Review-Worzel Gummidge: Saucy Nancy

Following last year’s festive specials, we’re back in Scatterbrook accompanying Worzel Gummidge on another madcap adventure. As with the last two, ‘Saucy Nancy’ is written and directed by Executive Producer Mackenzie Crook.

Worzel is rich, for a scarecrow. He’s found £20 and the money is burning a hole in his pocket, he wants to buy a door. So he enlists ‘the chillun’ Susan (India Brown) and John (Thierry Wickens) to help him find one. Whilst at a salvage yard, he stumbles across his old foul-mouthed friend, Saucy Nancy (Shirley Henderson). The sea is calling Nancy and she wants to get back to it, our trio of heroes vow to help her.

The two specials last year were undoubtedly the highlight of the festive period. This year is no different. This is a well-written and well-directed family adventure, bursting with heart and humour. Once again, Brown and Wickens feel like brother and sister and the entire cast have such natural chemistry, that a walking talking scarecrow seems like the most normal thing in the world. Shirley Henderson is an absolutely wonderful addition, in all her (scarecrow) sweary ways. There’s also a great turn from Venessa Redgrave as “Peg”.

Steve Pemberton and Rosie Cavaliero take more of a back seat in this, as Mr and Mrs Braithwaite, but they’re both still excellent in their respective roles. Mr Braithwaite has even softened to the kids “these two are different, they’re keepers” he tells his wife.

After the year we’ve had, it was extremely comforting slipping back into the innocent world of Worzel Gummidge. This show is about love, hope and trust, which is what we could all do with right now.

Mackenzie Crook has once again proved, that he is more than a worthy successor to Jon Pertwee. Ten Acre Field is in very safe hands.

Worzel Gummidge: Saucy Nancy – airs tonight at 5:55pm on BBC One. 

How to launch a podcast in 2021

As of November 2020, there are approximately one million podcasts and this number is growing daily.

I’ve been podcasting for over a decade and I’m often asked for advice about equipment and editing software. So, I thought I’d write an article about starting a podcast in 2021.

Planning is King.


This is a very overlooked part of the podcasting. You need to plan. Some would argue that Bad Wilf sounds like we just hit record and riff, but even our impromptu episodes are planned to an extent. We’re a film and TV review show. So, if we take a trip to the cinema, we know there’s a good chance we’re going to record sometime after seeing the film. Planning is where you should spend most of your time. I recommend getting an A4 note pad or a whiteboard, to put up near your recording space. These will enable you to make notes or write down topic points for your episode.

Choose A Subject.


You want a subject matter you’re passionate about. We started our life as a Doctor Who podcast, but a few months in we really found our interest fading. So we switched to covering other TV shows and Film, something we were both passionate about. We still cover Doctor Who, but it’s just one of many things we talk about. For example, rather than start a podcast about lawnmowers, I’d recommend starting a podcast about all aspects of landscape gardening. With lawnmowers being one of the things you cover.

Co-host or no co-host, that is the question.


Honestly, you’re the only one that can answer this. I’m not the type of person who talks a lot. I talk when I have something to say, but I’m quiet the rest of the time. The premise of our show is that we’re all just mates having a chat in the pub. So, I needed a co-host. I asked my best friend to join me. I’ve found that having a co-host keeps things sounding more natural and conversational. However, having one or more co-hosts can have its drawbacks. You all need to be committed for the long-haul and scheduling can be an absolute nightmare.



Branding.


You’ll need a name. We went with Bad Wilf, as we launched as a Doctor Who podcast and we felt it was a clever wink and a nod towards the show. If you check the Apple Podcast charts, you’ll see a wide variety of names. Some are very descriptive, some not so much. We were lucky that our name is just a reference to Doctor Who and doesn’t rely on Doctor Who. Say you wanted to launch a podcast about the Toy Story franchise, I’d steer clear of calling it ‘The Toy Story Podcast’. This could lead to getting a letter from Disney, or leave you stuck with a name you no longer want when you decide you want to cover Pixar’s other films. Instead, I’d recommend calling your Toy Story podcast ‘infinity and beyond’. People will know what it means and it gives you the flexibility to cover more subject matters. You also no longer need to add the word ‘podcast’ to your podcast title, we had to as it helped iTunes list them back in the day.

Get a website.

If you want to look professional, then the importance of having a website can’t be overestimated. When we branched out and decided we wanted to interview people, the first thing we were asked by their representatives was “do you have a website?”. Believe me, telling people “Yes, badwilf.com” is easier than saying “Well, we don’t have a website per-say, but our podcast host site is www.thebadwilf.libsyn.com”. Having a website makes you look legitimate. You can find advice on website building on YouTube, I recommend using WordPress.


How long?


I’ve seen a lot of “experts” say that podcasts shouldn’t be shorter than 45 minutes because that’s the average commute to work. We went for a running time of 30-45 minutes because that’s how long my commute to work was. But in reality, it doesn’t really matter. Again, if you check the Apple Podcast charts you’ll see they all vary in length. Some are 6 minutes long, some are 6 hours. Some of Joe Rogan’s shows break the 4-hour mark. If you’ve got a great show, people will listen.



Style.


This isn’t something I can really help with. That’s entirely up to you. I would steer clear of having too many people on an interview-style show though, you, your co-host and a guest should be fine. But you, your co-host, guest plus others can sound incredibly crowded to the listener.

Format.

The standard format we use is;

Teaser (An out of context clip from the episode)
Intro
Main feature
Ads (If we have them)
Call to action (rate us on Apple Podcasts etc).
Outro.

Introduce yourselves clearly at the start of every episode. Ever episode you put out, will be someone’s first episode. You’ll have new listeners and repeat listeners. New listeners will want to know who you are, repeat listeners won’t mind sitting through a couple of seconds of introductions. Especially if you make them fun. I’ve heard so many podcasts over the years, where the hosts are very clinical and don’t even introduce themselves.



Show notes. Use them.

Show notes are important, you can write a break down of everything you spoke about. If you reference a good book, you should link to it. Provide a service for your listeners, if you mention a book I think sounds interesting. I might order if you link to it in the show notes. I can order with one click. If you don’t, I either have to order it the moment it’s mentioned or, remember whereabouts in the episode you mentioned it, so I can go back and listen again for the title. That’s a hassle, your listeners will appreciate links.
You can also use show notes to link your social media. I can’t tell you how many podcasts I’ve wanted to follow on Twitter, but can’t because they don’t put the link in the show notes.

People do judge a book by its cover.

Your cover art is almost more important than your content, it’s the listener’s first impression of your show. Decent cover art can get you noticed, it also helps you stand out and climb that charts. If you’re somewhat artistically gifted, you can make some pretty decent cover art in something like Canva. If not, you could always pay someone to do it on a service like Fivver.

Get a decent microphone.


With every actor now launching a podcast, people have become accustomed to a professional sounding podcast. However, most of us aren’t backed by professional producers, nor can we afford studio time. The best most of us have is our bedroom or living room. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend thousands of pounds on a decent setup. Most smartphones are as good as a medium budget mic. We currently use Rode podmics, that are connected to a Rodecaster Pro. But you could get a decent sound from a £15 XLR mic and a £30 audio interface. Approximately 100 episodes of Bad Wilf, were recorded on an £80 Zoom H1 or a £30 USB mic from Maplin (RIP).

Acoustically treat your recording space.

Most of us won’t have bedrooms or living rooms that are acoustically treated. Wooden floors and concrete walls will cause an echo. Now, you could spend a few hundred on soundproof foam and completely kit out your recording area, you could buy a Kaotica Eye Ball or a cheaper alternative. I record in my living room – I rent so I can’t stick foam panels to the wall. I used to have one of those Kaotica eye ball alternatives, but my current mic isn’t suited for them. Instead, I’ve taken to surrounding my recording area with duvets. I hang one duvet up on the curtain pole. This stops the reverb of my voice and reduces traffic noise, I hang another duvet on the Kallax unit behind me and, a third on a washing airer just to my side. This works spectacularly well. It doesn’t make the area soundproof, but it softens the reverb of my voice. I also have hard wooden floors, so I’ve placed a rug under my microphone.

Recording and editing.

Every episode of Bad Wilf has been edited using the free to use software, Audacity. There is some paid editing software out there, such as Adobe Audition. They’re all good. But honestly, there’s no real need. Audacity has worked incredibly well for me. More recently, I’ve started using a service called Descript. Descript transcribes your audio into text, with an 85% accuracy. You then edit the audio, by deleting the text. It’s £12 ($15) a month for the basic package, but it enables you to auto-delete filler words such as “um” and “errrr”. This is an absolute time-saver, you can also programme in filler word/phrases like “like” and “y’know”. I do the very basic edit through Descript, but I still use Audacity for the main edit.



Remote recording.

In the good old days, Bad Wilf was recorded mostly in-person. I’d take my trusty Zoom H1 to my co-hosts house. We’d hit record and chat. We then graduated to two XLR mics running into a Zoom H5. In a post-Covid world, nearly every episode is recorded remotely. I use my Rodecaster Pro for this. It enables me to basically run the podcast, like a live radio show. If you don’t have a Rodecaster Pro, you and your co-host can record your own sides of the conversation, then Dropbox to whoever is editing. Alternatively, you could use a Skype recorder. There are drawbacks to these however, they mostly tend to be sound related. A Skype recorder works by recording what is coming out of the earphone jack, that can lead to a drop in quality. I’ve used Ecamm in the past, which I found to be the best of the bunch. It was a one-off £15 payment. Ecamm also allows you to split the tracks into two. The benefits of this are that if your co-host coughs whilst you’re talking, you could silence it on their track. The downside to this is, if you have more than one guest, all guests appear on one track.
Before getting my Rodecaster Pro, I’d taken to recording with Zencastr. You don’t have to download any software. What makes Zencastr different to a Skype recorder, is rather than taking the sound that’s coming out the headphones, it takes the sound that’s going directly into each users microphone. It also records each user in a separate track, which is a Godsend when it comes to editing. If one co-host is moving around whilst the others are talking, this can be silenced in editing. Zencastr has two tiers, a free service which allows users up to two guests an episode and 8hrs of recording a month, or a paid version which allows unlimited guests and unlimited monthly recordings, for $20. However, during the Corona outbreak, Zencastr has lifted the restrictions on the free tier.

Levelate.

I’ve lost count of how many “professionally” produced podcasts I’ve stopped listening to after the first 3 minutes because they’re just too damn quiet. I’ve run every episode of Bad Wilf through free software called ‘Levelator’. It basically levels out all your audio to be exactly the same. Now, it’s not a magic wand, it can’t fix all audio problems, but it’s served me well for over a decade.

Launch the thing.

To launch your show, you’ll need a podcast host. There are many out there. But I’ve always used Libsyn. They’re reasonably priced and they’re pretty fair. I would advise steering clear of any podcast host that offers their service for free. Read the small print, because they could end up claiming your show and/or all content you make.

Podcast directories.

Research these, there are a lot out there. The big ones are obviously Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Spotify, Player FM etc. But there are some very niche directories out there that may cater more directly to your audience. 52% of listeners consume their podcasts from Apple Podcasts, so even if you only submit to one service, make sure you’re on Apple Podcasts.

Post to your website.

Make sure you embed your podcast episode on your website and you should put some accompanying text above the embedded player. This could be just a copy/paste of your show notes. I’d also recommend listing and linking to everywhere people can listen.

Social Media.

So, you’ve recorded and edited your show. You’ve uploaded and submitted it to all the podcast directories you can find, you’ve embedded it on your website. Now you want to shout about it on Twitter. Great. But, remember, in this day and age we’re being sold to 24/7. So if you launch a Twitter account specifically to promote your podcast, be wary of only posting to promote your show. Think about it like this; would you have any interest in following someone who only ever posted about the fact he was giving guitar lessons? Instead, you should give-give-ask. Provide a service, build a community. Give a solution, then ask people to listen.

I hope this has been helpful to you, if you have any further comments or questions, then please tweet me.



Opinion Peter Capaldi IS leaving Doctor Who

In which I look at the recent speculation that Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who.

Peter Capaldi is a Scottish actor, writer and director. He portrays the twelfth incarnation of the Doctor in Doctor Who and Malcolm Tucker the spin doctor in The Thick of It, for which he has received four British Academy Television Award nominations, winning Best Male Comedy Performance in 2010. When he reprised the role of Tucker in the feature film In the Loop, Capaldi was honoured with several film critic award nominations for Best Supporting Actor.

Henry Cavill (Formerly) The unluckiest man in Hollywood

It may seem hard to believe now, but there was a time when Henry Cavill was widely regarded as the unluckiest man in Hollywood. He often made it to the final rounds of consideration, for major franchises. He was so infamous, that I knew about him before I even knew his name.

With the news that Man of Steel 2 has been put on hold until WB get their next slate of movies out. I thought I would take a look back at the five roles Henry Cavill almost had before he represented the house of El.

  1. James Bond-Casino Royale(2006)

After die another day received a critical mauling, Pierce Brosnan was forced to retire his Walther PPK. Which meant Bond had to be rebooted.

Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli managed to whittle down a list to two suave actors to play 007. Those actors were Daniel Craig and Henry Cavill.

Cavill has said in interviews:

“I came very close.”

Ultimately at 22, they decided Cavill was just a bit too young for the role and they instead went with Daniel Craig.



  1. Batman – Batman Begins (2005)

Whilst Cavill states that he didn’t actually test for this, he has confirmed that his name was on a shortlist of actors which included; Joshua Jackson, Eion Bailey, Hugh Dancy, Billy Crudup, Cillian Murphy, Jake Gyllenhaal and, of course, Christian Bale.

  1. Superman – Superman Returns(2006).

You may remember that before Brian Singer helmed Superman Returns, it was set to be directed by McG.

When McG left the project Brian Singer gave Henry Cavill the old tin-tac and he was replaced with Brandon Routh.

  1. Green Lantern/Hal Jordan – Green Lantern (2011)

Cavill’s third unlucky attempt at a superhero movie happened in 2011, with Green Lantern. When casting began in 2009, his name was listed alongside Bradley Cooper, Justin Timberlake, and of course, Ryan Reynolds.

 

  1. Edward Cullen – Twilight (2008)

Twilight creator, Stephanie Meyer has previously stated that she based the Vampire on Henry Cavill, she even tried to get him cast in the role. Ironically, two short years after he was told he was too young to play Bond, he was told he was too old to play a 200+-year-old vampire and the role went to Robert Pattinson.

Times have sure changed for Henry Cavill. He now has multiple franchises under his belt.

Check out our interview with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer.



How to survive a London comic con

With the MCM expo fast approaching, I thought I would compile a handy guide to help you survive a London comic con.

1. Arrive Early

Parking fills up quickly and public transport gets exceedingly busy. I recommend arriving at 8:30 AM and going for breakfast at a local restaurant. You’ll then have plenty of time to queue, before the doors open at 10 AM.
This will also give you time to check out the schedule to see what you would want to do for the day.

2. Virtual queues
A lot of the big-name (most expensive stars) will have a deli ticket style virtual queue. Hit all the big-name stars first, then come back at your allocated time.

3. Go For Comfort

Wear Comfortable shoes and clothing – you will be doing a lot of walking, standing and sweating.
Even in the winter, it will be exceedingly hot in the venue, so shorts are ideal.
Nobody likes a smelly fan, so double spray/roll the amount of deodorant you would normally, I’d also recommend carrying some in a backpack.



4. Take a backpack

Bring a small backpack for your snacks and memorabilia.
Also, think about your phone battery too, a portable charger will set you back about £15.

5. Bring Your Own

Bring water and snacks with you. Con prices for food and drink are ridiculous.
I normally take three small bottles of water, a caffeinated drink, and a couple of bananas.

6. Schedule a Break

If you get tired, there are tables to sit at, but these fill up pretty quickly.
I recommend finding a pub a short walk from the venue.

7. Plan

The best way to make your time at a con enjoyable is to plan out a strategy on how to spend your day. Check out the timetable online before the event and mark what you really want to go. Also, make an alternate list in case you can’t get in or don’t want to wait in a long line. If you’re only going for one day – check the programs and find the booths/celebrities you would be most interested in and check those out first, then check out the other fun stuff.

Friends conspiracy theory

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Now, I am currently suffering the flu and am whacked out on flu medication so, this may be crazy talk. But, something hit me like a bolt of lightning earlier today. The entire 10-year run of Friends was a social experiment set up by Doctor’s Niles and Frasier Crane. I haven’t quite figured out what that social experiment is, but I’m assuming it’s something to do with memory loss and post-traumatic stress.
First off, none of the friends really know anything about their own life’s.

In one of the early episodes, Joey and Chandler offer to take Ross to a hockey game for his birthday, and the date in that is said to be October 20th. He says, “my birthday was 7 months ago,” which would place his birthday in March, yet in the episode where Ross tries to punch Joey and breaks his thumb, they fill out his details, Ross says “you know my birthday!?” And Joey says “May-tem-ber???” And Ross says “OCTOBER 18”!
Ross’ age is a bone of contention across the whole series. He stays 29 for three whole series whilst the other friend’s age.

In the episode where Ross and his girlfriend Julie are getting a cat, Monica talks fondly of their childhood cat and even has his old toys. In the very next episode, when Monica is tasting the Fistachio product she says she’s allergic to cats and is for the rest of the shows run.

Phoebe often talks about her hard life living homeless on the streets, yet lived with her loving grandmother. She is fluent in French, yet in a later episode doesn’t speak a word of it.

The spelling of Rachel’s last name changes every year sometimes it’s ‘Green’ then ‘Greene’ then back to ‘Green’.
Chandler and Rachel met 4 times before the first episode is set and they don’t remember each other, she saw him get his toe cut off, you remember seeing someone get their toe cut off.
In the first episode it’s established that Ross and Carol split up a year prior to the episode, yet later that series Carol turns up 8-months pregnant. We’re also told that Carol was the only woman Ross slept with, but it later turns out he slept with an older woman in college.



Joey and Chandler’s apartment number changes from 4 to 19, whilst Monica’s changes from 5 to 20 without any of them realising. A whole episode set up the fact that Chandler has never cried, yet the previous series showed Phoebe make him cry.
Phoebe claims her dad left before she was born, yet later he walked out when she was 7.

Along with “get a life!” I hear you say “but Frasier and Niles were never in friends”.
No, they were never in friends. But, they did exist in the same universe. Phoebe’s twin sister, Ursula was a character in Mad about you, the characters from mad about you appeared in Friends. Chandler appeared in an episode of Caroline in the city. Caroline appeared in an episode of Friends, who else appeared in Caroline in the city?
Joey’s intelligence also takes a drastic knock over the years. He started out as an average guy then got dumber and dumber as the years went by.

What do you think? Does my theory hold any weight?
I’m likely to add more to this as further inconsistencies pop into my head.
I also think there’s something to the same people popping up with a new identity. Phoebe and Monica’s old Friend Amanda was later Joey’s agent, Bobby and Chandler’s psycho roommate Eddie, was Joey’s sister’s childhood boyfriend, Jimmy.

Why I don’t care for Big Bang Theory

Many of my friends and family LOVE The Big Bang Theory. I’ll admit, I’ll watch it if there’s nothing else on. but, something 20130309-165819.jpgabout the show has never sat right with me and, I think I’ve just figured out what. I’ve recently been suffering from a bout of chronic insomnia. So, one sleepless night I reached for the ever faithful, ever comforting, continually funny, Spaced.

Now, Spaced is without doubt the best geek TV show ever made. It’s made by geeks, for geeks.

For the unfamiliar, it’s a British sitcom about two strangers — Daisy and Tim (played by co-writers Jessica Hynes and Simon Pegg) —who have to pretend to be a couple to get a flat.

Like the Big Bang theory, Spaced featured in-jokes and movie references. With the Big Bang theory, they’re screaming “There’s a reference coming, We’re about to make a reference, here’s the reference, Did you get the reference? No, ok. Well here’s what the reference was about”.
Spaced was smarter, it worked on multiple levels. If you watch it as a straight sitcom, with no idea of the references, it will still make you laugh, but if you watch it and you pick up the references it makes you laugh in a different way.

It rewards multiple viewings. 14-years later and I’m still picking up things I’d missed before. The references aren’t gratuitous, they move the story along. There isn’t a random reference, for the sake of a random reference.
I can’t help but feel that the Big Bang Theory is just making fun of “geek culture”. Pointing the huge finger and shouting “THIS IS WHAT NERDS DO!”. Most of the humour comes from the audience laughing AT the characters and not with the characters. You’re not meant to be laughing at the jokes they make, you’re meant to be laughing at the guys themselves and that’s what doesn’t sit right with me, I’m meant to be laughing at myself, at my friends.



The characters aren’t likeable at all, now. Not every character has to be likeable. Every character in Seinfeld, Curb your enthusiasm and Arrested development was a detestable human being. But it takes skill to do this. The writing team on TBBT are too busy high-fiving themselves for squeezing in another reference, or lazy pop shot at geeks to give us believable characters. Instead, we get another overused stereotype, not seen since saved by the bell.

Leonard is whiny, weak and a mummy’s boy, Raj is shy around women and just irritating, Howard is sleazy and belongs on some sort of register and the star of the show, Sheldon is just a complete and utter dick.
Would anyone really be friends with him?

At first, I thought it may just be a cultural difference between a US show and a UK show. But, step forward Community. A show made by NBC which like Spaced, deals with geek culture in a respectful and realistic way. With community and Spaced, you never laugh at the characters, you laugh with them.

TV REVIEW-DEREK

Before people had even seen this, they were lampooning Gervais for “playing disabled”. Yes, Derek isn’t smarter than the average bear, but neither was Baldrick, Mr Bean, Homer, Trigger or Father Dougal, were any of these characters mocking disabled people? Derek’s innocence isn’t the subject of ridicule.

Derek is a sweet caring and kind man.
To say this isn’t the funniest thing Ricky Gervais has produced would in no way be a criticism. What we get instead is a touching heartfelt drama about Britain’s forgotten.

The only moments the script fails are when it tries too hard to be funny. The script actually works best during its tender moments. Yes, the show wasn’t perfect, but aside from Being Human, what pilots have been?



Thoughts on Elementary

I was incredibly lucky as a child to have very supportive parents that wanted to push my learning through literature and education. My Father taught me the intricacies of espionage and shared with me his Le Carre collection and my mother was always there with a bit of Mr Tolkien.

Little did I know at the time, but a character created in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have a huge impact on my cultural learning during adolescence. Sherlock Holmes became a staple read during all the periods of my life and various incarnations on television and the movie screen have given me hours of pleasure.

From The adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the late 1980s early 1990s to the latest Guy Ritchie-helmed versions starring the wonderful Robert Downey Jr, Jeremy Brett was always my Holmes. He had the tortured, intelligent addict down and every performance was a masterclass of acting.



Then came the latest fashion in screen media, the reboot. I think what Steven Moffat has done bringing a classic old-time character into the 21st century has been miraculous and so when I heard that CBS in the United States had an American Holmes being lined up I was really hopeful of another take on classic tales.

But then came the press release…

Continue reading Thoughts on Elementary

Who next?

There are many debates happening on social network sites regarding Doctor Who. What are you hoping for from season 7? What do you think will happen during the 50th anniversary year? etc. etc. What nobody seems to discuss is who’s next?

Now before you all attack me for wishing Matt Smith would go, please hear me out. Matt has done an incredible job – he has really made the role his own and is second only to Colin Baker in my affections so I want Matt to stay in the part forever. However, I am a realist that has gut instincts that I usually keep to myself. So why am I bringing this subject up now I hear you cry? well, a couple of reasons as it happens.

Continue reading Who next?