Marx: Genius of the Modern World

June 16, 2016 by  
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Genius of the Modern World

The first of a three-part series, historian Bettany Hughes examines the lives of three men who helped shape the world today. The opening episode looks at the life of Karl Marx, with latest episode cover Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.

Hughes begins by looking at Marx’s early life in Trier, Prussia, a life that is perhaps surprisingly bourgeois for the man who would later co-write The Communist Manifesto, then his rivalry with aristocratic students lead him to be transferred to Berlin where he became influenced by Hagel. After this there was his journalistic career in Paris, and later moves to Brussels and finally London, where even in the 19th century finding a place to life was ruinously expensive.

The programme not just with his ideas and how he set them out, but with the many problems he has during his lifetime. For example, the fact that Capital (or Das Kapital if you insist) didn’t have the impact he was hoping for, something that Hughes claims is probably to do with the fact the book is so big. There was also his medical complains, which Marx described as a “boils”, but which one modern doctor Hughes interviews diagnoses as being a form of hidradenitis.

Now, it must be said that I already knew a bit about Marx before this documentary aired, so I had basic background knowledge of the man and most of it was covered in this show. The main area of interested therefore was hearing Hughes’s opinions on Marx. She deliberately does not take sides over most of the programme, and appears to balance out the views of those who support his ideas with some elements that might seem controversial given what we know of Marx, such as him once contemplating going into the stock market.

Genius of the Modern World thus seems to be a programme for people what to get a good starting position on what Marx was like as a person and his basic philosophy – one which Hughes points out was the view held by a third of the globe 70 years after his death. It is a useful way of getting people to learn more about the man in greater detail, whether you happen to agree with his ideas or not.

Genius of the Modern World is on the BBC iPlayer, with new episodes out at 21.00 on Thursday nights.

Game of Thrones: No One

June 14, 2016 by  
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Beric Dondarrion metes out justice

I’ve come to think Game of Thrones as I do weekend benders and their unpleasant aftermath; after a period of animalistic excess, a time of quiet reflection is required to overcome the various physiological and psychological effects of the hangover.

Last week was played out at a suitably sedate, contemplative pace. Yes, Septon Ray (Ian McShane) had his neck stretched and all his followers were hacked to bits – but that was off camera, so doesn’t count as a genuine GoT blood-letting. So, all in all, it was an episode of calming scene-setting which sets us up nicely for another bender.

Thankfully, the Clegane brothers, Gregor (The Mountain) and Sandor (The Hound), deliver the goods with an exquisitely choreographed fix of bloodshed and death coupled with some horribly deadpan dialogue from the latter as he exacts retribution on the men who sacked the peace-loving commune of the dearly departed Ray.

“You’re shit at dying, you know that?” complains the axe-wielding Hound having removed the testicles of his unfortunate captive, before bringing down his weapon on his head. Not sated in his bloodlust, he sets off in pursuit of the rest of the band of killers and finds them already facing execution at the hands of Beric Dondarrion (played by Richard Dormer). After a brief parlay, the brigands meet their maker at the end of a rope and Sandor and Dondarrion make friends – sort of.

Lancel Lannister

Not to be outdone, Sandor’s big brother, The Mountain is the go-to guy for Queen Cersei when those upstart fundamentalists of the Faith Militant enter the Red Keep and command her to accompany them to the High Sparrow. With violence inevitable, Gregor (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) diffuses the situation in his own inimitable way by removing the skull and spine of the first man to cross him.

The Mountain’s highly effective negotiation technique persuades Lancel and his brothers of Faith that conflict will not prevail today and they retire while they are still able to.

With the Blackfish (Clive Russell) holed up in Riverrun refusing to surrender his family seat to the besieging Lannister army, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) arrives on a mission from Sansa Stark who remains stuck in the North with a ramshackle band of Wildings and men of the Night’s Watch.

Jaime and Brienne

Brienne fulfils her oath and has ‘a moment’ with Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) after he gives her his sword – no, that’s not a Bron-style euphemism.

The Kingslayer knows that force of arms isn’t going to gain his entry to the fortress and sets to work on Lord Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies). With little love lost between the pair, Lannister puts Edmure’s options in simple terms: as the rightful Lord of Riverrun, he should surrender the castle or he’ll see all of his family fetched up and slaughtered in front of him. With only one course open to him, Tully gains entry to and then surrenders his castle. And Blackfish? Unable to leave with Brienne due to family honour and equally determined not to surrender to the Lannisters, he meets his end as a good warrior should – with sword in hand.

Down south in that sunny city of Meereen, Tyrion and Varys busily congratulate each other over the success of the pact with the Maesters and the abolition of slavery. But no sooner has Varys embarked on a secret mission to secure support from Westeros, the double-dealing slavers sail into the port and set about reclaiming their property with a pyrotechnic display of flaming missiles and bombs. Tyrion and his posse retreat to the pyramid to make their stand and breathe a collective sigh of relief when Daenerys returns to save the day.

Arya Stark

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), last seen on the wrong end of The Waif’s blade stumbling bloodsoaked around Braavos, turns up in the quarters of Lady Crane and is nursed back to health. Having once saved the actress from the assassins of the Faceless Men, she foolishly leads them straight back to her and the sticky outcome is inevitable.

With the Waif in pursuit, Arya scarpers before being cornered in the candlelit cellars of the bath house. With a flash of her blade, the room is plunged into blackness and having dished out one too many beatings, the Waif gets her comeuppance and loses her face to the Many Faced God.

So what now for her? She’s spent three-quarters of this season being whipped like a dog, but having reclaimed her name and earned the respect of Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha), she sets off to find what is left of her family in the north. Can she bring anything to the fight in the north? Will she find Bran? Will she rendezvous with Sansa and Jon the Bastard or will she fall prey to the Boltons. Tune in next week, things are cooking nicely!

Game of Thrones is broadcast on Mondays at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic.

Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled – Series 4

June 11, 2016 by  
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Alan Davies

This new series of the comedy talk show, which is airing for 10 nights in a row at 10pm on Dave, begins with a rather poignant line-up, as QI’s resident panellist Alan Davies chatted with both the old and the new hosts of the intellectual panel game.

Stephen Fry and Sandi Toksvig were among the guests in the opening episode, which also featured stand-ups Sara Pascoe (W1A) and American Alex Edelman (2014 Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Fringe). The format as not changed much – everyone talking in the hope that Davies will be able to find a title for tonight’s episode. The only change is that this time, Davies has been given a pen so that he can make notes throughout.

There were plenty of anecdotes to keep us entertained: Fry talked about Prince Charles only joke and what Princess Diana secretly liked to watch on TV; Edelman chatted about how he nearly punched Barack Obama; Toksvig recalled her troublesome schooldays, having been expelled from three different schools in New York; and Pascoe confessed about her failed attempt to woo a gay teacher.

The best thing about As Yet Untitled is the relaxed atmosphere. It is not a show about who has the best story to tell. It is a show that is about conversation. No-one has anything to plug, nothing to promote, they just want to talk about unusual things that have happened in their lives. It is just a simple idea wonderfully executed, with delightful guests. Among the other guests coming up in the series they include Richard Ayoade, Harry Shearer, Alexei Sayle, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Jessica Hynes, Vic Reeves and (perhaps most surprisingly) Ainsley Harriott.

Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled airs at 22.00 every night on Dave, ending on 20th June.

Game of Thrones – The Broken Man

June 7, 2016 by  
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Hola, Thrones fans. After the death of Hodor, we needed a period of respectful mourning so this week’s we have a bit to catch up on.

The trauma of ‘The Door’ a couple of weeks ago has given way to more familiar intrigues and scheming that make the show’s set piece bloodlettings so compellingly watchable.

high sparrow

The High Sparrow, that devilishly cunning, yet outwardly unassuming power usurper continues to run rings around the Lannisters and the Tyrells. Having lured King Tommen up onto his perch with assurances that he will be reunited with his wife Margaery – after her atonement – he had another surprise in store for the former powerbrokers of King’s Landing, by out manoeuvring an attempt to retake the city and claiming the popular support of the people.

That High Sparrow is such a shrewd operator. See how high he flies. He has said in the past he does not fear death, and in GoT terms that is probably a good thing because his end will be assuredly bloody and brutal when it comes.

Jaime Lannister and Bron

Isolated and disgraced Jaime Lannister, who doesn’t have too many friends among the Faith Militant is banished to the provinces, where he assumes command of the siege of Riverrun, but finds a belligerent Blackfish in no mood to surrender his fortress. Still he is reunited with his surly Northern BFF, Bron (Jerome Flynn) and with a force of 8000 Lannister soldiers at his disposal he must find a way to entreat the Tullys to come out or sit down for a miserable couple of years of siege that will prevent him from pursuing his grudge against the Faith Militant and the everyone’s favourite religious extremist, the High Sparrow.

Two old stagers have returned to the fold (in separate plot lines) over the past couple of weeks: Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle) stepped out of the frozen north to rescue catatonic Bran and the sled-dragging Meera from certain death as they are chased down by wights; and Sandor Clegane, the late King Joffrey’s sledgehammer (played by Rory McCann), turns up alive and well in the care of Septon Ray and his peace-loving religious commune. Having been nursed back to health, Clegane remains driven by anger and hatred and if ever he bumps into that head-cracking man slayer, Brienne of Tarth, there will be a rumpus.

Arya Stark and The Waif

Being in the employ of the Faceless Men has had its ups and downs for Arya Stark and she would readily admit that losing her eyes for a few weeks while being mercilessly beaten with a stick by The Waif was a pretty low point. But having got back into the good books of Jaqen H’ghar, she promptly undoes all her hard work by warning Lady Crane of a plot to kill her. What a silly girl!

It is not the easiest thing in the world to avoid an assassin who can assume the face of anyone, so Arya rolls the dice and takes her chance. Someone really should explain to her though that gambling is a mug’s game as she obliviously bumps into The Waif (masquerading as an old woman) and finds herself on the receiving end of an assassin’s dagger. This girl really knows how to make life hard for herself; now critically injured and penniless this could be the end for her.

WunWun with Snow's Wildling army

Jon Snow and Sansa continue their tour of the Northern houses trying to muster support against the Boltons and the Night King’s army of the dead. But it isn’t going too well, so far they have gathered a handful of men from House Mormont, led by the precociously slappable Lady Lyanna.

Though they can rely on the Wildlings and WunWun, whose giant physique is always good value when there is violence to be done, Sansa knows they need more men and more time and as the episode closes she writes a note to be carried by a raven. To whom and to where the bird flies, who knows?

With three episodes to go, you could say this is bubbling along nicely. Maybe next week we’ll introduce a sweepstake to see who is still breathing when the final credits roll on 28 June.

Game of Thrones is broadcast on Mondays at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

May 30, 2016 by  
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A Midsummer Night's Dream 1

Image courtesy of BBC Pictures.

It is hard to know where to start with Russell T. Davies’s adaptation of the Shakespearean comedy, but at times it did feel more like a comedy of errors. Although to be fair, probably the funniest moment did involve the actual Comedy of Errors.

This adaptation of the play sees two couples fleeing a modern-day Athens, run by the cruel Theseus (John Hannah) depicted as a fascist dictator. In the forest around Athens, the king of the fairies Oberon (Nonso Anozie) sends out servant Puck (Hiran Abeysekera) to find a magic flower, the drops from which tricks its victims into falling in love with the first thing they see, including the fairy queen Titania (Maxine Peake). Not only does this mean that the two couple gets caught up in each other’s romances, but a troupe of players, preparing a play for Theseus also fall victim, when one of their number, Bottom (Matt Lucas), is turned by Puck into an ass, whom Titania falls for.

While I enjoyed Lucas’s comic performance, as well as the more scary performance by Anozie as Oberon, overall it felt a bit of a let-down, and I thought that the CGI was used too much. It is also save to say that this is not a play for purists. While I did not mind at all the part of Quince being played by a woman (Elaine Page), some deviations did seem to go a bit too far. For example one of the characters dies in this version which doesn’t happen in the play. Also while I can understand Davies writing in a gay kiss I don’t see why it was needed, especially as how you already have some gay moments in the show when the two men in the couples, Lysander and Demetrius (Matthew Tennyson and Paapa Essiedu) are tricked into falling for each other, to the annoyance of their lovers Hermia and Helena (Prisca Bakare and Kate Kennedy). You just think it would be better to watch a gay kiss in which the two guys involved are doing it because they really love each other, rather than being tricked into doing it by a mythological creature. The end song-and-dance meanwhile was just naff.

However, the saddest thing about this show was that the funniest things in it were not the stuff that was written by Shakespeare, but by Davies. For example, Bottom goes into a pub he bangs the side of a TV to show a programme called The Comedy of Errors, whose theme tune is the one from You’ve Been Framed!. You even manage to get a laugh out of Lucas making a Little Britain reference.

I don’t think though the problem is the adaptation itself, or the cast or the way the programme is made, but because it is lacking one thing: the sound of laughter. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, like all of Shakespeare’s plays, are designed to be performed in front of a live audience. You are meant to hear people laughing at the jokes. The funniest bit of the play that is actually by Shakespeare is when Quince and Bottom’s play, with a cast that includes Richard Wilson, Bernard Cribbins, Javone Prince and Fisayo Akinade, is performed in a way that is so bad its good. In this scene, the players perform in front of a live audience, and we hear their laughter, which the audience at home can join in.

If this production does serve at least one decent purpose, it is that sometimes a live audience is a good thing. I hate these snooty TV critics who think that any sitcom that features people laughing must be using canned laughter. Sometimes audience laughter is a good thing. It is something that we can all join in with together. There is nothing wrong with that.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is available on the BBC iPlayer.

Game of Thrones – The Door

May 24, 2016 by  
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Hodor

Ho dear, Hodor! The big chap has been dialogue-lite throughout his time on Game of Thrones but has miraculously managed to convey every emotion through his single line: ‘Hodor’. He’s everybody’s favourite loveable oaf (played by Kristian Nairn), but he was also the holder of a series-defining secret, which exposed the true meaning of the name he came to be known by. More on that later.

This week opened with the oil slick on legs Petyr Baelish’s (Aidan Gillen) arrival at Castle Black looking to grease his way up the social ladder alongside Sansa Stark. It was not the most politic of courses Littlefinger has plotted and, in hindsight, he’ll probably accept that if you sell a young girl into an abusive marriage, it’s probably not a good idea to try and ingratiate yourself with the said child bride… unless you arrive carrying the head of Ramsay Bolton, which he wasn’t, so he got short shrift.

Sansa and Petyr Baelish

Sansa’s privations at the hands of the Boltons have strengthened her resolve and she is determined to reclaim the honour of the Stark family and find her siblings. With Jon the Bastard at her side, she sets off to build a powerbase among the other houses of the North – but she’d better hurry up because her brother is about to unwittingly lead the White Walkers into the kingdom of men.

The Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea and Burner of Misogynistic Dothraki Khals has proved she is nothing if not resourceful. Having reunited with Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis, Daenerys now rides at the head of 10,000 blood riders and has a date with the Masters and the Sons of the Harpy. However, having fulfilled his pledge to rescue the Queen, Mormont reveals his true affection for her and his affliction with the deadly greyscale. It is a sequence that should have had some emotional weight given Mormont’s popularity, but it was completely eclipsed by the huge revelations that play out during the episode.

Bran Stark meets the Night's King

Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is a participant in most of those revelations. The selfish young gadabout, who is tripping his way around the seven kingdoms with the time-travelling/astral-projection Svengali, Three-Eyed Raven, wanders off down one too many frosty paths and gets himself tagged by the Night’s King, the White Walker chieftain. And once you’re marked, the White Walkers know exactly where you are and how to get to you. So, you better run, Bran.

Unfortunately, he can’t run, because he’s still tripping, leaving his companions and the Children of the Forest, who aren’t blameless in this either, to a face a horde of undead. Nice one, Bran!

This, though, is where several Thrones‘ storylines coalesce in a heart-rending final scene that makes sense of Hodor’s role and relationship with Bran. A couple of episodes ago we got a glimpse of young Hodor (Wylis) as an able bodied stable hand to the Starks through the eyes of Three-Eyed Raven and his young pupil.

Hold the Door

Bran visits Winterfell once more in a vision, as the White Walkers close in on the cave in which he lies in a catatonic state, and this time causes Wylis to suffer a seizure and exhort ‘Hold the Door, hold the door’. While in the present, Hodor barricades the back exit of the cave allowing Meera to drag Bran to safety as young Wylis’s ‘Hold the Door’ is echoed through time and repeated by Hodor until the two phrases merge as simply ‘Hodor’. A brilliant, brilliant end to a character that has spanned a whole series of books and an utterly mind-blowing reveal even to new converts to Thrones.

Game of Thrones is broadcast on Mondays at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic.

 

Bob’s Burgers: Season 5

May 20, 2016 by  
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Bob's Burgers 1

For its fifth season, Bob’s Burgers follows the lives of the Belchers as they engage in all different sorts of adventures. Bob, Linda, Tina, Gene and Louise still manage to find themselves in super-real and super-natural situations, with some members of the family holding a firmer grip on reality than others.

In the first episode of the fifth season, Gene tries to put together a musical based on his favourite ‘80s film of all times; yet, he has some competition to deal with in the face of Courtney, who has the means and ways to stage her own ‘80s film-inspired musical. And then she rubs in Gene’s face, much to his frustration and despair, which grows even more intense when he finds out that his sister, Tina, is going to participate in Courtney’s musical. But Louise steps in to save the day, helping Gene to put up his musical and sabotaging that of Louise’s.

Through a hilarious mix of miscast actors, over-confident stars and a misplaced music coordinator, both musicals come to life at the same time, one snatching audience members from the other and confusing the Belcher parents. Much resembling the superficial climax-and-denouement structure of the genre, this musical-inspired episode concludes on a positive (high) note with Gene and Louise merging their musicals into one, thus cutting across sing-along exposition and comical conventions often encountered in musicals.

Things do not get much more real in the second episode. Here, the Belchers call the… Ghostbusters! What starts as a debugging mission in the Belchers’ basement takes on an after-life dimension when the exterminators sense ‘paranormal activity’. Despite Bob’s disbelief, the family falls for the possible presence of a ghost. In fact, Tina falls for the actual ghost, which she believes to be a 13-year-old’s soul trapped in a shoe-box. And thus, the hilarious premise is set, leading to more absurd situations, like Tina going out on a date with a shoe box and being kissed by a butterfly (with a reference to The Silence of the Lambs imagery added bonus).

On a metaphysical level, questions arise as to what it means to be in love with another soul and how human relationships evolve. On a physical level, it is more than funny discussing first-base stuff with a ghost! Perhaps the most interesting part of this episode is the point where an effort is being made to unmask common insecurities faced by high-school students. Albeit wrapped up in humour and nonchalance, the punchline of taking pride in oneself cannot escape the attention of observant viewers

So, there you have it. The Belchers are still thriving managing their hamburger restaurant and their very interesting daily routines. The first two episodes look promising. And the season is still young.

Bob’s Burgers goes out as double bills on Comedy Central at 22.00 on Friday nights.

Game of Thrones – Book of the Stranger

May 17, 2016 by  
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LittleFinger_AidanGillen

Well hurrah and hussar, Littlefinger has returned to Game of Thrones. The supremely cunning master of court intrigues and ruthless abuser of trust and morality, Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), has wasted no time getting under the skin of the impressionable young numpty Robin Arryn, inciting the previously neutral armies of the House Arryn to march North in search of Sansa Stark.

As you’d expect from such an expedition, the only one who’ll benefit when the dust, or snow as the case may be has settled, will be our double-dealing chum who sold Sansa into the tyrannous clutches of Ramsay Bolton in the first place.

As Protector of the Vale, Baelish has the ear of the spoilt and impulsive ‘Sweetrobin’ and will no doubt create much mischief as counsel and ward to the easily-led weakling head of Arryn.

Sansa-Brienne_Podrick

Sansa (Sophie Turner), on the other hand, fresh from her escape from the Bolton’s arrives at Castle Black with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick Payne and is reunited with Jon the Bastard (Snow). Just when Snow thought his fighting days were over – back into his life walk the Starks bringing with them the prospect of battle with Ramsay Bolton.

You can see where this is going can’t you? Littlefinger is marching North with the Knights of Arryn, while Ramsay Bolton is forming an alliance of convenience with the Houses of the North against the Wildlings and Jon Snow. The former Commander of the Night’s Watch, his loyal friends and a ragtag assembly under Tormund steel themselves for the journey over to Winterfell to try and spring Rickon and put an end to Ramsay after he sent a rude letter laced with profanity to Snow. It’s pretty safe to say that things are going to escalate and get a bit more bloody in the next few weeks.

JorahMormont-DaarioNaharis

Further south, away from the snow and the cold, Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman) continue their quest to find and free Queen Daenerys from her Dothraki captors and take a turn around the none too salubrious neighbourhoods of the Vaes Dothrak. With 10,000 blood riders milling around, the chances of the two lost souls finding the queen and successfully rescuing her look slim. In fact, if I were a betting man I’d say they were non-existent. So it is a good thing that Daenerys is made of tough stuff. With the gathered Khals debating how sadistic and rapey her death should be – in a way that GoT seems to revel in, Daenarys offers them the option of being ruled by her.

It is an interesting power shift, which the Dothraki chiefs would have been well advised to accept – but they didn’t and for that they burned in a fiery finale that also brought another of Thrones‘ staple themes to the fore: the obligatory female nude scene.

Daenarys_Emilia-Clarke

Okay, Emilia Clarke didn’t have too many lines with which to make an impact in this episode, but what she said were the words of truth  and carried ‘good medicine’, as such I didn’t really see the need for her to get her kit off in front of a horde of gawkers – including Mormont and Naharis. But as an impact statement, with the entire Dothraki leadership flame-grilled on a pyre as a backdrop, I guess it was pretty effective.

Game of Thrones is broadcast on Mondays at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic.

 

Game of Thrones – Oathbreaker

May 10, 2016 by  
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three eyed raven with bran stark

So, here we are, episode three of the sixth season of Game of Thrones and it was another heady mix of manoeuvring, deaths, WTF moments and a clue towards unlocking the complexity of the whole story.

GoT writers have set a bit of a precedent for unpredictability this season: Jon Snow is not dead. Tyrion has developed a good sideline as a dragon whisperer and Bran Stark (complete with functioning legs) is on a mind-bending journey of the past with Three-Eyed Raven (Max Von Sydow). So, in the words of Cole Porter, “Anything Goes!”

What future wonders can we expect? We can but speculate that Joffrey will bring himself back from the grave. Or maybe Stannis Baratheon wasn’t cleaved in two by Brienne of Tarth. But until the next revelations, here’s what happened last night:

Varys

That wily old schemer Varys (Conleth Hill) has been busying himself around Meereen finding out who has been saying what to whom (the whom in question being the Sons of Harpy) and has found that Vala, the eunuch-killing prostitute (of season 5) and all-round Harpy fan girl, is the one doing all the talking.

Never one to spurn an opportunity, Varys makes a trade; information regarding the power behind the Sons of Harpy for a bag of silver, her son’s life and exile – which Vala duly accepts and scarpers.

Now that the major players are known, along with their motives for bringing down Meereen and Queen Daenerys, Varys, Grey Worm, Missandei and Tyrion Lannister (the stand-in ruler of the City State) must, for the sake of their own skins as much for the sake of the city, find a way of bargaining with the rulers of Astapor, Volantis and Yunkai.

Any thoughts the exiled and captive Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) had of subjugating the Dothraki with her defiant speech and fancy titles “I am the Breaker of Chains, the Mother of Dragons blahdy, blahdy blah…” fell on the deaf ears of her hosts as she gets locked away in a temple with the widows of other former Khals. Death or isolation are the only options on the table for her at the moment. However, it’s pretty safe to say she won’t be out of the picture for too long; both she and Jon Snow will be around come the end of the series to put a neat little bow on top of all those loose ends that have been driving people nuts for the past six years.

Cersei Lannister played by Lena Headey

Meanwhile, Queen Cersei (Lena Headey) hasn’t quite got over walking through the streets of King’s Landing caked in excrement, and with customarily guileful intent she sets about the identification and liquidation of all who saw, laughed, hurled abuse or participated in her humiliation. Watch out High Sparrow, your wings are about to be clipped! That gold-plated, man mountain Ser Gregor will no doubt do the honours following his skull crushing exploits of episode two.

I was late to Game of Thrones: don’t ask me why, but I always saw it as a bit of an anorak-wearing, World of Warcraft-type programme. I’ve got over myself since though, and can appreciate its liberal lending of themes from classic literature and our own bloody medieval history. There is everything in here, from the Nordic sagas to the heroes of Homer, from the Ring Cycle to the Wars of the Roses and the Hundred Years War. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable long-form pot-boiler with, of course, plenty of sex, swordplay and blood by the bucket load.

Jon Snow says goodbye to Olly

Jon Snow’s (Kit Harrington) reanimation has left him all melancholy as he wrestles with the wounds of rejection after his pals, including his personal steward and total twerp, Olly, chose to stick their daggers in his chest. Showing that he is not one to hold a grudge, he hangs them all from a scaffold and hands over command of the Night’s Watch and Castle Black to Edd before walking out of the fortress and out into the snow for a future unknown.

Well there you have it, three down seven to go. Oh, and a girl who is no one (Arya Stark) got her eyes back.

Game of Thrones is broadcast on Mondays at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic.

Matilda and the Ramsey Bunch

May 6, 2016 by  
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Matilda and the Ramsey Bunch 1

Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch is a CBBC cooking show starring Gordon Ramsay’s youngest daughter, Matilda, or Tilly, as everybody calls her. The show introduces us to the whole family and to moments of their everyday life during their holidays in various locations in the US and in the UK.

Tilly is proof that the apple does not fall far from the tree as she cooks various recipes of her own inspiration and creativity, sharing her cooking secrets with the audience through her cooking blog as well. Each episode shows Tilly prepare both savoury and sweet dishes, surprising her family and earning their praise and admiration – yes, even that of the tough-to-please father. Apart from Tilly and Gordon, the show spends a fair amount of time on the other members of the family, namely Tilly’s three siblings, Megan, Holly and Jack, and her mother, Tana. While Tilly is cooking, the action often cuts to the adventures of her siblings, who are either on their way to win one of their father’s bespoke competitions or give Tilly a hand with the meal preparation.

The show keeps a well-paced interchange between the cooking process and the rest of the action, while amusing sound effects and visuals heighten Tilly’s enthusiasm and passion for cooking. However, the spacious house and sunny landscape can easily give a carefree overtone to the Ramsay bunch, who are mainly portrayed as spending quality family time with each other and, in general, as having a lot of fun. Arguably, these may be the aspects which the show aims to highlight, especially given that it is hosted by the family’s youngest member; there seems to be, though, a blurred line between the aspiring cooking show and the reality TV often associated with celebrity families. Tilly’s cooking abilities and talent do indeed come across, as she more often than not prepares single-handedly food for the whole family. But, then, why add the ‘perfect-family picture’ in the mix?

Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch is an interesting show to watch because of its presenter and because it offers traditional recipes with a taste-enhancing twist. The recipes usually require little preparation and use fresh ingredients. After all, this agrees with the Ramsay’s healthy lifestyle, which is often – not so subtly – suggested by the workout outfits donned by the family themselves. Tilly is herself a quite competent host despite her young age, while her interaction with her “embarrassing family”, as she calls them, is a nice breather from the kitchen action. Her dishes do look good on screen and may be inspiring to budding cooks watching the show. But do bear in mind that this is a show nonetheless.

The new series of Matilda and the Ramsey Bunch starts at 17.00 on CBBC on 6th May.

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