Category Archives: Television

Help yourself, why don’t you?

It’s really simple. You have a Christmas ad to make. You look around at books aimed at young children and find something suitably sweet. You contact the author/illustrator and ask them to work with you in return for money.*

I’ve heard there is a fair amount of it available for the people who think up and subsequently make Christmas ads. I feel it’d be a nice Christmas touch to pay the author for their work.

It’s not quite so nice to steal someone’s creation and pass it on as your own, by saying that monsters under beds are so commonplace that no one, not even a former children’s laureate, can claim it’s actually theirs.

And when found out, it’d look a lot better if you admitted to making a mistake and offered a belated payment for the stuff you took.

Or, you could not. A bit like John Lewis and the monster under the bed, ‘inspired’ by Chris Riddell’s Mr Underbed.

If the Christmas ad was intended to spread goodwill and all those other things, I’d say it failed this year. If John Lewis wanted us to think nice thoughts about them, they also failed.

I’ll go and watch Mog’s Christmas again. That was a nice one. Judith Kerr was credited for her work. I suspect she might even have been paid for it.

*I’d be happy to make suggestions.

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Strike on TV

Why, oh why, is it more all right to attack J K Rowling than many other authors?

I liked The Cuckoo’s Calling as a book, and having watched the television series I will admit to having liked that too. Other people have either enjoyed it, or not. This is normal, and an exchange of views is healthy, and happens with many crime series on television. For instance, I didn’t like The Bridge, but am happy that many others did. They are not wrong, but neither am I.

But if you liked – or more importantly, didn’t like – Cormoran Strike, then for some reason it seems to be down to J K Rowling and her successes and her money. The BBC don’t seem to get a mention. And I have seen little discussion as to whether Tom Burke acted well, or if Holliday Grainger was a good Robin. (I think she was. I like Robin in the book, and could easily have been let down by the wrong actress.)

Cormoran Strike

It wasn’t an outstanding crime effort. But it was enjoyable enough. Better than Midsomer, or Branagh as Wallander. It was not realistic, but it doesn’t have to be. The characters moved between attractive London spots, walking down the kinds of streets I and many others associate with London.

In fact, what it is, is an excellent export for viewers in other countries. Those who go crazy over all things English. I know, because I am one of them, or was, and what I watched just now is exactly the kind of thing fans of England like.

It looks like J K was involved in the production of the series. I could see that this would make people gripe again, along the lines that money will buy you anything. Maybe. But what I felt quite strongly was that the screenplay followed the soul of the book, unlike many similar ventures where you are disappointed if the film version bears far too little resemblance to a beloved book.

Also thought it was good to have actors who are not so well known that you see their past roles as you watch.

But you know that pseudonym, Robert Galbraith? Noticed on social media that some people had no idea who he really is. So it would seem that the irritating fame hasn’t reached every corner of the country.

Kermie?

What a difference a day makes.

On Thursday I felt slightly annoyed with Steve Whitmire, when I read that he was retiring as Kermit the Frog’s puppeteer after 27 years. I remember at the time that I was astounded by how someone else could take over after Jim Henson. I mean that they could sound pretty much the same; not that someone else needed to do the job.

But I thought that it might be tiring to do voices every day, year after year. And that Steve had something else he wanted to do. It’s a ‘free’ country, after all.

And on Friday I learned that he’s been fired, and that he’d very much like to remain as Kermit.

I know, it can be hard to know who’s right and who’s being economical with the truth, but a man who has kept quiet about his fate for nine months, and who refrained from screaming and shouting in his blog post about what had happened, strikes me as the likeliest injured party.

After all, it can’t be easy going up against Disney.

As the Guardian points out, Steve is the only one many fans know as Kermit. I’m old enough to have been there when it was Jim Henson, but I too have watched a lot of Steve’s Kermit.

I expect his successor will do a good job, as it’s unlikely they would pick someone who was rubbish at it, and they can’t really kill Kermit off. But still. I’d have liked to see and hear Steve reach retirement as our beloved frog. Then I’d be happy about him being replaced.

The Demon Headmaster – Total Control

The Demon Headmaster is back! Yes, Gillian Cross has written another book about the man with the scary eyes.

Back in the day I used to semi-watch the Headmaster on television when we got home from school. That will be why I feel I know the man so well, while never really understanding what he did or how and why. I only knew he was creepy as h*ll. Actor Terrence Hardiman did a great job of frightening at least this parent.

So it’s his face and eyes I saw as I read this new school horror. But do you know what? It is better to read. Now I get what he was and what he was trying to do. And why the children at his schools acted all funny, but also why he needed to be outwitted.

Gillian Cross, The Demon Headmaster - Total Control

In Total Control we have siblings Lizzie and Tyler returning to school after an absence, and finding the place transformed. Their new friend Ethan has become a super soccer player and all the other children excel at something, including their old bully who has become quite polite and charming.

Once Lizzie works out that this is all wrong and it must be stopped, we have a race against a hypnotist Headmaster; someone who appears to be able to read minds and is always a few steps ahead.

It’s scary. Yes. A bit. But also exciting, and hilarious.

I should have read the books much sooner.

And no, I will not look into your eyes.

ABCs and much more

I do miss Sesame Street. We used to watch every lunchtime; me in the corner of the Klippan sofa, lunch balanced on the armrest (I think it only fell off once or twice), Daughter on my lap and Son nestled next to me.

Presumably we moved away from it gradually, or school got in the way. I can’t recall. And when I woke up missing it, I couldn’t find it anywhere. I have been thinking about Sesame Street on and off over the years, trying to convince myself I’m too old for it. That I don’t need it.

But when I read about their new autistic character, I was seized by a strong wish to start watching again. This time I researched a bit more. And it is on, but only on some pay channel I’d never heard of and that I can’t get. I mean, I suppose I can, but we don’t believe in paying for parcels of programmes that will rarely if ever be watched.

So I’m feeling a bit disappointed, to be honest.

I’m wondering, too, how it ended up on a pay channel. Is it because it is so valuable that you must pay, like for new movies and sports events, or is it because it’s so uninteresting that none of the regular channels could be bothered? Had a quick look at a typical day on CBBC and it was dire. I used to enjoy watching after school. Not everything, but quite a lot, and would have to drag myself off to cook dinner. Mornings were also good, but I could rarely fit in more than a minute here and there as we were getting ready to leave the house.

Whereas I’d actually sit down for Sesame Street. ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ…

Eurohearing

They call it Eurovision in Sweden these days. I’m sure it used to be Melodifestivalen, even when it was the European finale, rather than the qualifying rounds at home. What’s more, each country had to sing in their own language. Maybe it’s ‘fairer’ when all can be heard in English. I don’t know. Sometimes there is a lot to be said for the sounds of home.

People rarely sing in local dialect. Somehow you adopt a one-size-fits-all approach when singing, despite speaking with a local accent. In my teens there was a [political] rock group who sang in dialect. It just wasn’t my dialect.

So to find HishultaBörje on a local [to me] CD some years ago, was quite refreshing. Gunnar Bringman (who seems to be a local dentist, of all things) sings the sad story of Börje from Hishult (southern Halland, in southern Sweden) with a Halmstad accent. It’s a catchy tune and the tale is sort of fun, as long as you’re not Börje himself. But it’s the accent I like. It takes me home, every time.

And I believe there is something important being lost. Not only do most people not sing in dialect, but they often sing in English. It does bring the lyrics closer to more listeners, but still. In my part of the world as I listen to children talk, I have discovered they are ditching the accent, and swapping it for some ‘posher’ sounding mongrel dialect which only tells me someone is ashamed of what they are and is trying to sound ‘better.’ Except by now it’s so general, that children will believe it’s the real deal. And if it has usurped the way we used to speak, then by definition it probably is the local dialect today.

So I rather wish they’d remove the English from Eurovision, except from the UK, Irish and Maltese entries. The UK one won’t win anyway. (And Swedish songs are always great, no matter what language.) Oh, and maybe the Australian song.

This well know European country is most welcome if only for their enthusiasm for the whole thing. I’m still not sure about Brugel, though. I was under the impression this tiny state had never been allowed to enter, but on checking my facts I see that [author] Ebony McKenna describes her small country as never having won. Maybe. Possibly they are so small we never see the Brugel entries. I’m a little hazy on what language they would sing in. Although the lovely part-time ferret Hamish speaks with a Scottish accent, so perhaps that is it. And ferrets are tiny, which could explane why Brugel is less visible.

Ebony McKenna, Ondine books

I do like an author who isn’t too cool to admit to a fervent love for Eurovision. This is presumably the attitude that brought Australia into the midst of the European Azerbaijanis and Israelis and so on. Soon it is only the UK who will neither win, nor be able to call themselves European.

Sweden hasn’t won for year at least. Must be time again?

Paint it black

It wasn’t an entirely traditional Easter Saturday, but I suppose it was all right.

The Resident IT Consultant drove across half of Central Scotland searching for black spray paint, and as soon as he brought some home I went outside and sprayed it all over the dining table. After enough cans had been used up, the table looks sort of finished. And black.

The [formerly green] grass is also slightly black.

And my arms hurt. Who knew paint-spraying was so tiring?

I also sprayed some tomato all over myself, causing a red-orange streak down my front. As we didn’t have a bonfire to grill sausages on, we made do with the grill pan in the kitchen. And I didn’t fly over the cooker on my broom, partly because of lack of space and partly because a witch needs a proper bonfire to be sent on her way. Daughter bought one of those foil barbecue things, but I absolutely refuse to broom over that as well.

In-between the countless black layers I read Tanya Landman’s new book. It’s so good I didn’t always want to put it down to attend to my painting.

Daughter decided to stretch Lent as far as she could, so made us Lent buns to have with our afternoon cup of tea. I reckon as long as it was before Easter Sunday it’s probably almost legal.

We watched Doctor Who, which we liked, and then we played The Great Penguin Bookchase, which we also liked, and which I lost.