This article uses abbreviations – see key at end.

Since my last blog/musings there have been some changes (not a lot) in the family viewing fight habits. I still do my daily check to make sure that Bernard Cribbins is still with us (I mean alive, not in our house, that’d be weird).[1] Molly and Mack and Waffle are still firm favourites of Sweep [2] (yes, and me). STG is now asking if I have any DVDs she can watch – she actually says she prefers watching box sets to films as the single episodes are shorter and she pays more attention that way – so I’m rummaging through cupboards to find suitable material for her (subtitled foreign delights inspire the following brief thoughts: Beck? Nah, the neighbour’s weird and nobody knows what he did to his neck. Engrenages? No, that’s a bit too grown-up. What about UK shows? Fawlty Towers? Would she get the joke about not mentioning the war? I nearly did it there but I think I got away with it. Aha! Life on Mars? If she doesn’t like that I don’t know what to do (disinherit her most likely)). And that’s pretty much STG sorted. Well, once we find something she actually likes that isn’t going to cause anyone any sleepless nights with worry or reactions and screaming in the night and so on.

As for Sweep, pretty much her usual diet but she has now found, ‘things-that-are-on-Netflix-that-do-not-make-daddy-want-to-throw-the-TV-out-of-the-window-followed-by-thrashing-it-with-a-branch-and-reminding-it-that-I’ve-told-it-this-once-already.’ Masha and the Bear, a Russian animated series about a young girl called Masha and, um, you’re probably ahead of me here, a bear who looks after her, is actually quite charming. Funny yet not patronising and, and this is a crucial point I think, only about seven minutes long. The perfect length to keep a small person (Sweep) amused and not drive a large person (me) into a frenzied state of going out looking for sturdy branches. However, the other new hit for us is Mighty Little Bheem, an Indian animated series that works anywhere as it is non-verbal. No dialogue to misinterpret, no gags that don’t translate, and no need to pay for v/os at union rates. And it’s six minutes long. And really good fun and, as with a lot of ‘silent’ stuff, actually very funny.[3]

Which means that STG and Sweep are now sorted (until the end of this week anyway) which leaves me and MDBJ. Now, you may have noted from my previous post that we get bored quite easily. We need a story that can hook us and, and this is the hard bit, manages to stay simple and not get carried away with how clever it is.[4] One thing we agree [5] on is that we do not like Netflix (that bloody Netflix – ‘TBN’) automatically playing trailers. We have no idea why. But we find it mildly annoying. Anyway, we started watching some of the shows that TBN pushes. You know the way they push this stuff, all the cool kids are doing this, maybe you’d like to as well? It’s trending in the UK today so let’s be cool, you do this stuff, eh? And, oh dear, some of it is (I’m going to use quite a Scottish term here) pure utter pish. Titans we liked. Then they made a second series and it just wasn’t as good as the first one. I Am Not Okay With This, well soz kids, we were not okay with it either. Which leads me to Brews Brothers, and, um, we have actually stuck with this one (but full disclosure, last night there was a palpable sense of relief that there’s only one more to have to watch) and we had it pushed on us found it after we watched a movie on TBN. A really, apocalyptically bad movie that starred people you haven’t heard of (or will care about) along with Jürgen Prochnow (turned up for the money, we think) and Cloris Leachman (who basically does Frau Blücher again, presumably for the money). The movie is called Beerfest (2006, Chandrasekhar) and is almost in the same league as the Porky’s franchise or even the Revenge of the Nerds trilogy but does not have the advantage (in this house) of having been watched when I was in my early teens and was therefore more disposed to that kind of thing.

Anyway, Brews Brothers. Not terrible. Not going to change the world. Maybe one actual belly laugh so far, with one episode left to watch. Cast are (mostly) believable, scripts are trying a little too hard to do sideways shocks at times but there is a really big, hairy dog in it and we love big, hairy dogs so we’re mostly watching it for him, the true star of the show.

Brews Brothers dog, Friar Lucas. See? He’s AWESOME

Brews Brothers dog, Friar Lucas. See? He’s AWESOME

Then the other night, MDBJ and myself decided to see what was on the telly. Which means TBN was brought in. After losing track of time looking up and down its near endless lists (that should be left and right across its near endless lists) we decided to throw caution to the wind and use the ‘search’ function.

You know, just in case TBN was trying to get us to watch the same stuff that everyone else is watching. And we’re not pack animals, we have our own minds and make our own decisions (other than on what to eat tomorrow night because that is a BIG decision), we don’t follow the crowd, we are young (heartache to heartache), we stand…

This is where we came upon a new and exciting game: what does TBN think? The main reason behind this is, well, as you’ll see from the below screen grab, I thought I’d try searching for was told to search for ‘British Comedy Films.’ We had watched a not-British film the previous night, it was ok, sporadically amusing, could lose 20-25 minutes, not going to change the world but had a couple of snorters and a message of love and respect for all (I know, sounds dreary doesn’t it? I don’t remember the name but James Franco and Seth Rogen were involved, something about the end of the world) and MDBJ wanted to watch something that didn’t involve puerile humour (this from the woman who likens our family to the cast of The Young Ones (I’m Vyvyan, STG is Neil, Sweep is Mike and this, of course, means that she’s (p)Rik)). Orders received I gamely entered the search term as instructed and TBN came back with this:

I’ll let you look at it for a minute…ok, done? By a show of hands, who thinks of Little Fockers as a British film? Starring that famous son of Inverness, Dustin Hoffman, and the slightly more famous son of Carlisle, Robert de Niro. Not forgetting Belfast’s greatest export, Barbra Streisand, along with Neath’s own Blythe Danner, of course [Ed note: can we fact-check this, I think he’s making some of it up?]. Or the 1986 Richard Benjamin directed, starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, light-hearted romp The Money Pit? Famously filmed on location in Yorkshire [Ed again: who is this guy?] but set in New York state with a locally sourced cast of international actors. How about Amy Poehler’s 2019 work, Wine Country, which is set in California, but presumably not the California in Central Scotland?

See? It is real (and it has a Post Office)

See? It is real (and it has a Post Office)

Possibly that well known comedy war-time romp, The Great Escape (it does have some British characters though)? Certainly Zach Braff’s 2017, Going in Style, is funny and does have Michael Caine in it, along with Liverpool’s own Alan Arkin as well as Bishop Stortford’s [6] favourite son, Morgan Freeman [Ed: WHAT?!?]

But to be fair to the immediate search results there are easily/immediately identifiably British productions included. Which leads me to the latest confession regarding our viewing habits, and possibly also points towards something else, not sure what, but anyway myself and the good MDBJ a couple of nights ago watched/revisited/were pushed towards by TBN a show that was popular. Cult even. A show that made fanboys (and fangirls) scream in anguish when the cast reunited for an advert for the AA (that’s the car breakdown service, not the other one) at the betrayal of their great love by their great loves (who were presumably definitely doing it for the money).

Red Dwarf.

Hmmm…on reflection, I still like it. Even if only for Howard Goodall’s excellent theme tune and Chris Barrie’s masterful performance as Rimmer. Yes, some things are worth revisiting and this is, we think, for now, one of them.

What are we going to watch next week? Any ideas? We might start Modern Family, we heard good things about it after all…


John Ritchie spent the majority of the last twenty-five years working as an actor and performer across all media. He completed his PhD in August 2018. His thesis was written as part of an AHRC-funded project, British Silent Cinema and the Transition to Sound, 1927-1933. John’s main area of research is performance on screens.





Sweep – my five year old daughter, nicknamed Sweep as she used to make noises like Sweep (from The Sooty Show).

STG – Sulky Teenage Girlchild. No further explanation necessary.

MDBJ – my good lady/other half. Mrs Dr Big John, as the local garage refer to her on all invoices

TBN – Netflix. Originally this stood for ‘the big ‘N’ but, thanks to a suggestion from Kim Akass, it now stands for ‘that bloody Netflix.’




[1] Cribbins, ah Bernard Cribbins, we basically grew up with him, you know? He’s simply one of those people. When he does go, we will both be actually upset as he has been a constant in our lives. I’ve still got my Hornby flexidisc that you had to put a coin onto to get it to play properly.

[2] For a fuller explanation of familial names in the household, read my previous post. You’d best do it or some of the rest of this will make little sense unless you want to play a game of ‘what does this stand for?’

[3] See The Plank (Sykes, 1967)

[4] I’m looking at you here M*f*a*, S (and this is my new game for you – who is John looking at?)

[5] Actually ‘we’ as she agrees with me (just on this though, there is still the question of how to put tins in a cupboard properly, I say upside down so the juice drops through the beans, you then open it the correct way up and you manage to avoid the shaking of the can to get the last four beans out of it but this does not seem to be a universally held practice).

[6] A town in England famous for not only sounding like a mature cheddar cheese but also a chess move that is illegal in certain parts of the USA.