Broken – a TV series with plenty of religious content to learn from

The six-part series called Broken, which stars Sean Bean and Anna Friel, first aired on Tuesday 30th May. If you missed the first episode go to BBC iPlayer to catch up (until mid-July). Why? Well for a drip feed of Catholic religious beliefs, teachings and practice for the AQA Component 1 exam, this TV series is a ‘godsend’!

You will be able to see in the first episode the role of a priest in the local community; the preparations for First Holy Communion; the Eucharist; the importance of prayer; the last rites for a dead person and confession. If you’ve never been inside a Christian church before, or it has been a long time, then just by watching this drama by Jimmy McGovern you’ll see how the place of worship is used by a community in Northern England.

To top it off there is also a mention of Food Banks – perfect GCSE content!

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ITV2’s Love Island discusses women’s equality

On Thursday’s Love Island broadcast on ITV2 show couple Jonny and Camilla ended up talking about feminism. Jonny claimed that he’s all for “equality” but that “real feminists” don’t want that, they want thing to “slope towards them”. Camilla countered with “I don’t think it’s that, it’s that there’s been several generations that have been preferential towards men, and therefore to redress the balance there has to be in some way an active movement towards equality.” By the end of the conversation Camilla was in tears…

What is a feminist? The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘a feminist’  as ‘An advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women’. The term ‘feminist’ however has always been contentious. This is partly because it implies militancy and an ‘anti-men’ stance.

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All of this talk of feminism leads me to a great new song by Ray BLK called Doing Me which  is an anthem for when you’re feeling yourself and not taking any one’s opinion on board. With great lyrics like “My dressing is expression so don’t judge me by my clothes,”  it will encourage you to be yourself and not worry about what others think. Ray Blk explains, “It’s about being yourself no matter what and not caring about judgement. People are going to judge you whether you do bad or good so you have to do you regardless!”

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Watch TV to help your Crime and Punishment knowledge

My parents were strict on how much TV we could watch. This was pre-Internet days, so the biggest thing to pull us away from doing the homework, household chores, doing sport or practising the flute was TV.  Only being allowed to watch 30 minutes TV a day felt like torture so when I chose to do Media Studies GCSE the joy of being able to say “I’ve got to watch A, B and C for homework” was a welcome passport to TV heaven.

So what is out there in the realms of television that might help you relax from over zealous revision and increase your knowledge of crime and punishment at the same time?

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Up there as a number one priority for people trying to learn about crime and punishment has got to be Netflix’s Making a Murderer. Filmed over 10 years, the real-life thriller follows a DNA exoneree who, while exposing police corruption, becomes a suspect in a grisly new crime. It will have you gripped from start to finish.

The Independent lists an excellent collection of documentaries that those people suffering from the demise of Making a Murderer can turn to when wanted to continue following real life storylines about crime.

Focusing on the death penalty you might watch Redemption with Jamie Foxx playing Stanley Tookie Williams or Let Him Have It with a young Chris Eccleston playing Derek Bentley.

Or perhaps you’d prefer some fictional characters. Broadchurch has recently finished on Series 3 with its police investigations, causes of crime and court scenes. Whereas Line of Duty can offer police corruption with some intermittent court cases too.

Helping you understand Gandhi

It is a fabulous film, though rather long, but will help you understand the great Hindu peace activist Mahatma Gandhi – Gandhi. In fact when my sister was in Year 11 she watched the film to prepare for her GCSE History which had a unit on the Partition of India. I watched it too (in Year 9 at the time) which then helped me understand when my sister and I argued in the future, why rather than have a sisterly catfight, she used to sit there and simply say “passive resistance’ to my hair pulling and light punches!

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There are numerous BBC documentaries to give you an insight into Mahatma Gandhi: In Search of Gandhi; The Making of Mahatma Part 1 (all other parts are available on YouTube); and a five hour marathon of original news coverage of Gandhi!

A short 4 minute radio interview with Gandhi’s grandson allows us to understand how it must have felt being related to such a key 21st century figure.

Finally if reading is more your thing then once again iWonder on the BBC has a substantial and well designed webpage about Gandhi, as does the BBC Religion pages.

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Helping you understand Martin Luther King Jnr

If you’d rather watch films to help you learn about Martin Luther King Jnr…

Selma is the 2014 drama by famed director Ava DuVernay which brought perspective to the 1965 marches to Selma in regards to the voting rights movement. The film won critical acclaim for actor David Oyelowo as MLK and the song “Glory” from the soundtrack won a Golden Globe.

Boycott is television film starring Jeffrey Wright as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The film is based on the book Daybreak of Freedom by Stewart Burns and tells the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycotts.

The Witness: From the Balcony of Room 306 is a documentary short film. It was released in 2008 to commemorate the 40th annual remembrance of MLK. It highlights the events of that fateful day when Martin was shot outside of Room 306 at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis.

Selma Lord Selma is a 1999 film based on the events of March 1965 known as Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama. The story is told through the eyes of 11-year-old Sheyann Webb.

Our Friend, Martin is an animated film about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. Two best friends travel through time and meet MLK at different points during his life. It features an all-star voice cast including John Travolta and was nominated for an Emmy award.

A TV documentary about MLK is only 45 minutes long and shows you how he rose to prominence and then his assassination which shocked the world.

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Whereas if TV and film is not your thing you might listen instead to the numerous radio recordings from the BBC all about Martin Luther King.

Or you could read the powerpoint called  martin-luther-king-learning (checking out the linked videos) and try to complete MLK’s quotes-and-explanation-match-up which will help you understand Christian teachings.

Fireman Sam in trouble with the Qur’an

Fireman Sam has got a bit political with an episode of the children’s TV animation showing a character slipping on a piece of paper which turns out to have Surah Mulk 67 verses 13-27 from the Qur’an written on it!

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The production company for the TV programme has apologised and claimed that it was an innocent mistake by the animators – a company they’ve now cut ties with. Sounds a bit suspicious to me.

Here is a really bad quality YouTube clip of it too.

Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, tweeted: “I have no idea what went through the producers’s minds when they thought this was a good idea #baffled”