Friday, 29 March 2013

Book review: Sirens

Sirens was a Channel 4 comedy-drama a couple of years ago, that was pretty good but got cancelled after one series. I enjoyed it enough to give the  original book a go when it was on a cheap kindle deal. As it turns out the inspiration for the TV show was a pretty loose one, Tom Reynolds' book is actually a compilation of his blog about working as a paramedic, mainly in an ambulance but sometimes in a fast-response car on his own. And in fact this TV tie-in edition is a double volume of Reynolds' two Blood Sweat and Tea books, collected under the title Sirens.

So not entirely what I was expecting but an interesting read all the same, and as I mainly do my reading in small chunks on public transport anyway, the blog post format was a quite good match to that and I could read a couple of  unconnected incidents from his shifts at a time. (Now why isn't there a lucrative market for publishing out-of-date online theatre reviews?) It's a pretty informative book, and though Reynolds seems to love his job deep down, it mainly causes frustration. It's saddening how the majority of calls are time-wasting in one way or another, and that even the existence of fast-response cars that can get to an incident faster than an ambulance isn't actually primarily for the sake of saving lives (a vehicle being small enough to get through traffic quickly also means it's too small to carry any significant amount of equipment) but to meet the government response-time targets that decide whether a service gets more funding or not, irrespective of how well the actual work is being done.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Dick Twittington 2: A degree of crossover

This week on my Twitter feed a bit of a downer thankfully brightens up a bit, and Spellcheck continues not to know anyone's name.

Tonight's #neverwhere was a bit close to the bone for me at the moment.
6:32 PM - 20 Mar 13

FFS, if you're pissing DIRECTLY ONTO THE FLOOR maybe stop looking at your phone & start looking at your cock.
7:42 PM - 20 Mar 13

Carbon-Based Lifeform Spot: Danny Dyer at Riverside Studios.
7:45 PM - 20 Mar 13

Monday, 25 March 2013

Potter Spotter

As I have an unofficial list of Harry Potter actors seen on stage in my head, I thought I'd follow the example of Weez, revstan and trpw and try to make it an official one online. Like them I'll use this as my definitive cast list, it seems to include people who ended up on the cutting room floor, so I guess Toby Regbo counts.

I'll probably come back to this over time as I add more or realise there's someone I'd missed. If I've seen someone on stage loads of times I may well forget the odd production I've seen, but after all it only takes one show for it to count. Unfortunately this isn't a list that's physically possible to complete, what with Richard Harris not waiting for me to see him on stage before dying.

I've linked to my reviews of the shows where possible; any title that isn't a link means it's from before I started reviewing online.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Dick Twittington

This week on my Twitter feed included my fourth Twitter-birthday, which means a new terrible pun for these weekly tweet roundups. Other than that, my week was mostly about finally seeing The Book of Mormon, and it managing to live up to expectations despite 18 months' worth of buildup.

Have I punched myself in my sleep? The right side of my nose is bloody sore.& I've not been on teh drugz, b4 someone LOLARIOUSLY suggests it
11:21 AM - 13 Mar 13

"laurie metcalf hermaphrodite" #bloghitsoftheweek
12:47 PM - 13 Mar 13

"hamlets revenge against laurie" Someone's really got it in for Laurie this week #bloghitsoftheweek
12:47 PM - 13 Mar 13

Saturday, 16 March 2013

"Deep down we're human"

OK, I can put it off no longer, but once I've done a blog post about the last ever Being Human it's definitely all over.

"The Last Broadcast" by Toby Whithouse, directed by Daniel O'Hara. Spoilers under the cut.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Twitterball 52: Pope Shamazing

This week on my Twitter feed I collect a couple more labyrinths on the Underground, watch the last-ever Being Human and make my prediction for the next Pope.

More disappointed audiences at the O2 last night as J*st*n Bi*b*r actually turns up.
9:38 AM - Mar 6, 2013

Nothing wrong with a good sitcom. And it's got a Kitchen Sink #intervaltweets
8:45 PM - Mar 6, 2013

More underground labyrinths collected: Swiss Cottage. 
1:03 PM - Mar 7, 2013

Monday, 11 March 2013

Book review: Shada

"Shada" was a 1970s Doctor Who story most famous for the fact that it never actually got filmed. Douglas Adams had completed a six-part story but a BBC strike meant only a handful of scenes were ever shot (one scene was eventually used when Tom Baker refused to take part in "The Five Doctors.") There were always rumours of its making a comeback in later series but that never seemed to happen. Adams' own creation The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy made him the most famous of the 1970s Doctor Who writers, which gave this "lost" story all the more of a legendary status. The original scripts were used for an audio version with the 8th Doctor a few years ago, but Gareth Roberts' novelisation means he can recast it with the 4th Doctor, 2nd Romana and K-9 as originally intended.

Roberts' version of Shada keeps the six-part structure the original serial would have had, complete with the big cliffhangers with quick resolutions, and is a fun story of a long-since-retired Time Lord masquerading as a Cambridge don in the knowledge that it's the sort of environment where everyone will be too polite to mention him living several centuries longer than he ought to. An intergalactic megalomaniac with a desire to turn everyone in the universe into versions of himself arrives, and the Doctor is needed to help stop him. The story takes in multiple alien races and an epic prison for rogue Time Lords, so maybe it's best that this is the version we've ended up with, as the original series' technical abilities would have probably struggled with the scale. Instead we get to imagine a look that matches the witty dialogue and clever story, including a fun little twist that I thought was handled quite well. I suspect I enjoyed Shada more as a novel than I would have as a TV serial.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Twitterball 51: Wells!

This week on my Twitter feed a Canadian child is late for his concert, which means the roads are clear for me to get home from the Tube station. I think we can all agree this is the most important angle on that particular "news" story.

Stott Spott: Ken Stott outside Trafalgar Studios.
7:20 PM - Feb 27, 2013

Shakespeare in a Scottish accent is well sexy #intervaltweets
9:04 PM - Feb 27, 2013

Oh look, it's Hipster Tranio as Keith Haring.
4:52 PM - Feb 28, 2013

Monday, 4 March 2013

"I'm only the fucking Devil, sweetheart."

Just one more episode of Being Human left, ever, which is, as Supernanny would put it, "unasseptible." Of course, if you'd told me back in 2008 when the show hadn't been picked up after the pilot, that we'd end up with 40 episodes over 5 years, that would have been better than I'd ever hoped for, but that's what happens when you keep the quality up for that long, people want more.

"No Care, All Responsibility" by Sarah Dollard, directed by Daniel O'Hara. Spoilers under the cut.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Book review: Winter in Madrid

I've read all of C.J. Sansom's Shardlake novels but didn't really fancy his venture into a different historical period when Winter in Madrid came out a few years ago. But as with so much I've read since getting the kindle, a super-cheap special offer saw me add it to my collection and although I didn't enjoy it as much as his Tudor books I'm glad I gave it a go. It's set partly during the Spanish Civil War, but mostly a few years later, in 1940 with Franco's government wavering over whether to join World War II, and two British people who'd fought in the Civil War returning for different reasons, but both with ulterior motives: Harry's a translator for the British embassy, but in reality has been recruited as a spy, to find out what his former school friend Sandy knows about a gold mine that's rumoured to have been found, and which could affect Franco's decision on the war. And Barbara, Sandy's girlfriend, who is in fact only with him so she can seek the truth about her ex-lover - believed to have been killed in the Civil War, she's recently heard rumours that he's alive and being kept illegally in a prison camp.

The background on the devastated state Spain was left in after the Civil War is probably the most interesting element of the book, like most people I knew that it had a lot of British volunteers but didn't know much else about the background to the war or its longer-term effects, Spain going through its own separate devastation even as the rest of Europe was torn apart. The story itself has some well-constructed characters, the majority fictional but, perhaps inevitably, some of the most extreme characters based on real people; and is interesting enough to have kept me reading but not exactly full of surprises either.