Wednesday, 26 September 2012

My Top 5 secret celebrity crushes...

OK.  It's Wednesday, which means that, in the UK, tonight is 'Dallas' night!  Which therefore means that I'm in an extremely good mood today as I look forward to my weekly hour of betrayal, backstabbing, and nice young men in stetsons.  How many hours is it until 9pm.... ?

Anyway, seeing as I'm in that rare state called a good mood, I thought I'd do a lighthearted post today - my Top 5 secret crushes.  You know, those people you've always had a bit of a thing for but have maybe never really told anyone about; or you're just too ashamed to admit it!  Either way, I've got a bit of a list, so here we go.  My Top 5 secret crushes...

1)  Alan Rickman

I have had a crush on the lovely Mr. Rickman for as long as I can remember.  And I have no idea what it is about him, but he can just be incredibly sexy at times (Severus Snape excluded).  And that voice!  Oh, that voice of his is just gorgeous!  He's got one of those voices I could just listen to all day.

He's a great actor too, of course, playing anything from a terrorist in 'Die Hard' to the romantic lead in the fantastic 'Truly Madly Deeply'.  From Shakespeare to the Sheriff of Nottingham, he's done it all.  And I still never get tired of watching him.

Check out his appearance in Scottish band Texas's video for their single from the year 2000, 'In Demand', because this is one performance of his that I really never get tired of watching.  He just comes across as so damn sexy in this video!  Oh, to be Sharleen Spiteri, dirty dancing with Alan Rickman on the forecourt of a deserted Shell service station in the middle of the night... you couldn't get any more romantic...

Watch the way he just rips her coat off and then try and tell me you don't find that sexy... because I do...

Right.  Enough of that.  Who's next...

2)   John Nettles

John Nettles as Detective Sergeant Bergerac
Now, I've never seen an episode of Midsomer Murders but when John Nettles was in Bergerac I could have quite happily upped sticks and moved to Jersey without a backward glance.  I loved that programme.  And I had the biggest crush on John Nettles at the time, another actor with a voice I could listen to all day.

Anyone remember that BBC series Airport?  Well, I didn't really care all that much about the goings on over at Heathrow, but the fact John Nettles narrated that programme meant I watched it religiously...

3)  Philip Glenister

Especially when he played DCI Gene Hunt in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.  There was just something about him in that role that, despite being the epitome of sexist, was also incredibly attractive!  I just have no idea why...

4)  Terry Venables

Don't ask, just... don't ask.  I'm blaming this one on all that football-related research I'm immersing myself in at the minute...

Could've been worse, though.  It could've been Harry Redknapp...

5)  Simon King (from The Hairy Bikers)

Si King (left) and a rather attractive chocolate cake...
Now, this is another one that I can't really explain, except that I think it has something to do with the Geordie accent, and the fact he can cook.  And he's just so cuddly!  Or, at least, he was until him and his Hairy Biker sidekick Dave Myers turned into the Hairy Dieters and lost all that weight.  I'm kind of hoping he puts a bit of it back on...

You see, I don't just fancy the Bradley Coopers and Keanu Reeves of this world.  But they are the ones I use for "research" a lot more... ;)

Okay.  There you have it.  Five of my favourite "secret crushes", weird though they may be.

So, come on then, what are yours?  I'd love to know...

Right, I'm off to watch that 'Texas' video again because the image of Alan Rickman and Sharleen Spiteri's seriously sexy garage forecourt tango is one I just have to see again...  What is it about that man...?

Monday, 24 September 2012

X Factor Monday - Boot Camp round-up.

Rylan Clark - worthy of a place at Judges' Houses?
So, Boot Camp is now over and we prepare ourselves for Judges' Houses.  How did it all go then?  This year's Boot Camp?  Much the same as most other years, really, in that some acts who deserved to go to Judges' Houses got there, and some who didn't were also put through.  And I think the one in particular that I'm going to flag up is Rylan Clark,  an undoubtedly entertaining Essex Boy, but did he deserve to get this far?  No.  Not really.  I mean, I'd love to hang out with him at a karaoke night or go clubbing with him, but he really isn't good enough to be a contender for the live shows.  There were other singers in that boys' category who deserved that place far more - take rock singer Joseph Whelan, for example.  I actually got just a little bit excited at the possible prospect of a "rocker" appearing on X Factor, so I was gutted when he didn't make it through to Judges' Houses.  I was really hoping they'd give him a chance.  Good to see Middlesbrough lad James Arthur there though.  Wishing him loads of luck.

Joseph Whelan - our only chance of rock appearing on X Factor, gone.
Another contestant I'm slightly wary of is Lucy Spraggan.  Now, I have no doubt that she is a very talented young singer/songwriter.  She did a good first audition, singing one of her own songs - a rare thing on X Factor - and she did the same again on Sunday night's second Boot Camp show.  On Saturday night, though, I think we had a glimpse of how this young lady may struggle when it comes to X Factor proper, so to speak.  On Saturday's first Boot Camp show, contestants were put into groups for a "sing off", and the songs they had to choose from were well known pop songs, of course.  Lucy's group chose Maroon 5's 'Move Like Jagger', I think it was.  And she really struggled.  Sorry, but I think it proved her voice has limitations.  She is excellent at what she does with her own songs and her guitar, but stand her there on a stage without her guitar, singing other peoples' songs and she just wasn't strong enough.  That's my opinion, anyway.  But I guess we'll see how she goes next weekend.  I'm interested to find out, that's for sure.

Lucy Spraggan - can she cut it singing X Factor "pop"?
As for the other girls, I've got no complaints.  Not all of them are my cup of tea but I think most of them can sing, especially sixteen year old Ella Henderson.  Her rendition of Cher's 'Believe' was actually really, really good.  She made a truly annoying song something I enjoyed listening to.  I think she really deserves a spot on the live shows after that performance.

Melanie Masson - a favourite of mine.
The Over-28's now, which used to be the Over-25's but this category seems to have mysteriously had three years added on since last year. It's the category Gary Barlow claimed was the "one he wanted" - rubbish!  Nobody ever "wants" the Over's category, which is why Louis Walsh usually gets it every year (hence his total surprise at not getting it this year!), and, let's face it, that category is probably never going to spawn a winner ever again after the Steve Brookstein debacle.  However, there are one or two contestants in that category that I'm looking forward to seeing at Judges' Houses -  Melanie Masson, because her rendition of Janis Joplin's 'Cry baby' at her first audition is still a stand-out performance for me, and Kye Sones, because, so far, I don't rate him that much, but I'm interested to see if he can turn me around.  Don't know why...

Kye Sones - for me, the jury's still out...
OK.  The groups.  I'd rather not comment at all on this lot because not one of them drew anything out of me other than a torrent of moaning and grumbling about "is this what the music industry has come to?"  I swore blind I'd never turn into my parents, whinging on about the state of modern music, but last weekend I had to face facts - I'm middle aged, and I hate every single group on X Factor.  None of them have one redeeming factor.  I'll live in hope that I'll see something special next weekend at Judges' Houses but I'm not holding me breath.  I mean, on Sunday's final Boot Camp show, when the judges couldn't decide between two boy bands for the last remaining place at Judges' Houses, they made them do a sing off against each other, and I couldn't tell the bloody difference!  They both sounded exactly the same!  In fact, when the judges were deliberating as to who to choose, I was yelling, "Just toss a frigging coin, will you?  They both sound the bloody same, does it make a difference?"  Anyway, it appears - after reading the papers today - that the group line-up at Judges' Houses has now changed since Boot Camp.  There are now five acts joining Louis Walsh in Vegas (God help him - and Vegas!).  One of the original chosen acts had to pull out and two new acts have now taken that vacant space.  Joy!

Anyway, look, I know I moan on and on about this show, but after a weekend of listening to music from the likes of the incredible Joe Bonamassa, Pink Floyd, and the Foo Fighters, I just can't help looking at the line-up of possible new talent awaiting the world and letting out a heavy - but resigned - sigh.  No matter how awful it might seem, how sad or how depressing the prospect might be, nothing can stop shows like this spawning these acts.  So I try to look at it as the entertainment show it's become, and not as a serious vehicle for finding new "global superstars", as that's when I get really depressed.  I still live in hope that, one day, we'll get a revival of some "real" music and musicians, those that are still plying their trade around the pubs and clubs because that's the only way they can make a living doing what they really want, what they really love.  Too many of these (not all) X Factor contestants seem to think it's their God given right to have the fame and fortune they so badly want.  It isn't.  You have to work hard to achieve a dream, and I'm not always sure that these kind of shows portray that. 

However, before I get cramp from standing on me soap box for too long, I
am looking forward to the live shows starting.  Saturday nights are made for curling up on the sofa and watching TV like this, and whether we like it or not, X Factor is probably here to stay for a while yet.  So, in my opinion, rather than fight it, my philosophy is if you can't beat 'em, you might as well join 'em.  And, anyway, it's now only two weeks until the start of Strictly Come Dancing!  Now that's something to really get excited about!

Oh, and just one more word on X Factor before and I go stick the kettle on for me afternoon cup of tea - Tulisa, love.  That blond hair... why???

Monday, 17 September 2012

It's a 'Strictly...' X Factor Monday!

Yes, it's back! Well, it was back for the launch show anyway.  Strictly Come Dancing 2012 is here, although, having that one show last Saturday and then telling us we have to wait three weeks before the live shows start is a bit like dangling Bradley Cooper in front of me and telling me I can play with him for five minutes but then I have to give him back!  Can't those celebrities learn to dance that little bit quicker and make that gap between the launch show and the live shows that little bit shorter?  For one week only my Saturday evenings had started to look up, but now I've got to suffer X Factor-only Saturdays for another couple of weeks.  Bugger!

Dani Harmer and Vincent Simone
However, I absolutely loved the Strictly... 2012 launch show.  It's just so good to have it  back, although it doesn't seem like five minutes since last year's show.  But there you go.  Time seems to fly a hell of a lot quicker now I'm over 40!  Anyway, another good thing about this year's show is that I actually know who 99% of the celebrities are - the only one who passed me by, and that's probably because I don't have kids, know nothing about Tracy Beaker,  and therefore had no real reason to come across her, was Dani Harmer.  But she seems like fun - and she is so tiny!  So it was obvious that she'd be paired with the lovely Vincent Simone.  A good pairing, and I'm looking forward to watching those two dance together.

The Strictly... 2012 judges
As for the other pairings, there were no real surprises, although the height difference between Colin Salmon and his partner Kristina Rihanoff seems a little odd, but we can only wait and see how that works out.  I've heard rumblings in the press today that last year's semi-finalist Artem Chigvintsev isn't too happy to be paired with Fern Britton, though.  He assumes he's going to be out early on in the competition this year, and he might not be wrong there, but we'll see.  Maybe he should give Ms Britton a chance first.  Sometimes the least likely can be the ones who turn out to be the biggest surprise.  You never know.  I think he's just a bit pee'd off that he hasn't got a young and pretty partner this year.  Deal with it, Artem.  Poor Anton's had far more to complain about over the years than you ever have!

New judge Darcy Bussell with Ian Waite on Saturday's launch show
It was also lovely to see the gorgeous Ian Waite back on the dance floor.  He was always one of my favourite dancers and I've really missed him since he stopped appearing on the show as one of the professionals.  But it's good to see he's still involved with the show, and he danced beautifully with Darcy Bussell.  Which brings me on to the new judge.  I honestly didn't think I was going to take to her.  I'd really wanted another ex-Strictly professional to have that vacant seat on the judging panel - Karen Hardy would have been my first choice.  So when I found out Darcy Bussell was going to be joining the show I was less than impressed.  But she won me round on that launch show.  She seems excited to be there, she knows her stuff, and she came across as a really lovely person.  And she can dance!  Wow!  Those legs!  I can only wish...

I'd also been looking forward to seeing the group dance, which would be our first chance to see this new set of celebrities in action.  But, to be honest, there was so much going on in that dance that it was really difficult to keep your eye on anyone so I'm still really none-the-wiser as to who can throw a few shapes and who's got a hell of a lot of work to do.

So, we've had our little taster of what's to come.  And I really cannot wait for October 5th to get here and for the competition to kick-off properly with a weekend of Strictly... shows.  Absolute heaven!  Bring it on!

OK.  That's Strictly... dealt with.  Now let's move onto the X Factor.  I was still bored with the audition shows, so I was more than grateful to find out that they're over and done with now.  Next week we move onto the Boot Camp stage, where we might actually get a better look at what talent they've managed to unearth because those audition shows are nothing but a confusing and irritating vehicle for the judges rather than a way of weeding out the pointless from the potential stars-in-the-making.

X Factor hopeful Jade Ellis
There were, however, a couple of people who stood out for me over last weekend's audition shows - a girl called Jade Ellis was one of them.  She had one of those voices that actually made me sit up and take notice because it was just that little bit different to everything else that seems to stand on that stage.  She was good.  I liked her.  Another potential for the live shows, if Boot Camp works out for her.  Someone else that got my attention appeared on Sunday's show - an apparently homeless guy called Robbie Hance.  He was good.  Very good, in fact.  He had a voice that was slightly reminiscent of David Gray, and the fact my other half actually looked up from his laptop to listen to him sing must've meant he was good!  Hopefully he'll progress further too.

Another X Factor hopeful, Robbie Hance
But there was a lot of dross on those final two audition shows too, and don't even get me started on the appearance of Bianca Gascoigne!  However, the audition's are over, and we now move onto the business-end of things with a Boot Camp weekend double-bill next Saturday and Sunday, closely followed by judges houses.  And after that, well, it'll be time to play the annual X Factor versus Strictly Come Dancing ratings battle as Saturday nights finally kick into action and the countdown to Christmas begins.

Just for the record, though, Strictly... won the ratings war last Saturday.  And Simon Cowell is, apparently, not happy...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Next Big Thing!

Is it Wednesday already?  Excellent!  That means we're another day closer to the 'Strictly Come Dancing' 2012 launch show!  Oh, and Wednesday also means it's 'Dallas' day!  Even better!  Anyway, let's move on before I start over-using the exclamation marks...

So, before all that happens, it's time for me to talk about The Next Big Thing!  No, I haven't suddenly turned into Simon Cowell (God forbid - I'll take his money though...) and discovered south west Durham's answer to The Wanted.  No, it's a lot more exciting than that!

OK, maybe it isn't, but it all depends on whether you actually like my books or not, because The Next Big Thing is all to do with my latest Work in Progress.

Last Wednesday I was tagged by the fabulous author, and friend of mine, Mandy Baggot in her The Next Big Thing post, so this week it's my turn!

The Next Big Thing works like this - I answer ten questions about my current Work in Progress, and then tag five other writers who will, hopefully, tell you all about their latest projects next Wednesday.

So, here we go then...

What is the working title of your book?

At the minute it's called *'Final Score' -  it's set in the world of professional football (soccer) and I'm playing with anything football related right now, so there's no guarantee this title will be the one I use, but, we'll see. 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I've always been a bit of a football fan, and it was while I was watching a match on TV one Saturday afternoon with my husband that an idea for a football-related romance just popped into my head.  Just like that.  Sounds simple, but that's the way it was.  I guess I've always had a fascination with the world of WAGS and professional footballers - I was a HUGE fan of 'Footballer's Wives' when it was on TV, and even though I have never, ever wanted to be a WAG, the idea of writing a book set in the world of professional football has always been there.

What genre does your book fall under?

It definitely falls into the contemporary romance bracket.  It's going to be a love story, obviously, but a slightly gritty one, a love story with edge, if you like.  Oh, and with a little bit of sex thrown in too, of course!

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Now, this was actually a really hard question for me, for the main male character anyway, because it just wasn't something I'd even thought about.  Which is strange for me, because finding a muse to base a character on is usually one of the first things I do.

So, I spent quite a bit of time last week trawling the internet for pictures of hot young men that could play the part of professional footballer Ryan Fisher (it was such a chore!), and then I found him.  Somebody who could really pull it off.  He had to be British, he had to be hot and handsome, and he had to be under 35 because the character of Ryan Fisher is twenty-eight.  Stand up Mr. Tom Hardy!

Tom Hardy
I reckon he'd be perfect.  He's around the right age, he's got tattoos, he looks good, and he's a great actor.  Perfect!

Now, as far as finding an actress that I would love to play the part of the main female character, sports reporter Amber Sullivan, this was a much easier choice.  Only one name came to mind for me, and that was the fantastic Sarah Parish.

Sarah Parish
Amber is an older woman in her late thirties, so in my eyes Sarah Parish - who is one of 

my absolute favourite British actresses - is the only person I would want to play her.  She'd be my ideal choice.  No question.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This is another hard question, because it's something I've not given a lot of thought to at the minute.  However, as the book is set in and around the world of professional football, I've got to use some footballing terms, haven't I?  So, how about...

When extra time isn't enough to win the game...

I quite like that one actually... considering I've just thought of it now...

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  

It will be self-published, as all my books are at the minute.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Well, I'm still writing it.  It's not anywhere near finished yet, but it usually takes me between four to eight months to write a first draft.  It all depends on the subject matter, the amount of research that needs to be done, even the time of year.  Sometimes it's a shorter period of time, sometimes it's longer.  I'm hoping to have the first draft of this book finished by Christmas, but we'll see. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’d love to say something like Jilly Cooper’s ‘Polo’.  At least, that’s what I aspire to!  I love reading Jilly Cooper, and Jackie Collins, so I’m hoping it’s going to fall somewhere in that region.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I sort of covered this before, didn't I?  It was my morbid fascination with the lifestyle of the professional footballer - the insane amount of money they earn, the big cars and flash clothes; the WAGS.  I wanted to delve into all of that and then scratch beneath the surface.  I wanted to write an edgy romance set around sport, and the idea of that sport being top-flight football just fascinated me.  It's given me great scope for some fantastic characters, and a chance to look into a world that a lot of us may think seems too good to be true.  And maybe it is...

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There’s quite a bit of sex in there – or there will be, when I’ve written it!  I’m not talking ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ with whips and chains in the dressing room after an England World Cup Qualifier or anything like that, but it’ll have its moments.  Oh, and the men in this book are hot!  Enough said, I think…

So, there you have it.  A little bit of an insight into what I'm working on right now, a book I'm hoping to have ready to publish in the early part of 2013.  Watch this space for updates and more details as the writing continues.

Want to find out what a few other authors are working on right now?  Well, here are the five fabulous writers I'm tagging, and links to their own blogs so you can check them and their books out, and then hopefully find out next Wednesday just what it is they're all working on at the minute...

Pauline Barclay - Scribbles!

Gemma Wilford - Missuswolf's Storyland

*The title of the book has now been changed to 'Striker' and is now available to download from both Amazon and Kobo!  

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Bon Voyage! Sail Away with my cruise-themed rom com for just 77p!

Just a quickie today to let you know of a very special book offer I'm running.

From today - Tuesday September 11th - until Monday - September 17th - you can download my cruise-themed comedy romance, Bon Voyage, for just 77p/$0.99! 

Want to know a little bit more about the book?  OK.  Check out the blurb...

Thirty-something Geordie girl Aimee Anderson has just been dumped by her fiancĂ©, Robbie – on the night of their engagement party. So, in an attempt to get over both the relationship, and the rather embarrassing way in which it ended, Aimee and her best friend Jemma are escaping the North East of England and going on the holiday of a lifetime which, in their case, is a trip around the Mediterranean on a mid-budget cruise liner. And there’s only one thing Aimee’s determined to do on this holiday, and that’s forget about Robbie and have some fun.

Danny Johnson is one-fifth of 90’s British boy band Bon Voyage, and they’re about to make a comeback. In the middle of the Mediterranean. On the same cruise as Aimee. And Aimee used to love Bon Voyage. Aimee used to love Danny Johnson…

Back in the day, Danny had been the band’s “bad boy”, and whilst the years haven’t damaged his looks in any way, his post-pop-star life is in a bit of a mess. About to be divorced from Newcastle party princess and Z-list celebrity wannabe, Davina Black, and harbouring a secret from the past about the real reason Bon Voyage split up, Danny just isn’t sure if being back in a boy band is what he really wants. But one thing he does want is some fun. For the next two weeks, at least.

So, when Aimee finally meets the man of her dreams – literally – could they possibly have some fun together? Or is something – or somebody – about to stand in the way of Aimee having a holiday to remember?

More 'Carry on Cruising' than a sophisticated trip on a luxury liner, Bon Voyage is a light-hearted rom com; a story of boy bands, broken dreams and, of course, a little bit of romance, out on the ocean wave…

So, remember, until Monday 17th September you can download Bon Voyage for just 77p/$0.99! And take a fun-filled, light-hearted, two-week cruise around the Mediterranean, for a bargain price! 

Bon Voyage is available to download from and

Also available to download in Germany, France, Spain and Italy from,, and

Monday, 10 September 2012

X Factor Monday - the boredom is setting in... But it's nearly time for 'Strictly Come Dancing'!

Yep, I can now officially say that I am more than bored of 'The X Factor', and we're only a couple of weeks in.  These audition shows are really leaving me cold, for a number of reasons - the two main ones being we don't get to see enough of the people auditioning, and the judges are getting on my nerves.

Also, there's just nothing out there that is making me sit up and take notice.  The judges keep saying they're on the look out for a global superstar (really???), somebody who is unique, different, yet the people they keep putting through to Boot Camp are nothing new as far as I'm concerned.  Some of them might be able to sing, but it's nothing I haven't heard before.  So, I'm bored.  In fact, I don't think I even properly watched either of last weekend's episodes.  We're busy planning a short holiday next year so we spent most of Saturday's show talking over it as we discussed hotel options and flight times.  It was infinitely more interesting than anything that was going on on the TV screen.  I really think I'm watching it only out of habit now.  If it doesn't get any better by the time Boot Camp arrives I may have to think seriously about giving it a miss altogether this year.  It does nowt for me blood pressure anyway.  My husband told me to calm down at least three times during Sunday's show as I moaned my way through some of the groups the judges thought were great prospects.  Quite frankly, I'm thinking of making an appointment to get me ears syringed because some of the stuff they said was fantastic I thought was dire.  I honestly thought I must be going tone deaf or something because I'm hearing flat notes yet Gary Barlow's sitting there telling them they were note-perfect!  I don't get it.

So, I'm not dwelling too much on 'The X Factor' this week because, as you've probably gathered, I'm really not enjoying it.  And neither are a lot of other people, apparently, as the viewing figures are way down on this time last year, but they'll probably blame the warm weather, the Olympics, anything but the fact people may just not want to watch it this time around.  I'll give it a bit more time, at least wait and see who gets through to Judge's Houses, but if it starts to look as though they're being picked for entertainment value rather than any modicum of singing talent they might possess, then I'm switching off.  I also have to think very carefully about whether I have the strength of mind to witness the birth of another 'One Direction'... I don't think my nerves could take it...

Oh, hang on though, before I leave the subject of 'The X Factor' alone completely, I have to mention what has to be the quote of the series so far for me, and that belongs to Geri Halliwell with these immortal words to a girl group who'd just performed a more-than-mediocre audition: "Not all members of Take That could sing."
Fair point, Geri.  I can't really argue with that, but, when those words come out of the mouth of a Spice Girl...???  Enough said.

So, 'The X Factor' may be leaving me cold this year, but in less than a week's time it's the 'Strictly Come Dancing' 2012 launch show!  And the excitement I'm feeling towards this can only be matched by the excitement I felt last week at the return of 'Dallas'.  'Strictly...' is, I'm not ashamed to say, one of my absolute favourite TV shows ever.  Yes, it's full of celebrities, and I'm one of these people who's getting a bit tired of all this celebrity culture we seem to be be obsessed with right now, but at least on this show they have to do something.  I also really don't like Tess Daly as a host.  In my opinion she's more wooden than a dozen log cabins but there you go.  Maybe it's just a matter of taste, but she does nowt for me.  I do love Zoe Ball on 'Strictly... It takes Two' though.  Couldn't they give her the big gig instead of Tess?  Please?

Anyway, I love it.  I just love the show, and, despite the fact that none of the celebrities taking part this year are exactly knocking me for six (more about them and their professional dancing partners next Monday), I know that, no matter what, I'm going to enjoy this show just as much as I always have done.  It makes me smile, it makes me want to get up and dance myself, and it makes me want to wear some of those amazing dresses!  It makes me happy.  So, roll on Saturday, and let's get the 'Strictly...' 2012 show on the road!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Dallas is back! And what did I think...?

Dallas is back!
Well, not to put too fine a point on it, I bloody loved it!  Secrets, lies, family feuds, backstabbing and betrayal - it could only be 'Dallas', and this first episode of the revived series for 2012 hardly left us with time to take a breath before we got straight into the Ewing family dynamics as we know them best.  Bobby's hiding a secret, his son's about to get married when it's quite obvious he wants his cousin's girl, and Sue Ellen is, well, Sue Ellen.  It was just so good to have this back on our TV screens.  I'd loved it back in the day, and I still love it now.  It's my favourite kind of escapism.  I've heard a few people say 'Dallas' 2012 is just a bit too modern for them, that it doesn't feel right, but I totally disagree.  It feels so right as far as I'm concerned.  Time's moved on, that's all.  Things over at Southfork had to change, and as much as I did love the original series - which is still being repeated over on a satellite channel somewhere - I think I'm going to love this one just as much.  Honestly, after just ten minutes I felt like it had never been away.  And these days it takes a lot to get me really interested to the point where if anyone speaks to me during a programme they get blanked for the entire duration.  But 'Dallas' is now one of them.  I am, unashamedly, a 'Dallas' Super-fan, and proud of it!

Just hearing that familiar theme tune brought back memories of snuggling up on the sofa with my mum and sister watching the original series, except this time I'm snuggled on my own sofa with the dog while my husband wishes football was on!

I have to say, though, I'm a bit worried about poor Bobby Ewing.  Not liking the fact he's ill - we can't lose Patrick Duffy!  No!  He has to get better, I mean, come on, this bloke came back from the dead in a shower so surely he can overcome this?  But I'm loving the young Ewing boys!  I might be old enough to be their mother (actually, just Googled them both, and I'm not! Phew! I'm not that old then!) but they are certainly going to make perfect Wednesday evening eye-candy.  I loved the relationship between cousins Christopher and John Ross Ewing.  The fact they're at each others throats just like their own fathers were back in the old days, that's just the way it has to be, isn't it?  I mean, 'Dallas' wouldn't be 'Dallas' if everyone got on with each other.  That's what makes it so great.

Jesse Metcalfe and Josh Henderson as Christopher and John Ross Ewing.

But, as far as I was concerned, this newly-revamped series got off to a flying start.  We were thrown straight into it without any unnecessary flannel, leaving us in no doubt by the end of this first episode that things over at Southfork certainly aren't going to get any easier.

As far as JR is concerned, I loved the build up we had to his return. When he first appears we're told he has clinical depression.  He's a quiet man, doing nothing more than staring out of a window, a shadow of the man we remember from way back when.  But then things start to happen.  And by the time his son, John Ross, pays him a long-overdue visit to inform him that Uncle Bobby is about to sell Southfork and he needs help to prevent that from happening, we slowly start to see the old JR reappear, until, by the end of the first episode, he's back, all guns blazing.  Just as we'd always hoped he would be.  Larry Hagman is a legend!

By the end of that first episode we have everything as it should be - people at each others' throats, betrayal aplenty on the way, scheming, jealousy, hot men... sorry, couldn't help myself with that last one...  where was I?  Oh yeah, all the usual stuff we've come to expect from 'Dallas', and a terrific twist at the end that just makes you realise that, yes, JR is the man!  And it's so good to have him back! 

So, will I be dusting off my stetson for the rest of this series then?  You bet your life I will!  I'm like a kid at Christmas, already counting the days until next Wednesday...

Monday, 3 September 2012

Another X Factor Monday - my views on September 1st's audition show.

I'm thinking of knocking this 'X Factor Monday' thing on the head until we at least reach Boot Camp stage because, in all honesty, these audition programmes are leaving me cold.  I was so bored watching last Saturday's show.  Really, really bored.  Auditions ranged from the ridiculous to the mediocre to the "seen it all before", and I found myself sitting there thinking - and this wouldn't be for the first time - why am I watching this?  Why indeed.  It's like some horrible habit I just can't seem to break, like my Take That addiction or my weird crush on one of The Hairy Bikers.

All I can say is, thank God for that final audition from 44 year old Mum and part-time fairy (don't ask) Melanie Masson.  Not only did she seem like a lovely lady, she also had the two cutest kids, and to top that she had, by far, the best voice of the night with an audition that was clearly head-and-shoulders above anything else we'd had to endure that night.  In fact, apart from some young lad who did an OK version of Kings of Leon's 'Use Somebody' which was fine, but it wasn't anything I hadn't heard before, she was the only audition I actually remember.  She knocked out a better-then-good version of Janis Jopling's 'Cry Baby', and on that audition alone she deserves to be a contender for the live shows.  Let's hope we see her there.

Apart from that there wasn't much else to shout about.  I'm just getting tired of the way the audition shows are put together, if I'm honest.  There's far too much flannel,  far too much padding-out of the shows, and not enough time given over to allowing us, the viewer, to actually see enough auditions.  I mean, on last Saturday's show it took nigh on ten minutes after the programme had started before we got a chance to hear any singing at all, and I use the term "singing" extremely loosely.  There's also way too much emphasis put on the judges.  And it shouldn't be about them.  Personally, I couldn't give a frig who was doing the judging.  It could be four random people off the street for all I care, in fact, I reckon it would be much more interesting if it was four random people sitting behind that judges desk.  We'd probably get far more honest opinions, and I dare say we'd get the rubbish weeded out a lot quicker too.

Right, well, there's not much else I can say about last Saturday's show really.  It was same-old same-old, and I guess that's pretty much what we're going to get all season.  But at least there's one bright shining light out there on the horizon - it's only a couple of weeks until the launch show for 'Strictly Come Dancing 2012'!  And I, for one, literally cannot wait!  And then ' X Factor Monday' will become 'X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing Monday'.  Bring it on!

Archie, fresh from the mobile dog-grooming van.
Anyway, before I go, I'd just like to sing the praises of the Mobile Dog Groomers who've just finished giving my little Westie, Archie, a haircut.  They've done a brilliant job, and the fact that they come to you and do everything right there on your doorstep, it's so, so handy for me.  And probably a lot less traumatic for him.  He also smells absolutely gorgeous, and that's not something you can say all that often about a dog! 

Archie just a few minutes later, recovering from his mobile dog-grooming experience!