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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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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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I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here

Channel 10 Launches Their Short of Celebrity

Reality Show.


After what seems like a couple of years of promotion on Channels 10 and 11 the Australian version of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here finally launched last night.

I'm a celebrity get me out of here

The UK version of the show is famous for featuring former celebrities whose pulling power has long since passed, so I was not expecting much in the way of star quality from what is a much smaller pool to draw on.

I was not disappointed by the presence of any major stars.

Well OK this is Australia, so the biggest stars we have are sports people and the cast does include three well known ones.

Merv Hughes, cricketer, renowned for his fast bowling, limbering up exercises and bushy moustache.

Liesel Jones, Olympic Gold medallist and one of the world’s all time best breast stroke swimmers.

Barry Hall, former AFL star and leading goal kicker for St Kilda, the Sydney Swans and the Western Bulldogs.

From there the level of celebrity went down hill really fast.

Chrissy Swan was first seen on Australian TV in another reality TV series, Big Brother, she segued that into a career as a TV and Radio presenter. Merv joked on the first episode that she has the perfect face for radio.

An American D lister has been imported. Maureen McCormick was famous as Marcia Brady, in The Brady Bunch… 40 years ago.

Maureen McCormick AKA Marcia Brady - Now and Then

Maureen McCormick AKA Marcia Brady – Now and Then

Andrew Daddo, is one of the huge Australian media family of Daddos, I’m not sure which one. Apparently he has spent 25 years in the media and written a children’s book. I’ve seen him on TV but I don’t remember when or what it was in.

Joel Creasey is a stand up comedian. I think I may have seen him on TV once or twice before. Once again I don’t remember where or when. Joel is also the series token gay character.

Lauren Brant is or was a member of Hi-5. Hi-5 were or are a singing group of children’s entertainers. I don’t have any children, so I have never had cause to higher them, a clown or a petting zoo.

Laura Dundovic is a Model, Presenter and was Miss Universe Australia in 2008. No one who is not into that sort of thing has ever seen or heard of her before.

The final “Celebrity” is Tyson Mayr. The official I’m a Celebrity site says that he is known for travel, international modelling and philanthropy. To be honest there are bigger celebrites working at my local supermarket. If he says “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” he could be sued for fraud.

Tyson Mayr Now and Then I'm not a celebrity

Tyson Mayr Now and Then “I’m not a celebrity How Did I Get Here”

The presenters are, as you will know, unless you have avoided all of the Network 10 channels in recent years, Chris Brown and Julia Morris.

Chris Brown is the Bondi Vet. A real vet who has presented a show about his practice since 2009. He also presents various other shows that I never watch. He is most famous for being ridiculously good looking.

I'm A Celebrity Hosts Julia Morris and Chris Brown

I’m A Celebrity Hosts Julia Morris and Chris Brown. Which one do you think is the prettiest?

Julia Morris is probably one of the funniest women on Australian television. She’s a comedian, actress and singer and may be the best reason to stick with this show… if I stick with it.

The first show introduced the “celebs” and gave them Tee shirts with their names on, so that we and they could remember who they were.

They were asked to jump from a helicopter into a lake full of hippopotami or hippopotamuses, whichever you prefer, but only into a sectioned off safe part.

Chrissy Swan
got covered in bugs and gross looking muck, in order to score a meal for everyone. Which will be a regular procedure, as you will know if you have ever seen the British version of the show.

Merv Hughes snored, Maureen McCormick (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia) got flustered, scared and whimpered and everyone else generally got to know each other.

Apart from that there was not a great deal to report.

We will keep an eye on the “celebrities” and will let you know when or if they do anything interesting or any of them become famous. Don’t forget to check back here for news of your favourite stars (see what I did there?).

By Max Power
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British Crime Drama

Can You Really Beat

a Good British Crime Drama?


We all know that the Americans make a lot of crime dramas and some of them are very good. The Australians make a few too and some of those are not bad at all. But can you really beat a good British crime drama?

Until recently, the ABC was the home of British crime drama on Australian television. But the new digital channels, owned by Channels 7 and 9, have now taken to airing old episodes of British crime dramas. Many of these shows have been seen before on the ABC or other commercial networks, but some of them have not aired previously in Australia, to my knowledge.

In a reversal of the pattern, Sherlock, which first aired in the UK in 2010 and on Channel 9 in Australia, is now being shown on ABC1, apparently starting with series two.

I must admit that I am having trouble getting into Sherlock, despite the presence of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the current darlings of Hollywood, who have been seen in American TV series and a whole batch of big screen movies recently.

So let’s discuss the best British crime dramas. Please let us know your favourites and why in the comments at the bottom of the page.

A Touch of Frost

David Jason and John Lyons A-Touch-of-Frost

David Jason as Jack Frost and John Lyons as George Toolan in A Touch of Frost

A Touch of Frost features one of Britain’s best loved TV stars, David Jason, previously best known as Dell Boy on Only Fools and Horses, Pop Larkin in The Darling Buds of May and Granville in Open All Hours with Ronnie Barker.

Jack Frost is a cantankerous old bugger, with as much disrespect for the Police hierarchy as he has for the villains. But he gets the job done, with his trusty side kick Detective Sargent George Toolan and a different guest DS every week, it seems.

The show has great plot lines, some great acting, especially Jim Sturgess in an episode called Close Encounters and there was a good smattering of humour too.

A Touch of Frost ran from 1992 to 2010 but can still be seen in repeats on 7Two

Click here to download episodes and entire series of A Touch of Frost from iTunes

Jonathan Creek

Alan-Davies-and-Caroline-Quentin in Jonathan Creek

Alan Davies and Caroline Quentin in Jonathan Creek

Jonathan Creek, played by Alan Davies, is a magician’s assistant, the guy that actually designs all of the illusions that the magician presents on stage. He also utilises his powers of lateral thinking to solve mysterious crimes.

Initially Jonathan partnered up with an author/journalist, Maddy Magellan, played by Caroline Quentin. As Alan Davies was previously known as a stand up comedian and Caroline Quentin was best known as Gary’s put upon girlfriend in the long running comedy series Men Behaving Badly, you can see why this series is mainly played for laughs and the “how did they do that” factor.

Davies and Quentin were very entertaining together, but Caroline Quentin left the series in 2000 and was subsequently replaced by a series of female partners and failed love interests, until 2013 when Jonathan married Polly, played by Sarah Alexander and she became his partner in crime, or in investigating crime to be strictly accurate.

Jonathan Creek ran from 1997 until 2014 in the UK and can still be seen on 7Two and the ABC in Australia.

Click here to download episodes and entire series of Jonathan Creek from iTunes

Foyle’s War

Foyles-War

Anthony Howell, Michael Kitchen and Honeysuckle Weeks in Foyles War

Foyle’s War has got to be one of my favourite crime dramas. It first aired in the UK in 2002 and there are still shows being made, occasionally.

Michael Kitchen stars, as Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, who investigates crimes in Hastings on the south east coast of England, during and just after the Second World War. He is a veteran of the First World War and would like to be doing more for the cause. But he is in a reserved occupation and his superiors think that he is more use to the country doing what he is doing. This is often a source of conflict between him and those of higher rank, that and his more honest idea of justice to theirs.

His sidekick is his driver, Samantha Stewart, played by the distinctively named Honeysuckle Weeks, who is young and very keen to get involved in every case. He is also assisted by, the slightly more qualified, Sargent and later DI Paul Milner, who has been injured out of the British army.

The original episodes of Foyle’s War took it up to the end of the Second World War, but the show was so popular that more episodes are still being produced that cover the post war period.

If you haven’t seen Foyle’s War, then do not miss the repeats or the new shows when they air. Or download the episodes or buy a box set to catch up.

Click here to get episodes and entire series of Foyle’s War from Amazon

Inspector Morse

Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis

Inspector Morse and Sergeant Lewis

Inspector Morse was one of the most popular British TV shows of all time. It featured John Thaw as Inspector Morse, a detective based in Oxford, one of the country’s major seats of learning. Morse himself was very bookish and into classical music.

He also loved his vintage Jaguar car, but most of all he loved beer. There has probably never been a crime mystery drama series with so much drinking in it.

Morse was played by John Thaw whose previous major claim to fame was playing Inspector Jack Regan in another highly popular British crime drama, The Sweeney.

Jack Regan was a much coarser character than Inspector Morse, but he also liked beer, whisky and women.

Morse was ably assisted by Sergeant Lewis, played by Kevin Whatley, who first found fame as one of the Geordie mafia in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. Lewis spun off into his own series, after the death of John Thaw.

Morse originally aired in the UK from 1987 until 2000 but the first series is currently enjoying a re-run on 7Two in Australia.

Click Here to download episodes or entire series of Inspector Morse

New Tricks

New Tricks original cast

New Tricks original cast

New Tricks is a cold case crime comedy-drama featuring veteran British actors as retired policeman giving it one more go.

The original UCOS (Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad) was made up of commanding officer Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman and retired senior detectives Jack Halford, Brian Lane and Gerry Standing.

There was a heavy dose of comedy added to the weekly mysteries, mainly centred around the age of the former officers, Gerry Standing‘s aging Lothario antics and Brian Lane‘s obsessive and other disorders.

Sandra Pullman was played by Amanda Redman, the veteran of numerous British TV series. At Home With The Braithwaites, in which she played a multi-millionaire lottery winner, was probably the most well known in Australia.

Amanda was once romantically involved with Dennis Waterman, who was most famous for playing Terry McCann in Minder, alongside George Cole‘s Arthur Daley. Dennis‘s chequered romantic past was written into Gerry Standing‘s character, along with a certain chemistry between him and Sandra Pullman.

Gerry Standing was, in many ways, the ageing version of another of Waterman‘s famous roles, Detective Sergeant George Carter from The Sweeney, who was the sidekick to John Thaw‘s Detective Inspector Jack Regan.

Jack Halford was played by James Bolam, star of innumerable British TV series going back to the early 1960′s, when he was a Likely Lad, alongside Rodney Bewes.

Casting was very much kept in the family, as Brian Lane‘s wife was played by Bolam‘s real life wife, Susan Jameson.

Brian Lane himself was played, very entertainingly, by Alun Armstrong. I particularly enjoyed one episode where Brian went undercover as a flashy villain with a much younger girlfriend, pretty much the opposite of Brian himself.

This cast survived from the shows inception in 2003 until 2013, when a great deal of dissatisfaction seemed to creep in and one by one all of the leading characters, bar Gerry Standing, were written out of the show.

New Tricks new cast

New Tricks new cast

The original cast were replaced by more stalwarts of British television. First came Denis Lawson, Ewan McGregor‘s uncle and a mentor to him. Lawson plays Steve McAndrew a retired Glasgow detective, who replaced Jack Halford.

Sandra Pullman was replaced by DCI Sasha Miller, played by Tamzin Outhwaite, a former star of the long running soap opera East Enders and the army detective series Red Cap. Interestingly Tamzin had previously played the mother of a victim in an earlier episode of New Tricks.

Finally, Brian Lane was replaced by Danny Griffin, played by Nicholas Lyndhurst, who is of course most famous for playing Rodney Trotter, alongside David Jason‘s Dell Boy, in Only Fools and Horses.

Danny Griffin has a disabled daughter, played by Storme Toolis, who regularly appears in a supporting role, much as Brian Lane‘s wife Esther did.

New episodes of New Tricks are currently airing on ABC1 on Saturday nights and repeats of earlier series can be seen on GEM (Channel 90) on Thursdays.

Click Here to download episodes or entire series of New Tricks

Agatha Christie’s Marple

miss marple with amanda holden

Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple with guest star Amanda Holden

The Miss Marple series is a little different to regular British TV series. There were fewer, but longer episodes, TV films really. There has been 23 episodes made over six seasons so far.

Originally Miss Marple was played by Geraldine McEwan from 2004 until 2008. Julia McKenzie took over the title role in 2009 and sadly Geraldine McEwan died in January 2015.

Of the episodes that I have seen, there seems to be something of an uneven flow. Some episodes seem to be played a little tongue in cheek, poking a little fun at the gentry of the era. Whereas others are played straight and more loyal to the Agatha Christie books that they are based on.

The shows casts include almost all of the leading British film and TV actors and of course the Agatha Christie mysteries are excellent. Well worth watching and very entertaining TV.

Click Here to download episodes or entire series of Agatha Christie’s Marple from iTunes

By Max Power
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Cilla

The Biopic about Cilla Black is Well Worth a Look


The ABC aired the first episode of the British mini series Cilla on Sunday night and it was very entertaining.

Sheridan-Smith-as-Cilla-Black

Sheridan Smith as Cilla-Black

Cilla is the life story of Cilla Black, a 1960’s singer, good friend of the Beatles and a big TV personality on the UK.

Cilla Black grew up in Liverpool and emerged from the Merseyside music scene at the same time as the Beatles, with a little help from her friends.

She had two number one hits and eleven top ten hits in the 1960’s and early seventies.

Cilla Black in the 60s

The real Cilla Black in the 60s

I must admit that I was never a fan of her strangled/nasal singing voice and the songs were mostly too emotional and melancholy for my taste. But Cilla was always a big cheerful personality and this laid the platform for her second career as a TV presenter in the UK.

Cilla hosted incredibly popular shows like Blind Date, a dating show in the same format as Perfect Match in Australia and The Dating Game in America, and Surprise, Surprise, a family reunion show, where long lost friends and family were reunited in the studio. As a result, she became the highest paid female entertainer in British television history.

Cilla was also a popular guest on other people’s shows, especially Parkinson.

Michael Parkinson felt a strong allegiance with the Liverpool crew from the 60’s, emerging himself from Yorkshire around the same time, when the north of England was considered so much less cool than London and the south east.

I always remember one chat show when actress Cybil Shepherd was another guest. Shepherd never tired of rolling out the story that she slept with Elvis Presley. In order to fit it in to this particular show, she told Cilla that Elvis had one of her singles on his personal jukebox at Graceland. Cilla said “I know! Ringo told me!” I call your Elvis and raise you a Beatle.

Ringo and Cilla from the TV series Cilla

Tom Dunlea as Ringo with Cilla

The first episode of the mini series Cilla showed her as regular young girl in Liverpool, working in an office, living with her parents above a barbers shop and singing in the clubs with various bands of an evening.

Cilla is played by Sheridan Smith who has also appeared in Gavin & Stacey, Jonathan Creek and as another 1960’s character, Charmian Biggs, wife of Ronnie Biggs, the elusive Great Train Robber, in the series Mrs Biggs.

In the first episode of Cilla, Sheridan belted out a few great old rockers, more the type of thing I would like to have seen Cilla herself have a go at. She also meets Bobby Willis, a local ‘scally’ (a term that just meant a bit of a rascal at the time, but seems to have taken on more sinister overtones of late) Bobby becomes her manager and later her husband.

With a little help from the Beatles, Ringo and John Lennon in particular, she gets an audition in front of their manager, Brian Epstein, who also a ran a major Liverpool music store. In the final scene we see that the audition didn’t go so well, but we all know that better things are in store for Cilla.

If you missed the first episode of Cilla you can catch it on the ABC’s iview

Episode two and three of Cilla air on the next two Sundays at 8:30 on ABC1

By Max Power
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Big Brother Neighbours Evictions and Friends Nominations

Big Brother’s Friends and Relations

Endanger the Favourites


Early in the week both the Big Brother male neighbours from next door were evicted. Tom was no surprise, I thought he added nothing to the show and I hated his haircuts. But I thought that Harry Potter would have been more popular than Potty Penny.

Richard and Sonia Big Brother

Thursday’s show started with a lie and continued in that vein.

It was depicted as if Skye was the closest to being evicted, when Richard actually went. But they have not told us what the vote count was, or even the percentages that they normally lay on us.

Based on her previous popularity, I am pretty sure that Skye did not pick up the second lowest votes to save her and it was all done for dramatic effect.

That said, I don’t really blame them. Skye has been way too cocky of late and if making her wait before being saved makes her a little more humble, then that’s not a bad thing.

Parting Messages


“The parting messages from evictees have contained some parting shots of late” Mike Goldman told us in the voice over.

The parting messages are so obviously answers to questions that they’ve been asked by Big Brother these days!

Big Brother Parting shots

The exiting house mates even repeat the questions, unable to include these “parting shots” in their own natural dialogue.

Richard’s exit interview with Sonia also confirmed how primed the house mates are.

Asked if he thought Penny could win he said “Yes, definitely” when everyone, including him, knows it will be one of the original house mates, probably Skye, Travis, Ryan or David.

I highlight these lies and dramatisations, not to ruin anyone’s enjoyment of the show, but to emphasize how much we are deceived by the media. It’s fine to suspend reality for a bit of entertainment, but the media and TV especially, predominantly present fiction as fact and this can be very dangerous.

The lies that were fed to the Australian people recently resulted in the worst government for the people ever, being elected in this country. A government that strongly believes in taxing the poor and destroying the environment in favour of lining the pockets of the billionaires that put them there.

Some will say that most people can see when they are being deceived or lied to, but this is evidently not true. I recently had a conversation with a woman on social media, who insisted that the teenage party games like ‘spin the bottle’, ‘truth or dare’ etc. were the ideas of the house mates and not the Big Brother directors, as I had suggested. When she persisted with her delusions, I asked if she would like to buy a harbour bridge from me, or bank some money from Nigerian Princes. She had no idea what I was hinting at with that.

Nominations by Family and Friends


To shake things up a bit, this week the nominations were made, not by the house mates, but by their family and friends and it really did shake things up.

The family and friends were marched into the house in front of the house mates and they were allowed to communicate with each other, although the house mates were not allowed to get up from the sofa.

David‘s dad Melvyn surprisingly looks like and sounds like a London cab driver.

Davids dad Melvyn
This clip contains some very strong language. Please do not play if you are likely to be offended.


Penny’s reaction when her mother entered the house made her look like those photos of stars without teeth.

Celebs and Big Brothers Penny Without Teeth

Penny’s mum was however hilarious. She nominated Leo for not being sun safe and Travis for not recycling. That was funny!

Lina‘s boyfriend out geeked ex house mate Jake, yet the girls all said he was gorgeous. Is this what women look for these days? Or were they just being polite? The Big Brother voting would suggest otherwise.

Ryans sister Abby

Ryan’s sister, Abby, is a real cutey.

It was evident from her expressions that Priya really didn’t like being nominated by the rellies, but they are seeing the shows and everything that she says. Mind you, David and Ryan did not look happy when they were nominated either.

Travis‘s mum, Cheryl, stirred the pot by revealing Ryan‘s previous nominations, which I thought was very devious and will only cause friction within the house. The voters already know who has been nominating who. Travis obviously learnt diction from his mother; Cheryl can not speak properly either. It’s pronounced ‘strategically’ Cheryl!

Having seen the nominations, but not the points allocated, David got up and took his position before his nomination announcement was even made.

The two newest girls, Lina and Penny, escaped nomination and that did not sit well with the long term house mates.

There are still eight house mates remaining, going into the last two weeks, so I assume that three will go next week.

With David, Ryan, Priya, Leo and Skye nominated, I’m guessing that Skye and Ryan will stay, based on previous results and their popularity on social media.

By Max Power
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Big Brother Evictions, Moralising and Meat Heads

House Favourites and Big Characters

are Shown the Door


The Big Brother evictions this week saw some big characters disappear.

Cat and Lawson a Two for One Deal

On Monday night the magician, Lawson, was vanished and on Tuesday the two most attractive female house mates, Aisha and Cat, were shown the door. But muscle men and meat heads Travis and Leo remain, to tire us with their boorish and boring presence.

The dismissal of Lawson and Cat seems to be the result of some medieval moralising by the shows voters. I can not believe it was because those remaining are actually more popular than them.

The view held inside and outside the house, seems to be that they have done something horribly wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the poor girl on the outside on the receiving end, but lets be honest, relationships begin and end everyday. Neither of them are married or cohabiting with a partner and Lawson‘s relationship with his girlfriend seems to have been shaky before he entered the house.

As we have discussed here before, the whole show is set up to encourage hook ups between the house mates,

Why Do House Mates Hook Up?


Cat and Lawson on a bed

Well let’s face it, it’s the ideal situation for a holiday romance. Relaxing around the pool with none of your every day worries or demands, surrounded by eligible and desirable play mates.

Add to that the illusion of no contact with the outside world, a certain amount of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ must creep in.

That enforced remoteness must also have the opposite effect, because the house mates keep telling us that it does. Being apart from your friends and family and essentially isolated with a bunch of strangers, drives some people to seek comfort in the arms of someone who is easy on the eyes… apparently.

So when it happens, why do people become shocked and outraged?

Travis and Aisha laughing

I can understand the feeling within the house. Some players, like Jason, Skye and David used it to their advantage, highlighting the outrage to try to make Cat and Lawson less of a threat in the game.

Aisha took a real offence to the situation because she has been a wronged woman herself and still feels the burn. So she had an affinity with Lawson‘s girlfriend on the outside.

Cat and Lawson farewell hug

To me Cat and Lawson both seem like intelligent, reasonable and decent people. Although I found the on screen smooch pretty gross. Hollywood it wasn’t. But if they were on the outside things would have panned out completely differently… if they would have got together at all.

Lawson would have been in a position to discuss the situation with his girlfriend and make a clean break. Cat, I don’t think would have been drawn to him outside of the house. So I don’t believe there is any real future for the relationship.

Why Did Aisha Get the Chop?


The only reason I can see for Aisha being evicted and Travis and Leo staying is that the vast majority of voters must be female.

Aisha in bed with Travis

Aisha is a stunner and a pretty entertaining house mate, when she’s not with Travis.

But Travis can be really boorish and seems to revel in his own ignorance. The voters appear to like that. That worries me and should worry you too, if he’s seen as someone to be admired.

Travis is also quite a sulky whinger at times. He has never dealt well with being separated from Aisha and has been pretty confrontational to Ryan on more than one occasion. Only correcting his behaviour, I believe, when he has been spoken to off screen by Big Brother.

Leo is at least Travis‘s equal in the sulking and whinging stakes. He can’t live without his proteins, or Skye, it now seems. He’s never afraid to show his miserable face, or complain about how hard things are for him.

I understand that women, and a certain kind of man, will find him good to look at, but let’s be honest, he’s boring and should have been voted out before Jason, Lawson, Aisha and Cat.

I suppose my favourite to win now would be Ryan. He’s not the most entertaining house mate there ever has been, but he seems like a decent bloke and would be the easiest to get along with of those remaining.

Of course I am discounting the intruders from next door, as we still have no idea what the plan is for them and no intruder has ever won Big Brother.

By Max Power
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