Culture

Celebrate Independence Day by Imagining If The British Had Won

As every American knows, on July 4 the United States celebrates its independence. We watch fireworks, eat barbecue, go to baseball games, and basically spend the day generally rejoicing in our Founding Fathers’ successful thrashing of the British Empire.

I never know what to write about on this particular day here on the blog – it’s such an American holiday and we cover all things British and it’s probably not best to cross the streams and all that kind of thing. But luckily, the marketing team at beer manufacturer Newcastle has helpfully provided us with the perfect post topic this year.

Hugh Bonneville, Benedict Cumberbatch and More Read Children’s Stories at Hay Festival

Last week, BBC Radio 2’s The Chris Evans Breakfast Show ran a special competition meant to encourage children to write short stories. Called 500 Words, the annual event challenges children to compose a complete short story in – you guessed it – just five hundred words.

(Which is a task that, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time at all, we all know I would fail. Badly.)

Sherlock Holmes: The Theme Park is a Thing That Might Happen in Portsmouth

Now that we’re all back to our regularly scheduled programming of waiting for new Sherlock episodes following the conclusion of eries 3, the natural progression of life as a Sherlockian is to start looking for interesting Holmes-related things to pass the time until we get to Series 4.

And this is certainly one of the more interesting Holmes-related things we’ve seen in a while.

Would you visit Sherlock Holmes: The Amusement Park? Because that’s something that’s actually in the works right now. No, really. That’s not a typo.

Celebrate Robert Burns Night with Some Scottish Telly

You don’t have to be a poetry fan to be familiar with the work of Scottish national poet, Robert Burns. In fact if you’ve ever sung Auld Lang Syne at a New Year’s Eve party, you have performed a piece of Burns’ work.

So beloved is Burns to his fellow countrymen that he was named the greatest Scot of all time in a STV poll in 2009. In fact, Burns’ birthday is celebrated as an unofficial Scottish holiday with suppers held in his honor on or around January 25th. These traditional gatherings are organized around the world, in people’s homes and in swanky halls. No matter where it’s held or how fancy the event, however, there are certain elements that are a part of all Burns’ suppers.

Just a quick look around YouTube will demonstrate the range and scope of these celebrations in honor of Scotland’s favorite son.

The Holmes Effect: Sherlock is Apparently A Baby Name People Are Doing Now

The global success of the BBC’s Sherlock, combined with Robert Downey Jr.’s blockbuster movie franchise and Jonny Lee Miller’s American adaptation Elementary have done more than make Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s great detective popular again among both literary geeks and British television enthusiasts.

Sherlock Holmes is apparently way cool amongst the British parental set now, too.

British Telly Chefs: Who Would You Trust to Make Your Thanksgiving Feast?

In case you’ve lost track of time, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, a holiday which holds many fond memories and a lot of anticipation for me.

It’s a great celebration for several reasons. As the name suggests, it reminds us to be thankful for all the good things in our lives. I find Thanksgiving to be less stressful than Christmas; one single day designated for families to gather together and gorge on the most delicious meal of the year. We also get to watch a parade that features giant character balloons and Broadway musical numbers. Only in America, right?

I don’t know if the Brits are jealous of our feast-based holiday, but I do know Americans miss the holiday terribly when they’re away from home. Let’s say you found yourself in the UK over the Thanksgiving holidays, no family and no kitchen facilities of your own. Who would you choose to prepare this most important repast, the meal that would make you feel less homesick on this special day?

Jamie? Gordon? Nigella, you say? They’re all fine and good and granted they are real food preparation professionals. Nonetheless, the telly chefs I have in mind tend to be a tad more amusing.

Remember the Fifth of November: The Gunpowder Plot and Bonfire Night

Rememeber remember the Fifth of November

The Gunpower Treason and plot

I know of no reason the Gunpower Treason

Should ever be forgot.

Nowadays many Americans are more likely to be aware of the Remember, remember the fifth of November rhyme from the Wachowski Brothers’ cult hit V for Vendetta or the flurry of Facebook status updates on the subject in their Newsfeeds once a year, rather than because of actual history, but did you know that there’s an actual British holiday associated with this saying?

Holiday Cheer: Have Yourself a British Little Christmas

This is a slightly updated version of a post from Christmas 2011. But, since Christmas crackers and mince pies are always awesome in my opinion, it seemed worth sharing again. Hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas Eve!

Most of the biggest – well at least most important and/or most popular – Christmas traditions in Great Britain are…shall we say very well established, with many having been around in some form or other for hundreds of years. There are certainly more great British Christmas activities that didn't make this list - for example, the Top of the Pops Christmas Number 1 is something that's always fun to speculate about at this time of year, but these are some of the most prominent.

Why Americans Love British TV: Our First Guest Post at British Council USA!

Many thanks to the lovely folks at British Council USA for letting me natter on about Americans and our current love affair with British television on their blog. Thoughts? Head over and let me know what I left out!

Americans can’t seem to get enough of all things British. On US television networks in the past year or so, we’ve seen the debut of several remakes of British television series, some successful (Showtime’s Shameless, Syfy’s Being Human) and some less so (MTV’s Skins). Twenty-three million Americans got up exceptionally early to watch the Royal Wedding last spring and several million more got up not quite so early this past weekend to watch coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations from London.

Americans seem ravenous for imported British television. PBS stations nationwide have been achieving record-breaking ratings with hits from across the pond like Downton Abbey and Sherlock (5.4 and 3.2 million viewers, respectively). I think we’ve all probably experienced a friend (or possibly ourselves) under the influence of some form of Downton mania – the viewing marathons, the lack of sleep, the sudden obsession with Dan Stevens or interest in watching every film Dame Maggie Smith’s ever made. At a Sherlock premiere event for the show’s second series in New York, the cheers and screams for star Benedict Cumberbatch and creator Steven Moffat sounded like those at rock concert. It was pretty incredible.

Masterpiece (and Masterpiece Theatre before it) has always been fairly successful at captivating America with British programming. But lately, it seems that more people than ever are seeking these sorts of shows out. But, why? And why now?

[Insert cruel Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss-style cliffhanger here, mwhahahaha]!

Want to read the rest? Click here to visit this post over at the British Council’s site and let me know what you think!

Amazing Internet Things: The Story Behind “Keep Calm and Carry On”

It feels like a pretty safe guess that most Anglophiles probably own a copy of the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster somewhere. (I do!) Some of us probably even own a parody or two of this in some form (Mine is “Keep Calm and Don’t Blink.”) But how many of us actually know the history behind it this saying? Or when exactly this image became so famous?

Barter Books has created a wonderful short video about the history of the iconic “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster that’s well worth watching. It’s fun and will leave you with a bit of a warm fuzzy feeling afterward. Check it out after the jump!

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