‘Broken’ – On the Box

Broken is the beautiful, heart wrenching new 6-part drama series from award-winning English screenwriter and producer Jimmy McGovern, the champion of working class heroes. We are in familiar territory here – kitchen sink dramas and the seemingly small but overpowering tragedies of everyday life.

The big draw for drama fans is Sean Bean in the central role as Catholic priest Father Michael Kerrigan, a kind man, driven by his vocation to work hard for his community. Immediately we see that he’s haunted by an abusive past, rare in tv land where we frequently see priests as abusers, not victims. Bean played cross-dressing teacher Simon Gaskell in McGovern’s excellent drama, Accused an astounding role that he rightly won an International Emmy for. McGovern said in a Radio Times interview that he never considered anyone else for the lead role in Broken: “I always go back to Sean – I just think he’s world class,” he said. “People know he’s good, but I know he’s great.” Typically, Bean is stoic in the face of tragedy. He’s funny too – a bleak, black humour runs through this episode. On screen he is low-key with no histrionics. Appropriately, he doesn’t lose his head.

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Dead Pixel Test Live! – Walter Presents

I was excited to see that the purity of the Birmingham Literary Festival has been infiltrated this year by the lowly gogglebox. In amongst the bearded academics and the beat-boxing poets we find Walter Iuzzolino, the driving force behind the staggeringly successful world drama mission on Channel 4 and their streaming service All4. In just 9 months they’ve taken a chance on 24 series from around the globe and been rewarded with 15 million streams. That’s a lot of viewers.

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‘Eurotrash’ – On the Box

Hello my British chums! Quelle surprise! Last Friday Channel 4 resurrected 90’s classic Eurotrash for a one-off EU Referendum special – a compilation of their best bits, some new bits and of course, rude bits.

It’s hard to describe to the young’uns but in a world before the internet, before QI, this was easily a contender for weirdest thing on tv. It taught us all about freaky fetishes, strange local customs and beliefs, and put stuff on terrestrial telly that you’d clear out of your browsing history rapidement these days!

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‘The Eurovision Song Contest’ – On the Box

The sad truth is I’ve been looking forward to Eurovision for months. It’s the one night a year where I really embrace silly pop music. Instead of suffering through a whole series of The X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent I shovel all the cheesy Europop into my face in one massive glitter cannon blast. And then go back to my usual cynical self the very next day.

My friends have much better taste than me, so I have no sexy Euro parties to attend. But Twitter has revolutionized how we watch live events. My feed goes crazy, with humour, love and snark from around the globe. It’s like a cacophony of opinions from about a million people, and it makes the evening brilliant.

Here are a few choice moments from last night:

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I Have Been Watching… Game of Thrones (spoiler free!)

In which guest blogger Susie Sue tells us about her love for a dark and brutal drama, and shows off her holiday snaps!

 

Last summer I was lucky enough to go to the beautiful city of Seville in southern Spain. I visited the Alcázar,  better known as the seat of House Martell.

Alcazar
Sunspear, aka Seville

I mention this mainly to show off but also because there was nearly an hour wait to get in and also airport style security when you did get through. It was that popular.

With the new season of Game of Thrones  (Sky Atlantic, 9pm Mondays – or before that if you have Sky Go or Now etc) upon us I have asked myself why – why? – is such a brutal show so appealing to me – to us? 

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‘Brendan O’Caroll: My Family At War’ – On the Box

Easter Monday isn’t just about eating another six-pack of Cream Eggs and wondering if you can make a bread and butter pudding out of stale hot cross buns. In Ireland it’s a much more important day, especially this year, the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, when 1,600 rebels took over Dublin. This was the first act of the Irish revolution.

I like to think I’m no ignoramus when it comes to world history, but this programme taught me a thing or two. Maybe I’m not entirely to blame for my lack of knowledge – growing up in England in the 80s and 90s with the backdrop of The Troubles, there may not have been much sympathy for the Irish Republic in the British national curriculum.

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‘Bear’s Wild Adventure with Barack Obama’ – On the Box

Well that was strange. And preachy, very preachy.

Barack Obama, sitting President of the USA, the guy with the most famous desk job in the world. He looks pretty fit for a fairly stressed out 54 year old but he seems to be worried that he’s not getting out enough. So he teams up with chipper Boy Scout adventurer Bear Grylls for a walk on the wild side up a glacier in Alaska.

Bear’s eyes light up as soon as he sees the helicopter (Chopper Force 1?) and from the off you can tell this is going to be a total bromance – “You look so fit. How do you keep so fit?” growled Bear, stating into Barack’s deep brown eyes. Barack is happy to be out of the office and out of his suit, but still wearing black and grey. How smart, how dull.

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