At times, William Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ appears an inspiration. This is the story of a handsome, distinguished black officer brought down by his love for a beautiful woman and an Iago figure in creepy “Caddy” Matt “Dot” Cotton. There’s also a Shakespearean tragic ending.
I loved Lennie James’ performance as Gates. He’s so smooth and arrogant and always angry at Arnott for investigating him. He also cries whenever someone mentions his daughters. James plays Gates like a wounded God - you sympathise with him because he is essentially a good man stuck in a hole and his only way out is to keep digging.
‘Line of Duty’ is on BBC iPlayer now.
This same outlet also reported that Stone married McCary in September of last year. Stone and McCary met when she was hosting SNL in 2016 and he directed her in a taped sketch for the episode. The couple kept their relationship private until they decided to go public at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards, where Stone was up for ‘The Favourite’ (2019). In December of that year, the couple got engaged and tied the knot the following autumn with a beaming photo of Emma’s engagement ring.
The couple have not yet revealed the sex of the baby, but I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Hollywood’s loveliest leading lady has successfully procreated and is now a mum!
Emma has always struck me as a lovely person. She’s raised awareness of her experience with crippling Anxiety with the Child Mind Institute. She flagged up that male co-stars took pay cuts to help with the gender pay gap in 2017. Even her and her former boyfriend Andrew Garfield were very positive in their response to the paparazzi; holding up signs in front of their faces promoting their favourite charities instead of beating them up or shouting profanities at them like Alec Baldwin and others. They were a lovely couple.
Stone has really evolved as an actress over the years. I first fell in love with her in ‘Easy A’ (2010) which confirmed her reputation as Hollywood’s most reliable girl next door. That was at the age of 22. She’s gone on to win an Oscar for ‘La La Land’ (2017), turned 30 and will soon be seen as one of the greatest supervillains of all time - Cruella De Vil in ‘Cruella’ (2021).
Being a new mum will be a great new chapter in this actress’ life. Hollywood’s girl next door has officially grown up. Will it stop fans like me crushing? Hell no! Congratulations Emma.
‘The Sceptred Isle’ will be directed and co-written by Michael Winterbottom (‘A Cock and a Bull Story’ (2005)) while Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman will serve as a consultant.
Beginning with him being sworn in as Prime Minister, this five-part drama will recount the first cases of Covid in the UK, through to Johnson falling ill from the virus and the arrival of his son.
The series will trace the impact of the pandemic on Britain and the response to it from scientists, doctors and nurses. It will be based on the first-hand testimony of individuals within 10 Downing Street, the Department of Health, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and hospitals and care homes across the country.
Winterbottom stated about the series: “The first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic will be remembered forever. A time when the country came together to battle an invisible enemy. A time when people were more aware than ever about the importance of community.
“Our series weaves together countless true stories - from Boris Johnson in Number 10 to frontline workers around the country - chronicling the efforts of scientists, doctors, care home workers and policymakers to protect us from the virus”.
From the pics, Branagh certainly has Boris’ bleached blonde hair which has been balding as of late. However, he’ll need to either pile on the pounds or don a fat suit to truly convince as Britain’s populist Prime Minister. Gary Oldman did that when he played Winston Churchill in ‘Darkest Hour’ (2018).
I also wonder whether it’s a bit soon to be making a movie about the pandemic. Just like I wondered whether ‘United 93’ (2006) should have been made in 2006 - so soon after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Does it seem a bit distasteful to remake recent history? ‘United 93’ is a great film, though, so hopefully ‘The Sceptred Isle’ will be a worthy depiction of pandemic Britain. Fingers crossed.
Daniel as the Doctor
The odds are already out on who will replace Jodie with bookmakers Betfair lining up the red-hot favourites for the two-hearted Time Lord and his TARDIS. Currently ‘My Family’ and ‘Citizan Khan’ star Kris Marshall is the no.1 favourite with odds of 3/1 followed by ‘The Falling’s Maxine Peake and ‘Game of Thrones’ beauty Natalie Dormer both at 8/1.
I’m more interested, however, in a report by ‘We Got This Covered’ that ‘Get Out, ‘Widows’ and ‘Black Panther’ star Daniel Kaluuya is under consideration for the role.
Now, we’re still in early days and the BBC have refused to comment on the report that Jodie is quitting, but the prospect of Daniel Kaluuya as the 14th Doctor really excites me. He’s a terrific actor - so brilliant in ‘Get Out’ (for which he was Oscar-nominated), ‘Widows’ and ‘Queen and Slim’ last year. His casting would make him almost (and no spoilers here) the first Black Doctor.
I think this would be terrific ground to follow on from the first female Doctor. I just can’t see the Beeb going back to just casting a white male in the lead role again. It would look like they were backtracking on their established political correctness - a notion of “we’ve been a bit PC for two years, so now we can go back to being traditional and reactionary”. On the contrary, the first Black Doctor would be a great step for racial diversity and I’m sure Kaluuya would give a terrific performance as he always does.
Carey’s not hot enough
In ‘Promising Young Woman’, Mulligan plays a woman avenging her raped best friend. The Variety review of the film by film critic Dennis Harvey reads “Mulligan, a fine actress, seems a bit of an odd choice as this admittedly mult-layered femme fatale - Margot Robbie is a producer here, and one can (perhaps too easily) imagine the role might once have been intended for her. Whereas with this star, Cassie wears her pickup-bait gear like bad drag; even her long blonde hair seems put-on”.
When speaking recently as part of a Variety video series, Mulligan said: “I feel it’s important that criticism is constructive. I think it’s important we are looking at the right things when it comes to work, and we’re looking at the art and we’re looking at the performance.
“And I don’t think that goes to the appearance of the actor or your personal preference for what an actor does or doesn’t look like - which I felt that article did.
“I think in criticising or bemoaning a lack of attractiveness on my part in a character, it wasn’t a personal slight. It didn’t wound my ego, but it made me concerned that in such a big publication an actress’s appearance could be criticised and it could be accepted as completely reasonable criticism”.
Margot Robbie may be conventionally hotter than Carey Mulligan, but Mulligan is the better actress. The awards clearly think so too as the Golden Globes recently awarded her Best Actress. She was right to call out this sexist and lookist review from an obviously very bigoted male critic. I just wish more women would too. #MeToo…
Sex and the City is back?!
Of course, I don’t think ‘Sex and the City’ coming back to TV is as bad as millions dying from Covid, but I do think the criticism was a bit of an overreaction. In the words of Jim Davidson, “it’s comedy, get a life and get your shoulders back on”...
Anyway back to the news. ‘Sex and the City’ will return for 10 half-hour episodes. But there is a catch - ladies contain yourselves! Kim Cattrall - who is the only Brit on the show and the least vile of the leading four - won’t be returning for the new series when it airs on HBO Max.
HBO didn’t say why Cattrall, who plays Samantha, won’t be returning in the new show entitled ‘And Just Like That’ (a reference to one of the show’s original catchphrases). However she has had a pretty tricky relationship with the show in recent years and with the hideous Sarah Jessica Parker in particular.
She specifically said there was a “toxic relationship” with her co-stars. This was when she ruled out appearing in a 3rd ‘Sex and the City’ movie. I just want to highlight the word “toxic” because, to be honest, that couldn’t be a better fitting way to describe the show and perhaps Cattrall realised just how toxic it was and decided to walk out.
All the characters on this show are the definition of vile - VILE, VILE, VILE, VILE! The news of the show’s return makes me want to insert pointed matchsticks under my fingernails. That would be more fun than watching ‘Sex and the City’ and I’m not joking this time…
Chris quits Warner Bros.
He cites the fallout with the studio over their decision to release their entire 2021 movie slate on to HBO Max as the reason for his departure. The controversy generated by the decision isn’t necessarily Warner Bros. choosing to release its movies simultaneously on the popular streaming service with their theatrical release, but more that the studio didn’t consult and discuss its plans with any of the filmmakers operating under the banner.
Since 2005’s ‘Batman Begins’, Nolan’s films have raked in $5.6 billion at the global Box Office with Warner Bros. also putting out ‘Insomnia’ (2002), ‘The Prestige’ (2006), ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008), ‘Inception (2010), ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012), ‘Interstellar’ (2014), ‘Dunkirk’ (2017) and ‘Tenet’ (2020). Nolan’s departure is a great loss for Warner Bros. Not only is he currently the world’s 8th most bankable filmmaker, but the only one of them spending over $200 million making original, thought-provoking content. A terrible shame…
Film - ‘Easy A’ (2010)
TV Series and Book - ‘Normal People’
Song - ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush
Food - Lasagne
Drink - Vanilla Cream Soda
Do something you enjoy to help yourself.
15, 92 Mins
‘Easy A’ is narrated by 17 year old Olive Prenderghast who lives in Ojai, California, speaks into her webcam and attends high school. Olive lies to best friend Rhiannon (Aly Michelka) about going on a date in order to escape the prospect of camping with Rhiannon’s hippie parents. Instead, Olive spends the weekend singing Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’ around her house - the song is played in a musical greetings card from her grandmother.
Pressured by Rhiannon, Olive lies about losing her virginity to a college boy. Marianne (Amanda Bynes), the blondest, prettiest, most Christian girl in school (who Olive considers prudish), overhears the lie and spreads the rumour that Olive is a “slut” throughout the whole school. The school’s church group run by Marianne decides Olive will be their next project. Olive confides the truth to a boy named Brandon (Dan Byrd) who is bullied for being gay. He later asks Olive to pretend to sleep with him at a party so he will be accepted by the school crowd as a “straight stud”.
Olive and Brandon have fake sex at a party. After a fight with Rhiannon over being called a “dirty skank”, Olive decides to counteract the harassment and embrace her “slut” image as the “school tramp”. Olive starts to wear more provocative clothing. Inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’, she stitches an “A” onto her clothing. Boys who are usually unsuccessful with girls now beg Olive to have sex with them to increase their popularity; in exchange for gift cards to various stores. This simultaneously increases her reputation…
Emma Stone’s performance in this movie is a delight. She’ll make you laugh out loud one minute with her show-stopping rendition of Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’. She sings in the bedroom and in the shower. That scene made me want to skip down the street with a stride in my step singing along too. You also feel for her when she’s crying. A scene where she walks off in tears after an ill-fated date with a boy named Anson - who actually wanted to sleep with her rather than just pretending to - is particularly moving.
‘Easy A’ tackles the issue of slut shaming. Olive pretends to sleep with her friend Brandon and is called a “dirty skank” by popular girl Rhiannon. This exposes a double standard where if a man was caught sleeping around with attractive women, he’d be seen as a hot player whereas if a woman does it, she is publicly humiliated and called a “slut”.
The film touches on Christianity and its attitudes towards sex before marriage. Marianne, a devout Christian, spreads the lie that Olive is sleeping around throughout the whole school as her supposed promiscuity goes against the Christian belief of no sex before marriage.
‘Easy A’ is the latest in a long line of films to transport and adapt a literary classic to a high-school setting - it’s loosely based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel ‘The Scarlet Letter’. ‘Clueless’ (1995) was based on Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ and ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ (1999) on William Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. ‘Easy A’ isn’t as good as those films, but it does share their ability to take social issues such as shaming and social stigmatising and make them accessible for a mainstream, teenage audience.
The movie has witty, accessible dialogue. I remember the scene where Micah catches Chlamydia. Chlamydia is such a taboo topic, but ‘Easy A’ busts that blue taboo by having Marianne scream “CHLAMYDIA!” down the phone line followed by “that bitch!”. Makes me laugh so hard!
There are some great supporting performances. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are brilliantly unassuming as Olive’s parents who disapprove mightily of her sexual promiscuity. Thomas Haden-Church is far better here than he was as Sandman in ‘Spider-Man 3’ (2007) as prudish teacher Mr. Griffith and Malcolm McDowell gets a great cameo as the principal - a world away from psychopathic Alex in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (1971).
But it’s Stone’s delightful performance that steals the show. I just wanted to scream “I GOT A POCKETFUL OF SUNSHINE!” from the top of my lungs. This is her show and she steals it.
That’s the textbook definitions and statistical data behind Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but the media stereotypes are much more broad. You’ve all heard people say “I’m a bit OCD about this”. People associate OCD with fear of germs and excessively washing hands and repeatedly checking the door is locked. It’s used in an informal manner unrelated to the real condition to describe someone who is excessively meticulous, a perfectionist, absorbed or otherwise fixated. These are the stereotypes, layman’s talk about OCD. Talk that I fear does injustice and actually stigmatises the reality of living with OCD. I’ve never had a fear of contamination, for example, but I do suffer from OCD and have done for about the last 8 years.
I was first diagnosed with OCD at the age of 16. The year was 2013 - I was diagnosed at Nottingham’s CAMHS team by a Dr.Muller. I had just come back from a school history trip. I was a typical young lad - tall, lanky, unsure about himself - unsure about how to interact with girls in particular. In fact, I had never really got the chance to spend time and interact with girls in such close proximity until this History trip. The trip changed everything. There was this girl I fancied rotten. We had a pretty friendly relationship, as I did with several others in her friendship group. This trip was the first time I felt like I had feelings for girls.
I began to obsess over it. Not in a pervy way. I wasn’t obsessing over her, I was more worried that she was obsessing over me which she wasn’t. I was worried she thought I was a creep and a pervert. I was worried she thought I was a stalker and that she didn’t like me. I started obsessing. I wouldn’t walk under lamp posts or house signs as I was worried it was bad luck and that if I did that, it would mean she wouldn’t like me. When my mum asked me to hang out the washing, I would obsess about colour coding the clothes pegs. The blue pegs had to be together, the pink pegs had to be together and so on and so on.
My worst fear, however, stemmed from my religious beliefs. Since I was born, I have been brought up by a devout Christian mother and attended St.Luke’s Church in West Bridgford and its Sunday school every Sunday morning. I’d been taught to believe in the father, the son and the holy spirit and pray every night before I went to bed. This became obsessive. Soon I was literally reciting the words I needed to say verbatim to be seen as worthy in God’s eyes. The words began with “Dear God” and always, always had to end with “Amen, in Jesus name I ask, Amen, in Jesus name, Amen”. If I didn’t do this, I feared God was going to punish me, that I had sinned and that he would make my friendships and relationships bad. That he’d stop me from getting a girlfriend which is what I really wanted at the time.
My OCD has gone through different phases, different ups and downs. It’s dipped and then peaked and then repeaked on and off for a good space of the past 7 years since my diagnosis in 2013. At one point, I went through a Body Dysmorphic phase. I was a tall, thin lad at school and I became obsessed with the idea that I was scrawny and not muscular enough. I tried to tackle this. My solution was to hit the gym every day, bench-pressing 60kg, pumping weights and running on the treadmill. I wasn’t working out because I wanted a ripped, chiselled abbed 6-pack body - I was working out because I wanted to look like a huge, 200lb+ bodybuilder and was foolish enough to think that I would become this in a matter of months.
I eventually realised that, despite some pretty solid gains, my naturally slim, ectomorphic build was never going to be the size of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and I eventually didn’t want to be. Some of the sexiest men in the world like Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Johnny Depp are all ectomorphs. My obsessions didn’t stop, though. They moved from my body to my face. I was obsessed with this idea that I was ugly and unattractive to women. This was the only thing I would think about every day which was in itself a pretty unattractive trait to women. Most girls don’t want a guy who is obsessed with himself more than them. I’d spend hours gelling my hair, trying to get a pompadour haircut like Johnny Depp in ‘Cry Baby’ (1990) and wearing leather jackets and white tops. I was obsessed with looking sexy and, having made some substantial gains on the working out front, felt like I had earned the right to be sexy.
I fell into a depression about my looks. I was regularly self-harming and drinking heavily and getting into trouble with the police. It had to stop and I was the one to put an end to it. It all happened because a friend of mine from church who owned a shop told me “if I hear you’ve been drinking, I will have to kick you out”. My drinking had gotten out of control. I was an alcoholic and was passing out on the streets and having randomers including police officers having to pick me up in cars and take me home. The drinking was a mark of disrespect to this friend of mine who owned the shop and he said if he heard I’d had a drop of Alcohol, he’d exert violence against me. I was pretty shaken by that statement, but it was necessary. If he hadn’t been so clear and tough, I probably would never have stopped drinking and would be getting into even more trouble with the law. I decided to take his advice and quit the booze for good. I haven’t had a drink now (disregarding one brief slip-up last month) since January 2019 and feel so much better for it.
My OCD came back with a vengeance in 2017. The stories were coming out. Stories of sexual harassment. There were allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Bill Cosby among countless others. It was the beginning of the #MeToo movement - a terrific movement where women were finally speaking out against sexual harassment, opening our eyes to the horrors of this very particular practice.
I became obsessed with the idea that I was going to be accused of sexual harassment. That women were watching my every move. I was worried I was ogling people. I was worried I was being lecherous or pervy even though I knew I wasn’t. I felt petrified and paralysed when I met or saw someone I found attractive. On the bus, I would worry when I brushed shoulders with a woman accidentally. I was terrified I was going to get arrested for sexual harassment or something horrific like that.
I still have those fears now. Whenever I meet an attractive woman, I’m constantly questioning myself - is it normal to find her attractive? Am I a lech? Am I a pervert? Am I a normal boy? Whenever I see Margot Robbie on screen in ‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ (2019), I feel like such a pervert and a lech for finding her hot. I’ve had to challenge these thoughts and realise that I’m not a lech or a pervert or a sexual harasser. I’m just a normal, straight 23 year old bloke who has crushes and finds women attractive. There’s nothing wrong with that.
So what am I doing to make myself feel better? I’m attending OCD Support Groups run by OCD-UK (although all those are on Zoom now rather than in person for Covid reasons). I’ve started a new therapy entitled Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which I was previously unaware of. It’s basically about accepting your obsessive, intrusive thoughts and learning to live with them. That therapy hasn’t been going very well, though, as my CPN has been off sick. I have to say my treatment with the adult mental health team has been pretty poor - my nurses have often been off sick or on holiday, often when I’ve needed them most, and they’ve regularly mucked up my appointments.
I’ve also been taking 200mg of Clomipramine - a tricyclic antidepressant and one of the most common medications used to treat OCD. The medication is good - it’s certainly taken the edge of things in terms of my anxiety. The wincing physical pain of the anxiety is certainly lessened, but the obsessions remain and the compulsions persist. Medication can only take you so far, the rest in your road to recovery is all on you and I’m ready to start taking control of my mind and my obsessions...
15, 129 Mins
‘The Mauritanian’ follows Mohamedou Ould Salahi (Rahim) who was captured by the US government and is languishing in Guantanamo Bay detention camp without any charge or trial. As he loses all hope, Salahi finds aid in defense attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley). They face a number of obstacles in their increasingly desperate pursuit of justice. The team’s controversial advocacy, along with fabricated evidence revealed by military prosecutor Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), eventually uncovers a shocking and far-reaching conspiracy.
Unlike many films based on real-life political cases, ‘The Mauritanian’ is profoundly cinematic. It takes place in the confined settings of Guantanamo Bay detention camp, in airless rooms where the walls appear to be caving in and the legal offices and courtrooms of Jodie Foster’s Nancy Hollander. This could all look very procedural and televisual, but MacDonald manages to make these locations suitable for the big screen by honing in on minute details. For example, a close-up shot of a door handle or a tracking shot of Foster’s car pulling into a multi-story car park.
The politics of this movie are rather on-the-nose. There’s a scene of Tahar Rahim repeatedly saying “I’m innocent” for goodness sake. It could have been more subtle - politics are often more subtle when not literally mouthed by characters.
There’s also horror elements to this story. The torture scenes are very hard to watch and resemble that of a horror film in the hallucinogenic scenes of men and women in animal masks tormenting Mohamedou. It makes for scary viewing.
Ultimately, however, it’s the performances that make the film worth viewing. Jodie Foster is typically steely and her brusque voice sounds so suited to reading legal terminology. Tahar Rahim has a completely different role to playing sexy serial killer Charles Sobhraj in ‘The Serpent’ (2021). This is a much more minimalist performance that relies on minute gestures such as the tilt of the head or a stutter. He really captures Mohamedou’s anguish, fear and little boy terror at being incarcerated and tortured in airless rooms. Benedict Cumberbatch’s American accent, meanwhile, isn’t great and Shailene Woodley has a rather thankless supporting role as Hollander’s legal assistant Duncan.
I wish the movie’s wishy-washy liberal politics were more subtle and less on-the-head, but there’s an inspirational story here and some great performances from Foster and Rahim.
‘The Mauritanian’ is on Amazon Prime from April 1st.
15, 119 Mins
Marla Grayson (Pike) is a Massachusetts scammer - a blonde and beautiful con artist who gets her way by flashing her thighs and makes a living convincing the legal system to grant her guardianship over elders she pretends cannot take care of themselves. Marla places these elders in an assisted living facility. Here they are sedated and lose contact with the rest of the world. She later sells their homes and assets and pockets their proceeds. Marla and the court deny a man, Feldstrom (Macon Blair), access to his mother after attempting to force his way into the assisted living facility. He later threatens her outside the courthouse and says he hopes Marla is murdered.
Dr. Karen Amos (Alicia Witt) informs Marla of a wealthy pensioner they can exploit by the name of Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest). A judge appoints Marla Jennifer’s guardian after she and Dr. Amos falsely assert that Jennifer has dementia and confusion. Marla moves Jennifer into an assisted living facility and immediately gets to work selling Jennifer’s furniture, car and home. While rooting through her possessions, Marla uncovers the key to a safe deposit box with a watch, gold bars, bank notes and hidden diamonds. She takes them and stashes them away…
This is Rosamund Pike’s 2nd time playing a psychopath. She has previous form playing Amazing Amy Dunne in ‘Gone Girl’ (2014) which also earned her an Oscar nomination. She’s delightfully sexy here in ‘I Care A Lot’ - flashes her legs a lot and looks so great in skirt suits which she wears a lot. She’s also brilliant at mouthing Chaucerian lines of dialogue like “playing fair is a joke invented by rich people to keep the rest of us poor”.
Marla’s polar opposite is provided by Peter Dinklage as crime lord Roman Lunyov. Dinklage is short and stout while Pike is tall and athletic. He chews up the scenery, especially when squaring off with Pike in a battle of wits while she is tied up. He slaps her a few times and it looks very comical because of the size difference.
There’s a heightened sense of reality about this movie. The soundtrack is extremely excessive and reminded me of Daniel Lopatin’s sonic design on ‘Uncut Gems’ (2020). Like in that movie, the noises are woozily disorientating; melding church organs with gospel singing and screeching synthesizers. Nothing is underplayed and you get a sense through this that Marla’s world is a big bubble waiting to burst.
There are some flaws. Eiza Gonzalez’s role as Marla’s lover Fran is underwritten and the movie is at least 30 mins too long. But I love the feminist girl power message of the whole thing. It’s directed by J Blakeson who, 11 years ago, made that ingeniously nasty Gemma Arterton-starrer ‘The Disappearance of Alice Creed’ (2010). That movie featured Gemma Arterton tied up and subjected to serious sexual violence. Here Rosamund Pike is subjected to excessive violence. And yet, like that earlier film, ‘I Care A Lot’ manages to be empowering of women despite featuring women heavily sexualised and subjected to horrible amounts of violence. Its success lies in Pike’s performance which is a feminist whirlwind of pure girl power.
The movie builds up to a Shakespearean tragic ending. It’s very bloody, very violent, very un-Hollywood then. Pike deserved her Golden Globe even if it’s not really a comedic performance. She gets top marks from me.
‘I Care A Lot’ is on Amazon Prime now.
*The Great Celebrity Bake-off (Channel 4) - ****
Noel Fielding was on paternity leave this week (this series was filmed in September) so Matt Lucas went solo as presenter and was part of a very Wildean witticism from Paul Hollywood with the line “Noel who?”.
This first batch of contestants were a pretty bunch. They included ‘X-Factor’ winner Alexandra Burke, comedians Tom Allen and Rob Beckett and ‘Star Wars’ hottie Daisy Ridley.
For the first round, they tackled millionaire’s shortbread which was a very messy affair with lots of orange marmalade and melted chocolate. Then there was the attempt to be a bit more PC by adding a vegan treat to the recipes - vegan chocolate-and-raspberry tartlets. Daisy’s pastries had “a soggy bottom” and Tom called his a “gay-nache”.
But the biggest challenge of all was the task to create their biggest pet peeve in 3D cake form. I really wanted Daisy Ridley to win here. Not just because I fancy her rotten, but I loved her idea of a toilet cake inspired by her dislike of her partner leaving the toilet seat up when flushing. It looked fantastically quirky and Daisy resisted the temptation to put a poo in the toilet. Her design stole the show.
I was disappointed Alexandra won. I never really liked her, even on ‘X-Factor’ and her idea was just weird. It was a clean sheets cake for her footballer boyfriend whose muddy football boots apparently make a mess on the bed. She made a little dog too, but it looked more like a big, fat bottom peeking out from beneath the covers. She shouldn’t have won. Daisy should’ve won - the toilet cake was ingenious.
Then there was the charity cancer story. It was from a young woman called Ella who got cancer at 14 years old. It was very moving and will bring tears to the eyes. It’s really good to hear she’s recovered now and now works as a physiotherapist.
‘Bake-off’ is perfect reality show therapy. It lifts the spirit, is light-hearted and sentimental, but has a lot of emotional filling on the inside - very much like a very good and tasty cake. Exactly the kind of escapism we need in Covid times.
'The Great Celebrity Bake-off for SU2C' is on All4 now.
Freelance film critic, journalist and writer based in Nottingham, UK. Specialises in cinema.
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