tour of bbc television centre

BBC Television Centre

As part of her Christmas present, I booked me & The Girl onto a tour of BBC Television Centre, and we went along on Sunday.

As probably everyone in the country knows, the BBC have sold this wonderful old iconic building, and have been distributing the teams across the country.  Many up to Salford and many over to the new extension of Broadcasting House in Portland Place, so this really was the last chance to look round the place before it gets turned into a hotel or knocked down or something!

The Girl goes into the TARDIS

As almost all the teams have moved, there’s not really a lot going on in the building now – so we didn’t see any live action, but this really didn’t detract from the enjoyment.

The Girl presents Match of the Day

The tour guides are specially trained, and there is still some interaction – luckily for The Girl (who wants to be a weather girl), the weather team are still currently based in the building, and so we saw a couple of them recording their broadcast – and even better, she got to have a go herself!

The Girl presents the weather – it’s a bit wet

We went inside one of the studios too, and they explained the process of setting-up and filming etc, although I was rather dumbstruck by all the lights on the ceiling!

Just a little bit of lighting

When we got to the end of the tour, they had a little room that had everything set up so that someone could be a newsreader (although everyone in our group was apparently too shy!) or for 3 people to do a quiz.

I volunteered for the quiz, whcih turned out to be on BBC show intros.  I surprised myself for being quite quick on the buzzer.  I got eastenders, and then Casualty, and then Last of the Summer Wine, at which point I decided I wouldn’t buzz, but the guide asked me whether i ever go out.

“I don’t even watch any of those shows!” I replied.  “So how do you know the theme tunes so well?”  “Well, they come on and I think “I’m not watching this rubbish!” and turn it over!” I answered!

I still won a pen, which The Girl happily took off of me 😉

If you get the chance, I highly recommend going round.  At £11 / adult and £6 / child it was a very reasonable and enjoyable couple of hours – and you wont get another chance there.  The last tour date is 8th Feb.

I will definitely be booking up for us to look round New Broadcasting House when they start the tours in April!

casino royale – ian fleming (audiobook)

Casino Royale

I was approached by the lovely people at AudioGo (the home of BBC audiobooks) to review one of their Bond audiobooks that have released for the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film (you’ve noticed there’s been a bit of publicity about that around, haven’t you?)

I was very honest and explained to them that I have never watched OR read a Bond, and it’s not the kind of thing that has ever appealed to me…but being a game bird, I was happy to give it a go.  They threw in an Agatha Raisin book, so I was very happy.

As a Bond virgin, I felt it only right that I start with Casino Royale, to get a proper introduction.  This particular book was read by the rather dashing Dan Stevens (apparently he’s been in something called Downton Abbey), and I think his voice suited the book totally.  There was something very suave about it – and I loved the interview with him at the end when he tried to explain his inspiration for the character’s voices.

However, I am ashamed to say, I did not enjoy Mr Bond.  It wasn’t just the sexism and casual racism – that’s to be expected from a book written by a man in the 50s – especially about a successful spy.  It was the sentence structure that started winding me up…so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to listen to the second half of the book for 2 weeks.

As it was an (unabridged) audiobook, I obviously can’t go back to the exact words, but there was a lot of repition of words or phrases within paragraphs that became very jarring.  I finished listening to it yesterday, and one part that I particular remember went something like, “His body arched in agony. Then his body sagged.  Persperation started to bead all over his body.”


There were some surprising parts as a Bond virgin – he seemed to spend a lot of time naked, and I was extremely surprised when he fell madly and completely in love.  I am guessing that the result of that is what turned him into the womaniser that I was expecting.

I’m glad that I can now say that I have ‘read’ a Bond (it was a bit like appearing on I’ve Never Seen Star Wars), but it is not an experience I can imagine myself repeating – although now that I’ve read it, I am slightly curious about seeing Daniel Craig in the role.

I can’t fault the fabulous audiobook though from AudioGo, and will definitely check them out for more in the future – I do like a good audiobook – and if you’re into Bond, there are 12 titles in all here, read by such wonderful names as Bill Nighy, David Tennant and Martin Lewis.

I’ve just noticed that they have some of the Young Bond titles by Charlie Higson, which I have to admit to having read two that I have really enjoyed, so I could be tempted by those! *goes to browse round AudioGo*

jools holland and his r&b orchestra, bbc radio theatre

The end song, with Paul O'Grady brought onto the stage too!

You probably by now realise that I’m a bit of a sucker for a big band or orchestra, so it will come as no surprise that I have always wanted to see Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra live – but have just never got around to it.  Mainly because tickets to events that they have been at have been rather expensive, and because I have never managed to ‘win’a ticket to the Hootenanny, and have had to make do with just watching it on the TV every New Year!

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I spotted that he was doing a show for Radio 2 and quickly applied for (the obviously free) tickets.  And I got them, just when I’d forgotten I’d applied!

I have a bad recent track record for not managing to get into show recordings (as they always oversubscribe to make sure they get a full audience), and so was taking no chances.  I got ‘let out’ of work an hour early and made my way to the BBC Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House (where we had the very civilised protests for 6Music).  As I went past on the bus, I was pretty dismayed to see how long the queue was already at 4.20, and even more upset that there was a burst water main and we sat in traffic for 15 minutes!  But I got in.  The process of actually getting in is rather long-winded and boring, but we were all seated in the gorgeous theatre about 10minutes before the live broadcast started at 6.

It really is a fantastic place to see live music as the sound is brilliant, and yet the audience isn’t very large – probably about 250 I reckon.

I was celeb-spotting as I walked in as I saw Tony Blackburn and Ken Bruce, but then I spotted Paul O’Grady – which was weird as this is the second time in six weeks that I’ve been in an audience with him.  People will start talking 😉

So, the band took their place, and Terry Wogan introduced Jools Holland – and he came out and did exactly what he does best – played the piano with such an effortless grace, awe-inspiring style and unbelievable speed that makes you think it can’t possibly be just one person playing it.

We were also treated to others (mainly Radio 2 presenters) ‘doing a turn’ with the orchestra – highlights were Clare Teal, who I had never heard of who had an absolutely amazing voice, the beautifully chocolate-voiced Huey Morgan who did his best Frank Sinatra bit, the amazing Ruby Turner, the (now very elderly) ska-legend (and one time Special) Rico Rodriguez and also Jamie Cullum, who have never really liked but who didn’t sound too bad with such a brilliant band.  I reckon he could be the Jools Holland of the future when Jools Holland is too old to be Jools Holland – but he is nowhere near it now – watching the two of them play at the same time, you could see that Jools is all effortless and loose-handed and feels the music, whereas Jamie’s playing looks a little to measured and practiced.  I guess time and experience may change that – and his voice has definitely changed a bit, it didn’t grate on me as much as it used to 🙂

You can hear the whole show on iPlayer for 7 days – and I strongly advise you do as it was fantastic!

It was the best hour I have had for free in ages!  **UPDATE – They now have the whole show televised on the site for 29 days**


  • Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra — Bumble Boogie (absolutely amazing piano-work)
  • Clare Teal — I Just Wanna Make Love To You (featuring Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra)
  • Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra — Love (lead vocals by Rico Rodriguez)
  • Paul Jones — Remember Me (featuring Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra) (guy from Manfred Mann)
  • Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra — Endless Love  (there was an AMAZING trumpet solo on this one!)
  • Huey Morgan — Fly Me To The Moon (featuring Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra)
  • Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra — I Went By (lead vocals by Louise Marshall)
  • Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra — Father Time
  • Nigel Ogden and Frank Renton — Honeysuckle Rose (featuring Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra)
  • Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra — Roll Out Of This Hole
  • Jamie Cullum — Hallelujah I Love Her So (featuring Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra)
  • Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra — Get Away Jordan
  • The Radio 2 All Star Band — Enjoy Yourself (featuring Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra) Lead vocals by Rico Rodriguez

i’m not making light of the situation, but…


BBC Breakfast really manages to piss me off with its shoddy journalism and Daily Mail approach to everything.  I hate it.

And yet, I still manage to end up watching it every morning, as The Man puts it on while he’s getting ready for work, and it’s just become habit.

So – when I’m NOT screaming at The Girl first thing in the morning, I’m screaming at Bill and Sian for being crap.

Anyway, I would like to point out that I am not in any way belittling what has happened in Japan, and I know that it is horrific – I have watched so much footage, and heard so many statistics on how many people’s lives have been affected.  My heart goes out to all of those that have already been involved, and I can’t even begin to imagine what they are going through.

However, this morning, BBC Breakfast had some young British guy on the phone who has been living in Sendai, and the new angle that they were approaching this from was that there isn’t enough food.  That the supplies are running low.

Now this seems awful for anyone in the developed world to imagine.  We’ve all witnessed how decimated Sainsbury’s looks around Christmas, and had a panic that that we can’t find any sponge fingers for the trifle – so can you imagine what the UK would be like if there simply wasn’t enough food full stop?

They kept mentioning that everyone is having to queue for food, and how awful it is.  And I felt awful – I’d seen the images of Haiti when their food supplies had dried up – it was heart-breaking.  And then they asked the guy, “So, we understand that you have had to queue for food today.”

And he replied, “Yes.  I went down to the shops and I had to wait around half an hour.”

I couldn’t quite believe what I’d heard.  Half an hour?  BBC Breakfast were making a huge deal about a guy who had waited for food IN A SHOP for half an hour?  I’ve spent longer than that queuing up in bloody Asda in Walthamstow!!  Half an hour??  And Bill and Sian still managed to look horrified.

I believe this is another example of shoddy journalism.  I know that there are people in Japan who are really suffering, people who have lost everything, and yet we get some bloke on the phone (probably just cos he’s British) who is inconvenienced as he had to queue up for half an hour?

BBC Breakfast need to get real.  And get researching.

reasons to be cheerful – part 3

China Lion will bring a whole bunch of whoopass!

China Lion.

At the weekend I downloaded the entire 2 series of Talking & Not Talking, with the fantastic Laura Solon.  We’d heard all but one episode of the first series anyway, but it was great to have in the car while we were travelling.

In the series, my absolute favourite character is ‘The Lady From The House’ – who we gather is a mad German woman, who tells of her latest exploits in a rambling monologue.  China Lion is always mentioned, although the way that they meet is different each epsiode.

These are two exerpts that I have found on Youtube.  As soon as I hear the voice, I smile.

i dream of miranda

The glorious Miranda in 'Miranda', what else?! 🙂

Last night I had a rather vivid dream.

I dreamt that the wonderful Miranda Hart moved in next door (although I didn’t appear to be living here, so I don’t know where it was!)

She had a nice husband (I’m pretty sure she doesn’t) and had two little boys, a baby girl and was pregnant (I’m pretty sure none of that is true too!)

Over time, we became closer and closer friends and eventually realised that we’d fallen in love.  I remember I started doing asides to the camera, and I also remember being in a restaurant with my mum and another friend and going through my digital camera showing them loads of photos of Miranda.

The problem was, that the main reason that Miranda fell for me apparently was because I was able to do Rob Brydon’s ‘Small man in a box’ vocal trick.  Which I can’t.  So it will never be true.  *sigh*

I have no idea why I dreamt of her – I know she presented Have I Got News For You last night,  but we recorded it, so wont be watching it til tonight.

At least typing up this dream was easier than when I dreamt I was Mrs Serafinowicz!

don’t stop the music

BBC 6Music needs saving!

This morning, I was horrified to wake up to the news that there are ‘rumours’ that BBC 6Music may be axed!  I have been listening to 6Music for at least two years now, waking up to Shaun Keavney every morning, and on the (many) times that I have been working from home, or in the office on my own, streaming it through the PC and listening for the whole day.  Especially now that George Lamb is no longer on during the week, it’s an absolute joy of a station, playing music that I would near enough choose for myself if I could be arsed!

So I’ve done what little bits I can – joinging the Facebook group to hear if there’s anything said/planned, adding the Twibbon to my Twitter avatar, commenting on various sites, and registering my complaint to the BBC.  For anyone interested, this is what I wrote.

I was VERY upset to read the news today that BBC 6Music may be facing the axe.

I am in my late 30s and I feel that 6Music is the only channel that really caters for me.  I have always had a huge interest in music, and although now relatively ‘grown up’, I still want to hear all the new bands coming out, as well as all the good ones over the years that I have known and loved.  None of the ‘commercial’ rubbish played on so many stations.

I first heard 6Music when I was on holiday over two years ago in a cottage that had DAB, and I rushed home and bought one so that I could continue listening to all the fantastic presenters who have a wealth of knowledge and years of music journalism behind them.

6Music made me get back into going to gigs – I have seen SO many new bands that I would never have heard of if it hadn’t been for the station, and I have got many of my friends into them too.

I believe 6Music caters for the tastes of many people my age – and I think it is a ludicrous idea to think of axing the station shortly before the analogue switch-off.  The reason I think it’s not so widely listened to is that even now, I don’t know that many people with DAB – especially in their cars which is where a lot of my friends listen to the radio.  *I* don’t have a DAB car stereo, but will have to invest in one when the digital switch over occurs – and I think that this is where 6Music will really come into its own.

I didn’t think to write much more than that – I guess they probably just add up the number of complaints, but I would urge anyone to complain who listens to the station.

There’s so many other places that they could cut costs – get rid of that talentless twat Moyles for a start.  Or merge Radios 2, 3 and 4 into just two stations.  I could probably come up with a hell of a lot more ideas too.  Like getting rid of BBC Four, and just getting BBC2 back to what it used to be, including the stuff shown on Four.  Making BBC Three 24 hour, including all the garbage from BBC1 during the day!

As you can tell, it’s all made me a bit emotional.  So emotional that I haven’t even been able to write up about the fantastic gig last night because I’ve been dwelling on it.  but now I have written it down and got it out of my system.  Which is why I restarted my blog in the first place 🙂

Facebook Group: (link)

BBC News:

Add a Twibbon:

Guardian article:

BBC Complaints:

conversations with my daughter (pt 2)

Another pic of my surreal entertainment

Yes, it is another post on my little trinket of surreal entertainment.  This time, she’s not as much funny as proving that (like most 10 year old children) she doesn’t think before she opens her ever-flapping gob!

We were all catching up with Survivors, which she loves, and has avidly been following the series.  anyway, at one point during the episode she asked:

TG:  Is there REALLY meant to be just 1% of the population left, because there seem to be quite a lot of people

Me:  Well, how many people do you think would be left if 99% of the population died?

TG:  I don’t know.  A thousand?

Me:  Well, I think there are about 68 million people in the country right now

TG:  What about now?

Me:  What?

TG:  Well, some more might have been born now

Me:  And some will have died

TG:  Oh.  So, there’s 68 million people in the world?

Me:  No, there are 68 million in the UK

TG:  No there aren’t!

The Man:  Well, there are over 7 million that live in London!

TG:  Including us?

Me:  oh no, he didn’t include us, that’s 7million and three

TG:  Are you teasing me?

Me:  Yes

Why do children never think before they ask stoooooopid questions?!??!  and why the hell are they so literal?!?!

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