Monday, 14 September 2015

Why I ended up voting for Jeremy Corbyn

Now unless you’ve been in a coma longer than DI Alex Drake in Ashes to Ashes it can’t have escaped your notice that there’s been a Labour Party election this summer. And like Alex Drake, much of the Labour Party is now asking whether they’re mad or back in the 1980s following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

So, here’s a couple of admissions:

Firstly, I consider myself a Blairite. In that while many of my views are probably more left wing than that of New Labour, I am pragmatic in thinking that being electable is essential to being able to help those that most need a Labour government. I still love Tony Blair for everything (except Iraq) he did for the Labour Party and would probably still vote for him if he came back tomorrow.

Secondly, despite what I said above I voted for Jeremy Corbyn as my first preference for Labour leader. I’m surprisingly nervous about admitting that.

So why did I vote for Jeremy? Well, firstly there needs to be a shed load of blame thrown at the other candidates. I just don’t know what they stood for. I liked a lot of what Liz Kendall said about how Labour could become electable again, and really my vote was there for her to take. However, she didn’t give a single idea or policy about how to achieve the very credible things she said.

Andy Burnham? Who is Andy Burnham? What is Andy Burnham? I’m not sure he could answer the above, so y’know.

Yvette actually got my second preference and I think she would be a competent leader. But she seemed too scared to voice anything interesting until it was too late. I imagine at parties she sits there quietly hoping U2 come on the playlist.

Then there’s Jeremy. I actually disagree with him fundamentally on many issues, but at least he has ideas, policies and a conviction in what he says. He seems decent, and he’s actually prepared to enact the things he believes in. One thing that annoyed me under Ed Miliband was his policy committee finding that rail renationalisation is obviously immensely popular with Labour voters, but it also has much broader support. But Ed was too scared to listen or to do anything vaguely controversial. No such problem with Corbz.

There’s also been a lot of talk about Jeremy’s electability and how his election means that the Tories are a dead cert for 2020. Well, I think that was the case whoever won this leadership election. None of them could’ve appealed much to the voters Labour need to win. Not to mention the strong position the Tories are actually in. A major disaster notwithstanding it’s the Tories’ election to lose. So why not try something different and have a really different type of opposition.

Finally, I looked at possible outcomes of a Jeremy Corbyn victory. Either he confounds expectations and surprises people and takes on the Tories in a way that puts Labour in a great position to win in 2020 (43% said they are unsure whether hewould make a good PM – this is a strength. People are undecided. And he can win them over with his straight-talking persona).

Or he’s a complete disaster in every way that people are saying, in which case we have another election in 18 months and a sensible Blairite challenger (David Miliband maybe) would be in a very strong position to take the party to 2020.

Or he causes a split in the Labour party and all the left wing groups form their own party and New New Labour centre left party emerges.

To me, this is all win-win for Labour and for politics, and infinitely more fun, engaging and challenging to the consensus than 5 years of beige leadership under Andy Burnham.

Oh one thing more, Corbynites really should stop trashing the last Labour government. It’s unedifying and it’s stupid to attack the most successful Labour government of recent times. But not only that, you only need to look at Jeremy’s election numbers to realise that he didn’t win solely off the back of his new wave of supporters. There must be a lot of people out there like me that were or are Blairites but that have turned to Jeremy for whatever reason. If Jeremy wants to build the broad church Labour he’s talked of then he needs to embrace me, and the many like me who have found themselves backing him.


Friday, 25 October 2013

Favourite and least favourite Doctor Who

I like lists, I'm a Doctor Who fan- of course I like lists. Since Enemy of the World and the Web of Fear were released I've been thinking about how they fare against other Doctor Who stories. And because I've watched the original series out of order, I've never thought about what my favourite and least favourite stories are, so thought I'd have a think.

This is that list:

My top 10 Doctor Who stories:

1. The War Games
2. The Stolen Earth/Journey's End
3. The Curse of Fenric
4. Castrovalva
5. The Green Death
6. Midnight
7. Inferno
8. Enemy of the World
9. The Happiness Patrol
10. Pyramids of Mars

And my 10 least favourite Doctor Who stories:

1. The Beast Below
2. The Colin Baker era. (Too awful to separate) 
3. The Wedding of River Song
4. The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
5. Dragonfire
6. Colony in Space
7. Warriors of the Deep
8. The Romans
9. Fear Her
10. Revenge of the Cybermen

I considered giving reasons for my decisions, but the basic fact is I adore the stories in the first list and I find the stories on the second list unwatchable. I could have fitted more onto each list and would probably be different if I did it again tomorrow. 

Do you agree?

Do you like lists? 

If so, do your own and let me know. 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Most Influential TV Shows of All Time!

Earlier in the week The Daily Mail had a preposterous list of allegedly 'the top 50 shows of all time', by top they actually meant influential, or at least the compilers of the original list did. I strongly disagreed with the list, where was Secret Army, or Tenko, EastEnders!?

Anyway, to rectify this I'm doing my own top 10 (I don't have time for 50) influential tv shows. Feel free to agree/disagree.....

10. EastEnders. I think it's been hugely more influential than any other soap. Its hard hitting storylines, such as Mark with HIV broke down barriers in ways that few shows could ever manage. It has also produced some of the most memorable moments in television history.

'Appy Christmas, Ange!

9. The Office. One of the best sitcoms ever written, hilariously funny, brilliantly observed and with a real warmth running through it. Unfortunately its influence is so great so many sitcoms now feel like sub-Gervais imitations. Even the ones now written by Gervais himself.

Some brilliant outtakes from The Office Christmas Special.

8. The Avengers. What can I say about this that hasn't already been said?

The opening and closing titles for the colour Mrs. Peel series.

7. Only Fools and Horses. The most loved, if not the best comedy ever written, if only it had stayed where it had been left in 1996. The influence is huge, how many people still say 'plonker' or 'lovely jubbly'?

The famous Batman and Robin scene.

6. House of Cards. One of drama's best machiavellian figures, but by god we want him to win, don't we? Spawned two inferior sequels and an interesting new American version.

Some of FU's best bits.

5. Doctor Who. Its cultural impact couldn't be much bigger, any show that can survive 50 (well, 36) years on tv has to be pretty special. It might have been higher up my list three years ago...

Here's every title sequence in one video.

4. Cracker. I'm not sure I've seen anything more tense than the episode about the after effects of Hillsborough on Robert Carlyle's character. L-I-V.... E-R-P... DOUBLE O-L, LIVERPOOL FC..... Incredible.

The episode is on Youtube, watch if you've not seen it and then buy it all!!

3. Tenko. Mainly female cast, largely female writers, and produced by a woman. That would be rare today, let alone in the early 80s. This amazing ensemble will break your heart each week but still have you laughing and cheering silly little triumphs. Breathtaking television.

Here are the opening and closing titles because I don't want to spoil if for anyone who's not seen it, but go and watch it right this second if that applies to you!

2. Blackadder. To me it's the most consistently funny sitcom ever written, even if it's a bit repetitive by the end. I could almost quote the entire series.

Some good quotes.

1. Secret Army. Not only is it the finest drama ever written, not only does it make you feel sympathy for one of the most evil people in the show, not only does it have three of the strongest female characters ever seen on screen, but it inspired a comedy spoof ('Allo, 'Allo) so good, everyone forgot the drama it was spoofing.

I'm just giving the titles again, because no-one should know anything more before watching.

There we go then, that's my list, I hope you like. Special mentions also go to The Prisoner, Blake's 7 and Fawlty Towers (and others) , but hey, I could only be bothered to do 10.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Sleep your way onto Television? Bollocks.

Right, where to start? I guess a few disclaimers: first off, as you know I'm not freelance but know plenty of friends/people who are. Secondly, as far as possible I'm going to keep specific names out of this, I don't want to upset anyone. Much.

How did you get your job? If you work in an office, presumably a standard interview where you try to make yourself seem like the office version of Superman, it's a whirlwind of bullshit but if you do get the job, it's based on the skills and qualities you possess. If you do well in that job, you might get promoted or a salary increase, or you may move on to a better job elsewhere. The fact of your continued employment is vindication of your efforts and achievements. It would seem churlish, or possibly downright sexist, to suggest that the only reason people continue to employ you is because you're mates with the boss. Or perhaps you slept your way to the top. Or maybe you have some dirt on your boss, so he has to keep you happy. Hopefully if someone did say this, you'd tell them where to stick it but I doubt anyone actually would be so idiotic.

Why then does it seem acceptable to make accusations like this against freelancers? This blog was inspired by seeing someone on Facebook stating as fact that a writer for multiple television series WAS DEFINITELY SHIT. To them this was as set in stone as the laws of gravity, and the only way this person continued to be employed, by various people, was that they were his 'mate' or (flippantly) that he had pictures of them naked. Yeah, because if you're in control of a major television series, you definitely don't want to make the best television possible, you just want to surround yourself with your mates, no matter the quality of their writing. And you'd definitely do this year, on  year, on year. What this person failed to grasp is that said writer could be easy to deal with, might never be late, or their scripts might be let down by production issues. Or most likely he's a great writer who one idiot has decided is rubbish, as is the way with the internet.

It reminded me of my friend, who also a writer, a bloody good and hard working one at that. He was once accused online of only getting commissions by sleeping with people. Seriously? How fucking demeaning, if you don't like something, well done- that is your prerogative but it is merely your opinion. As many, if not more, might love it. That aside, this person had worked their ass off to produce something, and to dismiss it as the product of some sleazy backdoor commission is just insulting and wrong.  

Freelancers work hard, if they continually get commissions, they are talented, easy to work with and deserve everything they get. If you disagree with that, you're a jealous tool. Maybe go and sleep with someone and see what it does for your own career prospects.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

My top 20 films of all time.

Having read this morning the BFI's latest top 50 films of all time, I have decided to make a list of 20 films that people might have actually seen. I was going to do 50, but frankly I've got other things to do.

I have seen 7 of their top 50, and I consider myself to be a fairly big film fan. I think what this boils down to is film snobbery, the BFI has created a list which are films that people feel they ought to have seen to say they 'know' films. It's so pretentious, I could spend ages just ranting about that. But instead here's my own list, you may agree, you may disagree but at least you might have seen more than 7 of them.

1. Back to the Future

Probably the film I have seen the most, love it and am always amazed by how it zips along, even on the 99th viewing.

2. Goldfinger 

The Bond film that set the template for the every subsequent film (until Casino Royale at least). Connery in his pomp and more than one iconic image. Just perfect.

3. Scarface (1981)

Outstanding bravura performance by Pacino and love the comment on the derailment of the 'American dream'.

4. The Dark Knight

Another outstanding performance at its heart, but this is a great film that just happens to be based on a comic.

5. Rear Window

Is there a film with greater tension that this? My favourite Hitchcock.

6. The Godfather Part II

It's more of a play than a film but the contrasting fortunes of Vito Corleone and his son Michael is a thing of beauty.

7. Jaws

The original summer blockbuster, and the thought of that music can still get me out of the bath quicker than you can shout "Robert Shaw".

8. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

My favourite of the Star Wars films, even if it's nowhere near as much fun as the first.

9. Die Hard. 

The king of action movies, love it just for Alan Rickman's sneering German villain. Yippee...oh you know.

10. Superman

Always loved anything Superman, until 2006, but this is the pinnacle by which next year's will be judged by me.

11. Raging Bull

Beautifully shot, especially the fight scenes, and I love any film where the lead actor gets fat by eating horse meat just for two scenes. Dedication.

12. Inception

Messes with your mind and is thrilling in equal measure, like if Charlie Kauffman made a Bond film.

13. Toy Story

The perfect film for kids and adults alike to enjoy. Funny, exciting and heartbreaking.

14. Psycho

This disturbed me as a kid, when I first watched it and it still puts my hairs on end, especially the scene where the real Mrs Bates is found in the cellar. Genius.

15. Casino Royale (2006)

Re-invented Bond for the post-Bourne era, the 'free running' chase through the building sites is one of the best ever Bond moments and Daniel Craig proved the doubters wrong. Bring on Skyfall.

16. The Truman Show

Its comments on reality tv are as relevant now as they were 13 years ago and the surreal feel really suits Jim Carrey's charming oddball performance.

17. The Raiders of the Lost Ark

I think Temple of Doom might be the better film, but the other two (YES, TWO) just don't come close to the sheer joy and sense of nostalgia for my childhood that I get from Raiders.

18. The Usual Suspects

Yeah, we all know the twist now but it's still one of the best films of its ilk and the shoot-out at the end is terrific.

19. Airplane

The only comedy to make my list, its gag-rate is unsurpassable and there are a lot of belly laughs too, truly the funniest film ever made.

20. Aliens

It took the first film and scaled it to a factor of a hundred. As scary as it is action-packed and one of the strongest female characters in cinema history. I just hope we never have a film dealing with the origins...

So there we go, the 20 greatest films of all time according to me. I hope you disagree.