March 2023 Favourites

Collage of 4 images - a big cooked breakfast from Premier Inn, Alice and John from the TV drama Luther, David Attenborough from the nature show Wild Isles, and Jason Manford singing on the Big Night Of Musicals.

Hello again, and welcome to my next monthly roundup. Now that I’ve settled into my new job (for which I’ve had a nice gift and my hours have just increased from 22 to 25 per week), things are getting back to normal again.

So there are no major announcements about my life this time. And I haven’t been to any theatre shows or exhibitions this month, as I wasn’t able to make it to the Super Power Panto in the end. But I have used the first salary payment from my new job to book a few shows, in addition to a couple of things I already had in the diary, so the cultural side of things will pick up very soon.

All of which means this was a relatively relaxed month, but I can still mention some bits and pieces I did while out and about, and some entertainment that I watched at home. So I hope you enjoy my latest post and video update!


Out & About

Torquay Meetup

I started the month with a nice little weekend break in Torquay to see my ex-colleagues from my previous job. I hadn’t seen them since May last year, as it wasn’t convenient for us all to meet up when we left in September, and my plans to see them at Christmas were scuppered by the train strikes. So it was great to finally catch up with them for a game of bowling, followed by a burger and drinks at the Yates bar. They all seem to be doing well, and they were all very pleased to hear about my new job.

After that I just had a nice relaxing time to myself in the town the next day, having a walk around before tucking into an evening meal at The Green Ginger (a Wetherspoons pub). I had fish and chips with peas, followed by warm chocolate brownie with ice cream, all washed down with some Thatchers Gold cider. So that filled me up nicely, as did the Premier Inn breakfasts each morning of course!

Moorfields Stratford

Back in London, I joined a group of people one afternoon to look at the accessibility of routes to the new Moorfields eye clinic in Stratford (at 15-19 Broadway, E15 4BQ). The group included some other visually impaired people, local support staff from Enabled Living Healthcare (see their tweet & photo from the day), a gentleman from the Highways department (who was able to advise on signage, routes, traffic, etc), and of course lovely staff members from Moorfields.

We explored the possible routes from Prince Regent DLR station, Stratford railway station and the nearest bus stops, and had very productive discussions with good ideas being put forward. So hopefully it will feel safe and easy for people to get to the clinic, especially once the signage and other recommendations are put in place.

Camden Market

I’ve also been out for a few walks this month, when permitted by the weather. There aren’t any pictures to share on this occasion, but I particularly enjoyed looking around Camden Market with my Aunt, which she offered to show me as I’d never visited it before. We didn’t buy anything, but it’s a massive area with an endless number of stalls, and it felt like it had a good atmosphere. We then had a very filling lunch at a Chinese buffet place called Max Orient (all you can eat for £11.50 each, which is very good value), before having a nice long stroll through Regent’s Park.

TV Shows

Apart from the usual comedies I tune into like The Last Leg, QI XL, Would I Lie To You?, Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled, and the new series of Taskmaster that’s only just started, there are also a mixture of other shows I’ve been watching during March.

Wild Isles

Wild Isles is an excellent and epic new 5-part series on the BBC presented by David Attenborough, and produced in collaboration with the WWF, RSPB & Open University. My mother and I don’t watch a lot of nature documentaries, but as this one is about wildlife in the UK, and Mum already enjoys watching Countryfile every week, it felt particularly relatable and intriguing.

And it goes without saying, because this is a BBC nature show, that the footage is stunning, while David imparts lots of interesting facts. It’s always amazing to see and learn about how different species on land, in water and up in the skies get their food, defend themselves, raise their young, migrate, etc, and even now the experts are still learning new things all the time, given how deeply they can analyse animal behaviour these days. So in this series we get to see all sorts of things, from horses fighting, to birds chasing their prey, to a tiny caterpillar that tricks ants into thinking it’s their queen, and so much more in between.

And the plant life can be just as incredible too, which this series also takes a little look at. The sequence about how fungi and trees in the woodlands connect, communicate and support one another, through the so-called ‘wood wide web’, is mind-blowing and really well illustrated.

So much time, effort, patience, expertise and specialist equipment goes into capturing the images we see on screen for shows like this, so it’s great that they’ve also included the traditional behind-the-scenes segments at the end of each episode, to give due credit to some of those involved.

Of course, it’s also heartbreaking to hear about how many species are in steep decline due to the loss of their habitats. That gets mentioned regularly during the 5 episodes of the series, but it’s also being highlighted in the Save Our Wild Isles campaign, being jointly run by the RSPB, WWF & National Trust, with the support of David Attenborough.

The BBC are not directly involved with it, but the campaign coincides with the release of the series and draws inspiration from it, plus there are details about it on the Countryfile website. Furthermore, the groups running the campaign have made a special programme with David called Save Our Wild Isles, which the BBC will make available on iPlayer after the Wild Isles series has concluded. Some reports have incorrectly claimed that it’s the 6th episode of the main series, and that it wasn’t being shown on TV for fear of controversy. But the BBC always stated from the outset that Wild Isles would be 5 episodes, and they’ve simply acquired the rights to share the extra feature alongside it.


Sticking with brilliant BBC shows, and I’ve also binge-watched all 20 episodes and the film sequel of Luther, a crime thriller series that my best mate Simon recommended to me. It focuses on DCI John Luther (played superbly by Idris Elba), a very clever maverick detective with a stubborn determination to catch the people responsible for the most serious and darkest crimes, even if that means bending the rules or breaking the law now and again.

The fact that he cares about his job so deeply, however, is both a blessing and a curse, because it’s not just the criminal fraternity that suffers as a result. He’s quite an emotional man for a start, with a short temper when he gets frustrated or upset, and his career has had a detrimental effect on his marriage as well.

And while we as viewers can see that what he’s doing is for the right reasons, and that he’s clearly not at all evil, there are consequences to his actions and pursuit of justice that place him under suspicion and get him into increasing amounts of trouble, pushing him into behaving in ways that he would much rather avoid.

In particular, he forms an unwanted and complicated bond with a murderer he couldn’t convict called Alice Morgan (captivatingly portrayed by Ruth Wilson). She’s a highly intelligent woman with a dark sense of humour, who is a formidable match for Luther and becomes quite obsessed with him, while he reluctantly has to accept her assistance and intrusion into his life. There’s great chemistry there, and it’s quite fascinating to see how things develop between them. And there are other great characters as well of course, including one played by Doctor Who star Paul McGann.

I’m not going to say any more than that, as I don’t want to spoil anything. But the series hooks you in with a lot of intrigue, tension, action, psychology, twists, etc, and has a variety of disturbing crimes to be solved alongside longer story arcs. And I like the fact that it’s set in London as well, which they’ve made to look dark and imposing to reflect the storylines.

So it’s really good fun to watch, with lots going on. And because of that I’ve now bought the Blu-ray box set, as it’s one of those shows I’ll definitely be watching again. And it comes with some nice extras as well, including a half hour feature about the show’s creation with Series 1, and a 25-minute extra going behind the scenes of Series 4. There are also shorter featurettes about one of Series 4’s biggest stunts, a central character in Series 5, and the style of the world that Luther inhabits in Series 5. And Series 4 also includes a fleeting recap of Series 1-3, which would have been useful when buying that series on its own originally, but serves no real purpose as part of the box set. It’s a shame they haven’t included the 2016 Sport Relief sketch as well though, because that’s quite fun.

The Blu-ray set doesn’t have audio description, but that’s sadly par for the course with most releases of TV shows, and luckily I can see well enough to live with it, albeit with extra concentration when necessary. However, I did take advantage of the AD when watching the show on iPlayer this month – only to find that the description track is missing from 4 random episodes (Series 1 Episodes 2 & 4, Series 3 Episode 3 & Series 4 Episode 2). I don’t understand why that’s so inconsistent. But I’ve tweeted them to let them know, so hopefully they can rectify that.

Anyway, the reason I chose to go through the series now is because they’ve just released a film on Netflix, following a short spell in cinemas, called Luther: The Fallen Sun. It’s a direct continuation from the TV show, written by its creator Neil Cross, with a brief callback to the fifth series early on and another major character returning as well as John himself. But it also works just fine as a stand-alone movie.

Put simply, and without giving much away, it’s about former DCI John Luther escaping from jail to track drown a warped serial killer, played by the marvellous Andy Serkis, who has taken control over a countless number of people’s lives. It gets quite far-fetched, as is typical of many action movies, and it’s not as good as the TV series, which is common among movie spin-offs as they have to be written a bit differently by their nature. But as a slice of escapism and entertainment it’s a fun way to kill a couple of hours, with plenty of suspense and a few big stunts – including a major set piece that required an unprecedented 3-night shutdown of Piccadilly Circus to film. So I enjoyed that.

The Undeclared War

This Channel 4 drama, first broadcast last year, was also recommended by my friend Simon, so I watched it on All4. It’s also very good, and it’s set in the run-up to the General Election in 2024, when Russia deploys a serious piece of malware that disrupts major infrastructure in the UK. A team at GCHQ are tasked with analysing the complex code to try and stop it causing any further damage, and the department is led by Danny Patrick, played very well by Simon Pegg in a role that’s miles away from his comedy turns.

But the star of the team, and the central focus of the series, is the new work experience girl, Saara Parvin (played brilliantly by Hannah Khalique-Brown). She learns to think outside the box and is able to discover clues that nobody else has considered, even if that irritates some of the more experienced members of the department, and despite battling with difficulties in her family life. It’s interesting to watch her development and progress through the series.

The visual representations of her digging through the computer code are very effective as well, as in her mind we see her roaming corridors, buildings, outdoor spaces, etc. It really brings to life the frustrating needle-in-a-haystack reality of trying to find tiny clues in masses of code, in a much more engaging and enjoyable way than seeing a dull screen of meaningless text.

On top of all that, Russia also use fake social media accounts, bogus Facebook groups, misleading news coverage and interference with election night reporting to spread misinformation and incite hatred. It’s remarkably easy to achieve, as the programme demonstrates, and is very effective at manipulating the thoughts and actions of the general public. So that’s something else that GCHQ and the government have to contend with during the series, and it’s fun to see Kerry Godliman playing a key role in the Russian news organisation.

So it’s a gripping series, one that strikes a chord because the events portrayed are very realistic and scarily possible. Cyber attacks are a constant threat that the security services are always fighting against, as they undertake the arduous task of analysing complicated computer programs. And social media is rife with dodgy accounts spreading fake news and turning people against each other. So it’s worth watching as an eye-opener as well as an entertaining drama.

Comic Relief

Comic Relief is a vitally important cause, but the Red Nose Day telethon isn’t as exciting as it used to be – as proven on this year’s 35th anniversary by a late night compilation of the funniest moments from the earlier years. And even Lenny Henry couldn’t be there this time (though David Tennant did a good job in his shoes).

So the sketches this year were only mildly amusing at best. For example, as wonderful as Tony Robinson is, Baldrick’s return for a silly bedtime story was a bit boring, as there’s not much he can do without Blackadder around, so it didn’t feel right. But it was nice to see French & Saunders on The Traitors, though it’s not a sketch I’d particularly watch again (and I’ve not been interested in seeing the main series of The Traitors either).

I skipped most of the music as well, but I enjoyed the performance from Mrs Doubtfire: The Musical, which I might try and see in person at some point, and the song by Flo & Joan had some nice light-hearted digs at the last 35 years of the telethon.

What I found most interesting, however, was the stars of the first Celebrity Big Brother, looking back at that pivotal moment in reality TV history. They were very open about what their lives were like at the time and how being on the show impacted them, and it was fun to find out more from Jack Dee about his escape of course.

So all in all, it’s great that they raised £34.1 million by the end of the night, which will help a lot of people. But there wasn’t anything hugely exciting in the show, which is what I’d expected anyway.

Big Night Of Musicals

The Big Night Of Musicals by The National Lottery was hosted by Jason Manford, following on from the first show last year. It was a great celebration of touring and West End musical theatre productions, and promoted some related projects supported by the National Lottery.

It started off very nicely with We Will Rock You, while I also enjoyed Shall We Dance from The King & I, On My Own from Les Misérables, From Now On from The Greatest Showman (sung by Jason with a children’s choir), I’m A Believer from Shrek, I Will Always Love You from The Bodyguard, Defying Gravity from Wicked, Love Changes Everything from Aspects Of Love (sung by Michael Ball), and medleys from Matilda, Ain’t Too Proud & Mamma Mia. So it was a lot of fun.


And that’s it. Not a huge entry compared to some, though still pretty wordy nonetheless. But after a busy few months it’s been nice to have a relatively relaxing time, now that my life has settled down and I’m earning again. So I hope you enjoyed looking through that.

I’ll be going to a couple of theatre shows during April, which I’m really looking forward to, and there should also be plenty of other things for me to enjoy and write about as usual. So I hope you have a good month too, and I wish you a Happy Easter as well!

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

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