Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Goodbye Jezza - what now for BBC's Top Gear?

After much speculation the BBC has announced it will not be renewing Jeremy Clarkson's contract.

Like him or loathe him - and most people have an opinion one way or another - it does mean the end of an era as far as Top Gear is concerned.

It also leaves many questions that fans of the show will need answering.

No doubt starting with does this mean the end of Top Gear on BBC TV or will they just try and fill that Clarkson-shaped hole?  How would the Hamster and Captain Slow cope with and adapt to a new co-presenter?

Who's a likely replacement? I hear Chris Evans' name has been mentioned frequently, but he has dismissed the idea.

Perhaps it is time for a woman to join the team - Vicki Butler-Henderson or maybe Suzi Perry. 

I have to say that I had actually been enjoying this current series of Top Gear and I'm disappointed that it's come to an abrupt halt.

It used to really annoy me, but once you appreciate that you're not going to learn anything new about cars, or see cars you could actually buy yourself unless you have a lottery win, you can start to enjoy their antics.

Such as converting a hearse into an ambulance and unsuccessfully launching the 'patient' into hospital.  Or driving a humungous Ford F150 up a snow-covered mountain in Canada to rescue an increasingly livid Richard Hammond.

I also like the 'stars in the reasonably priced car' bit - it's great to see these huge Hollywood stars (Tom Cruise, Will Smith etc) acting like over-excited schoolchildren as they race around the track, desperately trying to beat each other's times, and not achieve lift-off when rounding the corner named after Michael Gambon, who nearly did just that.

Of course, it's always been controversial.  The Argentina Christmas special was, in my opinion, ill-judged.

But if the future of car shows on terrestrial television is The Classic Car Show on Channel Five I think I'll be sticking with Top Gear, with or without Jeremy.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A sad day for Corby and its villages...

Well, so much for localism.  It turns out that you can have your say, but nobody listens.

Yes, I'm talking about the decision announced on Tuesday 17th March to permit the lifting of the 30 mile limits on from where waste can be brought into two waste processing plants in Corby.

This, sadly, means that the two waste plants will probably now go ahead - a gasification plant on Gretton Brook Road, adjacent to the Brookfield site, and a pyrolysis plant and an anaerobic digester at Shelton Road.

For over two years we've been campaigning against these plans in their various forms, and have had some success where Corby Borough Council was concerned.  Unfortunately, Northamptonshire County Council is the waste authority, and they've decreed that these limits should be lifted.

Even though we, the locals, didn't want that.  Nearly two thousand signatures were received on paper and online petitions and 120 individual objections were lodged against the Gretton Brook Road plans.

Corby Borough Council didn't want these limits lifted either.  But the Development Control Committee at NCC have decided that our concerns should be ignored.

Concerns which ranged from emissions from the sites and the HGVs transporting waste from such huge distances, to concerns about the people living next to the Gretton Brook Road plant, and concerns about the wildlife and trees in the neighbouring Brookfield woodland.

Waste plants are notorious for catching fire - the BBC reported 360 fires at such facilities last year.  The impact on the people and animals living near this plant would be devastating should similar fires occur here.

These rulings effectively open the floodgates to us receiving waste from as far away as Kent, and from 15 counties that surround Northamptonshire and even further afield.

As usual, it's all about money.  These will be run by private companies, making huge profits at our expense, whilst offering us a handful of jobs sorting rubbish in return.

Corby had done a great job of regenerating itself; such a shame NCC - situated in the south of the county - couldn't see that.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Big Quiz

I've always been a fan of a good quiz.  I think I've watched most of them on TV at some time: Blockbusters, Bullseye, Telly Addicts, Going For Gold, The Krypton Factor, Fifteen to One, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, Pointless, Mastermind, Eggheads, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, QI, HIGNFY -  the list goes on.

My current favourites are on BBC2 on Monday night - University Challenge and Only Connect.

With Uni Challenge though I just sit and marvel at the knowledge of some people, and celebrate if I get a couple of questions right.  The other week they had some Maths formulae with exclamation marks in them - I didn't even know you could have those in sums!

I like the lateral thinking needed for Only Connect, and my best round is the missing vowels one for some reason.

My friends asked me to join their team for a local charity quiz - I agreed but I did warn them of serious gaps in my knowledge as I'm hopeless at History and Sport.

This didn't put them off though, and off we went and joined 22 other teams to put our brains through their paces.

Unsurprisingly, I was good at trivia - I knew on which street the Neighbours characters live, and who The Simpsons' next door neighbour is (Ramsay Street and Ned Flanders respectively).

As predicted, the Sports round let us down, but other than that we did better than we thought.  So much better in fact that we ended up in a tie for second place which required a nail-biting tie-breaker.

Not just one question either - it took five questions to separate us and the next team.  Our second place was secured after answering 'under which name was Erik Weisz better known?', and we were awarded a bottle of wine each after my friend correctly answered Houdini.

The winners were the WI - they've won for the last three years apparently.  I'm thinking if our team starts revising Sport now we might do even better next year!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Neighbours - 30 years of Ramsay Street

Thirty years - I can't believe my favourite soap has been on our screens for three decades.

It's been a constant feature in my life, from secondary school, through University, then something to look forward to after work and to watch at lunchtime when my daughter was a baby.  Now I work from home I still watch it when taking my lunch break.

Yes, I'm talking about Neighbours - and it appears I'm in good company, as Eddie Redmayne name-checked 'Karl and Susan' after he won his Oscar.

I've been tuning in to the trials and tribulations of the Ramsay Street residents for a very long time. 

The beautiful people, with their amazing houses that seem to be able to accommodate any number of visiting friends, relations, waifs and strays.

The immaculate gardens, usually with swimming pools or hot tubs, the playing cricket in the street - it's a world away from our lives, where if we tried to play cricket in the road here we'd end up a mascot on the front of a bus or delivery van.

The births, deaths, marriages, break-ups - I've even been known to cry at the sad moments.

I think it's safe to say everyone of a similar age to me remembers Scott and Charlene's wedding, complete with theme song by Angry Anderson (Suddenly, in case you're wondering), as that was probably the height of the show's popularity.

Do you also remember Des and Daphne, Danny and Shane Ramsay, Helen Daniels, Jim Robinson and Mrs Mangel?

The Lou/Madge/Harold love triangle - complete with the bizarre story line where Harold 'died', and then came back from the dead, having apparently had amnesia and been working for the Salvation Army as a missionary or something.

Now to celebrate the 30 year milestone I hear we've got Madge coming back, although I think this is in some sort of flashback or dream sequence.

I can't wait to see the special episodes featuring old characters; not sure Kylie's going to appear though - we should be so lucky!