Sunday, April 11, 2021

"Thy Sweet Love Remembered Such Wealth Brings That Then I Scorn To Change My State With Kings"

From The North's currently regular weekly bloggerisationisms update continues, dear blog reader.
The third episode of From The North favourite Line Of Duty was, certainly, a rip-roaring rollercoaster of a ride and got the usual tongue-lapping fannish response from the Gruniad Morning Star. And, the usual cry-baby whinging shat from That Awful Singh Woman at the Torygraph.
The Torygraph, meanwhile, were busy having their own brown-tongued love affair with another From The North favourite, Unforgotten. Which concluded its fourth series last week with the 'brace-for-impact' exit of the best reason for watching the drama, From The North favourite Nicola Walker's Cassie Stuart. To be fair, the Gruniad loved that, too.
The early trailers for the forthcoming fourth series of From The North favourite Star Trek: Discovery and the second series of From The North favourite Star Trek: Picard have both been released this week. And, jolly fine both of them look, too.
Which brings us to ...
Videodrome. 'Long live the new flesh!'
Inherent Vice. Great performances from an impressive cast, particularly Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin and Katherine Waterston.
The Love Witch. Wow! What a total and utter trip. Had this one on digi-download for a year at least and yet he never got around to watching it until this very week. Yes, dear blog reader, yer actual Keith Telly Topping is, indeed, sometimes a right idiot!
Dulcima. A welcome re-acquaintance with an old favourite on Talking Pictures on Bank Holiday Monday. First encountered on the BBC back in the 1970s, this blogger had quite forgotten what a thoroughly fine - and very dark - movie Dulcima was (and, still is).
Doctor Terror's House Of Horrors. Another Friday night Talking Pictures special and, still to this day, one of this blogger's favourite movies. Ever. Bar none. 'Aw man, you don't wanna play around with voodoo!'
Mortimer & Whitehouse Gone Fishing. The series has received widespread praise for its warmth, charm and gentle poignancy and that is entirely justified. It's like watching a couple of old friends messing about and being very silly on a riverbank (via UKTVPlay). Basically, because that's exactly what it is. And, no fish were harmed during the making of this programme. Except for the ones that were cooked and eaten, obviously. But they deserved it. Because they were bad fish. Probably.
Dave Gorman's Modern Life Is Goodish. Always a good way of cheering yourself up on a cold, wet, Tuesday afternoon in April when you can't go out because you're still shielding from the dreaded lurgy.
That'll Be The Day. 'Good game, golf. Teaches you how to put things in holes.'
The 1980 Shoestring Christmas episode. Masterpiece.
Zodiac. 'I can tell you that he was not into people. The party that Darlene threw, people were just supposed to show up, drink beer, help paint, but this guy showed up in a suit and just sat in a chair all by himself all night long and didn't talk to anyone. Darlene told me to stay away from him. She was scared of him. Couple weeks later she was dead.'
Forty Four Inch Chest. 'I want you dead. I think you owe me that. I do. Because that's what you've done to me. You've fuckin' killed me.' Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson ... what's not to love?
The Fear Of God: Twenty Five Years Of The Exorcist. The 'festival cut' of Mark Kermode and Nick Freand-Jones's astonishing 1998 documentary on the making of the scariest movie ever. It's still available on iPlayer and is eighty minutes of the most fascinating discussions on the nature of evil imaginable.
[spooks}: The Greater Good. 'Anything?' 'Not a sausage. The self-perpetuating algorithm I wrote last night is constantly updating, revising all potential vantage points.' 'Sudoku not cutting it, then?' The history of big-screen spin-offs from cancelled TV shows is not a particularly inspiring one. Producers seem to blandly assume that because they've made a once-popular success on telly, audiences will be hay to pay to go and watch something at a cinema which they once got for free. Many such big-screen spin-offs are announced or speculated about and then end up failing to secure the necessary funding (the proposed 24 movie, for example, or the regular attempts by Idris Elba and Neil Cross to get a Luther film off the ground - announced, seemingly, every couple of years followed by a period of no news and then, surprise surprise, a new TV series! Is the recently announced Peaky Blinders movie-in-place-of-a-seventh-series going to suffer the same fate?) Those that do get made tend to either be financial flops - Serenity, the second X-Files movie - or critical and financial flops - ala Keith Lemon: The Movie. Taking From The North favourite [spooks] onto the big-screen shortly after it had been cancelled by the BBC after ten series seemed like a similarly woolly conceit. On purely financial grounds, however, it actually worked on a small scale (the movie only cost a million quid to make and made back about five million in receipts). Artistically, it's not bad - a good cast and a decent (if more than a bit bonkers) script. Nevertheless, there was a feeling watching The Greater Good that it would've made a really good two-part TV story. Check it out on iPlayer if you haven't already seen it dear blog reader and see if you agree with this blogger.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. 'Never, never criticise Muslims; only Christians. And Jews a little bit.' The history of big-screen spin-offs from cancelled TV shows is not a particularly inspiring one. Part the second. However, there are afew exceptions. And, this is one of them. 'Get rid of her, Lynn, she's a drunk and a racist! I'll tolerate one, but not both.'
When We Were Kings. 'Come get me, sucker, I'm dancing!'
Storyville: The Hijacker Who Vanished - The Mystery Of DB Cooper. Another 'iPlayer saves the afternoon' type scenario for those long, lonely, lockdown days.
The character actor Paul Ritter, who has died of a brain tumour aged fifty four, came to the notice of wide audiences only later in his career - as the long-haired wizard and would-be biographer Eldred Worple in the sixth of the Harry Potter film series, The Half-Blood Prince (2009); as the power plant worker Anatoly Dyatlov in the HBO/Sky miniseries Chernobyl (2019) and, from 2011 onwards, as the inexplicably shirtless Martin Goodman in Channel Four's Friday Night Dinner with Tamsin Greig. In all three roles he was never recognisable as whoever he really was. Because Ritter was an actor who disappeared inside his characters. He always seemed to be patiently volcanic and, on the other hand, anonymously scrofulous. When he was on stage - he appeared often with the RSC and the National Theatre, especially - audiences tried (and usually failed) to pin down his identity. He took the role of Shakespeare's great orator Ulysses in Troilus & Cressida in his underpants (Old Vic, 2000), a mysterious postman in Christmas (Bush Theatre, 2003) by Simon Stephens with, said Gruniad Morning Star critic Michael Billington, 'wheedling aggression [and a] cawing, nasal voice that mixes Manchester with Mile End' and John Major in Peter Morgan's The Audience (Gielgud Theatre, 2013), attending his weekly meeting with Helen Mirren's Her Maj, as a fidgeter with a sly flirtatiousness and the guilty secret of only having three O-levels to his name. The more Ritter showed himself, the more he remained hidden, a definition, one could suggest, of all great acting. Ritter was not exactly secretive, but he let the acting do the talking. He was born Simon Paul Adams in Kent, though both his parents came from Oldham. His father, Kenneth, who had relocated the family to Gravesend, was a fitter and turner in power stations for the Central Electricity Generating Board - he had attended the same Ward Street Central school in Oldham as Eric Sykes, whom Paul played with uncanny accuracy in a 2014 TV movie about Tommy Cooper. His mother, Joan, was a school secretary who had been a classmate of Bernard Cribbins. Paul had four older sisters. As a child, young Paul enjoyed watching television documentaries, including Michael Apted's Seven Up! Musically he was drawn to Motörhead, explaining inscrutably that the rock band 'got me through some very tough times as a teenager.' He was educated at Gravesend Grammar School For Boys and St John's College, Cambridge, where he took a degree in German and French. In a year abroad as part of his studies at Cambridge - where his friends and contemporaries included Stephen Mangan and Paul Chahidi, the television writer Sarah Phelps, the journalist James Harding and the playwright Jez Butterworth - he walked on at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. After graduating, he went back to Germany for a year and, on returning to Britain, changed his name to Paul Ritter as there was already a Simon Adams on Equity's books; he took the stage-name from a German actor whom he admired. He then went straight into regional rep and fringe theatre in London, appearing in plays at the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill and the Bush, including Snoo Wilson's Darwin's Flood (1994), alongside James Nesbitt as an Ulster Jesus. He was soon on the radar of the RSC and the Royal Court, appearing with the former in their 1996 Stratford-upon-Avon season of Troilus & Cressida and Webster's The White Devil and the latter in a 1998 Young Writers' season and, in 2002, in Butterworth's second play, The Night Heron, in which he played an intimidated policeman caught up in a farrago of sacked Cambridge college gardeners trying to take revenge on their former employers by fixing a poetry competition. The National Theatre first came calling in 2000, when he appeared in Howard Davies's revival of Arthur Miller's All My Sons and Di Trevis's staging of Pinter's unfilmed 1978 screenplay of Proust's Remembrance Of Things Past. Subsequent NT productions included Patrick Marber's Howard Katz and Tom Stoppard's The Coast Of Utopia, in which Ritter played Karl Marx. Later in that decade at the National in 2007 he was a brilliantly funny Robin Day (cruel wit and even more cruel glasses) in Nicholas Wright's The Reporter, directed by Richard Eyre, a hilarious, floppy-haired employee in a revival of The Hothouse, Pinter's black satire and, in 2010, a creepy government policy wonk in Tamsin Oglesby's Really Old, Like Forty Five, devising two-speed pavement strategies and euthanasia directives for the elderly. His notable television appearances included an effete, sinister intelligence officer in The Game (2014), the wrong Dave Stewart in Bob Dylan: Knockin' On Dave's Door (2017, with his friend Eddie Marsan as Dylan in Sky's Urban Myths strand) and a plausibly smooth Jeremy Hutchinson QC in The Trial Of Christine Keeler (2019). His CV also included appearances in On A Clear Day, Son Of Rambow, Hannibal Rising, Waking The Dead, Land Girls, Vera, The Hollow Crown, The Bletchley Circle, No Offence, as Jimmy Perry in We're Doomed! The Dad's Army Story, Their Finest, Neil Gaiman's Likely Stories, Cold Feet, The Capture and Belgravia. He reportedly loved working at the Old Vic with Matthew Warchus on that theatre's community work in homeless shelters. He had appeared there not only as that early Ulysses but also as a safari-suited Reg - trapped in adolescent hobby-filled dreams - in a 2008 revival of Alan Ayckbourn's The Norman Conquests (with his old mate Mangan as the libertine librarian), which won Ritter a TONY award nomination when it transferred to New York. Apart from Harry Potter, he also appeared in the Bond movie Quantum Of Solace (2008), as a brutally discouraging school teacher in Sam Taylor-Wood's John Lennon biopic, Nowhere Boy (2009) and in Juan Carlos Medina's horror story of Victorian murders, The Limehouse Golem (2016). He last appeared on stage in a 2016 Warchus revival of his great hit, Art, by Yasmina Reza, translated by Christopher Hampton, a comedy about modernism, masculinity and friendship. Ritter, a fan of Liverpool FC, said that he always enjoyed football commentary on the radio, recalling that as a child he was not allowed to stay up late for big events. As a result he 'became obsessed with having my ear pressed to a tinny transistor. That thrill has never left me.' Ritter is survived his wife, Polly Radcliffe, a senior research fellow at the national addiction centre in King's College London, whom he married in 1996, their sons, Frank and Noah and his four sisters.
'News' of the actor Tom Baker's death spread quickly across social media early this week causing 'concern' among fans across the world who were shocked (and stunned) by this revelation. However, the report was quickly confirmed as a complete - and, rather sick - hoax and merely the latest in a string of fake celebrity death reports. Thankfully, the popular actor and national treasure is alive and well. Whereas some fans believed the initial claims, others were immediately sceptical, perhaps learning their lesson from the previous fake death reports emerging about celebrities over recent months. Some pointed out that the news had not been carried on any British news network. On 8 April the actor's representatives officially confirmed that Tom is most definitely not dead. 'He joins the long list of celebrities who have been victimised by this hoax. He's still alive and well, stop believing what you see on the Internet,' they said. Fans have expressed anger at the fake report saying it was 'reckless, distressing and hurtful' to fans of the much loved actor. Although, one could suggest it was more 'reckless, distressing and hurtful' to Mad Tom himself. A recent poll conducted for the Celebrity Post website reportedly showed that a large majority (seventy nine per cent) of respondents think those Tom Baker death rumours are 'not funny anymore.' Which is very shocking as it appears to suggest that twenty one per cent of respondents think that they are funny - a, frankly, quite shocking (and stunning) right shite state of affairs. This is the Twenty First Century, dear blog reader. It's horrifying, isn't it?
Prince Philip, of course, also died this week, aged ninety nine. This blogger has never, particularly, been a fan of the Royal Family as an institution but he quite likes some of them as people and Phil The Greek, for all of his faults, was always one of those. It seems difficult to comprehend these days but, once upon a time - back in the 1950s - he was seen as something of a moderniser in a very old fashioned establishment and wasn't that well-liked because of this - as detailed, quite beautifully, in Richard Samders' 2015 Secret History documentary, Prince Philip - The Plot To Make A King. He was, for instance, vocally supportive of the BBC's right to screen their notorious 1954 adaptation of Nineteen Eighty Four, famously announcing that he and the Queen had 'thoroughly enjoyed' the broadcast - at a time when angry questions were being asked about the production in parliament and the tabloids. He could also be amusingly self-deprecating. In an address to the General Dental Council in 1960, for example, he coined a new word to describe his occasional public blunders: '"Dontopedalogy" is the science of opening your mouth and putting your foot in it, a science which I have practised for a good many years! Later in life, he suggested that his comments may have contributed to the perception that he was 'a cantankerous old sod' (quoted in Gyles Brandreth's 2004 book Philip & Elizabeth: Portrait Of A Marriage. He did have an unfortunate habit of saying some very unfortunate things over the years, of course let it be noted. So, a complex figure - a man with flaws but with some appealing qualities too. He was a passionate advocate for wildlife and the environment, although his decision to shoot a tiger while on a trip to India in 1961 caused a righteous furore. Portrayed, variously over the years, by Stewart Granger (The Royal Romance Of Charles & Diana), Christopher Lee (Charles & Diana: A Royal Love Story), David Threlfall (The Queen's Sister), James Cromwell (The Queen) and Finn Elliot, Matt Smith, Tobias Menzies, and Jonathan Pryce (The Crown), he is survived by Elizabeth his wife of seventy three years, four children (Charles, Anne and the other two) and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. At least a couple of whom may, one day, be kings. Just, you know, for some context.
Isn't that always how things work out, dear blog reader? You're just settling down with your honey on a patch of damp grass on the floodplain next to the river to listen to your one hundred bestest favourite tunes (volume five) when an interfering 'orse turns up to spoil the party? One glances, nervously, over ones shoulder at the beast, appealing to its best instincts not to rabidly attack ones girlfriend and turn her into a crazed, axe-wielding homicidal maniac. That's three times this week, alone ...
On Wednesday, this blogger managed to leave the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House and go into town to do the weekly shopping for the first time since he started his government-advised shielding in early February. First time to Marks & Spankers since January. First time in McDonalds for ... God only knows how long. Exhausting but, surprisingly 'normal' (ish). And the McNuggets were delicious. 
Also this week the Wizzard reunion tour, it would seem, did not go as well as had been hoped ... 'Mummy, what's a Werewolf?' 'Shut up, kid, and comb your face.'
And finally, dear blog reader, here's one of the odder prog-rock power trios of the 1970s. Get yer 'air cut, hippies and get a bath, y'stink. And Oddie, have a shave an'all, you'll never get on Top Of The Pops looking like that. Nice threads on the lead singer, though.
It was pointed out to this blogger that this might be considered to be 'the most Seventies thing ever.' This blogger noted that, indeed, the only way it could possibly be any more Seventies would be if Roy Wood rocked up. Oh, hang on ...