Archive for Culture Vulture

Culture Vulture: Our pick of the week’s entertainment

Monday 17 January 2022

Frank Bowling’s Abstract World BBC Four 12 am

A discussion with the artist Frank Bowling who became the first black member of the Royal Academy in 2005 focusing on a major retrospective of his work at Tate Britain.

Who ever heard of a black artist? BBC Four 12:30 am Britain’s hidden art history looking at the work of groundbreaking British artists of Asian and African descent.

Loving Vincent (2017) Film 4 12:30 am

A young man comes to the last hometown of painter Vincent van Gogh (Robert Gulaczyk) to deliver the troubled artist’s final letter and ends up investigating his last days there. Comprising entirely of animated oil paintings this is probably the most beautiful film I’ve ever seen.

Wednesday 19 January 2022

Stacey Dooley: Stalkers (1/2) BBC1 11:05

Stacey explores the most common type of stalking (by ex-partners). She meets victims and perpetrators including a pilot claiming heartbreak and a stalker just out of prison who says he’s determined to change his ways. With one in two convicted stalkers going on to reoffend it’s on a knife edge.

And on Netflix soon

I’m looking forward to Ozark season four which will be available from Friday, the 21st of January on Netflix. Ozark tells the story of a financial adviser who drags his family from Chicago to the Missouri Ozarks, where he must launder $500 million in five years to appease a drug boss. Can he escape the clutches of the Cartel?

Munich: The Edge of War is available on the same date. Based on a Robert Harris bestseller it’s an espionage driver drama set in 1938. As the country totters on the brink of war a British civil servant must persuade his German counterpart and old Oxford pal to betray his country.

Selected by Pat Harrington

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Culture Vulture – our guide to the week’s entertainment

Tuesday 11 January 2022

Kurt Weil: Street Scene, Sky Arts 12.30 am

Street Scene is an opera by Kurt Weill (music), Langston Hughes (lyrics), and Elmer Rice (book). Written in 1946 and premiered in Philadelphia that year, Street Scene is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1929 play of the same name by Rice. The Maurant’s occupy a squalid tenement house and tensions are rising. It’s time frame is two sweltering days in 1946.

Thursday 13 January 2022

Go Vegggie and Vegan with Matt Tebutt, Channel 5, 7 pm

Meat-eaters may pick up some healthy tips here in a programme which isn’t just for us Vegetarians/Vegans. The series kicks off with a vegetararian reinvention of spaghetti Bolgnese with chopped mushrooms and walnuts.

Friday 14 January 2022

The Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane, BBC4, 9pm

This biopic follows the Stones from blues mad teens to international stardom. It’s followed by a fly on the wall documentary about the band (The Rolling Stones: Totally Stripped) and then The Rolling Stones at the BBC. A binge fest for Stones fans.

Mae West: Dirty Blonde, PBS America, 8:40 pm

Mae West achieved great acclaim in every entertainment medium that existed during her lifetime. This is the first major documentary film to explore West’s life and career, as she “climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong” to become a writer, performer and subversive agitator for social change.

The Manipulate Festival, Scotland’s annual celebration of innovative puppetry, visual theatre and animated film, is in Edinburgh (28 January – 5 February). See What’s On here.

Fokus: films from Germany (11-31 January 2022). We really are spoilt for choice when it comes to festivals in Scotland. Of the seven films featured I’m most looking forward to Curveball. A True Story. Unfortunately. This looks at the lies and absurdity of the weapons of mass destruction claims. Screenings at Filmhouse, Edinburgh; Dundee Contemporary Arts; Glasgow Film Theatre; Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen; Shetland Arts, Lerwick; Eden Court, Inverness; Ayr Film Society; and Goethe-Institut, Glasgow.

Full programme at

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Culture Vulture: Our guide to the week’s entertainment

Sunday 2 January 2022

Anything Goes: The Musical BBC4 9 pm

Filmed at London’s Barbican (where I worked while a student!). Cole Porter knew how to write songs and this contains some of my favourites: Anything Goes, You’re the Top and I Get a Kick Out of You. Anything Goes is set aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy Number 13, “Moonface” Martin, aid Billy in his quest to win Hope. Sutton Foster, Robert Lindsay, Felicity Kendal and Gary Wilmot star in this production.

Monday 3 January 2022

Art on the BBC: Salvador Dali BBC4 9 pm

(1/4) Art historian David Dibosa delves into the BBC archives to create a TV hisotry of one of art’s greatest entertainers, Salvador Dali.

How to Be a Surrealist BBC4 10 pm

“Melting clocks, lobster telephones – the perplexing images of surrealist art are instantly recognisable to millions. But for psychotherapist Philippa Perry the radical ideas which inspired the original artists are often overlooked. In this film, Philippa takes us on a playful journey into the unconscious to discover the deep roots of surrealism in the political upheavals of 1920s Europe and new ways of understanding the human psyche.

Among her surrealist adventures, Philippa sets up her own Bureau of Surrealist Research on the streets of Paris and invites members of the public to tell her their dreams, she uncovers the role of women in the surrealism movement and has a go at being an artist’s muse herself, rolls up her sleeves to try some surrealist techniques with art critic Adrian Searle, and puts on a screening of Dalí and Buñuel ‘s famous film Un Chien Andalou for a group of unsuspecting art students.” – BBC

Tuesday 4 January 2022

Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man Sky Arts 8:30 pm

A revealing documentary about the great singer/songwriter set around a tribute concert to him in Sydney in 2005.

Thursday 6 January2022

Andy Warhol’s America BBC2 9 pm

(1/3) How Warhol both glorified and critiqued American culture. This charts his rise from poverty and obsurity in Pittsburgh to wealth and fame in New York.

Friday 7 January 2022

The British Invasion: Small Faces Sky Arts 7 30 pm

I’m a big fan of the Small Faces. This features interviews with original members and performances of classic hits including Itchycoo Park and Lazy Sunday. I’m hoping my favourite, Tin Soldier (1967) will feature. It’s also one of my favourite YouTube videos – who says ‘white men can’t dance’?

Selected by Pat Harrington

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Culture Vulture Xmas Special

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Rodin in his time Sky Arts 6 am

A documentary that looks at the life of Rodin through his writings and correspondences set against the political-cultural and artistic backdrop of 19th-century Europe.

Great Expectations (2012) BBC2 11:45 pm

Orphan Pip rises through high Society with the assistance of a mysterious benefactor. Pip tries everything to win the heart of the rich cold-blooded Estella in this classic Dickens tale. Stars Helena v Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes.

Thursday 23 December 2021

The Polar Express Sky Showcase 6 pm

A great animated movie. See our review here

Lucy Worsley’s Christmas Carol Odyssey BBC4 1130 pm

Lucy reveals the surprising stories behind our favourite Christmas carols.

Rumpelstilzche Sky Arts 11:45 pm

A miller boasts to the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold, and the monarch tells her life is forfeit on the third time she fails. She despairs until a strange man appears, offering to spin straw into gold in exchange for a gift. A production of the fairy tale by dance company Ballet Boyz, with Jane Horrocks in the title role, alongside Tanya Reynolds and John Marquez. Stage adaptation of the German fairy tale written by Willhelm Grimm.

Friday 24 December 2021 (Christmas Eve)

Spitting Image: Christmas Special ITV 10 pm

A special Xmas episode of the puppet-based satirical sketch show. Elton John meets Brad Pitt, Nicola Sturgeon shares a Glasgow kiss under the mistletoe, Phoebe Waller-Bridge pens the Queen’s Speech and Tom Cruise saves Christmas.

American Oz

Like my fascination with Alice, I’ve always been fascinated by Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. This documentary explores in two parts the life of L. Frank Baum the writer of the American classic ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. And yes you read it right the book has ‘Wonderful’ but not the classic 1939 film. I’m looking forward to seeing how they handle his political views, which were decidedly mixed! I also want to see what the documentary says about the supposed hidden meanings in the Oz stories. Baum was often asked whether his stories had hidden meanings, but he always replied only that they were written to “please children”.

Saturday 25 December 2021 (Christmas Day)

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga Cheek to Cheek Sky Arts 9 pm

Cover art from the album Cheek to Cheek. The cover art can be obtained from Interscope Records.

A television performance at the Rose Theatre supporting their collaborative studio album Cheek to Cheek. Cheek to Cheek consists of jazz standards by popular composers such as George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and Irving Berlin. It was inspired by Bennett and Gaga’s desire to introduce the songs to a younger generation since they believed these tracks have a universal appeal. I’m pleased that Gaga and Chrissie Hynde have, separately, recorded Jazz standards for a new generation to appreciate and enjoy.

Sunday 26 December 2021 (Boxing Day)

A Very British Scandal BBC1 9 pm

Who doesn’t like a great scandal? This three-parter tells the story of Margaret Sweeny who meets the dashing (and married) Ian Campbell, future Duke of Argyl.

Selected by Pat Harrington

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Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Secrets of British animation BBC Four 12:30 am

A documentary exploring more than a century of animation in Britain including the creative and technical inventiveness of our greatest animation pioneers. BBC4 says: “The defining characteristic of British animation has always been ingenuity. Unable to compete with the big American studios, animators in Britain were forced to experiment, developing their own signature styles. The documentary uncovers the trade secrets of animation legends like Bob Godfrey, John Halas and Joy Batchelor, Len Lye and Bristol’s world-renowned Aardman Animations.”

Tracey Emin: this cultural life BBC4 2:30 am

A deeply personal interview in which artist Tracey Emin talks to John Wilson about the experiences that have shaped her life and career. Tracey speaks about undergoing treatment for cancer, her two abortions, and the profound impact that both of these experiences have had on her artistic output. She also discusses the extraordinary effect that a painting by Mark Rothko had on her as a young woman, her affinity with the work of Edvard Munch, and her friendship with David Bowie. I’m a big Fan of Emin who I think is both brave and original. I was fascinated by her Desert Island Discs choices and story and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Mark Kermode’s Christmas Cinema Secrets BBC4 11:00 pm

I try to ration my Xmas themed TV programmes as they can be a bit overwhelming but Mark always has something interesting to say. In this Christmas special, Here he analyzes what makes the perfect Christmas movie.

Peterloo Film4 1250 am

A film bringing to life the story of the infamous 1819 Peterloo Massacre, where a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter’s Field in Manchester saw British government forces charge into a crowd of over 60,000 that had gathered to demand political reform and protest against rising levels of poverty. Many protesters were killed and hundreds more injured. A fascinating insight into how brutal the UK state can be to its own people.

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Love, Simon Film4 1.25am

See our review here

Russell Howard: Lubricant is available on Netflix from Tuesday, the 14th of December I admit that I have a Marmite reaction to Russell Howard’s material. I either love or hate it. He can be very funny but his Woke virtual signaling can irritate.

Brexit the Uncivil War is available available on Netflix from Thursday 16 of December. It’s the dramatised account of Dominic Cummings efforts to convince British voters to vote to leave the European Union. I’ve seen it before but I think it’s worth another viewing.

Out now to buy and rent are two films I saw at the cinema.

Respect where Jennifer Hudson does an excellent job of playing Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Aretha had a troubled life and an amazing talent. Despite the ups and downs, this is a film with a positive message.

If The Many Saints of Newark has a message I’m not sure what it is but I doubt that it’s positive! As a big fan of the Sopranos, an American crime drama television series created by David Chase, I love this prequel, however. It gives an insight into the life of Tony Soprano. Young Tony is played by the late James Gandolfini’s (who played Tony in Sopranos) son Michael. Set in 1960s New Jersey it shows Tony growing up and growing meaner.

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Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Phil Lynott: Songs for While I’m Away BBC Two 10 pm

Tells the story of how a young working-class black boy from 1950s Dublin became Ireland’s greatest rockstar told extensively through the words of Lynott himself and focusing on some of his iconic songs. The film gets to the heart of Phil’s story who died at the age of only 36 in January 1986.

Sight and Sound in Concert: Thin Lizzy BBC Two 11:30 pm

A vintage gig by the Irish guitar rockers at the Regal Theatre in Hitchin Hertfordshire from January 1983. Such classics as Jailbreak Baby, Please Don’t Go and the Boys are Back in Town along with the cover of the Bob Seger song Rosalie are featured.

The Irish Rock Story: A Tale of Two Cities BBC Two 12:05 am

The Story of how Rock music evolved in Ireland over 40 years through the different musical traditions of Belfast and Dublin. The creators of some of the Emerald Isle’s most famous exports are charted including Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy, The Undertones, and U2.

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Animal Farm (1954) Film Four 11 am

An animated version of George Orwell’s modern classic. After ousting humans animals try to create the perfect society.

Women’s FA Cup final BBC One 1:30 pm

The final between Arsenal and Chelsea. They last met in September with the Gunners winning a close game.

Other Like Me: The oral history of COUM Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle BBC4 10:35 pm

How a pioneering 1970s art collective invented industrial music.

Gaga for Dada BBC Four 11:35 pm

Jim Moir (also known as Vic Reeves) goes on an irreverent trip into the world of influential avant-garde art movement Dada.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

The Code of Conspiracy: QAnon Channel 4 9 pm

Looks behind the curtain at the wildest conspiracy of our times, QAnon. What leads people down such a divergent belief? A one-off documentary that seeks an answer.

Play For Today: Hard Labour (1973) BBC Four 10:30 pm

Mike Leigh’s play centres around a middle-aged housewife and charwoman, Mrs Thornley (played by Liz Smith) who is abused and exploited by almost everybody. I grew up watching Play for Today from the BBC and loved them. We’ve started reviewing them for Counter Culture as they are gems. I wish the BBC would do something similar now.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Destry rides again (1939) Film 4 12:30 pm

Worth watching for the divine Marlene’s performance alone

A classic comedy western with Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart. Destry returns to a town (Bottle Neck) where his father once served as Sheriff. It’s now a lawless place so he tries to restore order. I will mainly be watching for the performance of Marlene (playing saloon singer Frenchy) but this is a good film overall.

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Trainspotting Film 4 1120 pm. A great film we reviewed here.

Friday, 10 December 2021

The Graham Norton Show BBC One 10:35 pm I don’t usually watch this, but this features Keanu Reeves who talks about resurrecting Neo in the new Matrix movie.

Nick Cave: Idiot Prayer BBC Four 9 pm

During the pandemic, Nick Cave did a solo piano set in the deserted West Hall of London’s Alexandra Palace which was then live-streamed globally. This is a film of his mesmerising performance containing songs drawn from his 20-year repertoire.

Future of Home exhibition, Custom Lane, 1 Customs Wharf, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6AL, 3rd to the 19th of December 2021

Following a critically acclaimed debut at the London Design Festival exhibition created by an Edinburgh-based studio, Local Heroes arrives back in its hometown. The exhibition features work by 16 Scotland-based designers and brands revolving around the idea of the hybrid home and the recent need for flexible working offering a remarkable snapshot of the intersection between design and socio-political conditions.

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Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Sunday 28 November 2021

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire celebrity special ITV 8 pm

My fascination in watching this will be to see Alexander Armstrong (who is the co-host of Pointless) gets in answering 15 questions to win £1 million for charity. How will he fare when the tables are turned? Will he do better than Sports Presenter Gaby Roslin?

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Sky Arts 8 pm

Delve into the journey of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland through its origins and reinventions over the last 157 years. See our review here.

American Rust Sky Atlantic 9 pm

I’m following the post-industrial decline of what is known as the ‘rust belt’ in America.

The Rust Belt is a colloquial term used to describe the geographic region stretching from New York through the Midwest that was once dominated by the coal industry, steel production, and manufacturing.

This drama is set in a former steel town in Pennsylvania and is seen through the eyes of a local sheriff. I’m guessing somewhere in western Pennsylvania as that’s where the once-mighty steel mills, coke plans, and machine shops mainly were.

Channel 4 11 pm The Vanishing

Three Lighthouse keepers on a remote rock in the outer Hebrides discover a corpse and a locked chest. Perhaps foolishly they decide to open the casket.

Olympic pride American prejudice 11 pm PBS America

Discover the untold story of 18 African Americans who defied US racism to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Tuesday 30 November 2021

Who Do You Think You Are? BBC One at 9 pm

This is the seventh of seven programs in the current series and features Ed Balls the former Labour MP, advisor to Gordon Brown, and ‘Strictly’ dancing favourite. On his mum’s side, he finds a deep connection with agricultural labourer Christopher Green who went on trial at Norwich Castle after standing up to defend his livelihood and community (by way of arson!). Did he have a real choice given the power imbalance between farmers and labourers? An interesting discussion from the programme here:

National Geographic 9 pm The Hot Zone: Anthrax

Just weeks after 9/11 the US is rocked by another terrorist act as letters containing anthrax are sent to journalists and politicians. The first fatal letter killed a National Enquirer editor. FBI agent Matthew Ryker tries to convince his superiors the country is under attack again.

Thursday, December 2 2021

Cancelled 10 pm Channel 4

Sacked blacklisted ostracised or no-platformed, I’ve suffered some of those so I will be interested to see this look at Cancel culture and how it’s affecting our lives. When I spoke about how ‘No Platform’ would slowly expand many on the ‘Left’ were skeptical and smug. Now they are the new victims.

Picked by Patrick Harrington

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Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Monday, 22 November 2021

Sky Showcase 9 pm Royal Bastards. The rise of the Tudors in three docudramas this being the first.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Channel 5 10 pm Doomsday Volcano: The Next Pompeii explores the history and science behind a supervolcano hidden several miles beneath Yellowstone National Park in the US and assesses the possible dangers. Just when you thought climate change was all you had to worry about!

BBC4 10:30 pm The Mayflower Pilgrims: Behind the myth is a documentary exploring the Pilgrims’ journey west across the Atlantic in the 17th century. Celebrated each year at Thanksgiving, the event has become shrouded in myth.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

PBS America 6:45 pm The Pilgrims. More programming scheduled around Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims’ narrative has been shrouded in myth, embedded in the US in Thanksgiving Day feasts, football, and parades. Who were the men and women who constituted this multifarious band of English Protestants? The Pilgrims chronicles the deep history, origins, and critical first decade of the first permanent English colony in New England.

Also on Thursday on Sky Documentaries at 9 pm is Wirecard: A €1 Billion Lie lifts the lid on the scandal surrounding financial payment firm Wirecard.

Looking ahead a little further from the 1st to the 31st of December 2021 Scottish Ballet will perform The Nutcracker at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre so why not let them and Tchaikovsky’s score transport you to a land of dreams?

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Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Saturday, 13 November 2021

More ABBA mania this week from 8 pm on BBC Two starting with ABBA, continuing with The Joy of ABBA and finishing off with ABBA in Switzerland.

Sunday 14th of November

Antiques Roadshow, BBC Two 8:30 pm A special episode filmed at a military cemetery and presenting a selection of emotive and poignant items from the end of World War I.

Vice, BBC Two 10 pm A biographical drama chronicling the remarkable rise to power of Dick Cheney which chronicles his transformation from a Yale dropout and alcoholic in the sixties to the evil warmonger who influenced politics under George W Bush as the 46th vice president of the United States. Christian Bale does a remarkable job playing Cheney.

They Shall Not Grow Old, BBC Four 9 pm Peter Jackson brings to life the story of World War I by transforming century-old footage.

Art of WWII, BBC4 A culture show special exploring the often overlooked history of Britain’s wartime Art Renaissance

As a big Bowie fine I’ll be watching both Discovering David Bowie at 11:00 pm and Beside Bowie (about guitarist Mick Ronson) at 11:30 pm on Sky Arts.

Thursday 18th of November

Social Care: the true cost, ITV 10:45 pm Reporter Fiona Foster looks at whether the government plans to reform social care can address the challenges facing the sector or if the system needs a complete overhaul.

Friday 19th of November 2021

The Wild Gardener, BBC Two 8:30 pm

I’m looking forward to watching the first part of two of the wild Gardner in which Colin Stafford-Johnson returns home to Ireland on a personal quest to transform’s his old childhood garden into a haven for native plants and animals and shows how gardeners really can make a difference to our environment.

A wealth of treats for Country fans starting at 9 pm on BBC Four with Kenny Rogers: cards on the table. Then at 10:00 pm, it’s followed by the Country Music Awards and at 11 pm the innovative country legend Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band perform a special concert recorded for the Old Grey Whistle test in 1977. At 11:40 Arena looks at Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl in which the singer-songwriter looks back at her long and eventful life.

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Culture Vulture: Our Guide to the week’s entertainment

5-21 November 2021

Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Summerhall Cinema

Short films are a great art form in their own right. This is the chance to see a range.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

There’s quite a bit of ABBA on Channel 5. It starts with ABBA: Then and Now In Their Own Words at 9:10. This is a celebration of the band with interviews archive footage and music telling the story of the Swedish superstars. Contributors include singers Neil Sedaka and Barbara Dickson. After that, there is ABBA live in concert and ABBA the movie. All this coincides with the release of a new album (Abba Voyage – their first studio album in 40 years) and planned virtual shows which are sure to delight fans. Benny and Bjorn even offered to write a Eurovision Song contest entry for Britain – but only if someone like Dua Lippa can be signed up to sing it!

Monday, 8 November 2021

Dexter: New Blood, Sky Atlantic 10:05 pm

Many years following his supposed death we that anti-hero Dexter Morgan is living a quiet life. Dexter was last seen disposing of his dead sister and faking his own death once his crimes became known. Dexter was lumberjacking in Oregon and now works in the garden and bait in a small town in upstate New York. He’s even dating the local police chief. But how far can he keep his ‘Dark Passenger’ in check?

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Chi-Owi Nwanoku on Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Sky Arts, 10:15 pm

I know only a few facts about Coleridge-Taylor. That he was a composer/conductor. That his mother was English and his father was from Sierra Leone. That he was born in Lond and that he wrote three cantatas on the epic poem Song of Hiawatha by American Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This programme will be an opportunity for me to discover more.

From 11-14 November 2012

The Radical Book Fair at the Assembly Roxy

This four-day event is themed around ‘Futures Worth Fighting For’. Magpies are said to steal shiny things. I will be channeling the Magpie and looking for interesting ideas and books amongst the ‘self-indulgent, liberal, Woke nonsense’. Who knows, if I keep an open mind some of that might even be interesting or entertaining!

From 12 November 2021 on Amazon Prime Video

Lioness: the Nicola Adams story is available from Friday the 12th of November on Amazon Prime Video. Nicola won fame when she became the first woman ever to be crowned Olympic flyweight boxing champion at the London games in 2012. She won Gold again. During her professional career, she also claimed the WBO championship. Nicola who came from adverse beginnings and had many obstacles to overcome is an inspiring figure. She’s smart too. When she was asked what people should take from her story she said: “I’m hoping they’ll be inspired and have the courage to pursue their dreams and do whatever they want in life and I hope they realise that you’re only on the planet for a short space of time.” Truly a British Lioness!

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