Read, Watch, Listen 3

Every couple of weeks I like to share a sample of what I am currently finding entertaining. I have enjoyed reviewing books and TV shows in the past and now like to include something podcast related too. Here are three new suggestions that I’d like to recommend.

What I am reading

Currently I am enjoying several books and the one I am most engrossed by is ‘Apples Never Fall’ by Liane Moriarty. As usual, her books never give too much away at the beginning. She is brilliant at dropping us into a story and then, like a stone in a puddle, the ripples take us on an exciting journey.

With this book a young woman arrives at a house in a shocked state. The owners are an elderly couple who used to own a tennis academy. They take her in, believing they must know her but when they realise they don’t, they are already invested in her story.

We already know from the introduction that the old woman had kids and they are worried about her, so there is plenty of intrigue from the beginning. I am not even half way through but am totally hooked on this book.

What I am watching

Stranger Things Season Four has arrived after a long wait and so far it has lived up to expectations. If you have never watched this brilliant 1980s based sci-fi drama before, where have you been? It is a combination of comedy and horror, especially this season. I won’t give out any spoilers but suffice to say the song ‘Running up that hill’ by Kate Bush has featured heavily and is now at Number 2 in the UK pop charts as a result.

Winona Ryder leads a cast which includes some rapidly growing up kids and Lily Allen’s husband, David Harbour. Elle (Millie Bobby Brown) has a link to The Upside Down, a strange parallel world where horrible monsters seem to live. The town of Hawkins has a weird connection to this upside down world too and people keep getting either dragged into it or killed by it.

This is way too complex for me to sum up in a few sentences but my favourite thing about Stranger Things is the 1980s nostalgia which takes me back to my own childhood. Check it out soon and make sure you start from Season One.

What I am listening to

I love listening to this podcast all about Bees. It is hosted by the very funny Jane Horrocks (Absolutely Fabulous) and the talented Esther Coles. Although QueenBees podcast began as an homage to all things Bee, they now discuss lots of other related subjects such as making wax candles from bee products and gardening tips.

This fun and educational podcast is really just two best friends chatting about anything and everything, whilst hanging around beehives. Esther Coles is fast becoming a leading authority on bees and sustainable ways of gardening. Both of them come across as humerous, caring and knowledgeable. Needless to say, I absolutely love it!

Thank you for taking the time to read my suggestions for a TV show, podcast and book. My last set of reviews is here and if you want to check out future recommendations please consider following my blog.

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.