Monthly Archives: October 2018


Just a brief post on the greatness of great authors. I know. It’s sort of obvious, but why haven’t they asked more authors (of proper books) to come and write for the Doctor? Malorie Blackman’s Rosa was simply perfect.

Doctor Who - Rosa

Rosa, about Rosa Parks, in Montgomery in 1955, fitted in not just Whovian stuff and time travel, but it provided a whole section on [black] history. For us older viewers, this might seem like old news. But how many younger ones have not actually learned this at school [yet]? Maybe never will, the way things are going.

How useful to have a bus driver on the Tardis team, and a police officer in training! Not to mention a black man of today, discovering how far away 1955 really is, despite things seeming bad now.

More Malorie episodes, please!

(Photo © BBC)

Blue Peter at 60

I quite agree, shampooing a camel isn’t the first thing anyone expects to be doing. But it’s the sort of thing that happens on Blue Peter.

And no one expected Blue Peter to last sixty years, either, I imagine. But here they are, sixty years on, still making stuff out of washing-up liquid bottles, handing out badges and generally inspiring children to do things.

I believe Offspring managed three badges between them, which was pretty good, and we did two bring and buy sales (and please, no more of those, ever!). Not having grown up with BP, I don’t have childhood presenters. To me, all the old ones are just that; old. People who seem nice and who are wheeled out when there is a reason. And I loved the pooing elephant.

My presenters are the same as Offspring’s, going from Diane-Louise Jordan to Matt Baker. I loved most of them, but some more than others. I just had to Google Meg, Matt’s dog, to see if by some miracle she’d still be alive. Alas, no.

Watching the 60th birthday show I was struck by how out of touch I’ve become. I’m sure the music would have sounded better to my old ears if I’d continued to watch. Which, I did promise myself I’d do, back when Offspring suddenly got too old. But you move on.

Glad to see they still get up to unlikely things. Loved seeing Radzi on that Royal Navy aircraft carrier. It was a bit NCIS, really. And it’s surely a sign of Blue Peter’s status that it didn’t seem at all strange.

Nor was it odd to see Lindsey learn to operate a hot air ballon and to go to Finland to fly the BP balloon on her own, in freezing weather, landing – softly – on snow. It’s what they do. And it’s what I’m very grateful I don’t have to even begin to consider doing.

Happy 60th to you!

Tea for two?

It was only as my anger subsided a little, that it struck me. What if a lone, single person wanted to take afternoon tea at the Allan Park Hotel? Admittedly, I do know the rest of the world would consider solitary tea an odd thing to engage in. But I used to go alone, and like it, quite often in my younger days. And the reason for us doing a recce this week, was so Pippi could be taken somewhere nice when she arrives. And she often has tea alone.

There was much to annoy very slightly, and taken one thing at a time, not much to get worked up about. But I’d had high[er] hopes for this newly opened hotel in Stirling, based on the advertising and their supposed extensive experience of running hotels and bars. And with it so conveniently situated that we could walk there… well, it couldn’t be better.

Except it could.

Three of us tried to have afternoon tea in a hotel that offers a price for two to have tea. We shouldn’t have. Whereas the lovely young server said we could just pay a little extra, it soon became much more of a trial. Me, I’d simply have added 50% to the bill and be done with it. Although, for that, I’d also expect three of every item there was two of.

‘Slight’ inflexibility in choice. We were allowed to both have the prawn sandwich, but it was strictly either cake, or macaroons and churros. What if you have an incompatible couple, where one hates one thing and the other hates the other thing? Easy. You go somewhere else.

In the end, I had to point out that I didn’t mind what I paid (well, obviously I did, but…) as long as they actually provided the three of us with what we wanted, which was [the set] tea for two, and another tea for Daughter, and churros. But because the Resident IT Consultant and I were having cake, that did not go down well.

In the end, they conceded we could order churros for one, because it could count as a child’s pudding, and would come with ice cream. The server, who looked younger than Daughter – who is an adult – simpered at her and treated her like a child. It was going to be so good, and really cheap, too. (Not when the cost of tea was added, it wasn’t.)

The tea. Yes. We ordered Earl Grey. We have no idea what we got, but if it said Earl Grey on the tin, it wasn’t Earl Grey in the pot. It was drinkable, albeit in far too small a quantity. And milk had to be asked for separately. (Yes, we are so uncouth that we have milk in Earl Grey.)

The tea took ages to arrive. And that was after waiting ages to place our order. Then there were lots more ages while we waited for something to eat, and the tea steeped and got too strong, and could have done with plenty of hot water to add to it.

We suspect it was making the sandwiches that caused some of the delay. They were clearly freshly made, and they were nice. However, after eating them we had two prawny plates and a prawny knife. The Resident IT Consultant solved the knife conundrum by licking it clean, and in the end we shifted plates around from the cake stand so we could eat scones and cake without prawn sauce.

The scones were OK if a little dry. There was not nearly enough cream for two such large scones, however. So, drier still. The selection of jams was raspberry. Or raspberry. We chose the raspberry.

The cakes were quite decent. Not the best, but perfectly edible. I gather the churros were OK too.

Food fine. Tea a bit wanting.

Before setting off home, I went to the Ladies. Someone had forgotten to paint the inside of the doors. Somehow leaving them merely undercoated detracted a bit from the pleasant effect they must have been aiming for. And, I didn’t spend long, but the light still went out while I was in there. It being afternoon, and October, I wasn’t left in the dark, but I disapprove of time settings like that. It feels cheap, and it could lead to accidents and panic.

It proved as hard to pay as it did to order. Our server was nowhere to be seen, and eventually the bartender shouted something to me from his end of the room. I couldn’t hear what. Seems he wondered whether we wanted to pay… What else would I be doing next to the till after having had a meal?

As I said earlier, the churros and the extra pot of tea cost almost as much as a third afternoon tea would have, had they been willing to let us have that. It’s not the money. It’s having to negotiate for food in a restaurant.

Pippi will be having afternoon tea somewhere else.

A female Doctor

I had wondered. Who hadn’t? I didn’t doubt that a female Doctor would work; I just wasn’t sure they had it in them to make her work. But work she did, and magnificently so, even if she didn’t quite remember who she was to begin with. She knew what to do, and why. And what’s in a name?

Doctor Who Series 11

Having no experience of Jodie Whittaker was probably a good thing. I knew as little as those who met her, when she fell into that train on Sunday night. A train, which to the Resident IT Consultant’s delight, was as wrong as screen trains tend to be. Just as well, once the weird and wonderful creatures have finished falling, the train would be a wreck anyway.

The new Doctor felt perfect, the way some people do, without you having been aware that you might welcome an improvement. Was that Jodie’s doing? Or the screenwriters’? Both, perhaps. And her hair… it was great hair!

Her companions were also pretty perfect, for being dyspraxic, having [had] cancer or being a rookie police officer wanting some excitement. I have seen criticism of there being three of them. I don’t agree, and feel that to have had one, wouldn’t have worked so well. I’d have liked it if there had been four. Ryan’s grandmother was quite a woman.

Doctor Who Series 11

The adventure was also good, neither too tame nor too outlandish, and what a change it made to be in and around Sheffield, with actual accents being spoken. (I’m fine if next time we’re in some unknown corner of outer space.)

All we need now is the recipe for a sonic screwdriver. If it’s that easy to make, we could all have one.

(Photos © BBC)

Pregnant? No. Maybe?

Anything’s possible. Obviously. But no, I don’t believe that large shoulders is a sign of someone being pregnant. Those are called shoulder pads. Very 1980s, and I suppose they had to come back.

But a lot of you believe that Renée Felice Smith is pregnant. Maybe. Some of the searches for this were last year, but rumours regarding NCIS: Los Angeles’ Nell are surfacing again. I was advised by Daughter to have a close look, as Nell had looked ‘ a bit fat.’

Nell and Eric

She did, and she didn’t. It could be the dress. The jacket – and its shoulder pads – could simply be a fashion thing, rather than somewhere to hide a baby.

So as I watched this week’s episode, with the predicted ‘back at work and almost like normal’ situation, I deduced Renée isn’t pregnant. At least not from what you can see. A woman can be expecting with nothing at all to show, until it does.

(Of course, even actors can put on a bit of weight. And, there have been threats of someone leaving…)

Actresses of a certain age might want to have children before it’s too late, but still continue acting in successful shows. Look at Daniela Ruah. And, thinking about the unexpected, but not unlikely, move of Eric and Nell, erm, moving in together, it could be a precursor to an on-screen development, or to explain away a real life one.

We’ll have to wait and see.

Nell and Eric

I wonder if CBS realise quite how many fans are looking for news about Renée Felice Smith? Sometimes it seems as if they believe they can decide who’s the most popular character in a television show, when it is actually us, the viewers.

Didn’t particularly like the yellow dress, but Nell often wears flaky outfits. And why not? Excepting the shoulder pads.

(Photos © CBS)

NCIS – Love Thy Neighbour

‘How do we beat the meat puzzle?’ they asked. And then the NCIS scriptwriters came up with a sort of slow cooked meat soup. It did quite well, as long as you remembered to avert your eyes and perhaps not think about it too much.

Torres, Palmer and Gibbs

I am so proud of Palmer. He relished that soup. He really did. And then he went out and got involved in a fight. Go Jimmy!

‘Mummy Sloan’ and ‘Daddy Gibbs’ taught Torres a lesson. Because they care.

And then for good measure Gibbs stuck a knife in the interrogation room table. Someone must have realised that back in the day it was a fun thing when Gibbs did something a bit unusual or unreasonable. Although, he’s gone soft. Before, he’d have ordered someone to step into that hot tub.

Reeves got remembered and tears were almost shed. It’s as if someone went to some pains to think back to what has happened in the years since 2003. Remember it? It was a long time ago. Even Bishop has had five years.

And Ducky is back; almost his old self, while letting Palmer take the lead. I don’t know what full time acting does to David McCallum, but I am glad to see him.

Kasie is all right. She’s not Abby, but she’s not wrong.

And those neighbours. They were seriously weird.

(Photo © CBS)

Season of death

After a week of watching the season starters of Bull, NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles, what do I think?

The latter two could have done better. Much better. And there is quite a lot of death, or the threat of death.

So Bull survived his heart attack, but is feeling vulnerable. The way he kept checking his pulse almost made me faint, and was an understated way of bringing home how he felt, mentally and physically. He’s not the same man he was. It would have been wrong to bring back a chirpy, same as always Bull. And being away from his team for so long also causes new friction between everyone.

What I fear will happen in NCIS: Los Angeles is that after so many injuries caused in the explosive end of season nine, the team will be – mostly – back to their normal bouncy selves next week. Why on earth did the team split up in the desert? Watching Kensi pulling Deeks was painful, as was seeing Sam and Callen dragging their collapsing bodies towards some kind of salvation. And that boy, just walking onto the scene like that? Honestly.

If Hetty is to disappear, which seems inevitable, I’d rather she retired, instead of hiding Linda Hunt’s absence by sending in all her old men friends to look angry for a week at a time. Is Mosley coming or going? She’ll need to grow up if she’s staying put. I’d rather they had sacrificed her than poor Hidoko.

There wasn’t much doubt that Director Vance was going to survive in NCIS. But did the man have to lose his marbles so completely over the fake agent he was taken in by? Especially as the team suddenly ‘knew’ everything towards the end, fooling the bad guys. We need to respect you if this is going to work, you know. We need to see you working things out, and not just spring a miracle solution out of the blue.

Bull’s first episode was about more deaths than what almost caught our hero in the spring. It made for painful watching, but it’s good to know that they don’t merely follow the same tracks as last year, or the year before.

I could give up on both the NCISes now. Probably won’t, but this is a thought I never believed I’d harbour. Bull, on the other hand, has not been around for long enough for the writing to deteriorate.