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The Brawn Story: The Man and the Team That Turned Formula 1 Upside-down
The Brawn Story: The Man and the Team That Turned Formula 1 Upside-down
by Christopher Hilton
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of a great story, 6 July 2010
The story of Brawn GP was unique - a team that almost never made it to the grid, saved by the skin of its teeth, relying on a level of generosity not normally found in F1, and which defied the odds to roar to 8 race wins and both championships in its one and only season. The whole story is full of drama and intrigue....

...very little of which makes it into this book. Instead we get a brief skim through the team's creation; an overly long biography of Ross Brawn; and page after tedious page of race recaps - regardless of the fact that anyone with enough interest in F1 to buy the book will inevitably know 99% of what's described.

A hugely disappointing book, considering the wealth of material that Brawn GP offered.

Price: £2.73

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Another great talent crushed by the Cowell conveyor belt, 11 May 2009
This review is from: Rhydian (Audio CD)
Agh! Rhydian was by far the greatest and most exciting talent that the dreadful X Factor show ever discovered. All this album proves is that the Cowell production line pays scant regard for the style of its singers' talents.

As the Amazon review states, there is nothing of the strutting, bombastic Rhydian that wowed audiences with his renditions of Phantom of the Opera or Get The Party Started. By the end of the TV series, he had been repackaged to the point where he was yet another singer belting out You Raise Me Up in front of a gospel choir, and that's the Rhydian we get here.

Other than the inspired Meat Loaf cover, Not A Dry Eye In The House, the song selection is very basic, most of the covers here have been done by previous X Factor alumni. Rhydian's voice is as good as ever, but the combination of a bland set of songs, and the apparent strict limitations on Rhydian's showman-sensibilities make this album feel like just yet another product of the Cowell production line. It is a real shame, as Rhydian's talent deserves a much better vehicle than this.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 12, 2009 3:57 PM BST

Tim Vine - Live - So I Said To This Bloke [DVD]
Tim Vine - Live - So I Said To This Bloke [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tim Vine
Offered by Direct-Offers-UK-FBA
Price: £2.45

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Total genius, 29 Oct. 2008
Tim Vine is the sort of comedian that polarises opinion, but I'm here to give him my backing. Seeing his first DVD totally changed my tastes in comedy, as I never thought it would be possible to do an entire show of material that was neither crude nor cruel, and this means that many of my former heroes (Stewart Lee, I mean you!) now seem rather childish to me.

That might seem an odd thing to say, as Vine's critics often accuse his humour of being childish, but it doesn't take long to realise the level of wordplay, and the subtle sophistication of Vine's jokes soon prove the opposite. Vine's strength is that he doesn't see comedy as a way to vent his teenage angst or bring down the government, and so his glorious celebration of silliness is one of the most heart-warming acts you could ever go and see.

This DVD captures Tim Vine doing what he does best, and it's probably fair to say that within 5 minutes you'll have a fairly good idea of whether you'll enjoy it. It is simply many busts of barely-connected quickfire jokes and puns, broken up with silly stunts and songs, all performed with a self-effacing panache that turns even the weakest of gags feel like a work of genius.

Some of Vine's finest material is on show here, including the legendarily surreal Pen Behind The Ear and Flag Hippo (the former easy to describe, the latter impossible), along with gloriously silly songs like My Marvellous Metronome, Allergic, and Alarm Bells.

The only down side is that, with this DVD being filmed in a theatre, rather than the smaller club that hosted the first, it does lose a sense of intimacy, while a couple of the extras are disappointing - the talk with a psychologist is extremely short, while the interview with Tim is oddly disappointing in that he remains in character, firing off joke answers when I'd have loved a "proper" interview, talking about how he settled on this form of stand up. Other extras are much better, with Parade of Sport being gloriously chaotic, and the rendition of Family Holidays showing the sheer love of Vine's growing fan base for his material. The disc also has the finest Deleted Scenes of any DVD in history.

If you're a Tim Vine fan, this is a worthy DVD of his talents. Otherwise, if you're a fan of comics like Tommy Cooper, Ken Dodd, I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, and perhaps even Bob Monkhouse (reputedly a big fan of Vine's), or if you're just pining for a stand-up DVD that carries a something other than a 15/18 certificate, then this is definitely worth a try.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2008 4:27 PM GMT

A Part Of Me
A Part Of Me
Offered by barneys_cds
Price: £12.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Who says Idol doesn't produce talent?, 3 Jun. 2008
This review is from: A Part Of Me (Audio CD)
World Idol was a truly dreadful TV show, but I'm glad I watched it as it introduced me to the brilliant Kurt Nilsen. While his first album fluctuated between excellent self-penned material and the standard cover-dirge that makes up most Idol contestants' first albums, A Part Of Me proves that Nilsen is a superb artist in every sense of the word.

Don't expect the standard Idol fare, there's no songs about "my dreams have come true", or "this is my moment", instead we have heart-felt songs with a surprisingly melancholy feel. Without actually saying so, you feel that much of this album is about the less-glamourous side of his new-found fame, including tales of home-sickness while on tour, his regrets, and the sense of shock at how rapidly his life changed. I'm probably making this sound like an album of indulgent self-pity, but such is the strength of Nilsen's songwriting, and the emotion in his voice that that is the last thing you could accuse the album of being.

I just wish the people behind The X Factor in the UK would look at Nilsen and realise that by letting their winners be themselves, rather than force-feeding them with dire crowd-pleaser songs, they might end up with artists they can be proud of, rather than flash-in-the-pan one-hit wonders.

Bob Monkhouse: Three Great Shows [DVD]
Bob Monkhouse: Three Great Shows [DVD]

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oh Bob, you were so much better than this, 27 May 2008
Bob Monkhouse was one of the truly great comics that Britain ever produced. In his later years, he enjoyed a bit of a comeback as people rediscovered the comic genius that had become lost behind as his game show host side took prominence. You only have to look at his truly sublime topical monologues on the National Lottery show to realise how good he was. Especially the one where his autocue failed and ad-libbed a totally new (and equally topical) routine from the top of his head.

Tragically, these DVDs show Bob at his worst. As so often happens with comedians, you take away TV's requirement to keep things clean, and he quickly stoops into the realm of lazy smutty jokes, few of which are remotely funny. Reportedly he was told that stand up videos only sold if they weren't certificate 18, and so he simply delivers what it takes to achieve that. For goodness' sake, he even brings on a stripper in the middle of each set. It's grim stuff indeed.

Worse still, having been advertised as a 3 disc set, it turns out the third disc contains a compilation of "highlights" from the first 2 discs. It's mind-bogglingly pointless. I'd much rather see a compilation of Bob's many TV appearances, where at least he was "forced" to use his own inventiveness, rather than a string of below-par smutty gags.

I'm giving it 2 stars, because there is the odd glimpse of Bob's brilliance - quickly reminiscing of his time on The Golden Shot and Family Fortunes, and his charmingly "innocent" reaction to the crowd's enthusiasm for the strippers, but really, this is not the way I wanted to remember a true giant of comedy. Come on somebody, do the great man proud.

Paul Merton In Galton And Simpson's... - The Complete Series [DVD]
Paul Merton In Galton And Simpson's... - The Complete Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Paul Merton
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £4.75

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Should never have been made, 27 Feb. 2008
Paul Merton is clearly a real tstudent of comedy, and has a great affection for the comedians of the past - as his later series "Silent Clowns" demonstrates. Whatever your opinion of Merton as a comedian and panel game guest, improv artist, and comedy historian, one fact is completely unavoidable:

Paul Merton is a truly rotten actor.

As such, to see scripts originally performed by some of the comic genii of the past being recreated by one of the worst actors of the present, the result is inevitable disaster. It's all very well to try and make these classic scripts come to life for a new generation, and the enthusiasm is obviously there, but it all just falls flat on its face.

Avoid at all costs.

The Drift
The Drift
Price: £12.65

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The audio equivalent of Pandora's Box - approach with caution, 17 Jan. 2008
This review is from: The Drift (Audio CD)
I'm so tired. Last night, I listened to The Drift for the first time, and as a result, I didn't get a wink of sleep all night. Nothing - NOTHING - can prepare you for the sheer terror that this album invokes. I usually try to listen to new albums in one go. I managed most of The Drift, and thought I was doing well, considering some of the waking nightmares I encountered along the way. But I failed. The penultimate track pushed me beyond the limits of fear. This is my story:

I love Scott Walker's older stuff, and to honest, I bought this album without reading any reviews beforehand, expecting something similar to his old work. Thankfully, before I ever actually listened to it, I read the reviews on Amazon, and I watched the 30 Century Man documentary, that showed all the pork-punching weirdness that went on in the recording of this album (it's true - the percussion on Clara is the sound of a man laying a side of pork on a studio table and punching it. I'm not making it up).

I can't even begin to imagine how I'd have reacted to The Drift if I hadn't been warned of it's sheer extemity. I'd probably have had a heart attack somewhere down the line. I unreservedly apologise to the other reviewers on this page, since I read their proclamations of The Drift's sheer horror and mocked - "how can music be so scary, they must be mad!". Oh, how wrong I was. After The Drift, I had to line up CD after CD of happy music to bring myself back from the brink of despair.

At this point in a review, it would be normal to compare The Drift to other albums, but there is seriously nothing like this in the whole world, and I hope there never will be again. One hour and nine minutes of utter terror, the kind of thing you could only ever have heard in your very worst nightmares.

I thought I was doing OK. Cossacks Are is a strangely wonderful song. Jesse is just unpleasant, nothing more; Clara and Cue are shocking, horrible, and sickening, yet strangely beautiful, as is Jolson And Jones (donkey noise not withstanding). Then it goes relatively calm for a couple of tracks - emphasis on relatively, as by normal standards, they're still pretty harrowing.

Then there's The Escape.

Or more specifically, there's THAT moment, four minutes and ten seconds into The Escape.

The moment when I was so scared that I threw my headphones across the room and sat there, heart racing, short of breath. The moment when you realise why the album has, other than a pretty unsettling sequencer driven bit just before, spent the last few minutes lulling you into a false sense of security. Now I know what other reviewers meant when they talk about "The Donald Duck Bit". I know how stupid this must seem to anyone who hasn't heard it, but it's true - it's just vile! I will never forget that moment for the rest of my life. It's genuinely traumatising stuff. I really can feel my heart rate increasing just thinking about it.

The problem is I'm just fanning the flames. The reason I finally listened to The Drift after it sat on my desk for weeks on end, taunting me every day, daring me to play it, was that I'd read the reviews both here and elsewhere, and finally curiosity got the better of me. How can this CD evoke such extreme reactions? Surely these people are exaggerating? They're not! I can imagine future generations setting up support groups for people who have listened to this album. As I type this, I am looking at the black CD packaging, and I feel like I am looking into the very heart of evil. It sits on my desk like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Like the music, the casing is the blackest black I've ever seen. I want it to go away, but I don't want to touch it in case I get sucked into the abyss. I took on The Drift, and The Drift won.

Maybe you, my dear reader, will read this and do the same thing I did. If you do, please don't do what I did, and listen to it alone, late at night, through headphones. I'm not normally affected by horror films or anything like that, but The Drift reduced me to a gibbering wreck.

Seriously, I don't care who you are, I can tell you one thing right now:

You are not ready for The Drift.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 14, 2012 6:52 PM GMT

Friends, Voters, Countrymen
Friends, Voters, Countrymen
by Boris Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massively entertaining, 22 Jan. 2004
How many Tory MPs would seriously be able to produce a book of their expereinces trying to get elected? More to the point, how many Tory MPs would be able to do it, and then get the public to sit down and read it?
Boris Johnson is such a marvellous character. After his many appearances on TV, bumbling his way through whatever is thrown at him, people inevitably fall for his bizarre charm. Fortunately, "Friends Voters Countrymen" has all the hallmarks of classic Boris. Unafraid to relate stories that depict him as a buffoon, Boris manages to steer between humourous anecdotes and political argument with ease. Whether you agree with his politics or not, you can't deny that he has a fascinating and entertaining way of putting his point across.
The stories of his various gaffes are priceless, as are his explanations of the logic behind his eccentrcities. In the ends, you just can't help warming to the man, something that few politicians have ever managed before.
Unlike the later book, "Lend Me Your Ears", this has a very informal style and is highly accessible. If you have ever been captivated by Boris's brilliantly bizarre on TV and wondered what goes on in the mind of this wonderfully eccentric character, this is definitely the book for you.

The Consultants
The Consultants

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best new radio comedy in years, 22 Jan. 2004
This review is from: The Consultants (Audio CD)
This was a very nice surprise when Radio 4 introduced The Consultants. Clever, witty, whimsical, and totally inoffensive, this is tremendous comedy.
Stand-out sketch for me is the brilliantly slow-paced scene where a ludicrously convoluted plan is drawn up in order for someone to get some notepaper for an exam.
The Consultants manages to do something that very few shows manage, namely making comedy songs work well. The archeology song and "Twenty Below In My Heart" are fantastic.
As another reviewer has said, the only down side is the truly bonkers way the CD chapters bear no relation to the starts and ends of sketches, and just cut in half way through.
Overall, the best radio comedy CD you'll find that doesn't have the title "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue".

Have I Got News For You: The Best of the Guest Presenters - Volume 1 [DVD] [1990]
Have I Got News For You: The Best of the Guest Presenters - Volume 1 [DVD] [1990]
Dvd ~ Ian Hislop
Price: £2.48

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most spellbinding hour of TV you'll ever watch., 22 Jan. 2004
OK, this is meant to be about the various guest hosts HIGNFY had after Angus Deayton's swift departure, but in all honesty there is only one star here. OK, Bruce Forsyth's edition was good fun (particularly as Ian Hislop clearly didn't know what on Earth was going on as Brucie ripped through his catchphrases), but really it's Boris Johnson that reigns supreme.
The hour long version of Boris's show is a joy to behold, and is more than capable of producing tears of laughter no matter how many times you see it. Unlike the other shows on the DVD, it matters not one bit that the news stories are all well out of date, as Johnson blunders through like a bull in a china shop, managing to making a royal cock-up of absolutely everything he is asked to do.
Surprisingly, there's very little new in terms of actual "maerial" in The Full Boris - ie no extra rounds that were cut and very few extra questions. What you get instead is longer versions of all the chit-chat between the cast, coupled with Boris's ever more surreal decent into insanity. The golden moments for me are where the producers speak to Boris via his earpiece, causing him to halt in mid-sentance, glaze over, and bawl "What's that? Ah, right. I see" and such like; always remaining completely oblivious to the fact that nobody else has a clue what's going on.
In all honesty, it was the release of "The Full Boris" that made me go out and buy a DVD player. I was desperate to see it, and it did not disappoint one bit. I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life. The only downer is that, as well as the quite interesting extras (Merton & Hislop discussing the guest hosts, Merton & Johnson discussing the show), it would have been nice to include some clips of Boris's many golden moments when he appeared as a guest, rather than a host.
Of course, Boris hosted a second edition of HIGNFY not long after the DVD was released. Arguably, this was even funnier than the the first, and I desperately hope we see an uncut version of this before too long.

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