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A. R. Gallagher (Bedfordshire, England)
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Count Arthur Strong [DVD]
Count Arthur Strong [DVD]
Dvd ~ Steve Delaney
Price: 7.25

27 of 65 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A different character, 2 Aug 2013
This review is from: Count Arthur Strong [DVD] (DVD)
As a long-time fan of Count Arthur on the radio, I awaited this series with no little trepidation. Sadly, I was right to do so.

What's wrong with it? Well, in the first place, the Count on TV simply doesn't look old enough. And while Steve Delaney is convincing on radio, his visual acting skills, in my opinion, leave a lot to be desired. The trousers gag, so effective in the very first radio episode, lacked impact when it appeared in the first TV episode.

Gerry the café owner has been replaced by Turks, and a Pole introduced as a café customer, for no obvious reason other to satisfy the politically correct BBC in ticking the required multicultural boxes. I bet there were BBC executives wetting their pants as it suddenly dawned on them that they had broadcast seven radio series which contained not a single ethnic minority - unless you count the occasional unconvincing foreign accent. Wilf the butcher, Jack the publican, Sally, Geoffrey, Gerry...all audibly white and English (except possible Jack who may be Scottish), all consigned to the dustbin.

All the radio series were performed in front of live audiences whose laughter stands as testimony to the quality of the programmes. This TV programme, on the other hand, is backed by canned laughter. That says it all really.
Comment Comments (29) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2013 12:07 AM BST


The Conquest Of Everest [DVD]
The Conquest Of Everest [DVD]
Dvd ~ George Lowe
Price: 10.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great film with a big omission, 17 July 2013
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I was prompted to buy this DVD after reading Harriet Tuckey's book* about her father Griffith Pugh, the physiologist without whom Everest would not have been conquered on this occasion. In her book Tuckey makes the point that her father's role in the endeavour is barely mentioned, either in this film or in Hunt's book about the expedition. Where he does appear in the film, he is made to look by turns rather foolish or merely an impediment to the main event. In fact, he designed the clothes, boots, tents, stoves; he formulated the party's diet; it was he who understood and insisted upon the importance of drinking and remaining hydrated at high altitude; and most critically, it was he who understood that if the goal was to be achieved, then oxygen would have to be used, comparing two different supply systems and quantifying the volume of gas needed to get to the summit (until now many British climbers shunned oxygen, as they felt its use to be 'ungentlemanly').

But apart from that... it's a great film. The music tends to be rather overdramatic most of the time (is this really by the same composer who gave us Jamaican Rumba? Yes, it is!), the commentary reminds me rather of Harry Enfield's spoof public information character Mr Grayson, and the ending is rather abrupt. But the images and storyline are dramatic, and the film is a wonderful record of one of the 20th Century's greatest achievements.

*Everest - The First Ascent: the untold story of Griffith Pugh, the man who made it possible


Ed Reardon's Week Series 6 (Radio Collection)
Ed Reardon's Week Series 6 (Radio Collection)
by Christopher Douglas
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 16.34

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great series, 16 July 2012
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Some years ago Alan Partridge pitched some ideas to the entirely fictional Programme Controller at the BBC; they included Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank, A Partridge Amongst the Pigeons (in which Alan stands in Trafalgar Square, waves his hands about and goes 'ahhh..') and, most famously, Monkey Tennis. Glancing at tonight's TV schedule, I see that while none of these programmes have actually come to fruition, we do have items from the same stable, including The Hairy Bakers (in which two food enthusiasts take their longest trip yet, searching for pies and pasties), and The World's Most Dangerous Roads with Sue Perkins and Liza Tarbuck.

Life, then, clearly imitates art. So I look forward with great anticipation to the 6.30pm slot on Radio 4 being filled with the new panel game Cheese Cricket, in which Ed Reardon plays the host. The savage put-downs administered by Ed to the 12-year olds Zits and Zack (the new Flanagan and Allen, as Felix describes them), had me helpless with laughter, and indeed, had me replaying the episode time and time again.

More brilliance from Christopher Douglas and Andrew Nickolds - may their muse never wane.


Ed Reardon's Week: The Complete Fifth Series
Ed Reardon's Week: The Complete Fifth Series
Offered by Audible Ltd
Price: 7.95

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great content, shoddy product, 4 April 2012
I'm one of Ed Reardon's biggest fans. I already have series 1,2,3 and 4. I bought them as professionally produced audio CDs. They come in triple CD jewel cases, have proper artwork (as inserts and on the CDs themselves), a list of episodes, a cast list, and they are in stereo. They look good on my bookshelf.

After waiting for what seemed a very long time for Series 5 to appear in a similar format, I gave in to frustration and downloaded it. I now have three sad-looking blank audio CDs with my handwriting on them, in paper sleeves, with no artwork, no episode or cast lists, and the product is in mono. Unlike the first four series, the episodes are not apportioned two to a disc - episode 3 is divided across discs 1 and 2, and episode 6 is divided across discs 2 and 3. I could see no way to avoid this.

I cant' help feeling that Ed himself would have a great deal to say about this appalling decline in standards. Great comedy as always - but a very shoddy product. I feel rather cheated.


Rumpole at Christmas
Rumpole at Christmas
by John Mortimer
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.39

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inconsistent and lazy - from a Rumpole fanatic, 28 Oct 2010
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This review is from: Rumpole at Christmas (Paperback)
Of the many joys of the 'original' Rumpole stories - by which I mean the ones written from the seven televised series and two 'specials' - the numerous references to characters and events in previous stories gave the reader a feeling of continuity. The characters were fully formed and, in the readers' mind, really lived.

Unfortunately, this continuity was not kept up in later years in the single stories usually published in time for Christmas. And, as a devoted Rumpole fan, I noticed, and felt let down. This collection of short stories is full of such 'inconsistencies', as the reviewer Mr Freeman describes them.

For example: since the very beginning Rumpole's Chambers have resided at 1 Equity Court. In two of these stories, they seemed to have upped sticks and moved along to number 4. In "Rumpole and the Christmas Break", Hilda meets Mr Justice Graves for the first time, having apparently forgotten that she once spent a considerable amount of time with him on a cruise in "Rumpole at Sea". And indeed, Rumpole himself, who tells us that he knows Graves "...only as The Old Gravestone", has apparently forgotten what we, the readers, would never forget - that the man was always habitually referred to as "Mr Injustice Graves". In "Rumpole and the Millennium Bug" (1999) Henry is no longer the clerk; in "Rumpole and the Christmas Party" (2004) he has been reinstated to his position. In two consecutive stories Dodo Mackintosh lives first in Devon, then in Cornwall. Not impossible, I suppose, but without any supporting information, inconsistent.

Mortimer's unofficial biographer described his subject as lazy, and I regret to say that I agree with him. For example: in "Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces" the town in Norfolk which Rumpole and Hilda visit is called Coldsands, the same name used for the west country town in "Rumpole and the Alternative Society". In the same story the name of the policeman involved is Grimble, which is also the name of the northern town to which Rumpole travels in "Rumpole and the Show Folk". Professor Ackerman, who in previous stories has always been Andrew, becomes Arthur in "Rumpole and the Christmas Break". And compare these openings:

"Christmas comes but once a year and this time it came as usual with tinselled cards and sprigs of holly appearing at the entrance to the cells under the Old Bailey; and 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' played endlessly in the Tastee-Bite cafe in Fleet Street (from "Rumpole and the Christmas Party").

"Christmas comes but once a year, and it is usually preceded by Christmas cards kept in the prison officers' cubby holes around the Old Bailey and 'Away in a Manger' bleating through Boots..." (from "Rumpole and the Health Farm Murder").

The strongest story in this weak bunch is "Rumpole and the Health Farm Murder", but even here, the plot line strongly resembles the one which appeared in "Rumpole and the Old, Old Story". And we are asked to believe that even with a barrister and solicitor on the scene when a suspicious death occurs, the corpse is simply examined by a doctor and then taken away in an ambulance without any involvement of a pathologist or, indeed, the police. This is lazy stuff. I know Mortimer was getting on a bit by the time he wrote these stories, but aren't editors supposed to edit?

I'm sorry if this sounds rather bad-tempered, but I bought this book on the strength of the preceding five reviews, all of which gave the book five stars. I did so because I believed this book would be better than Mortimer's more recent efforts. They are not. Reviewer Damaskcat suggests this collection would be a good introduction to Rumpole for new readers. I disagree. I recommend that new readers wanting to read the best Rumpole stories - the ones with consistently good plots, sub-plots, fully formed characters and endings which are not flagged up half way through the narrative - should buy the early stories which have been gathered together in the first and second omnibus editions.

I feel much better now.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2010 9:50 AM GMT


Ed Reardon's Week: Series 3
Ed Reardon's Week: Series 3
by Christopher Douglas
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 14.39

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great comic creation, 9 Sep 2010
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I've said it elsewhere, but Ed Reardon is one of the greatest comic creations of recent years. Like his namesake in Gissing's New Grub Street, he is highbrow and impoverished (the two are related), but otherwise there is no resemblance between the characters. Ed's elegant use of the English language is a joy to listen to, so much so that I have caught myself using some of his phrases in real life - "is there someone older I can speak to?", for example. Each week, Ed has success dangled in front of him; and each week, almost without exception, success is cruelly snatched away at the last minute. I am sure I am not the only listener who cares about Ed, and therein lies the secret of the programme's success. I play these CDs over and over again and never get tired of listening to them.


Inspector Morse: The Complete Series 1-12 [DVD]
Inspector Morse: The Complete Series 1-12 [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Thaw
Price: 28.60

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality drama, 8 April 2009
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In common with most other reviewers I have had no problems with this boxed set. It is fantastic value for money and has been condensed into a size which doesn't take up huge amounts of shelf space. Top quality drama, made even better by the fact that it has been so long since I last watched these programmes I have forgotten 'who dunnit' in each episode, so it is like watching them all for the first time again.


Ed Reardon's Week (BBC Audio)
Ed Reardon's Week (BBC Audio)
by Ed Reardon
Edition: Audio CD
Price: 16.34

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer utter joy!, 19 Sep 2008
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Ed Reardon is surely one of the finest comic creations of recent years. Like the equally funny Count Arthur Strong, Ed is angry about everyone and everything, but unlike the Count, is able to articulate his anger most eloquently. His (or, rather, Christopher Douglas's) use of the English language is on a par with the writing of the late, great Alan Coren. Listen, for example, to Ed's description of Shiraz wine! Very funny indeed.


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