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Vampires Suck?

It would appear that we are living in a world that has become obsessed with vampires.

Vampire literature has been around for over 100 years, however in recent years vampire stories have seen an increase in popularity due to several successful television series and movies.

Dracula, an 1897 novel by Bram Stoker tells the story of Jonathan Harker, a man who visits the Transylvanian Count Dracula for business but who soon becomes Dracula’s prisoner. Dracula is probably one of the most famous and most influencial stories in vampire fiction, however the lead character which Stoker described in his book is extremely different to those portrayed today.

The vampire phenomenon has particularly taken off in the last three years thanks to The Twilight Saga, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries. The two television series and the movie franchise depict their vampires as young, sexy and often brooding outsiders who live amongst humans.

Suddenly, vampires have gone from being the feared mystical, gothic creature to sexy, more human-like beings that are depicted and wanted as love interests. The female lead characters in the adaptations I’m going to discuss are all human but willingly pursue relationships with male vampires. Vampire fiction is no longer associated with death, but is now associated with sex and often love.

The Twilight Saga is a series of novels which are currently being adapted in to a series of films, with the first installment of the fourth book being released this year (Breaking Dawn: Part 1) The four novels were written by Stephanie Meyer, and tells the story of Bella Swan, a young high school girl who moves to the small town of Forks, where she meets the mysterious Edward Cullen. Bella and Edward fall in love and she soon discovers that he is a vampire. The series tells of Edward and Bella’s love story, the love triangle between them and werewolf Jacob Black, the evil vampire coven who are after Bella and her desire for Edward to turn her into a vampire.

The films have been hugely successful, starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Launter as the three leads and has grossed over $1.7 billion worldwide. Fans have been dubbed “Twihards” and there are numerous pieces of merchandise on sale all over the high street.

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson

 

True Blood is an American series shown on HBO, which is based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series written by Charlaine Harris. The television series is set in Bon Temps, a small ficitonal town in which vampires and humans co-exist and mostly tells the story of Sookie Stackhouse, a bar waitress who is telepathic and her relationship with Bill Compton, a vampire. The humans and vampires have been able to live alongside each other due to the creation of a synthetic blood which replaces a vampires need to drink human blood.

The series stars Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer as Sookie and Bill, amongst a large, strong ensemble cast and has won a Golden Globe and an Emmy.

Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer

 

The Vampire Diaries is based on the novels of the same name by L.J Smith, telling the mysterious events of the small fictional town, Mystic Falls. The series sees Elena Gilbert torn between two vampire brothers, Stefan and Damon Salvatore. After 145 years, Stefan Salvatore has returned to Mystic Falls and instantly falls in love with Elena, a young human girl who resembles his old vampire love Katherine Pierce. Stefan’s brother, Damon, who was also in love with Katherine, soon returns to the town in order to stir up trouble for Stefan and the quiet life that he is trying to lead. Throughout the series, the love triangle is explored, other mysteries of the town are uncovered and the history of the Salvatore brothers and their lover Katherine Pierce is explored.

The series stars Nina Dobrev playing both Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce, Paul Wesley as the “good” vampire Stefan and Ian Somerhalder as the “bad” vampire Damon. The first episode saw the highest season opener ever on The CW, the network which airs the series.

Ian Somerhalder, Nina Dobrev and Paul Wesley

Whilst there are certainly similarities between the three popular stories, each appeals to a different demographic although some audience members may be a fan of all three. Each has a different take on the vampire legend and features different vampire “rules”; where in The Twilight Saga, the vampires sparkle in bright sunlight, it can kill the vampires in The Vampire Diaries unless they possess a magic ring that allows them to walk in daylight.

Last year also saw the release of Vampires Suck, a spoof of vampire based movies, perhaps suggesting that the creators were already bored of the vampire craze?

So why has the world become so obsessed with vampires? Certainly these adaptations have made vampire fiction popular in the last few years, but it has always been around and has seen surges in popularity before. Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran for six years from 1997 and saw an increase in popularity for the genre.

But has it all gone too far this time around? Fans have been reported asking the actors to bite them at premieres and conventions, surely this is taking it all a little too far?

If I’m honest, I’ve not completely ignored the vampire phenomemon, my love for The Vampire Diaries is admittedly boarderline obsession- I just love the ongoing twists and turns of the series… you never quite know what is going to happen next. However, I don’t understand the craze over The Twilight Saga; I did enjoy the novels, but find the films poorly cast and acted. True Blood has quite simply just passed me by; I did watch the pilot but it didn’t grab me enough to want to continue watching, perhaps one day I’ll get hooked.

Whether people like it or not, it seems that the vampire craze is here to stay… at least for a little while longer.

Please comment with your thoughts on vampire fiction, what vampire films or series you enjoy and whether you think the craze has gone too far.

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Favourite Christmas Film?

Elf has recently been voted the number one Christmas film, according to myvouchercodes.co.uk.
In a survery conducted on the website, the 2003 film was voted the favourite with Miracle on 34th Street coming in second and Home Alone coming in third.
So… is Elf really the best Christmas film of all time? It is definitely one of my favourites along with three others.
So here’s a run down of my four favourite Christmas films and why they are my favourite things to watch over the festive period.

Elf
Starring Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human who as a baby crawls in to Santa’s sack and is brought up as an Elf. When he discovers that he is infact human, Buddy goes to New York in search of his father, Walter Hobbs, who is on the naughty list. Walter did not know that Buddy had been born and at first rejects his son. Buddy discovers the wonders of New York City and tries to adapt to human life… with hilarious consequences. Walter and Buddy soon form a relationship but it is put to the test when Buddy inteferes with Walter’s work.
Elf is a fantastic family film, with hilarious one liners and scenes brilliantly played out by Will Ferrell and the supporting cast. My favourite scene is when Buddy first goes exploring in the City and we see him eating chewing gum from the street, jumping across the zebra crossings, spinning around in revolving doors and being knocked over by a yellow taxi.

The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppet’s give their own tale of Charles Dickens classic story, with popular Muppet characters potraying different characters. Michael Caine stars in the film as Ebenezer Scrooge, the miserable lead character who is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
I really love this adaptation as the Muppet characters provide comedy to the heartwarming tale. With Gonzo the Great acting as Charles Dickens narrating the story as it happens we have comedic relief throughout as he tries to convince Rizzo the Rat that he is the great novelist. My favourite parts of the film are the Ghost of Christmas Present and a number of the songs featured in the film.

Love Actually
The film follows numerous different storylines in the run up to Christmas. We see the new Prime Minister fall for one of his staff, two film stand-ins get to know each other in very close proximity, a married man flirting with his secretary, a young man in love with his best friend’s new wife, a woman in love with her co-worker, a 10-year-old boy in love with a girl in his class and an Englishman fall for his Portugese maid amonst other plotlines.
I love Love Actually. I like that it’s a Christmas film as well as a romantic comedy. It comes from one of my favourite writers, Richard Curtis, the man behind Vicar of Dibley and Notting Hill. I love every story told in Love Actually including the heartwrenching story of Sarah, the American editor who is in love with Karl, the creative director whom she works with, whose relationship is interrupted and consequently ended by Sarah’s mentally ill brother. I also particularly enjoy the story of Mark, Juliet and Peter. Juliet and Peter get married at the start of the film, where we see Peter’s best friend Mark videotaping the celebrations. We believe that Mark does not like Juliet very much, however we soon discover that he is in love with Juliet. A beautiful scene shows Mark tell Juliet through flashcards that he loves her but that he will keep his love a secret for the sake of his best friend.

The Holiday
Amanda is an American film trailer maker who has just broken up with her boyfriend in Los Angeles. Iris is a British editor who has just found out that the man she is seeing has just become engaged. Both wanting to escape from their lives over the Christmas period, they decide to trade homes for two weeks. Amanda moves in to Iris’s home and soon become acquainted with Iris’s older brother, Graham. Thinking that they can have a simple one night stand, the pair sleep together but soon find that a relationship has begun. Whilst Iris is living in Los Angeles in Amanda’s home, she becomes friends with Miles, a composer, and Arthur, an elderly man who used to be a screenwriter in Hollywood during the Golden Age.
Although not necessarily a Christmas film, it is set over the Christmas holiday and although I can watch it at any time of year it, to me, provides the warm, cosy feeling that is associated Christmas. I love this film because I enjoy the twists of Kate Winslet’s storyline. Iris has travelled to LA in order to get over a man that she loves, but instead of instantly meeting and falling in love with another man (like Amanda’s storyline) we see her befriend an elderly man instead, with a love story progressing later with Miles. I really enjoy the scene where Arthur’s work is celebrated as it provides a warm, heartfelt feeling where the audience can feel proud of Arthur’s achievements. Another part I really like is where we discover that Graham has two daughters. The scene is completely heartwrenching and heartwarming at the same time. Throughout the film we believe that Graham might be a bit of a ‘player’ but he is infact a loving single father/widower. Once again, the scene is so warm and loving that, for me, it echoes exactly what Christmas is all about.

So, what is your favourite Christmas film? Is it the same as one of mine? Or something entirely different? Please take the poll to cast your vote and leave comments about your favourite Christmas film!

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Best Song of 2010?

During 2010 we have seen some brilliant varieties of music grace the UK Top 40
There have been some real stand out songs, with the UK population going crazy over certain songs… some really unlikely ones too. (Yolanda Be Cool anyone?) 

The Guardian has just announced its best track of 2010 as voted for by Guardian music critics.  Surprisingly they have voted Robyn’s song “Dancing on my Own” as their best song of 2010, which reached number 8 in the UK Singles Chart. 

So is this really the best song of 2010? 

There have been a lot of songs that I have absolutely loved this year and many of those I think would have been potentially better winners of the Guardian best track of 2010. 

So here’s a run down of some of my favourite songs of the year!

The main stand out track of the year, for me is Eminem feat. Rihanna- Love The Way You Lie. I never get bored of this song, I can listen to it constantly. I personally thought this song would have won the Guardian award.

Another song that I thought would be a potential candidate for the Guardian best track of 2010 award is B.o.B feat. Hayley Williams- Airplanes. People went mad for this song over the summer, raving over it before it had even been released. It got to number in the UK Singles Chart which I think was truly deserved.

I really enjoyed Bruno Mars- Just The Way You Are. It’s a rather cheesy song, but you can’t deny that it’s a lovely one too. I think every girl in the world who heard this song hoped that someone would sing it to them one day!

Teenage Dream by Katy Perry has made it into my list too. I’ve always been a fan of Katy Perry & I’m lucky enough to have tickets to see her in March 2011. I thought California Gurls with Snoop Dogg was the song of the summer, but loved the second release Teenage Dream from the album of the same name.

I think it’s also been a great year for Rihanna; some of the tracks from her Rated R album were still being released in 2010, but it’s the songs from the new Loud album that have made my list. The two singles that have been released have been great, so both are considered part of my top songs of 2010. Only Girl In The World and What’s My Name feat. Drake are two songs that stick in your head all day long but ones that I never tire of.

Finally, my artist of the year is Ellie Goulding. She was named top of the BBC Sound of 2010 list as one to watch and it’s been a fantastic year. I think all of Ellie’s songs are great and I absolutely love her voice. It’s hard not to pick all of her songs to feature in my top songs but I’m going to pick The Writer and of course, her beautiful cover of Elton John’s Your Song.

So there it is… my top songs of 2010. I could have included so many more songs in the list but it would have been a really long!

What songs were your favourites of 2010? Do you think Robyn was a deserving winner of the Guardian best track?

A great round up of the songs of 2010 comes from DJ Earworm, who mixes together a number of songs from the Top US Billboard 100 hits and creates a new 5 minute track which gets released each New Year’s Eve.

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Web Comparison: Mail Online vs Digital Spy

A website comparative analysis that was completed as part of my Web Communication module.

In order to conduct a website comparative analysis, I will look at two competing websites in the field of journalism; specifically focusing on entertainment/”gossip” journalism.  I have chosen Mail Online, which is the online publication of the print newspaper the Daily Mail, in particular their “TV & Showbiz” pages, and Digital Spy, an independent website.  I will look at the similarities and differences between the two websites; with particular interest into their layout and design, content, usability, interactivity and user generated content.

Entertainment/”gossip” journalism is mainly associated with females and this stereotype is played on by the Mail Online website.  When entering the main Mail Online website, we are taken to a neutral page with calming blue tones used for the banners and headline colours. However, when we go to the “TV and Showbiz” section of the website, there is now a pink banner which features the pictures of popular female celebrities; Victoria Beckham, Cheryl Cole, Lily Allen and Coleen Rooney, thus targeting a female user. On the other hand, Digital Spy remains more impartial and uses, again, blue tones in order to appeal to both genders. This is also represented in the types of stories that each website posts. Digital Spy has several different categories that can suit both genders and many interests such as “showbiz,” “movies” and “music”; however the category “gay spy”, which features pictures and stories about attractive men, suggests that the website’s target market is women or homosexual men. Mail Online, however, posts articles on mainly on fashion, reality television and celebrity couples, so is supporting its theme and aiming mostly at a female audience.

Design/layout

The design and layout of a website is extremely important as it will help the website gain regular visitors.  “A website should be simple to navigate, easy to understand” (Eberlin, 2006) In order to be seen as a respected website and get several people using the site, it is good to have easily accessible news stories within a well structured theme.  The Mail Online website have tried to incorporate the newspaper layout to their website, which allows the page to be filled with several headlines, links and pictures to various articles. They have chosen a three column layout which echoes the columns found in a print newspaper. Despite this, the articles are not written in columns the way they would appear in a newspaper. The columns are used as a method of breaking up different stories in to different sections, and allowing one column to be used as a navigation column. The left and middle columns are used to host a large box with a picture for the top story, and three smaller pictures to its right side indicating other top stories. This large box draws visitors to the website’s main content but also attracts them to view the right hand navigation column where several article’s headlines are listed. Scrolling down the homepage, the layout of the website remains the same; mostly with two columns being used for similar items such as more stories or a gallery, whereas the third, right hand column is used for miscellaneous items such as polls, sponsored links and advertisements.  Following this, all three columns are used for the story links; each showing a small picture with a headline and short summary of the article. These columns are categorised in to different areas such as “All the latest showbusiness”, “All the hottest” and “Gossip-Direct from LA”. “Good content organisation creates the foundation for effective navigation and is crucial to the success of the site.” (McCracken et al, 2004) Whilst the layout reflects a print newspaper, having several headlines and pictures can make the pages look quite confusing, making it more difficult for the reader to concentrate on searching for a particular story. The overall layout is fairly easy to use; however the large quantity of stories makes it more complicated to navigate around as there are so many options. This decreases the Mail Online’s usability for its visitors as it may cause readers to visit other competing websites to view their “TV and Showbiz” news.

The Digital Spy website also features a three column layout, however having its main navigation in the centre column, which is uncommon for most websites. Similarly to the Mail Online website, Digital Spy hosts a large picture representing the main article with its headline and a small summary underneath. In the middle navigation section, there are 14 more headlines listed and a “click here for more articles” link, taking visitors to the main headlines from all categories. Following this, there are four small boxes of photos with their headline, indicating the next top stories. Scrolling further down, we can see that the three column layout remains intact, however leaves the third column with white space. This allows the reader to focus on the right and centre columns which show small boxes dedicated to each category; with each having a picture and six headlines inside it. This is good for the layout of the website as having the stories categorised means that the users can find what they are specifically searching for. “On the web, a good visual organisation lets users know what content items are related.” (McCracken, 2004) Much like Mail Online, Digital Spy follows an easy layout as the stories can be seen on the homepage as the most important, or under their respective categories. It is a simple format to follow, however, as the headlines are simply listed, it can make readers confused as to what the article is about. As the headline may not specify in great detail the nature of the article, readers would have to look at the article in order to know if they are interested. This may be purposely done by the website in order to gain more hits, and make their website statistics higher. Both websites follow a similar layout and theme when navigating around the website. “Consistency is one of the most powerful tools for making a website understandable and easy to navigate.” (McCracken, 2004) It is important to do so as it keeps users frequently visiting the site and making it accessible and suitable to people of all ages.

Search Engine Optimisation

In order to see how well the journalism websites have search engine optimisation, it is ideal to search for some of the celebrities featured in the recent Mail Online articles on popular search engine, Google. When searching for the celebrity featured in the top news story at the time, the Mail Online’s articles appear in the “News for” section of the main results page. This happens quite frequently for the Daily Mail articles, this is potentially due to the fact that the website is the online version of a popular print newspaper. On the other hand, the articles featured on Digital Spy do not appear on the Google results when searching for the main person or topic involved in the article.

Interactivity

In terms of interactivity, the Mail Online gives their readers the opportunity to comment on all stories posted. This option does not mean that you have to be a “member” of the website; you can simply leave a quick comment on the story without having to go through a long process of signing up. Readers can then “rate” the comments posted by other readers, as to whether they think they are good or bad comments. However, on the Digital Spy website, users cannot comment on all of the stories published. It is only on certain stories, usually featuring trailers or pictures of upcoming television episodes or films, that users are able to make comments. Instead, Digital Spy leaves their interactivity for the forum pages of their website. There are several categories to choose from each leading to different forum threads on a specific topic within that category. This gives the website a slight “members only” feeling as you have to sign up, which can cost the user. Unlike Mail Online, users must be a member in order to “discuss” their feelings towards certain stories, television shows, and celebrities. Neither of the websites feature any user generated content, an important factor in making a website more personal and more relatable to its audience. The Mail Online website does offer readers to submit their celebrity stories by calling the “showbusiness desk”; however this is the only mention of user generated content. Other than this, the only content from the readers is the comments made on the stories or on the forums.

Sharing Content

Due to the rise in popularity of social networks and sharing news and gossip, both websites offer their readers to share the content that they have read with their friends. Digital Spy has icons to the right, and bottom, of their stories which allow users to share the information through social networking websites and via email. Mail Online also allows users to spread information, having the icons appear solely at the bottom of the article. The icons do not appear as prominently as they do on Digital Spy, making their website and content easier to share.

In conclusion, both websites succeed in keeping their websites consistent and attracting a large following. However, Digital Spy would benefit in improving their search engine optimisation which would largely improve their visiting statistics. I would say that there are several aspects in which both websites could improve, perhaps making their layouts feel less claustrophobic and giving users more information to help navigate around the website.

References

Eberlin, A, 2006. What Makes a Good Website. Wiltshire: eberlin Web Design. Available from: http://www.eberlin.co.uk/whatmakesagoodwebsite.html [Accessed: 29 November 2010]

McCracken, D. D., and Wolfe, R.J., 2004. User-Centered Website Development: A Human-Computer Interaction Approach. New Jersey. Pearson Education, Inc.

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Top 10 Friends Episodes

Friends is one of the most popular, most loved and most watched sitcoms of the last 20 years.Created by Marta Kauffman and David Crane, the show revolves around six friends in New York City. The show began in 1994 and ran for 10 years.

Friends is one of my favourite television shows and I am always rewatching all 10 seasons, no matter how many times I have seen them.

During its course, the lives of Monica, Ross, Phoebe, Rachel, Joey and Chandler were portrayed through 236 episodes and I have picked just 10 of my favourite episodes to share with you. (Something that is easier said than done!)

  1. The One Where Ross is Fine
    Having found Rachel and Joey kissing, Ross invites them over for a double date with him and Charlie. The night is extremely uncomfortable as Ross gets drunk and insists that he is “fine” with Joey and Rachel’s new relationship. During the episode we also see Monica and Chandler visit a couple who have adopted a boy. Not knowing that this is a secret, Chandler accidently tells the boy that he is adopted. Phoebe is visited by her younger brother, Frank Jr, with his triplets and confesses that he cannot cope with them.
    This is one of my favourites as I think Ross is at his funniest during this episode. There are several fantastic one liners and a brilliant speech about Love from Ross.

  2. The One with all the Thanksgivings
    The group reminsce over their worst Thanksgivings, with Phoebe’s going back to 1862. We see Joey with a turkey on his head, the reason why Chandler hates Thanksgivings so much and Monica’s worst Thanksgiving. Monica’s memory takes her back to when Ross and Chandler were in college, when Rachel had her real nose and when Monica was fat.
    I love this episode as it provides hilarious viewing of Monica, Rachel, Ross and Chandler as teenagers. Ross talks about his new girlfriend Carol who he says “plays for both teams!”, referencing Ross’s failed marriage to Carol, who later became a lesbian. The flashbacks take place over two years so we see Chandler call Monica “fat” during the first Thanksgiving and becoming attracted to her in the second Thanksgiving when she has become slim. However, Monica is still upset by Chandler calling her “fat” so decides to humiliate him… Resulting in his little toe being cut off!
  3. The One with All the Cheesecakes
    During this episode, Rachel and Chandler steal the deliveries of a tasty cheesecake from their neighbour’s doorstep. Pheobe is also visited by David, her ex-boyfriend who now lives in Russia.
    I love this episode because we  get to see the friendship between Chandler and Rachel, which we don’t usually get the chance to see. It’s really funny as the pair continue to fight over who gets to eat the cheesecake, which soon ends up on the floor. I particularly like when Rachel and Chandler are eating the cheesecake off of the floor when they are caught out by Joey… who pulls out a fork from his pocket and asks what they’re eating.
  4. The One Hundredth
    In this episode, Phoebe gives birth to the triplets. She has been a surrogate for Frank Jr and his wife, Alice. Joey is also hospitalised for kidney stones.
    This episode marks Friends 100th episode, and is a favourite of mine as we see Phoebe go through labour, deciding on which doctor she would like to deliver the babies… either a Fonzie from Happy Days obsessed doctor or a young doctor. The episode is hilarious throughout, but it sees Phoebe slightly struggle to give away the babies having carried them for nine months.

  5. The One Where Everybody Finds Out
    Monica and Chandler have been secretly dating for months, with Joey being the only other Friend to know of their relationship. (That they know of!) Rachel had recently found out, with Pheobe being the next to discover the secret. With so many people knowing, Joey wants to tell Monica and Chandler that they know, however Rachel and Phoebe have other ideas. They decide to let Phoebe flirt with Chandler to see if he cracks under the pressure and confesses that he is seeing Monica.
    I find this episode hilarious with all the secrecy and plotting. Monica and Chandler find out that everyone knows but decide to meddle with Phoebe as she flirts with Chandler. My favourite line comes from Phoebe where she says, “They don’t know that we know they know we know.” It just outlines how complicated the testing of each other has gone.
  6. The One with the Male Nanny
    One the quest for a nanny for baby Emma, Ross and Rachel intereview several prospective nannies who are all unsuccessful. They then interview Sandy… who Ross is surprised to see is actually male. Rachel loves Sandy and decides to hire him. However, Sandy is really sensitive which makes Ross uncomfortable. We also see Phoebe chose between her new boyfriend Mike and her old boyfriend David.
    This episode is one of my favourites because of the amazing guest stars who appear. Sandy is played by Freddie Prinze Jr, Mike by Paul Rudd and David by Hank Azaria. The guest stars almost steal away the limelight from the main cast during the th episode of the series.
  7. The One with the Prom Video
    Ross is still trying to prove to Rachel that he loves her but is failing miserably. It is not until Monica is watching an old home video of her and Rachel’s prom that shows Ross’s true feelings for Rachel and how long they have been held. We see Rachel’s prom date not turn up and Ross getting ready in order to surprise her by being her date instead. However, Rachel’s date eventually turns up and we see Ross looking disappointed and heartbroken. Rachel is touched by what Ross did for her and kisses him, forgiving him for everything he did to her in previous episodes.
    I love this episode as we see the start of Ross and Rachel’s relationship, a key factor in the entire series of Friends. The video is hilarious as we, once again, Ross, Rachel and Monica as teenagers. 

  8. The One Where Paul’s the Man
    Ross has been dating one of his students, Elizabeth, much to her Dad, Paul’s disapprovement. Elizabeth suggests that she and Ross go to her family’s mountain cabin in secret for a weekend away. However, Paul has begun dating Rachel and he has had the same idea. Whilst trying to hide from Paul, Ross witnesses Paul talking to himself in his mirror, telling himself that he is “the man”, going on to do an embarrassing sing and dance. During this episode, the girls visit a museum in which they hear holds weddings but has a two year waiting list. Phoebe and Rachel convince Monica to put her & Chandler’s name down and if in two years they’re not planning on getting married, they can just cancel the reservation. Chandler receives a call from the wedding coordinator at the musuem and tells him that there has been a cancellation and they can hold their wedding their earlier. He freaks out and tells Monica that she should have waited for him to ask, in which she replies by saying that she didn’t mean anything by it. Monica then leaves the room and Phoebe enters, with Chandler telling her that he is going to propose to Monica.
    This is one of my favourite episodes as Paul’s (played by Bruce Willis) embarrasing dance never fails to make me laugh with each viewing. I also love that we get to see Chandler grow up slightly and become less afraid of committment to Monica. It makes me really exicted about the lead up to the proposal in the season finale.
  9. The One Where No One’s Ready
    This episode is set in real time which sees the gang getting ready for Ross’s museum fundraiser event where he is giving a speech. However, Ross is annoyed at the group for not being ready on time. We see Joey steal Chandler’s chair and put on all of his clothes, Phoebe have hummus spilt on her dress, Monica hack in to her ex-boyfriend’s voicemail machine and Rachel unable to pick an outift.
    The fact that this episode is set in real time makes it a stand out episode for me. There’s some really funny moments, particularly involving Joey and Chandler’s war over the chair they both want to sit in.

  10. The One With the Rumour
    It’s Thanksgiving and Monica invites over an old school friend, Will, who also used to be really overweight like Monica. It turns out that Will did not get along with Rachel during high school, however Rachel cannot remember him and finds him attractive. Will is unkind to Rachel during the episode and we later discover that he and Ross were members of the “I hate Rachel Green club” and that they spread a rumour about Rachel. We find out that they told the rest of the school that Rachel was a hermaphrodite, which she is upset about and claims that she cannot believe that Ross did that as she was nothing but nice to him during high school. Monica then reminds her that that is not true and informs her of the rumour that Rachel spread about Ross; telling everyone that he made out with the school’s 50 year old librarian. Ross reveals that this is true and he and Rachel begin to argue. During the argument they reveal to Will that they are having a baby together which he cannot believe.
    Brad Pitt guest stars in this episode as Will, who at the time was married to Jennifer Aniston, providing great comedy as someone who hated Rachel.

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Les Misérables

As a huge musical fan, Les Misérables is one of my ultimate favourites. I’ve seen it three times and would go and see it again in a second. I love that it’s a more serious musical, giving something a bit different to the theatre.

Les Misérables is the world’s longest running musical and is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. Les Misérables opened at the Barbican Theatre in London on October 8 1985, moving to the Palace Theatre two months later where it remained until April 2004. Since then, the Queen’s Theatre has been the home of the show.

Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, the musical was written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg and directed by Trever Nunn and John Caird and has won eight Tony Awards. Starting in Paris in 1980, the show ran for three months but an English version was soon to be created. British producer Cameron Mackintosh heard the recordings of the musical and began producing the new musical, which would be in production for two years before it opened.

Les Misérables follows one man’s emotional struggle from wrongful imprisonment to becoming a respected member of French society. The story revolves around Jean Valjean’s attempt at starting a new life, however one man, Inspector Javert, is determined to seek him out and send him back to prison. The story also sees the students’ revolt against authority, a love triangle and a blackmailing couple out to make the most out of any situation.

The musical was originally panned by critics on its opening night at the Barbican; calling it “glum” and criticising its length (it is 3 hours long!) however audiences loved it and allowed the show to continue its run.

2010 marked the 25th anniversary of Les Misérables and saw the production play at the Queen’s Theatre in London’s West End as well as a touring cast take the show all over the country. The celebrate its anniversary, a huge concert was staged at the O2 arena in London which featured both old and new cast members, including Alfie Boe, Nick Jonas from the Jonas Brothers and Matt Lucas from Little Britain.  During the finale, the concert cast were joined by the London and touring casts as well as the original 1985 cast, including Colm Wilkinson and Michael Ball to perform “One Day More”.

Les Misérables in numbers

42: The number of countries the show has been performed in.
56 million: The number of people who have seen the show.
40: The number of cast recordings.
308: The number of cities the show has been performed in.
45,000: The number of performances seen worldwide.
75: The number of major theatre awards the show has won.
10,000: The number of performances seen in London alone.

The musical has seen a recent increase in popularity due to Susan Boyle’s first audition on Britain’s Got Talent. Her performance of the Les Misérables song “I Dreamed a Dream” became an instant internet hit and was seen all over the world, therefore giving Les Misérables more publicity and bringing in a new audience who may not have been aware of the show beforehand.

At the 25th anniversary concert, the four actors who have played Jean Valjean in the relevant productions all joined together to sing “Bring Him Home”, one of the shows stand out numbers.  The quartet also performed the number at the recent Royal Variety Performance and the song has been released with proceeds going to Tickets for Troops.

Cameron Mackintosh has recently signed the contracts to make a movie version of the musical with Working Title.

Les Misérables is a fantastic, unique musical which never fails to give me goosebumps and I strongly urge you to go and see it, you will not be disappointed.

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Kelly Clarkson Press Release

A press release I wrote in my first year as part of Writing for Different Purposes.

Press Release    18/12/09

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

All I Ever Wanted- Kelly Clarkson plays at Bournemouth International Centre

American singer-songwriter, Kelly Clarkson is bringing her All I Ever Wanted tour to the Bournemouth International Centre on Monday 15th February 2010. Following the massive success of the album of the same name, which certified both platinum and gold, and two previous tours for the record, Kelly is taking her show worldwide.

Kelly Clarkson first shot to fame by winning the first season of the American television series, American Idol. Following this, she has released four albums, selling over 23 million records worldwide and winning two Grammy awards. Her biggest hit to date is My Life Would Suck Without You, which entered the UK charts at number one on downloads alone.  Famous for her sing-along pop anthems such as Since U Been Gone, I Do Not Hook Up and Because Of You, Kelly is certain to wow her audience and give a highly enjoyable performance.

After pleasing the crowds in the United Kingdom, Kelly is also doing further dates in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Tickets are on sale for £29.12 and are available on the Bournemouth International Centre website (www.bic.co.uk), via the Ticket Office between the hours of 10am-5.30pm and by calling the Ticket Office on 0844 576 3000.

Doors on the day of the event open at 6pm and the show begins at 7.30.

For more information please contact:
Nicola Melhuish (Public Relations)

01202 785241

nmelhuish.bic@bournemouth.co.uk

http://www.bic.co.uk

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