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History: The TV Show Part 2

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So in part one of my History: The TV Show, poor King John had just given power to the barons and the people. So, what’s next?…

Episode 6- Everybody hates Edward I

After the long and fairly uneventful reign of Henry III, Edward I becomes King of England and instantly starts to attack Scotland and Wales. Scotland is in a bit of a pickle after the infant heir to the throne, Margret, dies on a boat trip to Scotland.

After Edward declares himself King of Scotland, both Scotland, led by William Wallace, and France decide to fight off Edward, but they failed and Edward took over. And that’s not even mentioning the invasion of Wales…

King Arthur's round table is inside the Great Hall in Winchester.

King Arthur’s round table is inside the Great Hall in Winchester.

Episode 7- The Black Death

After Edward II is murdered, Edward III takes over and begins the not really 100 years war. England is also struck by a deadly disease called the bubonic plague where a third of the population is killed.

Edward’s dealings in France aren’t helping the situation either, while in England he recreates King Arthur’s Table, all the while being King of a slowly dying country. This looks like the job for…

The Round Table of Arthur, at the Great Hall of Winchester.

The Round Table of Arthur, at the Great Hall of Winchester.

Episode 8- The fall of the Plantagenets

King Richard II takes the throne at 10 years old after his father, the Black Prince, dies and is immediately throne (hahahahahha, gettit? No, fine…) immediately THROWN into a huge situation with Wat Tyler’s Peasant Revolt, which Richard cleans up.

After that though, he starts going a tad nuts, prompting Henry Bollingbrook  to launch an invasion while Richard is in Ireland. And now…

Episode 9-The War of the Roses

Henry VI

Henry VI

Yes, I know skipping over the battle of Agincourt was bad but lets keep the posts to five episodes each. Henry VI is a bit mad, so mad that he has caused a war that involves both him and Edward, his rival.

They are split into York and Lancaster, one with a white rose, and one red. Henry and Edward are thrown back and forth off the throne, until Henry dies. Edward is King BUT…

Episode 10- Concerning Richard

OK, this one will be tricky. After the War, Edward IV is now undisputed King, until his heir, Edward V, mysteriously disappears in the Tower of London. The blame is placed on Richard, Edward’s brother, and people start dropping like flies.

Richard III

Richard III

Richard is still believed to be responsible for these deaths, but he nonetheless becomes King and improves England’s writing and creation of books (yes, he did actually help Britain) until the Battle of Bosworth Field, where the young Henry Tudor defeats him and thus… the age of medieval England is over.

History: The TV Show

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Mum and I were in the car yesterday listening to Shakespeare (we were going somewhere, we weren’t just sitting in the car), and she asked “What episode of history is this play based on?” This led me to think of a TV show where every episode is based off an important event in history. So here we go…

Series 1- Box set title- Lots of murder

Episode 1 - 1066 Part 1 Edward the Confessor dies and names Harold his heir (Main titles). The rest of the episode focuses on all three main characters, Harold the Saxon, William the Norman and Harald the Viking, focusing on why each character wants the throne. The episode ends with the Battle of Stamford Bridge and Harold preparing to take on William

Harold dead bayeux tapestry
Episode 2 - 1066 Part 2 The first half of the episode is a huge fight for the English throne, aka The Battle of Hastings. The second half focuses on William building castles and setting up the Domesday Book, before it ends with William II getting shot in the eye and the throne passing over to Henry I. The episode then focuses on Stephen and Matilda, which leads into…

Episode 3 - Matilda 3: Matildas United

Yes, during King Stephen’s reign there were three Matildas- his mother, his wife and his cousin, who is trying to seize the English throne as she has a claim to it. They fight and the country is split in half. Matilda proclaims herself Queen but Stephen gets it back, causing Matilda to leave. Unfortunately, Matilda’s son Henry arrives on the English shore, and he becomes King after Stephen’s death, which leads to…

Episode 4 - Thomas Becket

Henry gets into religious arguments with Becket, his Archbishop of Canterbury, and their friendship falls apart. After Becket seizes control of the Church, Henry gets angry and four knights proceed to kill him. The second half is about Henry’s wife and children betraying him and Richard seizing the throne of England.

Episode 5 - Poor Old John

Richard the Lionheart, King of England, is killed in battle, leaving his brother John in charge and being King of England. With John giving money to barons and making many people angry, a war starts and John is forced to sign the Magna Carta, a document which gives more power and freedom to the people. The reign of absolute power is over…

Phew, history is complicated. Let’s take a short break and wait for Part 2…

Why are superheroes so popular?

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This weekend I hope to watch X- Men: Days of Future Past, the third superhero movie released this year so far. The first was Captain America 2 (which was awesome) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (which I haven’t seen). In August we’re getting Guardians of the Galaxy (squee!) and next year we’re getting Avengers: Age of Ultron (double squee!), Fantastic Four and Antman. Not to mention last year we got The Wolverine and Thor 2 (which were awesome) with the new Superman and Iron Man 3 (I want to see Iron Man, not really interested in Superman).  This led me to think; why are superheroes so popular? In the past decade they have dominated cinema non-stop and don’t show any sign of stopping. So why do people dressed in leather and spandex provoke so much love?

Well perhaps it’s best to look at the origins of superheroes. Arguably legendary characters like Hercules were the first superheroes as he had super powers, but I’m talking about the pants-on-outside kind of superheroes even though a) hardly any heroes wear pants on the outside and, b) there is a Marvel hero called Hercules. The first superhero of the “classic” kind was the Phantom, who debuted in 1936 but the first iconic hero was the pants-on-outside guy himself: Superman, who appeared in 1938, followed by Batman in 1939. Superman was created as a character to stand up to the American way and was basically war propaganda until the 80′s when all comics got darker. Marvel’s answer to this was Captain America who appeared in 1941 and in his debut issue he did this on the front cover…

Captain America punching Hitler. Image by Rick Marshall via Flickr.

Captain America punching Hitler. Image by Rick Marshall via Flickr.

This is the first reason as to why I think superheroes became popular in the first place. In the first Captain America movie it showed a world where Captain America was a beacon of hope and he took part in many propaganda shows. This shows what an impact characters like Captain America and Superman had and were ways to tell people that America will defeat the war and inspire people to fight. There’s also the fact that in the 30′s and 40′s people hadn’t grown used to superheroes and these early heroes helped usher in others.

Another reason is that superheroes can be used to comment on society. Despite there being 5 X Men and 2 Wolverine movies, the X- Men were made in 1963 as a metaphor for the racism in America and the African-American civil rights movement. As mutants the X- Men were treated like monsters and the team’s main enemy Magneto (who is awesome) was a survivor of the Holocaust and had suffered discrimination like the mutants were going through.

Other characters also became metaphors for the real world, especially the Cold War. Iron Man and Hulk were created to comment on the threat of nuclear attack in the Cold War and one of Wonder Women’s enemies was called Egg Fu and was a Chinese Communist shaped like an egg. Don’t believe me?…

Egg Fu - image by Jamie (jbcurio) via Flickr.

Egg Fu – image by Jamie (jbcurio) via Flickr.

But what about Batman or Spider-Man? Well Batman is unique because he is the definition of a superhero without powers, as he was originally designed as a detective. Spider-Man is a teenager who turns into a superhero. People love Batman because he is so knowledgeable and strong without powers and people love Spider-Man as the majority of comic readers in the 60′s were teenagers and seeing a teenager becoming a superhero would have been very relatable.

So superheroes are used for symbols of hope, symbols of encouragement and symbols to make political statements. But what about now? Why do characters like the X-Men, Captain America and Superman continue to be popular. Some could say the X-Men movie in 2000 reinvigorated interest in the whole genre and, well, that’s kind of true. Let’s see…

5 X-Men movies + 2 Wolverine movies + 3 Spider- Man movies+ 2 Spider- Man reboot movies+ 3 Iron Man movies+ 2 Captain America movies+ 2 Thor movies+ 2 Hulk movies+ The Avengers+ 2 Superman movies+ 3 Batman movies+ 2 Fantastic Four movies+ 2 Hellboy movies+ 2 Ghost Rider movies+add whatever other superhero movies= A lot of spandex.

But if the X-Men movie wasn’t a success then superheroes wouldn’t have lasted and we certainly wouldn’t have the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Why are they still so endearing? I think it’s because the themes and ideas behind the superheroes still remain. Iron Man is still relevant because the threat of nuclear attack is still around. There are still racial problems around the world, making the X-Men still seem relevant. Children still look up to Spider-Man, Batman and Superman and the second Captain America movie dealt with the idea of a propaganda symbol like Captain America being stuck in a world with conspiracies and cover-ups, which is a concern in the real world. Superheroes are still relevant and they are still hugely popular. But is it becoming a problem with all of the movies coming out?

Well, that’s a post for another day…

UPDATE: Now I’ve seen Days of Future Past. So, review in one paragraph… go!

Days of Future Past (yes I know that title makes no sense) is set in the future where mutants are being hunted by giant robots. The surviving mutants send Wolverine back in time to the 70′s to change the future (it’s all I can reveal without spoiling). The movie is an incredibly well-made and action packed movie which is surprisingly dark and deep. It fixes the continuity flaws made by the other movies and shows some awesome new characters with interesting powers (the most awesome are Quicksilver and Blink. If you’ve seen the movie you know what I’m talking about). All the characters get at least one awesome moment, Magneto is still as awesome as ever and both the future and the past are incredibly detailed. It’s also funny and clever and manages to wrap up many story arcs. The villain is interesting as he isn’t the conventional villain and every action scene is spectacular. I recommend you see it but watch the X-Men trilogy and X-Men: First Class before you see Days of Future Past.

What a 13-year-old would like to watch

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So, I’ve casually referenced about how I feel current television is at the moment. Now it’s time for the actual post.

About two years ago I woke up on Saturday mornings to watch TV. I still do that, but I mainly watch Doctor Who DVDs because, quite frankly, nothing good is on telly anymore. And with 4 months until Doctor Who Series 8, and over a year for Sherlock Series 4, I feel that people like me need good quality entertainment.
sherlock-holmes

With the exception of Doctor Who and to some extend Sherlock, most BBC programs are strictly for adults or aren’t my type of program. The heavy dramas, crime programs and all that. But as a 13 year old, I want programs, not necessarily about aliens or monsters, but programs which any person of any age can enjoy.

There are plenty of children channels, like CBBC and Cbeebies. Well, I used to love both but since Cbeebies is for very young children, I started to watch CBBC. Then the good programs stopped and now nothing is on telly.

So, how to make a good television program which appeals to everyone? Well, I have several points-

  1. Have stuff for both kids and adults. This is the kind of entertainment I love. A movie like Toy Story is primarily for kids, but has themes and messages for adults. Making something just for kids makes it seem stupid for everyone else, and having something which is just for adults means children can’t watch or understand it.
  2. Keep it simple. Having too much stuff going on will confuse younger children and maybe even adults. Have a simple story and write characters and ideas around it. For example…
    • The God Complex. The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrives in a strange hotel and have to escape while trying to avoid getting eaten by a minotaur. That’s a very simple idea, but the ideas, characters and themes in the episode make it great for people like me while still being entertaining for small children.
    • Vincent and the Doctor has quite possibly the simplest story that you could have: a monster is running around and the heroes have to stop it. That was enough to entertain me when I first saw it, but only now do I notice the deep emotional core of the story.

tyrannosaurus-rex

OK, that’s enough for Doctor Who. How about movies? In Jurassic Park, a billionaire clones dinosaurs and they break out. Up’s basic story is about an old man flying his house to South America. Star Wars is about people with brightly coloured sticks slashing at each other. All of those movies are entertaining enough, but they each have great characters, amazing themes and subtext, a wonderful script and fantastic dialogue which makes them good for all ages as there is something for everyone.

Lego Starwar

That’s how entertainment should be done. Have something for everyone and not just be for one basic audience, as those are the shows and films which sell. Why is Doctor Who one of the most iconic shows ever? Why were Star Wars and Jurassic Park the highest grossing movies of their time? Because they had things which appeal to everyone of every age. That’s what I want, and is probably what everyone wants, as those are the best kind of entertainment.

 

 

 

Shakespeare and EastEnders

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A very late happy birthday to William Shakespeare, who is 450!

We're going to need a bit more candles...

We’re going to need a bit more candles…

Today I will be talking about my favourite Shakespeare play, Macbeth.

macbeth

I think this is my favourite Shakespeare play because it was the first one I learned about. I learned about it in Year 6 and I bought the play in Singapore that same year. Knowing the story helped me read it faster and understand the text.

The story is about a Scottish noble called Macbeth who is told by three witches that he would be King of Scotland. He proceeds to murder the King and he eventually becomes King, kills a few more people and goes mad. So yeah, typical Shakespeare story.

Today in English we were getting ready to start our Shakespeare topic and the teacher showed us half of EastEnders. She said that we were going to watch EastEnders to compare EastEnders and Shakespeare.

EastEnders is literally one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Today I watched it for the first time. I haven’t laughed this much since I heard one of the singers in mum’s Les Misérables CD squeak at the end of a song. Everything in EastEnders is hilarious. It’s either spoken in a bland tone or shouted at in exaggerated facial movements. The apex of the humour comes at a part when a character is literally DRAGGED BY A CAR ALONG THE ROAD WHILE HE’S TRYING TO OPEN IT! No, I’m serious.

But onto the link between Shakespeare and EastEnders. There’s quite a lot of similarities between them actually. Both have lots of talking, lots of conflict, lots of plot lines and TONS of characters. This is how Shakespeare has influenced writing, as his stories and ideas have become standard writing styles now. What do you feel about that, Mr Shakespeare.

shakespeare

Um, um, um, um, um, um, um…

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. I got to see it in London last year in the Globe with my parents. That’s nice and all, but what’s not nice is the amount of people Shakespeare kills off. Decapitation, poison, suicide, stabbing, drowning… everything (especially suicide). How about we finish things off with a Shakespeare body count quiz?!

 

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?

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.

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?

 

The Scotland debate – Stay or leave?

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Tonight is Burns night, where Scottish people everywhere will celebrate the great poet Robert Burns. But this raises a thought about some recent Scottish news – the debate about whether Scotland will stay as part of the United Kingdom or become its own separate country. I’ve compiled a list of arguments for and against why Scotland should stay part of Britain (also, as I’ve never been to Scotland, I might get some facts wrong. But I think I know enough facts from the news).

Against

uk flag

At this current time, Scotland is one of the four countries which make up the United Kingdom, along with England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Despite this, Scotland has its own education system, money, government and football team. So, if that’s the case, why be independent? You could argue that any major changes that the Prime Minister of England decides is best for all the country that Scotland has to agree with it, and that any major changes that the Scottish government want to do has to be decided by the English government, but they still have lots of freedom within the country. Not everything Hampshire County Council decides has to have Downing Street approval, and Scotland is still allowed lots of freedom as part of another country.

For

scottish flag

Alternatively, if Scotland do become independent, there would be a lot of benefits. First, all the oil and other resources used to make the whole of Britain rich would just be for Scotland, which could let them have lots of money and richness. Scotland will also be able to call their culture completely unique, without having to share their culture with Britain. They will also be able to host their own sporting events such as the Olympics (2024 perhaps?) and the World Cup. They can change their government and make laws without having to consult the rest of the country. They can hold their own identity and run their country however they want and choose whether to join the EU and other global organisations.

The Scottish government will have a referendum later this year to decide if they’re going or staying, so only time will tell. But I hope that they take these considerations into their vote. What do you think? Should Scotland stay with the UK or split to be their own country?

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