Tag Archives: University Challenge

Verb and Re-Verb

In the last year or two I’ve been collecting examples of new verbs.  These are usually existing words which have been either squashed or repurposed and made into verbs.  Previously they were either phrases (eg to manage a project becomes to project-manage) or nouns (eg to window, meaning to schedule a delivery within a particular period of time).  So here’s a little list, by no means exhaustive but comprising the ones I’ve managed to capture and commit to pen and paper:

to re-platform (heard at the railway station)

to window (seen on Facebook)

to project-manage (heard in conversation and rendered somewhat redundant by the phrase ‘I project-managed a project’…)

to part-time work

to offshore (as in tax)

to vacation (to be fair, this has been around for a while in the US but has only recently made it over here)

to semi-final (heard on University Challenge)

to sunblock (read just today on Facebook)

I’m sure there are thousands more.  Have you come across any?  I’d love to hear them.  Please send them to me and I’ll post them

Thanks

Kirk out

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Filed under Facebook, friends and family, language and grammar, radio

A Perfect Branestawm

I have rarely, if ever, seen such a perfect, spot-on and generally whiz-bang, tally-ho and ram-jam lickety-split adaptation of a book as the Beeb’s recent Professor Branestawm. I loved Norman Hunters books as a child: illustrated by the illustrious, not to say splendiflicate Heath Robinson, they were children’s comedy classics, and this adaptation everyone and everything is perfect, from Harry Hill’s Prof with his seven pairs of glasses on his forehead to his housekeeper Mrs Flittersnoop spouting malapropisms and his best friend Colonel Dedshott of the Catapult Cavaliers (Simon Day) being thoroughly military all over the place.  There were squeedles of Pagwell-based fun including an exploding but ultimately fire-extinguishing automatic tea-maker, the wild waste-paper which brings photographs to life and oodles of other stories.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04w7pd3
It was an excellent start to Christmas Day, though later on I thought the Dr Who episode was not the best.  The dream idea was a bit drawn-out, and it was somewhat light on action.

We did have a great day, however, with Peter coming over for a thigh of turkey while we had the traditional nut-roast with sausages; all accompanied by pots, parsnips, sprouts, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce and washed down by Rioja.  Then there was Prosecco to go with the pudding and mince pies.

Yesterday I did little but slump in front of the telly and eat cheese: I watched Victoria Wood’s prog; very funny and featuring just about every British actor still living:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b007bs2x/victoria-wood-with-all-the-trimmings

then in no particular order, ‘Chicken Run’, a couple of ‘University Challenges’ in which I scored well over a hundred points, Rory Bremner’s review of the year – brilliant – and before deciding that my eyes were square and I’d better read a book instead, we all watched ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’. This turned out to be a cracker.  There’s an unusual role for Ewan McGregor as a civil servant asked to assist in a rich sultan’s project to dam a river, irrigate the desert and bring salmon from Scotland to populate it.  It sounds like a rich man’s folly, but all his – and our – assumptions are overturned in this understated and engaging film, the best feature of which is that the two protagonists are attracted to each other but maintain a respectful distance and do not instantly fall into bed together.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01qdx6t/salmon-fishing-in-the-yemen

Apparently Ewan McGregor had to learn fly-fishing for the film.  There are some amazing shots of salmon leaping, and also a scene where he makes a fishing-fly, which reminded me of J R Hartley.  Now, who can tell me who J R Hartley was?  Anyone?  Ms Vanilla Rose, I bet you can.  Or Tottnm.  Come on now, no googling…

Kirk out

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Filed under culcha, friends and family, TV reviews

Still Funny After All These Years

Well, it’s Thursday and that means life on the i-player.  So what have I watched this week?  A lot of factual stuff, as it happens: firstly, I’ve been comparing and contrasting Mastermind and University Challenge, and then I’ve been finishing the two-part retrospective on Morecambe and Wise.

So, first the quiz-shows.  Well, the first thing I notice is that women are woefully under-represented in both but tend to do a lot better on Mastermind than they do on University Challenge.  This cannot be because fewer women go to University, so why is it?  Is it that by the time they get to Mastermind they are older and have more confidence?  I watched a Bangor team made up of 3/4 women get utterly slaughtered by a gang of four supremely confident men; you could see the women sagging every time they failed to buzz or got an answer wrong.  I can’t help wondering whether UC still favours the old-style Oxbridge culture, both in its style and in the type of questions, though that might not be fair.  It’s just that Oxbridge students seem to figure disproportionately in it.  Or is it the abrasive and often sneering style of Paxman?  His brusqueness is bad enough; what’s harder to stomach is the sneering way he corrects wrong answers, when we are only too well-aware that he only knows the correct answer because it’s written down in front of him.  I much prefer Humphrys.  Though a pit-bull when interviewing politicians on ‘Today’, he strikes exactly the right balance of rigour and sympathy when chairing Mastermind.  And the contestants are ordinary people: last night they numbered three men and one women, one of whom gave his occupation as ‘Enforcement Manager’.  This, when translated by Google, turned out to mean Traffic Warden.

LOL.

And the woman won…

I worry, too, about the under-representation of women in comedy.  Shows like QI, which I love, rarely have women on, but even the occasional appearance by Sandi Toksvig or Jo Brand (I met her once, you know) is an improvement on how things used to be, back in the day when Morecambe and Wise trod the floors of the Beeb.  The BBC’s two-part retrospective of the duo was really interesting; a sympathetic portrayal of them as human beings and performers; the ups and downs of their career, the writers who worked for them and the intense rehearsing that went in to making every sketch look totally spontaneous.  I could probably write reams about this: the guests they had on the show (people like Andre Previn, Penelope Keith, Glenda Jackson and Angela Rippon), how they were able to share a bed without suggesting they were gay; exactly why they were so funny (I still can’t put my finger on that) – but what occurred to me as I watched, more than anything, was that they were never sexist.  Now that I think about it, I don’t remember them being racist either – or homophobic.  Lots of comics were – it was an easy way to get a laugh – but they never went for easy laughs.  And perhaps that is why, because they were so inclusive – that they were, and are, so much loved.

So catch this before it disappears:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03kp3qt/Morecambe_and_Wise_the_Whole_Story_Episode_2/

Likewise the latest round of Mastermind:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03k1spm/Mastermind_2013_2014_Episode_14/

and if you must, here’s University Challenge:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03kwbw4/University_Challenge_2013_2014_Episode_21/

Kirk out

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