Sunday 4 December 2016

New on netflix: Keeping Up With Kimmy - no, not that one. . .

* Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt 13 episodes, available from April 15

Donal Lynch

Published 11/04/2016 | 02:30

Tough cookie: Ellie Kemper stars in 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'
Tough cookie: Ellie Kemper stars in 'Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt'

The return of Tina Fey's comedy series is a welcome one for Netflix fans worldwide, and for the streaming service itself: the company were so impressed with the response to the first 13-episode season that they bought the rights off NBC to stream it exclusively on their own service.

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The series tells the story of the eponymous young woman (Ellie Kemper), naively making her way through the dog-eat-dog world of the big city after being held in a makeshift bunker for 15 years. Innocent, cheerful and determined, Kimmy makes it a point not to be perceived as a helpless victim, but a survivor who's ready to make a name for herself (even if she's socially inept and has quite literally slept under a rock for the better part of her life).

The show's creators and stars have stayed tight-lipped on what is to follow season one's bittersweet ending but writer/producer Tina Fey recently said "I can promise you there will be lots of laughs and crazier moments than the first season", before adding, "You can trust me or you can call me a liar!" We know which option we'd pick.

Respectable: The Mary Millington Story (2016)

Available now

She scandalised England in the 1970s as the country's first X-rated screen superstar - but last week blonde bombshell Mary Millington was honoured in London with her own Heritage Blue Plaque. You could call it a posthumous pardon of sorts and her lore has only grown with time.

In that glorious window of time after sex had entered the mainstream but before the invention of the VHS, porn was something that could only be watched in sleazy cinemas and Millington was the star of the burgeoning industry. She made a series of highly successful films in the genre before fellow porn actress Maureen O'Malley - Mary's co-star in the film Sex Is My Business - introduced her to then porn baron, now chairman of West Ham football club, David Sullivan. Soon her face and body were selling him more than one million magazines a month.

Millington became a campaigner - she took on the establishment as she made the case for the right to buy, sell and view pornography. She was once arrested outside Downing Street when she flashed her breasts. She was both notorious and popular.

Behind the scenes Millington was also a troubled individual. She suffered from depression, became heavily addicted to drugs and developed a preoccupation with death, at one point even training to be an embalmer. She also became a kleptomaniac and her depression worsened in her thirties. After a row with her husband she killed herself, taking a fatal overdose of pills and vodka. She was only 33. This fascinating documentary tells her story.

Grace and Frankie Season One

10 episodes, available now

"We're back bitches! And we look damn good." Thus reads the promo line for the forthcoming new series of Grace and Frankie, and as Muhammad Ali once said, "It ain't bragging if it's true". The two stars of the show, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, have aged like fine wine and are still as watchable as ever.

Before the new series starts this June it might be an idea to catch up on season one, which is now streaming. The two actresses play a pair of friends whose lives are turned upside down when their husbands reveal they are gay and leave them for each other. The strange mix of comedy and tragedy in the situation brings the two women closer together, and together with the ex-husbands and kids they struggle to reinvent what a modern family means.

It's impossible not to think back to the actresses' own pasts as you watch this - possibly with a little irony intended, the writers have made Grace (Fonda) a button-down, WASP, while Frankie (Tomlin) is a "hippy-dippy" free spirit. The first series was well reviewed and, unlike many American sitcoms which centre around female friendship, we would actually buy these two as friends. Another reason to watch is that Irishman Martin Sheen also stars.

Catch up now

Emily Hourican

The Gruffalo's Child

TG4 Player, until April 15

This award-winning animated version of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's much-loved children's book is a sequel to The Gruffalo, and tells the story of the baby Gruffalo's nocturnal adventures tramping through the deep, dark wood, in search of the mysterious and terrible Mouse. Along the way, he (she?) runs across a host of animals - Mother Squirrel, Fox, Owl, Snake and Mouse himself - voiced by a who's who of British actors, including Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt and Rob Brydon, with Robbie Coltrane as the Gruffalo. Really delightful, for adults as much as kids.

Paul & Nick's Big American Food Trip

UTV Player, until April 16

Long-time friends and chefs Paul Rankin and Nick Nairn have joined forces again to explore the impact of Ulster-Scots immigration on the food culture of America, meeting producers, chefs and food historians. In their kilts and stout boots, the pair are a lively and very watchable double act. They make their way to Lexington, Virginia, where they cook for descendants of the Ulster-Scots Lewis family, who settled in the area in the 18th century.

Danny Boy - The Ballad That Bewitched The World

RTE Player, until April 17

The story of a song. With remarkable footage of artists including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jackie Wilson and Harry Belafonte singing the iconic song, and contributions from Gabriel Byrne, Malachy McCourt, Barry McGuigan, Jim Sheridan - who has used the song to great effect in his films - and Brian Kennedy, this traces the history and legacy of Danny Boy, one of the world's best-loved tunes.

The documentary explores how the song was created - Fred Weatherly, an English barrister who had never set foot in Ireland added lyrics to an ancient Irish melody, The Londonderry Air - and the way it has grown in significance and impact over the 100-odd years of its lifespan.

Podcasts

Documentary on One

www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone

Usually aired on Saturdays at 2pm on RTE Radio 1, and about 40 minutes in length, Documentary on One is, rightly, hugely successful, with a shelf-full of awards since it started in 2008. Although specifically tackling Irish stories and Irish people, within that the strand covers pretty much all of human life, including art, sport, music, fun, family, health, politics, death and far more. There are almost 1,500 documentaries to choose from at this stage, on subjects as eclectic as the Indian rebellion that was based on the 1916 Easter Rising, the GAA football match between Kerry and Louth that took place at a prisoner of war camp in Frongoch Wales in 1916, and the astounding tale of two Dublin children who chanced a free ride on the Dart in 1985, and ended up in New York. Truly splendid stuff.

An Irishman Abroad

www.anirishmanabroad.podbean.com

A simple, highly effective idea - comedian Jarlath Regan conducts an in-depth interview with an ex-pat Irish person of interest (sports people, broadcasters, other comedians, writers, actors and more), about their experiences of moving and living abroad. The podcast is successfully crowd-funded - ie, paid for by the donations of listeners - and the revelations often unexpected. So you have Keith Wood talking about the things he learned from his father before his tragic death and overcoming his crippling shyness, along with his analysis of what professionalism really did to the game of rugby. Or Lenny Abrahamson discussing feeling unhinged in the middle of the Oscar hype, and his determination to resist the temptation to let success change his outlook.

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