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Taste (II) (2005– )
The restoration of good taste to British television
20 January 2006
This is without doubt the best food programme I have ever seen. It is beautifully photographed, the sets are wonderful, and best of all the presenter is the incomparable Beverley Turner.

For the first time I can remember we see a truly beautiful, classy woman presenting a television show. With the never-ending glut of dyed-blonde, shouting, in-your-face presenters seen in not only mainstream, but also niche programming, I had despaired that we would never again see someone refined and with true class - what womanhood should be about. But "Bev" has quelled my despair. She is polite, courteous to her guests, and is a great interviewer, actually listening to what the guests have to say without shouting over the top of them. Plus she has a wonderful naughty, cheeky side which occasionally peeks through, such as when she flirts mildly with a chef, or suddenly makes some surprising seductive comment. She also has a lovely little smile, and sometimes gets really excited when one of the chefs makes something she loves, such as chocolate truffles. It is really cute, and I think she is the perfect woman. She certainly gives me something to look forward to when I watch the show each day after a long day at work.

Apart from the superb presenter, we also get wonderful recipes cooked by a variety of different types of chef, location reports, expert advice, interviews, and Q&A sessions. The experts they pick are usually brilliant, with great senses of humour to compliment their expertise. There also seems to be an amazing number of good-looking women among the food experts - maybe I should have gone into that as a career rather than where I am now, as I do love to cook.

What more can I say about this show? It is absolutely perfect, with the best female presenter I have seen in a very long time, great guests, good lighting, photography, make-up. With the depressing state of much television these days it is the most pleasant surprise to find a show which can be described as perfect; it has more humour than most so-called sitcoms, better people than any mainstream show, and for a food-lover like me the most appetising dishes too. The epitome of Good Taste.

The question is though which is the more tasty, the food, or Beverley?
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Dragons' Den (II) (2005– )
Breathing ice as well as fire . . .
3 May 2005
Dragons' Den was one of the best British television programmes of 2004! Sadly overlooked by many of the population, due to being shown on BBC Two this was a rare gem in the current mass of soaps, detective dramas, and reality shows.

Admittedly it does rather fall under the reality show banner, but not the "docusoap" one. Britain's first business-based reality show, it has become rather overshadowed by our version of "The Apprentice", which is a shame.

Here the direct competition element of most shows in the genre is toned down, although elements of it still exist in the general make-up of a show where inventors and budding entrepreneurs conduct a sales pitch for their product(s) to five already successful business millionaires. The cruel streak so loved by the British public is here though, with the "contestants" having to lug their item, however bulky or heavy up a flight of stairs before beginning their pitch, and then having to stand in front of five people who already have more money and success than they will ever need, and tell them why they should part with a small amount of said money to help them get a foothold. All this while having to stare at piles of the money on desks in front of the millionaire dragons! Inventions and ideas range from fascinating to plain crazy, and the dragons have no qualms in telling them so! There was actually a surprisingly good success rate in the first series though, with several items getting the funds they asked for from one or more of the backers.

The dragons though, far from living up to some millionaire stereotype are quite a mixed bunch. Peter Jones, the least appealing of them comes across as stuck-up and full of his own importance, and offers very little in the way of constructive criticism, preferring to just scoff and withdraw his cards from the table asap. Duncan Bannantyne adds a touch of crazy Scottishness to the proceedings, as well as a worrying lack of knowledge in some areas. When one week he admitted to not even knowing what truffles were it beggared belief, and makes one feel that his success was rather more down to luck than talent. Doug Richard adds a useful American business angle to the ideas, and is pleasant as well as aloof. Simon Woodroffe, by far the most down to earth of the dragons gives help and encouragement when the others just scoff. And Rachel Elnaugh, the thinking man's Abi Titmuss, adds much needed sex-appeal as well as a sensible balance to the male egos.

With a show this great, the only real complaint one can make is that it is too short. Many of the snippets which were shown of inventions they didn't have time to feature looked highly entertaining, and the show could certainly have done with some "press red button" extra footage! If that had happened I for one would have been a captive BBC audience for many more hours of the evening! Also a promised programme featuring those business wannabes who were signed up, and their progress with their own particular dragon(s) is so far is yet to materialize, but is much anticipated by me.

Roll on a second series I say, and let's get it more publicity next time round! Although The Apprentice is very good, this is AS good, and maybe even better . . .
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This film was made in 1988 (article contains spoilers)
9 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Brad Pitt fans please note that this Yugoslavian film was first made in 1988 and edited for re-release in 1997 due to Brad Pitt's popularity.

This film, I feel would fall into that so-bad-it's-good category. The acting from Guy Boyd as the father is nothing less than terrible, and Cheryl Pollak, although an attractive presence could have done slightly better too. There are also strange surreal scenes which really do not fit it and distract from the poignancy of one boy's story, eg a scene with an old man stamping on condoms (don't ask) and a long scene of Pollak singing to Pitt's dad! Apart from these faults it is actually a very enjoyable piece of tosh.

Brad Pitt's performance can not be faulted as a young man who has been forced to live his entire life inside a leather shell with only two tiny holes for his eyes and one for his mouth. (No mention was made about how he goes to toilet, or bathes come to that!). Pitt put across well to the viewer the internal emotional torture that his character felt by not being able to go out in the world and do normal young man things, and showed that although he was wearing the suit to stop the external torture of the sun blistering his body, his inner feelings which are actually more important in a lot of ways were constantly hurting. On doing some research after the film I found that the skin disease isn't actually medically right, but it seemed real and I am sure there must be similar conditions.

Pitt's character falls in love with Pollak's character in the story, so decided to take off the suit and live a few days of happiness with her out in the sun, despite it meaning the end of his life. He then gets hurt even more when he tries to kiss her and she turns away, realizing that she only fancies him back when he is in the suit. So it is more the air of mystery and the fascination on her part which makes her like him, not him as a person. She actually asks him where his masked "friend" is.

When Pitt comes along in the mask she decides to allow him to make love to her, but of course this has to be done in the dark. She doesn't realize who he is until he leaves a locket behind for her to see. The ending is then extremely poignant but I will say no more in case you do ever get to see it.

In summary I would definitely recommend that all Pitt fans and even males who are just interested in rare movies lol give this a go!
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