Rule Britannia: Best Of British

Cover feature from NXG’s May/June issue. Co-written by Maz Khan.

BRITISH FILM STARS

Robert Pattinson

Quite possibly the biggest British actor of the moment, yes, heartthrob Robert Pattinson has had girls up and down the country (make that world) swooning with his portrayal of Edward Cullen in the Twilight saga. But it does not stop there, this year R-Pattz is back playing the lead in Water For Elephants alongside Reese Witherspoon and in Bel Ami opposite Christina Ricci. Not to mention that filming has just wrapped for the final instalment of Breaking Dawn, so Mr Pattinson might just be back in the mother country.

It is just a shame that he is seeing the gorgeous, LA-born actress, Kristen Stewart…or is he? No one quite knows, but they were photographed kissing at his Water For Elephants premiere. What does he make of all the female attention? Well: “Like, last year, if I went out, I’d have to fight to chat someone up. This year, I look exactly the same, which is really scruffy, and yet lots of people seem to have just changed their minds and decided I’m really sexy.” To be honest Rob, as a local girl, I have to say that if you had chatted me up when I was out in Richmond, I would have said yes. Just saying…

Emma Watson

The lovely Miss Watson is one of the faces of the ‘new wave’ of British acting talent. Made famous through her portrayal of Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, she has become a role model for young women up and down the nation. She has transformed from the goodie-two-shoes of Hogwarts to England’s acting rose.

It is refreshing to have a young lady doing, well, just that. She is a far cry from the Miley Cyrus’ of the world who are constantly taking naked photos just to appear ‘grown-up’. Miss Watson seems to agree: “I might be willing to take my clothes off for a Bernardo Bertolucci film, if it was a part that really made sense as part of my character. But I wouldn’t do it just to make a point, to move on from Hermione.”

Keeps your eyes out for Emma’s upcoming movies My Week With Marilyn about the late, great Marilyn Monroe, and of course the final instalment of the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part II. Personally I am most looking forward to her portrayal of Sam in The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.


BRITISH SPORT

Gareth Bale

If you have been living under a rock and for some reason do not know then meet 21-year-old Gareth Bale, the left-winger for Tottenham Hotspur and “one of the best young players in European football.”

As well as being a superstar footballer, Gareth is also a champion runner, out running every player in the league by about eight miles. Phew. A humble guy, Gareth says his success is all down to his dad’s support: “My dad’s the one who’s always been there; he’s my hero, you could say. Even when he was working, he’d do anything for me. He’s been the biggest influence in my life.” When Bale scored a goal against Slovakia, he became Wales’s youngest-ever goal scorer. This prompted offers from everywhere, with football bosses suggesting he could even play for England. But would he leave his home town of Wales? “No. I don’t think I’d be allowed to go home if I played for England. I’m a proud Welshman.”

Since Gareth joined Spurs for 5 million in 2007 his value has increased immensely, with football experts valuing him at around 30 million. How does Gareth feel about his newfound stardom?  “Going from not playing to playing, that’s the important thing, you can’t really ask for much more.”

 Jessica Ennis

25-year-old Jessica Ennis is a true female British inspiration, proving that anything is possible with enough dedication and self-belief. The Sheffield born sports star is the current World and European heptathlon champion AND a world indoor pentathlon champion.

She has completed a degree in psychology; she is Sheffield’s first brand ambassador, a patron for the Barrie Wells’s Sports Foundation and a columnist for The Times newspaper. How does she do it all? The wonder woman of sports says: “Make sure you train hard, look after yourself both physically and mentally and never let bad days get on top of you as a good one is around the corner.”

When asked about her journey to stardom, she said: “I started in athletics at the age of nine and my journey really started then. As I grew up and kept getting better and getting good results, the decision was really made for me. So what is next for the Sheffield’s golden girl? “Next is the World Championships in Deagu, South Korea – it is the big competition this summer. I will be going there to retain my world champion status. The pressure is on!” NXG have every confidence she will do us proud, this year and the next.


BRITISH MUSIC

Arctic Monkeys

The Sheffield-based band the Arctic Monkeys formed in 2002 and when they released their debut album Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not in early 2006 it became the fastest-selling debut album in the history of Britain, surpassing the likes of The Beatles and Oasis.  But it was before even their debut album that they practically broke national records- they were one of the first acts to come to the public eye through the internet and social networking.

Now the quintessentially English indie band are back with their new album Suck It And See, which will be released June 6 in time for festival season. I do not know about you guys, but the NXG team cannot wait to get down to the festivals and see these guys live again. It has been far too long.

 Florence and the Machine

Probably one of the most refreshing bands to join the UK music scene in a long while, rock and soul band Florence and the Machine took the indie scene by storm in 2009 with their debut album, Lungs.

            Florence Welch, described by The Guardian as “Kate Bush meets Aretha Franklin”, is the eclectic front-woman of the well oiled machine and rumour has it that we can expect a new album out this year. *Squeal*. Our only qualm is that she might leave us for America. In an interview with 69 Degrees Magazine, she said: “It’s a big place. Up to a point it would be really nice. But just New York etc. I’m not sure how the ‘Bible Belt’ would take me – especially after the Drumming Song video.” It is true- she did go a little crazy in that video, so hopefully she will stick around Britain for a while long and treat us to some of her crazy festival antics.

It seems so good to be true that even Florence needs to pinch herself: “’I’ve got my ideal job. I like to sing, I like to dance, I like to bang drums and dress up, and someone pays me – it’s incredible.”

BRITISH TV

Eastenders

When asked what my favourite TV show is, there was no hesitation. Beginning in February 1985, Eastenders is one of the top five most watched TV shows in the UK. Many people say: “why would you watch that depressing rubbish?” The show has won six BAFTA awards, Best Soap award for ten years running and has been inducted into the Rose d’Or Hall of Fame, amongst many other achievements. How is that for a reason?

Yes it is depressing at times, but so is real life. Eastenders captures reality in such a twisted form, which makes it so interesting. The show emulates ‘cockney culture’ so well that it almost reeks of Hackney, the borough the show is based upon. The emotional scenes always manage to make me weep, whilst the happier times uplift me. Most importantly, their plots never fail to anger, upset or shock viewers. Now who does not love controversy?

Big Brother

Channel 5 have now purchased the rights to Big Brother (at a cool 200 million) meaning that although we were promised there would be no more, the show will be returning to our screens this summer. This news provoked mixed reactions, but regardless, it looks like the show will be a big hit once again. When BB started in 2000, it truly began a revolution in popular culture.

It was a way for people to obtain their 15 minutes of fame, without needing a particular reason or talent. Thus a fame hungry generation were born, with people generally becoming weirder and wackier in order to stand out from the crowd (yes Gaga, I am referring to you). It even inspired sites such as YouTube and MySpace to launch, giving us ‘ordinary’ folk somewhere to showcase ourselves to the entire world. Love it or loathe it, this British staple virtually created the term ‘reality TV’.

BRITISH RECIPES

A Perfect Victoria Sponge

You will need:

175g unsalted butter

3 eggs, beaten

175g caster sugar

175g self-raising flour

3 tablespoons of strawberry jam

500ml double cream

1. Set your oven to gas mark 4/180c. Lightly butter two sandwich tins of the same size

2. Mix your butter and sugar together until it is a fluffy and light consistency

3. Slowly add in the beaten eggs until mixed in thoroughly

4. Gently mix in the flour until the mixture is smooth

5. Put half of the mixture in one tin and the other half in your other tin

6. Pop them both into the oven for 20 minutes (do not open that oven door before the 20 minutes is up!)

7. Once done, leave the sponges to cool and then remove them from the tins

8. Whip your cream until thick and spread onto the first cake, along with the jam

9. Place the other cake on top and dust lightly with icing sugar

Steak & Guinness Pie

You will need:

1 Pound eye-round steak (cubed)

1 Tablespoon plain flour

Salt and pepper

1 Teaspoon brown sugar

5 Medium onions (peeled and chopped)

1 1/2 cups (300 ml) Guinness Stout

8 Slices bacon (chopped)

3 Ounces fresh parsley (chopped)

Double crust pie pastry

1. Cut the steak into cubes and roll in the salt and pepper seasoned flour. Brown off the steak in the lard with the bacon over a medium heat for eight to 10 minutes. Place the meat in a casserole dish to cool. Sauté the onions in the drippings until golden, then add to the meat.

2. In a mixing bowl add the brown sugar with the Guinness.

3. Add the mixture to the casserole dish, cover and simmer at 325DF for two and a half hours. Stir occasionally and add more Guinness if the gravy gets too thick.

4. Line a deep pie dish with half the prepared piecrust and pre-bake. Add the Guinness and beef mixture from the casserole to the baked piecrust. Cover the mixture with the remaining piecrust layer and bake until finished (approx 10 minutes).


BRITISH QUOTES- 

“I am very proud to be British. I’m very conscious of carrying my country with me wherever I go. I feel I need to represent it well.”

-Julie Andrews

“Be England what she will. With all her faults, she is my country still.” – Charles Churchill

“The English do seem a rather lovable people. They have such a great gentleness.” – D. H. Lawrence

“Remember that you are an Englishman, and have consequently won first place in the lottery of life.” – Cecil Rhodes

“England! My country, great and free! Heart of the world, I leap to thee!” – Philip James Bailey

“A nation which has forgotten its past can have no future.” – Sir Winston Churchill

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2 thoughts on “Rule Britannia: Best Of British

  1. Couple of points: The Big Brother format was actually created in the Netherlands and Guinness is Irish, not British.

    1. Thanks, though I’m not responsible for writing those parts, the article is more about what we do/have/what is popular in the UK, not what originated here. 🙂

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