THAT WAS THE BOX – September 2014 (Week Three)

By on 21 September, 2014

TV REVIEW - CILLA - Sheridan Smith - ITV

CILLA‘ (ITV – ITV Player)

Now, I’m not a big fan of Cilla Black. She lives near to where I used to work, and one day I found out that all the rumours about her being a diva were true. I was instructed by the caretaker from the block not to dare cross the entrance when Cilla was coming out because she wouldn’t like it. So, like someone paying reverence to a member of the royal family, I had to stand there, like a lemon, making myself late for work while Cilla emerged in her chauffer-driven car. She also has a Scouse accent unlike any other Liverpudlian I have ever met (see also Mark from the last series of ‘Big Brother‘), and yet it is a common joke that she hasn’t been north of Watford for years.

But I do like Sheridan Smith, and I like dramas set in the past, so I sort of convinced myself that this was a work of fiction rather than a biography, then I could believe that the sweet girl who worked as a typist and hung around with the fledgling Beatles didn’t grow up into a harridan who refused to speak to floor assistants and was rude to fans.

The attention to detail was good, and it certainly looked like pre-modernisation Liverpool (it still looked like that in the early 1990s!). The accents were a bit all over the place, but I’ve read people are saying that the guy playing Ringo sounded Irish, and I thought his impersonation was one of the better ones! The John Lennon is absolutely dire. I could play John Lennon better than him! The best McCartney I’ve ever seen was Andrew ‘Moriarty’ Scott in ‘Lennon Naked‘. But I guess he’s too busy making Hollywood movies. See also Benedict ‘SherlockCumberbatch who is a dead ringer for Brian Epstein, so instead we have Ed Stoppard.

Another suspension of belief was the opening scene where young Cilla is snogging a black man. This may have happened, but it’s hard to marry up Thatcher-loving, right-wing Cilla doing such a thing. But what do I know. These were different times and she was a different person. The majority of the drama centered around her relationship with Bobby Willis, who would go on to become her husband. This casting proves what a difference hair colour can make. Aneurin Barnard is usually hot, with his dark curls and brooding eyes. But with a horrendous white wig, he just looks wrong. I’m not quite sure they couldn’t just cast someone who was naturally fair and make them go a bit lighter.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy ‘Cilla‘ and I’ll be watching to the end. But it still won’t make me a fan. Not until she says sorry for making me late for work.


TV REVIEW: Age Gap Love Series 2 (Channel 5)


Yay! Channel 5 are back making their salacious documentaries about people who live alternative lifestyles. This one focused on couples with a huge age gap between them. We met Norma who is 68 and her husband Chris, who is 36. They met at Butlins when he was 18 and she was 50 and they’ve been together ever since. Norma looks like Dot Cotton’s glam younger sister and she reckons she gets up in the middle of the night to put her make up on! They have been spat on in the street and boycotted by their families, but their love was tangible and it was hard to imagine either of them with anyone else.

Bizarrely the same applied to Florida couple Joe who is 61 and his partner Angela who is 22. They are a couple of actors who met whilst appearing in a film and are now living together. Apparently before she got with Joe, Angela’s longest relationship was two weeks long, so there is certainly a gap in their experiences. Especially seeing as Joe has a son who is two years older than Angela. It was a bit disturbing when she admitted that she sometimes calls him Daddy and he likes her in school uniform, but they were clearly devoted. It was sad when she said she wanted to be with Joe for the rest of her life. The mathematics are slightly against her.

A relationship I didn’t see lasting was Tanesha and Michael. Tanesha was a very beautiful 28-year-old from Sierra Leone and Michael was a seemingly quite wealthy 64-year-old who spoilt and lavished her like a prized possession. Tanesha is trying to revive her modelling career whilst starring in her own show where Michael is her audience. It didn’t bode well for me to be honest.

Star of the show was 56-year-old Mandy who insists the only man her own age who is attractive is Antonio Banderas (sorry George Clooney). Mandy was big and colourful and bubbly and had a lovely relationship with her two teenage kids. She went on a date with 27-year-old Jonathan but it didn’t work out, and she reckons she’s looking for a companionship. I’m afraid she won’t get that with a 25-year-old. Maybe she needs to find someone a bit older, or get a golden retriever.

This show was light-hearted and fun, and the main message was love conquers all, and who cares what people think. My main concern is that the younger partners will be left alone when the time comes for their other half to depart this world. But at least Norma has made plans for that, as we saw her planning her own funeral. Cheerful.


TV REVIEW - The Great British Bake Off - Sept 2014 Pastry Round


It was pastry week and this strikes fear in me because whenever I try to make pastry it comes out tasting like cardboard. Their first task was to make savoury parcels and unfortunately there were no disasters, as happens at this stage of a competition, when everyone is super-skilled. Although I do think they should ban Chetna from doing Indian inspired recipes. She needs to move out of her comfort zone.

The technical challenge was making some strange Breton pastry things that no one had heard of, using the minimal instructions. Some looked like just like Paul Hollywood’s others looked like demented croissants. Richard won this round, and it looks as though he’s back on top again.

The show-stopper was for them to make éclairs, and this certainly was interesting. I have never heard of savoury éclairs and some of the recipes were so out there, it was obvious they weren’t going to work. Martha’s bacon éclairs were a disaster, and I don’t know why anyone would put bacon on an éclair and Nancy’s one with savoury fillings looked more like baguettes. Richard won that round as well, although I think what swung that was the fancy little set of steps he made to balance them on.

I don’t know what I’ll do when ‘Bake Off‘ finishes, I’ll really miss it. There is something cosy about a show about baking, with music that sounds as though it’s from ‘The Teletubbies‘, and Mel and Sue’s silly accents. ‘Masterchef‘ just doesn’t have the same appeal for me.


About Karen Mason

Karen Mason is a London-based writer. She has published fifteen historical fiction novels and is currently working on her sixteenth. She is also an avid movie goer, with a particular preference for gritty British cinema and a weakness for Jason Statham films! Her music tastes stretch from Muse to the Cinematic Orchestra and she loves discovering new acts.

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