Newsjack Recording – Series 8 Episode 3

Newsjack Series 8 Episode 3Newsjack is a radio-comedy-news based-sketch show (there is a name for that but I’ve forgotten it) broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra. It is an unusual show it that it is made up entirely of sketches and one-liners sent in by members of the public before being performed by actors.

The stars of the show are Justin Edwards, Lewis MacLeod and Pippa Evans. It also stars The Audiencethe fabulously fabulous Margaret Cabourn-Smith, star of John Finnemore’s Souvenir Program, Miranda and Do the Right Thing. Yesterday I got the pleasure of going to the recording of Series 8 Episode 3 of Newsjack.

I took place at the ever-familiar RADA studios in London, somewhere I had been once to the recording of Cabin Pressure and twice to follow celebrities into coffee shops. The full castHowever the difference here was that instead of the long que of eccentric, middle-aged and single women, the crowed there was that of normal people. Normal people, with lives! It made four small and quite teenagers seem quite out-of-place.

We started off with a little intro from producer Ed Morrish, also producer of Souvenir Program, and then another from Justine Edwards and us!lead actor Justin Edwards. The cast then entered and we were then subjected to a hilarious forty-five minutes of sketch which included Al-Qaeda’s guide to keeping safe during a drone attack, David Bowie popping up everywhere and the familiar Newsjack app.

Afterwards my friends and I stayed around, perilously assessing the risk of going up to My signed ticketsomeone and asking them for 6 autographs (there were four of us). At the end of it we walked out having met Lewis MacLeod, Pippa Evans and Justin Edwards. Unfortunatley we were not able to catch Margaret Caboun-Smith before she left, nor could we pluck up the courage to sneak into a circle of people to get the autograph of Ed Morrish. Oh well.

Flooding of Isengard

It seems a good way to continue reading Lord of the Rings with your sanity intact is to every now and again, put it down and try to forget about it. This I recently did and yesterday recommenced the story at what I must describe as ‘quite a cool part’.

It was the flooding of Isengard where I returned, a saga which spawned 2 chapters and recall the vents where Gandalf and his company return to Isengard to converse with the evil wizard Saruman, only to find him imprisoned in his tower with the area surrounding flooded by Ents.

I particularly enjoyed these two chapters. The events of the battle are told from the perspective of Merry and Pippin in the first of the two chapters; ‘Flotsam and Jetsam’. This certainly worked well for me as I felt that other battle sequences written from the 3rd person perspective seemed to focus too much on the very minor details rather than the whole picture of the battle (especially the Helms Deep scene). The second chapter; ‘The voice of Saruman’ is where we finally meet the so-much discussed White Wizard. Throughout the book, and indeed the Fellowship of the Ring, we have heard much about the character and exploits of this guy, made all the more mysterious by the fact that we have never seen him until this point. When you do meet you really feel how powerful he is and how is presence resonates and affects those around, even the reader. It is here that you realise that Gandalf, who seems mighty and has returned from the dead, is nothing compared to this guy.


Of course my view was shaped slightly by the film. In Peter Jackson’s film trilogy the actual flooding bit was in the Two Towers movie however the encounter with Saruman was only available to those with the extended cut of the Return of the king.

The flooding bit was certainly excellent, a chance for Jackson to show off some of his CGI creations hurling rocks at a dam (much more epic than I make it sound). However the encounter with Saruman was a let-down after reading the book. Here Jackson thought it appropriate not to have Saruman to be standing on a first floor balcony but instead on top of a sixty floor building. And he’s not shouting and  his voice inst magnified, how the hell can they even hear each other? I remember when I first watched that thinking ‘I bet somebody is gonna’ fall off that tower’.

Oh I love being right. Jackson had moved Saruman’s death which takes place in the Shire in the book to this point and had Saruman falling of the building. Yep, I’m definitely with Tolkein on this one.

Saruman with the Stone of Orthanc

A history of violence

couv_a-history-of-violenceNowadays I tend to find myself watching films, not because I’ve seen the trailer or it has been recommended to me, but because it has a certain actor in it. In the case of ‘A history of violence’ it was Viggo Mortensen, a man I know for playing Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, who lured me into watching it.

It follows a man named Tom Stall who kills two men in self defence when they produce a gun in his coffee shop. After this he becomes a village hero until another man, Carl Fogarty, turns up in Tom’s bar claiming to know him and addressing him as Joey Cusack. This guy continues to follow Tom around, always addressing him as Joey. He wants Tom to come with him and as Tom keeps refusing he kidnaps Tom’s son. Then there is another fight-scene-thingy and Tom (who is actually Joey and has a history of Violence) kills him.

A brilliant film with some truly wonderful fight scene (yes I’m a boy so I like fight scenes). I especially liked the one where Tom/Joey shoots his brother in the head. The acting was great both from Mortensen (Tom), Maria Bello (his wife) and Ed Harris (Carl Fogarty).

I wouldn’t really recommend this film to younger watchers as it has lots of blood, death and swearing however I would to any other person who is bored and has a spare hour and a half.


Roaming the empty school

Like the nice and dedicated little student I am, I have just come back from a second day of my half term spent in school trying to catch up on coursework.

Well I say catch-up, I was never given the chance to do it in the first place as I am doing six hours a week of science instead of the mundane five meaning that I am left with half the time everybody else had to do a whole ICT GCSE.


But that’s not the reason of this blog article. I just want to say how absolutely amazing it is being in school during the holidays. Everywhere is empty. The classrooms, the corridors, the halls. Its spooky, as if everybody has died and the school is now haunted. Dotted around the place are cleaners who are evidently idylling away their days cleaning the walls (why would you need to clean walls?).

There are also the teachers who have stupidly given up their time to help us with this; I think they’re mad personally.

Anyway, must do this again. I wonder if the school will be unlocked tomorrow.



Last night was the last episode of a Six-Part BBC Series, Blandings. It stars Timothy Spall as clueless earl and owner of a massive castle and indeed massive pig; Clarence Threepwood.

He lives in Blandings castle with his controlling sister Lady Constance (Jenifer Saunders) and Butler Sebastian Beach (Mark Williams). He also has a, shall I say, rather odd son Frederick (Jack Farthing) who is constantly visiting, mainly looking for money to repay his gambling debts. The series revolves around this set-up.


Although this was quite a light-hearted historical drama I’m afraid it did get a bit repetitive at times. There are only so-many nieces a man can have and all of Clarence’s seemed to spend their time just sitting about sorry for themselves about not being able to marry whom they choose (bloody hell just marry him). Two of the six episodes revolved around Clarence trying to rid the castle of Baxter, a personal assistant hired for him by his sister (although marvellously played by David Walliams).

Jack Farthing, someone I’d never seen, heard sbout or cared about before this show gave a great performance. I really don’t know whether his painfully annoying posh accent was real or put-on!



Sorry I haven’t blogged recently. Half the time I didn’t have internet and the over half I probably spent eating or sleeping or generally doing nothing.

The other day I was scrolling through one of my most favourite website pages; Benedict Cumberbatch’s IMDb page, when I saw among the list of generally awesome films a small TV series in which Benedict had a recurring role. This show was called Fortysomething.

Fortysomething cast

It is set around the life of Paul Slippery (played by Hugh Laurie someone I recognise for being in Stuart Little and 101 Dalmatians). He’s a doctor and in short he’s pretty messed up. He has a wife Estelle (Anna Chancellor from Pramface) and three sex-obsessed sons of which the eldest is played by Benedict.

During the series Paul jumps to many wrong conclusions including the fact that his wife is having an affair and is continuously made a fool of by his greatly more intelligent children.

Although I wish it were otherwise it was not Benedict Cumberbatch who gave the star performance in this show but actually Hugh Laurie (yes I know he’s the main character so shut your face). Also Peter Capaldi who played Slippery’s work college and rival gave an excellent performance, I dunno why he just did.