James May Laughs at Toyota Recall, Defends Top Gear’s Stunts

  • At a Top Gear roadshow in Sydney, Australia, co-host James May made a joke about the global recall of Toyota Prius hybrid cars due to braking problems. The Daily Mail quotes him: “You have to laugh a bit don’t you? Maybe if you’re going to try to save the world through your car you have to accept that some sacrifices have to be made and one of them is stopping.” He also defended his show, which has faced criticism for some of the driving stunts they’ve pulled off over the years: “I think it’s nonsense on the basis that people were driving recklessly and having crashes and misbehaving in cars long before Top Gear was invented. In Britain anyway the rate of decline of road casualties has actually continued since Top Gear‘s been on so we could statistically claim we’ve improved road safety.”
  • A couple of weeks ago, news broke that John Barrowman would guest-star on the final episodes of this season’s Desperate Housewives. This week, the Torchwood star drops by Friday Night with Jonathan Ross to talk about it. He reveals that he’ll be “stirring up Wisteria Lane quite a bit.” He also says that he’s open to a return to Torchwood or Doctor Who: “I love playing Captain Jack…I have no clue what’s going to happen…I would go back in a second.” And, yes, the famed musical theater star will sing his rendition of Barry Manilow‘s “Copacabana,” which appears on his upcoming self-titled album. Squee!
  • The Mental Floss blog lists “13 Hitchcock Films That Were Never Made.” This is my personal favorite of Hitchcock’s aborted projects: “In the late 1940s, Hitchcock hit on an odd idea: he wanted to produce a modernized version of Hamlet set in England with Cary Grant in the title role. According to Hitchcock, the project ‘would be presented as a psychological melodrama.’ The idea hit the rocks after Hitchcock’s studio, Transatlantic, announced the project and a professor who had written a modernized version of Shakespeare’s tale threatened a lawsuit.”
  • The Guardian‘s Ben Walters thinks it’s the right time for Steve Coogan to make an I’m Alan Partridge movie. “A Partridge movie has been mooted on and off for at least five years now and in some ways it could seem like an idea whose time has come. This is something of a golden age for prominent British television comedians making the leap to the big screen.”
  • British comedian Chris Morris satirizes Islamic fundamentalism in the controversial new film, Four Lions, which opened at Sundance this year. He tells The Daily Telegraph about the three years of on-the-ground research that went into the movie: “The unfathomable world of extremism seemed to contain elements of farce. People go to training camps in the wrong clothes, forget how to make bombs, fight with each other and then fight again over who just won the fight. They volunteer for the mujahedeen and get told to go home and ‘do the knitting’. They talk about who’s cooler – Bin Laden or Johnny Depp.”

    Here’s a clip from Four Lions:

  • The Guardian previews Peter Gabriel‘s new album, which has an interesting concept: “He decided to cover the work of his favourite artists and, in exchange, they would do the same for him. Scratch My Back is the first installment of this project, and sees the 59-year-old, ex-Genesis man cover the likes of Radiohead, Talking Heads, and David Bowie. The artists whose songs you hear here will be returning the favor by performing Gabriel’s songs on a forthcoming album, I’ll Scratch Yours.”
  • The original “viva glam” diva, Ms. Joan Collins, has done a photoshoot for jewelry designer Alex Bittar. She looks absolutely fantastic. (Daily Mail)
  • Cheesy British TV presenter Vernon Kay admits a Tiger Woods-style blunder: he sent sexy text messages to five women. None of them were his wife Tess Daly.(Daily Mail)
  • In yet another piece about the 25th anniversary of EastEnders, The Independent‘s Michael Bywater unwraps the meaning of the show, tying the British soap back to ages-old literary traditions: “In its endless blurring between comedyand tragedy, as well as its setting, firmly among the working class, EastEnders lies in a line of descent directly from the medieval tradition of the miracle and mystery plays: the drama of ordinary people caught up in great events.”
  • The finale of the BBC’s version of So You Think You Can Dance is this weekend. Check out a few of the extraordinary routines you may have missed this season:

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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