Sherlock

Yes, thank you BBC, the second time it’s worked! A come back of a crime solver extraordinaire that hasn’t left your audience seething.After the disaster that was Jonathan Creek, Sherlock has returned to our screens (repeats that I haven’t seen), and his socially inept brilliance is as wonderful as ever.

What better way to spend your Friday night and celebrate completing your first week at work unscathed, than to sit down with a large glass of Sancerre and slink away with Benedict Cumberbatch for an hour and a half? Not a lot.

And no, I’m not one of these so-called “Cumberbitches” who are amassing around the globe – who practically wet themselves with excitement this morning when their leader posted a ‘Harlem Shake with fingers’ on Youtube – no, I’m just an Arthur Conan Doyle fan, who appreciates the BBC’s innovative and intricate modernisation of the author’s most famous works.

This contemporary update on Conan Doyle’s stories was first broadcast on July 25th 2010 and there were – as I hear there are to be with this series – just three episodes. But you know what they say; quality not quantity. And there is no doubt of the quality, both in acting and production, of these programmes.

Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, who play Sherlock Holmes and John Watson respectively, are absolutely fantastic. Watson’s blogging and his delight at checking his stats are a joy to watch (and for bloggers easy to relate to). Projecting Holmes’s deductions so they pop up in words, or numbers and float around the screen, is executed perfectly. We are drawn into the workings of this mastermind’s brain, given the chance to follow his formula, but still left at a loss. Except perhaps the Christmas present scene, which didn’t need a slither of Sherlock’s IQ to work out.

The plot was elusive, the outline unclear, but as viewers we still felt secure, for all we really need is Sherlock and a case – then we can just sit back, relax and enjoy the cerebral ride. You can’t help but be absorbed by this high-cheek-boned, sharp-tongued detective; he’s just so clever, so tall, so devilishly uncharming…oh dear, perhaps I am becoming a Cumberbitch after all.

And after watching this trailer – I challenge you not to be too!

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Jonathan Creek Returns!

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I would like to be able to say: “You can take Jonathan Creek out of his windmill but you can’t take the windmill out of Jonathan Creek.” But it appears that even our lovable sleuth can be exorcised by oestrogen into conformity…

Three years have passed since we last saw the trench-coat-wearing genius, but last night Alan Davies’s most famous character was back in BBC One’s The Clue Of The Savant’s Thumb. A better title for which, would have been, Jonathan Creek Under The Thumb.

“But he went back and solved the case?” I hear those of you who watched the show argue. Yes, yes he did, but then he went back to his Mrs, their posh flat and his job working for her father. Remember? Oh it was sad – Jonathan Creek a finance worker in the city? No. Don’t take the scatty, tattily-dressed creative mastermind we adore and dress him in a suit and plonk him behind a desk. You get a sense of loss – rather like when your contemporaries, who had all the big ideas and plans at school, conform and lose their souls in mundane vocations in the City.

Anyhow, I must not forget that he did return, albeit not permanently, to his old ways. And joining the floppy-haired QI star, was ABFAB’s Joanna Lumley and Gavin and Stacey’s Sheridan Smith – the makings of a truly glorious episode. Sadly the makings didn’t make it.

The show didn’t fuse together well, the plot felt over-cooked; too many stories whose links to each other were rather tenuous. For instance,  a boarding school main plot, that shifted to a sub-plot, a religious plot laced with LSD that didn’t come to anything, and a conspiracy tape plot that resurfaced for a weak final explanation.

We did have the murder and disappearing body plot that we all love though, and this was done well. When you can’t find a logical explanation to solve the case (like you can in every episode of Death in Paradise), you’ve been served a good mystery – and everyone loves a good mystery.

Overall then? Nope still not sold. Some change, I accept is for the better, but changing Creek into a whipped weak man is a step too far. And no windmill, well that’s just a series suicide.

Verdict **

My review of Alan Davies’s stand up can be found here: https://aliceaudley.com/2012/11/14/alan-davies-breaks-the-sabbatical-and-returns-to-the-stand-up-stage/

Alice meets Lenny Henry and the stars of Comic Relief

A smile from Dermot and I go weak at the knees, pictures with Lenny Henry and David Tenant – how have I wrangled these? Michael McIntyre, James Corden and Jonathan Ross walk past, -surely this degree of celeb spotting can’t last? Then appears a newly shaven Jessie J – this is simply the best BBC day.

My day at the BBC, courtesy of my second cousin Jon, was yesterday.

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After five years of plans, cancellations and more plans, it finally happened – I got to go to the BBC. As fate would have it (we were supposed to meet a month ago but I went to Portland Place rather than White City), this coincided with the last ever broadcasting day at the Television Centre branch (which is closing and moving to Portland Place!) and the 25th Comic Relief.

I met Jon at the TVC reception, was given a visitor’s badge and then led through the revolving doors into the broadcasting labyrinth. Following close behind him, certain that if I lost sight of him, I would be lost forever, we wound our way up flights of stairs, down lifts, up more flights of stairs, along corridor after corridor before arriving in his office – the News room, just in time for the 10 o’ clock meeting.

Here, a list of the day’s main news stories were distributed and debate began on what should lead, what could be ditched and what angles would work. It was fascinating – what was decided in this room, is what the country would see later. It was exhilarating.

After the meeting finished, my tour of the building began. Once hustling and bustling, the place was now practically deserted as everyone was moving or had moved to W1 (Portland Place). Though this meant that I didn’t get a true depiction of what it used to really be like, it also meant that I got to go into studios that I wouldn’t normally have been able to go into – and that I got to live my dream of becoming a news presenter.

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Alice Audley reports for duty

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And on the screen at home

After lunch, Jon returned to constructing a story on the JP Morgan case and I went off to watch the preparations for a Comic Relief package for the 6 o ‘ clock news – headed up by presenter Lizo Mzimba. Clips of One Direction in Ghana, Mel C on the Zambezi and interviews with Richard Curtis (Comic Relief founder) and Matt Smith, were blended together with Lizo’s voice-over. How much work that goes into a two-minute clip – put the art of television into perspective.

After the 6 o ‘ clock news aired, Lizo said that I could, if I wanted to,  join him in the main foyer as he interviewed the Comic Relief stars (who were arriving).

“I would absolutely love to!”

And so it began…

IMG_1592 Lizo interviewing John Bishop (who last year raised£3,412,261 for Sport Relief)

IMG_1593Matt Smith (Dr Who)

IMG_1597Claudia Winkleman

IMG_1599Jessie J walks past with her entourage and freshly shaven head

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Then Lizo had to make a phone call to BBC Breakfast, so I took up the reins:

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And what with my new-found authority, I couldn’t resist asking for a few presenter/celebrity snaps:

david 1With David Tennant

And the main man himself, Lenny Henry:

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There aren’t many jobs in which you willingly want to stay working at until 10 p.m on a Friday night – but a presenter at the BBC is an exception. I had the most incredible time yesterday – thank you very much Jon, and watch out Lizo, I’m after your job!

Revenge – E4

Revenge

From the realms of Gossip Girl, Desperate Housewives and 91210, E4 now brings us yet another ABC drama about plotting, conniving and uber-rich Americans. And we love it.

Directed by Sanford Booksaver (The O.C, Prison Break) Revenge stars Emily VanCamp (Brothers and Sisters), who plays a beautiful, intelligent and bitter Emily Thorne – a girl on a mission to exact ‘revenge’ on those responsible for wrongfully convicting and killing her father. This of course all takes place in the multi-millionaire’s summer retreat that is the Hamptons.

The series starts in the midst of Emily and Daniel Grayson’s (Josh Bowman) engagement party. Daniel is missing, three shots ring out from the beach and just as we are about to get clarification that Grayson’s been murdered, we rewind five months.

We now move forward in a chronological order but with frequent flashbacks. Emily arrives in the Hamptons and rents a house next to the gigantic monstrosity of a mansion that belongs to the Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) and Conrad Grayson and their two children Daniel and Charlotte.

A flashback reveals that Emily has lived in the house she rents before, as a child, with her father and that he had a relationship with Victoria. Emily then produces a photograph of 22 of her Hampton neighbours, all of whom played, in some way or another, a role in her father’s demise. As episode one concludes, she takes a red marker pen and crosses out the face of her first victim.

There are 22 episodes to the series, so you get the gist – one traitor bites-the-dust every episode. It sounds simplistic, ill-thought through and predictable, but for some reason the connecting of dots plot works. It’s addictive; we want to see Emily cross of the last face from the photograph; we want closure; we yearn for the end but don’t want it to end.

If the plot’s bad but works, then the characters are worse and work even better.  Two-dimensional, with the inability to have conversations with each-other without having at least one three-second penetrative glance into the camera, the Revenge cast are truly atrocious. VanCamp’s portrayal of Emily Thorne looks as if she’s attempting to method act but getting it very wrong. Bowman’s Daniel Grayson is completely unoriginal – the character is quite simply a reincarnation of The OC’s Luke, just with dark hair.

But, Victoria Grayson takes the biscuit, with a chest so huge that it supports her chin and a face so pumped full of botox that it’s emotionally barren, she truly is the embodiment of all things superficial. She’s the perfect stereotype; we don’t have to use any cerebral matter to come up with our own more suitable version, which sadly makes for fantastic viewing.

The setting of the Hamptons is the icing on the cake, as summer fails to reach our sorry Island, every Monday we can be transported to the other side of the Atlantic and spend an hour experiencing how the other half live. Parties, yachts, the latest fashions and women made-up within an inch of their lives, Revenge offers us the opportunity to imagine what being a multi-millionaire American would be like.

We say that we’re happier here, that we don’t need all of Jimmy Choo’s latest heels and that we are better people, but that doesn’t stop our fascination with the rich. Whether it’s Desperate Housewives, 91210, or dare I say it, Made in Chelsea, we’re obsessed with wealth and extravagant spending. It’s our guilty pleasure.

Revenge has all the ingredients to be a complete flop but has somehow defied the norm and become a raging success. Bringing in more than triple the viewers for the (9-10pm) slot on E4 last week, the show is now a weekly fix for more and more of the nation. Artistic talent: no. Addictive watching: yes.

Beware: once you start you won’t be able to stop.