Critics' Choice

By Jonathan Ross Cerys Matthews Ellen E Jones
Author: Jonathan Ross

Jonathan Ross

Jonathan Ross is a comedian, talk show host, film critic and one of Britain's most successful broadcasters.

Author: Ellen E Jones

Ellen E Jones

Ellen E Jones is The Independent's TV critic and a columnist for The Independent on Sunday and The i Paper. She runs regular review writing workshops and mentoring programmes for young journalists, yet still finds time to squeeze in a solid four hours of TV-viewing a day.

Author: Cerys Matthews

Cerys Matthews

Radio 6 Music broadcaster, MBE, author, songwriter and former singer with the band Catatonia, Cerys Matthews has got music in her bones. She's passionate about all kinds of sounds so let her inspire you too.

Jonathan Ross says...

Baywatch, the movie, is showing on board, and it's easy to enjoy. Like the TV show that spawned it, it's silly, fast moving (except for the bits when a heavily muscled man or curvaceous woman is running in slo-mo, of course) and, thanks to the addition of some broad modern humour, it's funny. It also stars the Rock, of course, and he is impossible to dislike. They should air-drop him into international conflicts – one wide smile from Dwayne Johnson would result in peace and prosperity for all.

Mining our nostalgia and fondness for old TV shows in order to create blockbuster movies is nothing new, but leads to mixed results. Sometimes it seems like a no-brainer – The Flintstones was almost guaranteed to be a hit, but how on earth did they make such a mess of the sequel Viva Rock Vegas? And in what alternate universe did movie execs think that there was an appetite for a big screen version of the Honeymooners or Car 54, Where Are You?. They might as well have set the cash on fire – which would at least have been entertaining to watch.

The key, as ever, lies with the writing. Charlie's Angels was pretty cool because it felt fresh and modern while nodding towards the original conceit, but not allowing itself to be enslaved by it. The Ab Fab movie succeeded because it benefited from having Jennifer Saunders, the genius who created the show, writing the movie as well. The A Team tanked because it captured the noisy superficial action of the TV show but failed to add anything new. And what we used to enjoy in simpler times for free isn’t something we necessarily want to part with our cash for when there is far smarter, more sophisticated fare to choose from.

I take no pleasure in seeing a movie flop. Take He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, for example. I loved the toys, and liked the campy cartoon series. I even gave Dolph Lundgren a chair on my chat show to help promote it although I managed to upset him a little when I asked whether he’d hung around in toyshops to prepare for the role. Not very nice, maybe, but his performance could comfortably be described as decidedly 'wooden'.

Win or lose at the box office, we're going to see more and more old TV ideas revisited. As the great screenwriter William Goldman famously said, 'Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess and, if you're lucky, an educated one.'

I've still got my fingers crossed for 'Manimal: The Motion Picture'.

Cerys Matthews says...

Today we can flutter like virtual butterflies sipping on an endless variety of cultural nectar. Over the past few years, on the radio and online, I've noticed a healthy and growing proportion of pop, indie, folk, grime and hip-hop infused with rhythms, guitar motifs and cultural stylings from around the globe.

The song of this summer is a Puerto Rican track, Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's Despacito, featuring Justin Bieber. Artists such as Songhoy Blues, Baloji and Sinkane are bowling over mainstream festival audiences. Vampire Weekend, The Very Best, Frànçois and the Atlas Mountains and a whole host of indie bands have been wearing their love of Africa's music quite clearly.

I also witness it first-hand. My multi-language, multi-genre music radio show now attracts a weekly audience of nearly 700,000. Our ears are at last opening up to the world. If you, too, just can't get enough of the world's rich cultural resources, you're in for a treat. On board today there is a wealth of music and literature from all over the globe to savour.

There's a roundup of favourites and recent hits from China, featuring classics, well-loved ballads and cool uptempo tracks, presented by Kevin Chen; a selection of easy Bollywood Ballads by stars such as Arijit Singh, Armaan Malik and Sonu Nigam; and a must-listen compilation, Amplificador, showcasing the cream of Brazil's modern underground and pop talent. Picked by esteemed Brazilian music bloggers, this release draws together some of the components of 'Novissima Music Brasileria' (brand-new Brazilian music) ranging from Afro grooves to rock, modern samba and MPB (popular music from Brazil). Check out O Rei de Tupanga by Iconili, which is an infectious Latin disco track with brass motifs and Nile Rodgers-esque guitar rhythms. Or listen to a Jamaican-style song called Kilimanjaro Dub by Aeromoças E Tenistas Russas.

Your journey can continue by spending time with an audiobook by Nobel prize-winning writer Rabindranath Tagore, born 1861 in Calcutta. Today you have access to his short story Kabuliwala.

Finally, I'd like to highlight the fine selections presented by world music magazine Songlines. This month Stewart Copeland, the drummer from the Police, is its guest DJ. He has immaculate taste: enjoy music by Romanian cimbalom player Toni Iordache, and Mexican 'son' sounds from Trio Tamazunchale. Enjoy the feast!

Ellen E Jones says...

Rick McCrank doesn’t come across like your typical tour guide. He's softly spoken with kind eyes half-hidden under the brim of a baseball cap and, in his plaid shirt and Wayfarer sunglasses, he looks like the pro skater he's been for 20 years crossed with cult documentarian Jonathan Meades. That's entirely appropriate, because what's special about McCrank's new (and first) travelogue series, Abandoned, is how it makes a skater's outlook on the globe available to all.

'Skating opened up the world to me,' says McCrank, who is currently on the road again with his team. 'I got to travel to lots of different countries at a young age and that expands your perspective on the universe. My friends were like, 'Hey, these places have stories, so let's go see about that'.'

'Go see' they did, resulting in Abandoned, a series for Viceland, which takes fascinating stop-offs all over Canada and the US. When you've got a board under your arm and hope in your heart, an empty shopping mall, like the one in Cleveland, Ohio, from the first episode, is instantly transformed into an unmissable tourist spot. Same goes for the disused racing tracks in South Carolina, defunct fishing towns in Newfoundland and a rotting school gym in St Louis, Missouri.

In a nod to the 1990s skate vids that gave McCrank his first on-camera experience, these episodes often include impromptu skating sequences. He and his pals will test out the angles of long-dry motel pools and deserted parking lots, but these moments soon segue into thoughtful conversations with locals, as well as some of the most arresting landscape photography you'll see outside of an Ansel Adams exhibition.

Nostalgia is a topic that the show returns to again and again, and in the Route 66 episode Mother Road (showing on board) McCrank rides that highway to its logical endpoint. In Twin Arrows, Arizona, they meet with the Apache Skateboards crew, who show them the dark side of kitsch Americana. McCrank's conclusion is radical: 'If the past wasn't really great for everyone then who cares if it's disappearing? Maybe some of it deserves to be left behind.' Still, the fascination that Abandoned taps into seems pretty universal. It offers the opportunity to reflect more deeply on places we might otherwise pass by. 'Skateboarders tend to look for positives in negative spaces,' says McCrank. 'Everything and everywhere has some sort of potential.'