Well, that’s more like it. March was a very busy month for me, as I’ve been getting out and about a great deal again. In particular, I’ve just had my first little getaway in well over 2 years, as I spent a week in Milton Keynes, where I attended an audio described musical and visited a few of their museums. Meanwhile back in London I went to another theatre show, had plenty of walks, and watched various TV shows and films as usual.
So there’s a lot to get through, and it won’t all be in this post. I’ve already written a separate detailed review for the play I went to in London, and I’m sharing dedicated posts about my Milton Keynes adventures too. So all of that stuff will just be summarised below, with relevant links added so you can find out more.
That said, however, my Favourites video accompanying this post includes an extensive vlog filmed during my Milton Keynes trip, which will give you a good insight into what I got up to. And in this post I still go into detail about the other entertainment I enjoyed back in London too. So there’s plenty to check out here, none of which is sponsored or gifted, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!
At the end of March I spent a week in the town of Milton Keynes, which is just a half hour train ride from London. My primary reason for visiting was to see an audio described performance of the Queen musical We Will Rock You at the Milton Keynes Theatre, which was as fabulous as I’d expected it to be. I’d never had the opportunity to see it before, so I was delighted to finally do so for the first time. It was well worth the wait.
But as I’d never visited Milton Keynes before, and had a few days holiday owing from work, I decided to make a week of it and visit a few of the sights. So I spent a full day at Bletchley Park, home of the British codebreakers during World War II, and it’s an absolutely fascinating place. I explored as much as I could, and made good use of their audio description handset that told me about some of the most significant items, plus I paid a visit to the National Radio Centre at the end of the day. And then on a different day I had a good look around the National Museum of Computing on the same estate, having lovely long chats to a couple of the guides during my visit.
I also got to talk to several of the guides at the Milton Keynes Museum on the other side of town on another day, where I had fun exploring their many rooms full of historical objects, from Victorian times to the present day. They have loads of things you can touch and use, or that can be demonstrated to you, which really brings it all to life.
I also had a little poke around a couple of shopping centres near my hotel, ate plenty of unhealthy food, and had a general walk around the area. So I’m really glad I made the most of my time, and was able to find my way around a completely unfamiliar place by myself without any major problems. There were little issues here and there, sure – not all the museums are as accessible to the visually impaired as I’d like them to be, there was some initial confusion about the audio description at the theatre, and we had a fire alarm at the hotel one morning! But by and large everything went very well.
To find out more about my Milton Keynes adventures, you can:
- Read my detailed review posts for the museums, We Will Rock You and the theatre district.
- Watch the vlog in this month’s Favourites video, and a separate video with more footage from Bletchley Park.
I hope you enjoy looking through all of that!
Whodunnit [Unrehearsed] 2
Back in London, the first theatre I went to this month, for my first show of the year, was the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, for Whodunnit [Unrehearsed] 2. It was a comedy murder mystery play to raise funds for the venue, and they had a surprise celebrity guest playing the Inspector in every show. The twist is that the celebrities didn’t see a script or have any rehearsal, so they had to deal with whatever was thrown at them. In my case the guest star was Sharon Small, who I’d never heard of before, but she’s a very experienced TV and stage actor. And she was a good sport here, so it was very funny and I really enjoyed it. You can read all about it in my detailed review post.
As usual I had more nice walks in London this month, as I continued ticking streets off my city map. There isn’t much to say about them, but the most significant sight was Big Ben standing proudly in the sunshine, now that most of the scaffolding has been removed from the tower after his lengthy renovation. He wasn’t yet in full working order, as not all the clock faces were working, but he was looking a lot better than he used to. It’s good to have him gracing the London skyline again.
I’m very late to the game on this, I know, but this month I finally got around to watching the BBC’s award-winning smash-hit series Line Of Duty. I saw all 6 series on iPlayer with audio description, which proved essential for understanding all of the significant visual details, including text that appears and the emotional body language of the characters.
The show is all about the investigations of the police’s Anti-Corruption Unit 12 (AC-12 for short), with a particular focus on the boss Ted Hastings and his closest colleagues Steve Arnott and Kate Fleming. Together with their team they work to uncover corruption and cover-ups within the police, even in their own department if necessary, in relation to serious and sometimes horrific crimes that have been committed.
Each series has its own major storyline with a special lead guest star, but there are also long-running story elements that link all of the seasons together, particularly the hunt for the mysterious ‘H’ who’s pulling all the strings, and there are some other recurring characters with important roles.
And it’s very good, with lots of action, tense moments, surprising twists and big cliffhangers along the way. Nobody is safe in this show, as any character can have a dark secret unearthed, or they can be seriously injured or killed, without warning. So it certainly keeps you on your toes and makes you pay attention. It’s also been nice to see a few people I recognise in it, including Neil Morrissey and Will Mellor in very different roles from the comedies I’ve seen them in before (Men Behaving Badly and Two Pints Of Lager respectively).
I don’t plan on buying it, now that I know all of the twists, but I have enjoyed going through it. All of the episodes are an hour long, apart from a couple of 90-minute series finales, so it didn’t take long to binge-watch the whole lot. Series 6 appears to bring things to a pretty big conclusion, but there’s still plenty that can be explored, and there is the possibility of a 7th series, so we’ll have to wait and see if they make any more. I would certainly continue to watch it if they did so.
And, despite the dark and serious storylines, the cast certainly enjoy having a laugh as well. For example, they made a very amusing Sport Relief sketch with Lee Mack in 2020, they like to be a bit silly on set, and Vicky McClure (who plays Kate Fleming) has appeared on Room 101 and Innuendo Bingo. So I’ve enjoyed looking through some of the behind the scenes clips, interviews and amusing extras on Youtube as well. It’s been great to dig into the show and appreciate what all the fuss is about at last.
This month I watched the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy of comedy films, which I’ve not seen in a long time. I wouldn’t buy them to keep, but they’re generally good entertainment. They’re written by comedian Simon Pegg with Edgar Wright, and star Simon alongside Nick Frost and several other big actors, including Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Julia Deakin, Rafe Spall, Garth Jennings and Patricia Franklin, to name a few. The films have nothing to do with the Cornetto ice cream snack, but each one contains a humorous reference to it, hence the trilogy title. Beyond that, they’re all just standalone movies with different stories and characters.
All 3 films are now included with Amazon Prime – Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz & The World’s End – but that’s only been since the middle of March. I actually watched the first two on Netflix (with audio description) before they disappeared from there. The third film wasn’t on Netflix though, so the Amazon Prime launch was very nicely timed. None of the films have audio description on Amazon though, which is a pity.
The first film is the classic Bafta-nominated Shaun Of The Dead from 2004, where Simon plays Shaun, a young under-achiever from London, who gets dumped by his girlfriend and doesn’t get on with his colleagues or stepfather, so ends up just getting drunk with his mate Ed. However, when they eventually notice the zombie apocalypse unfolding around them, Shaun finally discovers a purpose in life, albeit an unwanted one, as he has to formulate a plan to try and rescue his family and closest companions. It’s not an easy mission though.
I was prompted to watch it while compiling the latest extensive review in my Queen At 50 series, taking a close look at the tracks on Side 1 & Side 2 of the Jazz album. And that’s because Don’t Stop Me Now from that album is used to great effect during a fight scene in the pub, and the movie is largely responsible for the track’s resurgence in popularity, as it didn’t do hugely well when it was first released, surprisingly. It’s an enjoyable set piece in a film that’s good fun overall.
In the second film, Hot Fuzz, from 2007, Simon plays Nicholas Angel, a London policeman who is so obsessed with his job, and is such a successful crime-fighter, that he’s making the rest of his force look bad. So he’s moved to a quiet country town called Sandford, where there isn’t much police ‘intelligence’, and the local cops take a much more laid-back approach to things. But as some of the local residents start to have unusual, gruesome deaths, Nicholas is convinced that they’ve been murdered, while everybody else dismisses them as accidents. But he discovers the horrifying truth as he investigates further, and ends up becoming an action hero as he tools up and takes on the entire town with his new cop partner Danny. So, while it’s perhaps not quite as good as Shaun Of The Dead, it’s still fun with plenty going on.
The third and final film, The World’s End, from 2013, revolves around the determination of 40-year-old Gary King (played by Simon) to have another go at a huge pub crawl that he and his teenage friends had failed to complete many years earlier. Those mates have all grown up and matured, however, unlike him, so he has to persuade them to join him. And when they do finally embark on their mission, they discover that the town has been taken over by alien androids, who are harvesting people’s DNA to make copies of them that they can control. Which is an interesting premise, and it does have a few mildly amusing moments. But it didn’t hold my interest as well as the first two films, and thus feels like the weakest of the trilogy to me. Gary just feels more irritating than funny, plus the story takes a long time to really get going, and even then it all feels a bit too surreal somehow, even by their standards. So to me it’s merely ok rather than great. Shaun Of The Dead is easily the best and most important film of the trilogy.
Having started it back in January, Mum and I finally finished watching Two Of A Kind this month, the first show from the Morecambe & Wise At ITV DVD box set. It contains the complete Two Of A Kind series broadcast from 1962-1966 (as the preceding 1961 Bernard Delfont Presents series is lost), along with the only 2 surviving Piccadilly Palace episodes from 1967, and a few bonus clips of appearances on other shows around that time.
I’ll do a full review at a later date, when we’ve watched all of our other DVDs by the duo, but they’ve been quite fun to watch, and it’s been interesting to see them gradually improving and growing in confidence, before they really hit the big time with their BBC series. Mum and I have started watching the BBC’s DVD set now, so it’ll take us a good few months to get through that!
As for modern TV shows, I’ve been enjoying new episodes of my usual favourite comedies, including The Last Leg on Channel 4, the new series of Not Going Out that’s just started on BBC1, and Just A Minute on Radio 4. I’m also delighted to see that all 8 series of 2Point4 Children are now on BBC iPlayer at last, as part of their extensive Classic Comedy collection, along with Gold repeating them on TV yet again. It’s significant as most of the episodes have never come out on DVD, though it would be nice if this were a step in that direction. One can only hope.
I’ve also seen a couple of charity comedy events. The first was The National Comedy Awards, held in aid of Stand Up To Cancer, which was fun. Presented by Tom Allen, the show included touching tributes and lengthy standing ovations for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy (a former actor and comedian now courageously defending his country), and the dearly missed comedian Sean Lock (who also won the award for Outstanding Male Comedy Entertainment Performance for his role on 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown).
Among the other winners, there was a Lifetime Achievement Award for Billy Connolly (who also got a standing ovation), the Outstanding Achievement In Writing award went to Sharon Horgan, the Outstanding Female Comedy Entertainment Performance was won by Katherine Ryan (for Cats Does Countdown), the Best Stand Up Show was awarded to Ricky Gervais (for SuperNature), and Taskmaster was voted the Best Comedy Entertainment Show (Series 13 launches on Channel 4 on April 14th, plus it now has its own ad-free streaming service where they’ll be uploading all of the UK series and other international versions).
And then of course we had Comic Relief. There’s never a lot that appeals to me in these telethons these days, so I always record it and skip through most of it. But it is for a good cause, and some of it was ok. Among the variety of features during the show, I saw the Mind Mangler doing his routine from Mischief Theatre’s production Magic Goes Wrong (which I saw in February 2020), the cast of & Juliet performing some of the big cover songs from their show, French & Saunders causing trouble at The Repair Shop for Judi Dench and her daughter Finty Williams, some banter among the guests on QI, Rosie Jones among 5 brave stars performing opera live for the first time after just 24 hours of preparation, and an adult bedtime story read by Stephen Fry, Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe among others. None of it was particularly memorable or spectacular, but it was good enough entertainment to flick through on a Friday night. And, most importantly, they raised a lot of money for very worthy causes.
And that’s it, I hope you enjoyed going through all of that, and that you also enjoy my upcoming posts about my holiday. In the meantime, April should be relatively quiet, as I’m not going anywhere special. But there are still things I have in mind to do of course, now that everything’s opened up again, and I’m continuing to book things for later in the year as well. So have fun, stay safe, don’t forget to check out my upcoming Milton Keynes posts, and Happy Easter in advance!