British Culture

Telly Binge – British Political Series You Can Stream Online

As you may or may not be aware, the UK General Election is nigh. In just under three weeks’ time (May 7th to be exact) the British public will go to the polls to vote for the local MPs who will represent them in Parliament. The party who gains the most seats in the election wins the right to send its leader to 10 Downing Street to be the Prime Minister.

There he or she will remain for five years unless, according to the Parliament.UK website, “a motion of no confidence is passed in Her Majesty's Government by a simple majority and 14 days elapses without the House passing a confidence motion in any new Government formed or a motion for a general election is agreed by two thirds of the total number of seats in the Commons including vacant seats (currently 434 out of 650).”

Happy Birthday, Shakespeare: Things that Might Surprise The Bard

When William Shakespeare was born 451 years ago, I’m quite certain there was no way of knowing just how famous this child would become. I mean, we all believe our children are special and capable of great things, but just imagine one of your offspring being celebrated as the greatest writer in the English language four centuries after his or her death.

Shakespeare was versatile as both a poet and a playwright. His works, still constantly in production to this day, are the most frequently staged plays in the history of the theater.

Not only that, but think about how difficult it is to keep a literary career going during one’s lifetime let alone to continue to sell books long after the author has passed away. In a Forbes article from 2005, it was estimated that Shakespeare sells 10 million copies of his plays worldwide making a conservative $15 million annually. Alas, no family members are collecting on those royalties these days.

Just in case these monetary facts about his longevity fail to astound The Bard of Stratford-on-Avon, perhaps the following examples about his continuing influence upon literature would make Will sit up and take notice.

Christmas Telly: A British Holiday Tradition

In America we get plenty of holiday TV programming. There’s usually one musical variety effort each year be it Michael Buble, Kelly Clarkson or the hottest country artist at the moment. ABC Family broadcasts the 25 Days of Christmas, the Hallmark Channel features heartwarming Christmas fare (non-stop for weeks) and of course no one should forget the 24 hour A Christmas Story marathon. Say it with me, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

In my youth you had three networks and one chance to see A Charlie Brown Christmas. Miss it and you were out of luck; there was certainly no DVR, let alone VHS! They were called “specials” for a reason. Am I starting to sound like a cantankerous old lady because I’m really not? I’m on Twitter and everything.

Let’s meander back to the subject at hand - Christmas telly. Despite the volume of shows out there intended to keep our spirits merry and bright (or perhaps because of that very fact) Americans might get nostalgic, but they don’t seem to get too excited about the Christmas TV schedules. In the UK, however, it’s a whole different animal – a tradition in and of itself.

British Telly Families I’d Like to Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner

I don’t have to tell you that Thanksgiving is not a holiday in the UK; however, as a British entertainment and culture blogger, a great deal of my attention is dedicated to how I might merge the traditions of my homeland and the island country with which I am quite honestly infatuated. Besides we’d all like a few British accents present at our family gathering, wouldn’t we?

Therefore I actually took the time to consider the following proposition – if I could invite a British TV family for a big holiday dinner (like Thanksgiving) who would I choose? Let me clarify – I’ve never cooked a Thanksgiving meal in my life so I obviously wouldn’t be hosting, but inviting myself to their gaff instead.

I’ve narrowed my picks narrowed it down to a short list and here are my top five.

The Tower of London Poppies Installation is Completed on Remembrance Day

On November 11, the multi-month effort to plant a ceramic poppy within the moat of the Tower of London in honor of the hundreds of thousands of lives lost during World War I was completed.

Officially titled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the installation features hundreds of thousands of ceramic poppies – the ceremonial flower traditionally used to remember war veterans in Britain – arranged in and around the Tower moat. Known colloquially as the “Tower Poppies” this exhibit has been drawing crowds for weeks, as visitors came to admire the impressive artwork and pay their respects to those who lost their lives in combat. Each poppy – planted by veterans, celebrities, public figures and volunteers – represents a British military fatality in World War I.

Celebrate Independence Day by Imagining If The British Had Won

As every American knows, on July 4 the United States celebrates its independence. We watch fireworks, eat barbecue, go to baseball games, and basically spend the day generally rejoicing in our Founding Fathers’ successful thrashing of the British Empire.

I never know what to write about on this particular day here on the blog – it’s such an American holiday and we cover all things British and it’s probably not best to cross the streams and all that kind of thing. But luckily, the marketing team at beer manufacturer Newcastle has helpfully provided us with the perfect post topic this year.

For You on St. David’s Day - Actors You May Not Know Are Welsh

March first is St. David’s Day, a Welsh national holiday and a day to remember the death of the country’s patron saint. Festivals and parades are held across Wales and in other countries as well. Celebrants can be seen sporting daffodils and leeks on their lapels and yummy Welsh cakes are happily consumed.

Since I can’t exactly stage a festival here on the blog, I thought the next best thing might be a parade of Welsh actors to bring the spirit of Wales to Telly Visions. Of course we are all familiar with acting legends like Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins. Others have names that hint pretty strongly at their land of origin – Rhys Ifans and Ioan Gruffudd are just two examples. And, finally, let’s not forget the outstanding Wales-based sitcom, Gavin and Stacey and its many talented Welsh cast members such as Ruth Jones, Rob Brydon and Joanna Page.

What follows is a cavalcade of talented actors that you may not have known have Welsh roots. Today, let’s find out what’s occurring with this lush group from Wales…

Celebrate Robert Burns Night with Some Scottish Telly

You don’t have to be a poetry fan to be familiar with the work of Scottish national poet, Robert Burns. In fact if you’ve ever sung Auld Lang Syne at a New Year’s Eve party, you have performed a piece of Burns’ work.

So beloved is Burns to his fellow countrymen that he was named the greatest Scot of all time in a STV poll in 2009. In fact, Burns’ birthday is celebrated as an unofficial Scottish holiday with suppers held in his honor on or around January 25th. These traditional gatherings are organized around the world, in people’s homes and in swanky halls. No matter where it’s held or how fancy the event, however, there are certain elements that are a part of all Burns’ suppers.

Just a quick look around YouTube will demonstrate the range and scope of these celebrations in honor of Scotland’s favorite son.

The Holmes Effect: Sherlock is Apparently A Baby Name People Are Doing Now

The global success of the BBC’s Sherlock, combined with Robert Downey Jr.’s blockbuster movie franchise and Jonny Lee Miller’s American adaptation Elementary have done more than make Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective popular again among both literary geeks and British television enthusiasts.

Sherlock Holmes is apparently way cool amongst the British parental set now, too.

Remember the Fifth of November: The Gunpowder Plot and Bonfire Night

Rememeber remember the Fifth of November

The Gunpower Treason and plot

I know of no reason the Gunpower Treason

Should ever be forgot.

Nowadays many Americans are more likely to be aware of the Remember, remember the fifth of November rhyme from the Wachowski Brothers’ cult hit V for Vendetta or the flurry of Facebook status updates on the subject in their Newsfeeds once a year, rather than because of actual history, but did you know that there’s an actual British holiday associated with this saying?

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