Read, Watch, Listen 2

A few weeks ago I decided to review a book, a TV show and a podcast in the same blog post and was happy with the outcome. So this week I have once again put together my three current sources of entertainment.

Each of these is worth checking out. I am half way through the book and the TV series. With the podcast, I am catching up on episodes and currently listening to all of the new episodes as they are published.

What I am reading

Currently I am making my way through ‘Different Class’ by Joanne Harris. It follows on from the brilliant ‘Gentlemen and Players’ which really got me rooted in these school- based dramas.

I really love this story as it builds so cleverly, with alternating chapters by two key characters. Joanne’s writing is always so brilliant and the way she creates a backstory for the latin teacher and new super head is nothing short of superb.

Let’s say the new headteacher is younger and used to be in Roy Straightly’s class. As we flick back and forth, we discover events that suggest that there is so much more to be said. Full of intrigue and skilful mastery of words, this book is totally immersive.

What I am watching

Last week I noticed that Imogen Poots was in a new sci-fi series on Amazon Prime Video. ‘Outer Range’ seemed really intriguing as it is set on a ranch in the USA and costars Josh Brolin as the cowboy patriarch (Royal) who I recall from the Kate Winslet movie, Labour Day.

A black hole has been discovered on landowner Royal’s land. A violent event leads to an investigation which is muddled by a battle for one section of land that seems to hold more value than it suggests. Meanwhile Autumn (Poots) wanted to camp in his field whilst poking her nose into local goings on.

The black hole seems to be a place to deposit bodies but can we be sure they won’t come back? When one does reappear it causes a whole load of contraversy.

What I am listening to

When I was growing up, I loved watching the hilarious ‘Big Breakfast’ programme every morning on Channel 4. Presented by Chris Evans and Gaby Roslin, it was a magazine show with great guests, funny sketches and crazy alien puppets called Zig and Zag.

Ever since, I have remained a firm fan of Gaby Roslin and so I was pleased to see her begin a podcast where she chats with famous people from all sorts of backgrounds. Starting with her friendly and fun Kate Winslet episode, I have started working my way through her previous series.

I seem to remember Gaby interviewing Kate in 1995 when she was promoting Sense and Sensibility. Gaby mentions this in the episode and The fact that Kate came on this podcast (after all her interviews are rare) shows her high regard for Roslin as a broadcaster. The banter between them is funny and honest.

Other highlights include a chat with Judi Dench, Alicia Silverstone and Jill Halfpenny. I also found Sebastian Croft from Heartstopper really interesting. There are so many cool people on it and I am yet to check out Jim Broadbent and many others.

Thank you for taking the time to read my current suggestions. If you want to check out my previous recommendations please click here. Hopefully you enjoyed this article and may consider following my blog for more of the same.

TV Shows I Laugh At

It feels like ages since I updated my TV show suggestions and today seems like the right time. I wanted to concentrate on a couple of shows that are funny and entertaining as, let’s face it, some of us need cheering up a bit. My current favourite comedy programmes are short and simple, but brilliant and laugh-out-loud crazy.

Newark, Newark (UK Gold and NOW TV)

Morgana Robinson is hilarious in this funny, light show.

Sometimes my favourite discoveries come from podcast recommendations and my go-to podcast for TV show suggestions is Making The Cut which is jam-packed with reviews of anything from kitchen equipment to movies. Davina McCall and Michael Douglas got me into Ted Lasso and that was a great series which I am now hooked on.

I remember Morgana Robinson from her previous comedy show where she did amazing impressions of famous people. This new comedy series is a pilot made up of three half an hour episodes and originally showed up on UK Gold, a channel I would never normally watch. Luckily I was able to stream it using my NOW TV app, and after travelling through Newark the other day, my memory was jogged to check it out.

Maxine (Morgana) is a chip shop owner who split up with her weird husband Terry (Matthew Horne) and has a teenage son who is trying to come out to her and his friends. She is such a distracted, frantic person and seems to find ways to sidetrack her son’s dilemmas, while pushing her ex to one side. Starting with her 40th birthday party, the short series is full of nothing but witty dialogue and Northern charm.

Matthew Horne is brilliant in this quirky role, which is quite a departure from his lead role in Gavin and Stacey. Another funny character is Maxine’s mum who is plastered in make up and trying to dish out advice left, right and centre. Beverley Callard is perfect for this role, with her comic timing and cheeky expressions.

Bloods (Sky/ NOW TV)

Bloods is quirky and easy viewing.

I have spoken about how much I like Jane Horrocks as an actress. Having seen her in serious plays and on screen in comedies such as Absolutely Fabulous, I have been a fan for many years.

It was brilliant to see this paramedic spoof comedy return for a second series as it made me laugh the first time. Season two, in my opinion, is funnier still. It is as if the script writers have woken up a bit and dialled up the jokes.

Wendy (Jane) and Maleek (Samson Kayo) are a mismatched pair of paramedics who somehow ‘work’ as an accident-prone ambulance crew. Wendy now has a grown up son who irritates her a lot and Maleek is always trying to take shortcuts and show off his skills. The storylines are cheeky and have begun to follow the other ambulance crews more too.

Having worked in ambulances in the past, I can totally relate to some of these situations but of course they somehow turn tragedies into comedy sequences. I defy you not to at least crack a smile when watching each episode. Being just 23 minutes long, they are great remedies to a hard day’s work. I love popping them on and having a giggle to help me unwind.

One of the stars for me is also the ambulance station manager, Jo, played by Lucy Punch, who I recognised from the equally hilarious ‘Motherland’. Her character is obsessed with a blissfully unaware paramedic who is still getting over the death of his wife. Returning to dating, he has no idea that Jo holds a torch for him, despite her incredibly awkward attempts to show her interest.

So those are my two suggestions for comedy series to watch. Both have short episodes and are easy to get into. For other TV suggestions that I previously wrote about, check my TV Shows I Like article. If you enjoyed this post, please consider following my blog for similar future content.

TV Shows I Like

I am always looking out for new TV shows to get sucked into. To be honest, lately I have been struggling to even come close to keeping up with them. Is it me or has the quality of TV dramas gone up significantly this year? There are certainly loads of well written programmes to choose from.

A few series have not lived up to my expectations but I am not going to waste time talking about them. Today I want to share a few TV series that have kept me coming back for more. These little gems are full of good acting, clever scripts and moments of hilarity.

This is Going to Hurt (BBC)

Having read one of Adam Kay’s books before, I knew that this new show was likely to be brilliant. Tracing the ups and downs of the life of a newly qualified doctor, this show hasn’t disappointed. Starring Ben Wishaw, of Mary Poppins Returns fame, and with guest appearances by Harriet Walter, this funny seven week show is really superb.

This story follows the main character, based on the author of the book, who has to somehow balance a busy schedule, demanding mother and fed up boyfriend. His shifts get extended while his boss breathes down his neck and his student doctor seems to know how to pull his strings.

The pace is quick and the jokes are slick. Some moments are heartbreaking, demonstrating how harrowing working in a short staffed NHS hospital can be. It also highlights how easy it can be to make a mistake that can impact massively on people’s lives.

Servant (Apple TV Plus)

Yes, I know! I am very late to the party with this one. Currently on season three, this spooky but fascinating story is full of intrigue, bazaar moments and fun.

The first time I heard about it was when Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley from the Harry Potter films) was doing some publicity for it the other week. Realising I was missing out on something, I searched it out and started watching it right away.

With half an hour episodes this narrative explores a reasonably well-off New York couple who have recently lost their child. The wife is a TV reporter who pretends that a doll is her dead son. Her husband, uncomfortable with this pretence, comes up with new recipes to publicise on social media. He has a great sarcasm about him and becomes increasingly freaked out by the arrival of a new nanny.

The fact that they have a nanny at all for a doll is weird enough. Rupert plays the reporter’s brother who is always dropping round and drinks wine continuously. He is perfect for this role where he suspects the maid of wrong doing and makes it his mission to expose her.

I am still watching series one but absolutely love this show. It is the right amount of dark, mysterious and silly.

Thanks for reading about these two TV shows. Recently I also reviewed More Great TV Shows. If you enjoyed my article, please consider following my blog for future similar content.