Friday, 17 April 2015

Australian angst, Hunger and Hangmen... BBC Banishes a all star cast.

Okay my sweethearts, I have been holding off on this one until I saw the whole run, but today I can release upon the world my humble thoughts on the BBC2 Drama


There has been much made of the fact that there are no indigenous people in the series  that not a single black face is seen in the evidently unpopulated Outback and section of coastal New South Wales , but I really only need refer back to the fact that McGovern based the series on the letters and records of the first settlers. Two things would be obvious to even the most casual observer, the indigenous people would not have been merrily recording their experiences in their journals and whilst I am not in any doubt at that that atrocities were undertaken in a bid to create these colonies and I am  completely sure these abuses were carried out by British military in the main, their stories would not have been recorded to protect the feelings of the people back home who had sent these folk across the world, out of sight and mind.

Secondly as really only the Officers would be proficient writers, any records of the time would be
reliant on Military logs or the redacted and altered correspondence received by loved ones back in England. Those too were sanitised so to not upset "delicate wives and mothers". 
On a more flippant note if I saw this lot bowling up on my beach, I would disappear on Walkabout pretty quickly too, they are a bit of a rabble!

The writer of gritty Scottish Drama Cracker  and Movie Priest has pulled a real blinder with the story of the first Brit Convicts sent to Australia to start a colony and the struggles of both the unfortunate convicts and the Redcoats soldiers tasked to keep order ... The compliment of Brits Abroad is filled out by a preacher and his wife and a lawyer.

As is often the way, the good guys and the bad guys are not always easy to discern in this one, as 

hunger is more of a problem than convict unrest and the plight of the soldiers is often almost as grim as that of the convicts! 

I have been interested by the historical elements of this show, the fact that this was not prison in the sense of a confinement, this was a colonisation much like that of America, the only difference being that this rather than being principled folk escaping religious intolerance, it was the dregs of British Criminal society who took the long trip to avoid the hangman's noose. The convicts are dealt with sympathetically and the two real villains of the piece are soldiers played with a great deal of slimey zeal  Joseph  Millson and Adam Negaitus, yet they too retain much to make them human if not really likeable.

The role of Governor played by the Incomparable David Wenham is part gaoler, part politician and full time arbiter and his position, tied by the confines of Military policy but morally upright and determined to give the convicts the best chance at a clean slate in this new and inhospitable land is
very interesting.

Particularly good though is the oft used by the BBC, but much underrated; Russell Tovey whose central part as the convict with awful luck and an unrequited love for his very best friend's girl makes him one of the most faceted and easily relatable characters, you care about James Freeman even more than Wide boy Tommy or tart with a heart Elizabeth. His arc has been gripping, heartbreaking and brutal.

The ever zany Ewen Bremner plays the pastor trying to bring the convicts to God without supplies for a church and his morality is stretched to its bounds as conditions get worse and the darker side of human nature begins to be delved to ensure survival of the fittest. 

Also of note is .. Ned  Dennehy Who plays Letters Molloy, convict scribe and the seeming moral centre in the Convict group.
There are a number of stock characters but the main core are beautifully painted with strengths and weaknesses, foibles and redeeming features and has made watching this show a real pleasure and a true journey that stayed with me days after each episode aired and was a source of debate weekly.

I can safely say that each and every cast member is perfect for the complex roles they inhabit, all are strong! The show has built to a cataclysmic crescendo that left me breathless, emotional and desperate for more!

BBC viewers should catch it on I-Player,  and international viewers it is my fervent prayer that you will get this as an Brit Export very soon.

Well done Beeb, this was a triumph.

Monday, 13 April 2015

A weekend of Firsts...

Long time no see friends...

I hope you have all been well!  I am taking as read that you have been writing to ABC to ask them to Renew Forever... If not, check out previous  posts for reasons why!!

I come to you today to speak to a few Firsts I have encountered this last couple of days.

The first being the release of the debut EP for a group of London Lads who knowing of my propensity to live on Social media, let me take the initiative and do a bit of promo for them.

Look out for  #The Rayys on Streaming sites Spotify and Deezer.

I am by no means an expert in the field of Music and the seven songs available here are not ones I
would have normally been looking for on my play -list but there is much to be said for this collection of seven songs. Two original tracks nestle in the Status Quo, Kings of Leon and The Hives covers.

The Quo covers are faithfully rendered with an obvious affection for the source material with a youthful zeal of young men who have absorbed the modern sounds of bands like the Arctic  Monkeys and the also present Kings of Leon.

The Hives song is joyfully raucous and one listener has already pegged it as a favourite.

The two original songs take the sound in two divergent  directions and are indicative of the two
writing credits in play.

Seven to Go - a rip roaring loud and proud rock number that takes you foot tapping on a journey and would be great Road Tripping Music in fact.

Where you Are - is a a more laid back song with a slightly less frenetic feel to it and provides a nice counterpoint to the heavier stuff and  the inclusion of both on this release , hints at some great stuff to come when the next batch of all self penned music is released.

Until then enjoy here:

And now onto my late introduction to the historical time traveller romantic fantasy...


I was prepared for two equally possible eventualities with this one, it would be so silly that I would not be able to get through an episode or I would be instantly obsessed . Neither happened with this

Instead I enjoyed this as a well made,  almost filmic story of postwar nurse and History Professor seeking to find out who their spouses have become after the rigours of  war had shaped and polished
them ;on a highland holiday to seek out the threads of a family history in the area .

The story before Claire is unceremoniously dumped in Jacobite Scotland to be almost raped by her
gentle husband's rather foul ancestor is so deftly managed. It is not trite  and hackneyed and it was nice to see a married couple where both members have equal standing and interests so the eventual separation seemed more true. Her reaction to her husband's doppelg√§nger is inspired.

The shorter section in the past was enjoyable too although I did find the fact that her attire fitted in in both eras without too many a raised eyebrow. Graham McTavish steals every scene he is in despite the buzz about Sam Heughan in every magazine and social media platform, but it is the performances
of  Catriona Balfe and Tobias Mckenzie that I found most interesting and Claire is a brave and feisty
heroine that I warmed to pretty much straight away.


I have been been bombarded by positive reviews about this so  last night I decided to finally watch this much lauded show and make up my own mind !

This was a Revelation ... The Marvel Franchise cleverly keeps the Avengers lurking in our consciousness by making the big bad secret conglomerate making dirty money from the destruction wrought in New York by the attack in The Avengers Assemble ..

Every character type is represented, troubled hero, plucky  damsel in distress , chirpy one-liner spouting Sidekick . Then there are the ominous martial arts henchmen , stooges, Murky Fixer and
quite literally evil Kingpin... Although I have yet to meet him at writing.

The difference here is  the characters are inhabited so well by the actors,  that  they are immediately authentic. The atmosphere of Hell's Kitchen, where it seems to rain consistently is well represented and the back story flashbacks do not detract from the modern combat scenes and I thoroughly enjoyed the legal scenes as Foggy and Matt start their fledgling practice.

Charlie Cox has not created a superhero, but an extraordinary human, and I think this is what elevates this above other comic book fayre on our screens today. I preferred Daredevil to Arrow and Flash on first viewing..

Promising does not begin to sum up the potential and I look forward to devouring the rest very soon.