Monday, February 8, 2010

Couch Potatoes: England 2010 Part 3

As I mentioned in part 1 of this series, we had a lot of snow during our recent trip to England. This was not a bad thing; we really needed a break, and these trips often result in us tearing around the country. We spent most of this visit simply relaxing with my family, watching TV and listening to music.

I generally try to keep up with the British music scene, but I'd really let things slip in recent years. Fortunately, my brother had brought a lot of recent music with him, and so I was able to catch up. A few years ago, I "discovered" Goldfrapp, a synth duo led by Alison Goldfrapp, who wear their influences (Glam Rock, 80s synthpop) on their sleeves, but La Roux, another suitably retro synthpop duo, were new to me. Anyone into early Vince Clarke should give them a listen. I'd heard a bit of Lily Allen, but really hadn't taken the time to listen to her clever lyrics. Another thing I appreciate about her two albums is how she embraces different music genres. Be warned, though; Lily, is a bit of a potty-mouth! I first heard Paloma Faith, a quirky chanteuse, on Jools Holland's New Year's Eve show, Hootenanny. Also on that show I heard Florence and the Machine. Singer Florence Welch didn't impress me much, live, but I did enjoy her album, Lungs. Although he's not a British Act, I did miss bluesman Seasick Steve on Hootenanny. He attained worldwide fame after being on the show a few years ago, and has appeared several times since. Fortunately, my Father had recorded some of his other TV appearances for me. I was also thrilled to hear about the imminent release of the movie biopic of Ian Dury, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, after seeing starring actor Andy Serkis (Gollum from The Lord of the Rings movies) being interviewed on TV.

Among the TV shows I watched was the second part of the Doctor Who special, The End of Time, a wonderful farewell, both to star David Tennant and writer/producer Russell T. Davies and an introduction to new star Matt Smith. After avoiding Big Brother for years, we got hooked on the final series, Celebrity Big Brother, and had to follow news about the show when we returned to the US (Cage-fighter Alex Reid, boyfriend of model/reality TV star Katie Price beat Dane Bowers, ex-boyfriend of Price!). A big fan of cooking shows, I discovered the delights of The Hairy Bikers, who motorcycle and cook around Britain. Their most recent series, Mums Know Best, feature the bikers visiting Mothers around the country, persuading them to share their favorite family recipes. Their homemade fish and chips recipe had me salivating! One thing I really miss about British TV is the wide range of great shows about wildlife, both native and around the world. Some of these make it to the US, but not nearly enough. Fortunately, my family is a big fan of these shows, so I got to see lots of them, including a Christmas special produced by Springwatch. I also enjoyed Wild at Heart, starring Hayley Mills, about a British Vet starting a game park in South Africa. Unfortunately, an American version of this show was canceled in 2008, due to poor ratings.

Do you have a favorite recent UK music act or TV show? Have I missed a gem or two? Please do share in a comment!


Carrie B said...

Bic Runga is good. She's a Kiwi.

Ginger Pugliese said...

Great posts! I am american with many british friends made while working together at major banks over the years. I miss the pubs for my friends, they have mostly retired from the UK to Spain, dammit, where the sun shines 320 days a year. Also, love that UK oldie but hottie, Paul Carrick (Satisfy My Soul)

Traci said...

I loved Goldfrapp back in 2004!

A UK show we're enjoying on BBC America at the moment is Last Restaurant Standing. Other UK programmes that we have enjoyed on BBC America are Ashes To Ashes, Hustle, M15 (Spooks in the UK), and currently, The Inbetweeners.

Ah, Springwatch makes me feel homesick!

Graham, do you know if the new Blur and Ian Drury movies are being released in US cinemas or just on DVD?

Graham said...

@Carrie B - I'll check out Bic Runga!

@Ginger - I've heard that many ex-pat Brits are returning to the UK after becoming disillusioned with Spain, and finding it tough in this economy.

@Traci - I only discovered Goldfrapp a couple of years ago, but I've really enjoyed their stuff. They have a new album coming out - I'm afraid I'm not yet impressed with the first single I've heard from it. It sounds too much like middle-of-the-road 80s pop-fodder. I hope I'm proven wrong.

I've been tempted by some of the shows you mention, but I try to limit the amount of time I spend watching TV over here. On BBC America, I mainly watch Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross (have you heard that Ross will soon be finishing his show, after a falling out with the BBC?)

I don't know anything about the movies you mention - perhaps has some information?