I Have Been … Nostalgic

Guest blogger Susie Sue is carried away by nostalgia of summers past, although not on a horse however popular they were!

It’s now late August – how quickly does the summer go by ? The school holidays are coming to an end and The Great British Bake Off  (BBC1 Wednesdays, 8pm) is back. I seem to be the only person in the country who doesn’t get the appeal of Hollywood & Berry – despite being a long time fan of Mel & Sue, but as usual, I digress.

This time of year always makes me nostalgic. Memories of those late Seventies days out at the seaside – Margate, Southend, and I recently revisited Clacton-on-Sea and went to Scarborough for the first time and won a shedload of 2ps on a what we call the Cakewalk (think Tipping Point but with no prizes at the end…just hubby with a pocket full of change… “I can use it for the coffee machine.”)

When I was a girl … when dinosaurs roamed the Earth  … summers were spent often at the park or dog walking for the princely sum of 50p, but as I lived on what was then considered a ‘busy’ road so no playing out in the street for us, I watched a lot of telly.

Continue reading “I Have Been … Nostalgic”

The Border – On the Box

From HBO Europe (which is a thing, it turns out, and no bad thing either) may I present the first Polish drama ever to be shown in the UK, on Channel 4. Somewhat bravely it was shown late in June, a couple of days before he UK’s fairly disastrous referendum on leaving Europe.

It’s a timely story torn from the headlines surrounding the current European immigration crisis. The Border is a six part drama set in the lush rural Bieszczady Mountains, on the Ukrainian-Polish border. In Polish the title is ‘Wataha’, meaning the pack. You can see why the name change for the international version, given the animalistic rhetoric around this ongoing heated debate. We are introduced to the Polish Border Guard, protecting the “wildest EU border”.

So far, so stereotyped – the guys are drinking, singing and shagging in an isolated hunters cabin. These macho guards are celebrating a retirement in time-honoured fashion. And boom – a bomb goes off, killing everyone inside. Well, that sure got my attention.

Continue reading “The Border – On the Box”

‘The Great British Bake Off: Series 7’ – On the Box

“I have cried over cake. I have shouted at a pie” admit the contestants in the pre-credits introduction. I myself have sulked at a chocolate brownie (too runny, even after hours in the oven) and thrown a hissy fit about a millionaire’s shortbread (Mr H had to take over and do caramel batch number three. It was impossible!). If baked goods make you emotional too, you know you’re in the right place. GBBO, episode 1 of series 7. Strap in for high-octane oven based excitement!

It’s week number one of the contest and it’s cake week. Which should in no way be mistaken for a cake walk – it’s quite the opposite. Blue-eyed silver fox Paul Hollywood promises the judging will get harder. I’m not sure that’s actually possible. Every year I enjoy watching the optimistic people who try to hide their failures with extra icing sugar, another layer of ganache or hidden at the bottom of the stack. Don’t they realise by now that Mary Berry has laser-guided vision for anything overbaked, underbaked or a bit shitty looking?

Almost like the producers read the internet too, Mel and Sue dive straight in and say the unsayable word ‘moist’. By itself it does sound sticky, sexual and faintly smelly. But in terms of sponge cake, it’s absolutely key.

Back to basics, says Paul. Good, says I. I’m sick of people using ingredients you can only track down on the Dark Web and have to purchase in bulk with a stash of little blue pills to make it look more harmless. And yes to creativity but enough with creating concoctions that seem like a mixologist’s fever dream. Shame then that the back to basics proclamation lasted for just about one task.

The Great British Bake Off

Surprisingly the technical challenge was jaffa cakes. What? I thought that was a brand name. To be fair, I’m no expert because they are revolting. I’m hoping next week it’s Tunnock’s Tea Cakes – giant dancing ones like at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

The ‘show-stopper challenge’, which is a term that gets slightly more annoying each time you hear it, was mirror cake. WTF? This is week one people! It’s meant to be relatively easy – for the contestants to put them at their ease in one of the strangest kitchens in the world, covered from bunting to tent flap with cameras and microphones. And it’s meant to be a nice gentle welcome back to the returning audience, inspiring us to get back in the kitchen and cover every surface with flour, not trying to put us off with such complicated creations. The only nod to the beginners was that so many contestants restarted their Genoise sponge cake I was surprised everyone managed to finish in time. Maybe they had to give them all an extra half an hour?

So, the guy with the dryest, saddest-looking cake lost and was booted out of the tent. Lee, we hardly knew you.But Jane, who won the ‘star baker’ accolade shouldn’t rest on her laurels. After watching all the previous series my advice is to aim for fourth or fifth place for most of the challenges until the last few weeks. Don’t set the judges expectations too high, but do solid work. Mid-table results until you’re in the final 6 and then you can show off what you’ve learnt from the judges and your fellow contestants. everyone loves a contestant who has ‘been on a journey’. Goosbery fool-proof!

Episode one of GBBO is now available on iPlayer

 

Couch Potato Digest – wolves and cake in spaaaaace!

Good news and bad news this week in telly land. We’ll get straight to it and to soften the blow we have cake!

  • To save us from feeling too miserable now the stunningly successful Rio Olympics has finished I’m happy to report that The Great British Bake Off is back this Wednesday 24 August at 8pm on BBC1.  Love it or loath it.. no hang on, I know it’s formulaic game show tv produced by the same company who made the Daily Mail clickbait Benefits Street, but it’s the only one in that whole vast landscape of competitive human misery (ours) and self-delusion (the contestants) that actually works. No one is mean or manipulative, the judge’s criticisms are genuinely constructive and it is positively joyful.If you loath it, then you need to check yourself. I’m sorry for you.
which-great-british-bake-off-contestant-are-you-2-16545-1409737643-5_dblbig
GBBO – Just seeing the logo is like a big delicious sigh of relief

Continue reading “Couch Potato Digest – wolves and cake in spaaaaace!”

First Birthday!

It’s my birthday! I’m not 100% sure (and WordPress makes it hard to find out) but I’m going to record this day 17th August as the official Dead Pixel Test first birthday. I know I’m close because it was last summer I started to see articles about how there’s too much high quality tv to try to keep up with. I’d been feeling that way for a while and it was heartening to hear other telly fans and industry people say it too. That, and a nagging desire to write more, was the drive to start the blog.

To be honest we shouldn’t complain. You don’t have to go to the cinema to see beautiful complicated drama any more, or the newest comedy sensation. You can stay in with your slippers on. TV isn’t just silly game shows and amusingly shaped vegetables any more. Too many good things is a bit ‘first world problems’, I know, but you want to give your precious leisure time to something worthwhile. Literally worthy of your attention and devotion. And I like to think that over the course of the year I’ve helped bring a little more attention to great television (Murder in Successville, Chewing Gum, Billions) and show that even if everyone is talking about it, it still might be a total stinker which you should do your utmost to avoid (Marcella, Gamechangers, A Gert Lush Christmas).

Continue reading “First Birthday!”

Couch Potato Digest – Snoop Dogg, Olympic ‘Porn’ and summer shows to stream

Welcome to your weekly round-up of telly news. Due to an important occasion coming soon to this very blog (stay tuned blog fans!) I’ve decided that I need to help you, dear readers, be better informed about topics in telly, not just reviews but hot-off-the-press news to enrich your telly watching. The great, the grizzly and the down-right dodgy, for you to digest in your cosy couch cocoon.

This week – The Olympics, Snoop Dogg, and the Guardian’s pick of summer tv shows…

Continue reading “Couch Potato Digest – Snoop Dogg, Olympic ‘Porn’ and summer shows to stream”