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Thursday, January 12, 2012

My BBC Addiction

We don't have cable so we don't actually get a BBC channel, but we do have a big antenna on the side of the house so we pick up not just PBS but slews of PBS channels. The main one, though, is the one that gives me my fix on my days off: BBC shows. From 1pm to 4pm, I watch Lark Rise to Candleford, Ballykissangel, Monarch on the Glen, and Ladies of Letters.

They are basically crack. It pains me to go to work three days out of the week. Yes, because I am apart from Alex but also because of these massively addictive shows. So in the spirit of a tweaked out drug dealer, I figured I'd share with you in the hopes that you too will get addicted so we can buy the DVD sets together and wallow in a K hole together.

Oh, Ballykissangel. So this is what got me started on the whole BBC thing. While on maternity leave, I settled in for a nursing session with Alexandra on the couch, nothing was on the main channels, but I was lucky enough to stumble upon this show, right when it started, with the very first episode of the series. Windfall! Needless to say, I always made sure to get my ass to the sofa, whether Alex was nursing or napping, whether I had to clean or do pilates, at 1pm PST. 

The show takes place in Ireland and initially centers around the arrival of a new English priest, Father Clifford (Peter), to the town of Ballykissangel. There is instant tension and crackling intensity when the local religious skeptic/potential atheist gives him a ride to town while he is in regular clothes. She feels an instant connection with him, but upon learning he's a priest, feels instant rancor. 

The series of course moves beyond that tiny plot point, introducing a whole slew of characters that are hilarious, stubborn, and poignant. This show makes me want to sell all our stuff, burn down the house and use the insurance money for three tickets to Ireland and a cottage in County Kerrie (where the show takes place).

Lark Rise! Woohoo! This show has actually turned into my number one love these days. I've seen most of the episodes but am always delighted when I catch one that I haven't. 

This series is based on a trio of books by Flora Thompson, grouped together under the titular Lark Rise to Candleford. It takes place at the tail end of the 19th century and, since Thompson wrote the books much later in life, she was able to write from the perspective of progress creeping into English country life. Laura Timmons (a play on Flora's own name) is the central character, but much like Ballykay, the other characters in the series (specifically Dorcas Lane), really pump life into the show. 

It's such a joy to see how life was lived back then, to see how things change for the better but, much how I feel about today's technological advancements, also change for the sadder. Moving forward often times means leaving things behind, and Lark Rise often showcases that journey. But it also really lets the characters shine in their own personal stories, struggles and triumphs. Also there's debtors'prison. Fun stuff!

Monarch of the Glen is mama's new lover these days. This bad boy takes place in Scotland, so often times I'm not sure if I want my cottage in Ireland or in Scotland. Lord knows I wouldn't be able to pronounce anything correctly in either place.

MotG is all about the seat of Glenbogle, how it's losing loads of money and how the parents, Hector and Molly, trick their son to come back home so they can tell him, to his face, that he is now the new laird, the new master of not only the castle but the entire town/village/thingy of Glenbogle itself. 

It's actually teaching me a lot about how a laird-ship works. It's also making me fall in love with the idea of stomping around in muddy Wellies and big Molly-Weasley-style sweaters despite how much of an utter desert rat I am. I love the characters too. Crazy Hector, ditzy Molly, and the dashing Archie (their son the laird). There's a lot of tension between Archie, privileged, English-taught and English-accented, and his fiery tenants, specifically the beautiful school headmistress, Katrina. There's romance, socioeconomic tension, gorgeous country and loads of humor and familial love. 

Okay, this one is absolutely hilarious. It caps off my three hours of good UK fun and helps me to be jolly instead of sad to see them go. The entire premise revolves around the two ladies seen above, Vera (left) and Irene (right), writing letters. But instead of one lady reading the letter to the screen, they recite their letters while going on about their crazy, drunken, madcap lives. We see them journey from house to trailer park, England to Australia, normalcy to a life of alcohol and accidental-drug-induced hallucinations. And through it all, thought they refer to themselves as friends and write very often, their letters mostly contain ill-concealed insults and jabs at one another, all while slugging back gin (G and Ts) and white wine (hey, girl, hey). It really is a funny show, and a perfect example of British humor.

So, that sums it up, ladies and germs. These are four of my favorite, favorite shows, and I hope you have an opportunity to see them and, if you like shows the way I like shows, chase them like a junkie chases the dragon.

Peace out!

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