Tag Archives: Frank Cottrell Boyce

Not just a pretty face

It’s amazing how coming face-to-face with someone off television makes you feel as if you’re meeting an old friend. And in this instance I don’t mean in the street, but seeing them on a different television screen. Like the Christmas University Challenge.

Now, I do know a few people who’ve been on the ‘celebrity’ teams anyway. But then the other day, Daughter and I were taken aback to find Bishop’s screen ex-husband (the snake..!) Jake on one of the Cambridge teams, as himself; Jamie Bamber.

We did always like Jake on NCIS. At least until he cheated on Bishop and had to be escorted off the premises by Gibbs.

Anyway, it was nice to see him again, and even nicer to find he’s a knowledgeable and intelligent man. Somehow you suspect actors and musicians of being a bit substandard in a general educational way. Here I have to say that without Jamie his team would have done a lot worse.

In the semi-finals they were up against an Oxford team, on which we were very happy to find Frank Cottrell Boyce, and happier still to hear him describe himself as a children’s author (and not the man responsible for having the Queen fling herself out of a helicopter in the company of James Bond). Frank is a very educated and intelligent man, and more than a credit to his team.

There have also been a few musicians this year, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what they know.

And then you tend to be equally surprised by how little some others know. But as Jeremy Paxman says, they did not have to do this.

My feeling is that more women would make for better teams. And more authors, preferably children’s authors. I can provide a list of suggestions, should the BBC require help.

The Railway Man

How can a family of railway lovers not go and see The Railway Man? Even after being warned off by people that the torture scenes are so horrific as to make it unbearable.

The Railway Man

We were charmed by Colin Firth’s wooing of Nicole Kidman (I had feared she’d be too glamourous for the part, but she was fine) at the beginning of the film, in spite of the stations and railway lines and the rolling stock being ‘a bit wrong.’ It was all done in good faith. (But the bit with the guard saying Colin was on the wrong train was too much 21st century. They didn’t go in for that kind of thing back then.)

Somewhere in the middle, when it was – mentally – dark, and slow and very depressing, with little hope for improvement, I wondered what we were doing. The scenes showing Jeremy Irvine as the young Lomax during the war, as a Japanese prisoner, told me why we were there. It was good. Not fast paced action, nor enjoyable. But good. Stuff you need to see.

The torture was bad. But it was expected and it was once done for real, and it was nowhere near as awful as you get in some of those fun action films people don’t mind watching.

The Railway Man

Despite knowing the outcome, having read about Eric Lomax, it almost came as a surprise. Low key and quietly unassuming, this was an excellent film. And for all its awfulness, we found ourselves surprisingly cheery as we compared notes afterwards. That’s probably why you should see The Railway Man.

Afternoon tea at the Midland Hotel

Sometimes a witch has to forget about free advertising, and this is such a time. Afternoon tea at the Midland Hotel in Manchester is really quite nice. More than nice, but they have to give me free tea on a regular basis for me to work harder on my adjectives.

Frank Cottrell Boyce

I was too late for a ticket last year when Joan Bakewell did an event there, with tea, for the Manchester Literature Festival. And no offence Joan, but the Manchester Children’s Book Festival offered me tea and Frank Cottrell Boyce. Very grateful, too, that I didn’t insist on going tea-less and crouching in a darkened corner for free, when I could actually have the full works and still not pay. Just seeing all the food they laid on makes the stomach – if not the bathroom scales – happier.

Sherry Ashworth at the Midland Hotel

Today was an author reading session with Frank and local author Sherry Ashworth, followed by tea, followed by a book quiz. It may have been help-yourself buffet service, but I don’t need waiters when I can stack up on shameful amounts of sandwiches, scones and cake. All of high quality, and washed down with just the right strength tea.

Cakes at the Midland

Lovely room, with a view of the library across the road. Who needs pub quizzes with fish and chips when you can be literary and have afternoon tea at the same time?

(Photos by Helen Giles)

Happy Birthday to us

Culture is one today, Mark Harmon is 58 and the Grandmother is, well, a nice round figure. Happy Birthday to all!

Mark Harmon

I’m sorry I’ve been a little remiss in posting here recently. Don’t ever go to the Edinburgh festival, especially the Book Festival, if you want to have a life at the same time. As I said here a year ago, September brings with it a hope for new beginnings, and I’ll have another go with good intentions from today onwards.

Films will be watched, concerts may be attended and some drama would be good, as long as it’s not at home. May waffle about music and television, and will try to stay off food. Though there is this nice tapas place in Stirling we went to last week… Mediterranéa it’s called. Aunt M had been before, or so Sailor Cousin claimed. Aunt M couldn’t remember, but it seems she had enjoyed it, and the food. She did this time, too.

Princess cake

Will try not to be too birthdayish, and I did say no food, but a blog has to have a cake now and then.

And I seem to recall that one early post last year was about Frank Cottrell Boyce, so there is symmetry in him having got something on television again.

God On Trial

Only knowing the Frank Cottrell Boyce of the funny children’s books, the play on BBC2 on Wednesday night was a little different, but equally good. No, actually, equally excellent.

God On Trial was about God being put on trial, in Auschwitz, by a group of prisoners. I have no idea of how true it might be, but it felt quite plausible. We have had a little debate within the witch family, as to whether this really was a drama written for television, or if it was intended for the stage. It would do well on the stage, I’d say. Especially with a bunch of good actors like these.

Frank Cottrell Boyce 1Even if Frank’s name hadn’t been enough to tempt me (but it was), the mention of Jack Shepherd would have done it. If I’d also known Stellan Skarsgård was going to turn up, I’d have been keener still. I was beginning to wonder why they had got Anthony Sher in, if all he was going to do was sit there in silence, but the last 15 minutes proved why they’d asked him. And Dominic Cooper is in everything these days, so there’s no avoiding him, even if I try.

It’s a very sad subject, but an interesting one. Frank either knows an awful lot, or is good at research, because I feel I’ve learnt quite a bit from this play.