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    • All Star Mr and Mrs / TV Programme / 39 Readings / 38 Ratings
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      03.02.2010 10:13
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      A bit of light entertainment

      All Star Mr and Mrs is an ITV show which has been running for some time now - I saw it on a Sunday afternoon but I'm not sure if that was a repeat. It is hosted by Fern Britton and Phillip Schofield.

      The idea is that a celebrity goes on with his or her partner. One of them goes into a booth and puts sound-proof earphones on, while the other one is asked 3 questions relating to either themselves or their other half. Then when they've finished, the other one comes out of the booth and has to guess what their answers were to each of the questions. This process is then repeated with a couple of other celebrity couples, and then there is a round two where the person that didn't answer questions the first time round gets to do so. The winner gets to choose a charity to donate the money to.

      It's not done very seriously at all and Fern and Britton generally make suggestive jokes or silly comments most of the way through, it's all a bit tongue-in-cheek. The questions normally aren't very serious and can be quite funny. They normally ask the obvious question 'What has been the biggest achievement in your life' and then proceed to give a couple of options such as 'Having your first hit single', and then there is always the option 'Meeting your partner'. It's SO obvious what the other person will say (even if they don't actually mean it!) but their partners always annoyingly just choose one of the other options, trying not to be too big-headed.

      There are also silly novelty special effects or other features happening every now and again. For example the one I last saw there was a question relating to how one of the celebrities love approach could be described. The first option was a shooting star, and a star shot across the studio. The second was the moon and a moon lit up in the studio, and the third was a meteor, and a big meteor fell from the studio rafters and smashed on the ground, and they shook the camera to make it look like the studio was shaking. It was all very silly but so silly that it was actually quite funny. You also often get to see photos from the celebrities past and hear about embarrassing habits they have or other secrets.

      Overall it's all a bit predictable and light-hearted. Nothing that I would stay in to watch or pay a huge amount of attention to, but if it's on I'll sometimes watch it. I'm rating it 3/5 not because I think it's a bad show but because it's not anywhere close to being one of my favourites.

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        02.02.2010 14:08
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        Quite a nice fat-free yoghurt

        I was very torn for choice when I went into our staff canteen today and there were Muller Light Rhubarb yoghurts (which are my favourite, I love rhubarb!) and these Banana and Custard yoghurts which I've never tried before. So I finally decided to try this banana and custard one. They're not actually new as I read a few of the other reviews as I was interested to see what other people think, but I've never noticed them before.

        When I opened the pot I was happy to see that it was full of a (quite bright) yellow, thick yoghurt which did remind me of Ambrosia custard so I was excited to try it as I love custard, especially cold (I'm sure many will disagree with me on this point!). Unfortunately although it was quite tasty I was very disappointed on the custard front as it didn't actually taste like custard at all and should just be called a banana yoghurt. Setting that aside, it was enough to satisfy an after-lunch sweet craving as it did taste quite sweet but also nice and refreshing / a bit fruity at the same time. I love banana flavouring anyway so this was pretty well suited to my tastes - and it is a fairly strong banana taste. I also quite liked the consistency as it wasn't as thin and runny as some of the other Muller Light yoghurts.

        In terms of nutritional value, it was a 190g pot and there are only 103 calories per pot. It is also Fat Free (well, there is 0.1g of Fat which I think we will let them off with!). I've started to be a bit more careful with hidden sugars these days even though I still don't fully have a feel for what is bad, but in this pot there were 7.7g of the Carbohydrates as Sugar, of which 5g come from the fruit and milk, so I don't think that's too bad. Considering it's so low in fat perhaps I can't be too harsh on the taste being fairly average.

        I paid 50p for mine but in the staff canteen so no doubt you can buy them a lot cheaper, especially in multipacks, from the supermarket if they do them.

        Overall quite a tasty yoghurt but nothing which will go down in history!

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        • Avatar (DVD) / DVD / 38 Readings / 37 Ratings
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          01.02.2010 12:28
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          An amazing cinema expeirence

          We started trying to get tickets to see this over the Christmas period at Manchester IMAX but you seemed to have to book about a week in advance so we finally bit the bullet and got a bit more organised and booked tickets to go and see it last Sunday. I had heard from a few different people who had seen it and they had all said pretty much the same thing - that it wasn't the best storyline ever but that it was the best cinema experience they had ever had. However I did hear from a couple of people who went to see it in the normal cinema rather than the IMAX who said that the special effects weren't great there, so I'm glad we went to see it in the IMAX. Overall both myself and my boyfriend thought it was brilliant and to be honest I thought both the special effects were excellent and also enjoyed the story itself.

          ***** Storyline *****

          The film is set in the future when planet Pandora is being mined by troops for a rare mineral. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is sent to this planet in the form of one of the creatures that live there - Avatars - which are blue-skinned, 12ft tall creatures which live in the forests and worship mother nature. His aim is to understand more about them and the way that they live so that he can be in a position of power when it comes to a decision about how the troops will gain access to this rare mineral which is to be found in the forests where they live.

          ***** Special Effects *****

          We had to wear 3D glasses throughout which takes a bit of getting used to and at the beginning they tell you that you can get a headache or diziness from them / the special effects, but I was fine. The 3D wasn't quite how I imagined it to be - it wasn't like other 3D films I'd seen where things jump out at you and it makes you start, or where you get the real urge to grab things that you see. It was more like the film had been made so clear and the images so real that it made you feel almost like you were in the film, especially at the IMAX where the screen is so big. One of the effects I liked most was when it was snowing and it actually looked like it was snowing in the cinema, it was amazing! It was also pretty cool when the characters were floating around the shuttle.

          It's not just the 3D effects that are good in the film though, it's also the CGI-type creatures which are weird and wonderful and made to look impressively real. The colours are so vibrant and clear, the whole picture is just amazing to look at.

          ***** Verdict on Storyline *****

          Although it's not one of my Top 10 in terms of storyline, I did think the storyline was fine and original enough to be given credit. I thought the film started a little slowly but when I understood a bit more about what was happening and where it was headed I got quite into it. I especially liked it when Jake Sully was in the forest learning the Avatar ways. I think the film had a bit of everything - action, romance, fighting, the supernatural. Perhaps not a huge amount in the way of comedy but then again 12ft tall blue creatures are a bit comical in their own way!

          ***** Basics *****

          It is rated a 12 and lasts for just under 3 hours. A few people have said this was just too long but I felt like it went by quite quickly, probably because I was captivated by the whole thing.

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          • Take Me Out / TV Programme / 34 Readings / 32 Ratings
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            31.01.2010 17:55
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            A new dating show on ITV

            Although Blind Date had definitely had its' day and it was time it came to an end, I was also a bit sad to see it go and it left a big gap for a similar show to fill - but nothing too similar appeared for years. Now, finally, we have Take Me Out which is like a re-worked version of Blind Date with one main difference - you do get to see your possible dates before choosing them. I'm a bit of a sucker for cheesy shows like this and I do find it funny and interesting seeing who people tend to go for, and I would have thought this was a show more for the girls than anyone else, but I watched it with my other half and another male friend on Saturday and they both loved it!

            ***** The Concept *****

            There are a load of girls (maybe about 20) lined up on stage in the studio each behind their own stand and they each have a buzzer in front of them. A guy is sent down in a lift from the floor above and he comes out on stage and stands in front of all the girls. He says what his name is and where he's from and then the fun begins! Basically there are 3 rounds, and after each round the girls can press their buzzer if they don't like the guy, which means they don't want to stand a chance of going on a date with him. The first time they get to press their buzzer is after he comes out on stage and introduces himself. The second chance is after it shows a bit more about him in a video clip - it might show them in their job, or doing their favourite hobby or spending time with their family for example. The final round varies, but often seems to be a series of mini interviews with their family where they let everyone in to a few embarrassing secrets of the guy, or otherwise it tends to be the guy doing something that they are good at - I've seen guys doing a dance on-stage, lifting weights to show their strength, doing magic tricks, or sometimes just telling the girls a bit more about them.

            So....at the end of the 3 rounds and the girls have had a chance to vote themselves out, there are normally just a few girls or so left interested, or if no-one has been impressed there have been occasions where the guy has had to go home without a date. After these rounds the guy then has a chance to go around turning the buzzers off of girls that he's not so sure about and leave two for him to choose from. Then with the two girls that are left, he asks them each the same question and then chooses who he wants to go on a date with.

            During the show there are maybe 3 guys that come on stage and go through this process, and it's broken up with showing how the dates went from the previous week.

            It's hosted by Paddy McGuinness

            ***** Verdict *****

            Paddy McGuinness seems like the perfect present for this type of show, filling it with cheesy one-liners and getting into banter with the different girls. It's all done with a pinch of salt and isn't taken too seriously so it makes it good fun. His catchphrase throughout the show is 'no likey no lighty' (i.e. if they don't like the guy they should turn their light off) - so cheesy and pretty annoying too actually but at the same time suits the show.

            Overall it's a light-hearted entertainment show similar to blind date which is good fun and makes you giggle.

            It's on TV on Saturday evenings on ITV and is showed again on Sunday on ITV2

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            • Vicky Cristina Barcelona (DVD) / DVD / 26 Readings / 26 Ratings
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              21.01.2010 18:06
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              A fairly unusual film worth a watch as you may like it!

              I rented this off LoveFilm recently as the description off it sounded good. It was one of those films where I was left undecided at the end as to whether I thought it was a good film or not. I think my conclusion was that I quite enjoyed watching it and it kept my attention, I thought it was a bit unusual and unpredictable which is good, but overall I would put it a bit closer to the average category than the fantastic category.

              ***** Storyline *****

              Vicky and Cristina go to spend the summer in Barcelona (hence the title!) after they finish their term at university. While they are best friends, they are total opposites - Cristina is somewhat of a free spirit but in some ways a tortured soul who doesn't know what she wants out of life. Vicky knows (or thinks she knows) exactly what she wants - stability, practicality, a sensible lifestyle, and her personality reflects this. Neither of them get quite what they expect out of their summer in Barcelona, but to find out any more you will have to watch the film.....

              ***** Characters / Acting *****

              I did get the general impression that the characters were over-acted.

              Vicky, played by Rebecca Hall is a natural born worrier and is practical about everything. The problem is that, especially in the beginning, there didn't even seem to be a split second that she would relax and enjoy herself which I know is the point of her character, but it did seem to be acted a bit excessively. The way that she would argue everything and stress out about everything just became annoying after a while. I thought she would be one of those characters that I would grow to like, but although her character did seem a little more toned down as the film went on, I still don't think she was the best character or greatest actress.

              Cristina, played by Scarlett Johansson, is as usual absolutely stunning to look at. In all her films she does have quite a provocative way of acting and overall I thought she was ok, but she did overact in parts especially at the beginning. In particular her obsession of Juan Antonio from the minute she saw him and then when he came over to talk to her in the restaurant was a bit overacted.

              Juan Antonio, played by Javier Bardem is a bit of a rugged, moody, arty type who a lot of girls would probably be attracted to in the same way as they are to Clive Owen (not that he's my bag!). He's not handsome as such, but quite attractive and funnily enough it was my boyfriend who was watching it with me that pointed that out!! At the beginning of the film he came across as very arrogant and even though that was the point it seemed a bit unbelievable. The way he was propositioning girls just made you think - surely no-one would fall for that, but then I guess some girls do!

              Maria Elena is played by Penelope Cruz - again stunning as ever but unfortunately not one of her better films (I think anyway). She plays a crazy character but I just don't think it came across as very believable.

              ***** Other Thoughts *****

              One of the other things I wasn't sure about was the narrator, as he sounded like he was narrating over a children's programme - very strange.
              Something else which I didn't necessarily like or dislike was that quite a few of the conversations came across as if they weren't scripted, that the characters were just told the gist of what they had to say. The reason I thought this was that unlike in a typical blockbuster where no words are wasted, some of the conversations would just run on for a while seeming to have no particular direction and having some points repeated and thought about out loud by the characters before they really got to what they were trying to say. It could just be that it was scripted to come across like that. I didn't really mind it being like that, I thought it was quite random but maybe it made it a bit more interesting.

              Overall I think it was a fairly unusual film and worth a watch as I think this would be really liked by some people depending on what your tastes are. I think the concept was good but it didn't quite reach its full potential for me.

              ***** Basics *****

              Rated PG 13 and running for about 1.5 hours, it came out in 2008 and is now available to rent or buy.

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              18.01.2010 13:35
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              A fantastic film in its' own right

              I was very dubious about a re-make of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, especially as the adverts made it look like a very modern and strange version of the old classic. I was also not really taken by the idea of such a young Willy Wonker, played by Johnny Depp. However....I was very pleasantly surprised and thought this was a delightful and captivating film in its' own right, as long as you don't see it as a replacement of the original.

              Everyone must surely know the storyline to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory but just in case.....
              Charlie is a little boy living with a family who are struggling even to get enough food to live off they are so poor. He is a big fan of Willy Wonker's chocolate bars but only gets a bar once a year on his birthday. The chocolate factory where they are produced was closed to the public some years ago, so when it is announced that there are a set number of 'golden ticket's available in the chocolate bars, allowing special entry to a tour around the factory, there is frenzied excitement across the country. Charlie miraculously wins one of the tickets and enters into the wonderfully weird world of Willy Wonker's chocolate factory.

              I'm normally not a fan of remaking original films and turning them modern as it often means the magic is lost and the remake is never as good. However I think this film manages to create a whole new sense of magic and excitement and makes it a film which can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. There is no avoiding the fact that this version is a modern film, especially with the oompa loompas breaking into modern-style dance routines, but I think this quirkiness helps to make it a new film in its' own right rather than just a slightly modified re-release of the old version.

              The acting is really good. Johnny Depp is great in this kind of role where he has to play a very strange character - his dramatic facial expressions, funny habits and moments of talking to himself or having flashbacks all add to his quirky character. I think the film does poke fun at itself a bit, especiallly through Johnny Depp, which helps to make it a comedy rather than just a children's film. The fact that Willy Wonker is played by a very different and younger actor in this version helps again to make him a new character rather than a copy of the old one.

              I also like the fact that what happens to the children varies a bit from the original, so even if you've seen it before the film is still captivating as you are waiting to see what happens to each child and what song and dance routine the oompa loompas break into next!

              Overall an amusing and delightful film that I highly recommend!

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              • New Years Day (DVD) / DVD / 34 Readings / 34 Ratings
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                15.01.2010 13:40
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                A good plot but a disappointing film

                I borrowed this DVD off my brother (who is 26) as he said it was a good film. I had high expectations and unfortunately they were not met by a very long way! Overall I would say it's just about watchable but not a good film.

                ********** Storyline **********

                Two 17-year old boys are involved in a skiing accident in which a number of their school friends die. It is a traumatizing experience and forces them to re-evaluate their life. The accident prompts them to start the new year with a fresh outlook and to spend the year doing things which are out-of-the-ordinary, daring, exciting, or challenging.

                It is a British film with a running time of just over 1.5 hours and is rated 18. As it came out in 2000 you could probably buy it for around £3 these days.

                ********** Verdict **********

                I watched this with my boyfriend who thought this was even worse than I did and actually put it on a par with 'How to Lose Friends and Alienate People' in terms of how terrible it is as we both thought that film was also terrible (although I know some will disagree!). We both agreed that there was a good plot, and if there was a better Director and better actors it could have been a really, really good film.

                One of the main reasons that the film was so bad was because of the acting. There didn't really seem to be any good actors in the film (or if there were, they were directed in totally the wrong way so their good acting didn't come across). The worst actor was, unfortunately, one of the main characters - Bobby Barry who plays Steven. I think my other half hit the nail on the head when he said that you're just always conscious of the fact that they are acting and their words and actions don't come across naturally at all, so this means that you aren't drawn into the plot. The bad acting also means that the relationship between the characters seems false and there is no chemistry in any way.

                Overall I would rate it as about 4/10 and wouldn't recommend it.

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                11.12.2009 11:39
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                A frustrating but entertaining tv show

                I watch this sometimes if I'm back from work early, as it's on every weekday at 5pm on ITV1 hosted by Jasper Carrott. It can be quite entertaining and once you've started watching it it's difficult to stop as you want to know what the end result will be. On the other hand, it's not particularly enjoyable to watch as it's quite cringey watching people con each other time and time again.

                ***** The Concept *****

                The show starts with 4 people who are given golden balls which have either cash figures between £10 and £75,000 or 'Killer' written inside them. The aim of the game is for the players to bring through the contestant with the highest sum of money hidden in their golden balls but at the same time they don't want to bring someone through who could double-cross them in the final round and steal all the money.

                So the contestants reveal two of their balls and the other two remain hidden. If they have a killer in one of the two hidden balls, they can show their honesty by telling the other contestants who may take them through because of this or more likely will then get rid of them as it means less money going through, so normally the contestants will have to lie and pretend they don't have any killers. So there will be a big debate as to who has the killers and finally a player is voted off depending on who the other contestants think either is least trustworthy or who is most likely to be lying about having a killer. The second round is similar.

                When it's down to two contestants they will pick 5 out of 11 golden balls which will add up to the cash prize that they could win. If they pick a killer it will take off the last figure of their prize so they could end up with anything from about £5 to £100,000.

                Finally, when the final figure that they could win has been reached, the contestants have to decide secretly whether they are planning on splitting it with the other contestant or if they want to steal their half. They have to try and work out what the other person is likely to do because if they both split, they will both go home with half the money, if one steals and one splits the one who steals will take home all the money, and frustratingly if they both steal they both go home with nothing.

                ***** Verdict *****

                It's quite entertaining and you always want to see the result but as you can imagine it's really frustrating. Of course you imagine what you would do, and like to think that you would always split and therefore both of you would go home with something. But of course there are a lot of greedy people out there and you have to be aware that if you are nice and decide to split, but they can guess that you will be doing that and choose to steal, they will get everything for being nasty and you will get nothing for being nice.

                The main problem is that out of about 10 shows I've seen, only about 1 couple have both decided to split. So this means that the nature of the show is that people go on it to steal and so this means realistically that you know that you have more chance earning some money if you choose to steal. I think the kind of people that go on it will more oftenly steal than split. Personally speaking I think I would just try to go on a different tv show where you weren't faced with the prospect of being up against someone who wanted to steal from you. You see the contestants get quite angry at the end when the other person has convinced them that they will share the money, and then they don't.

                It's quite funny how there are normally the same cheap tactics everytime - the contestants will say stuff like 'we've come this far together, I can promise you I'll split' or 'I wouldn't let my kids down by stealing' or 'look me in the eyes and you'll see I'm telling the truth'.

                Overall quite entertaining and clever but also extremely frustrating!

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                • The Hills / TV Programme / 54 Readings / 52 Ratings
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                  02.12.2009 14:00
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                  The 'reality' show, which is actually scripted, but even then nothing happens!

                  I have watched this a good few times now, either because friends I'm with have been watching it or because I've been trying to figure out everyone's fascination with it, and I can now say that I still don't understand the hype behind this show at all.

                  ***** The Idea *****

                  This is, in theory, a reality show which follows the love, life and dramas of Lauren Conrad and her friends in California, a bit like The Real World, which used to be on MTV.

                  Lauren and her friends all seem to have quite a lot of money and are also very big on socialising. In the show we mainly see them out at a bar / restaurant with friends, occasionally at work, sometimes shopping or doing other things, and apart from that they will be at home talking. More than anything, the show seems to be about ridiculous arguments between the different characters which normally stem from something as petty as a look that someone has given them, or someone saying they will go out that night and then deciding not to.

                  ***** Scripted??? *****

                  The show is clearly very heavily scripted so I think it falls somewhere between a reality show and a fictional drama. MTV will never come out and say that it's scripted, but this is what everyone thinks. The impression I get, is that the characters are probably told roughly where to go, what to do, and what to talk about but they aren't reading off an actual script so parts of what they say and do is genuine. For example it will show two of the girls having an argument about something, and I would imagine that MTV had told them to talk to each other about how they felt about that specific subject and probably even hinted that they should have a bit of an argument about it. It's hard to tell exactly how scripted it is.

                  ***** Verdict *****

                  While many people seem to have got really into watching this, often partly to laugh at the characters stupidity and their ridiculous lives, I just find it boring. The thing about The Hills is that nothing ever really happens. There are a lot of silences and sometimes a whole episode will be about something really mundane, such as a character wondering if they should tell another character that someone has told them they're annoyed at them. It will then show them debating this with all the different characters in the show, and the likelihood is that the show might conclude with them just deciding not to say anything after all. So when I say nothing seems to happen, I'm not exaggerating. Ok so sometimes there will be a mediocre-size argument, that's about as much drama as you get in the show.

                  ***** The Characters *****

                  To be fair, although it may sound harsh, the characters don't exactly come across as the brightest sparks. With all of them (possibly slightly less with Lauren, and possibly slightly more with Audrina and Whitney) it seems to be a case of 'the lights are on but no-one's home'. Of course I don't know them and I might be totally wrong, but this is how they come across in the show. I don't have a problem with people that are dizzy, but they just don't really seem to have anything to say for themselves. To add to that, they are normally busy talking about each other behind their backs or betraying each other in some way or another.


                  Overall, I found it interesting to watch a few times to see what the hype was all about, but can now happily conclude that when it's on tv I will avoid it!

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                    26.11.2009 11:21
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                    An entertaining teen drama

                    ***** Where does the name come from ? *****

                    The show is named as such because there is a mystery girl / guy who somehow manages to get all the gossip of the main characters and reveal it to their peers, normally by text message. Every now and again there are efforts to try and work out who Gossip Girl actually is, but of course they never work. It is 'Gossip Girl' who operates like a narrator over the show, similarly to how Carrie talks over Sex and the City in a diary format. It is based on a book.

                    ***** So what's it really about then ? *****

                    1) Teenagers. In some ways this is a typical teen drama in the sense that it's about relationships (who's seeing who, who's cheating on who etc etc), arguments, and of course - gossip.
                    2) Fame and Fortune. There is a real backdrop of money in the show - most of the teenagers parents are extremely wealthy and they are always doing whatever they want, travelling by limo, wearing designer clothes, and just generally spending money. Most of their parents are semi-famous / well-known in some way or another and social standing seems to be quite a big deal.
                    3) Fashion. You'll often see Leighton Meester (Blair) or Blake Lively (Serena) in magazines like Grazia or Look looking glamorous and wearing the latest fashion accessories. It seems like every opportunity the characters are wearing something different and always looking amazing !
                    4) Game-playing. Most episodes revolve around the characters trying to do each other over in some way or another - winning a job opportunity, a popularity contest of some kind, a story for the papers etc etc. If they're not doing that they're normally busy trying to hide some dirt they don't want uncovered, or uncover dirt that they want to gossip about or use as bribery.

                    ***** Opinion *****

                    I only started watching it a few months ago or so and although I don't watch it religiously and it's not one of my absolute favourites, I do enjoy it when it's on. To enjoy it you have to take as as pretty tongue-in-cheek - you have to laugh at the lavish lifestyles of the characters, the situations they get themselves in, and the pretty clever and complicated plots that always end up totally tangled up and eventually everything ends up out in the open and the baddies receive their punishment ! I would say that it's as much a gentle comedy as it is a teen drama.

                    It's quite relaxing viewing but at the same time if you don't concentrate you will lose track of exactly what's going on with the plots. The likelihood is that if you go to grab a drink, by the time you get back two characters who were previously best friends are now enemies, and a couple that were dating have split up. It's also likely that someone's business will have gone down, someone will be on the front of the newspaper, and someone will have horrifically embarrassed themself.

                    ***** The Characters *****

                    A few of the main characters :

                    Serena van der Woodsen - played by Blake Lively. Stunning and elegant while still being a bit of a wild child, I think her acting is really good, it's very understated. She's always ending up in trouble with her parents for rebelling, and she's very famous in the social circuit, often ending up in the media for her rebellious antics.

                    Blair Waldorf - played by Leighton Meester. Blair is totally the opposite of Serena - a total extrovert who loves attention, is totally over-the-top (almost to the point of being garish), and is dramatic about everything. She's often doing pretty cruel things to people in order to come out on top but the show tries to make out that deep down she's a good person (I think this may be debatable !). Her love interest is Chuck and there's constantly a 'will-they won't-they' thing going on, and a huge amount of game-playing.

                    Dan Humphrey - played by Penn Badgley is the typical 'nice guy'. In fact he never seems to do anything wrong so as far as a tv character is concerned, he can be a bit boring. He's got quite a lot of history with Serena in more ways than one, but I won't give any more away in case you want to watch it from the beginning.

                    Chuck Bass - played by Ed Westwick, isn't at school like the others but is an extremely successful businessman with a very powerful and rich father who he is following in the steps of. He is a bit of a twisted character often doing things which are seen as morally wrong, but is he a good guy underneath ??

                    ***** The basics *****

                    It's on for an hour on ITV2 and is repeated at various times throughout the week - it's hard to miss it !

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                      25.11.2009 19:03
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                      A good exercise dvd that Nell takes part in

                      I've had this a while now but, as usually happens with exercise dvds, I've only done it a few times but just did it again so thought I would write a review on it! Overall it's a good one to have in the mix if you like making exercise dvds part of your exercise regime.

                      ***** How it is split *****

                      There are essentially four sections in the dvd:

                      1) An introduction from Nell, telling you about what will happen in the dvd.
                      2) A warm-up, lasting about 10 minutes.
                      3) A cardio section, lasting about 45 minutes.
                      4) A toning section and cool-down / stretching.

                      ***** More Detail about the sections *****

                      The Cardio Section:
                      This is full of a lot of running on the spot in conjunction with different arm movements. There are also star-jumps, squats, knee-lifts and other on-the-spot cardio moves. As it's on-the-spot it's good if you haven't got much room where you live. However, the fact that it's mainly running on the spot can make it a little boring. It's different to some exercise dvds in that you aren't putting together a routine, it's just very army-like and not really focused on making it enjoyable or dance-like in the way that some dvds are. The guy who is leading it and telling you what to do will basically just shout instructions at you and count down the seconds for you for the different exercises, I can't say the work-out is done with any charisma / jokes / entertainment.

                      The Toning Section:
                      This starts on your feet holding weights and you do a lot of arm exercises. You then move onto the floor to do tummy, bum and back exercises, and then finally there are quite a few stretches to end.

                      ***** Level of Difficulty *****

                      I guess there are two different types of difficulty when it comes to exercise dvds. The first is the co-ordination factor. As this dvd doesn't involve any complicated routines or moves it's easy for people who haven't done aerobics or have any skills when it comes to co-ordinating. In the cardio section they do move quite fast with the running on the spot and arms so you just need to try and keep up by moving quickly.
                      The other side is the fitness factor. I exercise normally a few times a week and my fitness is quite good but I found that while I didn't find it too difficult it did raise my heart rate and I did feel like I'd done a work-out at the end (normally just doing one section + the warm-up and cool down at any one time because of time issues or boredom). The next day I can also feel that my muscles have been worked which I like. Some exercise dvds are too gentle and don't do too much so I was impressed with this one in that respect. If you aren't very fit you may find it a bit tough but there are options to 'bail out' at various points through it, or you could always start with the toning section and just a little bit of the cardio section to get used to it.

                      ***** Price and Where to buy *****

                      You can get it off Amazon for £6.68 or probably find a 2nd hand copy off ebay or find a cheaper new copy if you hunt around a little, since it's quite an old dvd now (released in 2004 and is the 3rd from Nell).

                      ***** Final Comment *****

                      I should also mention that although it's officially a Nell McAndrew dvd, she doesn't actually speak once apart from in the intro section, but I think this is the same with most dvds these days (maybe because of Health and Safety as they aren't trained as instructors).

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                      25.11.2009 13:42
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                      A lovely refreshing yoghurt, nice after a meal

                      I really love Muller Corners as they're a lovely refreshing treat after a meal without being too bad for you. Although this one isn't one of my favourites, it's still lovely.

                      The vanilla yoghurt which comes in the bigger section is lovely and creamy, although admittedly not as creamy as if you are getting stuck in to a full-fat creamy yoghurt. The corner section has pieces of peach and apricot in what looks a bit like a glaze - it reminds me a bit of a fruit salad and although it doesn't look too appealing, especially the consistency which looks a bit cheap and gooey, once you mix it with the rest of the yoghurt it tastes good. The peach and apricot taste is very refreshing so it's a nice light dessert to have after a meal, and I hear that eating yoghurts after food can also help you to digest it.

                      I got mine from a little shop near me for 50p but I'm sure you could get these at a large supermarket near you, probably for a better price if you buy them in a multipack. In terms of fat content, like usual with Muller Corners they aren't totally fat free like some yoghurts are, but they aren't bad enough to worry about. Per 100g (the pot is 175g) there is 3.9g fat (of which 2.4g is Saturated) and 108kcal.

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                        25.11.2009 10:46
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                        An easy-to-cook risotto which is pretty tasty

                        I like Risotto Pronto - it's quick, easy, tasty, and low in fat. I am sure that some foodies will gasp at the thought of cooking risotto in this way, when making risotto from scratch isn't very difficult but hey, call me lazy bones!

                        ********** What is it? **********

                        I have only come across two flavours of Risotto Pronto - Porcini Mushroom and Sun-dried Tomato. It is already-flavoured risotto rice in a box with bits in it (i.e. either Mushroom bits or Tomato bits depending on which one you choose).

                        ********** How to Cook and Serve it **********

                        It's really easy to cook. For every cup of rice you use, use twice the amount of water. Simply put the rice and water in a pan, bring it to the boil, and simmer it for 12 minutes, stirring every now and again. You want to make sure you keep an eye on it otherwise it can end up sticking to the pan.

                        When it's ready, I would recommend serving it with some parmesan on top and maybe a little bit of butter to make it nice and creamy, and then seasoning. If you're trying to be really healthy you could just skip the butter and parmesan - personally I think it still tastes nice without it, but adding these make it more rich, flavoursome and indulgent. On the side I like some Rocket, but obviously you could have anything you want - you could add some chicken, some other veg, or some other salad, but I like to keep it pretty simple with this dish and enjoy it for what it is.

                        ********** The Taste **********

                        Once cooked, it does end up with the same thick, gooey consistency as normal risotto even if it's not quite as good as the real thing. It has quite a creamy taste to it even without adding any cheese or butter.

                        I personally prefer the mushroom one. It has little bits of porcini mushrooms in it (nothing to write home about but a nice little addition) and I really like the mushroom taste, which isn't too overpowering but obviously if you're not keen on mushrooms this isn't for you.
                        The Sun-dried tomato risotto is also nice, but I think it's a bit too much of a rich, tomato taste for me, a little too intense and almost too salty-tasting. I do like it, but just not very often and probably less of it.

                        ********** Packaging and Servings **********

                        It comes in a rectangular cardboard box and says it serves 2 - 3 (250g). Risotto is very rich so you don't want the same amount as you do with pasta, for example, but I still think that you'd be a little ambitious to serve 3 with this unless you aren't very hungry. I think it offers two decent-sized portions. I do think that they could do with selling it in a bigger size, like with normal rice. I think this could be a bit less wasteful so that you didn't have to keep buying more boxes and could just store a bigger bag in your cupboard.

                        ********** Price, Fat Content and Where to get it **********

                        They used to sell it in the Tescos near me, but don't anymore. I did find it in Sainsbury's recently though, and I don't know where else they sell it. It's about £2.50 for 200g which will make a few servings, so you could say it's a little pricey. The fat content is only around 2g Fat per 100g.

                        Overall it's a tasty easy meal even if it's not as good as the real thing.

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                          17.11.2009 21:33
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                          Easy to make noodles which make a pretty tasty meal

                          For an easy meal, these are pretty good noodles. I have so far had the Thread Fine Noodles and the Medium Noodles. I especially like the Thread Fine ones as they seem to mix really well with veg and sauce and make a tasty dish to get stuck into.

                          ***** How to cook them *****

                          I doubt you could find noodles that are as easy to cook as these! On the back it gives a recipe idea (on my pack it was Hong Kong Sweet and Sour Chicken) which tells you to stir-fry chicken for a few minutes, then add veg and stir fry for another few minutes, then add the sauce and cook that for 1 minute, then add the noodles and cook for a further 1 minute. If you're only cooking the noodles by themself, for example, obviously you would just stick them in a pan of heated oil or Fry Light spray and heat. Although it says you only need to heat them for 1 minute, I think a couple of minutes is more realistic if you want them piping hot.

                          Overall these are extremely easy to cook and good if you're feeling mega lazy and want a meal ready in minutes!

                          ***** Taste *****

                          Noodles have a fairly non-descript taste to them to be honest and tend to just soak up the taste of whatever you add to them. Therefore it's nice to get some good veg (and maybe some chicken, meat or prawns) and a nice sauce. The thing that I find about noodles is that they're quite satisfying when you're hungry - they're quite filling and I really like the texture of the thread fine noodles in particular. I can't say that the taste of the noodles by themselves is anything special, but as a meal mixed with veg and / or meat, it's quite a tasty easy meal, even if it couldn't make it into the 'delicious' category.

                          ***** Nutrition *****

                          Per 120g serving there is 2.2g fat of which 0.3g is Saturated, which is very low. There is 171 kcal and 34.6g Carbohydrate. Salt content is 0.3g which is quite low too (I think - I'm not great with Salt apart from knowing that we shouldn't have more than 6g a day).

                          ***** Basics *****

                          I bought these as a pack of 2 x 150g sachets stored in a plastic bag. I got mine from Tescos but I'm guessing they are available at most supermarkets. They cost around £1.10 per pack.

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                          • My Super Sweet 16 / TV Programme / 33 Readings / 32 Ratings
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                            17.11.2009 20:57
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                            A fairly entertaining show about spoilt rich kids celebrating their 16th birthday

                            It's difficult to know exactly how to rate this as it's interesting and entertaining to watch a couple of times and laugh at the ridiculous way that some people live, but then it's also totally horrifying to see what little brats some rich parents let their kids become.

                            This programme basically covers the preparation and then the 16th party of spoilt rich kids. It was initially an MTV programme based on American kids, but there is now a UK version and it's on VIVA (formerly TMF). They last 1/2 hour.

                            The show starts with a short intro of the teenager and where they live, and gives a quick insight into their personality, which normally involves them shouting at their parents and totally disrespecting them. It's totally disgusting watching how the teenagers treat their parents but the even more horrifying thing is that their parents pander to their every request which really makes them totally responsible for the way they've turned out.

                            Next we watch as the teenager goes to their school to give out invitations to the 'lucky chosen ones'. It shows the kids all absolutely desperate to go to the supposed party of the year and there are often tears when they don't make it onto the list. It just all seems to be totally about money and it's pretty hideous really.

                            It's mad the expense that is gone to for the party, the parents must literally spend a few hundred thousand if not sometimes more. There are often marquees dramatically decorated, sometimes circus acts going on, designer gifts of all sorts, outfits for the teenager that must be £1K +, and even celebrity appearances. Normally however much the parents have spent and however much effort they've put in the kids have complaints to make. There was one I saw where the mum had organised for N-Dubz to perform, and after she announced it her daughter just raised her eyebrows and said to her mum 'is there someone else coming' - it mad me so mad to watch! It all turned out ok for her though as her parents had actually planned for another act after N-Dubz, they'd organised for Sean Kingston to fly over from the US!! In another a 16-year old boy organised for Danielle Lloyd to turn up as his date.

                            Of course with these kids it's all about me me me - there are professional photos of them plastered everywhere, they'll often arrive in a ridiculous way like on a trapeze swing, and they'll often do some kind of dance or sing a song

                            In terms of reviewing the programme itself rather than the little bratty kids that appear on it, I guess it does what it sets out to do. It essentially pokes fun at spoilt rich kids who get everything they ever ask for from their parents who are totally trampled all over. It's pretty entertaining to see such ridiculous situations and to see how dramatic the parties of these 16-year olds are, but because it's painful to watch how spoilt and obnoxious the kids are and how badly their parents have brought them up, I don't think I could handle watching it more than once or twice a year!

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