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The Voice 2015

The Australian Version of The Voice Returns

with a British Star



Obviously we are now in a ratings period for Australian television. The repeats and erratic programming have taken a break and a slew of new shows and big returns have hit our screens. Houdini, Under the Dome, Master Chef, The Blacklist and more.

The Voice 2015 Panel

Not least of those returns is The Voice. The panel has been reshuffled. Ricky Martin and Joel Madden have returned, as has Delta Goodrem, after being benched for Kylie Minogue last year. In a twist, Joel has been joined by his twin brother Benji, in a double spinning chair, and the token black guy is actually a second girl this year, none other than the English multiple hit maker Jessie J.

I’m a bit of a fan of Jessie J. She really can sing and she writes her own material, as well as writing for some of the biggest names around, including Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown and Miley Cyrus. I first came across her on the Graham Norton show and she blew me away, as I was expecting just another pop princess.

Jessie has plenty of experience on the British version of The Voice and so far has proved to be very competitive and quite the scene stealer on the Australian show.

We are yet to see if The Madden Brothers have any advantage, being a team. In the first three episodes it seems to have been more of a hindrance, with a certain amount of fraternal bickering and difficulty in recruiting team members.

Apart from the personnel, little else has changed. The judges/coaches still recruit their team members without seeing them, but not without a sob story. Jessie J seems to have inherited Seal‘s telepathic ability to spot when a singer has a sad story to tell.

I don’t want to belittle anyone’s loss. Losing a close friend or family member is devastating, I know. But why does that have to define them for the show? I’m guessing because that is what the producers have found sells.

The Voice Come Backs

The Voice 2015 Come Back Kids

The Voice 2015 Come Back Kids. Gail Page, Keely Brittain, Aviida featuring Paula Parore

As well as the returning judges, we’ve had a few returning competitors too. Paula Parore from Perth, who was knocked out in the battle round with, series one winner, Karise Eden, is back this year with her husband, as a duo. Both have very good voices and plenty of gigging experience, so let’s hope that they are not pitched against one of the big potential winners too soon this time around.

Gail Page was one of the sensations of the first series when she was knocked back by all of the judges, despite her tremendous voice. This time she had all of the judges, bar Jessie J, turn for her and she went with Ricky Martin.

Another success was the very beautiful young singer from the remote WA fishing town of Denmark, Keely Brittain. She also got no one to turn, when she auditioned last year, but this year hooked the Madden Brothers and Delta Goodrem. She joined Team Delta.

Jessie_J_on_her_sick-bed

Jessie J looking very ill this week in hospital

Other highlights for me have been Chris Hoskin, who gave us a great version of Crowded House‘s Fall at Your Feet and the pregnant balladeer from the ACT, Amber Nichols.

Amber sang London Grammar‘s Strong and coincidentally there was repeat of them singing it on the Graham Norton Show, aired on Channel 11 the same night. Believe it or not, Amber sang it better.

Jesssie J stormed ahead, picking up four artists the fastest, but then held back on the third show and did not turn for anyone. She has livened up the show and I hope that she can make it back for the battle rounds, having posted photos online of herself from a hospital bed, after an operation, this week. But Jessie is a trooper and has battled injuries and illness in the past to perform shows, so I am sure she will meet her commitments.

The next round of The Voice auditions airs on Sunday at 7:30 on Channel 9.

You can pick up music from Jessie J, Ricky Martin, Delta Goodrem and The Madden Brothers from the links below.

By Max Power
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Oliver’s Fagin, Ron Moody, Dies

Never Before Has a Boy Asked For More


It has not been a good week for veteran British actors. Shortly after hearing of the passing of Sir Christopher Lee, we were informed that Ron Moody had died, aged 91.

Ron-Moody-as-Fagin

Ron Moody was a successful character actor, with film and television credits over seven decades. But he will forever be remembered for his portrayal of Fagin, in the glorious 1968 musical Oliver!

Moody said that Fagin was the role he was born to play and no one could deny that. He first played the part on stage in London’s West End, before the sensational musical was committed to film, and later again on Broadway.

Oliver! was the film which proved that the Brits could do big production musicals every bit as good as the Americans. Unfortunately, for the British film industry, it was right at the end of the popularity of the genre. But that should take nothing away from what, in my opinion, is the very best film of its type.

What more could you ask for? A plot by Dickens, one of the world’s best ever story tellers, great songs from Lionel Bart and magnificent performances by Mark Lester and Jack Wild as the street urchins and Ron Moody as their gaffer, Fagin.

The BBC’s obituary read as follows:-

Although he often played the villain, his career as a noted character actor saw him appear in a variety of roles.

“I loved to study and if I hadn’t become an actor, I’d have liked to have become a teacher” Ron Moody

He originally planned to be an economist and did not take up acting seriously until his late 20s.

His biggest regret was turning down an opportunity to play one of the incarnations of The Doctor in Doctor Who.

Shylock

He was born Ronald Moodnick in Tottenham, north London, on 8 January 1924, the son of Jewish immigrants.

When he was five his father followed the example of many other eastern European Jews and anglicised the family name.

The young Moody attended local schools where he showed himself to be adept in English and history.

He took part in drama at Hornsey County School, once playing Shylock in a production of The Merchant of Venice.
When he left school he got a job in an accounts office before volunteering for the RAF.

After serving four years as a radar mechanic, he went to the London School of Economics where he studied sociology and psychology

Unique interpretation

There he took part in student revues and the acting bug finally took hold.

Moody took to writing and acting while writing his thesis. The enjoyment he derived from these activities inspired him to become a professional actor.

After many years mastering the art of a stand-up comic, Moody’s big break came in the 1960s when he was given the chance to play Fagin in Oliver!, the musical version of Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist.

Oliver-Fagin-and-The-Artful-Dodger

Oliver (Mark Lester), Fagin (Ron Moody) and The Artful Dodger (Jack Wild)

“Fate destined me to play Fagin. It was the part of a lifetime,” he said.

Already possessing something of a Dickensian manner, Moody made the character his own.

His unique interpretation of the “merry Jew” won him international acclaim. Although he did not follow the cast when the musical transferred to Broadway, he was the only original cast member to star in the film version which was released in 1968.

Off-stage problems

He recalled the days working on the film as “one of the happiest times of my life”. He went on to receive an Oscar nomination for his role.

Despite his desire to make people laugh, Moody’s co-stars often found him difficult to work with.

He tended to improvise on stage from night to night, irritating directors.

The tussle between the method actor and the comic, that created great chemistry on stage, also led to problems behind the scenes with co-stars such as Georgia Brown.

His choice to remain in England even though Broadway wanted him to reprise the role of Fagin there limited his options.

But he believed it was the right decision. “I didn’t want to go. I was very patriotic.”

Throughout the 1960s, he appeared in a number of films, including playing opposite Margaret Rutherford in The Mouse on the Moon and in the Cliff Richard musical, Summer Holiday.

Romantic life

In 1969 he was offered the role as the third incarnation of The Doctor in the BBC series Doctor Who, where he would have replaced Patrick Troughton.

Moody turned it down, a decision he later bitterly regretted, and the part went to Jon Pertwee.
He later became a well-known face and voice on children’s television, notably in Into the Labyrinth and The Animals from Farthing’s Wood.

Just-to-prove-Ron-Moody-did-have-other-roles

Ron Moody did have many other roles, other than Fagin

He finally made it to Broadway in 1984, where he reprised his role of Fagin in a revival of Oliver! His performance won him a Tony nomination.

Despite his obvious talent, Ron Moody resented how after Oliver! his career did not develop with the same success. He became typecast with roles similar to those of Fagin.

“You find that most of the successful people in films now are virtually giving the same performance with different clothes,” he once said.

Moody let his romantic life take a back seat during his career, and remained a bachelor for more than 60 years. But in 1985, he met and married yoga instructor Therese Blackbourn and they became parents of six children.

Ron Moody played more contemporary roles in his later career, including Edwin Caldecott, an old nemesis of Jim Branning in EastEnders, Captain Hook in Peter Pan, and the title role in Sherlock Holmes – the Musical.

With an extensive repertoire, Moody will be remembered as a great British character actor. However, it is his portrayal of Fagin that will remain his lasting claim to fame.

More at Obituary: Ron Moody

If you have not seen Ron Moody‘s performance in Oliver! CLICK HERE and download a copy from iTunes or grab a DVD from one of the links below.

RIP Ron, we’ll be reviewing the situation.

By Max Power
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The Greatest Dracula, Christopher Lee, Has Died, We Think

Sir Christopher Lee, Who Played Dracula

in So Many Hammer Horrors, Has Died…

For Real This Time.


The great British actor Sir Christopher Lee has died in London aged 93.

Lee has been referred to in some circles as the most prolific actor of his generation, racking up 281 film and TV credits. But he is best known, to a generation of British film fans, for playing Dracula, in a slew of Hammer Horror films in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Sir Christopher Lee 1922-2015

But what many people do not know, is that Christopher Lee was a real war hero and genuine bad ass. He was a member of the precursor to the SAS and commanded the Gurkhas.

Forces.tv reports his military and other massive achievements…

Today it was announced the most prolific actor in motion picture history, the on-screen legend that was Sir Christopher Lee, passed away in hospital after a lengthy battle with heart problems.

Known and forever remembered as an icon of the silver screen, his past achievements in front of the camera cement his place in Hollywood and British film industry folklore. Some of his greatest accomplishments, however, were collected not on stage, but on the battlefield during World War II.

Christopher served with distinction throughout WWII

Little known facts about Sir Lee’s service for the Army and RAF will escape many major news broadcasters and tabloids around the world today, but his distinguished career in the British military and the Special Air Service, will be recognized.

Sir Christopher Lee in his army days

Sir Christopher Lee in his army days

“I was attached to the SAS from time to time but we are forbidden – former, present, or future – to discuss any specific operations. Let’s just say I was in Special Forces and leave it at that. People can read in to that what they like.”

Christopher Lee first enlisted in the Royal Air Force in 1940, where he worked as an intelligence officer specializing in decoding German ciphers. He was then posted to North Africa where he was based with the precursor of the SAS, the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG). While leapfrogging from Egypt across Tobruk to Benghazi, Lee moved behind enemy lines from base to base sabotaging Luftwaffe planes and airfields along the way. After the Axis surrender in 1943, Lee was seconded to the Army during an officer swap scheme, where he officiated the Gurkhas of the 8th Indian Infantry Division during The Battle of Monte Cassino.

When pressed by an eager interviewer on his SAS past, he leaned forward and whispered:

Christopher Lee as Dracula

Christopher Lee as Dracula, just out for a bite

“Can you keep a secret?”

“Yes!” the interviewer replied, breathless with excitement.

“So can I.” replied a smiling Lee, sitting back in his chair.

After working with the LRDG, Lee was assigned to the Special Operations Executive, conducting espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers. For the final few months of his service, Lee, fluent in several languages including French and German, was tasked with tracking down Nazi war criminals alongside the Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects. Of his time within the organisation, Lee said “We were given dossiers of what they’d done and told to find them, interrogate them as much as we could and hand them over to the appropriate authority.” Lee then retired from the RAF in 1946 with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

Christopher Lee as Saruman

Christopher Lee in his most famous role of recent years, as Saruman in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit

“I’ve seen many men die right in front of me – so many in fact that I’ve become almost hardened to it. Having seen the worst that human beings can do to each other, the results of torture, mutilation and seeing someone blown to pieces by a bomb, you develop a kind of shell. But you had to. You had to. Otherwise we would never have won.”

Although his service records remain classified and Lee himself was reluctant to discuss anything about his service, after his retirement he’d been individually decorated for battlefield bravery by the Czech, Yugoslav, British, and Polish governments. He was also on personal terms with Josip Broz Tito, presumably after their mutual involvement with the Partisan resistance movement (widely cited as the most effective resistance movement in occupied Europe).

Tall and talented: 10 reasons why Sir Christopher Lee is a legend:

• Christopher Lee was Ian Fleming’s cousin, serving alongside him during the war.
• At 6’5” tall, Sir Christopher’s imposing stature made him one of the tallest actors in the world.
• He was introduced to Prince Yusupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, the assassins of Grigori Rasputin, whom Lee was to play many years later.
• Fluent in six languages including French and German.
• Participated in more on-screen sword fights than any actor in history
• He was a descendent of Charlemagne
• Christopher Lee released a heavy metal hardcore symphonic power metal concept album about Charlemagne when he was 88 years old.
• He volunteered to fight for Finland in the Winter War prior to WW2.
• Saw the Nazi concentration camps first-hand
• He was an opera singer.

More at From the SAS To The Gurkhas: The Story Of Sir Christopher Lee

Sir Christopher Lee continued working almost up until his death, featuring in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies which was released last year and he still has two films in the can, waiting to be released.

Rest in peace Christopher Lee, you deserve it, if that’s what you are really doing.

By Max Power
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Britain’s Got Talent – Old Men Grooving

Old Guys Bust a Move on British Talent Show.


The old boys have still got it.

It just goes to show that if you’ve got it, you never lose it.

Old Men Grooving on Britains Got talent

Old Men Grooving on Britains Got talent

The judges on Britain’s Got Talent were stunned when these blokes, who appeared to be well past their prime, busted some moves that much younger men would have been proud of.

Check out the moves on these middle aged lotharios!

This is one of the great joys of this show, which most other TV talent shows do not have.

Because Britain’s Got Talent does not limit itself to the young and beautiful, it can reveal these huge surprises that take the nation by storm, or even other nations where the clips are seen, with the benefit of YouTube and worldwide distribution deals. Think about Susan Boyle and Paul Potts.

Although Britain’s Got Talent 2015 has concluded in the UK, it is still being shown on GO! (Channel 99) in Australia, on Thursday nights. Only two rounds have aired so far and they have not included the Old Men Grooving.

On the other hand, the show does have some dire segments and I have first hand knowledge of it burying real talent.

Britains Got Talent - Fil Straughan

Fil Straughan, one of the acts that Britain’s Got Talent buried.

An extremely talented American singer, who is based in London, auditioned for the show this year. His audition was so good that he was tipped by What’s on TV magazine as one of the top 5 to watch. But this audition never got to air.

I can only guess that this was because, for some reason, it did not fit the story that the producers wanted to tell. But it illustrates perfectly that there is little justice in these TV talent shows and that you do not always see the best of what is on offer.

Conversely the episode that aired last week in Australia included a long and unfunny segment where Simon Cowell was supposedly hypnotized by a dog and consequently was nice to the following, very poor, acts. This involved showing at least four talentless acts, while more quality performers are being buried.

But if you would like to look out for the gems that can pop up, tune in this Thursday on GO!

By Max Power
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Our Girl

Fantastic BBC Drama Our Girl on the ABC


The ABC have been airing the fantastic BBC Afghan war drama, Our Girl. If you have not seen it I certainly recommend that you catch up.

Lacey Turner as Our Girl, Molly

Lacey Turner as Our Girl, Molly

Unlike many American war stories, the combatants are not all gung ho heroes with smart mouths and a slick patter of one liners. The characters are very believable, as young British soldiers in a war they do not really understand. Some of them show signs of not being very bright, but are led by their Captain, who, although often conflicted himself, reminds them of their training at every opportunity and does his best to keep them motivated and alive… in a very dangerous place.

The British boys banter, rag each other about their regional origins and give each other imaginative and often crude nick names.

They are accompanied by, the even more conflicted, Afghan soldiers, who want the Taliban and other terrorists out, but are still enchained by many of the same religious traditions as their enemies.

At the centre of the story is Our Girl, Molly. A working class East London girl who joined up and became a medic, the lone woman in her platoon. Of course romantic entanglements ensue.

Molly and her Captain have feelings for each other, which makes things very complicated. Not least because she is also being pursued by Smurf (I told you they all had nick names) who is completely in love with her. Molly is very fond of Smurf, but ‘not in that way’.

But this is a lot more than some sappy romance set in a war zone. The stories are gritty and you can feel the tension when the going gets tough. When the pressure is off, the boys let off steam in stupid and often embarrassing ways.

Smurf, Molly and Captain James in Our Girl

Smurf, Molly and Captain James in Our Girl

Although they are told not to get involved with the locals, the caring Molly can not but help to do so. She gets close to a young Afghan girl, who is forbidden from attending school. The girl takes a beating from her father, for accepting sweets and gifts from Molly. He is actually a Taliban and also decides to take reprisals on Molly and her band of brothers, in a cruel and dramatic turn of events.

EastEnder Molly is played by Lacey Turner, who made her name in the long running BBC soap EastEnders, so in some ways, not a stretch for her.

Captain James is played by the outrageously cool and good looking Ben Aldridge, who was selected by Screen International as a UK Star of Tomorrow.

Smurf is played by Iwan Rheon, who starred in two of my favourite series, Misfits and the hilarious Vicous, alongside two camp knights of British theatre, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi.

I recorded the last two episodes of Our Girl, but unlike many TV series, I found that I could not watch them consecutively. You actually need a break from the tension after one. But if you have not managed to catch the series on regular TV grab a DVD or download and treat yourself… slowly.

CLICK HERE to download Episodes or entire series of Our Girl

By Max Power
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British Crime Drama 2

More Marvelous British Crime Thrillers


Click Here to go back to British Crime Drama

This week GEM began re-runs of two of the best British crime dramas of recent years. It’s something of a relief that they have started, perhaps now they will ease up on the promotions, maybe cut them down to once in every single ad break.

We have already reviewed the fantastic spy series Spooks before on this site, but we have never written a word about Luther.

Luther

Luther-And-Ripley

DS Justin Ripley and DCI John Luther

Luther is a hard nosed black detective, who lives very much on the edge. He sees rules and police protocols as mere guidelines and guidelines he often doesn’t adhere to. He lets some murderers die and others help him out in later investigations. He was dumped by his beloved wife, in the very first episode. So his personal problems loom large throughout the series.

DCI John Luther is played by Idris Elba, who won a Golden Globe, British Crime Thriller and various other awards for the series, as well as picking up numerous other nominations.

Alice-and-Luther

John Luther and Alice Morgan

He is ably assisted by DS Justin Ripley who is one of the few people who believe in Luther and that he can rely on. Ripley is played by Warren Brown, who segued this part into a lead role in By Any Means, there may be more on that series here later.

Alice Morgan is a murder suspect in the first episode. She becomes infatuated with John Luther. Alice is super intelligent and eventually becomes a sort of side kick to him. Their relationship is fascinating. There’s a will they won’t they romantic aspect and Luther is both intrigued and disgusted by her.

Alice is played by Ruth Wilson, she has a cute turned up nose and duck lips, but still an unusual beauty. Ruth is also a Golden Globe winner, with a slew of award nominations.

Luther has to be seen! It is engrossing and plays with your mind. It lurks in the grey areas between right and wrong. Catch the repeats on GEM, download episodes from iTunes by clicking here, or pick up a DVD or two from the links below.

By Max Power
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Janet King

Revamped Crownies is in Line for a Logie


With the Logies coming soon there is much talk about awards for Janet King.

Marta Dusseldorp as Janet King

Marta Dusseldorp as Janet King

For those of you not in Australia, the Logies is the Australian equivalent of the Emmys or the BAFTAs. Except, where those award nights are all about the programmes and the big stars in attendance, the Logies is more about a booze up for everyone in the Australian TV industry. Still drunk appearances by winners, liggers and TV presenters the following morning are commonplace.

Anyhow, this piece is not really about the Logies, but about the court room drama series Janet King.

In a most unusual step, the ABC took a series that they did not believe was performing well enough, kept most of the same cast and locations, wrote similar story lines and renamed it after one of the lead characters.

Crownies aired in 2011 and was mainly centered around five young solicitors who had just joined the Crown Prosecution Service. I enjoyed the show, but criticism that I read elsewhere seemed to be aimed at the fact that some people thought that the show concentrated too much on their love lives and not enough on the crime drama.

Damian Walshe-Howling in Janet King

Damian Walshe-Howling as Owen Mitchell in Janet King

Most of the original five newcomers are still in attendance, with the notable exception of Ben McMahon, played by Todd Lasance. No explanation was offered for his departure, but his niche, of alpha male, has been taken up by Owen Mitchell, played by Damian Walshe-Howling, although Owen is a more senior prosecutor.

Janet King is set one year after the last episode of Crownies. Janet King has given birth to twins and returns to work, leaving her lesbian lover to take care of the offspring, domestic chaos ensues.

At the business end, a senior police officer has been killed, a bikie gang is running amok and a paedophile ring is in operation. All of the crimes seem to be connected.

Tatum Novak, played by Indianna Evans, has moved to Canberra, in some sort of Federal legal role. But she’s back in town to provide an alibi for her big time crim father, who is suspected of murder and owns the bar frequented by the bikie gang. This produced one of the most awkward and convoluted scenes that I’ve seen in any show anywhere, when Tatum and her father had an overly detailed conversation about the night in they had when the murder took place.

There are some other issues with the scripts. Judges throw out evidence for very weak reasons, seemingly just to stretch the story lines. Vince Colosimo has been introduced as the new head cop, who talks a lot about collaboration with the Crown prosecutors, but spends most of his time in conflict with them and insists on bringing cases to court long before there is sufficient evidence.

I have never been really sure about Vince Colosimo. He has been in a huge number of Australian films and TV series, but Vince Colosimo the cop, Vince Colosimo the villain and Vince Colosimo the comic foil are all much of a muchness.

Andrea Demetriades and Ella Scott Lynch

Andrea Demetriades and Ella Scott Lynch

All that said, it’s still a show worth watching. Marta Dusseldorp in the lead role, Ella Scott Lynch, Andrea Demetriades and Hamish Michael are all very good.

Indianna Evans and Ella Scott Lynch are very easy on the eyes, although Indianna is not quite as attractive as she was in the first series, but she had set the bar very high. It took several scenes before I was sure that Ella was the same actress from Crownies. She seems to have lost a significant amount of weight, even though she was not overweight previously.

ABC Channel Controller Brendan Dahill has said “I would love to have more Janet King, but Marta is doing 2 seasons of A Place to Call Home for Foxtel….. and she is Janet King.”

Maybe they could spin off another series from Crownies, with a different lead character, until she’s available.

Meanwhile you can pick up episodes or the entire series of Janet King by CLICKING HERE

By Max Power
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Pommy Cricketer Wins Australian I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here

I’m a Celebrity Grand Final Has Shocking Result


I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here Australia came to it’s conclusion tonight, with a most surprising result. Of all people, the Australian public chose an English former cricketer, largely responsible for stealing the Ashes from Australia in 2005, as the most popular of the short on celebrity show.

I'm a celebrity get me out of here Finalists

I’m a celebrity get me out of here Finalists. Barry Hall, Chrissie Swan and Freddie Flintoff

Andrew “Freddie” Flintoff, MBE, pipped former AFL Fooballer Barry Hall and TV and Radio Presenter Chrissie Swan to take the title “King of the Jungle”.

Flintoff joined the show in the third week, after originals Leisel Jones, Laura Dundovic and one week intruder Tim Robards, had already been evicted. But he was one of the few members of the cast who could genuinely be classified as a celebrity. Many of the competitors achieved their ‘celebrity’ as winners or contestants in other Channel 10 reality shows.

Merv Hughes and Freddie Flintoff take on a challenge together

Merv Hughes and Freddie Flintoff take on a challenge together

Freddie revealed that one of his major reasons for taking part was to spend time with Australian cricket legend Merv Hughes. He did that and managed to wind up Merv on several occasions. But I suspect the voting viewers of this show are of an age long after Hughes‘ glory days and he was the evicted a week ago, coming in 8th

Flintoff, of course, achieved his fame as a leading member of the 2005 English Test Cricket team, which won back the Ashes from Australia, after 18 years of Australian success.

He followed that with some degree of notoriety, after urinating in the garden of the English Prime Ministers home, 10 Downing Street and had to be rescued after falling off of a pedalo in the West Indies during the 2007 Cricket World Cup, after some late night drinking.

Freddie revealed on the show that he had given up alcohol, as bad things often followed his drinking sessions.

Following a bad run with injuries, Freddie retired from all forms of cricket in 2010. But he made a comeback in this Australian season in the Big Bash League for the Brisbane Heat.

Real Reality

I'm Celebrity Get Me Out of Here Australia Cast 2015

Original I’m Celebrity Get Me Out of Here Australia Cast before Freddie Flintoff joined them

The format of the show, in the main, does not appeal to me. Watching people eat bugs and disgusting parts of animals, or being covered in creepy crawlies and animal faeces, is not really my idea of entertainment. But some of the other challenges, where we saw people overcoming their fears for the greater good of the team, had a much better feel good factor.

Over the course of the show Freddie spoke several times about his battles with depression and Maureen ‘Marcia Brady’ McCormick touched on her struggles with the black dog too. That is admirable and must help others living with an illness that is still often stigmatised and hidden.

Over the latter days of the show, as the number of contestants dwindled, we saw more of the celebrities opening up and pleasingly the show became less about the stunts and more about real human reaction and interaction.

This was the initial promise of reality television, but sadly producers have resorted to cheap stunts and sensationalism in order to draw in larger numbers of viewers.

Most of us are probably aware that 99.9% of what we see on TV is fiction, including what is promoted as news. But some of what we saw the celebrities say in this show seemed to reveal their inner thoughts and feelings of comradeship born out of the shared hardship. If more reality TV concentrated on this aspect, rather than cheap stunts, then I would be a bigger fan.

Winners.

Freddie Flintoff won $100,000 for the Glen McGrath Foundation which supports breast cancer sufferers and runner up Barry Hall supported the Shane Warne Foundation, so all in all the cricket fraternity did very well out of the show.

Maybe I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here will be back next year with more actual celebrities, but somehow I doubt it.

By Max Power
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categories Reality | comments Comments (0)

Nine Celebrities Get Them Out of Here

More Reality TV Stars Join

The Celebrity Reality Show.


Well I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here has finally been reduced to nine ‘celebrities’. The series started off with ten, three have been evicted, so that makes nine… No, wait a minute!

Believe it or not, those figures are correct. Because every time they have evicted a celebrity, they added one or two more. Although, in the main, those that they added were also really pushing the definition of celebrity.

Laura Dundovic and Tim from The Batchelor leaving I'm a celebrity

Unknown celebrities Laura Dundovic and some bloke from The Batchelor

The first real celebrity to go was multiple Olympic medalist Liesel Jones. But she was replaced by a couple from The Bachelor, another reality TV series, although one of them was promptly turfed out. The next competitor to leave was the former Miss Australia, Laura Dundovic and she was replaced with Julie Goodwin, who was previously known for winning another Channel 10 reality TV Show, Master Chef. Do you see a pattern emerging here?

At some point a genuine English celebrity snuck under the radar to join the camp. Andrew “Freddy” Flintoff was famous for the reality show International Test Cricket. Now that’s some real reality there.

Another couple of originals were given the heave ho, the Hi5 singer Lauren Brant and TV Presenter Andrew Daddo, to finally bring the numbers to less they they originally started with.

Lauren Brant I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here

Lauren Brant quite the little madam

Laura Dundovic began her stay as a complete wuss. She would not join in the mucky challenge that she was set with Maureen McCormick. While 58 year old Maureen was swimming around in tubs of offal and Elephant’s faeces, the most Laura could manage was to dip a hand in.

But after that Laura became a bit of jungle warrior, eating all sorts of unsavoury, inedible crap and climbing mountains for meal rewards. Sadly the public either never forgave her for her early failings, or had just had enough of her and she was second to go.

Lauren Brant proved to be something of a little madam, telling the Master Chef winner how meals should be prepared and complaining about the blokes in the camp being blokey. She was joined in this amazing observation by the camp bloke in the camp, Joel Creasey. This struck me as the most ridiculous objection, it’s bit like whining about horses being horsey.

One of those blokey blokes really took on his fears to win decent meals for the whole camp. Merv Hughes stuck his head into tanks full of snakes, spiders and other creepy crawlies to win stars which each count as a meal for the competitors.

But overcoming his fears really took a toll on the old fast bowling war horse. He was unable to eat himself that night and took to his bed, in what looked like delayed shock.

Andrew Daddo I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here

Andrew Daddo, daddy of the blokey blokes.

Merv also managed to fall foul of the feminists in the camp, especially Joel Creasey. Merv has apparently been winding up the other campers, which is pretty much a trait with sportsmen. Merv used some old fashioned sexist clichés to gee up the girls. One night he told one of them “Make my dinner woman” and joked that he would cut off her head off with a machete if she didn’t.

This caused all sorts of ructions in the camp and the presenters made a big deal about showing his politically incorrect comments. But Channel 10 really should get their priorities right. Maybe they should stop showing ads for brothels with men singing “I’m looking for someone other than my wife”, before they climb on their high horse and take the moral high ground on feminism.

Talking of sportsmen winding people up. Freddy Flintoff went head to head with Merv for the title of the show’s biggest pest. Freddy took every opportunity to wind up the pretty boy presenter, Dr Chris Brown, about his looks, at every challenge.

Things almost got out of hand when he continued to sit on, the AFL hard man, Barry Hall‘s bed, after he repeatedly asked him not to. Barry laid the law down in no uncertain terms and threatened to get physical, should Freddy cross that line again.

Barry also showed his grumpy side by demanding that no one should interrupt him when he is reading out the notifications from the shows producers.

Despite all of this, on leaving Andrew Daddo stated that he thought that Barry would replace him as the daddy of the camp.

It has taken three weeks to reduce the original numbers by one, so how long it will take to get rid of the remaining nine “celebs” is anyone’s guess.

But if you can’t get enough of watching people eating disgusting items, taking on scary animals and splashing around in poop, there’s plenty more to come. So keep watching I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here on Channel 10 Sunday to Thursday at 7:30PM

By Max Power
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Downton Abbey is Back

Downton Abbey Season Five Premieres

on Channel 7


Downton Abbey has returned to Channel 7 in Australia, with series 5, which premiered in the UK last year. But of course first run shows are not considered by commercial stations in Australia in Summer.

Carson and Lord Grantham

Carson (Jim Carter) and Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) bending and maybe breaking in the winds of change.

This series begins in 1924, when a Labour government has been elected in Britain and the winds of change are pretty unsettling for the British aristocracy. The heads of the house, both upstairs and downstairs, Lord Grantham and his butler Carson, are not at all comfortable with the changing of the guard that they fear. The working class are demanding a greater say in the way of things and more authority being allocated based on ability, rather than accident of birth.

Lady Mary is being hotly pursued by Lord Gillingham, who has both honourable and more base intentions. All the while she is becoming more assured in her role managing the estate and her father.

Lady Edith is maintaining contact with her daughter, born without benefit of clergy. The little girl has been adopted by one of the estate’s farmers, but keeping the secret is difficult and suspicions are bound to be aroused soon.

Lady Mary pursued by Lord Gillingham

Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) pursued by Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen)

Cousin Isobel Crawley, also has an admirer, Lord Merton. This is of some concern to the Dowager Countess, who does not relish the prospect of Isobel joining the titled gentry and is doing her best to scuttle the the relationship. Dr Clarkson, who has a close friendship with Isobel, is also not keen to see things develop further.

Below stairs, Thomas Barrow continues to manipulate and scheme against everyone that he can. But always manages to avoid falling foul of the hierarchy by outrageous good fortune.

Downton Abbey Daisy

Daisy (Sophie McShera) pursues further education

Kitchen maid Daisy has decided to educate herself and is finding it hard going. But Lady Rose has introduced Tom Branson‘s friend and schoolteacher, Sarah Bunting, to the household. So a hook up between those two seems certain to be in the offing.

The show continues to provide interesting story lines, great costumes and 1920′s fashion, for those that are into that sort of thing, and the acting of the huge ensemble cast is superb. Even so, Dame Maggie Smith continues to steal almost every scene that she is in.

Downton Abbey airs on Sudays at 9:00PM on Channel 7. Stay tuned, or pick up the shows from iTunes or Amazon via the links below.

CLICK HERE to download episodes or entire series of Downton Abbey

By Max Power
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categories Drama | comments Comments (0)
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