Autodidact: self-taught


Fresh Meat

by V. L. Craven
I had to use this photo of the series 2 cast because it has Jack Whitehall looking like a doofus.

I had to use this photo of the series 2 cast because it has Jack Whitehall looking like a doofus.

Fresh Meat follows the exploits of a group of awkward students as they awkwardly make their awkward way through uni in Manchester. None of them got into halls (the dorms) so they’re sharing a house. It’s a mish-mash of personalities. Let the good times roll.

The main cast:

Josie: (Kimberley Nixon) Bubbly, Welsh, naive and seemingly kind. People really aren’t what they appear sometimes. All of these people put on fronts to appear to be cooler than they are to their peers, but this one… Wow.

Oregon: (Charlotte Ritchie) A literature swot who makes poor life choices in terms of married professors and, you know, sleeping with them. Particularly when their wife is also in the English department.

Vod: (Zawe Ashton) Far more interested in drinking and drugging than studying, Vod, also isn’t a big fan of the Establishment. Go anarchy!

Howard: (Greg McHugh) Scottish, socially inept but kind, Howard is older than the others, as he changed courses from philosophy to geology. If this show were made a few years ago this character would be played by Nick Frost.

Kingsley: (Joe Thomas) Bog-standard English guy. Awkward in the typical way. Just wants to be a good person and get a nice girlfriend. That doesn’t mean he’s not a tit sometimes.

And J.P.: (Jack Whitehall) Complete posh-o who’s in Manchester because he couldn’t get into a ‘proper university’. This was Whitehall’s acting debut and though his character is absolutely dreadful, he’s still my favourite. He’s condescending and arrogant, but also a loser with women and can be genuinely kind.

There is not one cast photo where he's not pulling a face. This man.

There is not one cast photo where he’s not pulling a face. This man.

There are currently three series with a fourth being filmed this year. Each year there are recurring characters that are more or less successful, but it’s the main cast that makes the show.

A standout character from the second and third series (and hopefully the fourth) was Sabine, a Dutch PhD student. She’s very straightforward and doesn’t particularly care for the kids because she sees them for the self-absorbed not-yet-fully-formed humans they are. There’s a hilarious scene in a pub where the British group are asking her how she talks/bonds/gets off with people if she doesn’t drink. I mean…that’s the only way British people can loosen up enough to be social.

It is NOT perfectly natural, you weirdo!

The show was created by Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, the people behind Peep Show. Robert Webb was in series one and two as Kingsley, Howard and JP’s geology lecturer. (And I felt it right in the age bone when I realised that Peep Show is twelve years old. It’s nearly a teenager.)

If you enjoy shows like, well, Peep Show, The Inbetweeners and Bad Education–ensemble casts of disparate people getting themselves into and out of trouble and being awkward in the process–you’ll enjoy this one. 5/5


Introducing Richmond

by V. L. Craven

More Richmond here .


Come Sue with Me

by V. L. Craven

aaaaaaaall of the offensiveness

Come Fly with Me is a new sketch show by Matt Lucas and David Walliams, the people behind Little Britain.

This one is set in and around an airport in London with Lucas and Walliams playing all of the main characters.


Just when I thought House doing black face was the most offensive thing British people could get away with that Americans could never do…

Lucas and Walliams show up and do their level best to offend everyone.

Starting with Precious Little, a black woman who runs a coffee shop. She’s lazy, hypocritical and always singing songs about Jesus.

My hypothesis is that, whilst writing the series, Lucas and Walliams had a giant poster reading, ‘Leave No One Unoffended.’ A good drinking game would be to take a shot every time someone says or does something that would get an entertainer in America sued blind.

Interestingly, there are no American characters, either being offended or being offensive. They get everyone else, though, including Welsh, Irish and Scottish people, so they’re not only taking the piss from those who have different amounts of melanin in their skin.

During the commentary of Little Britain in America David Walliams said he’d sometimes forget he was dressed as an old woman and would be trying to chat up girls between takes. So, in Come Fly with Me the actors had to stand around in public between takes while dressed as some staggeringly racist characters. There had to be moments when they were standing there thinking, ‘What the hell have I done… This seemed like a much better idea when we were writing it…’



by V. L. Craven

IT Crowd




by V. L. Craven

Fuck Yeah IT Crowd

And this is wrong wrong wrong


If Buffy and Angel Moved to England

by V. L. Craven

They’d be in the same universe as Hex.

Rather than vampires, we have witches, voodoo and Azazeal, a fallen angel here to make life difficult for very specific people.

Set at a remote boarding school I would have happily killed to attend (Englefield House, pictured below), there’s a blond heroine we’re supposed to believe isn’t popular and her best friend, lesbian Thelma Bates. There’s some really well-done, subtle tension between the two friends (and an obligatory but nevertheless hot snogging scene at the start of the second or third episode) until Thelma is sacrificed. These things happen, you know.

If this was my school I would have actually turned up

It’s available on Netflix for the Yanks, and I’d recommend it for Buffy/Angel fans. The production values are the same though some of the fx make up far surpasses Buffy and Angel.

My personal favourite parts (aside from the girls kissing) are some of the adult supporting characters. Anna Wilson-Jones is one of the teachers at the school and I’ve been a fan of hers since she played the ex-girlfriend in Spaced. Another fav of mine is Colin Salmon, who plays the principal of the school. He was excellent in the second Prime Suspect and a total wanker in the eighth series of Bad Girls. Katy Carmichael is also a joy and quite different from Twist, the character she played in Spaced.

The chief differences between this show and Buffy are: nudity, sex and language, which they have in Britain, as well as characters having tongues when they kiss. Hey, at least they’re keeping it real. Also, the storyline takes the entire series to play out rather than the let’s-kill-the-monster episodic storylines of Buffy.

One thing that drives me crazy (other than the repeated mispronunciation of “nephilim”) is that the ghost, while brilliantly played, can touch things with no problem, but not people. I know it’s just a bit of fun, but explain how an entity can use the same hairbrush a living person does but cannot also touch that person.

That aside, it’s a pretty show to look at and a fun ride.

[The upper portion of this post is a repost from a previous blog. Original post date: 9 December, 2007. The following was added at posting:]

The lead actress in Hex (Claire Skinner) plays the governor of a prestigious university in England in Trinity.

This show only lasted one series of 8 episodes (a common length for British shows). It’s difficult to categorise. Drama, comedy, supernatural something, evil Americans running some sort of nefarious scheme through an upper-class club… Charles Dance was in it. He was great. The adults were fine, but the student characters were straight out of a stereotype machine. The last half hour of the final episode had me shouting, ‘NOW you get interesting?!’

So… watch it or don’t. But the scenery is nice. It was filmed at Dulwich College, London.


Black Books, How I Love Thee

by V. L. Craven


Because I have an unbelievably short attention span I have to be doing at least two things at once or else I can’t concentrate on anything. I’ve been working on adding notes and quotes from books to this site and that requires having something else happening in the background. Oh look, Black Books, the best show in the history of time. If you like books you must see this show. If you like British comedy, watch it. If neither of those things appeal to you I haven’t the foggiest why you’re reading my blog as we have nothing in common. Nothing, I tell you.

Of course, I’ve seen all three series many, many times, but it always makes me laugh. I watched it all a couple weeks ago, actually. So I thought I’d change it up a bit and put it on with the commentary, which is the three stars Dylan Moran, Bill Bailey and Tamsin Grieg talking about the show. Holy christ, I’ve been laughing my ass off. It’s mostly them saying, “Look how great/shite/thin/sick I look!”, talking about how great the extras were or bitching about how stupid the script is. (The show was written by Moran. I love people who can slag themselves off, which sounds naughty but isn’t.)

Of course, after this I’ll have to dig out my Dylan Moran CDs and Bill Bailey DVDs.

And I curse you people for only making three piddly series worth. In England, they hate themselves and they think everything they do is rubbish so they do stupidly short TV series–6 to 8 episodes per year is typical of comedies. Meanwhile, in the US they think everything they do is effing brilliant so they run some tired concept into the ground by doing a total of a hundred episodes when they ran out of steam aaaaages before.

More Black Books! Less Yank crap! (And I’m still pissed at the Brits for inventing Pop/American Idol. Don’t think brilliant shows like BB and Spaced gets you any slack.)


TV Shows

by V. L. Craven

Black Books

Series 1, Episode 1: Cooking the Books

Series 1, Episode 2: Manny’s First Day

One of my fav bits from entire series No wigwams!

Funniest Scenes from Series 2 and Series 3

Quotes from episodes not available on You Tube:

Bernard: You know what you are? You’re a beard with an idiot hanging off it. –Series 1, Episode 5: The Big Lock-Out

Bernard: Don’t make me laugh… bitterly. –Series 2, Episode 1: The Entertainer

Moo-Pa: So, Bernard, the shops still called “Black Books”, is it?
Bernard: Yeah. I was going to call it “World of Tights”, but you know how stupid people are, you have to spell everything out.

Fran: Look Bernard, look at my new phone! Look, look, look, look, look! Its got web access, its got a camera, it can do everything…
Bernard: Daaggh! Can it stop boring conversations?
Fran: No, none of them can do that.
Bernard: Mine can.
[Bernard picks up his phone receiver and speaks into it]
Bernard: Shut up about your phone.


The Catherine Tate Show

Ginger Safe House

Mighty Boosh

Eels part 2

Yes, Minister

Who Reads the Papers

You Lied

Empty Hospital

Yes, Minister Quotes
(from here )

Sir Humphrey: The argument that we must do everything a Minister demands because he has been ‘democratically chosen’ does not stand up to close inspection. MPs are not chosen by ‘the people’ – they are chosen by their local constituency parties: thirty-five men in grubby raincoats or thirty-five women in silly hats. The further ‘selection’ process is equally a nonsense: there are only 630 MPs and a party with just over 300 MPs forms a government and of these 300, 100 are too old and too silly to be ministers and 100 too young and too callow. Therefore there are about 100 MPs to fill 100 government posts. Effectively no choice at all.

Sir Humphrey: How to discredit an unwelcome report:

Stage One: Refuse to publish in the public interest saying
1. There are security considerations.
2. The findings could be misinterpreted.
3. You are waiting for the results of a wider and more detailed report which is still in preparation. (If there isn’t one, commission it; this gives you even more time).

Stage Two: Discredit the evidence you are not publishing, saying
1. It leaves important questions unanswered.
2. Much of the evidence is inconclusive.
3. The figures are open to other interpretations.
4. Certain findings are contradictory.
5. Some of the main conclusions have been questioned. (If they haven’t, question them yourself; then they have).

Stage Three: Undermine the recommendations. Suggested phrases:
1. ‘Not really a basis for long term decisions’.
2. ‘Not sufficient information on which to base a valid assessment’.
3. ‘No reason for any fundamental rethink of existing policy’.
4. ‘Broadly speaking, it endorses current practice’.

Stage Four: Discredit the person who produced the report. Explain (off the record) that
1. He is harbouring a grudge against the Department.
2. He is a publicity seeker.
3. He is trying to get a Knighthood/Chair/Vice Chancellorship.
4. He used to be a consultant to a multinational.
5. He wants to be a consultant to a multinational.

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