Best British TV Comedies

A conversation my brothers and I love to have is about which British comedies are our favourite. We can agree on some, but not all.

Here’s my list:

The Office

I’ve never worked in an office but this is just how I imagine it to be! David Brent is often celebrated as being one of the best TV characters of all time. But to limit The Office to just Brent is unfair. Gareth and Tim are incredible. And all the other characters add the sense of realism. The Office makes me laugh again and again.

I’m Alan Partridge

There are few TV comedies that after twenty years are still being quoted in every day conversation. There are so many great lines from series one and two of I’m Alan Partridge – you are guaranteed a laugh every time you watch!

Phoenix Nights

It’s a shame that this doesn’t seem to be repeated very often as this was such a classic programme when it was out. There are lots of subtle jokes that you spot with repeat views.

Gavin & Stacey

It took me a while before I gave this programme a watch. I think it was in series two when I first gave it a go. I instantly loved it! The depth brought to each character has taken some skill in performing and writing. Just brilliant!

Only Fools and Horses

Despite being such an old programme now, Only Fools is timeless. You can watch it again and again and you will love it.

The Inbetweeners

This week I watched the celebration of ten years of The Inbetweeners. I can’t quite believe it is ten years old. I doubt there has ever been a programme that captured exactly what it was like to be a teenage boy. Perfect. The scene on the boat on the field trip is probably the best sequence of any comedy programme ever!

Coupling

It’s a shame that they spoiled Coupling with a fourth series which was nowhere near as good as the first three. Such sharp comedy writing makes Coupling absolutely brilliant!

Lead Balloon

Underrated. I think this is brilliant!

Peep Show

Two brilliantly horrible characters and such awful situations make this an enduring classic. Every episode is perfect! My favourite is the wedding episode at the end of series four. Apparently this is Channel 4’s longest running comedy. Easy to see why.

Father Ted

Such brilliant characters. Such timeless comedy!

Friday Night Dinner

FND makes me laugh out loud in every episode. It is real-life and surreal all at the same time. Absolutely hilarious!

Extras

Extras gets better and better as it goes on. Well worth a watch!

The Royle Family (not including the awful Christmas specials)

The Royle Family was the first show of its kind. It was filmed almost in true time, there was no laughter track and brilliant characterisation. It paved the way for shows like The Office to come along later. Yes, they ruined the show with rubbish Christmas specials. But the original three series are three of the best episodes of comedy you could ever watch.

Men Behaving Badly

Whilst MBB hasn’t aged well at all, I’ve added this to the list for all of the memories I associate with show. It was one of my favourite comedies as a teenager.

The Vicar of Dibley

I still love this programme. The daft humour and absurd characters are just so enjoyable to watch. Easy viewing!

Brereton Heath

So, the theme of our family days out in 2019 is to be fun but cheap.

We have pretty much hibernated this entire school holiday, the children not even getting dressed on some days whilst they snuggled up and watched movies. It was time to get out of the house!

So today we went out for a nice walk at Brereton Heath. On the outskirts of Holmes Chapel, Brereton Heath is a lake around which there is a lovely walk. Lily took her scooter and George took his balance bike. The walk is not at all strenuous but does include some gradients up and down which Lily didn’t always find easy on her scooter. George was fine on his balance bike!

We fed the ducks. Be warned – there are ducks, swans and geese and they all come out of the water and chase you for the food. George and Lily were a bit bewildered by this.

As we visited on a cold January afternoon there was no coffee shop open but we have been before when there is. There is a visitor centre but we didn’t go in. There are toilets but we didn’t use them.

The car park is 80p for an hour or £2 for up to three hours. We were there for an hour and a half.

HMV

I am really gutted to be hearing that HMV is going into administration again. This time, it will almost certainly be the death of the company.

HMV was my favourite shop. When I was at Chester Uni I used to visit every single week without fail. I’d be looking for the latest CD singles (I’ve never been an albums man.) I’d browse the collection of old singles. Around that time I’d be looking for DVDs of new films and TV series. The Chester store had some white label dance records which I’d look for – even buying a record player to play them.

I could lose hours at a time, exploring the Aladdin’s cave of treasures.

I’d visit less often when I finished Uni but would call in to HMV whenever we saw a store.

Then in 2003 we got broadband and wifi. At this point my CD purchasing slowed down as I moved towards downloading. For a while 7 Digital was my download store of choice. In 2010 I got my first iPhone. From that point on it was iTunes.

In 2007 we started with Sky – specifically so we could watch the third season of Lost. We decided to subscribe to Sky Movies as well. It was at that point that our DVD buying also began to slow down.

By 2010 we were no longer buying CDs or DVDs. Everything would be streamed or downloaded from about that point onwards.

We stopped visiting HMV as we didn’t want to fill the house with more CDs or DVDs if everything could be stored on a device or in the cloud.

I imagine that this is probably a similar pattern to other HMV customers over the years. The business model doesn’t seem to fit with a digital society. The reason for the store’s demise could be due to being taken advantage of by businessmen. But despite that, surely it couldn’t have lasted much longer.

HMV doesn’t feel relevant to the way we consume media these days. So sad. My thoughts are with anyone losing jobs from this.

Best Songs of 2018

2018 hasn’t been one of the better years for music. For me it has been a year of celebrating big songs rather than celebrating big artists. The biggest artist of the year has been Drake but I think his music is sh!te. The other big artist has been George Ezra who I think is brilliant! The other big music event has been The Greatest Showman soundtrack. Considering how many times our children have made me play it, it is lucky that I love it!

So, here are the best songs of the year:

Anne-Marie – 2002

I love a bit of nostalgia. So a nostalgic song is therefore great!

Love from Teddie and Jamiee xx

Clean Bandit featuring Demi Lovato – Solo

Another great song from Clean Bandit. They seem to manage to bring out a corker every year!

David Guetta and Sia – Flames

Like with Titanium and She Wolf, when these two get together the results are magical.

Disclosure featuring Gwen McCrae – Funky Sensation

It’s good to see Disclosue back and producing awesome songs.

Dynoro & Gigi D’Agostino – In My Mind

I have loved D’Agostino’s hit Toujours L’Amour since it was first released. I love how In My Mind gives it a new twist.

Freya Ridings – Lost Without You

Every so often a warbly singer pops up with a song that worms its way into your head. Freya Ridings achieved it with Lost Without You. Check out the dance remix.

George Ezra – Shotgun

Probably THE best song of the year. It has become a huge favourite in our house and it will go down as a classic.

Hyde Family Jam – Umbrella

This song is only really here as it is the best song on HFJ’s new album. We saw this covers band in York and loved them. At the time they were performing Havana which was incredible. I ordered their new album which is well worth a listen.

Imagine Dragons – Next To Me and Natural

Two great songs from Imagine Dragons. This band seems to get better and better. These two songs are brilliant!

Janelle Monae – Make Me Feel

This song deserved more success. It is wonderful!

Kaela Settle – This Is Me

I love the song and the message behind it. An absolute classic. I love the Dave Aude and the Alan Walker remixes too. A complete song which will long be with us.

Kylie Minogue – Dancing (Initial Talk Remix)

A great song but the Initial Talk Remix turns it into an 80s classic! (This prompted me to listen to the other Initial Talk remixes which are worth checking out – particularly the Dua Lipa New Rules remix.)

Loren Allred – Never Enough

What a magical song! I’ve heard it 100 times now but it makes me stop and listen every time.

Loud Luxury featuring brando – Body

A good dance tune which doesn’t seem to get old.

LSD – Thunderclouds

Labrinth is back to his best on this fantastic song from Diplo and Sia.

Lukas Graham – Love Someone

A great pop song from the Scandinavian band that brought you 7 Years a couple of years ago.

Matoma featuring Josie Dunne – Sunday Morning

Another song which is going to get lots of listens over the coming years on my iPhone. Another stormer from Matoma.

Pnau – Changes

Good dance tune.

Portugal, The Man – Feel It Still

Yes, I know it came out in 2017, but I didn’t hear it until 2018. A classic.

Rudimental featuring Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen – These Days

What a monster of a song! Somehow it sounded new and familiar at the same time. An instant classic.

Sigala featuring Paloma Faith – Lullaby

Sigala’s new album is brilliant. This is one of the best songs on it!

Sigala featuring Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor and French Montana – Just Got Paid

Another cracker from Sigala. Most songs with Meghan Trainor on are worth a listen. When you add Ella Eyre you are on to something special. Not sure who French Montana is.

Tom Walker – Leave A Light On (Offset Remix)

A great song made even better in this remix. Fantastic!

Weiss (UK) – Feel My Needs

The best dance song of the year. This is a return to great house songs that were commonplace in the Nineties and early 2000s. We need more like this. As there has been nothing like this our for years, and it is just the kind of tune I like, it is, for me, the best song of the year.

Weiss (UK) – You’re Sunshine

Another classic house track from Weiss. (Why is the UK needed? Is there another Weiss?) Feel my knees.

Young Romantic – Move Time (To Get Loose)

A great dance tune

 

My Top Five of the year:

1: Weiss (UK) – Feel My Needs

2: George Ezra – Shotgun

3: Matoma featuring Josie Dunne – Sunday Morning

4: LSD – Thunderclouds

5: Rudimental featuring Jess Glynne, Macklemore and Dan Caplen – These Days

Chip App

A few months ago I started using Chip to save a little bit of money. It’s called skimming – once it has read-only access to your bank account it can work out if you can afford to save a little bit. It deposits it into a bank account (actually a Barclays e-Wallet account) and quietly builds it up.

I have found that it works very nicely. I managed to save over £100 in a couple of months which I then withdrew to use for Christmas spending.

As Chip only has read only access to my bank account I haven’t had any experience of being hacked or anything like that. The first time of savings it tried to take way more money than I was expecting. So I asked them to cancel the first saving and then reduce the amount I wanted to save going forward which they did with no problem.

The app is passcode enabled and I’ve added fingerprint recognition for further security.

The FAQ for Chip can be found here.

You don’t earn interest but you can if people use your sharing link. If you use this code (N781DE) then I can start earning 1% interest so I’d appreciate you using it!

Streaming in the charts

During Christmas chart week there has been much written about the way music is consumed. We are certainly in an era of streaming and downloads are barely relevant any more. But this week it has been proved that there might just be life left in the old dog yet, after Ladbaby claimed the Christmas Number One with massive download figures (just 7% of the total sales figure was from streaming). Maybe it proves that with the right promotion and the right song people will still pay to download. Of course, this might all be wrong – it might just be because the song is intended to raise money for charity. Who knows? (The song is crap which means you will probably hear it for years to come in kids’ birthday parties.)

All of this has made me reflect on the way the sales figures are now obtained for the chart. The calculations are very complex these days. In a nutshell, the figures are a combination of downloads, physical sales (albeit very tiny these days), streams and now video plays (YouTube). If a song is brand new or in active promotion its streams count with a full chart ratio (depending on whether they are paid for streams or free). If a song has seen figures decline for three consecutive weeks or if the song is no longer in active promotion then the streams count with the accelerated chart ratio which means they count for less. Have you got your head around that?

Yesterday, whilst waiting for my daughter’s dance show to start, A Million Dreams was played around ten times in a row. These plays will count in some way towards the chart (depending on whether they were being streamed, I guess) and I find that weird that they do.

Back in the day when streams did not count a consumer had to make the choice to purchase the track. I could play it a thousand times in a week but it counted once. Making a purchase comparable with listens is the issue here.

Back in 1991 when Bryan Adams was enjoying his record breaking stint at Number 1, his song was the most purchased each week. But was it always the most listened to? Probably not.

And in 2016 when Drake was at Number 1 for fifteen weeks with the God-awful One Dance, that definitely wasn’t the most purchased song each week.

The other issue I have with streaming is playlists. Songs that I add to my own playlist, are songs that I have chosen to be there. But if I listen to a Top UK songs playlist on Spotify, someone else has put them there. I would argue that those songs shouldn’t count towards the chart because I haven’t made that choice. Someone else has picked that song for me.

I understand the decision to count streaming and video plays on the chart – that is how music is now consumed. But the way they are counted is what bothers me.

Here’s a thought – I don’t know if it would work or not, but I like the sound of it. I think it would work!

How about: if one person plays the song then that counts as one sale for the week? And if the person plays it twice or more then they don’t count any further. This would mean instead of counting streams for the week it would count unique streams for the week.

Paul van Dyk – For An Angel

The first time I heard For An Angel was on a Club 051 Lee Butler cassette. My friend and I absolutely loved it instantly.

For An Angel is probably one of the best dance tunes ever. The bassline draws you in and the piano melody lifts you. It is layered – even after hundreds of listens I can still hear something different.

The song takes me back to a happy time. I was at uni but living at home. I was spending my nights with my best friends having the best laughs. I can recall nights out clubbing and loving the moment when For An Angel kicked in!

The song was remixed various times over the years, but nothing will ever beat the e-Work edit in 1998, or the mash up with Rachel McFarlane’s Lover.

I have a couple of other mashups which are worth a listen to if you can find them – For An Angel Vs OnePhatDeeva’s Bad Habit and also Vs Pulse’s Lover That You Are.