Top Gear: Not Top Bloke

I must admit that I gave up watching Top Gear about a lifetime ago, in recent years I’ve only seen bits of it when I’ve been flicking to something more interesting.

So it has been something of a mystery to me that the carrying on of those three chaps makes headlines from time to time, with their disciples grumbling when the bad behaviour goes over the top in case they get the sack.

Surely though it’s obvious to everyone that the latest nonsense happened because they were about to negotiate new contracts with the BBC. Obviously the fact that the programme is sold all over the world makes a lot of money for the BBC and those three presenters probably felt that they should be getting paid more than they were.

I know I’m a cynic but surely everyone realises that the whole fracas was orchestrated with the intention of getting away from the BBC and on to pastures new which have much more lucrative remunerations.

Stand by for those three chaps appearing on Sky or some other commercial station, on a programme with much the same premise as Top Gear, but the name of – Vrooming Brilliant or something similar, fill in your own idea for the new name!

The whole thing reminds me of those people who want to get out of a relationship but don’t have the guts to dump their partner because they don’t want to be perceived as being nasty. So they behave badly until their partner eventually dumps them. Result! they shout as they skip off footloose and fancy free, claiming to have been badly treated by their ex-partner.

Those Top Gear guys just don’t want to be seen as being greedy by their fans, who might not be able to afford to see them on whatever commercial platform picks them up. If you want to know what fuels Jeremy Clarkson, his raison d’etre, just have a look at his appearance on Who Do You Think You Are? that programme which looks back at family trees. The only thing which he was interested in was – where’s the money!

Outraged

I was flicking through the Guardian the other day (yes we do actually buy it) when I came across this article. It’s quite long but well worth reading, even if the result is to make you spitting mad, like me.

The upshot is that the BBC is having to pay Rupert Murdoch £10 million a year to have the privilege of BBC programmes being shown on Sky. I feel as if I’ve wandered into an alternative universe again. I thought that we lived in a Capitalist society which is very simple to follow. If you have something which someone else wants then they have to pay you for it, if you want them to have it. So why isn’t Murdoch paying the BBC £squillions to be allowed to broadcast BBC programmes?

I have always prided myself that I haven’t knowingly added any money to the Murdoch coffers. I’ve never bought one of his newspapers and I don’t have Sky, so I’m more than a wee bit peeved – actually I’m incandescent – that my licence fee money is going to Murdoch.

I’ve always thought that the TV licence is just about one of the best bargains around. I would even be quite happy if Auntie Beeb didn’t block the internet viewing so that people in other countries could look in. That would stop Murdoch in his tracks, which could only be a good thing.

Please BBC, stop giving money to Rupert Murdoch et al!

Square up to politicians. Nothing is perfect but the BBC has a place in the hearts of most Brits which is second only to the NHS.

Why am I not surprised that this whole situation came about through Maggie Thatcher’s sucking up to Murdoch. Cakes and ale anyone?!

I could go on at length but I can already see that 2012 is going to be a year of grumping and groaning. Now, does anybody know how I go about setting up an online petition to support the BBC?

Donovan

It’s time for a wee musical interlude and as Donovan was given a lifetime achievement award in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards earlier in the week, I thought it would be nice to hear my favourite song of his, Jennifer Juniper, a lovely tune.

Donovan was born in Glasgow.

BBC’s The Forsyte Saga

My husband bought me The Forsyte Saga boxed set on 7 DVDs for Mother’s Day. Well, he’s not a bad lad and of course it was really cheap from The Guardian. (£19.99)

I’m really shocked that this was first screened in 1967, so I was only 8 years old. I remember that I loved it and certain parts of it have always stuck in my memory. I think it was actually on quite late at night, I’m sure that it wasn’t meant to be viewed by 8 year olds but as I was the youngest in my family by quite a long way, my bed time tended to be forgotten about. Lucky me.

It was a BAFTA and Emmy award winning series but of course it is in black and white which doesn’t really bother me, I love watching vintage films which are often in black and white too.

So I’ve been having a great time watching it again whilst my husband was out at a football match, and I’m already on episode 5. As you would expect after all this time it is a bit dated but that hasn’t spoiled my enjoyment. Some of the acting is really good but some is quite bad. The love scenes are terrible, really hammy so they are an absolute SCREAM. I think it was all a bit too much for the BBC to cope with in 1967. I certainly remember that it was talked of in the newspapers and thought to be not quite ‘nice’ and a bit risque.

I think that the cast was well chosen, apart from John Bennet who plays the part of Philip Bosinney. His acting is fine – apart from the hilarious love scenes – but he is just too old for the part, he looks older than Soames a lot of the time.

For some reason I have never liked the actor Kenneth More who plays the part of young Jolyon, but again he doesn’t spoil it for me.

As an 8 year old, I remember being a fan of Soames and I still think that he was very badly treated by Irene. Eric Porter was perfect as Soames.

So my Mother’s Day present has been a great success and I can’t wait to watch the rest of it.

Chris Evans on Radio 2

Come back Terry – all is forgiven.

I knew that I was really going to miss Terry Wogan in the morning and after having to listen to Chris Evans for a week I have to say that I don’t think I’ll ever get attached to him as a radio presenter.

Yes, he is a big improvement on his mad, bad and dangerous to know days of Radio 1, but for me he is altogether too bright and breezy for the mornings. And the jingles. I always think that if a radio programme has a lot of jingles it is because they are flapping and panicking in the studio and it’s just a way of covering it up. The music selection hasn’t been great either, although the same could often be said of Wogan’s show too. I’m not a big fan of Ralph McTell or Eva Cassidy and they were given far too much air time.

I realise that what I miss most is the TOGs. What are they all getting up to now? Terry really didn’t need to do much, the show wrote itself with the many contributions from the likes of Heidi Vodka and Chuffer Dandridge, whatever became of Stuart from Kirkcaldy, I wonder? They were all so quick witted and funny and just what I needed first thing in the morning.

I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see what the new Terry Wogan programme is going to be like and hope that they all turn up for it. After all I can’t blame Terry for wanting to have a long lie of a morning now that he has reached 70.

I don’t know what I’m going to listen to in the morning now.

The Barchester Chronicles

I was lucky enough to be given the DVD’s of The Barchester Chronicles as a Christmas present and I’ve just finished viewing it all. I think this was one of the few classic book adaptations which I saw on television before I had read the books, so I had no idea if the BBC had done a good job or not.

I just knew that I really enjoyed the series, well you can’t go far wrong with such a brilliant cast I suppose. It was the first time that I remember seeing Alan Rickman in anything and he made a wonderful job of portraying the ghastly Obadiah Slope. Barbara Flynn looks so young too, it was made in 1988, which I can hardly believe.

Donald Pleasence, Nigel Hawthorne, Geraldine McEwan,Susan Hampshire and Clive Swift are the main players.

The series is based on the novels The Warden and Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope. A newspaper sets out to rid the Church of England of nepotism, using a young local doctor to spearhead the campaign. The reverend Harding, who is well-loved in the local community is targeted by the newspaper and his name is dragged through the press. At times of great stress, Mr Harding (who is in charge of the church music) plays the air cello whilst he is in mid verbal flow. I thought this was a great way of showing how emotional he became and I was pleased to discover that it is in the books.

When the old bishop dies, he is replaced by Bishop Proudie (Clive Swift) and his wife (Geraldine McEwan), with Mrs. Proudie very much the one wearing the bishop’s hat. I think that this might be quite a common occurrence as at the time the series was first aired they were exactly like a certain bishop and wife couple of our acquaintance with a diocese in the west of Scotland.

Throw in Alan Rickman as Obadiah Slope, Mrs. Proudie’s sleazy side-kick and you have a very entertaining series. Don’t be put off by the ecclesiastical ambience of the whole thing.

Trollope seems to have had as much fun with names as Dickens did. One character is called Sir Omicron Pie and there is a Sir Lamda Mewnew, both doctors to the bishop.

It’s a good long while since I read the books but viewing the series again has whetted my appetite so I’m hoping that I enjoy them as much as I did after watching the series the first time.