Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Vera

Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Vera

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Vera with the release of Vera Series 10 & Vera Complete Series 1-10 Box Sets

Both releases are available to own on DVD on the 2nd March Series 10 & 9th March Series 1-10 

The most famous Northumberland Detective with the winter mac and hat is back for her 10th successive year.

Detective DCI Vera Stanhope will tackle four new tricky cases in her hunt for the truth.

 This award-winning acclaimed itv drama is based on the bestselling books by Ann Cleeves (Shetland).

 Starring Brenda Blethyn as Vera

Brenda Blethyn as Vera

Pre-order Vera Series 10 now from Amazon

Pre-order Vera Complete Series 1-10 now from Amazon

Synopsis: Series 10

Renowned actress Brenda Blethyn returns as the unorthodox but brilliant DCI Vera Stanhope in four compelling new feature-length episodes of this hit crime drama. The indomitable Vera and her trusted team unravel more complex cases, exploring stories of corporate corruption, organised crime and deeply buried personal guilt. An entrepreneur’s murder delivers no shortage of suspects, and the discovery of a teenager’s body floating near a salmon farm reveals a tangled web of deceit between two families. The murder of a cleaner whose death occurred several hours after the killer blow landed sends Vera on an intriguing trail, and it soon becomes clear that not all is as it seems when a wealthy betting shop tycoon is killed during a home invasion. Set against the breathtaking landscapes of Northumberland, this top-rating drama is inspired by the bestselling novels and characters created by acclaimed author Ann Cleeves.

Synopsis Series 1-10

BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning actress Brenda Blethyn stars as the unorthodox but brilliant DCI Vera Stanhope in this hit crime drama. Vera may be unconventional and unglamorous, but she faces the world with her caustic wit, guile and courage, and what she lacks in charm she more than makes up for in wisdom and insight. Follow all ten gripping seasons as the indomitable Vera and her trusted team investigate tragic and intriguing cases, chasing ruthless killers, unravelling complex mysteries and uncovering secrets that sometimes stray a little too close to home. Set against the atmospheric landscapes of the breathtaking Northumberland countryside, this top-rating drama is inspired by the bestselling novels and characters created by acclaimed author Ann Cleeves.

 Release date: 2nd March 2020

Vera Series 10

  • Discs: 2
  • 4 Episodes
  • Cert: 12
  • RRP: £24.99

 

Release date: 9th March 2020

Vera Series 1-10

  • Discs: 20
  • 40 Episodes
  • Cert: 15
  • RRP £84.99
JIM DAVIDSON TALKS ‘CARE AFTER COMBAT’ AND THE DANGERS OF ‘REALITY TV’

JIM DAVIDSON TALKS ‘CARE AFTER COMBAT’ AND THE DANGERS OF ‘REALITY TV’

Reading Time: 10 minutes

 

When I spoke to the inimitable Jim Davidson in the wake of the tragic untimely death of Caroline Flack, it was evident that he was reflecting the truth in a way only  someone with his intelligence and ultimate familiarity could comprehend.

Jim Davidson

Jim has been involved with a commendable charity Care After Combat for a number of years providing professional assistance for the care of the Veteran and their family.  So as well as his own legendary recognition and experiences in television, he is also familiar with the aftermath of a major trauma or threat to life, and so the most qualified to speak on the subject.

Here is what Jim has to say:

‘It is with great sadness that we read about yet another “celebrity” taking their lives. I did not know Caroline Flack and I’ve never seen her on television. This would probably come as a shock to young ladies under the age of 40 to whom Caroline would’ve been a big star. Today I’ve been reading about Caroline’s tragic life. Although it wouldn’t seem tragic to people with normal lives or the families and friends of veterans taking their lives as well, it is nevertheless a sad story.. One that is, I’m afraid, all too predictable… In hindsight of course! so.. Let’s look back…

Caroline Flack

One day, someone invented the reality show. We all know reality shows are not real, but what they are, is a money making machine. It is no good having a high rated television show if all the money goes to the stars that appear in it. One can imagine that Morecambe and Wise got huge fees. I bet the producers were thinking,” how can we get these ratings without Morecambe and Wise?, then, we can keep all the money. Producers then made their own stars. Lads like Ant and Dec..who were not an act but were nice and could read the auto cue. They were cheap..they were also brilliant and confirmed what the producers thought. Ironically, now they cost ten time what Morecambe and Wise got paid.

First of all the reality show took the style of following round middle-aged men building houses, and then people selling houses.. Or cooking. Then we had cameras following the police, the Navy, the army. All these programs deliver great ratings and best of all, are cheap to make.

Big Brother

Then along came Big Brother. Not only was it cheap to make, the stars were the public. There was no money to be paid.. Not only that, the viewing public would phone up and pay their money. The people with the most votes, or should I say the people that make the TV company the most money… won. I’ve often wondered if anybody on the phone in shows has published how many votes were made?, and in fact were the winners chosen by the public or the producers? If I was a television producer I would not let the public choose who was going to be on my show next week.

When I did the Generation Game I would ask the audience to vote on their little clickers. They weren’t plugged in… The producer would pick.

The Generation Game

TV companies aim to attract viewers in the 18 to 35 bracket. These are described as people with disposable income.The TV companies then started promoting in house runners and researchers to become producers. Reality TV is produced by young women mostly. They know everything about fake tan and drawn on eyebrows. They deal with people who have no talent apart from being pleasing on the eye. Young producers know what the TV execs want…big ratings and watched by the disposable income mob!

Programs like love Island are really just spin-offs from Big Brother. Everyone is looking for the pot of gold.Love Island promotes vanity. It tells the young viewer that you can aspire to be like one of these people. you don’t need talent, If however you’ve got a bit of talent, do not have a six pack, or eyebrows like a ventriloquist doll, you can go and do X factor and sign your life away.

That seems to be a few tragedies linked to Love Island, and I’m not surprised.
Let me for a second talk about what I actually know about. My best friend and superstar Keith Emerson took his life.
I’ve often wondered why did it. In 1978 Emerson Lake and Palmer played to 88,000 people in the Olympic stadium in Montréal. In California they were top of the bill to a festival that attracted 250,000 people.

Keith Emerson

Like all good things, that came to an end, the band split up and Keith nursing a damage right hand started to struggle with the fact that ELP were not relevant any more.
I believe the Keith could not make the transition from what he was, to what he had become. He was loved by many, had a fantastic family, but, everybody has their demons. Keith had his, and we tragically lost a friend, father and genius…….

I deal with many veterans that cannot cope with not being who they were. 99% of veterans make the transition to being a civilian with no trouble at all. Some however find it unbearable and the demons start circling.

Let’s look at Love Island and compare.

The people that appear on it, have, in their eyes, and in the eyes of their peers, made it to the top. They have achieved fame, something they always dreamed of. They were “on the telly” the trouble is, when you do nothing to achieve fame, and that fame comes along instantly, you must be aware that it can vanish just as quickly. Who programs these contestants to understand this?

Long ago we lobbied the Ministry of Defence to start training soldiers sailors and airmen to prepare themselves for when they leave the forces. Is anyone helping these kids cope with what follows Love Island and the three month honeymoon period of being famous?

Care After Combat

The more I read about Caroline the sadder I become and the more I feel for these poor sods there are paraded around in the search of stardom… But the reality is, all they are doing is filling the pockets of the TV executives and providing false roll models for the millions of young people who aspire to be just like them….. That is the reality of the reality show.

Rest in peace Caroline… I believe although having great talent as a dancer and presenter, and by all accounts being witty an attractive person… You were dragged into this falsehood that Fame last forever..

I don’t think we should blame anybody for her tragic death we should pray for her family and friends and hope that their love for her will never die.. But let us not forget the millions who aspire to be part of the machine that some could say attributed to this tragedy.

” we made you………”

Jim along with Bobby Davro will be appearing at Care after Combats Autumn Ball 2020 on the 27th November in
Nottingham – fun is sure to be guaranteed – check out ticket details and other events at https://www.careaftercombat.org/events

Jim & Bobby Davro – Care After Combat

Check out jim’s website here https://www.jimdavidson.org.uk/
and Care after Combat https://www.careaftercombat.org/


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LEGENDARY ACTRESS ANN MITCHELL – COMBINES PASSION WITH A BRILLIANT CAREER

LEGENDARY ACTRESS ANN MITCHELL – COMBINES PASSION WITH A BRILLIANT CAREER

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

As I interviewed award winning actress Ann Mitchell recently – I was reminded that great work comes with enormous dedication and commitment, and Ann has that in abundance.

Ann as Cora Cross in Eastenders

Born in 1939 in London’s East End, Ann grew up in a tough but nurturing family environment.  From a very early age, Ann had a passion for Drama and joined the Joan Littlewood workshops at the Theatre Royal as a teenager, and went onto win the first scholarship into East 15 Acting School at the age of 21.

Ann was already married with a young baby, and initially felt it impossible to pursue both motherhood and a career in acting, but her family rallied round, and told her to pursue her dreams and that they would provide all the support and childcare she would need to achieve them.

Ann described those early years as challenging and heart wrenching as she handed her baby to her Mum as she set off to learn her craft.  But her hard work paid off as when she left Drama School Ann Mitchell was given the opportunities she needed to successfully launch her career.

The Glasgow Citizens Theatre was one of the most radical theatre companies in Europe at that time. With its ground breaking plays, performances and sets it challenged the Establishment theatre with gusto. Ann was a leading member of the Company whose roles included Mother Courage, where the great designer, Philip Prowse, made not the traditional cart for her to drag around the stage but a burnt-out ambulance, made fit for purpose, which was tied to a rope around her waist.  She also played the title role in Mary Stuart and Eva Braun in Summit Conference, written for her by Robert David McDonald.

Mother Courage

Ann went on to play leading roles in major repertory companies throughout the U.K including the National and the Royal Shakespeare Company, for whom she played Hecuba in Peter Hall’s epic production of ‘Tantalus’ written by John Barton. The cast were on stage in masks for twelve hours. Ann describes her experience as ‘exhilarating and knackering’! Now perhaps we can begin to understand why Ann Mitchell is such a legendary actor.

Many of us will remember her award winning, iconic performance as Dolly in Widows, another evocative series from the 80’s written by Lynda La Plante who subsequently wrote “She’s Out” for Ann to reprise the role of Dolly.

Ann with “Widows” creator Lynda La Plante

Ann’s many television appearances span three decades and, as she says, she has guest starred in every series known to man!

Ann was also nominated for an Olivier when she starred in the West End with Simon Callow in ‘Through the Leaves’ and has received an Honorary Dr of Arts from UEL lifetime achievement award.

Recently Ann appeared in the role of Elsie, written for her by Heidi Thomas, in Call the Midwife. Elsie is a woman who had been administering abortions to young unmarried girls or women who were in trouble. Ann’s character was sent to prison, as abortions were still illegal in the early sixties, but we are set to see Ann reprise her role on the 16th and 23rd of February. Ann expressed her delight at being in a series covering so many issues of the time – racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, domestic violence and abortion, with such compassion.

Ann as Elsie Dyer in Call the Midwife

Watch out for Ann when she will be interviewed on Lorraine on Friday 21st of February talking about her work on Call The Midwife.

Ann is also a political activist and human rights campaigner. She is a Patron of many organisations including Clean Break, The Citizens of the World Choir, WacArts and many others. She is passionate about this work.

After Call the Midwife, we will be seeing a lot of more of Ann Mitchell in another series of Year of the Rabbit due to hit our screens later this year, in which Ann plays the hilarious Gwendoline, landlady in the Bar of Gold.

Ann as Gwendoline in The Year of the Rabbit

When filming is completed on the series, Ann is determined to carry on with both her career and her charity work. So are there any signs of Ann Mitchell slowing down – absolutely not, she still has important work to do and I for one am delighted to hear it. Thank you Ann, you really are an inspiration to so many and a true legend in our lifetime.

https://www.annmitchell.net/


 

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THE COURAGE TO PICK UP THE BRUSH – IS PAINTING A CHALLENGE YOU WOULD PURSUE?

THE COURAGE TO PICK UP THE BRUSH – IS PAINTING A CHALLENGE YOU WOULD PURSUE?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

It sometimes seems as if certain events as a child shape your future and this certainly had been in the case for many years as a result of one incident that occurred very early on at my school.

I was sent to a Convent at the age of 5 and stayed there until I had completed my education, so a total of 13 years.  I can’t say I hated it, and most of the Nuns were well intentioned, and there were individuals I vividly remember who would make fabulous characters in a books or movies.  One read Jackie Collins books, tucked out of sight under her habit, professing to be censoring them for the older girls.  Another was a frustrated tennis champion, who would have given Navratilova a run for her money, as she seemed to be on the tennis court every day at every opportunity and others who were mostly kind if not a little eccentric.

I say ‘mostly’ because there was one very ‘bad’ Nun, Sister St John who was quick tempered and judgemental, and it all started when I was late for meeting my grandfather in the hall after school, who had been waiting to pick me up.  By the time I had reached him, he had decided to leave me there for another half an hour as I was seeming to enjoy playing with my friends outside.  It actually suited him as he wanted to get something from the local shop, but it led to a tirade of abuse from our ‘bad’ Mother accusing me of being spoilt and a thoughtless brat.

It may seem strange that I remember the incident so well, being only five or six, but it stuck in my mind as Sister St John was the Art Teacher who remained throughout my school education, and seemed to victimise me onwards from that day.

It may also seem a little paranoid, but over the years it was as if I didn’t exist.  She never commented on my artwork and not once did she display any of my paintings on the Art Room wall.  I was really good at Drama and English Literature, and received the highest award in the sixth form for Drama and Poetry, but I left school believing I had absolutely no artistic flair for painting at all.

I was well into my forties before my then husband’s brother who was a painter, challenged me to pick up the brush, something I had resisted for many years.

He told me that if we spent a day together he would teach me to paint and I would have created a picture at the end of it.  He said it didn’t matter how good or bad it was, it was just for me and to overcome the stigma I had carried around with me for so many years.

I agreed, and it was one of the best decisions of my life.  We painted in oils, and I literally let my mind run free as I dabbed paints and mixed colours and applied them to the canvas, resulting in a wonderful amalgamation of free spirited expression.  I didn’t even think about it being good or bad, and decided to give it a go in my free time in the future.

That was 15 or so years ago, and since then I have attended several art classes and courses, and even had my landscape painting displayed on a wall at one of them.

I have also had my abstract work displayed at an art exhibition called ‘Friends and Family’ at The Vaults in London opposite the London Eye, and have recently raised £550 as one of my paintings was auctioned for charity at a local event.

When asked I still say I just paint for passion and I am not very good, but my judgment has to change soon, as when I was having one of my paintings framed in a shop in Islington, a famous singer asked me how much it would be to buy.  I was so shocked I said it was not for sale, but asked her how much she felt it would be worth, to which she replied ‘I don’t know, my husband is the art dealer’.  I still can’t believe I have any talent for painting, but the world seems to be proving me wrong.

So how about you – and it is not about how good or bad you are?  It is all about the courage to pick up the brush, and if you don’t you will never know whether or not painting is for you.

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WONDERFUL ‘LIFE SAVERS’ OVER CHRISTMAS – PAYING HOMAGE TO THE THIRTY PERCENT

WONDERFUL ‘LIFE SAVERS’ OVER CHRISTMAS – PAYING HOMAGE TO THE THIRTY PERCENT

Reading Time: 6 minutes

 

It has been recognised that those who engage and follow the Arts have a chance of prolonging their lives by 30 percent, according to reliable research.  So with this in mind, let’s have a look at how we can begin to re-ignite our own healthy relationship with the Arts if you have let it slide for one reason or another.

Most excuses are ‘it is too far and inconvenient to travel at night’ or ‘theatre is too expensive’ or a multitude of other excuses, all of which can be easily overcome with the accessibility of productions locally and through local cinemas – and discounts that are available online.

So, why don’t we start with the most revered and celebrated Christmas movie of all time A WONDERFUL LIFE which you can watch at home on DVD.  The sheer genius of this film is still relevant today, as it is a sharp lesson in learning to get our priorities right.  We see how a man is devastated by a financial loss, only to realise when being visited by an ‘Angel’ who needs to get his wings, that money can be replaced but the human condition is all that really matters.

 

 

Following a smash-hit run of the Snow White panto last year, the London Palladium Christmas pantomime continues for a fourth consecutive year, this time with a panto adaptation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, features an all-star cast. Starring in the titular role as the one and only Goldilocks is Sophie Isaacs, who is perhaps best known for starring as Annette Hargrove in Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Isaacs is joined by the Julian Clary and Paul O’Grady, who are set to portray the Good and Bad Ringmasters respectively. Also starring in the cast are Gary Wilmot as Dame Betty, Matt Baker as Joey the Clown, Nigel Havers as Daddy Bear, and Paul Zerdin as Silly Billy.

https://www.palladiumpantomime.com/

 

For the discerning palate, “Three Sisters”, Love and longing in 1960s Nigeria.

Owerri, 1967, on the brink of the Biafran Civil War. Lolo, Nne Chukwu and Udo are grieving the loss of their father. Months before, two ruthless military coups plunged the country into chaos. Fuelled by foreign intervention, the conflict encroaches on their provincial village, and the sisters long to return to their former home in Lagos.

Following his smash-hit Barber Shop Chronicles, Inua Ellams returns to the National Theatre with this heartbreaking retelling, directed by Nadia Fall (HomeDara).

https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/three-sisters

 

The Tate Modern has a number of inspiring exhibitions and will never disappoint when you take the kids or grandkids.  Olafur Eliasson’s captivating installations urge you to become aware of your senses, people around you and the world beyond.

Some artworks introduce natural phenomena such as rainbows to the gallery space. Others use reflections and shadows to play with the way we perceive and interact with the world. Many works result from the artist’s research into complex geometry, motion patterns, and his interest in colour theory. All but one of the works have never been seen in the UK before.

Within the exhibition is an area which explores Eliasson’s deep engagement with society and the environment. Discover what an artist’s perspective can bring to issues of climate change, energy, migration as well as architecture.

The kitchen team at Studio Olafur Eliasson have created a special menu and programme of related events for Tate Modern’s Terrace Bar, based on the organic, vegetarian and locally sourced food served in his Berlin studio.

Eliasson has a long relationship with Tate Modern. His glowing sun, The weather project, drew more than two million people to the Turbine Hall in 2003. More recently Ice Watch 2018 brought chunks of ice from Greenland to London. This exhibition provides another unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.

https://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern

 

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