Shiny Linkiness

Eric Idle – Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography Yesterday I reviewed Eric Idle’s ‘Sortabiography’ for Shiny.   Read the full review here. He and Michael Palin have always been my favourite Pythons, so I was fascinated to read Idle’s memoir. However, he remains a slippery character – self-deprecating, one who’d rather Read More

Meanwhile, at Shiny…

Here are links to my recent posts over at Shiny New Books… Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh This is one of my most-loved TV programmes ever, and the original play is now 40 years old. Penguin have reissued it with a new intro by Leigh – and it still holds up today! Little top up? Read More

Meanwhile at Shiny…

…I’ve had several reviews published recently. In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant Sarah Dunant’s latest novel chronicles the last year of Pope Alexander VI’s life. He was, of course, head of the Borgia family in Renaissance Italy. His mad and vicious soldier son Cesare, and daughter about to be thrice-married Lucrezia complete Read More

The World of Ephemera: Before Z Cars…

Time for some more ephemera, Found in amongst a pile of old theatre programmes, this edition of the school mag of M.C.B. – Methodist College Belfast from June 1949. My mum went there, and must have been in the sixth form when this edition was published. Sadly, despite being a classics scholar and singer she Read More

Two Short Takes

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty I had been planning to read Apple Tree Yard well in advance of the then imminent TV series (preferring to read the book first), but only just made it in time. Suffice it to say, this was a thriller that I raced through in a couple of sessions, finding Read More

A great comfort at year-end

Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook by Clive James Whatever is happening outside, a new book by Clive James is always a comfort to read – something you can’t say about many other (predominantly) non-fiction writers, except Bill Bryson. I grew up reading James’ TV reviews in the Observer every weekend – looking forward to the Read More

Two shorter non-fic reviews

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately – including some absolute crackers that deserve a whole post to themselves – and I don’t mind saving them to write about for the new year. Meanwhile, today I have two shorter non-fic reviews for you… Set Phasers to Stun by Marcus Berkmann If you’ve read this Read More

Woolly Jumpers…

This post was republished into its original place from my lost posts archive Breaking the Code by Gyles Brandreth I read this book just pre-blog back in summer 2008. Brandreth’s political diaries from 1990-1997 – the time that he was an MP (Tory, for Chester) were fascinating reading. They recount, with his customary wit, all Read More

The Divine Rev. Adam Smallbone …

The Rev. Diaries by The Reverend Adam Smallbone, (by Jon Canter) Now into its third short series on BBC2, the sitcom Rev continues to delight. It is simply hilarious, and absolutely hits the spot every time without being sacrilegious or blasphemous.  What is so lovely about it is that doesn’t make fun of faith per se; its targets Read More

‘I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood’…

The Almost Lizard by James Higgerson I’m twenty-one years old today, and once I’ve finished this little introduction I’m going to kill myself. … Not many can spend their final few weeks on this earth writing their autobiography, a to-the-minute summary of all that has occurred within their lifespan. But most of us leave this Read More

The Women of Madison Avenue

Mad Women by Jane Maas Mad Men still ranks amongst my favourite TV programmes ever. I love everything about it – the clothes, the campaigns, the decor, the lifestyle, the cast, (especially John Slattery as Roger Sterling). But how true is the series? I’ve already read one book by a guy who was there – Jerry Read More

An evening with Vera and Jimmy … and Ann Cleeves

I spent a great evening hearing about two fictional British detectives yesterday. Two totally different people – the frumpy, middle-aged Vera Stanhope (pronounced Stannup) from Northumberland, and the descendant a Spanish sailor from the Armada who was shipwrecked at Fairisle in the Shetlands. Both were created by Ann Cleeves, who had escaped for the evening Read More

Beryl on the box & big screen …

Today, I offer you a survey of Beryl’s work for TV and film, with as many links to clips as I can find… During the early part of her career, Beryl was an actress.  In 1961, she famously appeared in one episode of Coronation Street as the peace-protesting girlfriend of Ken Barlow. See BB in Corrie. She wrote Read More

He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!

Had to write a short post on the BBC4 drama Holy Flying Circus which aired this week, it was a mostly marvellous 90 minutes of real Pythonesque homage. It followed the life of the Pythons around the time that Life of Brian was released in the cinema (1979), the TV ‘debate’ between Cleese and Palin v Muggeridge Read More

Those maddening real-life Mad Men …

From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-line Dispatches from the Advertising War by Jerry Della Femina. This book was originally published in 1970 – an insider’s guide to the goings on in the ad industry in the 1960s by a guy who was there – one of the original Mad Men.  Thanks to the success Read More