A Driving Instructor's Blog

Movies & TV

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Tom Baker - the definitve DoctorI told you! Back in January, I speculated that the odds of the next Doctor Who being female were good.

Let’s not beat about the bush here. The fact that the new Doctor Who will be female is contrived – contrived with a capital “C”. The media response to it just highlights the fact.

The Huffington Post has “Girl’s Reaction To Jodie Whittaker Announcement Sums Up How Important A Female Doctor Is “. The BBC is busy blowing its own trumpet, with “Jodie Whittaker and the other sci-fi women breaking the glass ceiling”. The BBC also has “Doctor Who: Prime Minister welcomes first female Time Lord”.

As I said back in January, the titular character in Doctor Who was never intended to be anything other than male. That’s no slight on women, it’s just the way it is. This current situation might well satisfy the right-on BBC and the rabid feminists out there, but it is roughly the equivalent of casting Tom and Jerry as an aardvark and a lemur (in that order). It just doesn’t make any sense.

Now, when this one’s tenure ends, what are the odds of the next Doctor being transgender?


I’ve been getting a few comments from people on this story. Just to clarify:

  • The Doctor was a male character
  • The Doctor has always been a male character
  • yes, there were female Timelords, but The Doctor was not one of them
  • the decision to “regenerate” The Doctor as a female is absolutely a decision motivated by political correctness
  • before the decision was finally made, there were various pushes to make The Doctor into a character representing minority groups

No matter how you try to put spin on it, it was a deliberate decision to put a woman into a role which was always intended to be masculine. I’m sorry, but it was. The only way of justifying it is to rewrite the historical storyline in order to claim that it was always possible – and then pretending that you believe it.

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Wonder Woman - from the upcoming filmThere’s a new superhero film on its way, this time a remake of Wonder Woman. That second word pretty much guarantees that everyone involved with the film is going to be strung up by the feminist community, no matter how feminine, masculine, or neutral the main character ends up as being portrayed.

In fact, it has already started. In her armpits.

Apparently, the tinfoil helmet brigade have already decided that her armpits have been digitally altered, and are… wait for it… up in arms over it (I couldn’t resist).

Twitter has turned incandescent over the matter, but someone beat me to it with this picture suggesting what she looked like before the digital airbrush treatment.The unaltered version

I almost choked when I saw it.

The simple fact is that with high definition imaging these days, someone’s armpits are going to put you right off your popcorn, no matter if they’re au naturel or freshly mowed. A bit of electronic jiggery-pokery is of benefit to everyone except the professional loonies out there.

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Unicef logoI was watching TV just now, and an appeal came on for Syrian children asking for a donation of £3 to buy a blanket. I suddenly felt quite benevolent (actually, I do occasionally make donations, usually through DEC, and once or twice through crowdfunding websites). I usually resist formal charities like the plague – and I was reminded why, yet again.

I was just about to text and make my donation when I had a thought. A quick Google revealed that if you do text Unicef, you subsequently receive nuisance phone calls and texts every day, with absolutely no way of stopping them. The calls are trying to pressure people into further or increased donations.

Sorry, Unicef. Sort the problem out yourselves. If you’re so thick you can’t see the negative impact such behaviour has on your campaign, there’s no way I could trust you with a bottle cap, let alone £3 of mine.

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Obsoletely Fabulous - FuturamaSky’s Discovery channels often carry a lot of stuff about evolution, which is quite ironic given the reaction by many people on various web forums over the last couple of months to the possibility that the Sky/Discovery partnership would become extinct at midnight on 31 January 2017.

I fully accept that there are people out there who are happy to watch 640×480 YouTube videos (or ones they stole on BitTorrent) on their Linux boxes. I also accept that these people are programmed at the genetic level (and they have fewer genes than most anyway) to try to persuade everyone else to do likewise.

It wasn’t much of a surprise, therefore, to see a number of people announce that they were going to get rid of Sky as a result of all this.

Except – and here’s the funny part – Sky and Discovery came to an agreement sometime late on 31 January and ensured the continuation of Discovery channels through Sky for “years to come”.

I wonder how many jumped ship before they found out it wasn’t sinking after all?

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Tom Baker's Doctor WhoAnother one which follows on tentatively from the previous two articles.

I haven’t watched Doctor Who since Tom Baker left, and although the reboot of the series in recent years seemed to take a quantum leap in terms of budget and effects, it just doesn’t interest me anymore – maybe I just grew up? I don’t know. But the BBC loves hyping the show up, and whenever the current actor playing the Doctor announces he is stepping down (as Peter Capaldi, the present Doctor, has just done), “speculation” on who might take over fills the Beeb’s website almost immediately.

Almost by definition, the “Doctor” in Doctor Who is a male character. He was never conceived as anything else. Naturally, to the BBC, this now means that four out of the eleven suggested short-listers are female.

I wonder what odds the bookies will be offering? Could be worth a flutter.

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Hellboy and Abe SapienLet’s hope so. This story suggests that Guillermo del Toro is up for making a third Hellboy film.

The only thing stopping it is the small matter of getting $120 million funding.

The first two were brilliant pieces of escapism – the second one in particular – so it would be great to see a third instalment. Del Toro is a genius when it comes to this sort of thing – if you haven’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth, then you really should.

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I get email alerts from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), and over the years I’ve seen some funny rulings.

Until recently, ASA was a battlefield for BT, Virgin, and all the other broadband companies to keep trying to discredit each other over claims made in adverts. Every week without fail, BT would have a complaint about Virgin, then Virgin would have a complaint about Talk Talk, then BT would complain about Virgin again, who would then complain about BT. However, this has pretty much stopped now, and although no one ever admitted to it, I’d lay odds that it was a conscious decision on someone’s part to stop the practice once and for all.

ASA frequently reverses some of its previous decisions based on appeals from those it has ruled against (or those who won’t let go, if the decision was not to uphold a complaint). ASA is not government funded, is non-statutory, and it is self-regulating.

Every ruling against someone concludes with the phrase: “The advertisement must not appear again in its current form. We told [company] not to [make whatever claims it has been accused of]”.

Some of its rulings are extremely petty. Most complaints seem to be equally as petty, and it is obvious that they are raised by professional complainers in the majority of cases. What irks me is that some of the companies ruled against may well have spent a lot of money on the ad campaigns in question, and all that money is effectively wasted thanks to an organisation whose CEO, Guy Parker, is on a salary of £120,000 a year.

A ruling in this week’s bulletin against Heinz is a prime example. Heinz has a series of adverts centred around tapping on empty baked beans cans. Now, if ASA had banned it on the strength of how annoying it is, I’d have had some sympathy (anyone remember the Heinz Tomato Soup ads?) But their decision to ban this one is on health & safety grounds!

Heinz is a multinational company with annual revenue of more than $10 billion, and over 30,000 employees worldwide. Any advertising campaign it launches is likely to cost hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Heinz Baked Beans are a staple food, and Heinz sells more than 1.5 million cans per day in the UK alone. Nearly one billion people eat Heinz Baked Beans at least once per year. Two million people eat them each day (not necessarily the same people).

The ASA’s ruling came about as a result of just nine complaints.

That’s right. Nine arseholes whose brains have turned to jelly as result of whatever happens when you have children complained that the ad promotes dangerous practices which might cause little darlings to cut themselves. Where have these idiots been living?

I was brought up on cans which looked like this when you opened them. They were sharper than razor blades, especially if you used one of those lever-type openers which had a longish blade and effectively sawed through the metal. And we used to play games like Tin Lurkey with these things – but I’m still around.Old-style opened tin  can

In fact, I’m not aware of anyone having had their lives changed or snuffed out as a result of the most horrendously sharp edges on the cans I used to know, so I find it even less likely now that most cans are ring-pull types with no sharp edges of note.

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A week or two ago I was force-fed the news that Alex Jones (a BBC TV presenter) was pregnant at the age of 39. My thoughts at the time were a very vague and nondescript mixture of “so what”, “39 isn’t old”, and “good luck to her”. Stuff like that.Alex Jones

Given the choice, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it again. Mind you, I wouldn’t have thought about it the first time if I’d been given the choice there, either. But then I was force-fed with some more “news” about her today. It seems that the BBC with its master plan to outlaw the condition of being male, has already given her a new show about fertility.

Ms Jones has been pregnant all of five minutes, and she is already an absolute and complete expert on the subject, telling us not to judge older women as selfish career hunters when they wait to have kids.

It’s funny. Two weeks ago, the possibility that Alex Jones was a “selfish career woman” hadn’t entered my head. But now, I can’t get it out of my head that Alex Jones IS a selfish career woman as she harangues us about age and fertility for her new show.

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They say that Christmas is the happy season. Andy Williams sang that it was “the most wonderful time of the year”. So why the bloody hell do we have to put up with a glut of maudlin and depressing adverts in the UK?Christmas baubles

One of the worst at the moment is for Save the Children, with the most irritating piano tinkle being played with what appears to be a lump hammer. My TV gets muted the second that one comes on.

Then there’s my favourite radio station, Planet Rock. It’s not their fault, but being a commercial radio station they have to have adverts and they have little control over what they air. All year long you’ll be listening to great classic and modern rock music, only to have your mood repeatedly ballsed up by either the damned Co-op with its sickening funeral ads, or Macmillan rattling on about death from cancer. It ruins your listening pleasure. And before any do-gooders start going on about it, the situation would be precisely the same if I donated – I’d still be made to feel depressed. That isn’t right.

Out on the road, billboards are covered with “No one should be alone at Christmas” ads, and the BBC picked up on it last week to the extent that on Breakfast they had interview after interview with one homeless charity after another. As I write, there is an annoying Salvation Army advert with a suitably depressing and badly-sung rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. This was followed by the f***ing Save the Children one again just as I was about to un-mute – and it was an extended version, running to considerably more than a minute. Of course, going back to the Beeb, they’ve had their world-class roving reporters stationed in post office sorting depots telling us how busy it is this time of year. Yes, we know. Just like last year, when you did precisely the same thing. And the year before that. And every other year. We get it, all right? The. Post. Office. Is. Busy. At. Christmas.The Hound of the Baskervilles

Actually, now I think about it, a much better story would have been how the Post Office’s utter incompetence throughout the year is merely exacerbated at Christmas. This week, I’ve taken delivery of an item which was two weeks late (so late, in fact, that I’d already reported it to the vendor), another which took 10 days, and a 1st class/signed for/next day shipment which came… the day after the next day. But I am still waiting for a replacement shipment for a further item which never turned up (after three weeks) – the replacement was sent last week has all the hallmarks of also having been lost. As I say, the Post Office is incompetent.

Last month, my parents had a letter from the local sorting office informing them that from immediate effect all post to their address would cease until further notice. You can imagine the effect this is going to have on people who are in their 70s and 80s, one of whom is almost blind, suddenly being told that they have got to travel to the sorting office to collect their mail. When I read the letter, I began to understand – and it was far from clear – that a postal employee had been “attacked” by a dog some 15-20 doors away. The letter gave the distinct impression that the Hound of the Baskervilles was on the loose, and it seems that mail for the entire street was stopped on this basis (houses round the back were unaffected, though laughably some of those were around a quarter of a mile closer). In actual fact, and as far as I can ascertain, the dog in question had apparently barked at the postal employee a couple of times in what was construed to be “an aggressive manner”. The dog – unfortunately an Alsatian, so likely to have been trained to tear the throats out of people under the guise of having been bought as “a guard dog” – is never let out and, to my knowledge, hadn’t managed to get out either. So it seems the Post Office is now applying Health & Safety (and, no doubt, Union stupidity) to imagined scenarios as well as real ones.

Then we have the cookery shows, with recipes that only the most pretentious of Daily Mail readers would ever think of using on Christmas Day. I mean, Brussels Sprouts are supposed to be boiled in salted water then eaten – they taste great like that. So why screw them (or carrots) up by tossing them in butter, honey, and bits of bacon. And that’s just one of the “simple” recipes. God help you if you turn on Nigella. Oh, yeah. And I already KNOW how to cook a turkey without injecting butter under the skin, rubbing Ralgex into it, or hanging it in the garage next to a jugged polecat for a fortnight. We get the same lecture – well, lectures, actually – every year, so I think I’ve got it now. And there’s only ONE decent stuffing for turkey – it’s called Norfolk Sage & Onion (Paxo if you really must). There’s no way I’m experimenting with pile of slop made using Italian sausage, ginger, or cranberry. And the same goes for gravy. All you need is stock or stock cubes and some of the bird juices and Brussels water (all right, and some onions and maybe a little garlic). But no chestnuts, Allspice, lemon grass, ginger, or anything else like that. And call me old fashioned, but I’ll also be serving it on something called “a plate”, and won’t be flinging it across a plank taken from the side of my shed. As for dessert, don’t get me started. Why is every Christmas dessert in this country bloody dark brown, filled with nuts, and tastes like freshly laid tarmac? I detest mince pies, Christmas cake, and Christmas pudding for this reason (well, that and the marzipan). I always have.Lindt Lindor truffles

On the plus side, while I was shopping in Asda last week I saw a display of Lindt truffles, to which I’m not particularly partial, and was immediately drawn towards the unusual packaging of a white chocolate version. I love white chocolate, and to cut a long story short I ate a whole box! They ought to be illegal.

Why can’t other Christmas desserts be like this, and why does it take the Swiss to show us how?

Back to TV, and Apple – which specialises in pretentious adverts at the best of times – has come up with a really annoying one featuring whiny soul singers. That’s another mute button job whenever it comes on. The satellite music channels have been playing “classic” Christmas songs since at least November – the only problem being that their idea of “classic” is Mariah Carey, Wham, and various rap songs that were released in the same year as a Christmas and so meet the required criteria. I have only seen Slade’s genuine classic “Merry Christmas Everybody” once, and Wizzard’s “I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day” twice.

 

These are real classics. No one will ever write better Christmas songs than these – they’re happy and jolly, whereas modern attempts always dwell on depressing subjects (or sex and violence, however mild, if they’re rap-based).

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