This article was written for Annabel & Grace, which is now part of Rest Less.
The other day a local vicar saw God taking a stroll on Ilkley Moor. He ran up to him.
“It’s great to see you Father but with all the dreadfulness in the world why are you here in Yorkshire?
God stroked his beard. “I’m working from home”.
As many of us now seem to have more time on our hands (including The Almighty it appears from this gag on social media) we’re still making up excuses for putting off all the things we should have done years ago.
Like cleaning out the shed, repainting the spare room, digitising all those old family photos and finally throwing away every out of date item in our pantries and freezers.
Once we’ve not done any of this, we have time to sit and watch television. When I was a child my Dad told me if I watched too much TV my eyes would go square.
I believed him and rubbed them to check after every episode of Dr Who. Some people still rub them after watching current episodes of this sci-fi show as they can’t believe what they’re still seeing or paying for.
Grace asked if I might suggest a few things that the men in the family might find worth watching whilst we’re all looking at the lounge wall and wondering when it last saw a brush.
Behind the sudden dropping of many pay walls so we can now access lots of stuff we previously had to pay to watch and read. I wonder if ongoing video conference calls between many media execs include the harvesting of new customers. Cynical old me.
Those not in it for profit include the British Film Institute. The BFI player is a goldmine of great films. There’s now a 14 day free trial of their normal subscription service (£4.99 a month) plus a wonderful and free archive of shorts and features from their national and regional library.
But for the masses, Amazon and Netflix are the new gods. My partner is addicted to Prison Break on the latter. Normally I’d say she should get out more.
Sci-fi has a tag that makes you a nerd. If you’ve never seen Ex-Machina (Netflix) then you should. A man makes a robot woman in isolation. She then goes awol. The plot is a rip-off from 2001’s A Space Odyssey where Hal decides he isn’t going to play ball with his master. Who wins?
New to Netflix is their 6 episode mini-series The English Game about the birth of English football and Victorian class struggle. Writer Julian Fellowes is in familiar territory here and has another potential hit on his hands. Parts of it were shot last summer near my home in the World Heritage village of Saltaire in Yorkshire. Highly recommended
On Amazon, they’ve re-booted the Star Trek franchise with Picard. It appears the retired Captain of the USS Enterprise is “making it so” in his French vineyard but then gets the call to save us all. Patrick Stewart is now based in Los Angeles. He currently tweets daily Shakespeare sonnets. What else is a grounded actor from Mirfield to do? My personal favourite is No14.
The critics tore into Good Omens when it came out last year. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman would have expected that. I rather liked a Demon and Angel who are rubbish at their jobs saving humanity. It was thoroughly overacted by a stellar cast headed by David Tennant and Michael Sheen.
But what made Amazon a major player? Jeremy Clarkson. This Doncaster lad had fame, mouth and attitude. In March 2015 he punched a Top Gear producer for failing to arrange the steak he’d asked for at a North Yorkshire hotel because the chef had gone home. The 4th series of The Grand Tour is now being seen in 195 countries.
Richard Hammond still tries to kill himself but has yet to succeed, James May continues to prove he is far more intelligent than either of them and Clarkson remains an arse.
The reason Top Gear struggled after they left was the chemistry between the presenters could not be re-created. The low point was when they got Chris Evans and some bloke from Friends in. Finally, after many re-boots Auntie has a new team who make TG good – but not better.
Let’s not also forget the wonder of YouTube. I found myself watching an edition of Comedy Connections this morning which aired about 10 years ago and focused on the extraordinary Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. It reminded me just how talented both were and remain. Their Jeeves and Wooster was peerless although amazingly they said no when first asked to take on these P.G.Wodehouse characters for fear of not being to be able to do them justice. Thank goodness they changed their minds. As this ended, before I knew it I was watching Blackadder, The Whole Rotten Saga which contained footage I’d never seen showing the cast and writers working on this classic British comedy. It had me laughing out loud all over again.
I was a Sky storm-trooper in the 1980’s. They started this subscription nonsense but are now struggling with no sport or new drama to show as are BT, Amazon and the rest. Expect endless repeats and paid for channels bleeding viewers. What of the terrestrial ones?
Channel Four’s brief on launch in 1982 was “to be different”. I’m pleased to say their new HQ in the old Grade 2 listed Majestic Cinema building in Leeds City Square is almost ready. Where I took my auntie to see The Sound of Music in 1965 is about to be reborn. I wish them well. Gogglebox is still the funniest thing on TV.
Down the road, ITV Yorkshire is not churning out fictional grief on Emmerdale at their studios on Kirkstall Road. The village in the Earl of Harwood’s estate used for the outside filming is mothballed. Corrie is the same. The cobbles are empty. Soap has stopped.
Personally I watch man stuff on things like the Yesterday channel where 3 men and a bored dog see old cars being auctioned on Bangers and Cash or ancient aircraft are restored on Warbird Workshop. If you’re banged up in a male prison I’m told this channel is one of the most requested.
If we’re lucky and remain healthy, I suspect talking to our loved ones on the phone, walking in the spring air, reading, writing, cleaning and staying positive are what will get us through – and listening to the radio. You remember that? God bless the wireless.
Back on the moor God wandered off but as he did so he turned back to the vicar and asked him “what happened to the BBC? I rather liked them. Do they still do local radio?”
“Yes, but my “Thought for the Day” spot was cancelled”.
God looked at the empty Yorkshire Dales in glorious sunshine.
“I’ll see what I can do”.
More posts by Northern Male here