Category Archives: Entertainment

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

599. Oliver Gee Returns with Stories to Tell

Australian journalist and podcaster Oliver Gee returns to LEP to tell us some stories about the Notre Dame Cathedral fire, meeting famous comedians as a journalist, learning Swedish and French and his honeymoon tour of France on a 50cc Vespa scooter.

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Introduction Transcript

Welcome to episode 599 of Luke’s English Podcast, a podcast for learners of English presented by me, Luke Thompson an English teacher and comedian from England now living in Paris.

In this episode you’re going to hear a conversation I recorded last week here in my flat. The conversation is with my friend Oliver Gee who is a journalist and podcaster, from Australia now also living in Paris.

As some of you will remember, Oliver has been on the podcast before, in episode 495, over 100 episodes ago. Can you believe it!? In that episode we talked all about Australian things, including Australian English, so while you’re listening to Oli’s voice and you’re wondering about his accent and other Australian things, check out episode 495.

Oliver is a podcaster and YouTuber who makes content about Paris and France, in English. Recently I joined Oliver on one of his live YouTube video walking tours in Paris, which you can find on the page for this episode and it was a lot of fun talking to him and I thought it was high time I invited him back on the podcast for a chat and to tell us some stories.

And, as a journalist, Oliver is very interested in stories. That’s what journalism is about a lot of the time – finding stories, covering stories, reporting stories and generally reporting events in the form of stories. So, that’s what I wanted from this conversation. I wanted Oliver to tell us some stories – not bedtime stories or fairy tales. I’m talking more about true stories of people’s lives, moments that people experience, big events that happen in the world, etc.

We communicate so much of what we do and see via stories – either in the media, or in the way we just talk to each other and describe things. Stories are central to the way we communicate with each other.

So, the focus for me in this conversation was to let Oliver tell us some of his stories, and I wanted to hear him speak about these things in particular:

The Notre Dame Cathedral fire

When the world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught fire recently (you must have seen it in the news) Oliver went down to the cathedral with his camera in order to see and record what was happening and to capture the moment. He also interviewed to a tour guide all about it for his podcast in which they described it in full detail. So, Oliver can tell us about what he saw that evening, generally what happened at the cathedral and what’s happening next and there are some pretty weird coincidences in his story too. In fact there are quite a of weird coincidences and special moments described during this episode.

Meeting famous comedians

I also wanted stories about Oliver’s time working as a journalist, how he started and particularly moments when he ended up meeting some famous people – especially comedians that we’re big fans of.

So listen on to find out who Oliver has met, how he met them and what they were really like in person. There’s one comedian who is particularly famous at the moment. Oliver got to meet him in really quite an intimate situation, and I love the story.

Learning Swedish & French

Oliver has lived in Sweden and now lives in France, so I wanted him to tell me about his experiences of learning languages, particularly moments when he felt challenged and when he’d made significant progress.

The honeymoon tour of France on a scooter

And finally, there’s the story of Oliver’s honeymoon road trip around France on the back of a scooter. Imagine two newly married people travelling all around France, even crossing over the alps, all on a small 50cc Vespa scooter. Listen on to find out what happened.

So those are the main topics – Notre Dame Cathedral, meeting famous people, learning languages and a honeymoon road trip. There’s also some chat at the start about my podcast as Oliver noticed that LEP has had over 50 million downloads in total and I’m approaching episode 600. So we talk a bit about podcasting vs using YouTube as different platforms for what we do.

We’re about to jump into the conversation now, just before we do let me prepare you a little bit because the conversation starts quite quickly.

In episode 495, if you remember, we said that the better people know Oliver, the shorter his name becomes. This is normal. It’s like nicknames. So, acquaintances probably call him Oliver, then friends call him Oli, then close friends might call him Ol, then really close friends might just call him O.

I just wanted to remind you of that, because it’s the first thing you’ll hear, so you might immediately get lost and go “Wait, what? I’m lost already!”

The better people know you, the shorter your name becomes. That’s how this begins.

Alright, so now you’re ready, let’s go!


Ending

So that was Oliver Gee on the podcast again. I really hope you enjoyed that conversation full of stories. If you struggled to understand everything that was said I just want to say congratulations and well done for listening all the way through to this point. I know sometimes it is difficult to follow these long, fast conversations on my podcast but I truly believe that you can make progress if you manage to just keep listening. Sometimes you’ll get lost and not understand, but try to tolerate the bits that you can’t understand and use the bits that you do understand to help you guess the rest and keep going. The best language learners persevere even when things aren’t completely clear.

Stay positive, keep it up.

As ever I look forward to reading your comments in the comment section if you have anything to share or any thoughts regarding any of the things that came up in this episode.

On the episode page you will find loads of links and videos relating to the things we talked about in this conversation, including… (links all listed below)

So this is the end of episode 599. Episode 600 will be the next one.

I hope you can join me for the YouTube live stream when I will be recording episode 600.

That is going to happen at 3PM (CET) on Friday 7 June on my YouTube channel. You’ll find the link to that on the front page of my website in the comment section.

If you can’t attend the live stream, then I am sorry! You will be able to watch the video later and obviously listen to the audio in episode 600.

The theme of the live stream is “Ask me anything” (although I do reserve the right not to answer questions if I don’t fancy it, like “what colour is your underwear?” “Mind your own business!” or “What are your credit card details?” etc. You can ask me questions about English or whatever comes to you and I will try to answer the questions as best I can, and as briefly as I can in the time we have available.

Also, premium subscribers – premium episodes are coming! I’m working on several premium series at the moment, and so June will see more premium stuff and less free stuff.

OK then, that’s it! Until episode 600 I will now say, good bye bye bye bye bye…


Links

Oliver’s episode about Notre Dame Cathedral (The Earful Tower Podcast)

theearfultower.com/2019/04/22/notre-dame-fire-what-happened-and-what-next/

Oliver’s tour of Notre Dame when it’s empty – before the fire (The Earful Tower)

When Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire (France 24 News)

Oliver’s video of Parisians singing hymns while Notre Dame burns (The Earful Tower)

My walking tour with Oliver in the Square des Batignolles (5 minute version)

Bill Bailey does comedy about minor and major keys in music

LEP #462 British Comedy: Bill Bailey

462. British Comedy: Bill Bailey

A clip from Russel Brand’s Netflix Special (I think this is the one that Oliver & his wife attended)

Oliver’s live walking tour / interview with French model/author/music producer Caroline de Maigret (The Earful Tower)

596. SLEEP with Amber & Paul

All about the subject of SLEEP, with Amber & Paul. Listen to hear us comparing our sleeping habits, talking about insomnia, sleepwalking, talking in your sleep, snoring, falling asleep on public transport, snoring cats, Paul learning Arabic in his sleep and more, including some slightly disgusting stories, which is nice!

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Introduction Transcript

Hello folks, how are you? Amber and Paul are on the podcast again today in this episode and before we jump into our conversation I would like to do a little introduction, which I promise to keep as brief as possible.

Premium Episodes are coming…

I’m uploading quite a lot of free episodes at the moment (including this one) but, I have also been working on several Premium series, which means quite a lot of premium episodes coming soon. So if you’re a premium subscriber and you’re wondering when the next premium episodes are going to arrive – they’re coming soon.

I have a bit of a backlog of free episodes which I have to publish first and I’ll be publishing them over the next couple of weeks. Mainly those free ones are conversations with people that I organised recently when suddenly everyone became available. Sometimes that’s the way it works. Suddenly, lots of people became available around the same time, so I set up interviews with them and this is why I’ve got a bit of a backlog. I would hold onto the conversations and publish them later, but often they are time-sensitive, I mean, we talk about things which are a bit relevant to what’s going on now. So, I think I’ll publish a few free episodes maybe up until episode 599, and then the free episodes will pause for a bit while I record and publish some premium content.

So, June will probably be a month of LEP Premium mainly, meaning lots of premium content but the free podcast will be a bit quiet.

Sign up to LEP Premium at teacherluke.co.uk/premium

Episode 600 Live Stream

Episode 600 is coming up and I’m going to record it while live streaming on YouTube. I still don’t have a date for the YouTube live stream yet, but when I know more I will let you know. It’ll probably be a weekday, maybe a Friday, probably at about 3pm CET, probably at the end of June or the beginning of July. Can’t say more at this time because I don’t know.

SLEEP with Amber & Paul

The plan in this episode was to discuss the topic of sleep with Amber & Paul and we did that as you will hear, but there is about 15 minutes of chat at the beginning before we actually get to the topic!

We talk about a few differences between British and American English including expressions like “I couldn’t care less” and “I can’t be arsed”, and the way Brits and Americans say the word “Duty”.

Then there is some showbiz news from the three of us.

London LEPsters and Amberfans, please pay attention to an announcement from Amber – it’s an opportunity to see her and Sarah on stage in Islington, London on Thursday 23rd May.

LEPsters who use YouTube – listen out for some news from Paul regarding his one man stand up show #Franglais.

Also there is some pretty big personal news from Paul, not about stand up shows or anything – it’s more personal than that – and I think this is the first time he’s announcing this publicly, so this is a bit of a scoop for the podcast. So, watch out for Paul’s personal announcement.

Then we eventually do get to the subject of sleep and the rest of the episode is all about us comparing our sleeping habits, and talking about things like insomnia, sleepwalking, talking in your sleep, snoring, falling asleep on public transport, snoring cats, Paul learning Arabic in his sleep and more, including some slightly disgusting stories, which is nice.

Sleep is a very rich area for English vocabulary. So look out for the variety of ways that we talk about this subject and watch out also for a premium episode devoted to vocabulary on this topic coming in the future at some point.

That’s it then. Let’s get started. Here we go.


Amber & Sarah’s Show in London

Rosemary Branch Theatre, Islington, Thurs 23 May, 7.30. Details below.

Becoming Maman

Paul Taylor’s FULL stand up show #FRANGLAIS – now available on YouTube. Watch it here!

The bits in French have English subtitles 👍

Ending Transcript

Thank you for listening. Keep it up folks, it’s good for your English on a long-term basis, I promise. Obviously it helps if you just enjoy it, and I hope that you enjoyed another chat today with the pod-pals.

A little heads-up about what you can expect from the free episodes which are coming.

The next one should be a conversation with Paul in which we talk about getting older, growing up, having children, what it means to be a good father and things like that. It’s actually a really good conversation I think – it gets quite deep and meaningful. If all goes according to plan, that should be the next episode.

Then, there will be more conversations with other guests coming soon, including Australian journalist Oliver Gee (and hopefully we’re going to talk about loads of things, including the recent fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, and other stories) and also a chat with my Dad about some recent news, no doubt including the latest Brexit update, the European elections and hopefully some football chat too.

So, as long as my computer doesn’t completely break down or something, that should be the plan for the next few episodes, taking us up to episode 600. And there will be a whole load of premium episodes arriving too.

www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium

Get the Luke’s English Podcast App on your phone for all the episodes, access to the premium content, and loads of bonus stuff including app-only episodes, loads of jingles I’ve made in the past, videos and more things of that nature.

Thanks for listening.

Thanks again to Amber & Paul for their contribution.

Bye!

THERE IS BONUS AUDIO FOR THIS EPISODE IN THE LEP APP 😉👍

595. Andy Johnson Returns (Part 2) Eating / TV Series / Football / Music

Asking Andy questions from a speaking task in the English File Intermediate course book and chatting about eating habits, TV series, Liverpool & Tottenham in the European Champions’ League and music we’ve been listening to recently including some stories about Steely Dan and The Beatles. Intro & ending transcripts + Videos available below.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello and welcome back to the podcast. How are you? You’re doing alright?

How’s the weather? Not too rainy I hope. Sunny? Bit cloudy? Windy?

OK, that’s the small talk, the chit chat out of the way. But enough of this idle banter, let me introduce the episode.

This is part 2 of a conversation I had with Andy Johnson. You should probably listen to part 1 first, if you haven’t already done so.

In this part I ask Andy some questions from a speaking exercise from English File Intermediate 3rd Edition, a book I’ve been using with some intermediate classes I’ve been teaching at the British Council.

I’ve been helping my students practise their grammar, pronunciation and speaking using this book and I thought it would be interesting to ask Andy some questions that my students have been discussing with the aim of practising “used to” and other ways of talking about habitual behaviour in the past or present.

So, what you’re going to hear is us using “used to” and some other bits of grammar and then rambling on in a natural way, answering these questions designed to help learners of English develop their fluency.

The topics of the questions include stuff about our eating habits, TV series we used to be addicted to (Andy gives a nice summary of The Wire and we talk a bit about how neither of us have ever watched Game of Thrones – shock horror!) and then we go on to talk about music we’ve been listening to on Spotify recently – the latest Vampire Weekend album in Andy’s case and a classic album by Steely Dan in my case. If you’re a fan of Steely Dan, then listen all the way to the end for a bit of Steely Dan chat. I’ve been listening to their stuff on repeat recently and I’ve become slightly obsessed by a couple of their songs.

We also end up talking about football at some point, specifically the dramatic and unbelievable recent events in the European Champions’ League. Barcelona and Ajax fans, I expect you’re currently feeling a bit wounded by what happened last week, but I think it’s fair to say that football fans around the world were stunned at how both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur managed to win their semi-finals against all odds, beating Barcelona and Ajax respectively. Basically, it looked like Liverpool and Spurs were both definitely going to be knocked out as they were both behind by quite a few goals each, but they both managed to come back in spectacular fashion, winning their games and going through to the final. That description doesn’t quite do it justice. Those of you who saw the games will know that they were somehow two of the most astonishing moments of football in recent memory, certainly for us Europeans.

Right then, so now you’re prepped for the rest of the conversation, let’s get started.

Check the page for this episode on the website and you’ll see a script for this introduction and some more bits and pieces including a load of recommended YouTube videos relating to the music we talk about. Oh and one more thing – bonus points for anyone who manages to notice the sound of a hoover in the background during this conversation. You might hear a hoover (a vacuum cleaner) at one point and you might think “Where’s that coming from? Is that someone hoovering in my house or something? I SAY! WHO’S HOOVERING?” Well, it was our cleaner who comes round once a week and was doing some hoovering outside my room while I was recording this. Hopefully you won’t notice, but just in case – there you go. So, extra bonus points for anyone who notices the sound of my flat being cleaned in the background.

All right then, let’s go!


Ending Transcript

Thanks again to Andy for being a great guest on the podcast as usual, and also a special thanks to my cleaner for doing the hoovering in the background.

Any comments you have – leave them on the page for this episode and Andy might well reply to you. He quite often does that when he’s been on the podcast.

Before we finish, I would like to just clarify something I said near the end of the conversation about drummer Bernard Purdie. It just seems important somehow.

Bernard Purdie & The Beatles

At the end there you heard us talking about a drummer called Bernard Purdie who played drums on some Steely Dan songs back in the 70s. I said that Purdie was a compulsive liar who claimed to have played on some Beatle records. This is actually a bit of a legendary story in the world of music, especially for Beatle fanatics like me.

I’d like to just fact check this or clarify this a bit, because I don’t want to spread misinformation and I would like to be fair to Bernard Purdie. He’s one of my drumming heroes. Long term listeners might remember that he appeared in episode 88 of this podcast, which was called How to play the drums. He wasn’t a guest on the show, unfortunately. I mean, I just played some audio of him talking about one of his drumming techniques. Episode 88 is in the archive of course.

88. How To Play The Drums

So here’s the story of Bernard Purdie and The Beatles.

The facts as far as I know are that Purdie once said that he’d played drums on 21 Beatle songs (we’re not sure which ones exactly) and that the Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein was in the studio when he did it. We think he means he overdubbed drums on some of the songs, but he’s never been 100% clear about it. in fact his story changed quite a lot over the years, which makes it seem like he’s lying.

He also said that there were 4 drummers who played in the Beatles, and Ringo wasn’t one of them.
For any Beatle fans, those are slightly outrageous claims to make.
Which 21 songs is he talking about?
Ringo didn’t play the drums in the Beatles?
What’s he talking about?

Also, this isn’t just some nutter with no credentials. Purdie was a bona fide legend of the drumming world. His drumming was amazing. One of the best funk, soul & RnB drummers ever. His work was outstanding, he was recognised for it and was highly respected as a session musician.
Also, looking at interviews and drum tutorial videos he did, he seems to be a jovial, friendly, big hearted person.

So I was a bit unfair when I said he was a compulsive liar.

He might have misremembered events from his life, or perhaps made a mistake that he just didn’t repair over the years. Perhaps he was just saying something outrageous in order to give himself a bit of publicity as a drummer, which worked because, well people are still talking about it.

The truth of the matter is that he did overdub drums on some recordings featuring John, Paul and George, but they weren’t recorded under the Beatle name, and they were songs the boys recorded while living in Hamburg, Germany in 1961.

Beatle fans will know those songs as the Tony Sheridan recordings, the most famous one being “My Bonnie” which was a minor hit at the time. The Beatles – John, Paul, George and Pete Best played as the backing band to Tony Sheridan who was a singer working in Germany at the time. They recorded 7 songs. This is before the Beatles were famous and before Ringo replaced Pete Best in the group. Before Brian Epstein turned round to him one day and said “I don’t know how to turn round and tell you this Pete, but the boys have turned round and told me they don’t want you to be in the group any more”, or something along those lines. I digress…

Later on, when the Beatles (with Ringo installed on drums) had become a massive sensation, the Tony Sheridan recordings were acquired by a record company in the USA and they wanted to re-release them under the Beatle name, but the drums didn’t sound good enough in their opinion.

They were too quiet in the mix and there was no bass drum sound. So they got a studio drummer to record drum tracks over the top of the 7 Tony Sheridan songs. That studio drummer was Bernard Purdie. So, he did overdub drums on some songs, but not the 21 songs he claimed before, and they weren’t really Beatle songs, they were Tony Sheridan songs, with the Beatles playing in the background.

And, the thing about the Beatles having 4 drummers but Ringo wasn’t one of them… God knows what he meant. Maybe he was alluding to the fact that Ringo wasn’t the drummer on the Sheridan tapes, and also the fact that there are a few other Beatle songs in which Ringo isn’t the drummer. Some of the tracks on the White Album feature Paul as the drummer, and there’s a version of Love Me Do, the Beatles’ first single, which has a session musician called Andy White playing the drums, because producer George Martin wasn’t convinced by Ringo at the time.

So, just a bit of fact checking there, for the record and for the music fans listening.

Purdie wasn’t really a compulsive liar, but he didn’t exactly tell the truth either. But what is certain is that he was a brilliant drummer.

I have to give credit to a YouTube video by FabFourArchivist which I watched and which gave me those facts. If you’re interested in music and these sorts of stories, you might enjoy it. The video is on the page for this episode.

Going back to Steely Dan, that band that we talked about before. I have a few other videos to recommend to you if you’re a fan of theirs or if you’re interested in stories about how songs are made and recorded.

First, I’ll put a video of the song Deacon Blues with lyrics so you can check it out, listen to the song and try to work out what the lyrics all mean.

Then there’s a brilliant video essay by a YouTuber called Nerdwriter1 which is all about how Steely Dan wrote and recorded the song Deacon Blues and what it all means. It’s a very well made video and is fascinating.

And you heard me talking about the Steely Dan Classic Albums documentary which is on YouTube. Here it is for your viewing pleasure, including the scenes with drumming legend Bernard Purdie.

I’d like to thank Andy for coming back on the podcast. He’s always a great guest.

You can find him on LinkedIn, on Twitter @andybjohnson and the London School Online website is www.londonschool.com/lso/ And he’s on Spotify of course, just search for Moby.

That’s it for this episode. Let me just give you a gentle reminder that you might want to become a premium subscriber. I’ve got premium episodes in the pipeline for this month that include some explorations into vocabulary that has turned up in episodes of the podcast. That means you’ll get audio English lessons teaching you real, natural vocabulary, with all the usual things like PDF worksheets with tests, pronunciation drills and all that good good stuff. And of course, when you become a premium subscriber you get instant access to the entire back catalogue of premium episodes, which is ever growing. I put a lot of work and time into my premium content, and it’s available at what I consider to be a very competitive price! Just like buying me a nice cup of coffee every month from my local coffee place, maybe with a nice bit of carrot cake too if I fancy it, and why not? www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium

Thanks for listening and I will speak to you again on the podcast soon.

I look forward to reading your comments in the comment section.

For now though, it’s just time to say bye bye bye bye bye…

Ajax fans turn from celebration to devastation as they watch their team get knocked out of the Champion’s League.

More Bernard “Pretty” Purdie Videos (because this is what life is all about)

Cory Henry jams with one of Bernard Purdie’s drum tutorial videos

Bernard talks about The Purdie Shuffle – “I’m gonna SPLAIN ya!”

Bernard Talks about his “Ghost Notes” (previously heard in episode 88)

 

 

590. [2/2] Film Club: Avengers Endgame / Marvel Cinematic Universe (with Fred Eyangoh)

Here’s part 2 of this film club episode, including the rest of my chat with Fred Eyangoh and then a monologue from me. This one contains predictions for Avengers Endgame, the future of Marvel Studios and some other film franchises including Star Wars. No spoilers given! Notes, scripts and videos available.

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Introduction

Here is part 2 of this film club episode about Avengers Endgame, which is hitting the cinemas this week.

You should listen to part 1 of this first, obviously, because that is how numbers work.

I am a fan of these films and so I like talking about them and listening to other people talk about them. I hope that is also true for you. Hopefully if you’re into this stuff, it’ll provide you with some engaging audio content in English to help you get that all-important listening practice into your weekly routine.

In this episode you’re going to hear the rest of my conversation with Fred and then some rambling from me about things like fan theories and predictions for Avengers Endgame. We still haven’t seen Avengers Endgame (I’m seeing it later this afternoon) so this episode contains no spoilers for the film.

In this part of the conversation you’ll hear Fred and me talking about these things:

  • A quick re-cap of Thanos’ plan from Avengers: Infinity War
  • Some predictions for Avengers Endgame and the future of the franchise
  • The conversation then turns to Star Wars, and our responses to Star Wars Episode VIII vs fan responses on YouTube, what we liked about it, what wasn’t so good about it
  • The new trailer for Star Wars Episode IX and our thoughts about the future of the Star Wars franchise

This part of the conversation lasts about 30 minutes, and after that, as I said before, I’m going to keep rambling on my own about some things we missed.

As ever, check the page for this episode on my website teacherluke.co.uk for some scripts, notes and videos.

Right, so let’s jump back into my conversation with Fred, and here we go.


Luke & Fred continue talking for about 30 minutes…


Luke’s ending monologue at the end (‘monologue’ makes it sound serious and important)

Fan theories and various other ramblings about the characters

I take the theories with pinch of salt. Like Fred was saying, I like to go into a film with no expectations but with the intention to enjoy it. But nevertheless I do quite enjoy considering the possibilities and I quite like feeding my curiosity about what might happen next. So, let me go through some of those fan theories now and also share a few other thoughts, before I go off to the cinema later this afternoon with my friend to see Avengers Endgame.

Basically it seems that in Endgame the Avengers and other remaining characters…

The “Thanus” theory (just a stupid joke, but pretty amusing if you like that kind of thing!)

Couldn’t Ant Man crawl into Thanos’ ear or the pores in his skin?

There are tons of jokes, memes and Reddit threads about Ant Man killing Thanos by shrinking down to a tiny size, crawling into Thanos’ ear (or perhaps another orifice – yes, it’s his anus) and then expanding instantly – killing Thanos in the process.

Someone else wearing the infinity gauntlet (Nebula like in the comics? Tony in a special infinity suit, Captain America who will die while doing it, Hulk).

Loki isn’t dead (he stabbed Thanos with his left hand – somehow this is significant)

Potential deaths of characters / The main characters (still alive) one by one

Characters might get killed off in order to give closure to certain character arcs, to add drama and emotional punch to the story and also because some of the actors’ contracts are expiring.

I’m now going to talk about some of the main characters, what might happen with them and whether they will die in the film.

Captain America / Steve Rogers

I hope none of them die, but I can imagine that Captain America will die, just because it fits in with certain themes in his narrative. He’s willing to sacrifice himself for others (when he jumps on the grenade in his first film) and he keeps saving other characters who try to sacrifice themselves by saying “We don’t trade lives”. I think that despite saying this, he might trade his own life somehow, probably to save everyone. But I’d like to think he doesn’t die. Instead I think it would be sweet it there was a way for him to go back in time to be with the love of his life, Peggy Carter.

Iron Man / Tony Stark

Maybe Tony will die, but that would be really tragic because he has always been trying to give up the Iron Man armour in order to be with his sweetheart, Pepper Potts and in Infinity War they talked about the idea of getting married and having children. I have a feeling that Tony will just retire to be with Pepper and they’ll get married at the end of the film.

Also, Tony seems important because Dr Strange asked Thanos to spare his life in return for the time stone, saying it was the only way.

Thor

I don’t think Thor will die because he’s too powerful and they’re talking about making a Thor 4 in a few years. Thor had an amazing arc in IW and a brilliant entrance onto the battlefield. What’s he going to do in this one?

Hulk / Bruce Banner

Hulk probably won’t die either. Instead it’s more likely that he will make peace with his alter ego Bruce Banner and they will combine to create some sort of new Hulk that combines Banner’s intelligence with Hulk’s power. Some people call this Professor Hulk.

Black Widow / Natasha Romanov

Black Widow might die, but I don’t feel like it’s going to happen. Hopefully she will find a way to be with Bruce Banner, because I found that romantic storyline to be touching and I think it would be sweet for Natasha to find some love after basically her emotional life was taken from her while being trained as an agent.

Hawkeye / Ronin / Clint Barton

Hawkeye is back, but he seems to have gone all ’emo’. I mean, he’s dark, he’s perhaps on some kind of revenge mission in Japan fighting against the Yakuza or something. People are saying this is his other incarnation from the comic books, Ronin. He’s using some kind of samurai sword. He also has a new haircut, which sometimes looks cool and sometimes looks terrible. I don’t know what the deal is with that. Maybe he lost his family during the snap and he’s grief-stricken and in a lapse of judgement he got a weird haircut. What’s he doing in Japan? We don’t know. I read one theory which said he was tracking down the remains of Mjolinr, Thor’s hammer which was crushed into pieces by Thor’s evil sister Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.

Anyway, I’m glad that Hawkeye is back because he was one of my favourite characters. A more down to earth and normal person who has a family and no super powers. This makes him pretty human and relatable. He has a few funny lines as well. There are some theories that he’ll pass on his skills to his daughter maybe. So maybe Clint will pass away to be replaced by his daughter.

Ant Man / Scott Lang

I really enjoyed the Ant Man films, but all that stuff about the quantum realm made my head spin a bit. I know it’s all just comic book entertainment and it doesn’t have to make sense, but I don’t really get the quantum realm. I know it’s essentially like another dimension. If you shrink so small you eventually get to another level of reality where the normal laws of physics don’t apply. Anyway, Ant Man was in there, collecting quantum energy (whatever that is!) when Thanos snapped his fingers and so he survived the decimation. Assuming he can find his way out, he now has the suit and the portal van thing (explain?) and we see in the trailer that he then goes to the Avengers base. Perhaps The Avengers can use Ant Man’s technology to travel through time (apparently there are worm holes or time holes in the quantum realm). He might do a Marty McFly and somehow contact the Avengers in the past and then alter the course of history. We know that messing with time travel in films makes things very complex and prone to paradoxes and stuff, but time travel can be a cool way to solve certain problems in films, like in the X-Men Days of Future Past story in which Wolverine is somehow sent back to the 70s where we get a cool new story. So, Ant Man could be one of the most important characters. Maybe he’s going to go back to the events of previous films in order to find some way to attack Thanos.

Captain Marvel

I don’t completely understand Captain Marvel and her powers. Apparently she’s one of the most powerful characters. She can fly, she can kind of glow up with super energy and become indestructible. I’m not sure if she is immune to the powers of the infinity gauntlet. Can she just fly towards Thanos and blast him into smithereens? I don’t know. From what we see in the trailers, it seems to me that Captain Marvel is a little bit too keen to just go and kill Thanos, maybe arrogantly assuming that she is powerful enough to stop him. Maybe her over-confidence will be a weakness and this might end in failure somehow. I don’t think it will be as easy as just flying into space, finding Thanos and Captain Marvel blasting him. This is a 3 hour film. There will be more to it than that and I reckon something is going to keep her powers in check.

Rocket Raccoon

I have no idea what part he will play in this except as the pilot of the spaceship that’s going to fly the Avengers into space to get Thanos. Hopefully we’ll see some funny and touching moments from him. After all, he is the only member of the Guardians of the Galaxy left alive. Now he’s completely alone again, although he’s probably been accepted by the Avengers, so he has another new family of sorts. Still, he’s bound to be sad about the loss of his friends Groot and the other Guardians.

War Machine / James Rhodes

No idea what’s going to happen to him. I have seen nothing about his storyline, but I expect he will still be an important member of the team somehow.

Nebula

She’s one of my favourite characters because she been through so much pain at the hands of Thanos but she’s so determined to keep going. I find it funny and touching that she was hell-bent on getting her revenge on her sister Gamora but she always lost against her and eventually she reveals that she just always wanted a sister. That was sweet. I also feel sorry for her. As Thanos’s adopted daughter (adopted against her will) she has a lot of personal reasons for wanting to stop him. She might even be the one who has more grievances against him than any of the others. Perhaps she’ll be the one to kill him in the end. In the comics she does actually wield the infinity gauntlet at some point. Thanos takes his revenge on her in a pretty cruel way though, by turning her into some kind of zombie. I hope that doesn’t happen. I hope she gets redemption in some way.

Okoye

She’s one of the bodyguards of T’Challa (aka Black Panther) who fought against Thanos’s army on Wakanda. Black Panther was dusted when Thanos snapped his fingers, so I don’t know what Okoye is going to do. Maybe she’ll join the Avengers because she is a powerful fighter, or maybe she’ll stay in Wakanda. Who knows. I like the actress who plays her (she’s also Michonne in The Walking Dead) so I’m always happy to watch her on screen. She’s pretty intense and just enjoyable to watch.

Other characters: Valkyrie, Pepper Potts, Wong. 

I bet I’ve missed someone or something. There are loads of other theories and things to ramble about but I think I will stop here. Please add your comments if you have other things to add or if I’ve missed something.

Also, by the time you listen to this the chances are you might have seen the film and all this speculation and guess-work will be redundant. Still, it’s fun to talk about this stuff. If you have seen the film, please don’t put spoilers in the comment section.

If you want more of this kind of thing…

I talked about superheroes a couple of years ago when Captain America: Civil War was released. I did a couple of film club episodes about Civil War, but also a conversation with another geeky friend of mine which was all about superheroes, their powers and their background stories.

Those episodes are linked on the page for this episode

347. Film Club: Marvel / Captain America Civil War (Part 1)

348. Film Club: Marvel / Captain America Civil War (Part 2)

349. Who’s the best superhero? (with Paul Langton)

Need a reminder of the story so far? Here’s a complete recap.

Feel free to leave your comments below but no spoilers please!

589. [1/2] Film Club: Avengers Endgame / Marvel Cinematic Universe (with Fred Eyangoh)

Part 1 of a big ramble about Avengers Endgame, Marvel Studios and comic book movies in general with my friend, comedian Fred Eyangoh. No spoilers! Part 2 coming soon…

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Introduction

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 589 of Luke’s English Podcast.

This episode is a big ramble about Avengers Endgame, Marvel Studios and comic book movies in general with my friend Fred Eyangoh. I should point out that this episode contains no spoilers for Avengers Endgame, because neither of us have seen the film yet.

We’re both fans of these films and we become a bit like excited children when talking about this subject and so we end up talking quite quickly, interrupting each other, talking over each other sometimes, just like people normally do when having lively conversations. Some of you will be glad because you like the challenge of the faster conversations on this podcast, but others might find it harder. If you find it difficult to follow, my advice is to stick with it. You will get used to Fred’s voice and the general speed of the conversation after a while.

Fred is very articulate and insightful about these films, particularly the business side of comic book movies in general. Watch out for loads of really useful descriptive language throughout this conversation as we talk about characters, plot points and Marvel Studios’ approach to the business of movie making.

The whole conversation is long, but so is Avengers: Endgame. It seems appropriate somehow. Unlike Avengers Endgame, this episode is in two parts. You’re listening to part 1. Part 2 should be available very soon.

The film is 3 hours and 1 minute long. People are wondering how they are going to get through the film’s marathon running time without taking a toilet break. I think you won’t have the same issue while listening to this double podcast episode because you can just pause, answer the call of nature, and carry on, or perhaps even do your business while listening on headphones. Please just remember to wash your hands when you are finished.

I hope you enjoy our chat and that you are also looking forward to seeing Avengers Endgame in cinemas soon. I’m going to see it tomorrow.

I’ll talk to you more at the end of this episode. But now, let’s jump into my conversation with Fred, and here we go.


Fred & Luke start talking…


Some scripts & other notes

Here’s a new episode of Luke’s Film Club on Luke’s English Podcast. It’s been a while since the last episode of film club. In this series I like to talk about films – sometimes obscure ones that you might not know, and sometimes big blockbusters that lots of people are talking about. This episode is firmly in the second category as we are talking about one of this year’s most highly anticipated film releases,  Avengers: Endgame!

But here is a disclaimer before we start.

This entire episode is devoted to the discussion of this new Avengers Film but also to the subject of Marvel movies in general – I mean, superhero films produced by Marvel Studios. That’s stuff like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, etc. There might also be some Star Wars chat as well here, maybe at the end of the episode.

I just want to say right at the start – if you’re not a fan of those films, then this episode probably won’t be for you. I realise this might not be for everyone, okay?

But, then again, Avengers Endgame, which is the culmination of a massive 21-film narrative, is coming out in cinemas at the end of this month and it is hotly anticipated. This is an international phenomenon along the lines of other big franchises like Star Wars, Game of Thrones and so on. People are predicting that this film is going to become the highest grossing film on its opening weekend, worldwide, of all time, ever.

So, this is an event movie on an international scale and I am certain that plenty of my listeners will be interested in this and will want to hear us talking about it. That’s why I’m doing this episode.

If I was learning English, I think I would want to listen to people talking about this film! I’m really excited to see it. Perhaps you’re planning to watch it too, maybe in the original English version if that’s possible where you live.

But I just want to, in the most British way possible, apologise in advance for those of you who have no interest in this film franchise at all. Sorry.

Maybe you will choose to listen to this and it will be a sort of introduction to Marvel movies and you’ll decide to check them out and you’ll enjoy them. Or maybe you’ll skip this episode altogether. It’s up to you. Other episodes will be coming along soon, and of course, if you’re looking for other content from me you could always sign up to my premium service to hear episodes focusing specifically on grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

But anyway, that’s the disclaimer out of the way. So now, let’s get stuck in shall we?

The plan is to talk about Avengers Endgame, but also to cover most of the other Marvel films we’ve had so far, and also talk about the main characters. This could easily become several episodes.

I’m joined today by Fred Eyangoh, making his third appearance on the podcast. Fred is a friend of mine from the Paris comedy scene. He’s from Cameroon but he lives in Paris, and he’s a big fan of films. Fred’s first appearance was in episode 430 and you can go back to that one if you’d like to learn more about Fred, his background and how he learned English.

So now, let’s get started with this episode of Film Club on Luke’s English Podcast…

Avengers: Endgame – Trailer

Plot summary from Wikipedia

Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to the love of his life, Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers — Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe in the previous chapter of the series Avengers: Infinity War.


A run-down of the conversation in the episode:

  • Getting excited about Avengers Endgame
  • Reasons why the MCU has been a success
  • Iron Man, the film that launched the MCU over 10 years ago.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron – Tony Stark’s technological AI defence system goes wrong and tries to kill all humans
  • Boring CGI battles at the end of all superhero films
  • Watching 200 million dollars on screen (Avengers: Infinity War)
  • How much we are anticipating Avengers: Endgame
  • The balancing act of bringing so many different characters together in the same film. Balancing the tone of each character, and the enjoyment of watching these characters interact in different situations.
  • Smaller, weirder characters that balance out the more serious ones, like The Guardians of the Galaxy, particularly Rocket Raccoon who we both think is a great character.
  • Captain America: his origin story and what the character represents.
  • Great casting. The list of great characters in the films: Glenn Close, Robert Redford, Hayley Atwell, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Kurt Russell, Benicio Del Toro, Tilda Swinton. The list goes on and on…
  • Kevin Feige and his success as producer of all these films. The unifying figure around all these films. The one person who was at the centre of all the operations. He managed to give away enough power to creative people to get these movies out there. He found the right actors, screen writers, directors… He didn’t lose his judgement, unlike someone like George Lucas who, arguably, lost his judgement after making his original trilogy. Arguably.
  • Marvel (so far) have never released a film that completely divided the audience (like The Last Jedi) or got panned by the critics (like the more recent DC films). They haven’t made a film that was weak enough to break the franchise, unlike DC.
  • Man of Steel. We think it’s pretty terrible.Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We also think it’s terrible. Why?
  • Shazam (the latest DC film). Fred thought it wasn’t good. Luke doesn’t want to see it because of the main character’s haircut.
  • Is Shazam similar to Deadpool?
  • The way Ant-Man works because of the humour.

End of Part 1


Episode ending – script

This is where we are going to pause this conversation and we will carry on in part 2.

I hope you’re keeping up with all of this! As I said at the beginning, I think it might be difficult for some of you to follow, but challenges are good and it’s important to try and listen to these fast conversations. Hopefully you’re into the subject enough to keep listening and that’s the main thing! Practice practice practice!

So, part 2 will be available to you soon and our conversation will carry on there, talking mostly around the subject of Avengers Endgame but also there’s some talk of Star Wars because episode IX is coming out later this year and a new Star Wars trailer arrived recently. If you’re a fan, then these things are quite important actually!

So, there’s about 30 minutes more conversation from Fred and me in part 2, and then also I will talk a bit on my own about some other stuff, like fan theories for Avengers Endgame and just some of my own thoughts about the film.

Feel free to leave your comments. If you have now seen the film, please avoid writing spoilers in the comment section, or at least flag up the fact that your comment contains spoilers by writing the phrase SPOILER WARNING at the top of your comment.

I’m going to see Avengers Endgame tomorrow (because new films are released on Wednesdays here in France) and I might record some kind of reaction to the film or a ‘non-spoiler review’ of some kind.

Then, of course, after all this hype has died down, it will be back to podcasting as usual. There might be a little gap because I’m going away on holiday, but normal podcasting will return, as you would expect.

That’s it for part 1 then. I expect part 2 will be available very soon so you can carry on and get into some of the excitement.

Part 2 available soon…

584. Posh or not posh? (Part 3) with Amber & Paul

Amber & Paul join me to talk again about poshness, posh accents and posh celebrities. This episode is full of different British accents – posh, RP and regional differences. It’s also full of comedy and I found myself laughing out loud while editing this, especially the interview with the football player that Paul tells us about. I hope you enjoy it.

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Are these celebrities posh or not? What are the features of posh accents, RP and regional accents in the UK?

Kate Beckinsale

Victoria Beckham

Sadiq Khan

Kenneth Branagh

Stephen K Amos

Elton John

Daniel Craig

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling

George Martin

Jacob Rees Mogg (again)

Danny Dyer

Keep adding your videos of British celebrities in the comment section. Are they posh or not posh?

582. Posh or not posh? (Part 2) Guess the Posh British Celebrities

Can you identify which UK celebrities are posh and which are not? Let’s listen to some British celebrities speaking, check their Wikipedia pages and work out of these people are truly posh or not. You’ll hear samples of lots of spoken English in this episode and we’ll focus on accent and pronunciation.

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Introduction Transcript (Videos below)

This is episode 582 and it’s called “Posh or not posh? (Part 2) Guess the Posh British Celebrities” and in this one we’re going to listen to a lot of famous British people and work out if they are posh or not.

This follows on from the last episode in which I talked about what makes a person posh and what posh people sound like when they speak.

You should listen to episode 581 before listening to this I reckon.

In the last episode you heard me say that a really important thing is to listen to people speaking and to hear lots of examples of posh speech. In this episode you’re going to hear loads of different people speaking. Some of them sound posh and others don’t. So you’re going to hear a mix of different accents. I could probably break it down like this – posh RP, standard RP and regional accents.

We’re going to go through a list of British celebrities. Can you identify if these people are posh?

I’ll name the person. We’ll listen to some audio of them speaking and see if their accent is posh. We’ll look out for some little clues that kind of give it away. Then I’ll have a look at their Wikipedia pages to get some more info and find out if they really are posh.

Remember the 7 types of poshness we talked about before.

  • poshness of birth
  • poshness of wealth
  • poshness of accent
  • poshness of education
  • poshness of excellent taste – the fine arts, fine wine, fine food – anything with ‘fine’ before it
  • poshness of exuberant vulgarity (e.g. over-the-top excessive and showy expressions of bad taste – bling)
  • poshness of assumed superiority

The key things in the Wikipedia biography are: educational background (private schools, boarding schools, single-sex schools, prep schools) and family background (any connections to nobility). Also we’ll pay attention to the way they speak.

So it’s basically – poshness of birth, poshness of education and poshness of accent that we’re looking at here.

Remember that hardly anyone has all the traits of being posh. For example, I expect that most of the people in my list don’t score very highly in the “poshness of assumed superiority” because most of them are humble actors but maybe some of them actually are arrogant enough to assume that they’re better than everyone else. Anyway, the main things we’re looking at are birth (family connections) education (which school) and accent.

Again, it’s not very fair to judge people, and I’m just trying to help learners of English to be able to identify certain things about people from England.

As we go through these video clips which are on YouTube, the focus for me is on just the way the people speak. We might have to skip past some of the language (vocabulary) while doing this. Normally when I use audio like this on the podcast I break it down word by word so you can understand everything. There might not be time for in-depth analysis like that. We’ll focus on the accent, I might explain what’s being said a bit, and then we’ll check the Wikipedia page for that person and move on.

So, are these people posh or not? Let’s go.

Videos & Speech Samples

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Adele

Prince Harry (duh)

Keira Knightley

Wayne Rooney

Jack Whitehall (and his Dad)

Paul McCartney

Idris Elba

Emma Thompson

Brian Sewell

Any other UK celebrities you can think of? Add a video in the comment section.