My Favourite TV Programmes of 2010 (Part 1)

One list a day on this blog during Advent, but two of them will be about TV programmes, because comedy warrants a separate category. Here goes then…

My Favourite Comedy TV Programmes of 2010

There were quite a lot to choose from, and it’s always hard to tell at the time which comedy will date and which won’t, but here are the half a dozen TV comedies which I enjoyed the most this year. All six were outstanding. I wonder which will still be highly regarded in a few years’ time? Anyway, there’s not much point in me commenting on these. Just watch them.

1. Getting On (Series 2)

2. The Trip

3. Harry and Paul (Series 2)

4. Rev

5. The IT Crowd (Series 4)

6. Bellamy’s People

7. White’s

I’d also like to mention a token US import, 30 Rock, but they don’t allow any clips online. Very good though.

My Favourite Magazines of 2010

Even in the new media age, “magazines” still mean print on paper. I love magazines, and subscribe to more than is probably healthy. So here as part of my list-a-day Advent Project, are the magazines which I enjoyed the most this year.

1. The Word


Hits the spot every time. These guys know their demographic and target it with ruthless efficiency. And I’m slap bang in the middle of the demographic. The magazine has agonised this year about how a print magazine should be presented in 2010, and decided to go for longer articles and original illustrations on the cover, very much inna New Yorker-stylee. Lots of explanations why at the time, but very few as it subsequently quietly slipped back to being exactly what it had been before the makeover. Well, they tried. Honestly, for this reader they didn’t really need to. From Bruce Springsteen to Half Man Half Biscuit, whatever I want to read about seems to be there.

2. Which?


It can’t be easy to take a juggernaut like Which? and improve it, but I think the editorial team have indeed made a better product this year. With so much “review” material available online nowadays, you might well ask if good old Which? has a place in 2010. If it can only hang on, however, the public will increasingly appreciate the impartiality and thoroughness of its reviews, as the public also begins to realise how much of the review-style material they read online is only thinly-disguised sales material.

3. Private Eye


Although it had Gordon Brown to aim at instead of Blair, Private Eye needed a change of government, and got it. A few awful covers have slipped through quality control, but generally it’s been a good year for the country’s most essential publication. The goings-on in local government which the Eye exposed continue to astonish, but we’ll probably be saying the same in 50 years’ time. Plenty of good reader contributions too, including Pseudo Names.

My Favourite Albums of 2010

And my one-per-day set of lists for Advent continues, this time with a list of favourite albums released this year. Maybe I’m getting old and I’m just far too comfortable in my musical tastes, but in recent years I’ve found it harder and harder to compile this list. Or perhaps it’s been easier and easier, because the problem is, I don’t seem to like that much new stuff. As a result, I think I’m buying less and less too, despite the ease of buying music online. For several years I’ve really tried – but failed – to get into the critics’ top albums (you know the sort of stuff, Joanna Newsom, LCD Soundsystem, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Bon Iver, etc). Now I don’t even bother with them much. Anyway, here are five albums which I liked this year and which I still expect to like in a few years’ time.

Bruce Springsteen: The Promise


The biggest cop-out of all, because the songs on this album were all recorded over thirty years ago. But they’re very, very good. I can’t remember another example of an entire set of songs from a major artist at their peak being released like this. Imagine 20 Beatles songs recorded at the same time as Sgt.Pepper suddenly seeing the light of day. “An indispensible portrait of an artist at the top of his game. File this one under American Greats.”

Tinie Tempah: Disc-Overy


I’ve probably listened to more chart music this year than at any time since college, thanks to having a 9-year-old who’s beginning to find the music scene interesting. I’m amazed at how much of the top 40 each week is simply terrible, but I shouldn’t be, because it’s always been that way. Standing out like a beacon, however, are the never knowingly too serious British rap artists, normally filed under ‘grime’ or something, but really just this decade’s mainstream pop.

Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble: Officium Novum


My perfect Sunday morning, should it exist, would surely involve the house being filled with music from any of the (now) three Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble albums. Not jazz, not choral, this is genuinely unique music which is hauntingly beautiful. If the idea of Armenian church music or Arvo Pärt’s Most Holy Mother of God sounds off-putting, you shouldn’t let it be.

Stornoway: Beachcomber’s Windowsill


All the fuss being made around American indie folk over the past few years has left me a bit cold, but some of the new young English acts in that genre are a different matter. Stornoway were a terrific headliner on the warm-up night at this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival, but this album would have made it into the list regardless.

Laura Marling: I Speak Because I Can


Her first album was showered with awards, but the difficult follow-up proved to be just as good, as well as being a development. An album I can listen to over and over.

My Favourite Tweeters of 2010

I’m currently following over 200 people on Twitter, which really has been the medium of the year. It’s so easy to stop following people (and I do) that I can genuinely say I enjoy reading what nearly all of those 200 people have to say. So for today’s list, part of my series of 24 in 24 days, here are half a dozen of my favourite Tweeters.


@twisst

Twisst ISS alerts is a service set up by the Twisst website which sends you a Tweet every time the International Space Station is passing overhead. Then you can stand outside at night and point at a big bright light crossing the sky and go “oooo”. Seriously, it’s a very clever mixture of technologies.


@OptaJoe

Opta Sports just sends out loads of football stats. And I love football stats, me. Stattotastic.


@julianhuppert

Julian Huppert is my new MP, and he Tweets his head off, including in the middle of debates. As an example of bringing the democratic process to the masses, it’s an extraordinary insight, and the sort of thing which Twitter was invented for, because it just couldn’t be done any other way. I suspect that in the future this sort of interactivity with constituents is going to play a large role in getting MPs re-elected.


@VizTopTips

Viz Top Tips is just very silly, but brightens up my day almost every day.


@Carl_Marston

Carl Marston is a football correspondent on the East Anglian Daily Times who covers my beloved Ipswich Town. But his Tweetage is beyond the call of duty, regularly breaking news from press conferences and bringing matches to life.


@gavinbarber

Gavin Barber is one of those people you come across on Twitter who you’ve never met, possibly never will, but seems to share the same interests and amuses you no end. I could cite others, but Gavin’s as good an example as any.

My Favourite Podcasts of 2010

Podcasts are fantastic. They actually make me want to go to the gym or for a long walk, just so I can catch up with what’s new. Some are from radio programmes, others are podcast exclusives. Here’s my list of the ones I’ve most looked forward to this year.

1. The Word: A Magazine, A Website, A Podcast, A Way Of Life

These people really do get it. Production values are perfectly adequate, but the emphasis is on just three or four people talking. And of course, if you’re a bloke of a certain age, almost everything they talk about makes for compulsive listening. The choice of guest can be a bit hit or miss, especially when it’s yet another relatively little known American singer, but when it’s someone who can talk like Hepworth or Ellen, such as Danny Baker or Phil Jupitus, it’s “stop what you’re doing and listen” time.

2. The Naked Football Show

Three or four blokes talking crap about Ipswich Town every week. What’s not to like? If you think they’ll surely run out of things to say, trust me, they always have to wrap up hurriedly.

3. The TV Cream Podcasts

They don’t do many, but when they do, the TV Cream Podcasts are as fascinating as you’d expect from the ultimate in TV nerds. The series around the General Election, looking at coverage of past elections, was brilliant (and like most podcasts, is still available).

We long ago lost the independent Danny Baker podcasts, and Stephen Fry seems to have stopped doing them, which is a shame (his Bored of the Dance rant remains a high point for me). But new ones are still springing up. My only regret is that I’ve not yet found a regular comedy podcast which I really enjoy, and I’ve listened to a lot. I’ll keep trying.

My Favourite Blogs of 2010 (Part 1)

Every day for Advent, I’m going to make a list of favourite things from this year. Maybe it’ll become an annual event, or maybe I won’t even make it through the next 24 days. Anyway, to start off with, here’s the first of three lists of favourite blogs of the year. This one features the three “non-serious” blogs which I enjoyed the most in 2010. “Serious” blogs and “work-related” ones will follow.

My Favourite Non-Serious Blogs of 2010

1. Found Shopping Lists

Came and went in a few weeks over the summer. It made me laugh every time, not just because it’s funny seeing photos of discarded shopping lists (which it is), but because of the author’s commentaries. Which is what a good blog is all about (as is, to be honest, coming up with a good idea and then getting bored of it quite quickly).

2. The Nether Regions

“The blog that slips an affectionate hand between the thighs of the regional media”. And does it splendidly too, I may add. Local newspapers are wonderful, but not half as wonderful as some of the spoofs over the years. All this and we got a few new pages from The Framley Examiner in 2010 too.

3. The Gaffer

It’s very hard to be funny about football, but I’ve been getting more than the expected number of laughs from this blog. “Ceefax to retire number 302 in tribute to football page’s years of service” and “ITV criticised for downbeat ending to flagship Portsmouth drama” were amongst my favourite headlines.