Saturday, February 15, 2014

Trevor Eaton: The Chaucer Man - English and Drama blog

Trevor Eaton: The Chaucer Man - English and Drama blog

Exceptionally interesting - an impressive performance - but I'm still not entirely convinced that words which we still use today were pronounced that differently in the late Middle Ages.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Line of Duty + Inside Number 9

Jed Mercurio's moral cop drama, Line of Fire, returned with a bang on Wednesday night (BBC2).  Last year it was Lennie James; this year the cop under investigation is Keeley Hawes, who after several years of what can only be described as whiffle is now pursuing a much darker, more idiosyncratic side of her career (the hopeless druggie in The Tunnel, for example) with splendid results.  Her character, DI Denton, has somehow landed in charge of a disastrous attempt to relocate a protected witness - Denton is the only survivor except (perhaps) the witness.

AC-12 is called in.  DS Fleming (Vicky McClure) has to excuse herself because she's sleeping with the husband of the witness handler who burns to death.  So in steps DC Georgia Trotman (the luminous Jessica Raine, above).  Fleming, meanwhile, is spying on Denton.  The latter behaves somewhat oddly.  For example she visits a noisy neighbour and beats her to a pulp.  Then she calls the hospital where the witness is being kept.  DS Arnott (Martin Compston) and Trotman rush to the scene.  Trotman grapples with an intruder, then---  Let's just say, that's what I call a cliffhanger.

As if to spoil us (actually to compensate for the godawful bilge that otherwise clogs the channels) Line of Duty was followed by "A Quiet Night In", episode two of Inside Number 9, the follow-up to Psychoville by Steve Pemberton and Reece Sheersmith (half of The League of Gentlemen).  The series is six self-contained comedies linked, very loosely, by the houses all being Number 9.  The first episode, "Sardines" was very classy but "A Quiet Night In" was sheer genius.  Ostensibly a crime caper in which two halfwits try to steal a modern artwork, it was to all intents and purposes silent.  Again, I won't reveal the final twist, but the burglars (Pemberton and Sheersmith) were obviously trying to be silent as they crept about the ultra modern home - but couldn't help corresponding by text message - and the married couple whose house it was weren't talking to one another.  The man was Denis Lawson.  And who do we get to play his wife?  Who better for a silent comedy - Oona Chaplin, no less.  Both were superb.  The visual gags just kept coming.  Check out the wife in the bathroom.  I was helpless after the dog jokes.  Not only is it the best comedy of the year so far, it is a true work of art that should win a Bafta all its own, but probably won't.  Find it on iPlayer and enjoy.

Monday, February 10, 2014


BBC4's new Euro treat for Saturday nights is Salamander, from Belgium.  It doesn't come with the buzz of The Bridge but I reckon it's pretty good.  The premise is captivating - a private bank is robbed.  They take cash, they take jewellery, but mainly they take secrets from 66 specific safety deposit boxes.  The head of the bank (a compelling performance from Mike Verdrengh) decides there has been no robbery, then contacts the great and the good of Belgium to tell them what's happened.

Detective Paul Gerardi (Filip Peeters, above) is having a quiet day at home when an out-of-favour informer insists he has a hot tip about a bank robbery.  But no bank will admit to being robbed.  Gerardi can't resist investigating further.  People start dying, but the Public Prosecutor (another classy turn, this time by veteran Jo De Meyere) blocks any inquiry and soon Gerardi is on his own, wanted by his own colleagues and with the secret service in hot pursuit.

It's pretty well filmed and directed, too (check out the last scene of episode 2, when Gerardi pitches up at a monastery).  Two episodes down, ten to go.  I'm in!

Friday, February 07, 2014

The return of the Pelican

Back after thirty years!  I know it was the eighties when Thatcherite values polluted everything, but which idiot discontinued the Pelican imprint in the first place?
Read about the re-launch here.