Donning masks and social distancing doesn't keep the boys away from the Telly - here are their 5 top shows they've enjoyed during this challenging time.
Every single major character in Succession is self-servingly reprehensible, and someone we’d all wish to avoid if we ever came across them in real life. Very loosely based on the Murdoch family, Brian Cox as patriarch Logan Roy is phenomenal, one of TV’s greatest nasties. Matthew Macfadyen is brilliant as the cringe inducing potential son-in-law, but my fave character, probably because he has the best put-down lines in the scripts, is Kieran Culkin as the slime-ball Roman. But the whole cast is perfect and it is absolutely riveting car-crash TV. I can’t recommend it enough.
2. I May Destroy You
This show defies categorisation. I’ve never seen anything like it before and it’s pretty much the only TV show that’s made me feel my age when watching it. It feels THAT new and current. Starring, written, and co-directed by Michaela Coel who will surely be up for a gong or two when the TV awards are handed out next year. The music in it is great but a million miles away from the music that I ordinarily listen to, yet another reason to feel my age.
A German show that fucks with the fabric of time, this is mind-blowing. When I watched the first season by the end of episode 9 I was just about starting to piece things together so I thought I’d watch the whole series again before watching the final episode 10. Season two and I decided to do the same. Watching episode 8 I realised it was the final episode of that particular series. Damn. And season 3 is just amazing and stretches the perimeters of my brain and understanding. Definitely worth another viewing.
4. Normal People
A love story of sorts but it ain’t no lightweight rom-com. Based on the excellent book of the same name by Sally Rooney this is the on-off tale of intimacy between two young people whose lives keep intersecting as they pass through late youth and early adulthood. The two main characters are eminently believable….and watchable.
5. Killing Eve
Ah, the third season was a disappointment although there were a couple of excellent episodes but not enough to make me want a season 4. But seasons 1 and 2 are so much fun and Jodie Comer deserves every plaudit that has been lavished on her for her portrayal of the psychopathic assassin Villanelle. Murder for hire has never looked like so much fun.
I notice that 4 out of 5 here are comedies. Most of the time these days I watch movies …or Netflix series with one-word titles which, after hours and hours, are quickly forgotten - “did we see this one already? Oh yeah it’s the one with that guy and the weird house.” I like a good documentary as much as the next person and stay well away from politics and the bad news depression machine. No, when it comes to TV shows I like to be entertained, and for the most part that means comedy. You have to laugh, don’t you?
1. MONTY PYTHON
Barely a teenager and everything changed for me with the discovery of David Bowie and of Monty Python. The Pythons ripped up the rule book, undermined everything, and created a scenario in which anything could happen. The show cracked me up with its surreal madness, but more importantly, it made me start questioning everything, in particular the establishment and authority in general. At school there were half a dozen of us would converse in Python quotes. We'd sit across the back row of class, not paying attention and being Python-esque. One afternoon the whole school was brought to a standstill while the teachers held a kangaroo court in the library, calling us lads in one-by-one to stand and face our 10 or 12 accusers on charges of not taking our futures seriously. A bit daunting at the time, but very silly. One pillock teacher actually read out his statement saying "Simon and his friends engage in behaviour of (ahem) a Monty Python nature." To this day I have a healthy distrust - distain really - for authority. "Is this the right room for an argument?
2. AUF WIEDERSEHEN PET
I'm currently re-watching the lot, just starting series 4. AWP was a big hit and a breath of fresh air when first released. A few years later it was staple VHS viewing on the Mission tour bus. You can't help but draw the comparisons; a gang of assorted Brits working in Europe, and the camaraderie it brings about. I was so glad that they continued AWP after the Germany saga, reuniting the lads in England for a third series and strengthening the bond of the Magnificent Seven. After that, the cast went-on to other acting roles with some great success. My favourite character was always Barry err err Barry Taylor, because Timothy Spall played him so brilliantly. Of course, now he is recognised as one of our finest actors and quite rightly so. It was a further 16 years before series 4, and so great to see the characters back together, older, changed, yet still the same (further parallels with The Mission there.) Also, the fourth series had particular appeal for me, being set in the American Southwest - a part of the world which is very close to my heart. I have only seen the final series a couple of times, so I'm looking forward to following the road through to the end. What a televisual treat. That's living alright.
3. INSPECTOR MORSE / LEWIS
Generally a fan of whodunnits. There was a period when ITV started putting-out high-end crime dramas like Inspector Morse and Poirot. Inevitably, the success of these shows meant they felt the need to chase the golden goose with more and more of the genre and it all got a bit much. But Morse still stands out to me. Of course I've seen them all several times now, but here is the advantage of having a bad memory. Give it a few years and I can watch an episode again (well the odd one or two of them) not completely sure who the killer is. I was living abroad when the sequel series, Lewis began so I didn't catch it until a few years later when I moved back to Blighty. I was a bit suspicious it might not be good, but soon warmed to it. The writing, the Oxford setting, the music, and of course good old Kevin Whately, all give it continuity. Apparently Oxford is the murder capital of Britain. I blame the education system.
I always liked Cheers, so gave Frasier a go. It reminds me so much of Seattle (it's set in Seattle) where I lived for about 4 fantastic years. Moved there with bugger all, and within a few months I had a really cool tech job in this beautiful, forward-facing city. Frasier was THE show of the time, and I rarely missed it... setting the VCR if necessary. Of course, back here in Britain they air 2 or 3 episodes every day, so it became part of my morning routine for years... round and around from pilot to finale. Less-so these days, but suffice to say I had an episode on in the background while typing this. The humour is pitched just right; making its sophisticated references while simultaneously mocking the idea that anyone would be so absurdly aloof. Plus it's got Daphne and Roz. If I went on Mastermind I'd probably have to choose Frasier as my specialist subject.
5. THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN
Incredibly, they showed the first season on PBS in the States, and I lapped it up, recording it all on VHS tapes which I probably still have in an unopened box somewhere. After that, the show disappeared, presumably because it left the American audience scratching their heads. What can you say? With TV comedy it's so incredibly rare that something completely different comes along and has you falling off your chair. Razor-sharp characters cunningly woven together into a bizarre and macabre world, with a plot that keeps you drawing your own conclusions all the way to the end. Seeing the first series actually made me feel a bit homesick as if I was missing out on British cultural changes. In fact, when I moved back in 2009 there were several great TV shows doing re-runs which I'd never seen. It made me feel good to be home...as if I'd been on another planet and returned to discover what had been going on in my 12-year absence. One example, which really ought to be on this list, is Peep Show which I'm watching front-to-back again these days during the many hours I spend cooking.
......and of course Fawlty Towers.
Unorthadox - Really enjoyed this series about a young Hasidic Jewish woman who leaves behind her family, her husband from an arranged marriage in Brooklyn and runs away to Berlin to seek a new life for herself. Gongs for this one too, I reckon, come awards season.
- The Sopranos
Arguably the best tv show ever. First started watching this on a Mission tour bus with Rich Vernon and was immediately hooked. Brilliant.
When we were recording the ‘Children’ album in The Manor John Paul Jones insisted every Thursday evening after dinner that we watched an episode of Blackadder the third - my favourite, loved Hugh Laurie as the Prince Regent - before recommencing work in the studio. I used to look forward so much every week to a new episode just after Top Of The Pops.
- Auf Wiedershen, Pet
Simon chose this as one of his 5 fave shows the other week which got me to watching it again. It is brilliant and so funny although most of the script would be binned these days for being racist, misogynist, & homophobic. Watching it again was like catching up with a bunch of old mates I hadn’t seen for a while.
- Peaky Blinders
Ah, this is great, with a fabulous soundtrack. And when you get the wonderful Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy onscreen together in the later series it goes interstellar.
- Twin Peaks
Being a big fan of David Lynch’s work it seemed only natural this would be included. Broadcast for the first time in 1990 with so many red herrings in each episode it was great tv for its time. I’m not so sure it’s aged so well and I certainly wasn’t bowled over with the recent new series, mind you, just seemed a bit too wilfully weird to me. I remember being away on tour whilst this was being broadcast weekly in the UK so Leona, Craig’s wife at the time, used to record it for me. I remember arriving home and being presented with a big pile of VHS cassettes. Still got ‘em somewhere.
Probably not a cool choice but when have I ever worried about that, eh? Sometimes all I wanna watch is something light and easy that makes me smile. Of all the 20+ episodes of each of its 10 seasons there is only about 4 or 5 that were a letdown. Quality.
And today's list is TV shows !!! Well with thousands and thousands of channels to chose from this will be a breeze...Alas no !!!
There is so much crap out there I'm not sure where to start moaning (Oh, I'm sure you'll find a way, you always do - Ed.), obviously there are some amazing shows on today and in the past but I just have to get it in that there is so much RUBBISH... like 'That London'.
With the modern world and all, one can choose not to watch most of it, but when you are bored and your just scanning around hoping that 'Where Eagles Dare' has just started on some random channel you come to realise how bad things are. On any night in Trumpsville there are literally hundreds of religious channels spewing out gibberish and asking for money from fools and idiots wishing to be saved from t'devil and all his friends [Commies and Pinkos and the like]......Well you just have to wonder ????
The 70's [and a bit of 80's] looms large again I fear.
1. FLOYD ON.......
Come on, lets start with a cooking show.
Keith Floyd was probably one of the first of the modern TV chefs, how this came to pass is a miracle of some kind as he did seem to like a bit of a glass or two whilst filming and on more than one occasion came to a sticky end due to his imbibing, although he [and all around] laughed their nuts off at these mishaps.
I was just getting into 'food' as more than just a survival thing in the mid 80's and Floyd On Fish introduced us to Keith for the first time [I think]. He was great, really funny, wearing his bow tie and not looking like a bit of a nob explaining fishy things to a largely ignorant public about all things of sea and river. Just last week I made his Scallops and Cointreau recipe from 'the book of the series', [book priced at £3.95 at the time] and mighty fine it was.
He ended up making quite a lot of other food series' including,
Floyd On Food, Floyd On France, Italy, Spain, Far Flung etc etc until the mid 2000's.
I have a story I believe to be true about him involving the Leeds band Pink Peg Slax. Keith was doing a signing somewhere in the city and Mark the singer of the Slax went along....long story short, ended up having a proper booze up afternoon with Keith who ended up writing a little blurb on the Slax album “This band is cooking on gas” I think were his words.
All-round good chap it seems.
2. THE GONG SHOW
This was a staple of mid-week afternoons at 7 Village Place, LS6 during The Sisters days, I think it was before Wayne had joined the band?
Myself, Jez Webb and Grape were homeless at the time and about 3.30pm most afternoons after the pub we would mosey on round to Elditches place to get stoned and watch 'The Gong Show', we would then try to stay on there afterward to sleep...but that's another story, for another day.
Basically, it was a talent show for not very talented people who had the belief that they were the next big thing. The acts would perform for as long as the panel would let them, then said panel would gong them one by one until all three had had a bong on the gong [get it on] and then the act was over and would take critique.
Chuck Barris was the presenter / compere and was as mad as a box of frogs, he would join in with the acts, sing, dance, generally, lark around in a most daft as brush way. On an aside he also owns the 'Monkeemobile' car that The Sisters filmed the 'Black Planet' video in...I had a drive around a car park in it. A man of many talents/businesses that Chuck Barris !!!
I remember many of the performers, not by name but by their act.
The man who sort of juggled his little boy by his legs, a spinning and a turning as though a prop that would not be damaged should it all go wrong !!! And it was wrong. Child protection would be called in pronto nowadays and rightly so.
Gene [Jean?] Gene 'the dancing machine. The two topless hippies doing 'The Worm' just wriggling about on the floor [along with the host and the panel]. The guy singing earnestly with no teeth and so out of tune....It goes on. A classic.
3. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE LIKELY LADS
This really is one of my all time fav's, ("I'd give you a beer but I've only got 6" - Ed.) I have them on video and DVD and now they are all on YouTube and I watch them over and over again, and give the video and DVD space in a draw just in case they ever get pulled. I say that because the BBC somehow can block stuff [on YouTube] whenever they want it seems [Only Fools and Horses as an example].
Northern blokes doing stuff, one [Bob] trying to get ahead with the constant pushing of his socially upwardly mobile wife [Thelma], and the other [Terry] a bit of a wastrel who thwarts Bob and Thelma' plans over and again, not maliciously but enough to cause problems which create a comedy goldmine.
I like Thelma, Bobs girlfriend, then wife whose main line is to say “Bob” with a most disparaging tone. She really does not want Bob to do anything with Terry, but it all comes good on the last episode of series one when Terry makes the best, best man
speech and sends them forth onto their honeymoon. Aw bless. But no need to worry by series two all is returned to normal and Terry is back to just being there for our Bob. They did make a Christmas special and a film, the special is a bit dodgy on the sexism front but that was what it was like I suppose on the Elm Lodge housing estate in the Newcastle of the seventies?
4. PLAY FOR TODAY
Bit of a cheat this one as it is as it says 'Play For Today', so consists of a different play every week with different stories, writers and actors so you get a huge choice of TeleVisual options. Some of them were absolute crap [probably because I did not understand them then] and some were pure genius.
Rumpole Of The Bailey was first shown on this afore it became a TV series in it's own right [I could have had that as a list choice.] We used to watch it on an afternoon whilst on the dole recovering from a night out at The Phono !!!.
One of the most famous plays [for today] was 'Abigail's Party' by Mike Leigh and of course starring Alison Steadman as Beverly, looking quite youthful, as she also did in another classic 'Nuts In May' where she plays Candice Marie. The way she [Candice Marie] addresses her husband Keith has become something of legend as 'Keef' followed by an unsuitably innocent question. Most amusing.
Others that deserve a mention are obviously 'Leeds-United' the tale of striking female textile workers in 'The Leeds' based on a true story(?) starring many from Coronation Street. 'Spend, Spend, Spend' about pools winners wife, Viv Nicholson. 'The Fishing Party' which was shown in 1972, obviously I was only ten so did not see it then but as with many of these plays they turn up here and there and are always worth a view.
5. HAWAII FIVE-O
We all know the theme music and it introduces a classic TV series, not that insulting pale imitation that recently shat on our screens. What an insult to the real Steve, Danno and Chin Hoy of the late sixties, early seventies and a tad of the eighties super vista that is Hawaii Five-O.
Apparently based on a real police unit from when the islands were under martial law? Not sure if that's true or not but I'll take it anyway.
We all know Steve McGarrett is super cool in his super tight suits and his slick combed hair, his wardrobe bill for the series must have been insane as he appears in new suits all the time, whereas Danno always has the same brown one on, or if he was going posh the silver grey one !! Classy dude.
Dudes and dudettes are a plenty as many aspiring stars of today [most knocking on a bit now mind] appear as villains, hippies and n'er do wells, many I suspect in their very
earliest roles. No doubt the lure of a short city break to Honolulu helped the casting in more than one way.
I spotted it years ago on Netflix and decided I would start at the very beginning and go all the way to the end. I was doing well and was approaching the end of the 70's when they cut it off, just like that in mid series, no apologies or 'It'll return in spring'. What a bunch of rotters. So I'm still on the lookout to finish the job.
One more thing, in 'The Human Leagues' song 'Circus Of Death' they sing of McGarrett arriving at Heathrow to help with a problem....Steve touched so many of us....not literally you understand !!!
1. Fawlty Towers
The grumpiest bloke on telly and just genius viewing. I believe Polly was actually John Cleese's wife in real life - not the ever suffering Cybil.
I remember as a kid waiting to see the hotel sign on the titles - cleverly changed every time as if someone had rearranged the letters to wind him up! (Wasn't 'Flowery Twats' used one time? - Ed.)
I think similar things have been done to Mission song titles on set lists (side project for the comments?!!) to the point where you don’t even know what the next tune is with a glance at the paper gaffered wherever!
I remember a certain singer I toured with (see if you can guess?) decided to help the TM by getting a sharpie and handwriting the sets for everyone - after a gig with much confusion (not uncommon back then) - on closer inspection after the show it was clear there was a different version of the setlist given to each band member- you couldn’t write it...he certainly couldn’t!!
2. The Fast Show
I would also have had League Of Gentlemen but Simon nabbed that one! (You can both like the same thing, you know. - Ed.)
This has to be next for me - brilliant!
I read that the "Ooh.. Suits You Sir" characters were based on a visit to a second hand clothes shop in Brighton - I don’t know if it’s still going or the chap has retired - when I moved down here, I used to find it hilarious to go in there knowing it was the inspiration for the sketch - much like the (now gone?) back alleys from Quadrophenia !
3. Breaking Bad.
Once you start this you are sucked in for many, many hours, weeks even...how it builds is great - an innocent local school teacher turns into the scariest gangster with many a twist in the tale... Brian Cranston does a great job and leads you down the crazy path with some great laugh-out-loud moments.
Music as a career seems dead and buried and forgotten by the toffs - (retrain yourself to have a heart you arrogant pricks) - maybe I should get the chemistry set out as a sideline to pay the bills?! (What are you suggesting, Mikey, you'll be getting the band a bad name - Ed.)
4. The Wire
This is one that was tricky to understand at first - the colloquialisms are hard to work out and I would find myself rewinding - but this is a show that I would find myself still up at 4am so drawn into the storyline - watching yet another episode before bed. Great cliff-hangers.
A similar premise to Breaking Bad I guess - I was surprised to find out the main character “Macnulty” is actually English played by brilliant actor Dominic West. He has done some great stuff since too.
5. Mortimer & Whitehouse Gone fishing
Beautifully shot, proper old-school style BBC show - nice to visit the wonderful areas of the UK - the early morning drone footage is stunning...and is great at making it seem a higher temperature here than it really is.
Such a warm feeling of some genuine love from two real old friends - with real comedy so natural to them. Did have me laughing and crying at same time!
I would heartily give this a recommendation.