Ricky Gervais Will Divide Viewers in Bittersweet ‘After Life’

In desperate need of a palate cleanser after watching Leaving Neverland, Ricky Gervais’ new Netflix comedy series, After Life, delivered on the laughs and also, unexpectedly, on the tears.

Tony (Ricky Gervais) had a happy life and adored his wife, Lisa. But after she dies, Tony doesn’t want to go on living. He decides to say and do whatever he likes because being nice is simply a waste of time and energy, particularly when you don’t plan on living for much longer.

Suicide is a central theme in After Life and Gervais doesn’t hold back when it comes to cracking jokes about it, which will no doubt lead to criticism. But that’s his style so if you haven’t warmed to him through his other shows, you may not find this one amusing.

After Life is a six-part series created, written and directed by Ricky Gervais and you’ll recognise much of the cast from other shows he’s starred in. Each episode runs for around 25 minutes.

Watch the trailer for After Life.

It’s on Netflix now.

The Dropout Podcast – The Downfall of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos

Fraudster tales have made for excellent entertainment recently. We watched aghast as Billy McFarland brazenly duped cashed up millennials in Fyre and when terrifying Dirty’ John Meehan swindled wealthy Debra Newell out of a good chunk of her funds.

The Dropout podcast tells another jaw-dropping story of greed and deception. It chronicles the downfall of Elizabeth Holmes and her company, Theranos. Dubbed “the next Steve Jobs”, Holmes set out to revolutionise the healthcare industry and in doing so, became the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. But it all well very downhill as she gradually got outed as a fraud.

The extraordinary part of this story is who she took along for the ride. Some wealthy,  powerful and seemingly very smart people got behind Theranos. This account of how Elizabeth Holmes fooled them all takes the old adage of ‘fake it ’til you make it’ to a whole new level.

Episodes are released weekly.

Listen to The Dropout.

Dirty John on Netflix – A Harrowing Real-Life Thriller

Online daters, beware. Netflix’s Dirty John will give you nightmares and could quite possibly contribute to an online dating activity plunge once the show gains traction.

Eric Bana plays “Dirty John” Meehan in this eight-part true crime anthology series. It’s based on the Los Angeles Times podcast of the same name. John is a seemingly charming man who turns out to be dirty in every sense of the word. He preys on vulnerable women through dating sites and wreaks havoc in their lives, stopping at nothing to extort money from them.

He meets cashed up interior designer, Debra Newell (Connie Britton), and within weeks has intertwined himself in her life and driven a wedge between her and her family. What unfolds is horrific.

Eric Bana and Connie Britton are superbly cast and the terror is unrelenting.

Watch the trailer.

Watch Dirty John on Netflix.

Post-Holiday Wrap-Up of Books, TV, Movies, Podcasts and Other Very Good Things

It’s February so there’s no denying the holidays are well and truly over. If you need a little distraction in your day, here are the best books, TV, movies, podcasts and other stuff I got stuck into over summer:

BOOKS
Normal People by Sally Rooney has been dubbed ‘a future classic’
Tin Man by Sarah Winman is about love, loss and loneliness
The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose asks beguiling questions about the nature of art, life and love
Putney by Sofka Zinovieff is confronting, timely and beautifully written
Yuval Noah Harari has a knack for making sense of complex issues in 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is not new but swept me away. Now an HBO show

TV
The Cry on ABC iView has tension to the max
Sex Education on Netflix will have you in stitches
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime is sweet and easy watching
Abducted in Plain Sight on Netflix is wild an almost unbelievable

MOVIES
The Wife on iTunes really should get Glenn Close her first Oscar
Private Life on Netflix is a raw and honest look at infertility struggles
First Man is the best kind of blockbuster
What We Did on Our Holiday on Netflix is seriously funny and the kids steal the show

PODCASTS
Believed covers how Larry Nassar got away with so much for so long. Beyond shocking.
The Daily is a news podcast powered by New York Times journalism. Stand out episodes are 16, 19 November and 4, 5, 10, 11 December

OTHER STUFF
I can’t shut up about how spectacular Lord Howe Island is
Peanut Butter Oat bars are simple, healthy and make the best snack
I loved reading this recent travel article on my hometown of Newcastle – get there now

Netflix’s Fyre Documentary Has Delusion, Ego and Fraud on a Grand Scale

As I watched Netflix’s new documentary, Fyre, I couldn’t stop putting my hands over my eyes. For anyone that’s ever run an event and felt it going a little off the rails, Fyre will be anxiety-inducing. However, watching a complete disaster of this nature unfold is also hilarious and highly entertaining.

The documentary is a behind the scenes look at the infamous unravelling of the Fyre music festival that was created by Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule. The event was promoted as a luxury festival on a private island in the Bahamas. Millennials who paid outrageous sums of money for tickets were expecting bikini-clad supermodels, an A-List lineup and rockstar amenities. When they arrived the reality was very different.

Look, although it was very sad that many people got financially burnt, my heart really doesn’t bleed for those who willingly forked out up to $250,000 for tickets based on the promos they saw. Comedian, Ron Funches, nailed it when he said: “If you had thousands of dollars to go on a trip to see Blink 182, that’s on you… that is Darwinism at its finest.”

Watch the trailer.

Read a Fyre review.

Watch Fyre on Netflix.

Add Amazon Prime’s ‘Forever’ to Your Holiday Binge-Watching List

I can’t tell you too much about Amazon Prime‘s eight-part TV dramedy, Forever. To reveal what it’s all about would be to spoil the big twist a few episodes in so you’ll need to settle for the official blurb:

“Married couple June (Maya Rudolph) and Oscar (Fred Armisen) live a comfortable but predictable life in suburban California. For years they’ve had the same conversations, had the same meals and taken pleasant vacations at the same rented lake house. But after June talks Oscar into shaking things up with a ski trip, the pair suddenly find themselves in completely unfamiliar territory.”

Forever is created by Alan Yang (Parks and Recreation and Master of None) and Matt Hubbard (30 Rock and Parks and Recreation) so even before you start it, you know there’s a good chance it’s going to be quality.

I blame this TV show – which would have to be one of 2018’s best – for my tiredness today. Those little ‘play next’ prompts at the end of an episode should be banned.

Read The New York Times review.

Watch the trailer for Forever.

Watch Forever now on Amazon Prime.

Ottolenghi’s Cauliflower ‘Tabbouleh’ – The Salad That Keeps On Giving

This cauliflower ‘tabbouleh’ salad from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook ‘SIMPLE’ is extraordinarily good. So good, in fact, that I’ve made it twice in the past week and passed on the recipe to those who ate it with me.

I have to say I was dubious when I read the list of ingredients. 800g of raw cauliflower?! Surely this was taking the cauliflower trend too far. How wrong I was. Left to marinate in the lemon juice and combined with all the other fresh ingredients, it transforms into something spectacular.

Ottolenghi suggests you serve this simple salad immediately but I made it a few hours in advance as I didn’t want to be in the kitchen when friends arrived. It still tasted incredible, as did the leftovers the following day.

View the full recipe here.

Buy the SIMPLE cookbook.

Samin Nosrat’s SALT FAT ACID HEAT Cooking Documentary on Netflix is Pure Joy

Salt Fat Acid Heat is a captivating four-part series on Netflix and is based on Samin Nosrat’s best-selling book of the same name.

Samin believes that if you can master these four elements, you can master the kitchen. In this new series, she travels to home kitchens of Italy, the southern islands of Japan, the heat of the Yucatán and back to Berkeley’s Chez Panisse – where she started her culinary career – to demystify and explore the central principles of what makes food delicious and how each of us can easily incorporate those elements into every dish.

If your heart is still racing from the tension of Bodyguard and you’re after something more uplifting to remind you of the good things the world has to offer, let Salt Fat Acid Heat soothe you. It’s pure joy, beautifully shot (reminiscent of the excellent Chef’s Table), with the only downside being you’ll want to leave your life and start a new one like hers.

Watch the trailer.

Watch Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix.

‘Any Ordinary Day’ by Leigh Sales – A Book About Blindsides, Resilience and What Happens After the Worst Day of Your Life

We’ve all heard a tragic news story and subsequently wondered what the chances are it could happen to us, and what our life would then look like. After a personal brush with death, journalist Leigh Sales was driven to find answers about how vulnerable each of us is to a life-changing event.

Her new book, Any Ordinary Day, explores what happens when ordinary people, on an ordinary day, experience catastrophic events. She speaks with those who’ve faced the unimaginable – from terrorism, to natural disaster, to simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time – and in a warm and candid manner, asks questions that most of wonder but would be too afraid to ask.

As someone that’s led a pretty sweet existence so far, with no real trauma or grief to deal with, I’ve often pondered when my run of good luck will be up and how I’d cope if something catastrophic was forced upon me, so I found the research in this book about how the human brain processes fear and grief strangely comforting.

Far from being a depressing read, it’s an honest and beautifully written commentary on humanity and resilience. It’s also a much-needed resource for how to be helpful to others who are dealing with grief or trauma.

Read an extract of Any Ordinary Day

Buy as a book, EBook or audio

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