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!