at Zoe, a young Dartmouth woman, struggling to get by on her wits, with four young children in tow and no man to take care of them, let alone a sufficient welfare state.

This is motherhood in the raw. Backed into a corner by merciless poverty, Zoe is forced to take her chance whenever she sees it regardless of its immediate ill effects on her children. 

Natalie Press stars as Zoe, a young working class woman on a sink estate whose ordinary desires and dreams (her belief that she looks like Victoria Beckham and her fervent hope that one day she will  meet her David Beckham) are seen to be crushed on a daily basis. Its this sympathetic approach, this understanding of her deprivation of the joys other women of her age take for granted that gives Wasp its authentic depth and dimension. It would be easy, for example, to view the lank greasy hair and dirty faces of the children, their going without food, eating sugar from the bag and being forced to play outside in the pub car park all evening, picking up off the floor the leftover takeaway of a gang of lads to feast upon, as scenes to hold Zoe in utter contempt for - after all, its this kind of neglect that regularly screams out load across the front pages of the Daily Mail right? But Arnold is astute, open minded and empathetic enough to know that you must look at both the cause and the effect, and not the latter alone.

Zoe unexpectedly bumps into her childhood crush back from the army, David played by Danny Dyer. I'm not a fan of Dyer but he equips himself relatively well here and does what is asked of him in what is essentially a supporting role. David - who doesn't know Zoe has children - asks her out and, unable to get a childminder, Zoe is forced to take the kids down to the pub placing them in the car park and giving them strict instructions not to disturb her unless its an absolute emergency. Zoe clearly savours those brief few hours of romance with David but a sudden wasp attack on the youngest of her children wrecks her date and makes her realise the folly of her ill thought out, momentarily selfish, actions.

Aside from Press and Dyer the stars of the film are the child actors playing Zoe's offspring. Each child gives a uniquely individual performance which marks them out as distinctive characters in their own right from the eldest, forced to play surrogate mother and already growing wise to her mother's ways, to the helpless baby in the pram who suffers the unwanted attentions of the titular wasp.

Arnold shoots Wasp with a wonderful highly realistic style via shaky hand held camera and interesting close ups that capture something of the existence of Zoe and her children. Throughout the film DJ Otzi's rendition of Hey Baby (If You'll Be My Girl) a huge hit at the time features during Zoe's date in the pub and again over the closing credits, offering a hopeful off camera conclusion and can be said to represent both her desire to be someone's girl, in this case David's, but also the conflict of being both a mother and little more than a girl herself.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Fighting Back : Petitions to Sign

Following the IPCC's Verdict Not To Investigate Orgreave announced on Friday, a petition has been started demanding an independent inquiry into the actions of the police during the miners strike of 84/85 which you can sign here. Please support, donate, buy merch to fund the fight from the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign site here

Want a man who thinks internal bleeding is caused by a full moon as the chair of the Health Select Committee? Of course you don't, but David Cameron does and that man is David Tredinnick, who also believes homeopathy and astronomy should be paid for by the NHS. Sign here to try and keep Tredinnick and his 'lunatic' views (quoting Prof Sir Robert Winston there) away from this role. Sanity must prevail!

Stoke NHS Join the fight to save beds at Longton Cottage Hospital

Change or expand the criteria for PIP to ensure no one suffers unnecessary hardship.

Welfare is being cut to the bone, and George Osborne wants to cut it even further. £12 billion to be precise. 

Best Ad On Tele Right Now

When stuff sucks, make it right! Just like Jackson the Muppet in the new advert for Three

This ad has me in fits. Like seriously, is he ok? style laughter. It's embarrassing really but I've always been a bit of a sucker for Jim Henson's creations and the randomness of Jackson's antics in this ad, coupled with the blast from the 90s past that is East 17's It's Alright, makes this a gem

Three have form with ads that focus on the cute and funny with a rocking soundtrack. Here's a couple of their previous ones


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Tonight's Tele Tip : Ken Loach In Conversation With Cillian Murphy

As the title suggests, the director - a firm favourite of mine - discusses his films and the themes of social and political injustice in a special event filmed at the BFI Southbank. The interviewer is the actor Cillian Murphy who starred in Loach's 2006 film The Wind That Shakes The Barley.

Tonight, BBC4 9pm til 10pm to be immediately followed by Loach's 2002 film - also well worth a watch of course - Sweet Sixteen which introduced the world to the great Scottish actor and star of Line of Duty Martin Compston.

Theme Time : Fiona Apple - The Affair

The Affair is currently my Must Watch US TV obsession, having come along just at the right time now both The Newsroom and Boardwalk Empire have finished.

Starring Ruth Wilson and Dominic West, it's sooooo hot its in danger of melting my TV, and sooooo steamy I have to keep the windows open! I already had something of a man crush on West thanks to The Wire, The Hour and Pride and now I'm super-crushing on the gorgeous Wilson who won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her performance here.


The Affair explores the emotional effects of an extramarital relationship between Noah Solloway (West) and Alison Bailey (Wilson) after the two meet in the resort town of Montauk, on Long Island. Noah is a New York City schoolteacher and Williams College alumni who has had one novel published, and is struggling to write a second book. He is happily married with four children, but resents his dependence on his wealthy father-in-law. Alison is a young waitress trying to piece her life and marriage back together in the wake of the death of her child. The story of the affair is told separately, complete with distinct memory biases, from Noah's and Alison's perspectives.

This Golden Globe winning series was created by Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi and the distinctive, haunting theme tune is provided by American singer/songwriter Fiona Apple

Silent Sunday : The Old Bell Tower, St Helens Cemetery

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Boozy Scargill

My dog Boozy doing his now famous Arthur Scargill comb-over impersonation!

Here he is as his usual super cute self...