Thursday, April 29, 2010

Deep-fried Mars bars

Do you want to know what you get when you mix a Scottish salesman with a fish and chips shop? Well, just read what follows and you will get the answer!

In 1995, a man in a Scottish fish and chips had the unusual idea to fry a Mars bar in a deep fat fryer. The result looked like that:

We don’t know what you think about it, but English people’s first reaction to this product was very ironic! Indeed, Scottish people were reputed for their unhealthy food and this new product confirmed this idea. However, the popularity of the dish did spread. Today, deep-fried Mars bars are not so popular anymore, but new varieties of deep-fried dishes have been invented. In the following pictures, you can see a deep-fried pizza and deep-fried haggis.

How do you make a deep-fried Mars bar? Actually, it is very easy. Just take 1 Mars bar, 1 egg, some milk, ¾ of a cup of flour, a pinch of salt and some oil for frying.

First, prepare the batter to cover the Mars bar before putting it into the deep-fat fryer. In order to make it, just use the ingredients we have just mentioned above. Put them together and mix them. Be careful: you have to make sure that the Mars bar was kept a few days in the fridge before using it, otherwise it will melt in the deep-fat fryer.

The second step is very easy. Immerse the Mars bar into the boiling oil. Once it is fried, serve with whipped cream, ice cream or fruits. If you think you need more details about the recipe, you can watch the following video: .

Whatever you might think about it and even if you are not extremely enthusiastic about trying it, just remember what a Scottish guy said after tasting it: « It looks disgusting, but it tastes like Heaven. »

Mélina Charlier and Marie Collage

Friday, April 23, 2010

"In the loop"

« In the loop » is a typical British comedy which was released on the seventeenth of April 2009. “In the loop” criticizes the absurd effort of the Anglo-American involvement in the Iraq war.
This film is based on the popular TV series “The thick of it” on BBC 2 and was oscar-nominated in 2010.

“In the loop” is directed by Armando Iannucci, a 47-year-old Scottish Italian comedian, writer, director, performer and radio producer. He wrote "Facts and Fancies" in 1997, later turned into radio series. He’s also famous for his radio programmes, for example “On the hour”. What is more, he had a personal TV show. He directed two films “ Tube tales” and “In the loop”.

The main actors in the film “In the Loop” are for example Tom Hollander, the British Minister Simon Forster, Peter Capaldi, allias Malcom Tucker, a sort of spin doctor, and James Gandolfini, the American General Miller.

At the beginning, the film is settled in London. Simon Forster, the Minister of International Development, makes a blunder during an interview about the possible invasion of Iraq. He tells journalists that a war in Iraq is unforeseeable.
This ill-chosen word is going to cause a terrible panic among media and politics in the US and in Britain. Malcom Tucker, acted by Peter Capaldi, tries everything to make the situation better. We could call him a spin doctor. A spin doctor is “A person who publicizes favorable interpretations of the words and actions of a public figure, especially a politician”. ( He’s said to be a parody of Alaistair Campbell, the famous spin doctor of Tony Blair.

Simon Forster tries to get back on his feet and gives another interview to the journalists in which he makes once more another blunder. He says: "To walk the road of peace, sometimes we need to be ready to climb the mountain of conflict". It’s how a war conspiracy begins, with many misunderstandings which make the situation only worse and worse.

The American characters are General Miller, played by James Gandolfini. He’s pacifist and against the war in Iraq. Whereas Linton Barwick creates secretely a war committee and would do anything to justify a war in Iraq.

According to many critics, “In the loop” is the funniest film of the year. For others, it’s a comedy of highest order. This film is also described as genius, unmissable and brilliant.

Here is the trailer, enjoy!

No worries if you do not understand everything, you have to put yourself in Englishman's shoes! ;)

Audeline Boucart & Stéphanie de Wilde

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Donald Trump: the man who never sleeps

Last year we told you everything about Alan Sugar. This year we are going to introduce his American counterpart, Donald Trump, who you maybe know thanks to his distinctive haircut.

Donald Trump was born in New-York City in 1946. He was the fourth of five children of Fred and Mary Anne Trump. He went to the University of Pennsylvania and afterwards he joined his father’s company, the Trump Organization, a real estate business. In the early seventies he started his career with the renovation of the Commodore Hotel and continued with the Trump Tower in New York City. Later on he developed other projects, among which the construction of casinos and the growth of a business airline industry.

However, from the nineties onwards, he had to face financial difficulties. Due to the effects of recession and bad investments he was indeed unable to meet loan payments.

By 1994 he could pay back his $900 million personal debt and his $3,5 billion business debt. In the late nineties and the noughties he became successful again. For instance, in 2001 the construction of the Trump World Tower was finished. Other projects include many buildings (Trump International Hotels and Towers, a Nike Store, etc.), golf courses and the creation of famous beaches.
He was not spared by the financial crisis, which he described as “an Act of God”. He eventually resigned from the board of his society, which is now led by his son, Donald Trump Jr. This does not prevent him from still having $1,6 billion on his bank account.

Donald Trump can be considered as a media personality for several reasons.
First and foremost he is the executive producer of “The Apprentice”, a reality show on the NBC in which candidates try to be employed by Donald Trump. He also shares with the same channel the production of Miss Universe and Miss USA.
Furthermore he is the author of fourteen bestsellers. His first book, "The Art of the Deal", is a business classic.

The Trump name is also to be found on many products: a university, restaurants, ice cream, a travel website, clothes, a fragrance, bottled water, magazines, a brand of vodka and even steaks and vitamins.

This self-made man also managed to seduce models. He has already been married with Ivana Zelnickova, with whom he got three children, then Marla Maples, who gave him one child and last but not least, the young Melania Knauss, who gave birth to a boy. His first wife gave him the nickname “The Donald”, which was picked up by the media. During his free time Donald Trump enjoys golfing and wrestling.

All this perhaps explains the fact that Donald Trump has his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Elodie & Floriane

Flight of the Conchords

Flight of the Conchords is a duo of New-Zealand digi-folk musicians and comedians, composed of Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement. The duo's comedy and music has been turned into a BBC radio series and into an American television series, also called Flight of the Conchords.

BBC radio series

In 2004, the band created a radio series for BBC Radio 2, which was largely improvised. It was based on the band's search for commercial success in London (extract). The duo won the Bronze Sony Radio Academy Award for comedy with this radio series. And in 2006 BBC audio launched an album of the radio series; another one is to come by the end of this year (The Director's Cut).

Television series

The television series for HBO Flight of the Conchords started in the USA in 2007; the second and last season started in 2009. The fictional series is about the two musicians and their efforts to achieve success as a band in New York City. We saw them trying to get American fans, quite unsuccessfully.

The plot of the series is not really built-up; the spectator knows from the beginning on that the musicians will never achieve the expected success. However their misadventures don't stop them; they continue to follow their dream and compose songs, of which lyrics are completely crazy (e.g.: Business time, sugar lumps or too many dicks on the dancefloor).

The interest of the series is however more in the situations, in the characters themselves and in their innocent view of the society than in the plot. The duo seems to live in its own universe, filled with songs and dreams of romantic adventures.

Jermaine and Bret sing in each episode. The songs are built into the narrative structure of the show and some songs are part of the plot. They can sing to another character or sometimes the songs serve as internal monologue. Some songs can also be shot in the form of a music video. The manner in which the characters express themselves through songs is contrastive to the manner in which they express themselves throughout the rest of the show. They generally use songs when they are unable to express their feelings and thoughts.

Many jokes in the series make fun about New Zealand, suggesting that its culture is naive, backward, unsophisticated and technologically deficient; often in contrast to Australia. Another comical effect lies in the (New Zealand) pronunciation of the two musicians. And finally, they also mock the cliché saying that the best mean to pick up women is to be a singer or to play guitar; even if you don't have any talent.


Caroline Clément, Elodie Valet

Friday, April 09, 2010

Spitting Image

Spitting Image was a satirical puppet show which ran from 1984 to 1996 in the UK. In all, 18 seasons were screened containing 141 episodes. Each episode lasted between 30 and 60 minutes. The show depicted puppet caricatures of many famous people during the 1980s and the 1990s. Spitting Image was created by Martin Lambie-Naim but was not very successful at first. However, by 1986 it had become very popular and even produced a Number 1 his single ("The Chicken Song"). The show was not only famous in the UK, but also in many other countries and influenced many similar series such as "Les guignols de l'info".

People enjoyed it especially because of the recognisable and more likable presentation of politicians, who were often parodied. Their favourite target was Margaret Thatcher, the then Prime Minister. She was portrayed as a bullying, fascist tyrant and transvestite - she wore suits, used the urinals, etc. Thus, the show's beginning of the end was marked in November 1990, when John Major succeeded Thatcher in office. He was described as a boring and all-grey character, who was constantly mocked by Humphrey, the Downing Street cat. Other characters were also depicted as a vampire or as Hannibal Lecter. Moreover, the British Royal Family was also frequently present in the show. As for foreign politicians, Spitting Image devoted some time to them as well, among which Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and Reagan's successor George Bush senior. Even religion did not stop the creators: Pope John Paul II did not believe in God and spoke with a Texan accent. Musicians and actors were parodied too, even though they often didn't like their puppets. Indeed, Mike Jagger looked perpetually high, Michael Jackson's skin became lighter and lighter (from African American to Albino) and Arnold Schwarzenegger was very insecure about his genitals' size.

Spitting Image also wrote and parodied songs. For example, The Police's "Every Breath You Take" was changed into "Every Bomb You Make" and sung by Sting himself. The song was accompanied by a video, depicting the puppets of world leaders and politicians, usually with the figure matching the lyrics "Every wall you build, Every one you've killed, Every grave you've filled, Al the blood you've spilled, I'll be watching you". Other musical parodies featured Michael Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Oasis, ZZ Top, Prince and Barbara Streisand.

In addition, there was a recurring news programme called "Rubber news". It lasted only a few minutes and involved two puppets presenting invented headlines, where sometimes they even got in a fight.

In short, the series was hilarious with a strong bitingly sharp humour, usually acknowledged as the rudest and funniest show on British television. Threfore, it was nominated for 10 BAFTA Awards and won one of them.
By Aliénor, Louisa and Abigail

The Star-Spangled Banner

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. During the 19th century, “The Star-Spangled Banner” became one of the nation’s best-loved patriotic songs. Despite its widespread popularity, it did not become the National Anthem until 1931.

The lyrics come from a text written by the gifted amateur poet Francis Scott Key in 1814, when he was inspired by the American victory at the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. When he saw that the American flag was still waving above the fort and had not been removed in defeat the morning after the bombings of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships, this sight inspired him to write an initial verse on the back of a letter he had kept in his pocket. He completed the four stanzas later on and entitled them "Defence of Fort McHenry”.
In the fourth stanza, Key urged the adoption of "In God is our Trust" as the national motto ("And this be our motto: In God is our Trust"). The US adopted the motto "In God We Trust" by law in 1956. In 1861, a fifth stanza was added to the song by Oliver Wendell Holmes, who wanted to share his indignation over the start of the Civil War. It appeared in songbooks of the era. Today only the first stanza is commonly sung, with the fourth added on more formal occasions.
The poem soon attained wide popularity when it was set to the music previously composed by an English composer John Stafford Smith, “To Anacreon in Heaven” (1775). This tune was the official song of the 18th-century Anacreontic Society, a men's social club in London and it quickly became popular. Soon after, the words and music were published together under the title "The Star-Spangled Banner”.
It gained popularity throughout the nineteenth century and bands used to play it during public events and celebrations. "The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 (ceremonial purpose). In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that "The Star-Spangled Banner" be played at military and other appropriate occasions. In March 1931, 116 years after it was first written, President Herbert Hoover signed the law proclaiming it as the national anthem.

Performances and custom
Due to its wide range of one and a half octaves, the song is known for being difficult to sing for non-professionals. The song is often pre-recorded because even professional singers have been known to forget the lyrics. Another way to avoid this problem is for the performers to play the anthem instrumentally instead of singing it. "The Star-Spangled Banner" is traditionally played at the beginning of public sports events and orchestral concerts in the United States, as well as other public gatherings.
In the United States Code, it is stipulated that, during a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, everybody should face the flag with the right hand over the heart; men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, their hand being over the heart. Individuals wearing the uniform should give the military salute as soon as the anthem begins and maintain that position until the last note.

Translation and modern history
The song was translated in other languages as a result of the immigration to the US: in German in 1861, and later in Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish, French, Samoan and Irish. Here is the French translation of the first stanza:

La Bannière Etoilée
Oh, dites-moi, pouvez-vous voir dans les lueurs de l'aube
Ce que nous acclamions si fièrement au crépuscule ?
Ces larges bandes et ces brillantes étoiles, que durant la terrible bataille,
Au sommet de nos remparts nous regardions flotter si fièrement ?
Et l'éclat rouge des fusées, et les bombes explosant dans les airs,
Nous prouvaient à chaque instant de la nuit que notre drapeau était toujours là.
Oh, dites-moi, est-ce que la bannière étoilée flotte encore
Sur la terre de la Liberté et la patrie des braves ?

Different versions have been performed since then because the law of 1931 did not specify any official music of the song. Famous interpretations and performances are the followings:

- Igor Stravinsky's 1941 version for orchestra and male chorus
- Duke Ellington's 1948 Cornell University arrangement
- Jimi Hendrix's 1969 electric guitar interpretation which was a set-list staple until his death (September 1970)
- José Feliciano's 1968 rendition
- Marvin Gaye’s 1983 soul-influenced performance at the NBA All-Star Game
- Whitney Houston’s 1991 soulful rendition before Super Bowl XXV
- The 1991 version by the St. Louis Symphony under Leonard Slatkin.
- At Buckingham Palace (London), the day after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in NYC, at the Changing of the Guard, the Band of the Grenadier Guards played the American National Anthem instead of the British one as a show of support for her ally.

On this link you can see the anthem sung by US Presidents
Yaël Haelterman and Camille Mertens

Jeeves : a gentleman's personal gentleman

Jeeves, or Reginald Jeeves, is a fictional character that appears in novels and short stories written by the British novelist P. G. Wodehouse. Jeeves is the valet of Bertie Wooster (Bertram Wilberforce Wooster), thus being the « gentleman’s personal gentleman ». The series of novels and short stories started in 1915 and ended in 1974 a year before P. G. Wodehouse died. However, the first full-length novel, entitled « Thank you, Jeeves », appeared only in 1934. Before that, the adventures of Jeeves and his master were written into short stories.

The entire collection of novels and short stories including Jeeves are known as the Jeeves canon or the Jeeves books. In total there are thirty-five short stories and eleven novels. What is more, the short stories were originally published in magazines before being collected into full books. The stories are set in three primary locations : the flat in London, the English countryside or New York. Bertie is the narrator of the stories in all the books but two : in “Bertie changes his Mind” it is Jeeves who narrates and in « Ring for Jeeves » there is a third person narrator.

The main concept of the stories is that Jeeves, the valet, is in control of Wooster, his master who is totally unaware that he is being manipulated. In fact, Jeeves often saves his master from trouble and even from marriage. This happens, however, without Bertie knowing what is going on. All of this results in comic effect since Bertie, the aristocrat, is depicted as an idiot, whereas Jeeves, the butler, has a wide, encyclopaedic knowledge ranging from philosophy to an effective antidote against hangovers... Jeeves has become a kind of archetypal character who served as an example to various other well-known fictional butlers such as Geoffrey in «The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air» or even Alfred, the butler in the comic Batman. The series of novels and short stories with Jeeves is so popular and well-known that it has become a synonym to the word “butler” and is included in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Since the first Jeeves novel was published, film and musical adaptations, plays and Tv and radio series have followed one another regularly. Jeeves is even found in the comic « The league of extraordinary gentlemen » where he contacts the league to help him fight a Mi-go. The best-known adaptation of the Jeeves novels is a TV series called « Jeeves and Wooster » which was screened on ITV, a commercial channel. The main actors of this series are the comic-duo Hugh Laurie, as Bertie, and Stephen Fry, as Jeeves. In total, there are twenty-three episodes of about fifty-five minutes each.


Nowadays, boomerangs are seen in sport competitions or in the hands of children as a toy, but people often forget its original function. Boomerangs are throwing sticks that were used by Australian aboriginals. It is a curved piece of wood that was used for hunting and warfare. They are also works of art on which aboriginals paint or carve decorative elements related to their legends and traditions. They have their importance in religion too, as they are used as an accompaniment to songs during religious ceremonies, by clapping them together or pounding them to the ground. But today they owe their reputation to sport competitions.

Boomerangs’ shape, weight and size depend on their tribal origin and on their function. Indeed there are two great types of boomerangs. The best known is the returning one. It was mostly used for leisure and recreation, even though, to frighten game birds into flight and in order to catch them, they were thrown above long grass. This type of boomerang, as its name suggests, has an elliptical path and comes back to its point of origin after being correctly thrown. They are thin, light (340 gr.), well-balanced and relatively short (30-75 cm). They are supposed to have developed from the non-returning type of boomerang.

The non-returning boomerangs, also known as Kylies or ‘killing sticks’, are longer, straighter and heavier than the returning variety. They could maim or kill animals when used for hunting, whereas they could cause serious injuries and death while used in warfare. Evidence has been found that it was used by the ancient Egyptians, in Southern India and by Native American in California and Arizona, for killing birds, rabbits and other animals. In Australia, when thrown horizontally and following their nearly straight flying path, they were heavy enough to take down a kangaroo.

Besides its war and hunting purposes, boomerangs were also used in the aboriginal tribes for sport competitions. Through trials of accuracy, speed and flight quality, the men of the tribe could show their dexterity, strength and accuracy. Nowadays, a boomerang world cup is held every second year. Two teams dominate the competition, namely Germany and the United States. The thrower of the boomerang must stand in the middle of an open field, at the centre of concentric rings that are marked on the ground. Whichever the discipline, the boomerang must travel at least 20 meters from its thrower. Some of the disciplines practiced during the world cup are the ‘Aussie Round’, the ‘Accuracy’, the ‘Trick Catch’, the ‘MTA 100’ (Maximal Time Aloft), the ‘Juggling’, and some others…

Throwing a boomerang is not as easy as throwing a wooden stick to your dog. Indeed, it requires a lot of accuracy. The flat side of the boomerang must be opposite to your face when you hold it in the hand, with the curve of the boomerang turned towards your face. The boomerang must be thrown 45° right to the wind, with an inclination of the arm of 1 o’clock. Note also that the movement of the wrist is very important.

Marie Demez & Pauline Nakad

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Thick of It

The Thick of It is a British television series created by Armando Iannucci (The Day Today, I’m Alan Partridge, Time Trumpet) that satirizes the British government in a sort of fly on the wall documentary. It is often described as a modern-day version of the old sitcom Yes Minister. The script is written by a team of authors including Iannucci himself as well as Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Roger Drew and many more. The sitcom runs for fourteen half-hour episodes, two one-hour specials and lately a film adaptation called In the Loop. The first three episodes, which count for series one, were broadcast on BBC in May 2005. The second series aired in October of the same year with another set of three episodes. The Thick of It won Best New Comedy and Best Comedy Performer at the 2005 British Comedy Awards. Then, it would have to wait until October 2009 for the third series to be broadcast on BBC Two, but this time with no less than eight episodes plus eight concurent webisodes called Out of the Thick, each containing commentary, interviews and deleted scenes.

The Thick of It tells the story and setbacks of the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, a sort of fictive ‘Super Department’ that deals with many issues of ‘lower’ common Departments. The first series narrates the story of Hugh Abbot (Chris Langham), the new Minister for Social Affairs. He tries to introduce new policies, which are continiously vetoed by Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi). Mistakes and complications will draw Abbot closer to resignation. Then, series two follows the MP in his attempts to keep his job. The two specials relate the leadership battle that occurs within the party, which threatens the political career of everyone in the department. Finally, in the third series, Hugh Abbot gives way as MP to Nicola Murry (Rebecca Front) who is unexpectedly promoted at the last minute, because everyone else turned the job down.

Actor Peter Capaldi has stated that "Fundamentally 80% of the final cut is the script that we started with. The improvisation just makes it feel more real and not written." And this gives more room for intrusive strong language, which is undeniably the series trademark. His character Malcom Tucker, some might say the figurehead of the sitcom, is really representative of this effect.

The Film adaptation In The Loop tells the story of the President of the USA, the Prime Minister of the UK and their officials dealing with the issue of the war in the Middle East. In 2009, after the movie, the creators discussed the possibility of an American adaptation of the infamous series. However, the pilot of the project was unconvincing and thereafter rejected.

Benoit Baudot and Melinda Mottint

Paul & Pauline Calf

Paul and Pauline Calf are both characters created and played by Steve Coogan.

Paul Calf first appeared in Coogan's stand-up shows as a character named 'Duncan Disorderly', and later developed into a recurrent character. He is an unemployed man from Manchester. He lives in a social housing with his mother and sister, Pauline. Paul is a strong supporter of Mancherster City football team and he loves Chuck Norris. He's wearing a bleached mullet (a hairstyle which is short at the front and the sides, but long in the back) and he loves to cruise in his Ford Cortina Mark IV. He hates students and even served a term in jail because he beat one severely. While reporting the trial, Paul says: "When the judge passed sentence I said nothing. I stared him out. He bottled it and looked down at his notes. It was a victory of sorts. I wondered who looked more tragic - me in a Burton's suit handcuffed to prison officer or his lordship wearing a long black dress and a wig like a girl. I think he knew."

Pauline is Paul's sister. She's always dressed in a very provocative way. She goes out with 'Fat Bob', Paul's best friend, but in 'Three Fights, Two Weddings & A Funeral', she is to marry with a Greek walled Sprios Zorba Panathageorgianous. We don't know much about her life, but we know she has written two romantic books: one called "She Shat Herself", and another called "Stallion Heart", under the pseudonym 'Paulette Vache'. She also had a baby (whom she alleges is Jonathan Ross' child).

Paul and Pauline's three main TV apparitions are "Paul Calf's Video Diary" (1993), "Three Fights, Two Weddings & A Funeral" (also known as "Pauline Calf's Wedding Video" in 1994) and "Get Calf!" (from Coogan's Run, in 1995).

"Paul Calf's Video Diary" is about Paul's attemps to get back with his ex-girlfriend Julie. The episode takes place during the Christmas/New Year period. The video is recorded by his friend 'fat Bob' and Roland on a video camera received for Christmas.

"Pauline Calf's Wedding Video" is about her own wedding with the Greek Spiros. All is recorded extraordinarily by Paul and Bob, from the early beginning (Spiros' arrival) to the very end.

In the "Get Calf!" episode, Paul Calf witnesses a bank robbery and has then to identify the three criminals in court. Afterwards, he joins a cult and, going to the cult's residence, he takes part into a porn film.

There were also various onstage performances like "Paul & Pauline Calf's Chesse and Ham Sandwich".

Both characters have their own quotes they are famous for. Paul Calf's ones are "Having a body that drives women wild is a bit like having a green Ford Cortina Mark 4 - you've either got one or you haven't. And I 've got one." and " I've got two bad habits, smoking and masturbation. I'm a twenty a day man, and I smoke like a chimney." Pauline Calf is well-known for het "I'm 24, single, and gagging for it. No, I'm only joking. I'm 25." and "I've had him".

Amandine DARTE & Madeline PETIT


The National Eisteddfod is a festival of music, performance and literature held annually in Wales. Since 1947, it takes place every July in either North or South Wales. Such meetings of mainly Welsh artists date back to the 12th century, because in 1176 Rhys ap Gruffydd of Deheubrath held a festival of poetry and music at his court in Cardigan. He invited musicians and poets from all over the country and attracted them by offering a seat at his table to the best poet and musician. Unfortunately with the decline of the bardic tradition, the festival fell into oblivion. However, thanks to an eighteen-century revival of many informal Eisteddfodau, the tradition, as it still exists today, could be reintroduced. Originally, the entire festival was intended for aristocratic public only and only professional Welsh bards could take part in the competitions. But then the interest in the Welsh arts declined and the main Eisteddfod became more informal, so that later on common people were allowed to watch and take part in the competitions. By the way, the word eisteddfod, which probably hardly anyone of us can pronounce correctly, is a blend of the two Welsh words eistedd, meaning to sit, and bod, meaning to be. It stands thus for “to be sitting” (bod has gradually mutated into fod), which refers to the act of sitting while watching the competitions. Nowadays professional artists from all over the world, such as Luciano Pavarotti, attend the International Eisteddfod, which is held annually in Llangollen. Arts competition and more than 50,000 performances are held during the 6 days of the festival. Visitors can see all the musicians and dancers marching the streets on a parade. But there are also many other local Eisteddfodau organised in Wales and, as strange as it may sound, Eisteddfodau are also hold in Australia and in Argentina. In fact, Welsh colonists inhabited both countries for some time and Welsh communities have wanted to revive their forefather’s traditions ever since. The Australian Eisteddfodau are much like the Welsh original, except that winning an Australian Eisteddfod may give you the opportunity to receive a scholarship to pursue a further career. The most popular one is the Rock Eisteddfod, which 40,000 students from 400 schools participate in each year. As far as Argentina is concerned, Welsh settlers introduced Eisteddfodau there in the late nineteenth century and currently, competitions are bilingual (Welsh-Spanish). Moreover, many other cultural events in Great Britain show similarities to an Eisteddfod, for instance the Scottish Gaelic Mod. This year, the National Eisteddfod is going to take place in Ebbw Vale (South Wales) from 31 July to 7 August 2010 and the whole region is welcoming the festival. Eisteddfod 2010 in Ebbw Vale is sure to be a success!

Cécile Duterme & Jessica Meyer

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Brass Eye

Brass Eye is a series produced and presented by Chris Morris which was first broadcast in 1997 on Channel 4. It was actually a sequel of his earlier programme "the Day Today". Each of the six episodes questioned important society's controversial issues. All of them were highly satirical and sensationalist, and featured celebrities who acted in the episodes thinking they took part in a serious documentary.

The series tackles those following issues: animals, drugs, science, sex, crime, and decline. The episode on drugs presents the dangers of a new drug called “Cake” and is considered as the most successful one. On the other hand, the spoof on sex is considered as the most offensive episode. The series was repeated in 2001, despite all the controversy raised by the use of famous public figures, including politicians, who were fooled into supporting absurd charities or causes. For this occasion, a new episode called “Paedogeddon!” was broadcast.

The paedophilia special episode provoked much criticism because it was offensive to laugh about abused children and to use child actors. Moreover, the concept of paedophilia raised many concerns in the UK at that moment, mainly because it followed the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne, a 9-year-old girl. Soon after it was discovered, the newspaper “The News of the World” published the names, pictures and addresses of alleged paedophiles. As a consequence, some people were accused while they were totally innocent.

There are five main topics in this episode, viz. media hysteria, misinformation, sexualisation of children, media hypocrisy and public debate. Harsh comments emerged about the series since it “crossed the border of acceptable satire”. The Daily Mail even said that it was “The sickest TV show ever” and the then Child Protection minister described it as “unspeakably sick”. Nevertheless, Channel 4 decided to defend the programme which was repeated later in spite of the many complaints that the broadcaster received (about 2,000). The main goal of the series was to use humour as a manner of warning people against the sensationalism and exploitation used in the media.

After the broadcast, the Independent Television Commission and the Broadcast Standards Commission (both now being included into the Ofcom, the Office of communications) released a report. According to the ITC, Channel 4 had to make an apology for “insufficient warning and gratuitous offence”. As for the BSC, it did not charge the channel for the use of child actors and the complaints of the MP’s about the intrusion in their private life were not retained either. They agreed to take part in the programme and had therefore to check what the programme was about.

In conclusion, this series is recommended because it was a powerful satire at the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the Noughties. As an example, here follows an excerpt of the famous Drug episode.

Caroline Stoquart & Sylvie Cujas.

Coogan's Run

Coogan’s Run is a popular TV series in the UK, which was released on the 17th of November 1995. The series stars Steve Coogan, a British comedian, actor, writer and producer, who was born on the 14th of October 1965. His best known character in the UK is Alan Partridge. He’s an odd and politically incorrect man and features in various TV series. Outside England, Coogan is better known for his roles in films.

Coogan’s Run was written by several people, namely Steve Coogan himself, Patrick Marber, David Tyler and four others. The series is made up of six different episodes, all of which feature Steve Coogan as the performer of several odd characters. Each episode involves stereotype characters living in the fictional town of Ottle and lasts about 30 minutes:

‘Get Calf': the two main characters are Paul and Pauline Calf, both played by Steve Coogan. Paul was the witness of a bank robbery and then had to identify the three criminals in court. He joined a cult after that, but when he went to the cult's residence, he was involved into a porn film.

‘Dearth of a Salesman’: in this episode, Coogan plays Gareth Cheeseman. This salesman works in computer software. This character is really insensitive and egocentric, but he is also obsessed with his car. The episode basically relates how he tries to socialize in order to land a big contract.

‘A Handyman for All Seasons’: Ernest Moss, played by Steve Coogan, is a general repairman. The episode is set in the sixties and is shot in black and white. While repairing things in his neighbour’s houses, he tries to stop a new property development in the village.

‘Thursday Night Fever’: The role of Coogan in this episode is that of Mike Crystal, an indifferent club entertainer. Feeling that his career needed a boost, he invented himself an alter-ego: Clint Stalone.

‘Natural Born Quizzers’: This episode is about the lunatic Crump brothers. After Stewart and Guy lost a children’s quiz show, burning the studio, killing their parents and one of the sister of the opposing team on their way, they became even more obsessed with quizzes. They decide the quiz needs to be re-enacted. They thus kidnap their therapist and the surviving sister of the children’s quiz. The quiz takes place in a car park with a transsexual quiz host. The Crump brothers win and then make a bomb explode.

‘The Curator’: This episode features Coogan as the character Tim Fleck, curator of a museum. Tim learns that his museum is about to be turned into a steak house. He’s disgusted. On the night of the opening, things are going wrong because a masked man enters the steak house and begins to massacre people.

So if you want to entertain yourself by watching a really insane programme, just watch Coogan’s Run!

Marie Defraigne & Audrey Deumer

Friday, April 02, 2010

The Saturday Night Armistice

The Saturday Night Armistice is a “British satirical television comedy programme” which was shown from 1995 to 1999. It commented on what happened the week before the broadcast in a humoristic manner. An example of these hilarious stories is when an Orange March demanded to pass through a ladies toilet which was a men’s toilet 200 years ago. The principal presenter was Armando Iannucci who was helped by Peter Baynham and David Schneider. A fourth personage to get on stage was “Mr Tony Blair”, a puppet representing the former Prime Minister. He only spoke to Iannuci which enabled the latter to make fun of what Tony Blair had done the previous week.

Armando Iannucci is a multi-talented man who became famous in producing I’m Alan Partridge and The thick of it and in playing in The Armando Iannucci
Shows. Those are all satirical shows.
Peter Baynham served in the Merchant Navy before being a famous writer and performer in humoristic series. That’s why he’s often said to be ‘the only comedian, working today, who's licensed to drive a supertanker’. As Iannuci with whom he worked on I'm Alan Partridge, he is an actor, a writer and a producer. With Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines and Dan Mazer
, he wrote the famous film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan for which they almost received an academy award or Oscar for that film.
Schneider is an English actor and a comedian. That is in the 1980’s that he met Iannucci. He began to work for him in 1991 in the radio program On The Hour
(it made fun of current affairs broadcasting). He was seen in a television show called The Day Today and in several movies such as 28 Days Later or Mission: Impossible . He also appeared once in Mr Bean. In 2008, he talked about celebrities in the British television program Most Annoying People of 2008 broadcast on BBC 3.
The show often invited British comedians such as Arthur Mathews, Graham Linehan, Simon Pegg.

The public was frequently invited to participate to the show, for example in "Hunt the Old Woman": every week, the viewers had to spot an old lady in unusual situations on the channel and those who succeeded received a prize: "The Saturday Night Armistice Hors d'Œuvre Tree", a collection of Hors d'œuvres. It became later the "Friday Night Armistice Dart Flights". This old woman made one of her most notable appearance at Royal Ascot (one of the most famous race-meeting in the world). She was wearing a large hat with “I am an old woman” written on and made the front page of The Times.
In 1996 due to the fact that it appealed to less viewers than before, the show was rescheduled on Friday night, becoming The Friday Night Armistice. They also made special night shows, at Christmas or during the election (The Election Night Armistice). The last one
was seen in January 1999.

Nathalie Mioli and Amélie Bulon.


Saxondale is a British sitcom co-written by Steve Coogan and Neil Maclennan. Steve Coogan also plays the protagonist of the show: Tommy Saxondale. Actor, comedian, writer and producer, you probably know Coogan as Alan Partridge, his most famous character. He did voice-over work and acted in several films and series as well. The sitcom Saxondale was directed by Matt Lipsey, also director of the second series of Little Britain, and produced by Baby Cow Productions, a production company founded in 1999 by Coogan himself and Henry Normal. The programme consists of two series of respectively seven and six episodes of half an hour each and was broadcast on BBC Two from June 2006 until September 2007. In 2006 Baby Cow Productions signed for a deal with the American network NBC for two years. Along with some other sitcoms, Saxondale was then remade for a US audience.

The series is set in Stevenage and centred around Tommy Saxondale, a middle-aged man who has just divorced his wife. He is an ex-roadie, mad about rock music and fond of his Ford Mustang Mach 1. Magz (Ruth Jones), his Welsh girlfriend, designs and sells t-shirts in dubious taste with inscriptions such as “Fuck off” or depicting famous people smoking drugs. Tommy works as a pest-controller, a job which consists of eliminating rats, insects and other unwanted creatures. He gives his opinion on everything and can't help sharing his vision of life with his nineteen-year-old assistant Raymond (Rasmus Hardiker). He also has some problems with his temperament. If he feels people don’t show him as much respect as he deserves, he becomes excessively angry. In order to learn to keep his cool, he has to attend anger management sessions. His East Midlands accent sometimes makes him difficult to understand for non-native speakers. Colourful characters share the protagonist's life, such as Keanu (also played by Steeve Coogan), an unemployed, homosexual drug addict. Vicky (Morwenna Banks) is the receptionist of the agency for which Tommy works. She knows exactly how to get on his nerves. Alistair (James Bachman) is the therapist leading the anger management sessions. He is very often confronted with Tommy’s lack of enthusiasm and aggressive behaviour. Tommy’s neighbour, Jonathan (Darren Boyd) pretends to be interested in cars and music only when he has a request. Besides these main characters, some others appear less frequently.

Saxondale is less famous than Partridge and both characters’ personalities are very different but still, the review of the programme is positive in general.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

On The Hour


“In the Beginning was the News, and the News was Good!”

Everybody has already heard about the art of rhetoric, which is the art of elegant and persuasive communication. The speaker uses all kinds of techniques to make his speech sound convincing and true, even if he is not necessarily telling the truth. Rhetoric is part and parcel of the series On The Hour broadcast by the BBC. On The Hour is often considered to be one of the best, if not the best radio comedy series from the late 20th century. The programme is a real satire parodying current affairs as well as the way in which they are reported. When listening to the programme, the news might at first sound plausible until the listeners realized that it was complete nonsense. Just for the pleasure of the ears, here is an example of a news bulletin about children’s education.

The cast and the crew of On The Hour involved a great deal of people: Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci, Steven Wells, Andrew Glover, Stewart Lee, Richard Herring and David Quantick were responsible for its writing and Steve Coogan, Patrick Marber, David Schneider, Doon Mackichan and Rebecca Front regularly appeared in it. On The Hour consists of two series of 6 episodes each and was broadcast on BBC Radio Four between August 1991 and May 1992.

On The Hour saw the first appearance ever of Alan Partridge, the very well-known fictional tv and radio presenter created and portrayed by Steve Coogan. He reported mainly about sports but did not really know anything about sports, which led him to use strange metaphors.

At one point Stewart Lee and Richard Herring entered into conflict about a copyright problem and this was the end of On The Hour. However, this did not mean the public had to say goodbye to Alan Partridge and their other idols. Indeed the programme became The Day Today and was broadcast on BBC Two; people could at last see these stars in the flesh. On The Hour was so much appreciated in the radio world that it got several awards and prizes, including the Writer’s Guild Award for Best Comedy and the British Comedy Award for Best Radio Comedy (1992). Last but not least, in 2008 a double CD came out with all the episodes of On The Hour, including the Christmas Special (series one).

“Man is only 90% water, but On The Hour is 100% news!”

Four Lions

Four Lions is a satire directed by Chris Morris and co-written with Jesse Armtrong and Sam Bain. It is the story of five Muslims from the North of England who want to become suicide bombers, even though they do not know what to destroy or why. They are just convinced that it is the thing that a Muslim has to do.

The scene is set in London, where the five men intend to strike. In order to prepare themselves, two of them, Omar (Riz Ahmed) and Waj (Kayvan Novak), go to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. The other three are Barry (Nigel Lindsay), a white Islamist convert, Faisal (Adeel Akhtar), the one who makes bombs, and Hassan (Arsher Ali), recruited by Barry.
Fortunately, the wannabe terrorists use quite the wrong way to achieve their ends. They appear incompetent and even idiot. For example, Faisal will accidentally kill himself during a training exercise. In the following excerpt, the leader Omar finds out that one of his men bought all the materiel to make a bomb in the same shop, and what is more, near their hiding-place.

The idea of such a movie was born in Chris’ head four or five years ago. At that time he read an article about a terror attack that failed. After three years of research including speaking to terrorism experts, ordinary Muslims, imams and many others, Chris Morris sees his project rejected by the BBC and Channel 4. These ones judged it too controversial.
The director relies then on his fans: in exchange of their donations to the production costs, the fans had the opportunity to be extras in his film. The shooting finally began in Sheffield in May 2009 and came out on the 23rd January 2010.

Laurence Henriet and Bérangère Piccinin.