Goodbye Mary Berry: 5 Life Lessons

It was announced today that Mary Berry will not be a judge on The Great British Bake Off when it moves to Channel 4, whilst Paul Hollywood remains.

I got all sorts of lessons from her actions.

  1. Loyalty. Don’t forget the people who opened doors for you.
  2. Confidence. Don’t be afraid to stand out on your own. You don’t need to follow the herd. Make choices that are right for you.
  3. Courage. This might come with age but to be willing to make a sound decision in the face of pressure from viewers & all takes guts.
  4. Change. When one door closes, another door opens. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
  5. Focus. Stay in your lane. Whilst you may travel on this road called life with others sometimes you might part ways with them to create a new path for yourself.

We will miss you Mary. 😣😣😣😣😢😢😢😢😢

Big Hero 6 is Better Than Frozen

After church yesterday, I spontaneously decided to take the kids to see Big Hero 6. We heard an advert on the radio or perhaps it was on T.V and the immortal words were mentioned, “better than Frozen”. The gauntlet had not only been thrown, it had been flung at us – namely my daughter and I. Surely nothing could be better than Frozen????!!!! Sacrilege.

Just to give it some perspective. I don’t like animation. I find them lame. The last one that really gripped me was the Little Mermaid and I was a teenager at the time. I’ve always taken my children to see them with the feeling of being tortured. Frozen changed that for me. Yes they were princesses and stick thin but at least it wasn’t about romance, it was about family and sisterhood. Being one of four girls, it resonated with me. I loved Frozen. However, knowing my track record, I did not expect much from Big Hero 6.

Big mistake! It was awesome. A gripping tale about two brothers; one a child prodigy and the other a robotics genius and a robot. Without giving too much away I’ll try and say six things (geddit? Hero 6, 6 things? I crack myself up)… so as I was saying; I’ll try and say six things that make Big Hero 6 better than Frozen.

  1. There is absolutely no romance in it – not even a hint.
  2. There isn’t a princess or heiress in sight – by default that means no saccharine coloured princess dress.
  3. It made science inspiring and I dreaded those subjects at school. I left the cinema thinking I should take a short course in robotics.
  4. It tackled bereavement in an honest way.
  5. It was closer to real life despite the element of fantasy that girded the movie.
  6. It got my children to agree that it was better than Frozen without any tears.

I’m going to watch it again. Well done Disney! All you have to do now is work on the body shapes. 😉

My review:
Spellbinding, Awesome, In a League of it’s own. – RWW

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Love Is A Many Splendored Thing

The human mind fascinates me. For some reason I remembered this song from the movie ‘Love is a Many Splendored Thing’, for no real reason. I used to watch loads of old movies courtesy of my mum. As a child some of my favourite actors were Gene Kelly, Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Paul Newman. My mum had subscribed to Turner Network and my sisters and I would feast our eyes on movie after movie set in another time and space. Watching an old movie is still one of my favourite things to do. I have a soft spot for anything with Paul Newman in it. ‘Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn’, still goes down as the ending of all endings. Singing in the Rain is guaranteed to make me smile and must have one of the best dance sequences ever. They certainly don’t make films like they used to.

    Love is a many-splendored thing,
    It’s April rose that only grows in the early spring,
    Love is nature’s way of giving a reason to be living,
    The golden crown that makes a man a king.
    Lost on a high and windy hill,
    In the morning mist two lovers kissed and the world stood still,
    When our fingers touch my silent heart has taught us how to sing,
    Yes, true love’s a many-splendored thing.

All Aboard the Lupita Express. Toot! Toot!

As a young girl I used to look forward to watching all the award shows – the Grammys, MTV Awards, Golden Globes and of course the Oscars.  I was enchanted by the glamour of it all; the hairstyles, the clothes, the make up, the red carpet walk, the speeches and watching out to see which star would be musically sounded off stage for overrunning on time.  I was fascinated by that world.  As I have gotten older and busier, I have gone to the cinema less and less and haven’t been too engaged with award ceremonies as much as I used to.

Hollywood has always had someone that for whatever reason, best known to the powers that be, is singled out as who they feel we should watch out for.  I remember vividly when Tom Hanks won his Oscar for Forest Gump and he was literally hurled into every film role imaginable.  It felt, at that time, that there was no other male lead available.  He was the star of the time.  A similar thing happened with Julia Roberts.  That doesn’t happen very often. There are many talented actors that have not been honoured with an Oscar. I’m sure you will have a list of people who you feel should be honoured and have been unjustifiably ignored by the society – a table of men and women, who lobby for the actor of their liking.  A very political table.

My concern about the ‘worship’ of Lupita at the moment is I hope it won’t derail her. I know I’m out of it but until 12 years a slave, I’d never heard of her.  Turns out that neither had the world and after the film came out, I didn’t know who she was until the Golden Globes (that’s how out of it I am).  So from the perspective of someone who isn’t quite an enthralled by Hollywod, I’m quite surprised at how quickly, persistently and almost religiously Lupita is adored.  Yes she is beautiful.  From what I have gathered, she is also talented and by virtue of attending Yale Drama school she is presumed intelligent.  She is also articulate and an inspiring public speaker so she yeah, she is charismatic.  I’m intrigued but not overly enthused nor do I get the effervescent adulation that’s seeping out of the press and social media- for someone we’ve only known for two minutes.

Already she’s a style icon, a role model and a brilliant actor.  I’m not saying she isn’t but how do we know she is these things?  She has been flung to the top of the hill almost instantaneously and we don’t know other than what Hollywood, the press and what she shows us.  Can we please give her some time to show us who she is? Let us come to love her for all of her talent and what she says over time.  For all we know she is a one dimensional actor.  I haven’t seen the film with Liam Neeson as well so maybe she has displayed some versatility there but that’s still two films.

Humans have a way of flocking in droves to the beat of the press.  All it takes is for her to be caught twerking and suddenly she won’t be as adored.  There is nothing extraordinary about Lupita other than the rarity of having someone with her skin colour on that stage.  Hollywood is littered with beautiful, intelligent and well educated women.  It always has been.  As Cate Blanchett has evangelically highlighted, there are few roles for women; and there’ll be even fewer roles for a black women. Nevertheless, as my husband would say, it’s her time now and I can get the Simon Cowell-esque way in which everyone is flocking towards her because it is a rarity. I guess at the very best it would be a case of if we will see another Julia Roberts-like proliferation or if she will find other authentic ways of winning like Marisa Tomei, Helen Hunt, Kathy Bates, et al.

As far as dreams go though, for a Kenyan girl to dream of winning an Oscar and for her debut role to grant her that wish is quite magical.  There is an aspect of it that has time and chance written all over it.  I hope she is able to hold on to it and turn it into gold dust and I hope she has a darn good agent.  Most of all, I hope she is smarter than to listen to the all the hype and keep her dreams alive.

Comment Is Free

I am constantly appalled, shocked and sometimes embarrassed by the comments that people make online.  Human beings can be extremely judgemental.

Image from ITV

Yesterday on ITV’s Breakfast Show, This Morning, Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford interviewed a young lady with Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome.  I haven’t even watched the show but I came across the picture above on their Facebook page.  I look at this picture and think, ‘oh my goodness, look at what she’s living with’ and perhaps a lot grateful that it’s not me.  Harnaam Kaur  , whose excessive body hair is caused by Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome, has made the brave decision to ditch the razors and let nature take its course.*

These are the comments I came across on This Morning’s Facebook page (I have chosen not to edit them):

must be all that inbreeding

someone get her a bic

it might help though if instead of wearing a turban, which makes her look even more male, that she actually feminises the rest of herself, frumpy clothes don’t help either!

Do Sikhs have arranged marriages? Not sure any potential groom is gonna fancy marriage or lining up for the wedding photo’s (to which a response was – just tap it from behind with ur eyes closed)

Give an ignorant person a computer and they will unleash their brain matter online.  Even innocent pieces that should elicit sympathy will attract a handful of people who will have something nasty to say.  Why? The evil of social media is that people lose all decorum and forget that they are referring to a human being not a machine. You would never dare to knock on your neighbour’s door in a similar circumstance and say that to her face.

Why would you attack someone who is clearly suffering?  One response is that the point of the page is to get honest opinion. Does that mean we stop being decent?  Do I want a world where people are not able to express their opinions?  No!  However, should freedom of speech be misused?   I think there are circumstances that call for us to keep our opinions to ourselves but of course, comment is free. For those in the honest opinion corner, well this is MY opinion.

* From http://www.itv.com

R.I.P Downton Abbey or Good Marketing Strategy?

On Sunday I watched Downton Abbey for the first time. Sure I have seen bits of it but I’ve never consciously sat down to watch it from start to finish. A few of my friends have gushed so much about it, particularly as it was one of the few shows they could watch with their children. So my expectations were to watch a program to make me relax, unwind and ready for the week ahead. To be fair, up until the last ten minutes, I actually found the whole ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ theme quite hilarious and made a comment to my husband about how as an actor, it probably wouldn’t matter much if you were part of the Upstairs or Downstairs cast. And then BOOM! The producers of Downton Abbey decided they would shake things up a little with the rape of Anna Bates; albeit behind closed doors.

If I’m honest, it did shake me up a bit. Largely because I wasn’t expecting it and for the next hour I was unsettled. I’m not likely to watch it again, but then again, I didn’t necessarily find the previous forty minutes interesting either. Shortly after, I went on to twitter to see what people were saying and my goodness, all of hell, and its cohorts, had broken loose upon the producers of Downton Abbey.

From an outsiders viewpoint, I did not get the impression that Downton was losing it’s place in the ratings league. On the contrary, I’ve always been fascinated by just how many people tweet about it and watch it religiously. Most of the people I know watch it because they enjoy period dramas but also because it was one of the few T.V programmes at the moment that was pure escapism. Downton fans don’t watch it to be reminded about the real world. Of course they are aware that sexism and misogyny were rife in that era but if they wanted to see that, they would have been watching Mad Men, The Sopranos or Boardwalk Empire instead.

Entertainment is a business and like any business, you simply can’t put out a good product and expect people to buy. A product, however good, needs to be promoted rightly so that the right people would find it in the right place at the right price. In marketing terms, this is known as the Marketing Mix or the 4 Ps of Marketing’.

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It would appear that the producers of Downton have made a business decision to promote their product differently. I think they might have misjudged the profile of their viewers but only time will tell if a sufficient number of people will actually stop watching it as a result of this story line. On the other hand, the producers might just have succeeded in breaking into a fresh pool of viewers who might prefer a grittier version of Downton.

Again in business, it’s essential that you manage the life cycle of your product. The critical point is to judge when your product is getting to the maturity phase as this is when you need to decide whether to improve or modify the product (or service) in order to hold on to your market share. To gain competitive advantage, this modification needs to happen before your product is in the decline phase otherwise it’ll be too late.

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I can’t help but remember a long long long time ago in the 80s when ABC sorely misjudged the viewers of Moonlighting, a hit TV series starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis as Maddie Hayes and David Addison (swoon) respectively. Moonlighting died a sudden death the moment producers turned their love-hate relationship into a romantic relationship. We watched Moonlighting because of the sparks that flew between Maddie & David and the unconsummated sexual tension between them made it all the more exciting to watch. The moment they got together romantically, the sparks died and the ratings plummeted.

Moonlighting only lasted three years, just as long as Downton Abbey has been running. It will be interesting to see if they have dug their own grave or cleverly judged the show as reaching it’s peak; thereby deciding to break into a new market before it hits a decline. Who knows. Nevertheless, I shall watch the unfolding of the next chapter of Downton with bated breath. (forgive the pun)