What You Have Been Reading – The Top 10 posts of 2016

Christmas and New Year plays odd tricks with you.  First day back at work yesterday and on journey home it seemed as if the festive season was ages ago.  I was surprised to still see the twinkling lights from the bus and even more so when I got home to see the Christmas tree and decorations all up.  It only takes a couple of days of the New Year to get us all moving on………..

But before I crack on fully with 2017 I want to take just one more retrospective look at 2016.  Personally it was pretty momentous.  At the start of the year I was getting myself prepared for a 10th season at my guest house on the Isle of Wight.  Well, since then, books have taken over.  Following months of uncertainty the guest house has been sold and I have moved to a new house in the same town and have begun working with books (as well as being surrounded by them at home) working within the Isle Of Wight Library Service.  The reviews, interviews and magazine assignments have kept coming and at the times of upheaval, of not knowing where I would be living, of winding the business up, of dealing with the loss of close family members reading has very much kept me sane.  If insanity was threatened it was due to BT Open Reach and EE my internet providers who took forever between them to get me a phone line and internet access – but that’s all sorted now and after a few years of feeling life was on a bit of a plateau 2017 feels a very positive change of year.

I’m delighted with the way reviewsrevues.com has gone from strength to strength (despite erratic postings towards the end of the year- thanks again for making this so difficult, BT).  In fact compared to last year there has been an astonishing 76% rise in traffic on the site.  That’s thanks to you all reading this.  Let’s finish 2016 off with a countdown of your ten most read of the 158 posts I published during the year. Just click on the links to revisit the full reviews.

10. The Author Strikes Back- Benita Jayne – Author of “Sacred Crystal Pyramid”and old school chum makes it into the Top 10 with our interview held back in July

9. The Author Strikes Back – Chris Whitaker – The most read of the author interviews I’ve published on here this year.  Chris had to put up with me interviewing him twice, once for here and once for the Nudge site.  He was charming both times.

8. Tall Oaks – Chris Whitaker Showing that the author interviews drive traffic to the original review.  Chris’ crime debut was also a hit on Nudge which has led to a nomination for the Book Noir book of the year.  If you enjoyed his book you can register your appreciation here.

7. The Evenings – Gerard Reve– I had quite a lot of reservations about this book which I reviewed in October but the review of this Dutch translation has attracted a lot of attention.

6. The Rovers – Sky 1 football themed comedy with Craig Cash and Sue Johnston.  This was funny and attracted enough reads on here to suggest a second series is a serious proposition.

5. Giles Coren: My Failed Novel – Sky Arts one-off programme on the perils for a first-time novelist.  A real eye-opener.

4. Make! Craft Britain – Another one-off programme, this time on BBC4.  There’s a lot of crafters out there (and yes I did finish making my Clanger)

3. Lets Groove- The Best Of Earth Wind & Fire– I actually posted this in October 2015 but the lasting legacy of this group and the sad passing of Maurice White (one of the seemingly vast number of celebrities who were imporant to me who died in 2016) has ensured that this has had high readership figures throughout the year.

2. Scott and Bailey – ITV series.  People seemed to be facing up to the disappointment of there being apparently no more by reading about it.  I’ll say it again…  I love Scott and Bailey.



1.The Level – ITV.  My review of this appeared after the first episode at the start of October.  I moved not long after and lost track of reviewsrevues for a time.  I was astonished to see that views for this had gone through the roof whilst I was doing other things and it is the most read review  on here by a clear mile.  Over 1300 views ahead of the number 2 read.  The series started promisingly but lost its way a little at times but the readers keep coming.  There’s certainly a lot of interest in this series, ITV, if you are thinking of recommissioning or looking towards overseas sales.


Right. that’s enough 2016.  Let’s get on with 2017!

Rovers (Sky 1 2016)- A What I’ve Been Watching Review



I can’t say that I’ve ever watched much British comedy on Sky.  Dredging the memory backwards I can only think of the supermarket-set “Trollied” which was good for its first few series but showed distinct signs of going on past its sell-by-date and a few of those comedy “Christmas Crackers” one-offs shown around the festive season.  I have tried the odd series and given up early on (most recently Sky Atlantic’s “Camping” which unfortunately just didn’t do it for me).  But here’s a different proposition.  Slinking onto the schedules on Tuesday night was the first episode of “Rovers” a new football themed comedy starring those two lynch-pins of “The Royle Family”, Craig Cash and the ever dependable Sue Johnston.  The football themed bit didn’t fill me with that much hope as football  and me are never going to get on but there is no doubting there is much comic potential in the game especially with the struggling lower leagues-  in this case a team languishing near the bottom of the Evo-Stick First Divisions North League.  This is the story of Redbridge Rovers, its clubhouse and supporters.  As might be expected with the involvement of Cash and Johnston this looks like it is going to be very much a character led comedy and does have the feel of the lovely “Early Doors” set in a Northern pub and written by Cash and Phil Mealey which so delighted me over two series back in 2003-4.


Cash and Johnston together again!


Wilkinson and Earl

“Rovers” is written by David Earl and Joe Wilkinson who appear in the series as slightly dodgy looking southerners Bruce and Lee who seem to relish in winding up Cash’s character Pete.  I was laughing before the credits started.  Cash, in typically hapless role was on the pitch taking part in a radio interview with one of the goalposts marked “The Stanley Bell End”.  Little things!! It is an affectionate tale of those devoted to lower league football and its obsession with fundraising, meat raffles and an absolutely rubbish souvenir shop which certainly got me laughing.  Sue Johnston is Doreen behind the bar, getting the attention of the few customers by overly whirling a rattle to announce the raffle- a sadder display of cling-film covered meat products I’ve yet to see.  First episode in and we’re establishing characters and some of them are already seeming lovable especially new girl behind the bar and Doreen’s protégée, Sam (played by stand-up comedian Lolly Adefope) and her potential love interest, the somewhat gormless, “Tent Peg” (Jamie Demetriou).  There’s great potential in these characters and played by new-to-me performers.  There’s familiar faces in Diane Morgan, most recently seen in her Philomena Cunk creation in Charlie Brooker’s Screen Wipe and the laugh-out-loud recent extention of this “Cunk on Shakespeare”) and Steve Spiers (who was very memorable as Dad in the TV adaptation of David Walliam’s “Boy In The Dress” from 2014) and Rob Norbury (ex Hollyoaks’ Riley Costello) as star player Mike Nolan, the source of gossip and centre of Pete’s devotion.

Adefope, Demetriou, Morgan and Spiers – stars of The Rovers

It’ s new and yet felt reassuringly familiar which is often the way with good situation character and it is also about friendship which is something I like with my comedy.  There’s also good lines – Pete after admiring Tel’s new shoes: “I just wouldn’t wear slip-ons to a match that’s all.  I’ve got nothing against them.”  Doreen: “I hate the back of my head at the moment.”  Thanks also to Sky for not doing their back to back double bill episodes thing which they have a tendency to do with thirty minute shows.  I like to relish my comedy in small doses and I’m already looking forward to the next episode.



Rovers is on Tuesdays at 9 pm on Sky 1?  The first episode is available on Sky catch-up services.