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Who embodies the nation?

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The Sunday Times had an interesting article last week about a survey. Young people were asked: Who embodies Britain?

There are some pretty interesting choices, some obvious ones and some questionable ones. Let’s take a look…

The person who embodies the nation the most is, of course, the Queen. 63% of young people thought she embodied Britain perfectly, followed by the Duke of Cambridge and Richard Branson at 57% and 45%. It really shows how influential the Queen is when her grandson is 6% lower than her in the chart.

Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

Other notable people on the list are J.K. Rowling, Stephen Fry, David Beckham, Mo Farah, Benedict Cumberbatch and DAVID TENNANT! All are great choices, but one person seems to be missing: what about Sir David Attenborough? Surely as the controller of BBC 2 and as someone who has inspired many people to get interested in wildlife and the world, David Attenborough should be on the list.

This led me to think that if people like David Attenborough aren’t on the list, and young people (18-24) are voting, does that mean that they are voting for people who they knew and grew up with? After all, if an 18 year old voted David Tennant, chances are that as a 10 year old, they saw him as the Doctor in 2006 and therefore have grown up with him.

I was surprised that David Attenborough wasn’t on the list. My prediction was that people just don’t watch or appreciate nature programmes and are more used to people this generation rather than last generation.

But anyway, my list of the people who have embodied Britain are:

1) David Attenborough – Because he’s DAVID ATTENBOROUGH!!!! In all seriousness, David Attenborough is a huge influence on me, as I grew up watching his nature programs, with my dad such as Life on Mammals and Planet Earth. I have seen all of the Life series and many other of his programs.

2) Stephen Fry –  He’s a great presenter and is an influence on comedy. I love watching his show, QI.

3) Rowan Atkinson – For playing not one, but two, iconic British character, Mr Bean and Blackadder. Blackadder is a smart character who is surrounded by idiots in various historical settings such as Tudor England, Georgian England and World War I. My favourite episode is the pigeon episode, where Blackadder is put on trial for shooting a messenger pigeon.

4) The Queen – She can parachute into an Olympic stadium. That is awesome! (Of course she didn’t really).

5) JK Rowling – For writing a global phenomenon, Harry Potter, which I have read, watched and listened to, with the audio books read by Stephen Fry.

So these five influential people would be on my list as the people who embody Britain today, but there are other people in history I think represent and embody Britain too -

William Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, HG Wells and Elizabeth I just to name a few.

So who do you think embodies Britain?

The three kinds of Whovians

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I was in Winchester today with my mum and I noticed several signs advertising a Doctor Who event.

Doctor Who event in Winchester today.

Doctor Who event in Winchester today.

When mum asked if I wanted to go, I said no. This puzzled her, as she thought as a fan, I would want to go. I then explained to her what I call the three kinds of Whovians:

  • The casual viewer. The casual viewer is a person who watches Doctor Who and doesn’t need to know every single little thing about every single episode. My mum and several of my friends fall into this category. The casual viewer likes Doctor Who but doesn’t need to watch it when it first airs and can wait to watch it later. They don’t need to know all about the series beforehand, and they just want something to watch on Saturday.
sherlock watching telly

Well there’s nothing but people clapping on Golden Balls so I’ll just watch David Tennant threatening rhinos with a screwdriver. Judging by the fact we’ll have to wait two years (TWO YEARS?!) until my series comes back on, I’ll do the next best thing…

  • The fan. The broadest kind, this makes up let’s say, possibly about 75% of the Whovian community. I am the definitive example. The fan will do anything to catch the episode on Saturday and then talk about it until the next episode. They will find rumours, read spoilers, and analyses each episode (I will write reviews on each new episode when the new series starts). They will usually stick with a favourite Doctor but will accept change and will watch both Classic Series and New Series.
My pet Georgy (blue-tongued skink) represents me as the fan.

My pet Georgy (blue-tongued skink) represents me as The Fan.

  • The mega fan. This is the kind which my mum thought I was. The mega fan will dress up as their favourite Doctor and have rooms full of Doctor Who items and toys. They will talk on, and on, and on and will collect any Who related toys, books and collectables and visit every convention.
angry doctor

I MISSED A CONVENTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I JUST WANTED A DAVID TENNANT FIGURE FOR MY COLLECTION!!!

So those are the three kinds of Who fans. Which kind are you?

A word on game shows

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Today I got back from my grandparents’ house where I stayed for a few days. I did lots of exciting things but the highlight was discovering the weird world of game shows.

You see, there was a time where channels like CBBC would show programs which can be enjoyed by younger and older children, such as The Sarah Jane Adventures (which is one of the best spin offs of Doctor Who ever). But ever since the show stopped, CBBC turned into CBeebies and started showing shows purely for the younger children, leaving a mature 13-year-old like me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to resort to game shows. But, to my surprise, they are some of the most entertaining yet silly types of show ever.

So what is a game show? Typically a host (someone who I’ve never heard of) gets 2-4 celebrities (who I haven’t heard of) or 2-4 random people (who of course I won’t know) and have them fight (metaphorically) their way to a cash prize to either a charity or to themselves in either general knowledge questions. So what is so inherently fun about them?

Well, it’s partly because I know a lot of the answers. Sports, music and most of science I have no idea but geography, history and film, yeah, I know quite a bit. I also learned a few things about general knowledge from them.

Which leads me to my second point: it’s so fun when you know something and the person being questioned doesn’t know it. Then you can laugh when they get kicked off the show for getting an answer wrong. I know I shouldn’t but it’s hilarious.

I counted 47 rounds of applause in an hour-long game.

I counted 47 rounds of applause in an hour-long game.

But there’s one thing which intrigued me was what happened in Golden Balls TV Show. The aim of the game is to get people out and then work with your partner to get money hidden in balls. But here’s the thing… the audience keeps on clapping. I mean it. Every time a number higher than £950 was mentioned, their was a huge round of applause. I counted around 47 rounds of applause in an hour-long game. Seriously, it’s like in Blackadder III when Blackadder annoyed those two actors by saying Macbeth and they had to do a dance every time! Every time a high number was mentioned – clap clap clap clap clap!

What about you? Do you enjoy game shows?

Visit to Southampton Old Cemetery

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On Monday, I went to Southampton on a visit to Southampton Old Cemetery with some of my classmates as we were on a history trip. I found out several interesting facts about the cemetery and the area.

The cemetery was built in the 1840s and over the years, it slowly became an area of over 27 acres. There are hundreds graves there, including 45 from the Titanic disaster. While there are headstones of the people who died on the Titanic, their bodies were never sent to the cemetery because the bodies had sunk with the ship. The headstones are marked with a blue peg.

The Titanic is important to Southampton as the ship made the infamous voyage to America from Southampton harbour and the memorials in the cemetery consist mainly of workers and officers, although one passenger is commemorated there.

There is also a section of land with Belgian and French graves with a memorial. The soldiers were on their way for World War One but they got killed and the bodies were moved here. Lots of families are buried here and several graves have special engravings like badges in the army, and special emblems, including one grave with a harp, showing the person’s love for music.

Belgium graves in Southampton Old cemetery.  Image by Matt via Flickr.

Belgium graves in Southampton Old Cemetery. Image by Matt via Flickr.

I felt very intrigued by a lot of the stories behind the graves and I learned quite a bit about our local cemeteries and their history.

Doctor Who and religion

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Seeing as how it’s Lent time, I decided to talk about my favourite show combined with one of my favourite times of the year.

It’s obvious that the Doctor has some similarities with Jesus, in particular the resurrection/regeneration of both characters. But there’s a lot more about the Doctor, and the show, which links in with religion.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this a gazillion times, but my favourite Doctor Who episode is the God Complex. One reason I love it so much is the compelling subtext behind the Doctor and the Minotaur.

The term “god complex” means having an unshakable belief in themselves and believe they can accomplish anything. In the episode, the Doctor believes he can get Amy and Rory out of the hotel, but he believes that the Minotaur feasts on fear. After the death of Rita, he realises it is faith which it feeds on, thus proving he believes too much in himself. This also ties in with the religious subtext of the episode.

All through the show’s 50 year history, people have looked up to the Doctor. They believe in him, they fear him and they even try to kill him. Sound familiar? The Doctor is similar to Jesus, and the God Complex shows this amazingly. This is why it’s so good, as it can bring subtle parts to the character which people may not notice. The show uses a religious character as background for its main character and shows a new side to him brought up in episodes like the God Complex .

So I think in some Doctor Who episodes,  there is some strong character development of the Doctor, with a religious undertone. What do you think?

Why does science fiction work so well?

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Of all the genres in entertainment, science fiction is the one genre which I love the most. It just seems the most interesting and cool genre. I do like comedy and action, but science fiction appeals to me in many ways. So I want to know, why does it work so well? And why do I love it so much?

So, first of all, what is science fiction? Well, science fiction is a genre which uses science-based theories which are not confirmed by real science, such as aliens, time travel, spacecrafts and robots, to tell stories. These can be set in the real world or on alien planets or in pretty much anything.

So that’s a basic summary of what science fiction is. What famous examples are there? Well, for books, you have War of the Worlds and the Time Machine (both of which I know I need to read), and for films, well: Star Wars, ET, Star Trek and Jurassic Park just to name a few. And for television you have Doctor Who and Star Trek (again). All of these deal with science at their core,but are varied in their topics. There are two kinds of science fiction: hard sci-fi, which tries to be as accurate to science as possible, and soft sci-fi, which uses whatever they want to create a story. These will have aliens, spacecrafts, time travel and pretty much what ever they want, like most science fiction.

This leaves me to wonder – what makes so many people interested in science fiction? Maybe it’s the appeal of alien life and other worlds. If aliens are nice, great! But if they’re not… someone call the Doctor. But while there is no proof of aliens, the reason why they are often used for science fiction is because they COULD exist.

That’s why science fiction is so great. It uses things which could exist and makes them real. But hard science fiction also works. These stories use real science to try and explain things. There is no explanation as to how spaceships in Star Wars works, but if Yoda says…

yoda

Ah, you see, spaceships are powered by the power of FUEL! Typically from Shell and BP! Fuel is used to power spacecrafts they are!

… then the universe is more realistic. If  science is used to explain something, even if it’s impossible, then the story turns into hard science fiction. In Doctor Who, an explanation is given about how the TARDIS works, but it’s still a time traveling police box. In a film like Jurassic Park, real science which actually exists is used to explain the plot, making it seem more realistic. Cloning is real, even if it’s proved unsuccessful.

But perhaps the real craft of why sci-fi works is that it poses questions and themes which can’t work in other genres. What if robots could think? Does that make them human? Is cloning dinosaurs a good thing? Is it messing with nature? Is changing the past worth it, just so people don’t need to die? Is it possible to change your future? Is it dangerous and is it messing with fate? These deep questions appear in science fiction and can’t work in other genres. Dramas may have deep emotions and complex characters, but they can’t talk about the pros and cons of time travel. This is the real greatness behind science fiction. It isn’t just spaceships and aliens blowing things up, but it’s about addressing ideas which could one day be real.

But… sometimes it IS just about spaceships and aliens blowing things up.

People I want to meet

Isn’t meeting someone you’ve always wanted to meet just so cool? Not just celebrities, but people from the past or fictional characters like Batman? Imagine how cool it would be to meet Batman!

But today, I’m going to be talking about people who I’ve always wanted to meet. And luckily, I’ve met a few! OK, only two. Technically three. I’ve met Steve Backshall, who is the presenter of the CBBC show Deadly 60 (which I used to be obsessed with. Think my Doctor Who obsession, but even bigger).

I met Steve Backshall from Deadly 60

I met him in a big Deadly 60 convention in a Southampton park when I was in Year 4, where hundreds of fans were watching him have a talk and hold a snapping turtle. Since I was at the back, I only saw glimpses of him, but it still counts.

Steve Backshall with Aligator Snapping Turtle: Image by David Farquhar via Flickr.

Steve Backshall holding an alligator snapping turtle: Image by David Farquhar via Flickr.

I met Percy Jackson’s creator Rick Riordan

The second person was Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson novels, which are some of my favourite books. I met him in Winchester, in his only talk in Britain in 2010 and I got my favourite book from the series, the Titan’s Curse, signed. I actually talked to him as he signed the book.

I met writer Rick Riordan in Winchester in 2010.
I met writer Rick Riordan in Winchester in 2010.

I met founding father of Singapore, Lee Kwan Yew

However my third meeting wasn’t planned at all… In 2009, I was in Singapore with my mum eating in an outdoor restaurant when she poked me and told me look at an old man jogging with two other men. It turned out he was Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of Singapore. He had bodyguards with him in case he got attacked. He is sometimes referred to as the founding father of Singapore. Even though bumping into Mr Lee was not planned, I still count it as a meeting.

Lee Kwan Yew, Father of Singapore.

Lee Kwan Yew, Wikipedia image

So what about people I want to meet? Well, I’d like to meet any living Doctor (including John Hurt, though that would be tough, because he is busy making lots of films). I have a framed photo with all the Doctors’ signatures from my grandparents as my 13th birthday present, but to actually meet them, especially Matt Smith, would be amazing.

I have signatures of all original 11 Doctors for my 13th birthday from my grandparents!

I have signatures of all original 11 Doctors for my 13th birthday from my grandparents!

I would also like to see, maybe not talk to, a member of the Royal Family. How many people can say that they’ve had a proper conversation with the Queen? OK, quite a lot of people, but it would still be awesome! As for historical figures, my picks would be Richard III (to finally clarify the prince mystery), Charles Darwin (to have a nice argument about nature with) and William Shakespeare (to find out if he actually wrote his plays). As for fictional characters, the Doctor, Batman, Yoda and Jack Skellington would all be awesome to meet.

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III - image via Wikipedia.

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III – image via Wikipedia.

So what about you? What people have you met and want to meet? If you could meet someone from the past or from a fictional world, who would it be?

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A rant on silly pedestrians

Today’s post isn’t going to be a coherent one, but – as you guessed, a rant. But it’s a rant I’m sure everyone can agree with, especially drivers. As I can’t drive, I don’t know many problems about driving and silly motorists, but I do know that so many people crossing the road and riding bikes are not paying attention when they go on the road. Not everyone is like this I know, but it’s an issue I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time.

So, let’s talk about silly cyclists first. Normal bicycle gear is: a bike (obviously), a helmet and a high-vis jacket if it’s night time. So why do people feel the need not to wear a helmet or reflective clothing? Do they find that helmets look silly? Well Superman looks silly and saves people’s lives, the Doctor looks silly and saves the universe, bicycle helmets look silly but they save people from serious injury and death. If someone falls on their head while cycling, two things might happen.

  1. They wear a helmet and the helmet protects their brain and head from damage.
  2. They don’t wear a helmet and crack their head, go to hospital and have to spend months having their head stitched together.

It’s even worse on the road. Lots of cars drive at night and in winter it gets dark quickly. A bright green jumper will not help drivers see where cyclists are. A reflective jacket will let the car headlights pick up where people are. It’s just common sense!

BUT, silly pedestrians are even worse. Sometimes when I’m in the car, I see people run across roads right in front of a car. I used to run across roads but that was when no cars were around. When there are traffic lights, people still run (or even walk casually) across a road without using traffic lights. I’m sure wherever they need to go isn’t SO important that they have to endanger their lives. Just imagine what their friends think.

Let’s get some examples. We’ll call them Fred and Jim. Fred is the stupid one, Jim is the smart one.

Fred: Oh man, I HAVE to get the newest football magazine even though I could buy it later!

Jim: Well, there’s the traffic lights. Let’s cross!

Fred: But they’re all the way up there!

Jim: It’s thirty seconds to walk up there though!

Fred: But it’s easier to run across the road where lots of cars will be going quite fast!

Jim: But the traffic lights will mean we can cross safely.

Fred: BUT, we’ll waste thirty seconds walking up to the lights, another ten seconds waiting for the lights to go green and then walk across!

Jim: But it’s safer. I’m walking to the lights!

Fred: BUT I DON’T WANNA WAIT 40 SECONDS TO CROSS THE ROAD!

Jim: Well, it’s your problem if you get whacked by a car.

Fred: Well, I’ll run! WHEEEEEEEEEE SPLAT!

A bit extreme I know, but people need to pay more attention when crossing the road and cycling, otherwise something serious is going to happen and there will be dire consequences.

The world’s most mysterious animals

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I love a good mystery, but perhaps the most mysterious kind of mystery are mysterious animals. Living dinosaurs, giant cats and flying owl men are just some of the more interesting things people have apparently seen and which may exist…

  • The Loch Ness Monster

loch ness monster

Probably the most famous cryptid (creature not confirmed by science), the Loch Ness Monster has been reported to exist since the 6th century. The famous Surgeon’s photo (above) was proof of its existence, but has since been identified as a fake. The most common theory to the monster’s existence is a plesiosaurus, which brings me to my next point…

  • Mokele-mbembe

250px-Mokele-mbembe_ill_artlibre_jnl

A living dinosaur in the Congo rainforest? Perfect! Described as a spirit which lives in the Congo swamps, many expeditions have been made to find this mysterious creature. If this and the Loch Ness monster is real, we are one T Rex away from Jurassic Park! YES! But sadly, no evidence has been found to support the existence of the Mokele-mbembe =(

  • Mongolian Death Worm

mongolian death worm

A giant worm allegedly living in Mongolia, the death worm has been described by locals as a giant red worm which spits acid. If these actually exist, then the world is in trouble, but luckily no evidence has been given to support the idea of giant worms in Mongolia, as awesome as it would be.

  • Bigfoot/Yeti

bigfoot

I’ve combined these two as I can’t tell the difference between them. Giant apes have the most amount of photographic evidence that they could exist, including a film where ‘Bigfoot’ walked across a forest. However, most of these are probably practical jokes-or are they?

  • Mothman

mothman

One of the more obscure cryptids, the mothman was first seen in Virginia in the 60′s. Since then, the mothman has sparked huge debate as to wether it’s an alien, a hoax or a huge moth. To me, the mothman is the coolest cryptid because of its surreal appearance. Maybe Doctor Who could use the mothman for Series 8. That would be awesome!

So what other cryptids and mysterious animals are there? Are there some really obscure ones I don’t know?

Most anticipated films of 2014

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2014 is officially here. Well actually it’s been here for a whole month, but anyway. A major part of any year are the films. Considering I only saw 5 films in the cinema last year and countless ones on DVD and on television, my goal this year is to watch as many films in the cinema as possible. Here are my most anticipated films of 2014

  • Godzilla

zillagod

I’ll admit it. I’ve never seen a single Godzilla film, so my anticipation of this film is mainly due to the trailer. I’ve always had a thing for giant monsters and rumours has it that Godzilla fights another monster. So Pacific Rim has robots versus monsters, Godzilla will have monster on monster. This better be good!

  • Interstellar

Interstellar_film_logo

 

I love science fiction. Some of my favourite films and television shows are science fiction. With Star Wars VII and Jurassic Park IV still a year away, it’s time for original science fiction to appear, and Interstellar seems to be an original idea. Not much is known other than the fact it’s released near my birthday and the trailer is awesome. Seriously, I haven’t seen a trailer this good in a long time.

  • Guardians of the Galaxy

220px-Guardians_of_the_Galaxy_logo

 

Marvel is stepping away from Earth and going complete sci-fi in August. There’s been no trailer yet (wahhh) but the film sounds so cool. It revolves around well, guardians of the galaxy and this seems completely crazy in a good way. This could be the next huge science fiction thing. Or it couldn’t. But I’m optimistic.

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain_America_The_Winter_Soldier

I didn’t see Iron Man 3 but I saw Thor: The Dark World, so this will be the first Marvel film I’ve seen which isn’t a Thor movie (not counting the Avengers). I have the first Captain America on DVD so I’ll have to catch up, but the trailers and posters for this so cool. Also, like Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel logo pretty much guarantee that this will be awesome.

So those four are the ones I’m most looking forward to. There will be others through the year but these are top of the list. Are there any films you’re looking forward to?

 

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