Category Archives: Movies

660. Using TV Series & Films to Improve Your English

Lots of practical advice and comments about how you can use films and TV series to work on your English. This episode is a recap of some advice in episode 523 with Cara Leopold. Transcript available below.

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Have you heard the last episode of this podcast (#659)? I spoke to Cara Leopold about being stuck indoors during the lockdown. Cara is an English teacher who likes to help her students to improve their English with TV series and films and we know that because of the lockdown, loads of people at the moment are watching more TV and films on platforms like Netflix and are probably thinking about how to use those things to learn English. 

Cara and I talked about that a bit near the end of the last episode, and we also did a whole episode about it a couple of years ago. That was episode 523, called Tips for Learning English with Films & TV Shows.

I mentioned before that I would sum up the main bits of advice that Cara and I gave in that episode. 

So here we are, that’s what I’m going to do now – I’m going to consolidate some advice for learning English with TV series and films. 

Then, when I’ve done that I’ll give you some personal recommendations for British TV shows and films that you can watch on Netflix. 

Learning English with Films & TV – Summary of Advice Given in Ep.523 + more comments

Time and time again we have heard this advice – “Want to improve your English? Just watch TV series and films in English with English subtitles!” 

It seems that people assume that you should just watch TV series in English with English subtitles and you’ll learn English magically as a consequence. People say it all the time, and I do think there is some truth in this. Watching lots of content in English is definitely a good idea, although of course that might not be enough on its own. There are plenty of other things you need to do, including regular speaking practice, writing, plenty of reading, using a systematic approach to learning vocabulary, taking time to understand how grammar works.

I suppose the thing is, there are two approaches that seem to be important in learning a language. One approach involves absorbing loads of English just through reading and listening. This is exposure, or immersion or comprehensible input – whatever you want to call it. You have to see and hear the language a lot if you want to be able to use it properly. 

This is input. It is really important to get loads of English into your everyday life. You must regularly connect with English, get exposure to English and immerse yourself in English and binging on TV series is probably a pretty good and usually fun way to do that. 

Personally I would say that podcasts are the best way, but whatever floats your boat. Ultimately it’s about finding the thing you really want to do. Obviously if you are a regular listener to my podcast then you might agree with me. But if TV shows and films are your thing then go for it. 

The point there is you can get loads of English input from TV series and films in English and there are so many amazing shows and films available to us now. It’s amazing. We are spoiled for choice. Anyway – input is important.

Added to that is the importance of using the language regularly in order to communicate. This is output. So this means doing loads of speaking practice and writing practice in order to develop your ability to express yourself, find your voice, develop genuine fluency without just translating everything in your head. So, plenty of input and output. 

I’m being quite general here but anyway, the point is → you’ve got to spend lots of time with the language in both receptive and productive ways.

Then the other approach is to be more systematic and disciplined – examining the language in some way, understanding how the English language is structured both in terms of grammar but also in terms of pronunciation so that you know how English is not only written but also produced orally, how it sounds when people actually speak it which helps you understand native speakers and also how to speak fluently yourself. It also involves using monolingual dictionaries to expand your vocab and investigate words, doing controlled practice for grammar and pronunciation and finding ways to remember vocabulary.

And throughout all of that you need to maintain your motivation, because enjoying the whole process is vital. If you’re motivated, you’re likely to do more, spend more time on the language, remember more things and generally get into a more positive and confident frame of mind about your relationship with English.

Using TV and films seems to fulfil the first category to some extent (input) because it allows you to immerse yourself in English, spend lots of time absorbing the language and it should be motivating because watching TV and films should be enjoyable. 

It’s also worth stating that learning English doesn’t have to be a chore. It doesn’t have to be a boring thing that you’re forced to do by other people, like teachers or parents. I suppose people often say “Just watch Netflix in English with English subtitles” and this feels like good news because it means “this doesn’t have to be boring homework! It can be enjoyable if you give it a chance”. So, getting addicted to a TV show in English is a good thing for your English. 

But is it just a case of just sitting back and watching all the episodes of Peaky Blinders or any other show that you’re into? What about the other things I just mentioned like speaking practice, writing, pronunciation, studying grammar and vocabulary? Well, it is possible to use TV and films in a more active way in order to achieve some of those things too if you’re willing to do more than just sit back and watch.

So here are some bits of advice which did come up in my conversation with Cara in episode 529 but given again and with a few other comments from me. 

  • Watching to learn English and watching just for pleasure are two different things. Watching in order to learn English might involve thinking outside the box and doing things a bit differently.
  • Using TV and films for learning English is not just a simple or easy way to learn, despite what people say “Just watch stuff in English and bingo you’ll be a native speaker!” It’s not that simple. 
  • In your first language you might just switch on a film or show and then kind of veg out while watching it – without really concentrating. This probably won’t work in English. Be prepared to focus and perhaps be more active while watching, often that mainly involves using the English subtitles, which are a real advantage.
  • I do recommend choosing content that gives you the option to have English subtitles. Watching with subtitles in your language can be useful because you can see how things are being translated and you can compare your language with the English you’re hearing, but generally speaking it’s best to operate only in English so I’d recommend that you forget about subtitles in your language, or watching something in your language with English subtitles. Do everything in English. So, put the audio in English and the subtitles in English too.
  • “So, should I always watch with the English subtitles on?” There are no hard and fast rules about using subtitles. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options.
  • Using English subtitles can help you understand what you’re hearing, especially when you realise that spoken English and written English can be very different. Subtitles can help bridge the gap between how words and sentences sound, and how they are written. You might hear something and then read the subtitles and kind of go “Ooooh that’s what she said! Ahhhh! That’s it then!” which is a great moment in language learning → that kind of “Oh it’s THAT?” moment when you realise something. But watch out because sometimes the subtitles are slightly different to the speech you’re hearing, because they might have to use fewer words than were spoken in order to actually fit them on the screen. But that only happens occasionally. So, an advantage of subtitles is that they help you bridge the gap between what language sounds like and what it looks like. When you listen without subtitles, you will no-doubt miss a lot of what is being said, without realising you’re missing it. 
  • But be aware that if you only ever watch with subtitles you might not develop real listening skills, because you’re basically just reading while you watch and as we know, in the real world, you don’t get subtitles appearing in the air when people speak, unfortunately (well, yet. I expect eventually you’ll be able to get augmented reality glasses or perhaps some kind of biotech which lets you see simultaneous automatic subtitles when people talk, but not yet… that does sound like something out of an episode of Black Mirror…) Anyway, the point is, there are pros and cons of subtitles and no subtitles so you should have both. Experiment with switching the subtitles on and off while you are watching in order to try to get the best of both worlds.
  • Watch stuff more than once. You can watch a film or show several times, especially if you enjoy it or already know it. Some films improve with multiple viewings. So, try watching certain films several times, perhaps first with subtitles in your language, then subtitles in English and then in English with no subtitles at all. You will be surprised at how much more you notice, understand and remember after watching things numerous times. You will probably appreciate the show or film on a new level too, if you do this. There’s nothing wrong or weird about watching more than once. Like I said – think outside the box a bit. 
  • If you’re watching a TV show you can alternate between watching episodes with and without subtitles. Perhaps do one episode with subtitles, then the next one without. If you just can’t understand episodes without subtitles, try watching the episode with subtitles first then watch again without subtitles. Again, don’t worry, that’s not a weird thing to do, it’s fine – because I say so. And anyway, like I said before if it is a genuinely good show, you might appreciate it even more the second time you watch it and this can actually raise the quality of your listening practice. There are no rules here. Watching episodes several times is normal and useful.
  • So, we’ve talked about watching films several times, watching episodes several times, but you don’t have to watch the entire thing again from the start. You could just do it with certain scenes. Watch certain scenes several times, with and without the subtitles.
  • Test yourself on what you heard and check with the subtitles. You could try watching a scene, then trying to explain what just happened, and what people said. Then watch again with the subtitles in order to check. When you explain what you saw, you can do it out loud, with a friend, or just in writing. 
  • You could keep a sort of viewing diary for films or series. Write down little summaries of scenes, episodes or perhaps whole films (although it’s probably best to do it in smaller chunks) then review the scene you’ve written about by checking with subtitles, and re-write your summary if necessary. This is a good way to flip listening practise into productive practise. Remember, it is worth writing in English even if nobody else reads it. It’s just a good idea to practise producing English regularly. Of course it would be better if you had a language partner, coach or teacher who could check your writing and correct errors. Consider finding one on italki – www.teacherluke.co.uk/talk – but doing it on your own is still a good idea.
  • Search for certain new bits of vocabulary when they come up – using monolingual dictionaries. I recommend using online dictionaries like collinsdictionary.com macmillandicionary.com dictionary.cambridge.org Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online www.ldoceonline.com/ or www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/ They’re all decent dictionaries and you can check words and phrases, see examples and crucially hear how the words are pronounced. It’s worth taking a bit of time to get familiar with how these online dictionaries present information to you. It can pay off massively in your learning. Please resist the temptation to just use google translate to get quick translations into your language. It might be a super-fast solution, but it’s not a healthy thing to do for your English long term. Monolingual dictionaries are amazing and can really help you. So use them.
  • Don’t worry too much about certain specific cultural details. Sometimes characters will talk about stuff that you just don’t know about. For example when I watch some American shows they refer to places, people, sports or events which I don’t know about and it does mean I get a bit lost sometimes. It’s normal. You could google those things of course if you really need to and learn as you go, or just don’t worry about them too much. It’s worth remembering that it might not be your listening skills that prevent you from understanding. It could be your general knowledge too. 
  • Try transcribing certain scenes – especially if you thought it contained really cool dialogue. Then watch again with the subtitles to check your transcription. (I made that suggestion earlier, but there it is again)
  • It’s not just a case of what you’re doing while you’re watching. Think about doing things both before and after you watch too. In fact, doing some preparation before you start watching can really help you.
  • Before you watch a film or TV show, check online reviews or summaries to help prepare yourself. Being prepared can help. If you know the general storyline or tone of the thing you’re watching, it can help to prevent you getting lost. Watch out for spoilers though. Maybe you can search for a spoiler-free review of the thing you’re going to see, this can really help put you in the right place before you actually click PLAY. 
  • Similarly, after you’ve watched you can read online reviews of what you’ve watched. That way you can add some extra reading practice to your listening, and you will be a lot more engaged and invested in what you’re reading. Personally I like to read reviews or re-caps of episodes of shows I’ve watched. It helps me understand what I’ve seen and also I like to read other people’s opinions on episodes. Websites like Den of Geek, Vulture, The Independent or The Guardian often do episode recaps of the big TV shows. Read them! It can also help you to appreciate subtle details that you’ve missed and you’ll pick up bits of English from the articles you’ll read. Go the extra mile. It will pay off for your English later. If you find those online newspaper reviews to be a bit “wordy” and opinionated then consider reading IMDB or Wikipedia plot summaries instead as they are often written in slightly more plain English.
  • I’d also recommend finding YouTube reviews of the films or series you’ve watched. Just go to YouTube and search for the title of the episode or film you’ve seen plus the word review and see what you get. You’ll find this is a great way to get more effective listening input because you’ll be fully engaged in what you’re listening to. You’ll be on the same page as the person speaking because you will understand all their reference points and you’ll be interacting with their opinions and thoughts a lot more. This is an important part of turning listening input into intake → language that is more likely to stick with you.
  • Be a little selective in your viewing choices – pick stuff that you’d normally enjoy, and remember that films and TV shows can contain very “mumbly” dialogue, and even just “grunting” during long fight scenes. Try to pick films that are pretty simple and perhaps comedies that focus on the dialogue. Also, as Cara mentioned before, some content is in a certain kind of register that might not be applicable to the English you need to use. Documentaries, for example, feature a different style of English than conversational English that you might hear in content with natural dialogue between people.
  • Pronunciation & Speaking → There’s the concept of shadowing, which works for a lot of people. This involves basically repeating what you hear. It can be a good way to essentially transcribe orally. I mean, you’re attempting to identify word for word what is being said and to replicate speech patterns. You should also check those useful subtitles to help you identify what you’re getting right and wrong. When you come across words and phrases you don’t know, those are opportunities to expand your vocabulary.
  • It’s hard to practise your speaking on your own. You can essentially do what you’re doing with writing (like keep a diary, summarise things you’ve seen, give your opinions about what you’ve seen and so on) but just do it with your mouth rather than with your fingers, but speaking works best when you’re speaking to another person. So, you could talk to the person you’re living with if they’re up for it. Otherwise, consider italki again.
  • I want to mention motivation again, and the importance of enjoying what you’re watching or listening to. If you’re not enjoying something you’re watching you definitely have permission to stop and choose something else instead. It might take a little while to find the right show for you. But don’t force yourself to watch something you don’t like.
  • Also, I’ve mentioned various things in this episode, like watching scenes or episodes several times, writing things down and then comparing with subtitles, shadowing, writing reviews,  and all that stuff. I do think it will help, but I know from experience that most people out there probably won’t bother to do it. That’s up to you. If you don’t take initiative and do some of those things, or at least try them a bit, I suppose you’ll never know how they can help you. If you don’t do anything more than just watch, then fine. Don’t feel bad about it.
  • Understanding films and TV can be really hard! Don’t worry too much if you don’t understand 100%. Even in our first languages we don’t always understand what’s going on in films. So, don’t beat yourself up if you’re not able to understand it all.
  • Of course you can always listen to LEP or whatever other listening resource you have that you can mostly understand, but it’s worth pushing yourself sometimes. Hopefully you get that from my episodes because they feature a mix of me speaking on my own which is probably easier to understand, with me speaking to guests which is harder. But hopefully you’ll find that you understand my content enough for language acquisition to happen. What’s my point here? I suppose it’s that you’ve always got episodes of my podcast to listen to, but you should also explore films and TV shows too, and try to do more than just sit back on the sofa in comfort while doing it. Try to be a bit more active if you can.

There is probably a lot of other advice that could be given. If you have other things to add, why not share them in the comment section.

Some Netflix Recommendations for British English

There are loads of great shows in American English of course, but I’m trying to narrow my focus to British English stuff here.

Here are some shows and films in British English which are on Netflix, which I have seen and can recommend.

I’ll mention the title, then talk about the show/film a little bit.

These things are all available on Netflix where I am (France) at the time of recording this (April 2020). You can probably find a lot of them elsewhere too, including on DVD.

Some of these shows you will have seen before, others will be new to you.

I’ll try to mention what kind of English you can hear in these shows, including accents.

TV Series

  • Black Mirror
  • Sherlock
  • The Crown
  • After Life
  • Bodyguard

Films

  • Shaun of the Dead
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels
  • Snatch
  • Remains of the Day
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian” 
  • Wallace & Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Stand up Comedy

  • James Acaster – Repertoire
  • Greg Davies – You Magnificent Beast
  • Jimmy Carr – The Best of Ultimate Gold Greatest Hits

Plus plenty of others – just use the search bar.

OpenCulture.com –> Lots of free TV, films and documentaries

Also, check out www.OpenCulture.com and spend some time looking through the long list of free documentaries, TV shows and films there. For example, I found a documentary about Pink Floyd which was really fascinating.

Song

Hooked on a Feeling by Blue Suede – Lyrics and chords here tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/blue-swede/hooked-on-a-feeling-chords-753575

659. Lockdown Chat with Cara Leopold

Chatting to Cara Leopold about living in self isolation, the global coronavirus lockdown and how you can work on your English at home using TV shows and films.

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Hello ladies and gentlemen of the world, I hope you are doing alright in both body and mind at this particular moment in time.

Welcome to this new episode of my podcast which is here to help you develop your English skills simply by listening to some authentic, unscripted and spontaneous conversation – because we know that regular exposure to spoken English is vital in the learning process, and if listening to this can just keep you company for a while too, then that is an added bonus. 

In this episode you’re going to hear a chat with Cara Leopold, an English teacher from the UK currently living on lockdown in the east of France. 

Cara has been on this podcast before, two times as you may remember. 

The first time was back in episode 523 in which we talked about learning English with films and TV shows.

Then more recently we talked in episode 618 about the climate crisis.

This time you can hear us chatting about social distancing and being on lockdown during the current coronavirus pandemic, and some more comments about how to improve your English during this period at home using TV series and films.

Yes, there is quite a lot of talking here about the coronavirus. I hope you’re not completely fed up with this topic now. As I’ve said before, I don’t plan to talk about it too much, but I do still want to address the subject a bit, just because it’s on our minds so much and if I ignored it completely it would just end up being the elephant in the room.

Here is a quick rundown of the main points that came up in this conversation, just to help you understand what’s going on.

First we talk about the complex feelings and emotions we’re experiencing during this covid-19 lockdown, including things like anger, guilt, compassion, empathy, helplessness and general feelings of cognitive dissonance as we try to make sense of what’s going on in the world at the moment.

Then we talk about trying to balance the seriousness of the situation with your general mental health on a daily basis. Weighing up the positives and negatives of being stuck inside while the TV news reports on serious events going on around the world every day.

We talk about how much people are following the lockdown rules in our local areas and the vagueness of government positions on those lockdown rules in both France and the UK.

We speculate about Boris Johnson’s cavalier attitude towards social distancing (if you describe someone as ‘cavalier’ it means you’re criticising them for being a bit careless, reckless or not really taking the situation seriously enough) so we talk about Boris Johnson’s cavalier attitude a few weeks ago which resulted in him personally catching the virus. 

Breaking news at time of recording: he is now out of intensive care, which seems to be a good sign for his health, even though I expect it might have been touch and go for a while. Of course we wish him well, and anyone else who is suffering at this time.

We discuss the challenge of trying to work out a moral position on all of this, specifically several approaches to dealing with the crisis: social distancing vs herd immunity.

We chat about managing daily life at home, with a 2-year-old child (in my case), and what happens when I leave her unattended for more than 10 minutes.

Then we turn our attention to you and your English – and how you can use online content like TV series and films (for example on Netflix or perhaps on OpenCulture.com) to improve your English at home.

We did cover a lot of that kind of advice in episode 523 – link above.

but I will sum up the main bits of advice we made in that episode at the end of this one, so stay tuned for more comments about how you can use TV series and films to improve your English nearer the end of the chat.

By the way, Cara’s last episode was transcribed by the Orion Transcription team and apparently it was quite a tough transcribing job partly due to the sound quality from Cara’s side of the conversation. I think she may have been in an echoey room or at least a room with lots of flat surfaces around (a kitchen maybe) which caused her voice to be a bit difficult to hear. 

So this time Cara made a special effort to create better recording conditions. In fact for the whole conversation she was in a cupboard surrounded by coats – the point being, she was doing her best to get good quality sound. Hopefully she will be a bit clearer this time.

Clarifying Some Reference Points / Vocab

I’d like to clarify a couple of reference points, particularly in the opening minutes of the conversation, to help you follow what we’re saying.

Like an episode of Black Mirror
Black Mirror is a TV show which many of you will have seen, but also plenty of you won’t know about it. Episodes of the show typically involve some kind of scary situation, like perhaps a post-apocalyptic world or a world in which certain technology has completely changed our every day lives and not for the better, or it could be life in the context of an environmental or economic crisis or something. But basically “like an episode of Black Mirror” has become a phrase meaning “like we are living in a scary version of the future” or something.

France 3 / BFM  –> These are news stations which you get on French TV.

Canal+ –> a TV station / online platform which you have to pay for in France

ICU = intensive care unit

Helicopter parent / helicopter parenting = (informal disapproving) a parent who is closely involved with their child’s life and tries to control it too much, especially their child’s education

Collins Dictionary dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/helicopter-parent

There are plenty of other reference points and bits of language that I could explain and clarify now but actually I think it’s best to just let you listen to the conversation and simply try to follow it all, notice things as you go, work them out from context and try to find things that you can relate to personally, but in English.

So let’s begin…


Ending

Thanks again to Cara for climbing inside a cupboard and staying there for the duration of our conversation in a bid to improve the sound quality on her side of this conversation. Nice one Cara.

As ever, you can leave your comments on the website. I’m curious where you stand on all of this. 

I mentioned before that I would sum up the main points Cara and I made in episode 523 about using TV and films for learning English, with and without subtitles.

I’ve decided to put that into a separate episode, because I think that rather than tacking it onto the end of this conversation it deserves to have a whole episode of its own. Plus there will be people out there who would appreciate having all the advice in one single episode. So that will be the next episode of the podcast – a summary of advice for using Netflix (and other platforms) for improving your English, plus some more specific recommendations for shows and films you can watch.

Cara’s free course on udemy.com “Improve your English Listening Skills with Movie Quotes”

www.udemy.com/share/1020Lg/

Upcoming episode with Oli

Long term listeners will remember that I have a cousin called Oli who used to be on the podcast quite a lot until he moved to Bristol and I moved to France and we didn’t get the chance to see each other very often. Well he now works for Netflix as a producer at their offices in Los Angeles (I swear I am not sponsored by Netflix!) He moved there a couple of years ago and coincidentally enough I recorded a conversation with him the other day about moving to the USA, what it’s like working for Netflix as a producer and what it’s like to be a Brit living in the USA and communicating with American people every day. That is coming soon. Again, I’m not promoting Netflix – they don’t need me to do that. But anyway, it was a good conversation that covers details of his work and the communication and cultural differences between the UK and USA.

Coronavirus Mini Interviews 1-3 on Zdenek’s English Podcast

If you enjoyed listening to this conversation with Cara, and you enjoy hearing about other people’s experiences of living in lockdown in different countries then I’d like to recommend that you listen to several recent episodes of ZEP including episode 2 which is with me. Links on the page for the episode or just subscribe to Zdenek’s English Podcast.

Episode 1 – Alexander from Russia, Musa from Turkey who is currently living in the UK, Daniel from Switzerland who is also known from My Fluent Podcast, and Daria from Ukraine.

zdeneksenglishpodcast.podbean.com/e/episode-291-coronavirus-mini-interviews-part-1/

Episode 2 – Luke from England, Rita from Italy, Lavi from Hungary, and Nrup from India.

zdeneksenglishpodcast.podbean.com/e/episode-292-coronavirus-mini-interviews-part-2/

Episode 3 – Kieren from England, Kais from the Netherlands, Nikita from Canada, and Darkan from Kazakhstan. 

zdeneksenglishpodcast.podbean.com/e/episode-293-coronavirus-mini-interviews-part-3/

Some of you will be wondering when another RT report will arrive. Soon, I think!

Thanks and speak to you again soon!

648. Ian Moore Returns

Talking again to comedian Ian Moore about favourite films, a trip to New York, British & American audiences, how to iron a shirt, and funny stories about taking the language test to qualify for French citizenship.

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Introduction

Hello everyone and welcome back to this podcast for learners of English and here is your regular dose of English conversation presented here to help you develop your listening skills and pick up grammar and vocabulary along the way.

In this episode of the podcast you can listen to me in conversation with Ian Moore who is back on the podcast after a 3 and a half year absence.

He first appeared in episodes 382 and 383 when we got to know him and talked about mod culture in the UK.

If you haven’t heard those episodes, or if you have heard them and you need me to jog your memory, here is some background info about Ian, just to bring you up to speed.

Ian Moore is a professional stand-up comedian from England. He moved around during his upbringing and is from a combination of places including the north, East Anglia and the London area as you will hear during the conversation.

He has been described by the Guardian newspaper as “one of the country’s top comedians” and he regularly performs in the best stand up comedy venues all around the UK, notably at London’s top stand up comedy club “The Comedy Store” which just off Leicester Square, where he is a frequent host.

He’s a mod – Mod is a British fashion subculture from the 1960s which involves a very particular style featuring certain clothing (like slim Italian suits, green parka coats – and a lot more besides), riding scooters and listening to American R&B music. Ian is definitely the best-dressed guest I have ever had on this podcast and came dressed in a 3-piece 60s Italian suit, gold watch chain, handkerchief in the pocket with a pin and everything.

Ian now lives in rural France on a farm, and has been living there for nearly 15 years, which is at odds with his mod style.

So he has been living a kind of double life – living on the farm in the French countryside, looking after various animals (his wife keeps introducing new animals into the family), making chutney, and commuting to the UK and other cities in Europe to perform stand up comedy.

He has written several books about his double life, which are available from all good book shops including Amazon.

A la Mod: My So-Called Tranquil Family Life in Rural France
C’est Modnifique!: Adventures of an English Grump in Rural France

As well as writing these funny autobiographical stories, Ian has also branched out into writing fiction, and his first novel, called “Playing the Martyr” was published a couple of years ago. It’s a crime thriller about an English man who gets murdered in the Loire valley – I don’t know if this is based on Ian’s life at all. I have no idea if there have been attempts on his life for some reason. But anyway, the book is well-reviewed on Amazon and is available in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Ian is also a language learner – French in this instance. He actively works on his French and passed the language test to gain citizenship in France.

There are plenty of things to talk about – all that is just background context, and if you’d like to know more – listen to episodes 382 and 383 (both of which have transcripts written by the Orion Transcription team available in google documents. Just check the transcripts section of my website).

In those episodes you can hear:
A full explanation of the mod subculture including the clothing, the music and all the rest of it – and mod is very much a part of British youth culture today – especially the clothing, which influences many high-street British clothing brands.
Various stories of Ian’s rural French lifestyle including how his children were once threatened (rather shockingly) by a French hunter armed with a shotgun, some anecdotes about his experiences of performing comedy to audiences in cities all over the UK, accounts of his comedy triumphs and one or two comedy disasters and more ramblings of that nature.

So that’s all background context that you can hear more of in episode 382 and 383 –

This time, I decided to just see where the conversation takes us and the result was an extremely tangential and rambling conversation that takes in such things as

  • Ian’s favourite films
  • Ian’s recent trip to New York where he did comedy and spent time as a tourist
  • The complications of Woody Allen’s current public image
  • Differences between British and American audiences
  • Differences between Burlesque and stripping
  • Ian’s different accents as a child moving from Blackburn to Norfolk to London.
  • Details of Ian’s clothing
  • How to iron a shirt properly
  • Ian’s various health issues and physical complaints and what might be causing them
  • Comedy shows you can see at The Comedy Store in London
  • Ian’s stories about learning French and attempting to pass the language test for French citizenship

Watch out for various little jokes and funny stories along the way and try to keep up as the topic of the conversation veers from one thing to another.

But now, let’s listen to my conversation with Ian Moore and here we go…

Ian Moore Photo: Richard Wood @comictog twitter.com/comictog


Ending

I won’t talk a lot more here at the end because I don’t want the episode to be too long, but I would like to say thanks again to Ian for being on the podcast.

You can find out more about Ian on his website at ianmoore.info/

Well done for managing to follow this entire conversation. I wonder how much you understood, how many little jokes and funny moments you picked up on. It might be worth listening again and I wouldn’t be surprised if the transcription team chose to transcribe this episode like they did with episodes 382 and 383. You can find those transcriptions in the google documents by clicking transcripts in the menu on my website.

That’s it for now then, have a fantastic day, morning, lunch, afternoon, late afternoon, early evening, mid evening, late evening and night and I will speak to you again on the podcast soon.

But for now,

Bye!

639. 3 Quintessentially British Books (that you might not know about) with Mum

Talking to my mum about some examples of quintessentially British things, in this case it’s 3 British books that she particularly likes.

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Introduction

Hello folks! Here is the last of this 3 part series I’ve been doing about quintessentially British things. I’m assuming now that you’ve heard the previous parts of this series and you know what this is all about.

If you haven’t heard those yet, may I gently suggest that you listen to them first? There’s one with my brother and then one with my dad too.

Now it’s my mum’s turn and since she is such a bookworm – she works in a bookshop, is a member of a book club and is a voracious reader, the three things she has chosen are all novels – books about British characters going through typically British experiences, mostly in the early part of the 20th century.

So if you’re looking for some interesting books to read in English, check out these ones which are some of my mum’s favourites.

Have a look at the page for this episode on the website where you will find the names of all the books we mention plus some other references and bits & pieces.

Remember you can sign up to my mailing list on my website to receive an email notification whenever I release a new episode, and that contains a link which will take you straight to the relevant page for that episode.

Now, without any further ado let me allow you to enjoy the nice tones of my mum’s voice as she talks to you about her quintessentially British things.


Book 1

J.L. Carr “A Month in the Country

Book 2

R. F. Delderfield “To Serve Them All My Days

Book 3

R.C. Sheriff “The Fortnight in September

Also mentioned

  • Withnail & I
  • Journey’s End by R.C. Sheriff
  • The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sheriff

The previous episode with my mum about books.

The Withnail & I episode


Ending

So that was my mum and her three books. Let me say the titles again. There was “A Month in the Country” by J.L. Carr, “To Serve Them All My Days” by R. F. Delderfield and ““The Forgnight in September” by R.C. Sheriff.

It’s sort of a funny coincidence that all the writers of these books have initials at the start – J.L. Carr, R.F. Delderfield, R.C. Sheriff.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed listening to that and that you learnt a thing or two about the effects of the world wars on British people, and also that you might consider reading one of those novels yourself.

What do you think of my mum talking about books on this podcast? We did several episodes before together in which we talked a bit about books.

There was episode 488 teacherluke.co.uk/2017/10/26/488-a-rambling-conversation-with-mum-part-1-vocabulary/

And 489 teacherluke.co.uk/2017/10/30/489-a-rambling-conversation-with-mum-part-2-vocabulary/

Both of which dealt with things like my mum’s favourite podcast, some favourite people and different books she’s been reading.

What would you think of a fairly regular podcast series with my mum in which she talks about books she’s read. It could be called Mum’s Book Club. If you like the sound of that, let me know. I might be able to make it a regular feature, a bit like The Rick Thompson Report (and yes I need to make new one of them).

So would you like to hear more episodes of Mum’s Book Club? If so, let me know.

But that’s it for this episode. What did you think, overall, of this series? Did you learn anything about the UK? Did you get some good recommendations? Did you enjoy listening to my family? Let me know in the comment section.

I’ll speak to you again soon. Don’t forget to download the LEP App from the app store to get loads of bonus episodes, and consider signing up to my premium service to get regular monthly grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation lessons. Find out more at teacherluke.co.uk/premium

But for now, all that remains to be said is, good bye!

636. James & Luke Discuss Star Wars IX (SPOILERS) Final Star Wars Episode Ever?

James and Luke ramble about Star Wars IX one more time. This episode is full of little jokes, sketches, voices and full spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello and welcome back to the podcast. Here is one more episode of film club dedicated to the ridiculous new Star Wars film – The Rise of Skywalker, which my brother James and I recently enjoyed watching at a cinema in Birmingham. 

This is a mammoth holiday season megaramble with James about Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker. 

Of course, if the Star Wars films don’t interest you then this might not be your cup of tea and I totally understand. 

Normal podcasting will be resumed shortly I promise. I have at least 3 other episodes in the pipeline that I recorded with members of my family this Christmas. I’m sticking this Star Wars one online now to be followed by plenty of other normal episodes afterwards and the usual audio and video content for premium subscribers. 

But for those of you who have seen The Rise of Skywalker and would like to listen to a funny conversation with my brother, as we have a beer and go through the plot of the film, with plenty of little jokes, criticisms and details we liked. If you’re up for it, I think you’ll enjoy this one, with a few potential “laugh out loud on the bus” moments.

Of course there will be full spoilers throughout this episode as we talk about all the details of the plot. So, watch out if you haven’t yet seen the film. 

Big Star Wars Questions

So we talk about the film’s plot and make all the comments we have about what happens,  but we also talk about some big Star Wars questions which this film raises, like:

  • Is Luke Skywalker a virgin?
  • Who would actually consent to have sex with Emperor Palpatine, and when did that happen?
  • What happens when a force-sensitive Jedi has an orgasm? Could it be a dangerous moment, and is that why the Jedi follow a strict code of celibacy?
  • Why is everything in the Star Wars universe made of such highly explosive material?
  • Can droids hack into anything? Where’s the cyber security in this universe?
  • Why does a fat pilot die in a space battle at the end of every film?
  • If “the force will be with you, always”, why do they also have to say “may the force be with you”?

Also I should point out that there is some swearing in this episode and some generally rude language at times, so you might want to bear that in mind if you’re listening to this with children or the swearing intolerant.

So, those of you who are still here, I assume you’d like to listen to us rambling on about this final Star Wars episode.

This might be the final star wars episode ever on this podcast, certainly for a while. But I might want to talk about The Mandalorian when it’s available where I live.

Part of me thinks it is a bit excessive to upload even more content about Star Wars but I actually think this conversation is much better than episode 633 which was my immediate reaction to seeing the film. Frustratingly, in that episode I struggled to talk articulately about it because I couldn’t remember the complex details of the plot! I’m afraid you may have listened to me umming and aahing as I went through the plot. 

I also missed a few points and generally struggled to be coherent about this film, partly because the film itself isn’t very coherent. 

But this conversation with James is worth a listen in my opinion. Star Wars can be quite a funny topic, with plenty of opportunities for voices, sketches and jokes. We recorded it in my dad’s office in the evening a few days after Christmas. It’s a long conversation, but I reckon it’s worth a listen. 

I would say, if I was learning a language, say French.

I would say that I would like to listen to a couple of people discussing The Rise of Skywalker in French, while defining little phrases and other points as they went along. That would be right up my street and would definitely be a good way to do some focused listening and language study. If only that podcast existed out there for French learners. Why is nobody doing that? Hey French LEPsters – where’s Le Podcast Francais de Jean-Pierre?

Anyway, hopefully this final star wars episode will be a step up from the last one and a genuinely enjoyable and useful thing for you to listen to. 

Oh, and Happy New Year.

______________

Ending

So there you go! Congratulations for listening all the way to the end of this. If you like this sort of thing – reviewing movies with some fun along the way, you might like my review of Avengers: Endgame which you can find in the LEP App in the app-only episodes category.

Apologies again for James’ sneezing and blowing of his nose but I think we can let him off because he has such bad allergies. I should say thanks again to James for taking part in this episode. I should do and I might. In fact I will. Thanks to James for this episode, to Dad for letting us use his office, for the local Sainsbury’s for providing us with some local beer for the recording.

But that’s almost it for this episode.

Next up on the podcast we have a few more episodes featuring members of my family. I’ll be speaking to James again, then my dad and then my mum. They’re all getting their own episodes. The theme of this little series is going to be “Quintessentially British Things” and I asked everyone to think of a few things that they thought were typically British or that they liked about the UK. So prepare for some chat about things like pop culture, literature, theatre, TV shows, British landscapes, places and history. They’re good episodes and I expect you’ll enjoy them very much.

But for now, it’s just time to say goodbye…

632. Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker (No Spoilers!)

A new Film Club episode in which Luke rambles about Star Wars IX, including various speculations and theories. NO SPOILERS. Transcript/Notes available.

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Transcript / Notes

Star Wars thoughts…

This is a Film Club episode about Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker. It contains no spoilers for the film beyond what has been revealed in the trailers already.

So, no spoilers – it’s just going to be my speculation about what’s going to happen in the film.

If you’re interested in the new Star Wars film I hope you can enjoy listening to this before seeing the film. I’ll be doing another one after having seen the film and that will contain all the spoilers.

I’m going to see Star Wars 9 tomorrow. Creche is open. It’s on. (not at the creche)

Talking about Star Wars has become something of a tradition on this podcast now. I’ve done numerous film club episodes about it on this podcast. Everyone should know that I am somehow invested in this series and this goes right back to childhood when I was quite obsessed with it, had the toys, believed I was Luke Skywalker and everything and this continued as I grew up. At university I used to sit around with my friends and speculate about Star Wars.

I saw the prequel trilogy from 1999 to 2005 and didn’t really like it. There are some good moments, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea overall.

Now we have the new Disney produced films and overall I’ve been enjoying them a lot. I think they’ve got the tone just about right. There have been some films which were like big Star Wars sand pit games like Rogue One and there have been the weird, unexpected moments in The Last Jedi.

I’ve done episodes about the original films and all the new releases. They’re all there in the episode archive.

It’s become something of a tradition on LEP to talk about Star Wars at Christmas. In fact this is now the 4th Star Wars film we’ve had at Christmas time and also the 4th time I’m talking about it on the podcast at Christmas.

By the way – yesterday I uploaded the annual Christmas episode of LEP. It’s all about awful jokes you might find in a Christmas cracker. Check it out for laughs, some groans and a nice review of Christmas vocabulary. Also I’ve been uploading some premium videos and more premium stuff coming later this week.

So don’t miss the Christmas Jokes episode. I’m concerned that because I uploaded it just yesterday and I’m now uploading another one, that you’ll miss number 631. So, don’t miss it!

So back to Star Wars. I know that for some of you Star Wars is not your cup of tea, in that case this episode might not be for you.

Also if you’re not a fan of the rambling style episodes this also might not be for you.

So, now I expect I’ve got people listening who are interested in the new Star Wars film and want to listen to me talk about it in a rambly kind of way. OK, let’s go.

I’m excited to see the new film. It’s always fun to see new Star Wars, especially if big things are going to happen, and they definitely are going to happen in this new episode.

But I am also prepared for disappointment. It’s Star Wars for goodness sake, there’s bound to be some kind of disappointment and it’s the culmination of the whole 9 part series. The trilogy of trilogies is going to conclude with this episode. No pressure! I wonder how JJ Abrams is going to deal with this.

Chris Terrio???

A quick look back at the last few films

Episode 7
It was pretty good. Right tone. Some nostalgia value. Felt like old Star Wars again.
Criticisms: It was too derivative of episode 4. Rey’s character is overpowered.

Rogue One was also pretty good but was criticised for too much fan service.

Apparently we wanted something where different things happen, and not too much fan service.

The result was Episode 8 The Last Jedi which was all about subverting expectations and changing the rules. Luke is a washed up hermit who has lost his faith. The Jedi are considered a failed project, responsible for the creation of the Sith. I think it’s pretty cool! I liked how it subverted expectations. I enjoyed not knowing what would happen next.

But it took the series in a weird direction and now JJ has to kind of land the plane.

I feel like the hype leading up to this film has been a bit muted. Is it just me, or is that true?

Answers vs mystery

JJ Abrams is good at the mystery
Episode 7 was quite good for that.
They came up with more questions than answers.
Many fan theories.
Everyone was looking for answers in ep 8 and instead it was all about subverting expectations.

But in this JJ has to provide some answers and I think we’ll get most of them.

  • Who is Rey?
  • Who was Snoke?
  • Why did Kylo turn to the dark side?
  • What did Rey’s cave scene mean?

We’ll probably get answers to those things, more or less.

So it’s going to be exciting to get some big conclusions, hopefully. But of course there’s always the potential for the answers to be disappointing.

But maybe we’ll get some mystery too. And I think mystery and open ended ness and less is more, is what SW is all about when it’s good. OT was more about mystery and PT was more about answers. You knew what would happen next.

This trilogy is still interesting to me but it all rides on this episode.

There’s a lot of pressure on this one to bring it back to classic Star Wars but also to kind of provide answers.

Anakin will probably return with the prequel actor. We might see him as a force ghost.

Maybe we’ll get Yoda. We will definitely get Luke. We might get Anakin and also Obi Wan and quignon. They really should. Possibly even Mace Windu.

Maybe Anakin is the Skywalker in the title. They did say they’d bring the whole saga to an end. How could Anakin not be part of it?

Snoke we know is probably a fake person created by the Emperor. In the clip Palpatine says he created all the voices in Kylo’s head including Vader and Snoke. Maybe Snoke was just some kind of creation of Palpatine.

I bet Palpatine in the film calls to Kylo and brings him to a certain place and reveals himself. But will kylo go with him? And how do the others find that place??

Who is Rey? Maybe she is related to someone. Maybe she is nobody.

The cave scene in ep 8 / Is Rey a clone?

Or is it something about how her future is written. Destiny. But what is her destiny?

It would be odd if the force cave was just saying, “you have a destiny”.
What does it mean? Weirdest scene ever.

They must be planning a big reveal though, more than just the return of Palpatine which is basically confirmed. There will be another big reveal because we haven’t had one yet. Kylo REN was revealed as Han and Leia’s son right at the start and we’ve had nothing about Rey.

In the cave she knows that what she will see in the mirror is the answer she’s looking for.

We see two shadows come together to become one person who is revealed to be Rey. So she sees herself in the mirror. This could also mean she’s a clone.

Clones featured heavily in the prequel trilogy and Abrams has said that this film will tie together the whole narrative. There may be elements from the prequels in here.

Clones might be back.

Maybe Rey is a clone. Dark Rey – is that a cloned Rey or a vision?

Palpetine might have cloned himself somehow.

Maybe palpatine cloned someone else, like Anakin.

I’m really clutching at straws here.

Is the Star Wars story broken?

Not at all. Lots of loose ends.

So Rey has become all trained up and awesome, maybe with the help of force ghosts.

Kylo is now in charge of the first order and is full in dark side mode. Maybe he’s being haunted by Luke. Maybe Luke will turn him good.

I think the Emperor has called out to him somehow. Maybe he’s using Vader’s helmet and making him think he’s talking to Vader.

He still knows he has a connection with Rey. Maybe they style Skype sometimes.

Finn and Poe – god knows. Maybe they have a mission to collect some artefact.

The resistance has grown after people around the galaxy have joined including Lando.

But I have no idea what’s going to happen!

An Avengers Endgame style ending with all Jedi and with doing battle somehow.

I haven’t seen The Mandalorian yet but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve seen the Baby Yoda memes around but to be honest I don’t know what it is yet. I think Disney+ is coming to France in March or something.

I’ll probably do a full spoiler review of the film on Wednesday after I’ve seen it. I might also go to see it again with my brother and my dad and we might get the chance to talk about it too, but that might be a bit too much Star Wars chat. It could just go into the app or something, for those who want to get it.

Full spoiler review coming tomorrow…

627. Emina’s Long Journey to English Proficiency

My friend Emina Tuzovic has learned English to a proficient level as a non-native speaker of the language. She says it has been “a long journey”. Let’s find out all about that journey of English learning in this conversation, recorded in London just a couple of days ago.

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Introduction

Today on the podcast I am talking to my friend Emina Tuzovic, who is an English teacher.

For ages and ages I have been meaning to have Emina on this podcast for 3 main reasons:

1. Emina is absolutely lovely and it’s just nice to spend time talking with her, plus there’s plenty I’d like to find out from her that I’ve never really asked her before. That’s a benefit of the podcast, it gives me a chance to have in-depth conversations that often just don’t happen otherwise.

2. She is a non-native speaker of English who has learned the language to a proficient level – good enough to do a masters, a PhD, and to teach English at a very high level, to deliver workshops and seminars and just to live in the UK for a good length of time. So, she must have some valuable insights and experiences about learning English because she’s done it herself, but also about the cultural experience of moving to London and living there for what must be about 15 years at least I think.

3. She is a very well-qualified and experienced English teacher and so I am sure she has loads of insights into learning English from that point of view too, including certain areas of specialist knowledge as a result of her academic studies, including things like the challenges faced by native speakers of Arabic when they learn English. I’ve never talked about Arabic speakers of English on the podcast, so hello to all my Arabic speaking listeners (or should that be marhabaan.

As I said, it’s been quite hard to pin Emina down and interview her – mainly because our timetables are different, I live in Paris, she lives in London and she goes to bed so early in the evening. Thankfully the universe has finally allowed it to happen, here at the London School of English in Holland Park, London. This is where I used to work and where Emina still does work.

So the aim here is to have a long(ish) and natural conversation with Emina, touching on topics like learning English, cultural differences in the UK, teaching English and her academic studies in linguistics.

622. General Ramble (Oct 2019) Learning English / Politics / Recording Setup / Book Recommendation / Beatles / Star Wars / Bill Bailey

Rambling on my own about all sorts of things including Brexit news, describing my recording setup and microphones, a book recommendation for you, comments about the Beatles Abbey Road 50th Anniversary, the latest Star Wars Episode 9 trailer and Bill Bailey dissecting music in a brilliant way.

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Episode Notes & Videos

Rick Thompson Report/Politics

🤷‍♂️

My Recording Setup

A Shure SM57 into a CL1 Cloudlifter then into a Behringer Q502 and then into the Zoom H5.

Book Recommendation

One Train Later by Andy Summers

The Beatles Abbey Road 50th Anniversary

Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker

Episode 9 Trailer

RedLetterMedia predict the plot of Star Wars 9

Bill Bailey & Music

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!