Thursday, 9 December 2010

Layf in th finetic lain

It seems thit meny skools nowidais hav taikin to teechin childrin spelin fineticly. Strait away it ocurd to me thit this cud cos meny problims not unly for th studints but olso for evrybody they may ever cum into kontact with.

If yor tot from day won that yoo need t spel wurds th wiy yoo sey them, won wud hav t wunder wen in layf yood akchily lurn to spel sed wurds corektly. Needlis t sey, spelin fineticly yor entayr layf is gowin t mayk comyoonicaytin a bit of a chalinj. Others arownd yoo may not neseserily hav the saym aksent as yoo, and so they mey pronowns ther wurds difrently to yoo. For ixampl, the avrij Amerikn will pronowns ther wurds entayrly difrent from a Skot, or a Jordy. Comyoonicaytin throo th meedeeum of raytin otomaticly becums a greyt chalinj.

Not ownly wil yoo strugl with interactin with others, but yoo may have dificulty with reedin as yoo will not hav lurnt how to spel th wurds beefor yoo, thus not noin wot they luk layk in corect print. Yoo may never gayn a proper understandin for the Inglish langwij and yoo wil not b opind t th wurld of litrachr.

Leeding a finetic layfstayl cud end up maykin layf dificult. For thows with dedicayshin and pashin, thows who wont to lurn, then they may b mor wilin t pik up th propr way t spel thows wurds wich help us get throo eech day. For th childrin however who dunt reely kare in ther erlier days, they may end up regretin not maykin mor efort wen it caym to stepin away from finetic spelin.

If yoo hav strugld t reed this, I thanc yoo. It has meerly proovn may poynt thit wraytin fineticly is not gowin to b a tacticl lurnin methid.


Tuesday, 30 November 2010

World AIDS Day 2010

Tomorrow we see World Aids Day, a day that cannot receive enough attention. I feel, however, that the day, and indeed the growing problem with Aids, is often overshadowed by other diseases and illnesses. We all know of the major cancer charities, or where to turn to if we wish to donate and help out such illnesses. Ask yourself this though: if you had to today give your spare change to those suffering with Aids, would you know where to look? If you feared you may have contracted the disease, needed help, would you know who to turn to?

People fear Aids. They don't like to talk about it. They don't like to think about it. It is not because they are arrogant, nor is it because they don't care. It is, sadly, because they simply do not know. Aids is considered a filthy, dirty disease that only the most vulgar among us suffer from. This is a world from the truth. If only people were educated on the disease, on how to approach the subject, then maybe help and support for those suffering would be more widespread.

Please use tomorrow as a day to start your learning process; the Internet is bursting with information, and with charities who will often be more than happy to accommodate your queries. Lay the foundations with the information you may already have, and continue to build upon this, each step growing richer with knowledge. Donate if you can; nothing is too little. If you cannot afford to spare money, please still spread the word. The more people who are aware of the disease, the easier it will be to battle it together.

The world is large and there are too many people who unfortunately are suffering from Aids, or perhaps know somebody fighting with the disease. Let tomorrow be the day that you join those who are supporting Aids sufferers in their battle. As one person, we may not feel like we can make a difference, but together we can. With your help, we can take one step closer with the fight against AIDS.

- Amy

Friday, 1 October 2010

'Ask Rhod Gilbert'

He's gruff, he's gorgeous, and he's very very funny.

Yes, I'm talking about Rhod Gilbert. A man who allowed me to fall in love with his comedy after a mere minute of raging in his Welsh tone. When I noticed BBC were bringing us a 'Gilbert-packed' comedy panel show in the form of 'Ask Rhod Gilbert', I was ecstatic. I'd made my mind up prior to it's air date - it was going to be incredible. Was it going to live up to the high expectations I had set it though?

In short: yes. It very much did. The BBC seem to churn out a lot of panel based comedy shows - 'Mock the Week' and 'QI' to name just a few - and while most are brilliant, there are a few bruised apples in the bunch. I did fear that the show in question was going to be part of the latter group of shows, but thankfully it turned out to be polished shiny.

The format of the show is nothing too complicated - you have some questions set at the beginning, ones which certain celebrities would perhaps ask if they were to appear on the show. Most are a little random, and at the same time quite appropriate to the celebrity, and this alone provides some humour before any of the panelists have even shared their comic views. The audience have a turn to ask questions, and again this brings more randomness to mix up the entertainment.

While the panelists are answering the questions in their own ways, there's a lead researcher perched at a desk to Rhod's right, 'researching' to find a possible correct answer to said questions. This is a nice little feature, albeit not essential, and gives the show a little extra zing. In the first episode, this lead researcher came in the form of Kate Silverton, with the two guest panelists being Amanda Byram and Jo Brand. Brand especially provided a large dollop of hilarity with her views on eating meat.

The two wonderfuls Greg Davies and Lloyd Langford are our two regular panelists, so it's a delight that they both provide a lot of laughter. Rhod himself of course spilled jokes and lines throughout the forty minute episode that kept the viewer intently listening and hungry for more.

Viewers have an opportunity to get involved on Twitter, by tweeting a question to the show using the hashtag #askrhod, which then gives them the added excitement of hoping that their question will be answered on the following week's show. In all, the delightful atmosphere the studio set out, when intertwined with the selection of panelists, created a lovely show that was nothing but enjoyale. The aching cheeks, the split sides and the warm fuzzy feeling I was left with completes the package of perfection which 'Ask Rhod Gilbert' delivered.

Amy x

Doctor Who Series 1, episode 9/10 - 'The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances'

Video review:

I'd already discovered the delights of the tenth Doctor before I'd ventured into the world of Eccleston's 'fantastic' Doctor, but it didn't take me long to realise that the first series of the show was just as mesmerising as the second. By the time I reached episode nine, I was already head over heels in love with the leather-jacket wearing, all grinning all bounding nineth Doctor and knew that no matter how dire an episode plot would be, nothing could dampen the mood of such a glorious man. Having skimmed over the plot briefly before viewing however, I felt I had nothing to worry about. I only hoped my prejudgement was going to be correct.

The two parter episodes, 'The Empty Child' and 'The Doctor Dances', may have aired in May of 2005, but it removed us completely from present day and sent us back to London in 1941, during the Blitz. Almost immediately, Rose goes off to venture around, leaving the Doctor to try and source a missing companion. However it's not long before he has even bigger problems, when he realises a lonely little boy looking for his mother is carrying an infectious disease that the Doctor thought could only be alien. Whilst trying to route to the source of this threatening problem, Rose finds herself in the arms of a charming Time Traveller, away from the Doctor.

I'm a massive History Geek, so to have two episodes set during the Second World War was brilliant. The thought alone of combining said era with one of the greatest TV shows of all time was thrilling. Kudos to the costume department - I was incredibly impressed with the array of 1940s clothes used to create the ideal feel. The street sounds, the set designs, the blackened sky lit up by fleeting airplanes; it all created the perfect atmosphere for viewers to experience. I've seem some shoddy shows over the years which simply didn't carry across a genuine enough Blitz presence, but this one was golden.

The quality of the acting was brilliant. I'd have expected nothing less from Chris (Eccleston) and Billie (Piper) - I knew what they were capable of and this they had delivered. However, being a first time viewer of John Barrowman, I was incredibly impressed with his portrayal of Captain Jack Harkness - he allowed me to fall in love with the character immediately, which is only a good thing. Florence Hoath was lovely as Nancy - you could see clearly the mixed emotions which were sunk deep behind her eyes; the fear in her heart for Jamie, which was bundled around the love she helf for him.

I've yet to be disappointed by an episode written by Steven Moffatt - that man's a genuis. I can say the same for James Hawes, director of the two episodes in question. There are some especially beautiful scenes throughout both, ones which have you on the edge of your seat with your heart in your mouth, and others which make you blink furiously to fight back the tears. Hawes also directed my three other personal favourite episodes - definitely fine work there.

If I were to recommend any particular series one episode to a first time Doctor Who viewer, it would without a doubt be these two. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that they're not just one of the best in the series, but one of the best out of the entire twenty-first Century 'Doctor Who' series'. I struggle to find even a smudge of imperfection upon both 'The Empty Child' and 'The Doctor Dances'. They're beautifully frightful and will certainly leave a scar in your mind.

Amy x

Friday, 10 September 2010

EastEnders - Queen Vic fire/Peggy

There are a few key ingredients needed to create a memorable, and indeed spectacular, episode in a television soap. The right characters need to be involved; any strays simply weaken the fabric. The directing, the movement, the sound, they all need to be perfect and appropriate. Excelling in the realms of acting needs to take place, and emotions need to be high. 'EastEnders' this week has provided the exact amount this week in order to make Barbara Windsor's departure one to remember.

When the news broke that Windsor was leaving the show, I like many others was devastated. How could the show function without this much loved matriarch?! I'd well prepared myself for her final scenes, knowing they were going to be unbearable. As a Pyrophobic, watching the beloved Queen Vic pub burn was never going to be easy, but as it slowly disappeared yesterday, I couldn't take my eye off of the screen. A lot of work had clearly gone into those scenes in particular, and it was not an easy set to film I'm sure. However, the atmosphere on screen was beautiful. The entire Square helping one another and working as one; when Zainab helped Syed, I felt the back of my eyes prick - could this be the start of their reunite?

With little Lily upstairs, there was panic that she and Stacey would not make it out alive but luckily lovely Ryan came to their rescue - Walford's own hero. I was naturally pleased with this action, and feel it added to the character greatly. However, even the relief at the end when I realised everybody was safe was not enough to stop me from breaking down.

From the very beginning of Friday's episode, I struggled to hold it together. Seeing Peggy bid farewell to all was heartbreaking from this side of the screen - I cannot begin to imagine what it would have been like to film those beautiful scenes. The golden moment was when Peggy bravely went back into the destroyed Vic, allowing the production to really shine through. The audio clips from Vic scenes previous filled us all with memories galore from the Queen Vic - a sure sign that this building is more than just that.

After her sorrowful goodbyes, we see Peggy looking up at the Vic one last time, her eyes filled with tears, before slowly leaving the Square without looking back. As 'Peggy's Theme' fills our living rooms with its beautifully heart aching sound, tears roll down cheeks and hearts ache as we wave goodbye to one of the most amazing 'EastEnders' characters of all time.

Both episodes at the end of this week were heavenly. I do feel that the final scene in the Vic should have been at the end, just before Peggy left, but other than that it was perfect. The acting was splendid all round, but Barbara especially gave a fantastic final performance as Peggy. I do not recall being so upset watching the show, not since we said goodbye to Dennis, New Year 2005. As it stands, this is the last we shall see of the Square's favourite Landlady, but who knows what tomorrow will bring!

Amy x

Friday, 3 September 2010

Searching through the stars

You sit there, praying for it to happen. You long to turn the corner and see him standing there. You hold your breath in the hope that, somewhere in the distance, you'll hear him approaching. You ache to hear his voice, ensuring you he'll stand by you until the worlds collide. At the end of the Earth, together until the end of time. You think you hear him, calling you. You should out. He never replies.

You look up at the sky, an aeroplane passes overhead. You had hoped it was him, coming to pick you up off the ground and remove all heartache you'd locked inside. You realise you're still standing there, alone in the night with nowhere to go.

You tell yourself he'll be there for you tomorrow. 'He'll come and find me, you'll see'. That glorious being with so much warmth running through him. The fear he holds behind his eyes, the mysterious air around him. His clothes, his hair, his smile. Oh, his smile! Never before could anybody light up the world with a single beautiful smile.

You see him in your dreams. Hear him, feel him. He's out there somewhere. You'll never give up searching, across the galaxies and into the unknown. A man of such depth, such adoration. You need him to notice you; to sense you; to feel you. You need him to take you away. You need him to love you. In your heart, he remains, your mind he won't leave. Your life. Your love. Your Doctor.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

'Larry 1984' - what people do not understand, they fear

You spend hours scouring the web, flitting through thousands of articles. Blog posts. Bulletins. Some are packed with humor, others compelling. Every so often you will come across an article that will remain in your thoughts for some time. Maybe at first you won't realize the impact it will have, but hours after you have absorbed its content, you find yourself lying awake at night. You can see the words, transferred from the screen and now imprinted in your mind. You've no choice but to mull it over, stroking each word and analyzing each paragraph. Such articles are few and far between, but recently my life was enlightened by such a piece.

Beth Broderick. An Goddess of a woman with a heart in every realm. Ms Broderick is a cherished writer for 'The Huffington Post' and just short of a week ago I stumbled across her most recent post on the website. Entitled simply 'Larry 1984', I wasn't sure what its focus was. Thus I wasn't able to prepare myself for any unexpected emotions. My barrier was left down. With an open heart and an open mind, I began to read...

I found myself sucked in to the article from that very moment. Beth wonderfully sets a scene for us. A fairly pleasant little story about a young man in New York City who dreams of his acting career. He has the determination, the passion, the commitment. This is clear to see. It would seem that nothing could stop him.

I only wish I could say it carried on that way. The 'story' takes us to the 1980s, a time when the disease known as AIDS was only just beginning to surface. There wasn't a clear understanding. People were scared. Scared of being infected. Scared of people already suffering.

Beth goes on to tell us of Larry's painful battle, as we watch him grow weaker with each day. You can see him, lying there. So weak. You want to reach out to help him. Save him. But you cannot. You just sit there. Your heart is racing as the words continue to sink deeper. You can feel the back of your eyes pricking as you approach the end of the article, knowing all too well now that this story has just one path.

You read the closing words and a single tear rolls peacefully down your cheek. This is followed by another. And another. They are streaming down your face, cascades of emotion pouring out as you are left feeling helpless, distraught.

I've found myself thinking about Larry frequently since. Even now, I sit here and struggle to put words together - they seem to lose all meaning when you take the time to think about what sufferers have to go through, how impossibly painful it must be in every which way. I praise Beth in all that she does with raising awareness. I think even now, people are too afraid. AIDS is still considered by many to be a filthy disease, something they don't want to be associated with. They do not fully understand how it is contracted. They do not for one second take the time to consider those who are struggling to cope each day as they fight against it, how unbelievably agonizing it must be.

Please do not think that it is just Third World countries have to suffer this ordeal; the disease has spread worldwide. While it seems all is at a loss, we must not think like this. We cannot. We may not have been affected directly, but this does not mean that this is not our problem. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, you can do something today. At the very least, spread the word. Tell others about the epidemic. If you can, make a donation however small. And learn. The more we know about AIDS, the more we can help. People are still often afraid to speak of the disease, but we cannot be. This will not solve anything. If we put all our powers as one, together we can fight this disease that has plagued us all for far too long. We just need to have the strength - the strength to believe and the strength to take action. With Unity, we can overcome AIDS once and for all.

Amy x

Beth's 'Larry 1984' for 'The Huffington Post':

Monday, 10 May 2010

Picking the flowers from the garden of reality

At long last, Spring has finally arrived. The birds are chirping merrily in the sky, the grass is fresh and luscious. Baby lambs bleat their way across the field and flowers are blooming around every corner. The air is filled with the sweet smell of joy and children everywhere are making daisy chains...

SNAP! Yes, that was me snapping back to reality. I can conclude that that is most certainly not the Spring we are faced with. It sounds more like something out of a Monet painting. Which, for the record, are always beautiful. There's something that's so refreshing about Spring, no matter what the weather. Perhaps in previous years we did have that glorious sunshine beaming down on us and allowing our gardens to bloom, but now the Teletubby baby is just looking down and laughing at us from her perch on the sun. We may have rain, we may have breeze, but it is so incredibly delicious. There's nothing more annoying than that 'cheeky Volvic' advert that seems to have infiltrated our televisions just now, but I cannot lie – there really isn't anything as revitalising as water. In this instance, rain water. I find nothing more enjoyable that taking a walk in the rain; a little sun melted softly in the sky, a cool breeze wrapping you up as the rain slowly drifts down and washes out your sorrows. Sensational.

There's something about Spring time that always takes me back to my childhood – Easter always brought great fun in Primary school. This is especially true when it came to our weekly hymn practice. For the life of me I cannot recall the name of this particular song, but we used to sing about an Easter Bonnet and people wearing smiles upon their faces...all very cheerful and sunny. Oh, and of course 'The Sun Has Got His Hat On'...clearly in the '90s, Little Miss Teletubby Sun was still a B-Lister and did not feel the need to hide her face behind overpriced Prada sunglasses.

I have to admit though, Spring time is my second favourite season, narrowly beaten by Autumn. It doesn't seem to last long though. Maybe because it's so damn hard to distinguish the difference between 'Spring' and 'Summer'. They seem to be merged into one – mainly because the weather is generally dreary throughout those months anyway. It's not until we get the luscious Autumn leaves a-tumbling that we realise we are finally out of our so-called sunbathing weather and back into the darker nights. Never fear though – when this happens, it means that Halloween, Bobunk and Christmas are all just around the corner!

As I look out the window upon my city life street, I see cars. I see scaffolding and annoying council vans that cause drilling and hammering from 8am onwards. There's a line of dustbins by the kerb waiting to be emptied, some uncannily naked trees aside them. I long to see a ladybird. I hope for a butterfly to come a fluttering by. There's barely a bird chirping in the sky. I see no daisies, I see no chains. Just muddy floors and filthy windowpanes.

Is this our fault? Have we abolished Spring? Are we just too set in our grumpiness and moaning about the current condition of our country that we forget to truly appreciate the things Mother Nature offered to us to love and cherish for free? It seems that we have lost interest in a vision of beauty and have instead turned our surroundings into a post-scenic wreck. If we just believe, we can have it all back. We can recreate those happy childhood memories so many among us have locked away along with the Easter bunny, fluffy chicks and painted eggs. But instead, we choose to drop our litter, break our fences and hide away in the darkness. It would seem, in a way perhaps not so obvious, that we could be staring Armageddon right in the face...

Amy x

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Youtube is down?!

Never before have I witnessed so much intensity on Twitter. So much stress and inpatience. I am a victim of these traits, for it took one small statement to hinder my plans.

Http/1.1 Service Unavailable

Yes, that's right. Youtube is down. Twitter is going crazy and bloggers are having a feel day. Youtube Partners everywhere must be sweating at the thought of losing precious pennies their videos bring them. And I? Well I had one minute left on a video I was uploading after sitting there twiddling my thumbs for a good part of an hour, and the system decides to simply 'stop working' just before my video had the chance fully upload. Typical.

Of course, not all is at a loss. Providing we visit the link directly, we are still able to view embedded videos, but we cannot sign in. No comments can be left, no messages can be sent, and indeed no five star ratings can be given for those special videos that make you chuckle. So what now?

Well all we can do now is watch the clock. Minutes turn into hours as we refresh the page over and over again, praying that each time, Youtube will be fully functioning once more. Still there has been no explanation sent forward from the site; we remain clueless and left to ponder. The East coast has long surfaced, but only now will millions of Americans be dragging themselves out of bed to discover this terrifying global disaster. All is currently lost, but let's hope it is not for much longer.

So let's all join hands and sing to the heavens in unity, hoping that an everlasting bonding of peace and harmony will bring the beloved site back into action. And if that doesn't work, we can smash our cameras. Kum Ba Ya.

Amy x

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Nine Dead

Time is running out...

When I saw the trailer for Nine Dead last year, I was amazed. Intrigued. You know when you see a clip of a film and you just know that you will not be able to rest until you've seen it? Well at long last I can finally put my mind at ease, as I can officially say I've seen the film - but was it worth the wait?

In short, yes! Within the first few minutes I found myself hooked. You know straight away what the plot of the film is - nine people are held captive and unless they work out why they are there, they are going to die in turn. It's a pretty straight forward plot as far as movies go, yet so gripping. You want to know immediately why the nine are there. As they learn little snippets of information about each other they try and piece together connections, and you find yourself doing the same, trying to unravel the story.

The plan of the killer is to shoot one of the nine every ten minutes until they work out why they are there. This is the one time that clock watching with movies is a good thing. You find yourself frantically skimming your eyes over the clock, calculating how many minutes are left before one more dies. You pray that they resolve this sinister puzzle before the time is up. You want to help them. You long to shout out them when they side track from the point. It's incredibly addictive.

Not only was the film well acted, but it's incredibly scripted and beautifully directed. It is set mainly in the windowless prison of a room where the nine are handcuffed to a wall, and usually the lack of scene changes in a film can become a little tedious and dull but this is so fantastically done that you cannot take your eyes away from the screen, fearing that you will miss something.

The end of the film is quite a surprise; in a way it has two potential endings run together, and then you are still left guessing at the possible outcome, allowing you to make your own mind up. It really annoys me when you sit through a great film, and then find out that the ending is not a scratch upon the rest. Luckily this was not a problem. Even the end credits are worth watching, for they appropriately run Course of Nature's 'Anger Cage' under them.

I can well and truly say that that was an hour and a half of my life well spent. It is truly a fantastic film that has left me hungry for more. It is one I will certainly watch again and again, and have just christened it one of my all time favorite films (alongside The Lion King and Mary Poppins...). If you have yet to see it, it is definitely worth going out of your way to see. You'll not regret it, and that's a promise.


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Let's Dance (Sport Relief 2010) - Ellie Crisell

Just a quick blog update for you...

When I found out Ellie Crisell was taking part in this year's Let's Dance, I was more than ecstatic!

Ellie does mean the world to me, of course she does! She is 50% the reason why I fell in love with TV Presenting (the other 50% naturally being Konnie Huq...) and I am quite surprised that whenever I raise her name in a conversation, I am more often than not responded with 'Who?'.

When I discovered that Louise Minchin too was dancing, I was bordering on being overwhelmed! It was as if the newsreaders group had been put together for my sake. They were just missing Bill Turnbull! Their performance was perfect to say the least, and given Ellie's dancing background I could have expected nothing less!

There were a few remarks made on twitter re Ellie, and I must agree with the fact that she did adopt a much more sexy, 'flaunt it all' persona. A great deal of difference from her squeaky clean Newsround image, for sure! She did look delightful and did not stop smiling throughout the comments, and even when it was announced that they were out of the competition (first, I would like to point out! FIRST!).

So the seven times I voted may have lost me a fiver and may not have helped my Newsreaders trio, but it did leave me feeling proud of myself. I don't tend to vote unless I truly want somebody to progress. I may not have made a difference this time, but I am still incredibly proud of Ellie and the rest. They did fantastically well!

So best of luck to Katy and Rufus, and I cannot wait for Shappi Khorsandi's dance next week - anybody know who she is dancing with? Just a week to go until the excitement can begin again...

I have found a new love, in the form of Sport Relief!

Amy x

(originally posted 20/2/10)


Beth Broderick
"Balls! Balls! Balls! Balls!" - Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Carol McGiffin
"Spotty...Spotty...Spotted...?...OH!...Dick?!" - All Star Family Fortunes

Caroline Rhea
"And a one-a and a two-a and a three-a!" - Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Coleen Nolan
"They're chocolate coated strawberries!" - Iceland advert, Christmas 2009
"My cowboy just touched me ass!" - Nolans tour DVD

Curt Andersen
"Mr Kraft needs milk!" - Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Jackie Brambles
"Robert's on the bird table!" - Loose Women
"Is he messy?...Tissue?" - Loose Women

Salem, Sabrina The Teenage Witch
"Pilgrim! Pilgrim!"
"Your house is on m'fire! You can't m'fire me, I m'quit!"

Tracy-Ann Oberman
"Welcome. To Torchwood!" - Doctor Who

Friday, 19 February 2010

EastEnders Live episode 19/2/2010

19th February 2010, Friday

Wake up. Realise today is the day when the nation finds out who killed Archie Mitchell. Yelp with delight.

Leave for college. Keep thinking of EastEnders to help get through the afternoon.

Turn on the soaps. Realise that EastEnders starts in just an hour. Yelp with delight.

Just half an hour to go. Yelp with delight.

Draw all attention to the television. Control shaking as theme tune starts. Yelp with delight. And breathe...

Scream. Cry. Wail.

I'm now sitting here, watching 'The Weakest Link: EastEnders Special', calming down. I was looking forward to tonight's EastEnders. Of course I was. But at the same time,I was nervous. Very nervous.

There were two main reasons for my uncontrollable shaking, aside from the excitement. First of all, you have the aspect that the show was going to be live. I'd never before watched any show live before, so I had no idea what to expect. I can now confirm though that the show ran amazingly for the thirty minutes. Watching carefully I waited as somebody took a tumble or mumbled up a line. However the whole cast managed to float through their scripts with grace and if any mistakes were made, they went unnoticed.

And the second factor that had me in a tizz was the fact that this was the episode which revealed to us the murderer of Archie Mitchell. I had my predictions: Jack, Ryan, Sean. When dear Lacey whispered in fear at the end, sharing her darkest secret with Max, Stacey's life was setting up to take a dramatic turn. Not for one moment did I believe that Stacey was the killer. In my head I simply could not get it to fit. But now that the secret is out, I can just about adjust to the way the story has turned. I only hope that we do not see the back of Stacey now, that would be horrid!

That brings me to Bradley. Bradders. My fellow Doctor Who lover. The man with the nut allergy. Many people were not very impressed with him when Charlie joined the cast back in 2006, but I have always had a soft spot for Mr Clements. I'd heard so many rumours about Charlie's exit. One said he got shot, others said he committed suicide. It's hard to work out what exactly happened, but all that we know is that Bradley plummeted from the roof of the Vic. He may have jumped, he may have simply lost his balance. Either way he will be truly missed, and I can only hope that one day my heart will stop grieving for the loss of a great character!

The 25th birthday live episode was well and truly a phenomenon. It is one episode that will go down in history, and is something the BBC should be more than proud of. A lot of work has clearly gone into the show and it has certainly paid off. It was a delight to watch, albeit exceedingly emotional, and one that will be a challenge to beat.

EastEnders, you are a gem of a show, no finer one around.

Amy x

Friday, 5 February 2010

Coronation Steet - Peter Barlow, alcoholic

I knew it was coming. Yet I was still astounded.

We all know Peter Barlow was a recovering alcoholic, but I think I speak for the majority when I say I truly thought he was safe from drink. Though, this being 'Coronation Street', we can often be easily deceived. And when Leanne set about opening the bar, trouble was not too far away...

It goes without said that Peter was going to be tempted; surrounded by drink on a daily basis is to be any recovering alcoholic's nightmare. It's like putting a child in a sweet shop and dragging them out before they get to sample the fine delights. Having seen clips, I was aware that Peter was going to slip up, but I was incredibly surprised at the pace of it all.

It's the welcome night at the bar, Leanne is happily swanning around and greeting her guests. And Peter? He's left to his own devices to down all the glasses of champagne he wishes. And just as Ken turns up, with a change in his heart ready to support his son, Peter finally spirals.

And it is not even he who I feel sorry for. It's Leanne. It's Ciaran. It's Ken. It's all those who are hurt by Peter's reckless actions. It broke my heart to see Leanne so distraught, heartbroken. And then I remembered little Simon. That was when I suddenly realised this was not just a case of alcoholism, but of potential child neglect and family disownment...and I'd expect nothing less from 'Coronation Street'!

I must give an enormous amount of praise to the wonderful Chris Gascoyne though. This is naturally not going to be an easy storyline to tackle, but he is doing such a fantastic job at portraying the problem, as I am sure he will continue to do. Peter's problem is most certainly likely to cause a stir across the street, my heart pounding as I wait to find out what happens. Only time will tell as the story unravels itself, and I expect nothing but great things from the soap!

Amy x

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Interview with Lynda Bellingham

Last April I met one of the kindest people I've ever had the pleasure to be around. Of course, I'm talking about the lovely Lynda Bellingham. She took time out of her busy schedule during the 'Calendar Girls' tour to share all with us...

Me: When did you realise you wanted to follow the route of acting?
Lynda: I wanted to be an actress from the age of thirteen. My first public performance semi-pro was as Puck in a 'Midsummer Night's Dream' at the Pendley Shakespeare Festival at Tring in Hertfordshire.

Me: You are a much loved panelist on 'Loose Women' - what do you like best about working on the show?
Lynda: I love the friendship of the other girls and meeting all the guests.

Me: Which fellow panelists are you closest to?
Lynda: Jane McDonald. Carol McGiffin.

Me: You were a delight on 'Strictly Come Dancing'; do you still keep up with the dancing?
Lynda: No, I am ashamed to say I have had no time. But it has helped me when I go to Charity Balls etc because lots of people ask me to dance!

Me: You met your 'Mr Spain' in Spain, do you ever go back to where it all began?
Lynda: We go to Spain whenever we can because we have a villa there. I love it.

Me: This is your second time touring with 'Calendar Girls'. Would you say it is easier this time round as far as 'getting your kit off' is concerned?
Lynda: Yes in a way. I have been helping the other actresses to not feel nervous.

Me: I'd imagine they're very glad to have you around then! You've done a mix of television, film and Theatre, but which would you say you prefer?
Lynda: I love Theatre because it is live - by that makes it more scary. Film is the most fun.

Me: What advice would you give to all the budding actors out there?
Lynda: Keep going at all costs. If you don't believe in yourself you will not survive the knocks. And there are lots of those.

Me: Wise words! And finally, what are your hopes for the future?
Lynda: To keep working and I want to write more books. My autobiography is coming out February 22nd, called 'Lost and Found'.

Well I am certainly looking forward to that! Thank you, Lynda!

Amy x

(Lynda is currently touring the UK with 'Calendar Girls')

Monday, 1 February 2010

Interview with Adam Woodyatt

I was fortunate enough to have the pleasures of interviewing one of the greatest British actors of all time. You may know him as Ian 'Squeal' Beale, also known as the lovely Adam Woodyatt!

Me: You are one of the few left from the original 1985 cast of 'EastEnders' - when you first started out did you think Ian would still be here today? 
Adam: Never thought and still don't look that far ahead, I just look at the end date on my contract.

Me: How well did you think your EastEnders audition initially went? 
Adam: Initially I thought it was a case of don't call us we will call you, then they realised I lived so far away and that a recall would be difficult. They got Julia Smith to come and do another audition there and then. I knew then that I had a good chance of getting it.

Me: Over the years you've worked at EastEnders, who would you say you have been most privileged to work with? 
Adam: The Crew, The Production teams, basically everyone involved with making it. It is a team effort, without everybody doing there jobs, it doesn't get on screen.

Me: We all love the Beale family, but if you were to be placed in another family on the Square which would you like it to be? 
Adam: Masood's.

Me: I imagine life with Zainab would be very eventful! Obviously we never want Ian to leave, he's such a cherished character. Do you think you'd like to stay with the soap right to the very end, or would you want to branch out a bit more with roles? 
Adam: What could I do with another role that I don't get to do with Ian, over the course of the year I will get to play a far wider range of emotions in EastEnders than if I was in a one off drama.

Me: As well as television you've also done a bit of theatre work. Is that something you think you could do long term? 
Adam: Fitting it around our schedule is difficult but if something was offered that fits with the filming schedule and my other commitments then I would consider it.

Me: What do you like to do in your spare time when you're not at work? 
Adam: Support Liverpool FC, go on holiday.

Me: You're such an inspirational actor, is there anybody you look up to? 
Adam: Look up to is probably the wrong phrase, I just try and do my job the best I can. Actors that I really like? Steve McFadden, Nitin Ganatra, Jake Wood.

Me: What advice would you give to all those budding actors out there? 
Adam: Get an education or a skill that you can fall back on if it doesn't work out. Listen and react, know what your character thinks of the people he is with or referring to, where he has been. If you know where he is going (storywise) you will have a journey to follow and can pace the development of the character in that situation but remember we only have an idea where we are going in the real world, we don't know the future. That is why we never used to get told the future storylines so that we wouldn't "sign post" with our performance what was coming as a surprise.
Me: And finally, do you have any hopes for the future? 
Adam: Good health!

A huge thank you, Adam!

Amy x

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Secret Diary of a Call Girl Series 3

Five years now Billie Piper has been a huge part of my life. You could say she has been my life. She sparked my love for 'Doctor Who', and the period dramas she brought us following on were something I fell heavily in love with. Though Piper's most 'moving' project following her departure from the beloved sci-fi show is by far 'Secret Diary of a Call Girl'; the intimate adventures of London Call girl Belle De Jour. Series one was a godsend, and the second was all the more delightful. So when series three finally aired this evening, I was beyond ecstatic. But was it going to deliver?

A few years after it all began and our Belle is now a best-selling author, in secretive of course. Her adventures in London continue, with a queue of client fantasies waiting to be fulfilled. As we could expect though it is not all as straight forward as Belle would like. Intertwined with her whoring preparations Hannah now has to deal with the interference of her curious sister Jackie, as well as the pressures to write a second book and the sly remarks from those cursed with jealousy. It may only the beginning, but already life for Belle is heating up!

As with the previous series', we are presented with not only a wonderful plot to keep us engaged but also a fantastic cast. Of course we have Billie, who is an utter delight (and I must add, looks fantastic post-baby!). We still have Ben too, again portrayed by Iddo Goldberg. There was a specific scene where for a moment I saw a mirror image of David Tennant in him, which was quite a shock to say the least. Goldberg is a charming actor, definitely well suited to the role. I was delighted to see Bambi was still as important as ever, another fantastic performance from the lovely Ashley Madekwe. Though we also have Jackie now as well, who although we'd seen her in glimpses we truly get to unravel the character now. Portrayed by Joanne Bobin, this is one character I look forward to seeing more of!

There's clearly a fantastic team of script writers behind the show. The language is quite strong, but is in a context such that it is not too vulgar or offensive, and feels part of natural conversation. There's a touch of humor to the show too, with one particular conversation which went as follows:

Bambi:"Is it because I'm common? Is it because I'm Black?"
Belle:No is because you're a whore you muppet!

It's so basic but so clever. And the second that caught my attention was when Belle simply claims, "Get out of my sister! It really is a wonderfully scripted show, award worthy alone for its charming use of language.

So we're two episodes into the series and so far there's not a scratch of negativity or flaw. It had been said that this series was going to be more raunchy that before, however so far I see no sign of this. Nonetheless, knowing Belle she is likely to have a few surprises up her sleeve for us in the upcoming episodes. Needless to say it is not for the faint hearted or easily offended, but if you don't mind a bit of whore then this is one that you cannot let pass by. Billie has done a fantastic job yet again with capturing our attention and I for one cannot wait for the rest of the series!

Amy x

Mock the Week Series 8

(Written 21/1/2010)

Over the last year or so I have become a massive fan of 'Mock the Week'. The show, presented by Dara O'Briain, is one of the greatest comedy shows around. It never fails to entertain me with its exciteful topics and witty panelists. I've had just enough time to catch up with as much of the previous series' as I could, when I was alerted that Series 8 was soon to begin. And just a few weeks after finding out the news, the new series finally began! But there was one change that was apparent from the word go...

The lack of Frankie Boyle. When he had announced that the previous series was his last, a cloud of devastation cast over all fans of the show. He was such an asset to the show and nobody really knew how it was going to turn out. Thankfully there was no noticeable changes to the set, and the lovely Dara was still in the anchor chair. We still had the gorgeous Russell Howard too; thank goodness for that, I wouldn't be able to cope otherwise, as well as Andy Parsons and Hugh Dennis. They were joined by Milton Jones, Patrick Kielty and Mark Watson. Now Mark Watson is amazing, so I was thrilled about that, but I had no idea who the other two were. I was hoping I was about to be introduced to two new comedy loves, but was this going to be the case?

As I had expected, the comedians I was already familiar with brought me nothing but delight, however I was not too impressed with Kielty and Jones. Milton Jones scares me incredibly, though I cannot actually work out what it is about him that makes me shiver. Whilst what Patrick Kielty was saying was funny, I had heard it all before, and I cannot be sure that I have heard it all through him before either! They were a bit of a letdown, but thankfully the positives outweighed the negatives. The jokes and lines given by Russell stood out quite a bit, especially the one he conducted about Frankie and a line about Kerry Katona, which alone is something to watch the show for! I shan't spoil it, but I can promise that you will laugh!

The show itself ran smoothly as usual with the usual format of scripting to videos and 'Unlikely Things to Hear', and the half hour show was generally a delight to watch. Yes, it is a little different without Frankie but it's not too much of a disaster and it still holds humour as hoped! There are six episodes in total throughout the series, each one aired on Thursday at 9pm on BBC2. It is definitely worth making an effort to watch, whether as it airs or on iPlayer at a later time. I believe Sarah Millican is going to be on the show next week which is definitely something worth tuning in for! An all round brilliant start to a series; I cannot wait for the rest!

Amy x

National Television Awards 2010

(Written 21/1/2010)

What do you get if you take a large room, fill it with famous 'telly' people, add some sparkly frocks and line up a bunch of shiny awards? Why, it's the National Television Awards of course! And this year brought us another evening filled with tears of joy and emotion as the nation's most loved shows and celebrities go head to head to find out who truly is the best of the best...

Last night the awards kicked off with a wonderful performance from last year's X Factor winner, 'Joe McElderry'. As much as this was a fantastic way to start the show, it soon became apparent that this ceremony very much had the X-Factor. Not only was it opened by our winner, but it was also hosted by the show's presenter, Dermot O'Leary. And if that wasn't bad enough, we also had a very 'X Factor' style introduction, and to top it off the King of television, Simon Cowell himself was almost sitting on the stage. With the initial stress out of the way, it was time to relax and actually enjoy the awards!

So the first award we were faced with was the 'Best Entertainment Programme'. Dannii Minogue, who officially announced her pregnancy on stage, and Tess Daily presented the award, which was quite nice, with the first win of the evening going to the lovely Ant and Dec. I love those two and they truly did deserve this for their Saturday Night Takeaway!

Following on we saw 'Gavin and Stacey' win Best Comedy Programme and Lacey Turner taking home the title of Best Serial Performance. I was thrilled to bits for Lacey when they announced the winner - 'EastEnders' have tackled Stacey's Bipolar Disorder amazingly, and Lacey has done such a wonderful job with her portrayal that no finer actress could have won that category.

Stephen Fry went on to win the Star Travel Documentary Award for his 'Stephen Fry in America', with Craig Gazey taking home the Best Newcomer award for his portrayal of Graeme in 'Coronation Street'. Again another well deserved award, such a talented actor with amazing comic timing.

Following on from this William Roache and Jack P. Shepherd give us a look at what is to come in the next few months of 'Coronation Street', and my breath was well and truly taken away. There seems to be what can only be described as insanely exciting storylines ahead of us; I am now more excited for 'Corrie' more than ever!

We were next brought the Best Drama Award, and much to my delight the award went to 'Doctor Who'. I was a little disappointed when David left all the talking to Bernard Cribbins, though he is incredibly funny and very lovely so it was not too devastating! After this little treat we were given another - in the form of John and Edward a.k.a Jedward. Singing their new single, 'Under Pressure', they sprang about the stage with more energy than ever and although this added to the X Factor connections it was still a delight and a wonderful way to create a break in the show.

The next category brought to us was Best Factual Programme, and as soon as I heard those words my heart began to leap. I knew exactly how I wanted this one to go, but whether or not I'd be granted my wish I didn't know. 'Loose Women' was going head to head with shows such as 'Come Dine With Me' and 'Top Gear', all of which are amazing. Though it did occur to me that 'Loose Women' have won every award they've been nominated for over the past few years, if I am not mistaken, and I had a feeling tonight was not going to be an exception. Well the second they were announced as the winners, I screamed. I jumped up. And a single tear slid down my cheek as I jumped around with delight. I must apologize to my Twitter followers as I did go slightly insane then, I did get a little overexcited! Well done to my Loosies, you all looked radiant and you well and truly deserve the win!

Then it was time for the Special Recognition which over the years has gone to many greats such as Jamie Oliver, Ant and Dec and Jeremy Clarkson. And this year the award went to the wonderful Stephen Fry. Although I knew very little about his life, in this one evening I learned so much about him and understood instantly what a fantastic character he is. Definitely a brilliant person to be chosen for the award.

We had just three awards left, and there was no surprise that the Talent Show Award went to the 'X Factor'. That went without saying. And then our Best Drama Performance Award went to the gorgeous David Tennant. Needless to say I was positively ecstatic. I got incredibly emotional with his speech, and as soon as they played his final clip in 'Doctor Who', I am not ashamed to admit that I cried. A lot. David is the finest actor to walk this planet and no greater man could have been chosen for the award.

Our last award is possibly the one that people look forward to the most. Yes, I am talking about the Serial Drama Award. It would seem that 'EastEnders' win this more often than not, but this year 'Coronation Street' took the trophy home, beating 'EastEnders', 'Emmerdale' and 'Hollyoaks' also. There has been a lot of negative words said about this win, but I must say that I feel 'Corrie' well and truly deserve it. I feel that the last few months with 'EastEnders' have been all about the Mitchells, and while I do love them, I feel that 'Coronation Street' has given us a much wider view of the show and enlightened us to a greater range of storylines and emotions.

So that's the NTAs down for another year, and we can only hope that we have another year of amazing television to make the awards all the more exciting next year. My fingers are crossed that 'Loose Women' walk away with an award in 2011, but only time will tell. A massive congratulations to all the winners last night, each and every one of them have done fantastically. Maybe one day I will be presenting the show or perhaps even winning an award myself (!) but until then I shall continue to enjoy the event on the box!

Amy x

Tracy Beaker Returns

(written 9/1/2010)

Sitting in the cinema, I tap my feet along to the music in the trailers. Another cereal advert. I don't mind trailers, I just never seem to pay much attention to them. On this particular day I was more interested in the 3D glasses hanging off my face as I waited to indulge in the festivities of 'A Christmas Carol'. Though when I heard a voice booming through the speakers, I snapped to attention. Is that...? No, it can't be! It is! Dani Harmer giving us the lowdown on her return to Tracy Beaker. Well, I never! It seemed that everybody in the cinema shared a sense of delight with this news. And personally, I could not wait!

As a child, Dani Harmer was very much a huge part of my life. 'Tracy Beaker' is one of the single greatest shows of all time; so brilliantly acted and wonderfully scripted. Of course I was devastated when it finally ended after its four year stint, but the show ended on such a high. I did wonder if bringing the show back was going to be a good idea - it ran the risk of ruining the magic that is Tracy Beaker. Only time would tell. And how slowly that time passed...

Finally that day came on the 9th January 2010 when I would once again be acquainted with a childhood love. But was I going to be filled with the same warm and fuzzy feeling as I was in the years previous? To answer bluntly: yes. But it's not all that simple.

We start off in the Dumping Ground and the children are watching TV. Seems normal? But then we notice Tracy Beaker is on the television, advertising her self-published book - all about her life in the Dumping Ground. It's quite a rosy start, but it was soon to change.

Following on we see Tracy arrested for 'stealing' Cam's credit card to self publish her books. Although the charges are soon dropped, I do feel that this negative opening is not something that should be on children's television. Yes, it highlights morality, but it's not really the style of the show. Nonetheless everything looks up from there. It goes as follows: Tracy bumps into Mike. Tracy visits the Dumping Ground. Tracy gets job at Dumping Ground. Tracy causes chaos.

And that is the one thing that made this so incredibly nostalgic. Had they made Tracy change her ways completely into a goody-two-shoes character, the show would simply not be believable. Yes she has matured slightly, but she is still feisty, she still has her attitude, and yes she still has her temper too! Now twenty years old I worried Tracy might not exactly fit in, but Dani has not actually changed a great deal since the her last series so it does work well.

The opening show was 50 minutes long, which is 20 minutes longer than what the rest of the thirteen episodes are going to be. I feel that having an extended pilot can only be a good thing, as it gave me plenty of time to fully absorb the new atmosphere, the unfamiliar characters. First of all I was surprised to notice just how different the Dumping Ground was. Since this series was filmed in Newcastle, a new location was going to be needed. I was quite shocked at how different they made it look though. It looks very cluttered and slightly 'mature', not at all the colourful attraction I was expecting.

As far as the characters go, I am quite torn between opinion. I like how they have created characters similar to those in past series'. We have Gus, who reminds me of a slightly older version of Peter Ingham (Series 1). Carmen resembles Alice (Series 5) in many ways too. Though I do find the children are all too similar in age; either very young or nearing half-way house age. There is also a lot of children too, some of which are not listed on the official website ( - check it out!).

As far as careworkers go, I was not really that impressed with Gina! She is simply too strict for my liking! However, it is a completely different story with Mike! I have adored Mike right from Series 1, and was thrilled to find out he would be returning for this. Connor Byrne is such an amazing actor, this simply would not be the same without him. I would have liked Elaine The Pain and Jenny to have been in this too, so my fingers are crossed that they get a mention further down the line! Also, the lovely Lisa Coleman has brought Cam back for us, which is wonderful. It's great to know that after all these years she and Tracy are still so close.

One thing that I felt was a bit of a let-down is the credits. Series 1-5 had the most spectacular credits with a wonderfully catchy and emotional theme song. We still have the occasional flashes into Tracy's mind where we see a cartoon image appear on screen, but I found it to be less frequent. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but I do feel that they could have used an altered version of the old theme tune.

All in all it was a pretty delightful episode! Although I do not feel the characters are as strong as last time, there is still a good mix of personalities in there to help keep plots strong. I have a good feeling about the other episodes to follow, and I can only hope that I am not disappointed! Several times through out I was drawn to tears, and already filled with nostalgia, the little moments seemed more magical. To be completely honest I do not think this show is something that children are going to fall in love with if they are not already fans of Tracy Beaker, but for us big kids who are in need of that trip down memory lane, this is a great way to recapture your childhood, for the Beaker's back!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Interview with Ellie Crisell!

There are three people in my life who I cherish most with my career. We have Andrea McLean, who is a sensation and such an inspiration. If I am half as successful as she is, I will be ecstatic. We then have two more lovelies who have played possibly the greatest part in shaping who I am. As a child I spent a lot of my time watching 'CBBC', and this brought me two great presenters: Konnie Huq and Ellie Crisell. Both are amazingly admirable professionals and influenced my career greatly, and I was fortunate enough to get in touch with the latter...

Me: You trained in Dance before you went on to study Broadcast Journalism - did you always know this was something you wanted to do?
Ellie: I used to watch Newsround and practise reading the news infront of the mirror as a kid! As I got older I was keen to have some kind of performing career but then felt I'd like to marry my love of reading and writing and curiosity about people with performance - it was either Broadcast Journalism or become a barrister, actually!

Me: Who has been your career inspirations?
Ellie: I grew up with John Craven and Moira Stewart reading the news - I admired both of them but truthfully, my parents have been my biggest influences. My dad is a Professor of Media and my mum is a Judge so there was a lot of media and law chat around our dinner table!

Me: You're worked for newspapers, radio and television - which would you say you prefer?
Ellie: Newspapers, Radio and TV are all enjoyable in different ways. I have loved the newspaper journalists I've come across - they are such fun and so talented. They can have quite a ruthless, cynical streak which I totally admire and a wicked sense of humour.
Radio is much more chilled out than TV, full of nice, friendly people and there is a lot more freedom to be creative.
TV is glamorous and you feel, particularly working in the BBC TV newsroom, that you are really in the centre of things. I love the excitement of live TV - it's a total buzz and it does not feel like work!

Me: You became a childhood idol for many when you became part of the CBBC 'Newsround' team in 2003. What are your highlights from working on the show?
Ellie: Newsround was a wonderful 5 years for me. The team were (and continue to be) enormous fun. I had great friends there and the whole production office had a lot of input into the programme, so you really felt your opinion mattered and you were part of something great. There is an enormous fondness across the nation for Newsround, so it's just a privilege to work for such a treasured programme that, let's face it, performs a unique role. There is no other television news for children and we felt we had an important, valued job to do.

Me: With a child of your own now, do you ever worry what he may be exposed to while watching television?
Ellie: My little boy is nearly two and I let him watch CBeebies, which he loves. I'd hesitate to let him watch anything else at the moment, mainly because of the number of adverts on other channels. But CBeebies is a nice combination of education and fun with no adverts of course, and I don't think it does him any harm to watch a little bit now and again, under my supervision.

Me: Social networking sites are on the increase. How do you feel about having fanpages dedicated to you with titles such as "Ellie Crisell from Newsround Massively Hot" (Facebook)?
Ellie: On the odd occasion I've googled myself I've felt a combination of pride and horror at what I've seen! Of course it's flattering to have fan groups, but there is just as much criticism as praise out there for anyone in the public eye and it's sensible to try and avoid reading too much. When I first got the job my dad said to me - don't believe your own publicity - not the good stuff, not the bad stuff, just keep your feet on the ground and stay true to yourself - and that's what I try and do. All that stuff is just part of the job I do - it's not who I am privately.

Me: Which presenters/broadcasters to you admire now? Anybody you'd like to work alongside?
Ellie: I have enormous admiration for many of the senior broadcasters here at the BBC - there are too many to mention, truthfully. I feel, as a younger member of the team, I have a lot to learn and it's a challenging environment for me. Good to keep on your toes though!

Me: What advice would you give to all the budding Journalists out there?
Ellie: For budding journalists - start reading newspapers/watching news as early as you like - the more you read about the world, the more interesting it becomes. Work hard and expect to continue working hard. Foster an interest in people and world events - after all - news is really just gossip of one sort or another!

Me: What are your hopes for the future?
Ellie: I'd like to become better at what I do and continue to work for the BBC - it's the best known and loved broadcaster in the world and I still get a huge buzz to be working in their newsroom.

Thank you, Ellie!

Amy x

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Interview with Dee Thresher

For several years now I've been addicted to Dee Thresher's celebrity fitness DVDs, and finally I am privileged enough to have the pleasure of interviewing her. Enjoy!

Me: How did you first get into fitness and personal training?
Dee: Started going to the gym and doing classes when I was working as a secretary in London, but was dragged there initially by my friend as she fancied the instructor! Became a regular and one day the instructor didn't turn up so I took the class and got the buzz from then.

Me: Have you always been a lover of keep fit and exercise?
Dee: I have danced from a young age but was never good at team sports, so this job was ideal for me.

Me: You've worked with various celebrities to help them lose weight with their own fitness DVDs; which would you say you enjoyed the most?
Dee: I have enjoyed them all and love seeing the results not just from celebs but every day clients.

Me: Are there any celebrities you'd like to reach out to and help?
Dee: None that spring to mind but always open to suggestions!

Me: What is your favourite form of exercise?
Dee: Dance for sure, but love powerful hard exercise that makes you feel great after.

Me: You're a columnist for 'Reveal' magazine - is writing something you think you'd like to do more of?
Dee: For sure, I would like to reach out to all sorts of people hence the TV work I do too.

Me: What would be your top fitness tip?
Dee: Find something you enjoy doing and the you will stick to it.

Me: What are your hopes for the future?
Dee: I would like to do more media work and keep teaching my classes which I love.

A star in many ways, thank you Dee!

Amy x

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Interview with Costaki Economopolous

There's something wonderful about British humor, but it generally falls into similar categories. Though if you stumble upon American comedy, you'll find that it is much more versatile. I first fell in love with American stand-ups thanks to one special person who goes by the name of Caroline Rhea. And it just so happens that Caroline's partner too is a stand up comedian, introducing me to a whole other world of laughter. Meet Costaki Economopolous!

Me: Your comedy career really came to light whilst at University - would you say your studies helped your acts at all?
Costaki: Yes- and actually in graduate school I was a teaching assistant and led the discussion groups and instruction for classes in political science and that helped me with being in front of "an audience."

Me: Did you always know you wanted to go into comedy?
Costaki: Yes, but I didn't think it was really possible, so I prepared to teach American government- my fallback position.

Me: Where do you most like to perform?
Costaki: I love good clubs. A smallish place where folks know to come see good comedy. And theaters where they know me are great too.

Me: What have been your career highlights so far?
Costaki: How about meeting the mother of my child at The Atlanta Punchline? I'ts my old home club and where Care and I met.

Me: Who were your career inspirations?
Costaki: There are a lot. I continue to be inspired and impressed by comics around me all of the time. But nobody influenced me as much as George Carlin.

Me: Where do you find ideas for your acts?
Costaki: Anything that really bugs me is a good place to start.

Me: You now have a little daughter - do you hope she will follow in your footsteps?
Costaki: I hope that kid does whatever she wants. If it's comedy, that's great. But I support her to follow her heart, wherever it leads her.

Me: What advice would you give to budding stars out there?
Costaki: Do the homework. Study the greats. Write. Write some more. Rewrite. Ask questions. Get on stage as much as you can. Drink it all in.

Me: What are your hopes for the future?
Costaki: I'd like more media exposure to help build an audience- especially more stand up on television.


Thanks, Amy x

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Robbie Williams - Reality Killed the Video Star (review)

Robbie Williams is the creator of some of the most controversy in the world of music. Much like Marmite, he is either loved or loathed. And I must admit that while I do not mind his music too much, I am not exactly fond of him as a person. Arrogant, cocky and audacious are three words that spring to mind. I had never intended on listening to his latest album, but when asked to share my views on 'Reality Killed the Video Star', I realized I had nothing to lose...

With downloads becoming increasingly popular, CD sales are naturally decreasing so it is important for a label to sell the albums with an attractive cover. I must give Mr Williams praise here. Where a lot of artists are going for more 'modern' styles, with unnatural backdrops and bright colours that creates more than an eyesore, this album has something a bit more calm. Robbie is astride a motorbike, resting lethargically on the front, with a dusty plane painted behind him. It's quite peaceful and relaxed, not at all 'in your face'.

Okay so so far I was reasonably impressed, but I had to explore the tracks. Scanning down the song list, I noticed that I knew of just one of the options - not surprising at all. Not knowing what to expect, I set myself up ready to listen, hoping for a pleasant experience...

The first track on the album is 'Morning Sun' - a beautiful title for a song. Much to my surprise, this was equally as peaceful and melodic. It's quite gentle and has such a soothing aura. It turns out that Robbie actually wrote the song as a tribute to the late Michael Jackson. As much as my admiration for both artists is lacking somewhat, that still brought a tear to my eye.

Following this we have something a bit more tempo. 'Bodies' is one of Robbie's latest hits to reach the charts, and I must say it is quite catchy. I'd not really attached to any of his releases since 'Rudebox' in 2006, so I was quite pleased that he had finally released something else. Now I had expected this to be the first track on the album to kick start things off with a bit of bounce, but it's still a great song and having it as the second track is not a bad thing at all!

The pattern begins to flow as we enter another gentle track, with 'You Know Me'. I hate to admit it, but this is one of the most beautiful tracks I've heard in a long time. It's so lovely and warm, and the vocals are so precise. Mr Williams, I am impressed with this one!

'Blasphemy' is our fourth track, yet another slow paced song with a soothing tempo. The lyrics are beautiful and worth paying attention to, rather than just listening to the rhythm with half an ear open. Again, the vocals are delightful and this is certainly another to draw a tear or two.

My mood was starting to lower at this point and I was hoping for something a little more uplifting with the next track. Thankfully, it was spot on. 'Do You Mind' is not so powerful that my body went into shock with the sudden change, but it did have a bit more spring in it that the previous few tracks. Its upbeat tempo was perfect for giving my spirits that little lift they desired, and better still it was an all round good song too!
'Last Day of Disco' approached next. I wasn't sure what to make of it when I first listened. It has quite a techno rhythm to it but the vocals are more gentle than I would have expected. It isn't a bad track as such - it has no significant flaws - it simply is not to my taste. I feel it will grow on me in time though.

Following this we have 'Somewhere'. Now I've found that pretty much every song with the word Somewhere in the title has been very peaceful. While this song is not too paced, its the length that struck me the most. At a little over a minute this isn't a typical song. Though despite its length it does stick with you and has the most beautiful ending.

The eighth track on the album is 'Deceptacon'. When the first word of a track is 'microwave', it is fair that I was quite amused from the beginning. It's another soft song, flowing beautifully with such soothing vocals. Although it is not my favourite song on the album, it is still wonderfully pieced and one certainly worth listening to.

'Starstruck' is our next track, and right on cue it gives us a fairly upbeat tempo. It has quite a bounce to it and although the lyrics are not too catchy, the rhythm makes up for that by far. Not a song I'd buy on its own, but still quite a good track for the album.

The title of the tenth track is a little unusual. 'Difficult for weirdos' had me intrigued straight away, and I was quite surprised at the pace of the song when it began to play too. It is definitely one of the most energetic tracks on the album, a lot more upbeat. Again this is not exactly to my taste but the song itself is not too bad. Though I don't think I'll be listening again to this one in a hurry.

'Superblind' is our second last track, and by this point things start to wind down usually. Thankfully, Robbie does not break the 'rule' with this one. Although it isn't really a catchy song, it still flows wonderfully and is a great one for relaxing to.

Last but not least we come to 'Won't Do That'. It's important that the last track on an album is quite powerful as it is generally the one that gives us our final impression. Thankfully, this one did create an impact. Although it's a little more uptempo than the previous track, it is still quite soothing and most certainly one of the most splendid songs on the album. A great way to end!

Priced at around £10, this is definitely an album worth buying. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am not a fan of Robbie Williams. Although I still am not keen on himself, I must admit that I do like his music a lot more than before. I think this is partly because I've never really given it the chance, but now that I have sat down and dedicated the time to Mr Williams, I have to admit that I am quite impressed. He is a great artist, I cannot deny that, and maybe in time I will come to love his personalty. Until then though, I shall just gorge in my new found appreciation for his latest album!

Amy x

Friday, 1 January 2010

Doctor Who - End of Time

Jumping in the Tardis and going back to Christmas Day 2005, I discovered a television show that was about to change my life. Doctor Who, Christmas Special, The Christmas Invasion. David Tennant and Billie Piper. It was all new to me. I had missed an entire series, the show passing me by for months. Until it finally crossed my path, ready to become the most important thing in my life.

I finally caught up on the first series of the show, and began gorging on episodes day after day until I knew the scripts word for word. Then I brought myself back to the present ready to enjoy series 2. So much wonder, so much delight. And then Doomsday struck.

Seeing Billie leave Doctor Who was one of the most heart aching things on television. she had become, and still is, one of the most important people in my life with so much say over what I do. I couldn't believe it. Nonetheless I carried on watching the show albeit with difficulty, and powered through another two series'.

And then the news that would top all news was broken. David Tennant announced his departure. How could this be? He was the man who introduced me to the show, the man who I adored over for many years. And he was leaving the single show that had transformed my life, my opinion, my personality. How would I cope?

During the run up to the show I tried to prepare myself for the departure as best as I could. I'd found out that both Billie and Camille Coduri would be returning to the final episode, and this did give me a glimpse of excitement. Only time would tell how I was going to react...

As the episode started, my heart was racing. I knew exactly what was coming - I knew the verdict - but I didn't know how it was going to develop. Seeing Christopher Eccleston regenerate into Tennant was not too distressful - because I fell in love with Tennant first it was like I was losing one thing to get something better. But with this, I wasn't sure how I was going to react to Matt Smith. There had been a lot of controversy when it was first announced that he was going to be playing the 11th Doctor. I personally was worried. Although he has been in a lot of shows with Billie, and his acting skills are wonderful, I just wasn't sure if he was going to suit the role of the Doctor.

Finally the episode got underway, and I'd just like to point out my new found love for Bernard Cribbins. Wilfred Mott was a character I fell in love with straight away when we were introduced to him back in Series 4, but never did I think I would have such a level of affection for him. I do wish Catherine Tate was in it more than she was, but I'm thrilled she was still there. As for the Master, well that's a whole different story...

I was never fond of the Master. I knew we hadn't seen the last of him at the end of Series 3, but I never thought he'd be involved in Tennant's last episodes. To be fair, I think his part in it all was a bit rocky. Throughout both the Christmas episode and the final, he was played out to be the central character aside the Doctor. Having nearly every human in the universe as a version of himself was a big deal for a while. Then the Timelords storm in and reverse this. Guns are pointed. The Timelords and The Master disappear. I think the Doctor should have grieved a bit more than he did. Deep down I am thrilled - if Tennant expressed any more emotion I may just have died. But as far as the quality of the episode, I think they could have made a bigger deal of the Master's departure.

Even though the end was drawing closer, as soon as the Doctor went to get his 'reward', my face lit up slightly. When all the wonderful characters came back at the end of Series 4, I was ecstatic. And now, they were all back again. Billie, Camille, Freema Agyeman, Noel Clarke, Elisabeth Sladen, John Barrowman...and all the aliens. The music intertwining was taken from series past. Emotions ran high. It was amazing. When the Doctor came face to face with Rose it did take me a while to realize that it was in the past, and I thank you Doctor Who for this. Had it been present day and the Doctor had to face Rose and tell her he was dying, I wouldn't have been able to cope. Thank you.

The tears streaming down my face and my heart still racing, the infamous regeneration takes place and we say goodbye to the gorgeous David Tennant, and come face to face with Matt Smith. Our new Doctor. In the short few moments we saw him, I actually had to blink a few times to make sure it was him. He sounded like Tennant, he looked like Tennant. But he wasn't Tennant. I'll admit his few few moments were good, and he may just excel, but he will never be David. He can never be David. Our Tenth Doctor is dead, and in many ways so are all the characters from the first four series'. The Doctor cannot interact with them in the same way. So it is time to take that blank canvas and star afresh. The memories will always be there, the most cherished things I possess, but it is time to look at the show in a new light.

Not as a life any more, but a past time.

Amy x