In February I wrote a post highlighting some of the interesting TV programmes I’d seen over the last few months. I’m going to do the same again but expand it to some of the books I’ve read and talks I’ve watched online (largely on TED talks) as a wider set of recommendations:
TV – Drama
Line of Duty (BBC) – There’s been a lot of praise heaped on to Line of Duty – a series centred on investigating police corruption – and without doubt for me its last series was one of the best police dramas I’ve seen on TV in a long time. So, could the new series live up to the hype? In my view, yes absolutely, and it continues to surprise and shock as it goes on.
Follow the Money (BBC) – This is the latest foreign language drama in the BBC4 Saturday night 9pm slot. It’s a Danish crime series around business and corruption. At times you aren’t entirely sure who is a goodie and who’s a baddie, but that’s what makes it so compelling.
Blue Eyes (Channel 4) – Part of the Walter Presents… strand of foreign language dramas that’s available from Channel 4, this focuses on the rise of the far right in Swedish politics and takes as its start the murder of a supporter of the fascist party. This is something that hasn’t been covered at any length in any other political series so it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.
Trapped (BBC) – It’s a few weeks since this was on, but I missed it from my last post and so I’m including it here as it was a great series and the first Icelandic crime series shown on BBC4. Set in a remote town in Iceland when a body is found, the town is then snowed in and the local police set to investigate the murder and other associated criminality in the town. Not many dramas show it snowing for most of the series, and it was a great programme.
TV – Documentaries / Factual
Inside Obama’s White House (BBC) – this has been a fascinating behind-the-scenes four part series covering four of the major elements of his time as president including interviews with key players and Obama himself. It gives a good sense of what drives him and certainly gives you the impression of a bright, capable man whose time as president has been hindered by resentful opponents and events outside of his control. Whilst putting a positive spin on much of what he has done it’s an interesting counterbalance to some of the criticism that he’s achieved little.
Amy (Channel 4) – I was pleased to see this Amy Winehouse biopic being shown on TV as I missed it when it was available at the cinema. Whilst I’m a fan of Winehouse’s music this documentary will be of interest to many other people who aren’t. Whilst many will acknowledge that she was a flawed talent, this programme shows her to be a much more complicated individual.
Secret History: Shakespeare’s Tomb (Channel 4) – An interesting programme about the mystery of Shakespeare’s tomb (it doesn’t bear his name nor does it appear to be the right size) which includes the first archaeological investigation of his grave.
The Prosecutors: Real Crime and Punishment (BBC) – This behind the scenes documentary series shows the work of the Crown Prosecution Series and was interesting to see a crucial part of the criminal process that most of us don’t really think about or are aware of how it works. Having done jury service in the last year, it helped fill in some gaps in my understanding of how it all came together in court.
Being the Brontes (BBC) – This one-off programme takes three writers to Haworth where they explore more about the lives of the three sisters and tries to get to grips with who they really were and how their lives there impacted on their writing.
Art of Scandinavia (BBC) – Barring a few notable exceptions, the art of Scandinavia is often overlooked when considering art across Europe. This series takes each country in turn looking at key figures in that country’s art and how the landscape and culture of the country has impacted on it. Despite my Swedish heritage, it’s certainly filled in a lot of gaps in my knowledge and moved me on from the slightly twee yet comforting paintings of Carl Larsson.
I’m an avid user of the GoodReads website and keep track of the books I’ve read and write regular reviews on there, so you can see more of my reading there. Here are a few of the eclectic selection of books I’ve read recently however that are of particular note with an excerpt from my full review.
Walk the Lines: the London Underground, Overground by Mark Mason – Every so often you read a book that feels as though it was written especially for you. That’s just how I feel about Walk the Lines. Over the last few days I have been exploring London by vicariously walking the route of every London Underground line through the efforts and writing of Mark Mason, and it’s been fascinating.
Renishaw Hall: The Story of the Sitwells by Desmond Seward – Unusually for a history of such a prominent family this book takes their home as its title and focus. It’s fitting however for a house that, whilst far less well known that the literary siblings who made the Sitwell name famous, has a big impact on every generation of the family.
Georgian London: Into the Streets by Lucy Inglis – This fascinating book brings to life Georgian London. Based on Lucy Inglis’ blog each chapter covers a different part of London its history, way of life and the characters who were crucial to that part of the city at that time. Although a credible and authoritative history what makes this book stand out is the way its author loves an interesting story that gives you a real sense of life at the time, rather than just a dry stating of the facts.
Genealogy: Essential Research Methods by Helen Osborn – This book has become one of the core texts if you are undertaking your family history. Whilst a potentially dry subject, this book explains in an interesting and clear way the crucial techniques you need to understand if you are to undertake genealogy in a methodical and thorough way. Using real examples from the author’s own research, this book will help you think afresh on how you do your own research and make you cover all of the bases in ensuring you have a clear and traceable family history.
Just the two to kick this off, as I’ve not watched as many of these of late but I remain a huge fan of the inspiring and fascinating things you explore through the TED talks website.
Hans & Ola Rosling: How Not to be Ignorant About the World (view here) – Father and son team Hans & Ola Rosling present real statistics and information about the world that shows that whilst there are undoubtedly problems around the world, things are actually a lot better than we think. It’s a call to question what you’re told by the media and at school, but also gives a few tips on how to use your instinct to better understand the world.
Rory Sutherland: Life Lessons from an Ad Man (view here) – A leading figure in the world of advertising, this seven year old talk is still one of the funniest. It also though helps you understand why intangible benefits may be good and how advertising could change the world for the better despite what people may think.