Tag Archives: TV

Top Gear, series 18, episode 7, BBC Two, review

imageRachel Ward reviews the final episode of the current series of BBC Two’s Top Gear

Thanks to Dave (the TV channel, not Cameron), I’ve seen my fair share of Top Gear episodes. This, the last of the series, was the one with Slash, Kimi Raikkonen, and golf. I must admit that much of this 18th series has passed me by, mainly because (sorry super fans) I’m usually tuned into Dancing on Ice on ITV1 – an adrenalin-fuelled activity of a very different kind.


This year’s Home and Garden Show will feature TV personality and author Steve Katkowsky, to lead seminars on how to make the most of small indoor spaces, and the “Green Building Institute” will be on hand to answer questions on how to make your home more “green.” More than 400 exhibitors in the home and garden field will be displaying their products, and offering their services, and over 100 crafters will be selling everything from pottery, to jewelry, to photographs, and designer homemade candles.

Activities for Adults and Kids:

Habitat for Humanity will be raffling off a playhouse to raise money, and providing a place to paint and build your own birdhouse (kits will also be available for purchase – great for the kids!).

The Maryland Fall Craft Show: 100 Crafters under one roof, with creative and unique gifts. Check them out to knock a little holiday shopping off your list a early!

400 Exhibitors: A huge variety of Landscapers, Interior Designers, and Home Construction companies, will all be available for questions and answers on all your tough home and garden topics.

Complimentary Design Consultation: The American Society of Interior Designers will be offering free 20 minute consultations about paint, fabric, and furniture choices and arrangement. Take advantage of a seasoned and professional eye, and bring some photos of your home to get advice on your home’s décor and style.

Go Green: Get the latest news on “green” home techniques, and products from the Green Building Institute.

Better Living Exhibits: From Health and Beauty, to making the best of a vacation, enjoy dozens of exhibits designed to help you live a better life now!

The Balloon Garden: 600 square feet of imaginative garden space constructed entirely of balloons.

Emilia Fox on her lesbian romance in Upstairs Downstairs

imageBenji Wilson talks to Emilia Fox about her role as a lesbian alongside Alex Kingston in the new series of BBC One’s period drama Upstairs Downstairs

Last year, someone tried to steal Emilia Fox’s identity.

“I got a text from my bank, saying your request to change your mobile phone number has been accepted. I rang the bank, gave my address as a security code and they said, ‘As of two days ago that’s not your address.’ Someone was about to suck my life away. They’d actually gone in to the bank, with my signature, as me.”

Top Gear, series 18, episode 4, review

imageAndrew Marszal reviews episode four of the latest series of BBC Two’s Top Gear

At some point during the endless cycle of offensive jokes, demands for apologies and “boys will be boys” refusals, somebody at the BBC seems to have decided enough is enough, because tonight’s episode of Top Gear (BBC Two) seemed intent on being as congenial and helpful as possible.

Aquino confirms dating Korean TV host

image“We’re seeing each other,” Aquino answered when asked at the tailend of a news briefing the real score between him and the radio talk show host and TV anchor.

The reporters cheered the President, “Yihee.”

Pressed on how long they’ve been seeing each other, the President  invoked his right to privacy.

Aquino, 51, has been linked to various women, many of them younger than him.

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Slow Moving Millie: ‘Morrissey said it was delightful’

imageNeil McCormick meets Amelia Warner, the singer behind the John Lewis commercial.

Amelia Warner is the voice of the Christmas ad that is dividing the nation. You must know the one I am talking about. The new TV campaign for the John Lewis department store chain features a cute child waiting impatiently for Christmas, while Warner’s dreamy version of the Smiths’ Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want plays in the background. So far, so mawkish.

Only it turns out he’s waiting to give his parents a present because, of course, ’tis better to give than to receive (as long as you are giving something from John Lewis, presumably).

Why studio audiences do no favours to radio comedy

Gillian Reynolds assesses some of the changes Radio 4 Controller Gwyneth Williams has made and reviews the week’s radio, including the new Radio 4 panel game Dilemma and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen (Radio 4).


Gwyneth Williams, Radio 4’s Controller, is adamant. She is, she told Feedback (Radio 4, Friday, repeated Sunday) “editorially driven”, convinced that she is right to have extended The World at One by 15 minutes because “we need it”. So far, Feedback’s correspondents don’t agree. What was the point, said one, of the “dull and pointless” interview with Bill Gates? Why, asked another, was economist Vicky Price quizzed more on the break-up of her marriage (to Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change) than economics?

Oktoberfest Travel Tips

imageMunich is famous for its Bavarian Beer Halls, but from the 17th September- 3th October 2011, the city will brew up a storm for the annual Oktoberfest. This hop-mad festival draws thousands of people from all over the world, to quaff over 6 million litres of beer every year. Bavarian Beer is known as the best in the world, with tight regulations on keeping the brew ‘pure’ – just hops, water and barley. Oktoberfest isn’t just about the beer – from the Bavarian Beauties trussed up in traditional gear, to the live bands, delicious German food and huge funfair, it’s the atmosphere that draws the crowds year after year. Even if you aren’t into guzzling pints, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. But the festival is huge – with around 20 tents in the main field alone, and a whole range of ‘fest etiquette’, from tipping to reserving a table, Oktoberfest can be a little overwhelming for first timers. So if you are planning on heading to Oktoberfest 2011, get the best of the beer fest with our handy Oktoberfest beer guide.

Little Feat are still kicking up a storm

imageThe band that Lowell George founded are thriving after 40 years – and have a new album, 40 Feat, which celebrates some hidden treasures from of one of America’s most original rock acts.

Little Feat made some of the finest, original rock music of the 1970s and they have endured and thrived despite losing their founder member and talisman Lowell George at the horribly young age of 34.

The musicians who have played with Little Feat, or recorded their music, would resemble a who’s who of music.

Their fans are passionate and among the Little Feat believers is author and TV maestro David Simon, of Homicide, The Wire and Treme fame.

Click here to find out more! 20 Tips to Save Time and Money in Your Small Business and At Home

imageThese are difficult times and every small business (and large one) needs to find ways to save money and time without delivering less value to their customers.  Service to customers must be maintained, and product or service value is the key to continued business.  So what can you do?

Here are 20 tips that are proven time or money savers. Time is money so the two savings are combined here. Since many small businesses are operated out of home offices, these will also save money and/or time at home. Choose the ones that work for you and start saving now.

Travel Tips From Fellow Travelers

imageSo, I like researching the web and I figured I would do a post on unique and genuinely helpful travel tips I have found.

If you’re going camping and plan to build a fire, collect the lint from your dryer in a Ziploc bag to use as a starter. It weighs almost nothing, ignites right away, and saves you from having to gather kindling. Kim Senkler, Knoxville, Tenn.

The disposable shower caps in hotel bathrooms make great shoe covers. Just slip a cap over each shoe and you won’t have to worry about getting everything else in your suitcase dirty. Charlene Winges, Burlingame, Calif.

I found a fun use for change from foreign countries. Attach a piece of magnetic tape to the back of the coin, and voilà — instant fridge magnet! It makes for an inexpensive souvenir, and it always reminds me of good times. Joshua House, Pensacola, Fla.

From The Fades to Misfits – is youth drama leading the way?


Fantasy series The Fades joins Misfits, Skins and Being Human in demonstrating that youth drama is among the most bold and innovative on TV

“It was about a boy who investigates ghosts that live in pipes with his Grandad,” says writer Jack Thorne of the very early drafts of his BBC3 fantasy series The Fades. “It was shit”. Fortunately the show that the Skins and This is England scriptwriter did eventually come to complete – the first episode of which aired last night – is weird, off the wall, annoying in places and with a bit too much wisecracking. But far from shit.

From PJ Harvey to Keith Richards: who deserves an award?


Are there just too many award ceremonies?

There were two in London last night, with some guests apparently bustling between both red carpets.

In the Grosvenor Hotel Ballroom, PJ Harvey was the deserving winner of the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize, an edgy yet esteemed artist being justifiably celebrated for creating a substantial career best work of poetry and power. Meanwhile over at the Royal Opera House, Model Lara Stone was being hailed as Woman Of The Year by GQ magazine for (as far as I can see) getting her kit off in fashion shoots for glossy magazines.

Adele – De Montfort hall, Leicester: review

Having been forced into last minute postponements due to a bout of bronchitis, Adele finally opened her homecoming UK tour in Leicester’s De Montfort Hall.

Lovely as the elegant 3000 capacity venue is, it seems an odd spot to see the girl who has become the biggest singing star in the world, with ten million album sales this year. A brochure advertises forthcoming attractions including Engelbert Humperdink, “the world’s top Robbie Williams tribute” and an organ recital from “the ever popular Nigel Ogden”. With tout tickets selling out front for several hundred pounds, Adele should really have graduated to arenas by now but this is clearly not just an environment in which she is comfortable but to which she is perfectly suited.

Radio makes us happier than TV – so cut out those webcams

imageTo quote the song from which Lady Gaga took her name: radio – someone still loves you. Lots of people, in fact. A study has found that listening to the radio boosts our happiness by 100 per cent, and our energy levels by 300 per cent, much greater increases than we get from watching TV or surfing the web. Those of us in Team Marconi rather than Team Logie Baird won’t be surprised by this.

First the pictures are better. Romping through the fields of your own imagination is much more uplifting than being told exactly how a scene or a character looks. And second (this is why radio will always be such a significant factor in most people’s day-to-day lives) – you can do other things while you’re listening to it. Consuming TV and the internet are sedentary activities.

TV review: Perfect Couples; Happy Endings

Friends was a joy. Sad, then, that E4 has replaced it with two formulaic comedies


If you’ve ever wanted to witness a terrifying race to the bottom, in which wit, charm and belly laughs are supplanted by something distinctly sulphurous, allow me to introduce you to E4’s new Thursday night sitcoms. The channel stopped showing repeats of Friends on Sunday, and the rush to replace it brought forth two formulaic shows, each featuring three young men and three young women wisecracking in a fashion that made that previous Friends rip-off, How I Met Your Mother, look positively Wildean.

The joy of watching Friends was that for all the ridiculous scenarios – Phoebe believing her mother had been reincarnated as a cat, say – there was something essentially believable about the characters. Also, likable. They could easily have fallen into sexist stereotypes, with Joey as a boorish bloke, and Rachel as a hot airhead, but they never quite did. All had spirit and charm, and the women were just as friendly with the men as they were with each other. The two sexes weren’t presented as entirely different species.

Market News: Edinburgh Art Festival offers work from Scottish artists

Some of the shows have opened already, but officially the Edinburgh Art Festival – that’s for visual arts as opposed to the more famous one for performing arts, which has separate funding – begins on Thursday.


Richard Ingleby, one of the trustees, particularly welcomes the Scottish Government’s Expo funding this year, which has allowed the commissioning of works that will have a life in Edinburgh beyond the festival itself.

These include permanent works by two Scottish former Turner Prize winners – Martin Creed’s The Scotsman Steps, in which the artist has marbled each step of a historic public stairway in the city, and Richard Wright’s Stairwell Project, in which the artist has painted tiny organic shapes on the walls and ceiling of a stairwell in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Strictly Come Dancing 2011: who will be on the dancefloor?

Strictly Come Dancing is back with another batch of famous faces aiming to waltz, foxtrot and salsa their way into our hearts September is upon us, the nights are drawing in, and the X Factor is in full swing – it’s time to dust off Bruce Forsyth and let Tess Daly’s cleavage spill forth in HD for a new series of Strictly Come Dancing!


Series nine kicks off on BBC1 this Saturday, with a new batch of celebs warming up their rictus grins and attempting to waltz, foxtrot and salsa their way into the nation’s living rooms.

So who’s tripping the light fantastic this year? The celebrities will be unveiled on the One Show on Tuesday night, but according to reports in the Sun, this year will bring the usual mix of soap has-beens, TV actors of yesteryear, sports stars and daytime TV randoms. Surprisingly, I’ve heard of all but two of the starting 14 celebs; a significant improvement on previous years. Either I’m becoming more celebrity aware, or they’ve raided the 1980s and 90s in a big way.

Harry’s Arctic Heroes, BBC One, review

Benji Wilson reviews the first part of Harry’s Arctic Heroes (BBC One), in which Prince Harry accompanies four wounded soldiers on a polar expedition; plus Channel 4’s one-off drama Random.


As I sit here typing, knowing that my greatest struggle today will probably consist of changing a printer cartridge, the scale of my admiration for the severely injured soldiers who decided to trek to the North Pole in last night’s Harry’s Arctic Heroes (BBC One) is somewhere approaching intergalactic.

Four British soldiers, all badly wounded in Afghanistan, set out on an unsupported walk to the Pole. Their injuries had smashed them to bits both physically – two arms and a leg amputated; a broken back and 32 operations between the four of them – as well as mentally. Every one of them just wanted to be back soldiering; they never will.

Transatlantic cruises: The Queen and I

Even after more than 150 crossings, Douglas Ward feels a thrill of anticipation as he boards the Queen Mary 2 for a voyage to New York. But can the largest ocean liner ever built match the style and glamour of its majestic predecessor?


It was July 1965 when I boarded the original Queen Elizabeth as the fresh-faced leader of a jazz band for my first transatlantic crossing. Some 46 years may have passed, but as my wife and I drove to Southampton’s Ocean Terminal last month for my 157th crossing, I still felt the same thrill at the prospect of embarking on an ocean liner – and sailing in grand style. The journey may now be a more leisurely seven nights rather than the five of yesteryear to save on fuel, but the voyage from the Old World to the New remains special.

TV review: Show Me The Funny and British Masters

Show Me The Funny? You get a lot more laughs from Karren, Nick and Lord Sugar


The first and last time I laughed during Show Me The Funny (ITV1) was when the world’s only half-Welsh, half-Spanish comedian introduced himself to his audience. “Buenas tardes. I am Ignacio Lopez,” he began. “Some of you may recognise me as the barman you slept with in Magaluf a couple of years ago.”

Miraculously, he channelled both halves of his noble heritage: Tom Jones’s understandably smug expression before being showered with knickers; and Antonio Banderas’s cross-species sexual braggadocio in Shrek. You remember, when he voiced Puss in Boots and propositioned Cameron Diaz’s princess.

Radio makes us happier than TV – so cut out those webcams

imageTo quote the song from which Lady Gaga took her name: radio – someone still loves you. Lots of people, in fact. A study has found that listening to the radio boosts our happiness by 100 per cent, and our energy levels by 300 per cent, much greater increases than we get from watching TV or surfing the web.

Those of us in Team Marconi rather than Team Logie Baird won’t be surprised by this.First the pictures are better. Romping through the fields of your own imagination is much more uplifting than being told exactly how a scene or a character looks. And second (this is why radio will always be such a significant factor in most people’s day-to-day lives) – you can do other things while you’re listening to it. Consuming TV and the internet are sedentary activities. Radio, on the other hand, can be listened to while changing a nappy, slicing a courgette, hoovering the stairs or (if you’re particularly talented) all three at the same time. A stimulating programme makes you quicker at domestic tasks, therefore more productive, therefore happier and more energetic. I hate ironing – yet if I do it to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Drive programme it becomes bearable. Better still do it to a music station: you can iron in time to the beat.

Tower Bridge: a towering boy’s toy

When it comes to courage and quick thinking, you have to hand it to Albert Gunton. In December 1952, the driver of the number 78 bus was trundling across Tower Bridge when he realised that it was being raised to allow a ship to pass on the Thames below.

imageFaced with the prospect of his double-decker toppling into the river, the terrified Albert hit the accelerator and shot across the widening gap between the bridge’s two halves before landing safely on the other side. This 3ft leap resulted in minor injuries for 12 of the 20 passengers, a £10 bravery award for Albert and, most likely, the dismissal of whoever forgot to give the warning signal.

It’s quite a story and I can only hope there will be no similar dramas as I prepare for a truly thrilling experience. To celebrate the completion of major restoration works on the bridge, the City of London Corporation is launching a competition with what anyone who ever owned a Meccano set will regard as a wonderful prize.

The winner gets to press the buttons which raise the bridge and, as I have been boasting endlessly to anyone who will listen, I have been invited to try this out for myself.

Alan Titchmarsh beats Monty Don in TV garden war

Trees can be used to decorate your wedding or party and make a great impact One of my most lasting and memorable images of the Royal wedding was definitely those trees.

imageThe two 25ft hornbeams (Carpinus betulus) in the transept and the six field maple (Acer campestre) in the nave dressed up with their lush, fresh, lime-green spring growth were unexpected, natural and beautifully understated.

Their symbolism did not register with me until later, when pointed out by the florist, Jamie Marlar, director of Shane Connolly whose brief included English, natural, seasonal and ethical. Field maple symbolises humility and reserve, while hornbeam represents resilience.

Secrets of America’s most expensive home

Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter Petra is said to have bought the most expensive house in America at £92m. Cassandra Jardine takes a look inside


A present-wrapping room. What a perfectly lovely idea. A permanent home for those messy rolls of paper, string and tags is one of those little luxuries that we all need but never realised, until Petra Ecclestone, Bernie’s younger daughter, showed us by buying, reputedly, the most expensive house in America as her second home.

With her £56 million Chelsea home undergoing a two-year renovation, the F1 heiress can now nip off to her new pied-à-terre in LA to give a boost to her model/actress/designer career plans. With Manor House in Bel Air – on the market for $150 million (£92 million) – she has bagged the essence of the look-at-me-I’m-rich aesthetic. With 56,500 sq ft of floor space, this 1988 chateau is larger than Versailles, but considerably less classy.

Government Art Collection, Whitechapel Gallery, review

A new exhibition gives the public a rare insight into the work – and works – of the Government Art Collection, says Richard Dorment.


In his best-seller Blink, Malcolm Gladwell made the point that human beings make up their minds about people, places and situations based on first impressions – and that these split-second judgments usually turn out to be right. The Government Art Collection (GAC) exists to create those first impressions. Established in 1935, its purpose is to ensure that the art on the walls of buildings the British government owns both at home and abroad is of the highest quality. Art tells the world who we are and the values we share – and anyone who doubts it should visit a foreign embassy or consulate where otherwise bare walls are adorned with the country’s national flag or a photograph of its supreme leader.

Do you like good music? Watch Abbey Road Debuts


Here’s some exciting news for music fans. Abbey Road Debuts, a new show stepping into the barren land of British music television, starts tonight. Readers, I think our sadness over the death of Top of the Pops is about to be assuaged. And those reruns of TOTP from 1976 that were announced last week do not constitute a “return” of the programme.

It will be similar to TOTP in that it includes new music, an audience and a high profile presenter (Tom Ravenscroft, the diverse BBC6 music DJ and son of the late John Peel).

Also, it will be a place from which new artists are talked about and filter into the wider cultural consciousness.

Today’s radio highlights

The best radio programmes on BBC, commercial and digital stations chosen by Gillian Reynolds, the UK’s top radio critic.imageMONDAY 30 MAY

Afternoon Play: Corrinne Come Back and Gone

Radio 4FM, 2.15pm

This is Lenny Henry’s first play for Radio 4 and it is a powerful piece, especially for a Spring Bank Holiday afternoon. Corrinne (Claire Benedict, excellent in the part) left Jamaica years ago, in flight from a brutal husband. Now he’s dead and she’s free to go back to see the three daughters she had to leave behind. They’re grown up now, with lives, families and fears and hopes of their own. Each has strong things to say to Corrinne. But there are still ways in which they can learn from each other, once they can find the courage to be honest.

Treasure Hunters with Jamie Breese


Q: I have nearly all the Beano annuals going back to about 1970, with just three or four ­years missing from the set. They are in virtually pristine condition (my mother has written on the inside cover of a few). Are they valuable? Would it be worth me trying to buy the missing years? – David Marrow, Hemel Hempstead, Herts

Monkees swing back into town


The original boy band is attracting a new generation of believers, says Helen Brown .

In September 1965, the Hollywood Reporter ran a wanted ad for “Four Insane Boys: 17-21”. Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider – the Hollwood producing team who would later make Easy Rider – were seeking “rock and folk musicians” for “acting roles in TV series”.

Jessica Alba Biography


Jessica Marie Alba (born April 28, 1981) is an American television and film actress. She began her television and movie appearances at age 13 in Camp Nowhere and The Secret World of Alex Mack (1994).

Fergie Biography


Stacy Ann Ferguson (born March 27, 1975), better known by her stage name Fergie, is an American singer, songwriter, rapper, fashion designer and actress. She was a member of the children’s television series Kids Incorporated, and the girl group Wild Orchid.

Mariah Carey Biography


Mariah Carey (born March 27, 1970[2] or 1969;[3] sources vary) is an American R&B/pop singer-songwriter, record producer and actress. She made her recording debut in 1990 under the guidance of Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola, and became the first recording artist to have her first five singles top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Ronnie Barker’s biography


Ronald William George Barker, OBE (25 September 1929 – 3 October 2005) was a British actor, comedian, writer, broadcaster and businessman. He was known for his roles in various British comedy television series, such as The Frost Report, Porridge, The Two Ronnies and Open All Hours.

Is there too much crime drama on TV?


BBC1 chief Danny Cohen justified the decision to axe Zen by claiming there were too many crime series on our screens. So are there – and which would you kill off?

On Wednesday BBC1 controller Danny Cohen defended his decision to axe Zen, starring Rufus Sewell, on the basis that television already has too many male detectives and crime dramas. “You can’t keep on doing everything if you want to bring in new things. I felt that we risked having too many male detectives, and arguably we have had maybe too much crime,” Cohen said.

Your royal wedding-free viewing schedule


Can you avoid the wall-to-wall coverage of Will and Kate’s big day and still fit in a full day of bank holiday viewing? Follow our guide to dodging all talk of tiaras..

Hopefully you won’t need this guide. Hopefully the weeks and months of suffocating royal wedding coverage will have sufficiently conditioned you. By now, you should have a finely honed instinct to change channels at the merest hint of a crown or a veil or some bunting or the phrase “street party” or Huw Edwards’s face.

Hobbycraft company honoured


Founder Sara Davies and Crafter’s Companion honoured as Santander Small to Medium-Sized Business of the Year

Emerging triumphant against finalists including Coffee Nation, SpiriTel, Abriox, SJD Accountancy, Glencairn Crystal Studios and Make it cheaper, papercrafting market leader Crafter’s Companion was named Santander Small to Medium Sized Enterprise of the Year at the National Business Awards Gala Dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on 9th November 2010.

Today’s TV highlights


The day’s best TV programmes on BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Freeview, Freesat, Sky and cable as chosen by the Telegraph’s critics.
The Story of Jesus
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The Story of Jesus Photo: BBC
8:30AM BST 22 Apr 2011

Full TV and radio listings

Gerard Smith dies at the age of 34


TV on the Radio musician Gerard Smith dies after battle with lung cancer.

Gerard Smith, who has died of lung cancer at the age of 36, is performing here at T In The Park Festival in Scotland in 2009

Gerard Smith, the bass player with alternative rock band TV on the Radio, has died at the age of 34 after a battle with lung cancer.

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