Five Thoughts on Stuff I watched and listened.

As summer finally made an extended appearance, well over a week at least, I have been outdoors reading and chatting so TV and radio has taken a back seat. However there were a few programmes I did manage to catch and these are my thoughts.
1. Fixing Dad. Billed as two sons battling to overhaul their dad’s destructive lifestyle. This is available on the BBC iPlayer, here. This is an inspiring story and proves that is never too late to turn your life around. The story of far from plain sailing but I won’t spoil it for you. If I had one criticism of it is that sometimes it appeared more appeared the making of the film rather then subject. So lots of shots of cameras and the like. Maybe that’s just me and, in truth, it didn’t get completely in the way.
2. The Archers. The only time I catch The Archers it usually in the car and I have somehow stumbled across it. Last week I actually sought it out and gave it a listen. Although I don’t listen I seem to have many many friends on Facebook who do. What’s more not only are they avid listeners they are very involved in the story lines. There have been many times when I have wondered if an intervention was required. So having listened to two episodes in one week. I have concluded that you really should use some kind of plate when cutting the meadow. (I really have no idea why that was significant)  There is a character called Rob who, according to my Facebook timeline is a cock.
3. The Secret Agent. Starring the wonderful Toby Jones, Vicky McClure and Stephen Graham this is set in Victorian London. Toby Jones place Soho shopkeeper Verloc a spy of the Russian Embassy on an anarchist cell. He seems a pretty inept spy to be honest but that I think is the point. As the episodes unfold he is forced to take spying to the next level. Great Sunday night viewing  just a shame it is only three episodes long. I am looking forward to the concluding episode this Sunday. Really worth catching up on player. To my mind BBC drama at it’s best.
4.Shawshank Redemption. It doesn’t really matter what time of the year it is, somewhere among the many TV channels you will find The Shawshamk Redemption. On it’s original release it didn’t do that well but has subsequently become quite a hit. If by any chance you have not watched this yet then you should. Brilliant story telling by Frank Darabont from a short story by Stephen King.  I admit there is quite a bit of Shawshank before the redemption but it’s worth it. Great performances from Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. Look out for this on ITV 4, usually late night. Don’t worry if you fall asleep and miss a bit it’ll be on again soon. Worth watching for this shot alone;


5. Dead Ringers. I always listen to The News Quiz and The Now Show but somehow I have missed out on Dead Ringers. Sat in the garden I listened to a couple of episodes on iplayer. Well worth it, great impersonations and satire combined. The writing and the performing team deserve a wider audience. Worth it alone for the Laura Kuenssberg impression, so funny. Listen and catch up here.
Hope you like some of these, enjoy.

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Is Barbie really a role model?

Yesterday I sat in a room with other creatives and watched s series of videos. The purpose was to share our thoughts and discuss best practice. I hope to share some of the others eventually. However this was the one the provoked the most discussion. This video has had almost 21 million views. Has it changed the way people feel about gender specific toys. Dolls for girls building kits for boys. I would genuinely love to read your thoughts so please leave a comment. But first watch this;


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Five Thoughts For Thursday – the one about Wogan

Terry Wogan was a fixture in mine and just about everybody’s life. From radio to TV he was there with his charm, wit and consummate professionalism.  Much has be written so here are my five thoughts, lessons from the great man.

  1. Speaking to one person is more effective than trying to speak to many. His great skill as a broadcaster was to make you feel he was talking to just you.
  2. Being a skilled professional does not mean you have to take yourself too seriously.
  3. The apparent ease with which something is done belies a lot of hard work done out of the spotlight. The seemingly “making it up” as you go along vibe that Terry exuded was due to a lifetime of experience and learning.
  4. Understanding your audience is the key for effective communication.
  5. The way he observed and commentated with wit, charm and insight is a gift few possess in the way Terry did. At no point did you ever feel he crossed the line into cruel ridicule of the person or an event.

Goodbye Terry, you will be missed but you have left a lifetime of memories.



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Five Thoughts for Thursday – Being Organised or Getting Organised?

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I would love to know the sales figures for Moleskin notebooks, To Do pads and organisational apps in the first week of January. There is something about the New Year that makes us all want to be better organised, me included, so here are my five thoughts on the subject.


1. Getting organised is not the same as being organised. So much effort is put into devising systems, writing lists and planning and not enough into actually doing. Organising yourself with journal entries, to do lists and bullet points is just another form of procrastination.

2. Organisation is a means to an end not and end in itself. Organise yourself so you can be productive and you life has some balance.

3. The size of your To Do list is no reflection on how good or how busy you are.

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled4  “While we complain that our ‘to do’ lists are endless, let us not forget that we begat those lists; no one from outer space came when we weren’t looking and implanted ‘the list’ in our brains. Okay, let’s say we really do need to jot down a few things of importance, like needing to buy milk or to have a colonoscopy, but when that ‘things that must be done’ list goes into the hundreds per day, we should be concerned. Maybe we keep adding new things in the the fear that, even if we ever got through our list, we’d have no purpose, no reason to take another step. If you were suddenly list-less, would you just grind to a halt? What happens when that happens?”  Ruby Wax from her excellent book A Mindfulness Guide for The Frazzled, available now.

5.  Seriously, no one is interested in the size of your To Do list. Honestly, we’re not. Stop tweeting and sharing your list and get on and do it.  Then post a picture of you enjoying a cocktail or cup of tea because you’ve finished your list.



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Great Christmas TV moments


I know Channel Four or Five have done it before. Their 100 Greatest Christmas Moments was voted for by the great British Public. Unfortunately it didn’t include me, if it had it might have turned out differently.

My personal five greatest TV moments are based more on my own personal memories of Christmas past, TV moments that stir personal memories. So, in no particular order.

  1. Christmas Disney Time – hard to imagine now but there was a time when if you wanted to see a Disney film it was at the cinema. Christmas Disney time was just such a treat to see clips from Disney movies you’d seen and others you hadn’t. Usually presented by a celebrity it was a treat for all the family.
  2. Christmas morning at a children’s hospital – this ran in various guises over the years featuring Rolf Harris and Noel Edmonds amongst others. The premise was simple, live on Christmas morning celebrities would visit a hospital children’s ward and distribute presents. I think I loved it so much that even as a child I appreciated, amongst all the presents I had, that there were those worse off than me.
  3. The big Christmas film – It is hard today to recapture the thrill of knowing a huge cinema release was about to air on TV. I remember the excitement building to the screening of The Sound of Music. We’d all seen it at the cinema but to sit in your own front room and see and hear “high on a hill lived a lonely goat herd” was truly magical.
  4. Christmas Top of the Pops – this was the highlight of many teenagers Christmas. Prior to the screening I would give pep talks to other (usually older) members of the family, no talking, no comments about modern music all sounding the same.
  5. The late afternoon re-run – this is not really a childhood memory but one rather more recent one. December is a very busy time for most people and as a consequence a lot of TV is missed. However there comes a moment when work finishes and Christmas begins. For me it happens after the lunchtime drinks on the last day of work. Coming home “happy” and relaxed I sit in an armchair and turn on the TV to a re-run of a Christmas special I’ve missed. The lights are out, the room is lit only by the TV and the Christmas tree lights. Coffee and mince pie in hand, for me, Christmas is here.
What’s your greatest Christmas TV moment?

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Better Call Saul


Logo_-_Better_Call_SaulFor those suffering withdrawal symptoms since Breaking left our screens the prospect of the prequel “Better Call Saul” gave us the prospect of filling the void left by Heisenberg’s demise.

It was no surprise really the producers looked for a follow up. I thought they would have gone with following Jessie as he leads a new life post BB. Instead they opted for the prequel route giving us the back story of Saul Goodman.

To me, prequels, all prequels, suffer with the same problem. As an audience we all know where it ends. It takes a special kind of story-telling to keep us engaged without resorted to constant allusions to the original series. Star Wars prequels, episodes whatever they were, to my mind didn’t work, Star Trek did.

Better Call Saul kind of does.  From my twitter feed the biggest complaint levelled at the series is that it is too slow.  I agree but then there were times when Breaking Bad seemed painfully slow. Remember the Fly episode?

I think Better Call Saul seems slow for two reasons.

Firstly they decided to go the broadcast route of release. Episodes are released on a weekly basis, unlike House of Cards where all episodes were released at once enabling fans to lose an entire weekend to Spacey and Co.  I think this makes the inevitable slower paced episodes stand out. Binging on a series alleviates this.

Secondly it is the curse of the prequel. Because we know where all this is leading to we get impatient when we don’t get there quick enough.  Whilst this is true I think the writers should be applauded for not going the obvious route where everywhere little twists and turn is an obvious reference to BB.



As a Breaking Bad fan I love Better Call Saul. Yes it is a little slow at times but it has all the Vince Gilligan trademark shots and devices. Non BB fans I am sure will also love it, probably more so because they don’t carry the baggage of expectation fans of Walter White carry.

The big question for me is when will we say goodbye to Jimmy and meet Saul?


Roll on February 15th.

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