Author Archives: Luke Thompson

About Luke Thompson

I've been teaching English for over 18 years in London, Japan and France. I also do an award-winning podcast for learners of English called "Luke's English Podcast". In my free time I'm a stand-up comedian who regularly performs shows in English in Paris and sometimes London.

608. The Mass Observation (with Mum)

Listen to my mum talk about a social history project focusing on the lives of everyday people in the UK. Includes discussion of things like protests, plastic, identity, sex education, loneliness, and milk!

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Introduction Transcript

Hello everyone, this is LEP episode 608 and it’s called The Mass Observation (with Mum).

What’s that all about? You might be thinking. This sounds like some kind of Big Brother thing – like maybe the government observing everyone in some kind of dystopian future, and somehow my mum is involved in it.

Well, I’m afraid it’s far less dramatic than that.

In fact, the mass observation in the title is a social history project that has been going on in the UK, probably for 70 years or more. It’s a project that my mum has fairly recently got involved in.

Basically, the mass observation (now administered by the University of Sussex) aims to record everyday life in Britain through a panel of volunteer observers who either keep diaries or reply to open-ended questionnaires (known as directives). My mum is one of those volunteers and since this project is all about collecting information on everyday life in the UK we thought it might be an interesting episode of Luke’s English Podcast.

So that’s what you’re going to get here. A conversation with my mum on a variety of topics which have come up in the quarterly questionnaires from the Mass Observation.

So, you can expect some rambling conversation between the two of us on things like this:

  • protests
  • plastic
  • identity and gender identity
  • sex education in school
  • loneliness and belonging
  • and milk

There’s also some chat at the start about Prince Harry & Meghan Markle, following on from the last time my mum was on the podcast when we talked about the royal wedding.

So now you can enjoy about an hour’s worth of my mum’s nice voice and accent talking about a variety of issues relating to everyday life in the UK.

I hope you enjoy it. I’ll be back to talk a bit more on the other side of the conversation.

In terms of language learning, your task as ever is to just keep on listening. At the very least, that’s all you have to do here. Just listen, follow the conversation, see what you can learn from it and try to notice any features of English or vocabulary along the way. But the main thing, just enjoy this chat between my mum and me.


Ending

I hope you enjoyed that. I’d like to say a big thank you again to my mum for being on the podcast again, and to all members of my family who make a huge contribution every time they’re on.

So what’s up? Nearly the end of the summer holidays. We’re approaching the end of August.

I hope you’ve had a good summer.

Remember in July I mentioned a couple of times the LEP meetup that was happening in London? Well, I went to it and met about 25-30 LEPsters, had some drinks and conversation with them for a few hours, and what a pleasant experience that was!

In fact we recorded some samples of audio during the meetup, with everyone talking for a minute or two. I think I’ll be putting an episode together with that.

Speak to you again on the podcast soon! Bye!

 

607. The Rick Thompson Report: Boris Johnson PM / No Deal Brexit?

Talking to my dad again about Brexit, this time including our thoughts on Boris Johnson as the new Prime Minister and the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a deal on 31 October.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello folks, here is another new episode of the podcast. This is a free episode for everyone.

Premium subscribers may be waiting for the latest series of premium episodes and so let me say that premium episodes are coming very soon. I am on holiday but I have been working on a premium series in spare moments and it’s nearly ready to be recorded and published and that will happen soon, so rest assured that your premium content is coming… www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium

But now, here is a new episode of the free podcast for you and I’m keeping it in the family again this time as we have another Rick Thompson Report, recorded just yesterday evening.

Most of you will know that The Rick Thompson Report is a series in which I talk to my Dad about politics, usually Brexit.

Every time another milestone in the Brexit story happens in British politics, like when we get another new prime minister or something like that, listeners get in touch with me requesting a new episode with my dad to somehow explain it all! Well, recently Boris Johnson became the UK’s new Prime Minister (you know him – crazy hair, crazy ideas) and he immediately assembled a new cabinet of ministers in line with his position on Brexit, which is basically – let’s try again to get some kind of deal with the EU but if that’s not possible let’s just go without a deal and everything will be great because… I don’t know… sausages or something! British sausages and Winston Churchill!

So naturally I’ve had requests for an episode with my dad to talk about this and about what might happen between now and October 31st when the UK officially leaves the EU (unless that date gets pushed back again for some reason, or the whole thing just gets called off and we can all just carry on like normal and pretend it never happened – have a cup of tea and wait for it all to just blow over – fat chance of that!)

Yesterday evening I sat down with my dad in order to attempt to discuss what’s been going on, and that’s what you’re going to listen to now.

I don’t need to say much more really, except that this conversation will probably be quite complicated and possibly difficult to follow – but don’t blame us, blame David Cameron.

I hope you can keep up with it, and that you manage to spot the various bits of meaty, chunky vocabulary that come up in the conversation.

The main thing that you, as a learner of English I expect, should do while listening to this, in my opinion, is simply try to follow what we’re saying and let your brain’s natural language learning potential take care of the rest. That’s right. Your study aim for this is simply to listen to it. That is it. This is your regular dose of English input through listening.

So, what do we think of Boris Johnson? What about his new cabinet? What might happen next in this crazy Brexit saga? Could The Queen even get involved somehow?

Listen on to hear us talk about these things, and more.

I’ll speak to you again at the end, but now, let’s begin.


Ian Hislop vs Priti Patel on capital punishment (Question Time)

David Cameron resigns, and then sings a happy little tune to himself

Danny Dyer vs David Cameron (again) “He should be held account(able) for it!”

Ending Transcript

So that was my dad and another conversation about Brexit. Apologies if we went over the same ground as in previous episodes on the subject, but there it is – that’s the situation!

Let us know what you think, even if you totally disagree with us of course.

I’m sure many of you will be interested to know more about Boris Johnson and our opinions of him. I would very much like to do a more in-depth episode or two about him, and in fact I’ve been planning that, so watch out for something in the future. I wonder how long he will be our PM.

Expect some more episodes soon, including premium ones which I have been working on in spare moments during my holidays, while my daughter has been napping or at the end of the evening when everyone else has gone to bed. I am working on it and they will arrive soon I promise! The series I’m working on is currently titled “Bad Science” and it covers things like medical science, the misuse of data and also whether vitamin pills are actually good for you. The main thing is that there are tons of very useful, quite high-level vocabulary items that I’m teaching you and it’s the sort of language that you need in order to sound intelligent and articulate in English. I’ll let you discover it when it arrives – which will happen as soon as it’s all been written and recorded!

Now I have to go to bed in order to catch up on some much-needed sleep and to get my energy back in order to survive another day chasing my daughter around a park, or around a farm or something! My daughter is quite obsessed with farmyard animals, which she points at very enthusiastically while saying hello to them in a mix of French and English. It’s adorable, but I need all the energy I can get!

So, I’m going to bed now. Hopefully I will actually be able to sleep. The last couple of nights I’ve had our daughter next to me in bed after she’s woken up in the middle of the night. She has a habit of kind of turning sideways in her sleep and sort of resting her legs on my face. It’s actually wonderful, funny and adorable, but also knackering. But enough about all that now, I will speak to you again on the podcast soon. But for now… Bye!!

606. The English Seaside (with James)

Explaining and describing the culture of the English seaside experience, with James.

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I’m coming to the LEPster meetup on Sunday 28 July 2019. See you there?

Where? The Fitzroy Tavern near Oxford Street & Tottenham Court Road. Full address is 16 Charlotte Street, London W1T 2LY. Put the postcode into your google maps app (or equivalent) and it should direct you there.
When2PM on Sunday 28 July (that’s this coming Sunday)
The host is Zdenek Lukas – you’ll recognise him in the pub because he will be the guy with the board games. If you’re coming please just send Zdenek an email to let him know you’ll be there so he has an idea of how many people to expect. teacherzdenek@gmail.com

Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, how are you? Here is the second of a pair of episodes that I recorded a couple of weeks ago while I was on holiday with my family in England. That’s the same holiday during which I got the two flat tyres that you heard all about in the last episode.

During the holiday, my wife, our daughter, my parents and my brother all travelled down to the south coast of England, where we spent some time at the beach in places like Lyme Regis, Seaton, West Bay and other parts of the Jurassic Coast as it is called. Yes, the Jurassic Coast. Not Jurassic Park – no because that’s not a real holiday resort is it? it’s just a film you see. No, we spent a week on the Jurassic Coast.

What’s the Jurassic Coast? I hear you ask. Are there dinosaurs there?

Here’s a quick extract from Wikipedia which should explain.

The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English Channel coast of southern England. It stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, a distance of about 96 miles, and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in mid-December 2001.

The site spans 185 million years of geological history, coastal erosion having exposed an almost continuous sequence of rock formation covering the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

At different times, this area has been desert, shallow tropical sea and marsh, and the fossilised remains of the various creatures that lived here have been preserved in the rocks.

Basically, there are loads of fossils to be found there, including dinosaurs.

But anyway, I digress there into pre-history. But speaking of ancient creatures, more recently, my family had an English coastal holiday on the Jurassic Coast. Yes, the weather was fantastic. Blue sky, sunshine, not too hot. Just right. While we were there James and I decided that it might be a good idea for us to record a podcast all about the English seaside experience.

What is it really like at the beach in England? What kind of beaches can you find there? What are the typical things that happen at the beach? What sort of things can you see and do there? What is the culture and history of the English seaside?

That is what we attempted to achieve in this episode. I say attempted, because it was actually quite difficult, mainly due to the conditions in which we recorded the conversation.

I recorded this in my parents’ living room, quite late at night after everyone else had gone to bed. We’d eaten a fairly heavy meal (my Mum is a great cook and so we always completely stuff our faces while staying with my parents). Also the holiday had been quite active with lots of sun and fresh air, and of course we had spent a long and tiring day on our unexpected road trip the day before.

As a result the “vibe” of the episode is quite sleepy and generally quite low energy.

In fact, James, who was sitting on the sofa, became steadily more horizontal as the recording went on. At one point he even lies down to continue podcasting in the foetal position with his eyes closed.

I can get quite frustrated and irritable sometimes while recording with James because I’m trying to produce nothing less than top top quality English podcast content for my international audience of listeners and I sometimes fear that his general sleepiness will be interpreted, by you, as a lack of enthusiasm, and I wouldn’t want that on the podcast would I?

So, at certain moments you’ll hear me getting quite angry and actually I very nearly gave up the recording at one point, but James assured me that he wasn’t about to fall asleep and that he would, at the very least, keep his eyes open in an effort to stay conscious while podcasting.

There is some strong language – that means swearing, and just other moments when I start having a go at James a bit, showing my irritation and trying to keep the energy up.

I could have edited those bits out, but I’ve chosen to keep them in because, having listened back to this recording, I actually think they’re quite funny and entertaining. After all, I want my podcast to be authentic and what’s more authentic than the sounds of genuine bickering between two brothers?

In any case, there are only a few moments of mild arguing and swearing, which is quite normal between James and me, but you know, we love each other really and as I said before I now only really want to express my gratitude to James for agreeing to be a guest on the podcast again, when he probably just wanted to go to bed.

So, anyway let’s begin. So come with us now as we enter my parents comfortable living room, late on a warm evening in July as James and I raid our dad’s drinks cabinet, share a glass of scotch whiskey together and attempt to explain the sights, sounds and perhaps smells of the English seaside, in all its glory…


Sandy beaches
Pebble beaches
Upmarket beach towns
Fishing towns
Working class seaside resorts
Sticks of rock
Cockles and mussels
Seagulls
End-of-the-pier entertainment
Fish and chips
And more…

Rude (and often very sexist) old English seaside postcards

A Punch & Judy Show (a modern version, with less violence! Yes, it’s pretty weird.)

Pictures

Lyme Regis Picture GRAHAM HUNT HG12106

Brighton Pier

Blackpool

Waves in the sand, Norfolk

If we missed anything – let us know in the comment section.

Ending Transcript

So there you have it – we managed to talk about the English seaside while maintaining consciousness throughout!

I’d like to thank James again for his participation and for not falling asleep at any point.

Listening back to that, I didn’t sound like I was frustrated at all, right? I thought I’d got more angry and irritated than that, but all-in-all it was a nice one, wasn’t it?

I hope you liked it and that it gave you a flavour of what it’s like to visit the beach in England.

Have a look at the page for this episode on the website. You’ll find some visuals there and also a transcript for the intro and this ending bit.

Just a reminder before we go – there is a LEPster meetup happening in London this coming Sunday (28th July 2019) from 2PM at the Fitzroy Tavern near Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road – the postcode for your google maps app (or equivalent) is W1T 2LY

Full Address: 16 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY

And yes, I can confirm that I will be coming too, probably with James himself and a couple of friends of ours.

If you’re coming, let the meetup host know. That’s Zdenek. You can email him at teacherzdenek@gmail.com just to let him know. If you’re wondering which one he is – he’ll be the guy with the board games.

Hope to see you there. I might only be able to stay for a little bit – perhaps an hour or so, but it would be good to meet you and we can chat in English a bit, perhaps have a drink, maybe play a board game… we will see.

Also, Premium subscribers – I am working on some material for you which will arrive soon. That’s going to contain the usual language teaching to help you improve your vocab, grammar and pronunciation.

If you’re interested in becoming a Premium subscriber go to teacherluke.co.uk/premium and you can sign up there, then use your login details to sign into the LEP app to listen to the premium episodes. You can also check your subscription details by logging into your account from a computer – just go to teacherluke.co.uk/premium, click the three lines in the top left corner and then log in. Also, any technical support issues that you have – email support@libsyn.com and make sure you mention that you are a subscriber to teacherluke’s premium content. Teacherluke is the name you’ll need to use to make sure they know which service it is.

OK then, so, until next time I shall bid ye farewell in the usual way by saying “Goodbye bye bye bye bye bye bye bye!”

605. Unexpected Road Trip (with James)

James and Luke go on an accidental road trip in the south-west of England and record a rambling podcast, while slowly going a bit mad. Will they make it to their destination before sunset? Listen to find out what happens and to learn some words and culture in the process. Photos below. 

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LEPSTER MEETUP IN LONDON

Where? The Fitzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY (near Oxford Street/Tottenham Court Road)
When? Sunday 28 July from 2PM (and probably continuing into the afternoon)
Who? English teacher Zdenek Lukas is the host and all LEPsters (and non-LEPsters) are welcome! Also, Luke might be there with his brother and friends.
Email teacherzdenek@gmail.com to let him know you’re coming.
Come to chat, meet people, play board games in English and have fun!

Episode Introduction (after the jingle)

Hello, welcome back to the podcast everyone, I hope you’re all doing well and having a nice summer or winter depending on which hemisphere you are currently residing in.

I am currently in the middle of a very busy teaching schedule – teaching classes all day every day this week and next week, and of course in the evenings I’m looking after my daughter and dealing with all the usual aspects of life in general. So, I have not had a lot of time to work on podcast episodes. That’s why there’s been a delay and that might continue for a few more weeks, we’ll see. But here’s a new episode!

There are actually loads of things I’d like to talk about, including the fact that England are now World Cup winners – yes, we won the World Cup for the first time ever, so it finally came home! I’m not talking about football of course, nope – I’m talking about cricket (yes, that still counts! It’s still a big deal because let me remind you that it is the world’s second most popular spectator sport.) Yes, England are the champions of the world. Those of you who come from cricket-playing countries will know exactly what I’m talking about. Everyone else will probably be confused. And don’t you dare compare it to baseball. Anyway, England won the cricket in dramatic fashion, beating New Zealand in an incredibly close game which went right down to the wire. I’m not going to talk about it in this episode actually, but I did want to mention it because of course I am very proud and I’ve had plenty of requests from listeners in places like India and Pakistan who want me to talk about it. I’ll see if I can cover it in an upcoming episode. If you can’t wait and you want some cricket chat on the podcast, you could always listen to episode 473 in the archive which is a conversation with my dad all about cricket.

But anyway, this episode is all about an unexpected road trip that I went on with my brother recently.

Last week, I was on holiday with my family. We travelled to England and actually I did manage to record two episodes while I was there. This is the first one and it was completely unplanned and recorded on my brother’s phone during various parts of a long and quite frustrating day that we spent near the end of the holiday.

In fact, this episode is a sort of road trip diary, recorded on the road with James.

In this episode you will be able to hear…
Exactly what happened when I got a flat tyre while driving back from the holiday. A tyre is the rubber part of the wheel of a car or bike, in this case car – the black rubber part of the wheel which is full of air. So I got a flat tyre, which is where the tyre (or inner tube inside the tyre) gets punctured and all the air comes out. In fact I got two flat tyres in the same week, which I think is really unlucky. Anyway, the second one caused my brother and me to end up having to go on an unexpected journey through the lanes and roads of Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire. On the way we recorded a series of rambling conversations covering the details of our trip and lots of other topics, and that is what you’re going to listen to.

So why don’t you join us on our accidental road trip and listen to us rambling on about…

  • The specific problem with the car, what happened and how it could be repaired
  • Different words and expressions for feeling angry (because I was very angry with the situation, certainly at the beginning, although you can’t really hear it in my voice because I’m so cool, calm and collected)
  • The dangers of drinking strong coffee and the phenomenon of “coffee rage”
  • The film Robocop and the 2014 Robocop Reboot (a very random tangent)
  • How and why cars might pull each other at nightclubs
  • Going insane while waiting to be rescued by roadside assistance
  • Different types of pub, including how to pick the right pub for a drink in England
  • The taste of beer, and different types of beer that you can get
  • A close encounter with a famous TV comedian at a motorway service station somewhere near Bristol
  • Fascinating details of the sandwiches that we bought to help sustain us on our adventure
  • The topic of going vegan or at least just eating less meat, and why eating meat is said to be bad for the environment
  • How to actually spell and pronounce the names of some English cities and counties on our trip, including Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Worcester, Worcestershire, Warwick and Warwickshire.

All that and more, coming up in this very rambling episode, spontaneously recorded on James’ mobile phone.

Listen on to find out all the details and to hear the voices of some other members of my family at the end, and by the way there is some strong language (swearing), the sound quality might not be up to the usual high standard because it was recorded on a mobile phone (but I think it’s ok) and also there is a lot of slightly mad rambly nonsense coming up – but I think you’ve probably come to expect that sort of thing from this podcast haven’t you?
YES WE HAVE LUKE – LET’S START!

OK here we go…

Photos

604. London Native Speaker Interviews REVISITED Part 2

Listening to the audio from another old YouTube video of mine, and then exploring it for new vocabulary and English learning opportunities.

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Transcript

Hello folks, welcome to a new episode. In this one I’m going to go through some more audio of interviews I did with native speakers of English in London 10 years ago and will mine if for any nice bits of English vocabulary that we find.

Before we begin this episode properly I just want to say a couple of things about the last episode – the one about Queen & Freddy Mercury and also to let you know about my plans for the summer and how that might affect the podcast.

We’ll start with summer plans.

Summer Plans

First of all, I’m going away on holiday during the 2nd week of July, so no podcasts will go up during that time. Then when we get back I’m teaching intensive summer courses at the British Council, which means teaching all day every day. I still have the evenings, but having a lot less time probably means I won’t be able to produce podcasts at the usual rate. So, things might go quiet for the rest of the month. Also, in August we have several holiday plans which are currently coming together and that will mean being away for at least half of the month. So things might go quiet during July and August, only to return at the normal rate in September. I’ll also prioritise premium content, because that is stuff I I feel I have a duty to publish.

Right, so that’s the summer plans and how they will affect the podcast. Things might be a bit quiet as usual at this time of year, but there’s the whole episode archive to explore, all the app-only episodes you might not have heard and all the premium content too.

Audio Quality – Queen Episode

Next let me say a couple of things about the last episode, which was all about Queen, before starting this episode properly in a few minutes.

First of all, I received some nice, enthusiastic responses from people who were very pleased that I was finally talking about Queen on the podcast.

For example, Francisca Lopez Aperador on YouTube wrote:
Hi, Luke, I was waiting for this episode. You really made my day. How could express how thrilled I am. Thanks, thanks, thanks. Cheers from Spain, teacher.

However, some people are saying that Alex is unintelligible in the Queen episode. There weren’t many comments, but I reckon if I just get one or two comments about something, it’s probably representative of what a lot of other people (ninjas) are thinking too.

For example, Arsiney wrote on the website:
I don’t understand any words in this conversation.
Luk`s speech is clear but this guy speaks like alien.

So, is Alex unintelligible? Does he speak like (an) alien?

Personally I understand every single word Alex says and said in the episode and also I noticed that YouTube’s automatic subtitles understood most of what he said (my episodes go up on YouTube now too, so you can see the automatic subtitles, which are 90% correct, going up to 95% correct when I’m on my own).

But there were definitely moments when it was difficult to understand everything he said – largely due to the audio quality during the call and partly due to Alex’s speech, and that probably made it a less satisfying listening experience for you.

Apologies for that. The audio quality wasn’t up to the normal high standard that you have become used to.

Also, Alex doesn’t enunciate as clearly as I do, but then again most people don’t.

This brings us back to this perpetual question of the way I speak on the podcast.

“Luke, do you speak normally or do you slow down because I understand everything you say but I don’t understand other native speakers.”

I do try to be normal and natural but I’m also trying to speak clearly. This is actually how I speak. I always make an effort to speak clearly. That’s who I am – partly as a result of being an English teacher, but also it’s just the way I was brought up to speak.

However, in the real world you’re going to hear people who don’t speak as clearly as me, and you need to prepare for that. I think that most people don’t speak as clearly as I do and it’s not just about speed, it’s about diction. Diction is the manner in which words are pronounced. To an extent you’ve been spoiled by my clear diction. You also have to listen to people who are harder to understand. It trains you to do things like use the context, and other words you can hear to piece together the bits you don’t understand. It’s not always going to be laid out on a plate for you, and you can’t always blame the speaker for not being clear enough for you. As I said, I always understand everything Alex says, so as far as we are concerned, he doesn’t have a problem with his speech. He goes through his life fine, communicating without issues, doing comedy on stage and making people laugh. So, Alex’s pronunciation isn’t a problem in his life. He doesn’t speak as clearly as me, but not many people do.

So, listening to someone like Alex is actually good training.

The Pros and Cons of Audio Quality & Learning English

It’s important to listen to subprime audio.

But I know that some of you will be frustrated that you couldn’t understand or hear everything, and I’m sorry about that. I thought it would be alright. I think the main thing was the audio quality actually.

Understanding what you hear is an important part of the learning process, but be careful of getting used to understanding everything. Sometimes you have to learn to fill in the gaps yourself.

I want you to understand everything you hear. Understanding what you’re hearing is an important part of the enjoyment of this podcast. It’s also an important part of how this works. I’ve talked about the role of comprehensible input. Basically, this is the theory that you learn language when you understand it, and so finding compelling material to listen to that you understand is vital.

So, naturally, clear audio is a part of that and that’s why I spend a lot of time attempting to make sure the audio is of good quality on this podcast. Where possible I even send microphones to guests I’m interviewing by Skype. I’ve sent mics to my dad, my brother, Raphael in Liverpool. I sent a mic to Andy Johnson. I couldn’t send a mic to Alex because he was using his phone, making a whatsapp call over a cellular connection. I expect this meant that the bandwidth of the audio was very narrow, or something like that. Perhaps the audio was compressed so much that there was not much range in the frequency, making it sound squashed or small. I’m not an expert in audio broadcasting so I’m not sure, but it’s probably something like that. Alex doesn’t have wifi at home – believe it or not, and so our only option was to do a voice call. No way for him to plug in a USB microphone. So, that’s one of the reasons for the difficult audio.

I’m probably going too far here and people are going to write to me saying “It’s ok Luke, don’t apologise too much!” etc. I usually go a bit over the top if I’m apologising for something on the podcast – usually because I’ve mispronounced a place name, I’ve made some factual error about your country, like saying your country is part of another country when in fact they’re separate independent nations. You know, stuff like that. Even apologising for uploading too much content. And now, apologising for less-than-perfect audio in one episode. I am probably going too far.

But it’s still worth taking this moment to talk about the pros and cons of good and bad audio, when learning English.

There are good and bad things about having super clear audio and English you can understand easily.

The pros are that you can learn a lot from it (comprehensible input) and you get the satisfaction of understanding it all.

The disadvantage is that you get used to it and then struggle to understand fast native speech.

There are also pros and cons of having audio that’s harder to understand.

Difficult audio trains you to listen more actively and intelligently.

But sometimes it’s frustrating when you don’t understand.

It’s about striking the right balance. Hopefully on my podcast I mix it up and have some audio which is not too difficult to follow, that you can learn from and enjoy, while also presenting you with more difficult things that you have to really focus on.

Now, about this episode you’re listening to right now.

This is London Native Speaker Interviews Revisited part 2.

Recently I uploaded part 1 of this series. That was episode 591.

If you remember, what I’m doing is revisiting some videos I made 10 years ago, when I went into central London with my video camera in order to do quick interviews with people about life in London. My question was “What is London really like?” I got loads of little responses from people talking about the good and bad points of life in our capital city and the videos were pretty successful. Two of them now have over a million views. Not bad.

So in these audio episodes what I’m doing is revisiting those videos. We’re going to listen to the audio from the video – see how much you can understand, and then I’m going to break it down in the usual way, clarifying bits of language and helping you to expand your vocabulary.

Also this gives me a chance to be like a film director doing my own DVD commentary track, which is always fun.

How does this relate to the topic of audio quality?

Well, I recorded these video interviews on a basic handheld camera just using the inbuilt microphone. There’s a bit of wind and loads of atmospheric noise (because central London is a very noisy place) and so yes, the audio isn’t as crystal clear as you might expect, but as I’ve said – it’s good practice. This is where we strike that balance between challenging listening and comprehensible listening.

Right, so let’s go! Let’s listen to the audio – we’ll do each mini interview one by one, and then I’ll break them down for language one by one.

We’ll listen to each clip twice. The first time I’ll just ask you the question “What are the good and bad things about living in London?”. Then listen and try to understand. Then we’ll listen again and I’ll break it all down bit by bit, and there’s quite a lot of nice, natural vocabulary to learn from this video.

On the page for this episode on the website you’ll see:

  • The video
  • A transcript for most of this, especially the first part
  • Transcripts for each part of the video
  • Vocabulary notes with definitions, for the bits of vocabulary I explain during the episode

Right, so let’s get started!

Student / Justin Bieber / Ed Sheeran

Transcript

Graphic design student: Hello
Luke: So, how long have you been in London?
Graphic design student: Two weeks
Luke: Really? What do you do?
Graphic design student: Err, graphic design. Camberwell, School of the Arts.
Luke: Ok. So, your first two weeks.
Graphic design student: First two weeks. It’s quite a big impact. Very big, lots of people, and it’s quite expensive as well.
Luke: Ok. What’s the best thing about it?
Graphic design student: Err, night life. Very good night life. It’s got, you know, erm… If you go to the right places… A lot of action, erm, you know, a lot of friendly people as well.
Luke: Excellent. What about the worst thing?
Graphic design student: Depends on where you go. I mean, there’s quite a lot of, err, muggers about, dodgy people looking at you weirdly. You want to just, turn, turn away from them
Luke: Ok yeah
Graphic design student: Apart from that, generally a lot of people are quite nice. I mean, there’s some people that shove about, but, you know, you’ve just got to deal with it.
Luke: Ok, thank you very much
Graphic design student: That’s ok
Luke: Cheers.

Vocabulary
how long have you been in London?
night life
A lot of action
Muggers
dodgy people
looking at you weirdly
Apart from that, generally a lot of people are quite nice
there’s some people that shove about
you’ve just got to deal with it.

Girl in the red scarf

Luke: So, hello
Girl in red scarf: Hello
Luke: Where are you from?
Girl in red scarf: I live in Redhill, which is about half an hour away from London
Luke: Ok, erm, how long have you lived there?
Girl in red scarf: Two weeks!
Luke: Ok. Everyone’s been living in London for two weeks for some reason. So, what’s London really like then?
Girl in red scarf: London, well, London’s a really really massive place which can be quite overwhelming, but it’s not that scary after you’ve, you know, got stuck in there. Erm, London has everything you’d ever want, if you’re into theatres, art, education, night clubs, anything. Erm, I would say, just get stuck in there and go for it!
Luke: Ok, great, and what’s the worst thing about London?
Girl in red scarf: The worst thing… oooh the worst thing… err, I think the worst thing would have to be the pollution. It’s probably not as bad as some countries, but you always feel like you’ve got black fingernails.
Luke: Ok. Thank you very much.
Girl in red scarf: Thank you

Vocabulary
Overwhelming
but it’s not that scary after you’ve, you know, got stuck in there
if you’re into theatres, art, education, night clubs, anything
just get stuck in there and go for it!

Real Londoner

Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): Hi!
Luke: So, are you from London too?
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): Yes, I am
Luke: Ok, so how long have you lived here?
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): Err, my whole life. Luke: Ok, so you’re a real Londoner
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): Yes, a real Londoner
Luke: Ok, what’s it really like then, living here?
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): What’s it really like? Erm, well I think it’s fantastic. It’s nice to live in such a cosmopolitan place with lots of things to do. You can never say that you’re bored or have nothing to do because then that’s all down to you, so…
Luke: What’s the best thing about it?
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): Erm…
Luke: You might have just answered that
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): Yes I think I have. Just the variety and everything you want to do. Lots of things for different age groups, there’s always something for someone to do. I would say the best thing is, like, the cultural little occasions that we have, like Chinese New Year and things like that, where you have big street parties. I would say that’s the best thing.
Luke: Ok, what about the worst thing?
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): Oh… I don’t like to answer that question
The girl with the red scarf (off screen): Pigeons!
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): Oh yeah! I hate pigeons! I hate pigeons! They’re just…
Luke: What’s wrong with them?
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): They’re diseased!
Luke: They’re diseased. Flying rats.
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): Yes
Luke: Right?
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): Yeah. That’s the worst thing, I don’t dislike anything else.
Luke: Ok, thank you very much
Real Londoner girl (who hates pigeons): You’re welcome
Luke: Cheers

Vocabulary
It’s nice to live in such a cosmopolitan place
that’s all down to you
I hate pigeons! They’re diseased. Flying rats.

Young Business Couple

Smartly dressed couple: Hi
Luke: So, are you from London
Smartly dressed girl: Err, we’ve just moved here, yeah.
Luke: Just moved here, right, so err… How long have you been here?
Smartly dressed girl: Err… We’ve been here for a couple of weeks.
Luke: Ok. Everyone I’ve interviewed today has been in London for, like, two weeks. I don’t know why… So, what’s London really like then? What do you think?
Smartly dressed guy: Err, it’s a huge place. There must be about 10 million people living here. It’s got a lot of good things, bad things. It’s vibrant, it’s multicultural. It’s got fantastic places to eat, fantastic places to go out in the evening.
Smartly dressed girl: Fantastic theatre, fantastic restaurants. Fantastic museums, art galleries. Absolutely loads of stuff.
Luke: Ok
Smartly dressed guy: It’s a fast paced place. People seem to be moving around a lot faster than in the rest of the country
Smartly dressed girl: Sometimes that can get quite a bit much, you know. People sort of rushing everywhere all the time
Smartly dressed guy: But it’s interesting, but there’s also negatives to living here
Smartly dressed girl: It’s very congested, it’s very expensive. Err, extremely expensive, public transport is expensive. It’s hard… it can take a long time to get anywhere
Smartly dressed guy: And there’s also a lot of pollution, and crime as well. So, if you come to live here I think it’s about finding the right enclave
Smartly dressed girl: Yeah, the right neighbourhood to live in, definitely…
Smartly dressed guy: And having friends. Set up your own community of friends, rather than knowing your next door neighbour.
Luke: Yeah. Ok, thank you very much
Smartly dressed guy: No worries
Luke: Cheers, bye bye
Smartly dressed girl: Cheers, bye

Vocabulary
we’ve just moved here
How long have you been here?
We’ve been here for a couple of weeks.
There must be about 10 million people living here.
It’s vibrant
It’s a fast paced place.
Sometimes that can get quite a bit much, you know
People sort of rushing everywhere all the time
It’s very congested
I think it’s about finding the right enclave

Vocabulary with definitions

Here are some definitions of some of the vocabulary in the video.

night life – social life at night, for example clubs and bars
a lot of action – lots of exciting things happening, and lots of nice girls to meet
muggers – criminals who might steal things from you in public (e.g. attack you and steal your bag)
dodgy people – people who are strange and can’t be trusted
looking at you weirdly – looking at you in a strange way
turn away from them – look/turn in the other direction
shove about – push people when in a large crowd (e.g. pushing people when getting on or off a crowded train)
you’ve just got to deal with it – you have to just learn to live with it. You can’t let it make you unhappy.
massive
overwhelming – having such a great effect on you that you feel confused and do not know how to react
if you’re into theatres, art, education, night clubs, anything – ‘to be into something’ means to be interested in it, or to enjoy it
just get stuck in there – get involved without hesitation or fear
and go for it – just do it!
pollution – dirty air caused by cars, bad air conditioners etc
a cosmopolitan place – a place with lots of people from all over the world (positive adjective)
Pigeons – very common birds which you find in the city (see the video at about 3:33)
vibrant – full of energy and activity in an exciting way
multicultural – involving people from many different cultures
fast paced – with a quick lifestyle (e.g. people rushing about everywhere, walking very quickly, in a hurry)
get quite a bit (too) much – be stressful and annoying
congested – full of traffic, lots of traffic jams
the right enclave – a small area within the city in which you live and feel comfortable
neighbourhood – part of town in which you live

603. Queen / Freddie Mercury / Bohemian Rhapsody

A conversation with Queen fan Alex Love about one of the UK’s most famous and iconic bands. This episode has been requested many times by listeners, so finally – here it is!

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Notes, Links & Videos

No transcript for the intro to this episode, but there is a transcript for the ending (below)

Queen at Live Aid 1985

Alex Love “How to win a Pub Quiz: British Edition” at Edinburgh Fringe 2019

The Stand, Room 2. 12 o’clock noon, throughout August (but not 12 August).

Tickets here https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/alex-love-how-to-win-a-pub-quiz-british-edition

Ending Transcript

So that was Alex Love talking about one of his favourite bands, Queen.

I hope you managed to follow all of that. I understand that the sound quality wasn’t exactly perfect and Alex can be a bit of a mumbler sometimes, but this is good practice – not every conversation or bit of listening you’ll do will happen in completely perfect acoustic conditions. It’s good training to listen to conversations like this from time to time.

So I know that plenty of you out there are big fans of Queen and you might have things to say yourselves, so I’d like to invite you to leave your comments in the comment section.

You can write responses to any of the things that came up in this conversation and here are some questions for you too. These are pretty much the questions I asked Alex I think.

  1. How did you first get into Queen?
  2. What’s their appeal, to you and to everyone?
  3. How would you describe their sound?
  4. What’s the story of the band? Do you know their origins and how they went on to become such a huge band?
  5. What are your favourite songs of theirs and why?
  6. What’s Bohemian Rhapsody all about (the song)?
  7. What about the film Bohemian Rhapsody? Have you seen it? What did you think of it? And have you seen Rocketman the Elton John film?
  8. What can you tell me about the individual members of the band? What was the dynamic between them all? (Often seems to be the secret to every band’s magic)

So do feel free to write some things in the comment section in response to any of those questions.

If you’re heading to Edinburgh for the Fringe this year, why not check out Alex’s show, which is always a hit at the festival. It’s called How To Win a Pub Quiz and it is part stand up comedy show and part pub quiz. It’s described in the fringe website as being an interactive comedy game show. It is a lot of fun.

tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/alex-love-how-to-win-a-pub-quiz-british-edition

It’s on every day (except 12 August) at 12 noon at The Stand Comedy Club (room 2).

Tickets are available at tickets.edfrindge.com (check the link on the page for this episode).

Go along you will have fun!

That’s it for this episode.

Just a reminder about premium content. I’ve uploaded series 13 and series 14 is almost ready to go now. So, plenty of premium stuff available now and it’s all about repeating, demonstrating and clarifying language which has come up naturally in conversations on the podcast, and there are pronunciation drills focusing on different aspects of pronunciation each time. Episodes and PDFs available in the app and online. Go to teacherluke.co.uk/premium to get started.

Again, things might be a little bit quiet with the free podcast, but premium episodes are coming.

OK, I look forward to reading your comments as they come in.

No song from me, as Alex requested, just because I don’t feel really good enough to tackle a song by Queen. They’re all too technical and Freddy’s voice is so strong and has so much range to it that it’s hard to do covers of Queen songs, but perhaps if I somehow meet up with Alex we can do some kind of duet, which I’m sure would be absolutely horrible… but if that’s what the people want, that’s what I’ll do!

But for now…

Good bye…

602. British Comedy: The Day Today (Part 2)

The Day Today is an award-winning parody of news and current affairs TV programmes. Let’s listen to some more clips, understand the humour and learn some English in the process.

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Intro Transcript, Notes & Videos

Hello and welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast. How are you? It’s boiling hot here. We’re in the middle of a heat wave and today the temperature is expected to be in the high 30s with a feels-like temperature somewhere in the 40s.

I’ve never understood that. So the temperature is 39 but it feels like 43. So isn’t the temperate 43 then? I don’t get it.

In any case, it is boiling. So if at some point I stop talking, you hear a thud and the podcast goes silent – don’t worry, I’ve just passed out from heat stroke or exhaustion or something. Just joking, but it is very hot.

These aren’t exactly perfect conditions, but my dauntless British spirit is unbowed by any crisis, as we heard in the last episode, so I will be just fine, thank you.

I wonder how it is where you are.

Now, enough idle chit chat, let’s on to this episode.

This is episode 602 and it’s the second part of this episode I’m doing about British comedy TV show “The Day Today”.

You should listen to part 1 before listening to this, and also know that there are notes, videos and bits of transcription on the page for this episode on my website. Just go to teacherluke.co.uk and check the episode archive where you will find all the other episode pages, plus some bonus website-only content too.

In the first part of this episode I talked to you about The Day Today – what kind of programme it is, who made it and so on. Then we listened to three clips from that show which you can find on YouTube and then I broke them down for language and to help you understand the humour.

That’s exactly what we’re going to continue doing in this episode. I have 3 more clips, available on YouTube, so let’s do it like this:

  • First I’ll talk to you about the clip we’re going to see, explaining the context, giving you the main details and asking you to listen out for certain things. This part is necessary because it will really help you understand the reference points and bits of humour that you might otherwise miss.
  • Then we’ll listen again bit by bit and I’ll explain specific things including phrases or other features of English

Hopefully through this process you will understand and appreciate the humour and you’ll also pick up some English in the process.

Just a reminder – The Day Today is a parody news programme. None of the stories we’re going to hear about is real. It’s all completely made up parody for comedy purposes. This show makes fun of the conventions and clichés of TV news and current affairs programmes, and does it with a weird and surreal twist.

Also, I want to appeal to you to write to me about these episodes. Whenever I do episodes about comedy I wonder what people are thinking. Part 1 of this is doing well in terms of listens, but in terms of comments there are only a couple on the website and I’ve received maybe one email about this, so I’d like to appeal to you to get into the comments section. As a teacher in a classroom and a stand up comedian in a comedy club I get instant feedback on what I’m saying and doing. On the podcast it’s not like that. I record episodes, publish them and then I have no idea beyond just a few numbers, what people think. So, write to me and let me know what you think of this. Do you understand it all? Does it entertain you or disturb you? What are you thinking? Let me know.

Get The Day Today DVD Box Set on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Day-Today-Complete-BBC-Disc/dp/B000171RU4/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+day+today&qid=1560774228&s=gateway&sr=8-1

OK, so let’s carry on with the first of our three clips.

It’s your blood – “Chopper of Doom” 22:30 (Episode 1)

This is from a feature called “It’s your blood” which is exactly like those old TV shows that told stories of bad accidents and how the emergency services responded to them. We used to have a show called 999 which was exactly the same as this.

They always used reconstructions with actors to remake the accident, and they were very cheaply done with the victims telling the story with a voice over. The presenter was Michael Buerk (again) and he had a certain kind of tone which was serious and stern with a patronising edge as if to say “If you’re stupid enough not to take precautions then you deserve to have an accident” perhaps with a little pause, looking at the camera to say “Don’t be an idiot”.

A little snippet of 999 (12:00)

Listen out for the stern, dramatic and slightly patronising tone of it. Also, it’s presenting itself as a public safety broadcast but really it’s just stories of bad accidents reconstructed for our entertainment.

So this is a little clip from BBC 999. (12:00)

On the Day Today it was called It’s Your Blood.

“Every week on It’s your blood we feature an actual bad accident”.

It’s a parody of that kind of show. Did you have shows like that in your countries? Someone tells the true story of a bad accident that they had and then it’s reconstructed using actors and sometimes the real ambulance workers themselves, who are always terrible actors.

In this clip, the accident is that a farmer flies his helicopter above some fields, but passes out while flying. The helicopter is dangerously out of control in the sky and might crash on some children. Luckily the farmer’s dog is in the helicopter, so the authorities manage to save the situation with the help of a local shepherd who whistles to the dog through the CB radio, instructing him how to land the plane, which he does.

If you’re not listening carefully you could easily miss the fact that the dog is the one that lands the plane, because everything is told in such a serious way. The dog even has a voice over at one point as it explains what it was like to fly in the helicopter.

Listen out for

  • How Chris Morris ramps up the drama by suggesting that the blades of a helicopter could easily kill humans “Helicopters, machines for cutting air, air that’s soft and easy to slice, like human beings.”
  • The perhaps unnecessary levels of drama, violence and suspense in the retelling of the story
  • Making the reconstruction had ethical questions because it forced the victims to face their ordeal again
  • “All bodily fluids are the ones that actually emerged at the time.” Ridiculous and impossible, but somehow exactly the kind of thing they’d say on a show like this. For example, the first 20 seconds of the real BBC 999 show.

  • The way he says “For this reason and many others, you may find that the following sequence produces a very powerful sensation in your brain and body” Listen out for how he says the final line “a very powerful sensation in your brain and body” in a kind of tragic way because it involved an actual bad accident. They could just not show this, but for some reason it’s their duty to show it and for us to watch it because a man had an accident and we shouldn’t do it too.
  • The voice over from the sheepdog Lindsay “It was smooth and exhilarating like an aerial motorbike” – that’s the sheepdog actually speaking in voice over
  • Question: What causes the farmer to pass out?
  • The local resident who takes 10 minutes to call for help because she’s too busy filming the disaster on her camcorder
  • Does the story end on a positive note or a negative note?

Clip begins at 22:30

A treat – give a treat to someone, promise someone a treat, get a treat for doing something, to deserve a treat, give a dog a treat
A memento – I decided to video it for him as a memento
Perilous – the helicopter was perilously out of control
To head towards something – the chopper was heading towards a field, heading for a field

REDUNDANCY (Peter O Hanrahanrahan) 5:05 (Episode 6)

Economics Correspondent Peter O Hanrahahanrahan is back. This time the story is that General Motors in Detroit have laid off some workers at their factory.

Some language
A factory / a plant
To lay someone off / to make someone redundant

How many workers have been laid off? Peter O Hanrahahanrahan has the story, live in Detroit. The thing is, he’s got the wrong number.

Chris Morris presses him on this, forcing him to embarrass himself by showing his notes, which have a doodle of a spider in a spider’s web in the corner of the page.

Chris tells Peter off like he’s a naughty schoolboy.

Listen out for

  • Peter’s conviction at the moment that this is “Mass redundancy on an unprecedented scale”
  • How Chris shows his scepticism over Peter’s number.
  • How Peter quickly admits that he’s wrong when Chris asks to see his notes.
  • “You’re lying in a news grave” …what does it say on the gravestone? …news

Clip begins at 5:05

The POOL (Coogan’s bit) 24:21

This is from a spoof fly on the wall documentary about a municipal swimming pool in London and the people that work there.

You know that kind of thing – a camera crew follow people around their working life and reveal little human dramas that go on and tell the story of people in their ordinary lives in their own words.

In this one we’re at a swimming pool and we’re following some of the staff there. We see footage of the staff interacting, dealing with problems. We see what it’s really like to work at a swimming pool. There used to be a lot of shows like this on TV, and they spawned parodies like The Office. The bit I want to look at is Steve Coogan as the pool’s security guard. He’s playing a much older man and it’s pure Peter Cook. It’s a great little comedy character that we have never seen again.

He’s the security guard at the pool and he describes his work including several incidents like when a pigeon got into the pool once. It seems his working life is extremely boring and mundane, but then we learn that one year a person was killed at the pool and there’s a question of whether the security guard is somehow responsible for this. I love the way he responds to the suggestion that he’s liable for the person’s death.

Listen out for

  • Coogan’s tone of voice, accent and other little touches that make this an authentic feeling character
  • The way Coogan’s story about the pigeon has a very boring ending
  • What did he do one night when he found a woman’s swimsuit?
  • What’s his response to the allegation that he was responsible for the death at the pool?

Clip begins at 24:21


Rick Thompson in the DVD extras for The Day Today

The DVD has various bonus extras on it. I remember watching one of those extras with my brother and there was one which was a mini documentary about news broadcasting and how The Day Today uses the style of news for comic effect.

After a couple of minutes, we were surprised to see our dad on screen! He’d been filmed for the documentary and there he was in the BBC newsroom talking about news.

601. British Comedy: The Day Today (Part 1)

Let’s investigate a brilliant British comedy TV show and use it to learn English. The Day Today was originally broadcast on the BBC in the mid-90s and is now considered a groundbreaking parody of news programmes and launched the careers of various comedians, including Steve Coogan.

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Introduction Transcript, Notes & Videos

Hello folks, this episode is called British Comedy: The Day Today and in this one we’ll be looking at another classic bit of British TV Comedy.

First I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the show and then we’ll listen to some clips and I’ll explain the language for you.

This time, it’s The Day Today which was originally broadcast on TV in the 1990s, 1994 to be exact – yes, that’s probably before some of you were even born. But we don’t care about whether this is old or brand new, it doesn’t matter. I think good comedy always stands the test of time, and The Day Today is no exception. It’s still relevant and funny now just like it was before. And in any case, I think it’s part of the fabric of British culture now, just like many other classic bits of British TV comedy that we all grew up watching on TV.

What kind of programme is it?

It’s a surreal parody of news and current affairs TV programmes. It’s a comedy version of the news.

Imagine the news, like the BBC 10 o’clock news, but with everything turned up to 11, everything exaggerated. It’s more dramatic, more pompous, more self-important and much more ridiculous than the real news.

But The Day Today isn’t just an impressions show of people copying news readers, it had this amazing surreal twist to it, which made it so much more subversive.

The show made fun specifically of the self-important nature of TV news and used surrealism and absurdity under the guise of a news broadcast.

The news always presents itself as being very important, very serious, very heavy, completely trustworthy, stern, authoritarian even. These days TV news has softened a bit, but not much. It still has this air of superiority, which I suppose is a necessary part of attempting to convey information in a factual, serious and balanced way. But TV news language – both oral and visual has become a cliché (had become a cliché back in the 90s) which makes it very ripe for making parody comedy.

An example of real TV news headlines

Here’s an example of the opening of the BBC 9 o’clock news, which was and still is the flagship news programme for the BBC.

Listen out for the serious tone of the newsreader Michael Beurk, the important and significant sounding music and also Michael Beurk’s slightly old school pronunciation in places. All of these things went into The Day Today. (News begins at 00:50)

The difference between the Day Today and other shows which have parodied the news was the surrealism. Basically this meant taking a silly story and dealing with it in the most serious way possible, but there was more to it than that. The phrases used, the images created and the slight sense of twisted insanity create this version of the news that’s part Monty Python, part Peter Cook and part some kind of high tech dystopian vision of the future.

This is absolutely a show that inspired Charlie Brooker to do work like Black Mirror. In fact, the creator of Black Mirror worked with Chris Morris – the main guy behind The Day Today. So, for me, they come from the same creative community. Clever, satirical, twisted, dark and very funny comedy writing in the UK.

The Day Today was broadcast at 9pm on BBC2 – the same time as the national news on BBC1. Apparently some people mistakenly watched The Day Today, thinking it was the real news, and believed the stories.

The parody of news tropes was spot on. It looked, sounded and smelt like news. The opening titles of the show captured that sense of drama, pomposity and urgency that you get from news programmes. The set looked just right. The different characters were weird and bizarre but perfectly captured the sorts of journalists or presenters that you could find on TV.

Alan Partridge made his first TV appearance on this show as the sports reporter with a chip on his shoulder who was always getting things wrong.

The language is a big part of it. The news readers speak in this kind of news dialect, with a certain kind of intonation, complex sentences that go on too long and mixed metaphors, as we will hear.

Who wrote it and all that stuff?

Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_Today

Excellent performances by the cast, all of whom have gone on to do other great things.

Chris Morris is a talent that people often forget about, but he was fearless, original, very clever, quite ruthless and a bit sick – the perfect recipe for great British comedy. He went on to do another show called Brass Eye, which was similar to The Day Today but more extreme and controversial (and is a potential other episode for LEP), then various weird comedy projects like BlueJam, an ambient mix album with subliminal sketch comedy going on at the same time. Then he became a film director and did the film Four Lions which is about inept terrorists planning an attack in London. The film won various awards, as did The Day Today.

Armando Iannucci went on to make The Thick of It and In The Loop – political satires about life on Whitehall, and then Veep which is the American equivalent following the vice president. He also directed Death of Stalin and has been involved in writing for Alan Partridge and other big projects.

Other notable cast members are Steve Coogan of course who went on to become successful as Alan Partridge but has also starred in a few Hollywood movies and things.

All the other comedians on the show went on to do more great work.
Rebecca Front, Doon Mackichan, Patrick Marber, David Schneider.

Other writers on the show were Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews who went on to create Father Ted and later The IT Crowd and Black Books (just Graham Linehan).

LET’S LISTEN TO SOME CLIPS AND USE THEM TO LEARN ENGLISH

Alright, enough already. Let’s listen to some clips which you can find on YouTube, and which I have posted on the page for this episode, with time codes to help you find the clips.

There are only 6 episodes of The Day Today but they’re pretty packed with classic stuff.

I’ve been through all 6 episodes and picked out some of my favourite moments to share with you.

The plan is to play them, then break them down sentence by sentence to make sure you understand them 100% and hopefully, get the jokes, although this show doesn’t really use jokes per se, but in any case the aim is to help you understand and appreciate the humour and learn plenty of English in the process.

All the episodes are on YouTube so you could check them all out later if you like, or buy the excellent DVD box set from the BBC, which I own and recommend to you. It’s only £5 on Amazon. Other bookshops are available.

www.amazon.co.uk/Day-Today-Complete-BBC-Disc/dp/B000171RU4/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=the+day+today&qid=1560774228&s=gateway&sr=8-1

I have played some clips of this show before, and explained them for language. You might remember Alan Partridge’s World Cup Countdown or his Sports Roundup, there was Peter O’Hanrahahanrahan interviewing the minister for ships, and I think also we had the interview with the woman raising money by selling jam.

Anyway, let’s get into it.

First I want to play you the opening titles of an episode, just for the music really, because it sets the tone. There are a few ridiculous headlines too.

CLIP 1: THE DAY TODAY – OPENING TITLES

  • What are the three stories exactly?
  • Luke describes the opening titles

Those headlines again

Remember the way grammar changes in headlines.

FIST HEADED MAN DESTROYS CHURCH
Presumably a man with a fist for a head has destroyed a church. You can imagine him headbutting the walls or something. Don’t think about it too much, it’s supposed to be funny to hear such ridiculous things spoken in that voice using that register.

CAR DRIVES PAST WINDOW IN TOWN
The most boring story. A car drove past a window in a town. It’s accompanied by a video of a car driving past a building.

LEICESTER MAN WINS RIGHT TO EAT SISTER
Presumably a man from Leicester has taken court action to allow him to eat his sister. You could imagine this was a real story if he wanted to ‘wed’ his sister, or cousin, especially if he’s from Leicester, but this is to ‘eat’ his sister.

“Those are the headlines, now fact me till I fart.”

CLIP 2: WAR

Australia and Hong Kong have signed a treaty to create an amazing free trade agreement which will be very beneficial for both places and marks a new beginning of peace and cooperation between them.

Chris Morris interviews the British Minister with special responsibility for the commonwealth (this is the days when HK was still a British dependent territory) and the Australian Foreign Secretary – both men who are responsible for the deal.

The interview seems to start as a celebration of the new deal, but the newsreader Chris Morris manages to manipulate the two of them into a diplomatic fight which ends in a declaration of war.

This is a great sketch. The newsreader causes a war in order to be able to cover it in dramatic fashion on his news show. For me it’s about how the media can sometimes drive the agenda through their reporting. The BBC isn’t officially biased. In fact I think most journalists have an honest intention to report on what’s happening, but they’re always going to impose some of their world view on the way they explain stories. But also you get the sense sometimes that some TV producers and presenters are a bit seduced by their own power and end up pushing things in a certain direction under the guise of critical thinking.

Also, perhaps news programmes thrive on creating drama and reporting on a war is somehow the dream of many broadcast journalists, or at least seems like that because war correspondents have this air of action and adventure which borders on being romantic, and the efficient and lively way that broadcasters deal with stories of war makes it seem like they’re enjoying it somehow. There’s precise technical information, reporters in the middle of the action and loads of dramatic music, graphics and images.

Let’s listen to this sketch, which is about 4mins long.

Over to you

Here are some things to listen out for

  • How Chris Morris stokes up tensions and pushes the two diplomats towards war
  • Chris Morris’s confrontational interview style, typical of BBC presenters like Jeremy Paxman, notorious for bullying politicians on TV
  • The mixed metaphors and clichés like, “The stretched twig of peace is at melting point” and
  • “People here are literally bursting with war.”
  • The glee with which Chris says “YES, IT’S WAR!”
  • The OTT way that the show snaps into action once war has been declared, like they were ready and prepared for this, and as journalists this is what they live for
  • The name of the Day Today smart bomb (which I think is an actual bomb fired by The Day
  • Today, with a camera on it, so they can report from the middle of the fight. The news station have launched their own bombs in this war)
  • The clunky way the show goes to the weather, after all that war

I will be going through all of this again after we’ve heard it and I will break it down to the bare bones and will explain language and all that

CLIP 3: Peter O’hanrahahanrahan – Ich Nichten Lichten (Episode 2)

Ministers in Europe have been involved in difficult discussions about quota rates for trade with the US. I expect they’ve been debating what the rates should be, with some ministers disagreeing about the final decision.

Economics correspondent Peter O’Hanrahahanrahan is in Brussels because he says he’s spoken to the German minister and knows how he feels about the decision.

Peter O Hanrahahanrahan’s name is a joke on a real correspondent called Brian Hanrahan (an irish name I think) who actually used to call our house sometimes to speak to my dad (who used to be a BBC news man). Michael Beurk also came round sometimes. He was one of the presenters of the 9 o’clock news who is parodied by Chris Morris on The Day Today. In fact, I feel like I grew up in a news household because my dad often reviewed videos of presenters, we always watched the news, there were BBC pens and mugs all around the house and we sometimes met BBC TV presenters and news readers. I never met Alan Partridge though.

Peter O’Hanrahahanrahan is incompetent, stupid and also petulant (disobeys orders and lies, childishly). It turns out that Peter hasn’t spoken to the German minister and just stayed in his hotel room the whole time. He’s making up the information and can’t even speak German.

Listen out for

  • The way Chris Morris is sceptical about what Peter is saying, and starts to question his story subtly, before full-on bullying him and telling him off like a naughty schoolboy
  • Peter’s pathetic attempt to speak German, clearly pretending that he knows the language and actually spoke to the German minister, when he doesn’t and didn’t
  • How Peter finally admits that he doesn’t actually know what happened and didn’t speak to the minister at all, like a teenager admitting that he’s lying

Peter O Hanrahahanrahan – Ich nichten lichten (starts at 19m40sec)

CLIP 4: SOME KIND OF DRUBBING INCIDENT  (Episode 3

In this one we start with a sports report from Alan Partridge but it gets interrupted with the news that The Queen and the Prime Minister have had a fight. We then follow the story and learn that during their weekly meeting, the PM (John Major) punched The Queen. This sounds shocking of course, especially now that The Queen is elderly, but that’s not the point.

Instead the show is mocking the way the news would deal with a constitutional crisis, springing into action in order to cover the crisis in full detail. It’s also just ridiculous to imagine The Queen having a brawl with anyone.

Listen out for

  • The report from Jennifer Gumpets in front of Buckingham Palace. This report is so realistic.
  • There isn’t much comedy in it beyond the bizarreness of the story. It’s just a perfect little parody of a report from a correspondent.
  • “And as a result of that broadcast the crisis has deepened dramatically” The news actually makes the situation worse by broadcasting footage of the fight, and then starts reporting on that too.
  • Spartacus Mills (history expert) – “Can you sum it up in a word? No. A sound?” What sound does Spartacus use to sum up the situation?
  • The special broadcast which was pre-recorded and designed to be played at times of crisis. It’s basically a way to say “This is Britain, and everything is all right. It’s ok. It’s fine.” and it’s filled with proud patriotic sentiments. The irony is that this kind of thing is either a) needed now in order to make British people feel that everything’s fine or b) the sort of thing used by the Leave campaign to convince people to vote Brexit.
  • What’s the solution to the crisis which has been agreed by both sides?

Clips start at 5:38 & 19:40/21:10

The PM was seen to leave hurriedly after half and hour

The Currency Kidney

Quick Hello / OPP / Living Through Comedy / Somewhere Else Dreamin’

Just a quick “hello” to let you know about some other things you could listen to this month, including my appearances on some other people’s podcasts.

[DOWNLOAD]

Transcript & Links

Hello folks, how are you doing? How’s your English coming along?

This is not a full episode, more of an update and a chance to tell you about some things you could listen to, specifically a couple of appearances I made on other people’s podcasts recently.

I’ve been preparing lots of premium episodes for this month. I’m halfway through series 13. Parts 1 and 2 of this series have been published and they deal with lots of expressions with prepositions, specifically prepositions of place and movement combined with little verbs like get. As usual there are tests and pronunciation drills. Parts 3 and 4 will arrive this week.

If you want to hear all the premium stuff, get the LEP App from the app store then go to teacherluke.co.uk/premium to sign up and get started, use your details to sign into the app to access the premium content. PDF worksheets are all available too.

Other People’s Podcasts

Now then, if you’re looking for stuff to listen to other than the podcast episodes in the archive and the premium content, here are a couple of things you could listen to in the meantime. Here are my recent appearances on other people’s podcasts.

Living Through Comedy – James’ new podcast

1. I was interviewed on my brother’s podcast. It’s called Living Through Comedy and it’s all about my time as a comedian, including how I got into stand up, what my influences were, my experience of developing my act and also some stories of good and bad gigs. There are several other episodes of Living Through Comedy too that you might like. Both feature conversations about comedy, doing stand up and life in general. You should be able to find Living Through Comedy on iTunes, but if you can’t you can listen to it on the page for this episode.

You could also visit www.livingthroughcomedy.libsyn.com and listen there, on a mobile.

So that’s nice. About an hour of conversation between James and me, on his new podcast.

Somewhere Else Dreamin – ExPat stories with Noman Hosni (video)

2. I was interviewed by Noman Hosni for Somewhere Else Dreamin’, his new YouTube series which is all about interviewing people (comedians usually) about their experiences as an ExPat – that means someone who is living in another country. I suppose it’s a nice way to say “immigrant”. And because I am an immigrant, living here in France and I’ve spent time in Japan too, Noman decided I would be a good person to interview.

Noman Hosni is a very funny professional stand up comedian here in France. I interviewed him on the podcast once. He is doing very well as a comedian in France, but he has decided to move to LA in order to pursue his career there. Before going he is working on his English and also finding out about people’s experiences of moving to different countries.

I love hanging out with Noman and in this interview I tell a few stories including the time I got sick in Japan (which I spoke about in a podcast a few years ago) and my experiences of English teaching and moving to France. Check it out!

It’s available on YouTube “somewhere else dreamin luke thompson” and embedded on the website here, but also it’s on Spotify in audio format. It’s a YouTube video and you’ll see me and Noman talking, but Spotify has the audio version.

I’m doing a lot of premium content this month, but I also have some free episodes in the pipeline including some more stuff about British comedy and an episode about Queen, the rock band, which has been requested many times by listeners, so it’s nice to finally be getting around to talking about Queen on the podcast after 600 episodes. There are still many more topics and things to talk about on this podcast.