The Dawn of New Talent: A Chat with Game of Thrones’ Fola Evans Akingbola

Her dad Sola is part of Jamiroquai, Uncle Jimmy is one of the best things about hit US comic book saga Arrow. And now Fola Evans Akingbola is the latest member of a talented family to make waves in the entertainment business. I had a chat with the model and actress about her projects, including a new show from one of the brains behind Avatar. But first, the biggest show in the world. 

How was it working on Game of Thrones?

“Yeah, it was amazing actually. I found out that I got that job… I was working on Death in Paradise still and I was in Guadaloupe. My wi-Fi was really bad and my agent called me. And I said ’I can’t hear you because my Wi-Fi is bad’. And he said ’Oh well the Wi-Fi will be bad in Spain’. And it took me ages to find out what he was talking about. And then I was: ’Oh I’ve got Game of Thrones!’because they shot it in Spain, in the Spanish desert. It was beautiful; a vast landscape. It sounds totally naive but I didnt know that Spain had such an amazing desert.”

Game of Thrones. Photo: HBO

Was it a culture shock or were you familiar with the series?
“Because I am a fan of the show I was all up to date. It was very cool being on set with Emelia Clarke and seeing how much attention to detail there is with the extras and the horses and every aspect of the Dothraki tribe. And also getting to learn the Dothraki language.

Death in Paradise. Photo: BBC.   

“We worked with a really great dialect coach that helped us. So it was super fun getting into character using that language that they’d created.”

For those that haven’t seen the show, how would you describe your character?

“My character is the fierce wife of Khal Moro, the leader of one of the Dothraki tribes in season six. She is part of one of the main Dothraki tribes deciding what to do with Daenrys when we catch her.”

To be continued…


Star Trek Beyond

For the most part the latest outing for the Enterprise crew is a lot of fun.Just a pity that once the ship is ripped apart by locust like craft and the crew escape to a nearby planet, things go off the boil a little. 
Idris Elba is on good form as the bad guy and the series regulars all have a fine time trying to stay one step ahead of him. 

Alas the plot is a little muddled and the whole middle section feels like a TV episode. Which of course may have been the point. Admittedly it’s no Final Frontier, but seen after JJ Abrams’s first two entries in the rebooted saga, it drops out of warp and putters along at impulse speed. 

Despite some garbled dialogue from co writer Simon Pegg, and murky scenes, I enjoyed it. Just a pity Abrams was off on that galaxy far away to handle directing duties. 

Thankfully the passing of Leonard Nimoy is handled with such sensitivity, you feel they did him justice. Obviously the recent passing of Anton Yelchin is too soon to address other than the touching tribute in the closing credits. 

Let’s hope part four gets this saga back on track. 

Central Intelligence – Film Review

Some films look so vanilla and generic, they slot into that category: wait for TV. Central Intelligence, the buddy movie with Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, was one of those movies, and yet when one critic sang its praises, I thought I’d give it the benefit of the doubt. 

The plot: thanks to one act of kindness towards a chubby lad in high school, Hart’s accountant Calvin Joyner gets a blast from the past when he’s contacted by said grown up pupil 20 years on. However, Bob Stone, that former chubby lad, is now a giant muscle mountain with a love of unicorns and the movie 16 Candles. 

To nobody’s surprise, he turns out to be a government agent desperate to get some info, so before you can say True Lies, we’re off on a rib-tickling adventure. 

It’s a fun roller coaster ride with Johnson having a great time as the dorky agent and Hart providing loud mouthed patter. In the 1980s Sly and Eddie would have made this work, probably with John Landis at the helm. The plot may be nothing new, but it doesn’t outstay its welcome. And given the ending I wouldn’t be too surprised if a sequel emerged in a couple of years. It’s not that horrible a prospect either. 

Ghostbusters (2016) Review

Few people were more down about a Ghostbusters reboot than me. The 1984 original was a gritty, adultish fantasy which trod a fine line between PG and 15. Heroes smoked and it contained scenes trimmed for prime time TV. Oh and it was both funny and scary. Seen at a formative time, like a footprint in the wet cement of my mind, it solidified and proved a hard mould to fill. 

Relaunching the franchise 27 years after Ghostbusters II was a bad idea. And it wasn’t about changing the protagonists’ sex. It was partly the presence of Melissa McCarthy (one of my least favourite actresses after her work on The Heat and Spy), and when the first trailer was released, it looked like Leslie Jones was being sold short as the hysterical African American subway worker. The costumes looked awful, the soundtrack was audio blasphemy and… you get the picture. 

So what a relief that the reboot is really funny, the cast are terrific and Chris Hemsworth is a hoot as the gloriously stupid receptionist, Kevin. 

It’s also a bold move to completely reboot the saga instead of just making it a third chapter 27 years on. 

Director Paul Feig does a good job of juggling cast, crew, effects and pacing. It ticks over at a fair pace, Kate McKinnon is a treat as the eccentric inventor of the team’s assorted gadgets, and while you do wonder where all their funding comes from, it scarcely matters. 

Most of the original surviving cast pop up in cameos, and there’s even a sweet nod to Harold Ramis in bust form. 

The 3D was pretty effective, not least due to a ratio which meant proton streams and ghosts could spill beyond the frame, giving an extra sense of depth. 

And the fact McCarthy tones down her potty mouthed patter makes her a stronger actress. 

We’ve had so many remakes of 80s classics, but this is not only one that works but almost demands a sequel. 

The Princess Diaries – A Voyage Round the UK

“Ah don’t be bendin’ that poor fella’s ear.”
It’s a sunny Monday morning and I’m on a train from Cobh to Cork, around 15 miles away. 

It’s my first rail trip in Ireland, and fellow passengers include Jim, a keen fisherman, and his wife. (I don’t catch her name).

She ignores Jim’s advice and we talk about life, comedians and that big ship – Caribbean Princess – that has just brought me and 2,000 other passengers into port. 

Mrs Jim has never had the desire to go cruising, despite being of a similar age to many of my fellow holidaymakers. 

Not that you need to have seen 50 or 60 summers to embrace a life on the ocean waves. The Caribbean Princess treats all passengers like blue blooded travellers. 

Cobh, Ireland – photos: Roger Crow

“You’re not the Secret Millionaire?” asks Jim as we near the end of our journey. 

“I wish,” I reply, though you don’t need to spend a fortune to live like royalty. At first sight it’s not cheap, but at the same time if you tally up the cost of three daily meals for 12 days; unlimited snacks; accommodation; shows and obviously transport to assorted ports, then the price saved on flights means you can afford to, er, push the boat out a bit.

I enjoy a five mile walk round Cork (my first trip); soak up culture in the art gallery; revel in the shops, and watch the world go by over a coffee at the Opera House. 

Some of the dishes on the Caribbean Princess. Photos: Roger Crow

Though Cork feels like Dublin’s twin, Cobh proves a picturesque revelation, from the minute we sailed into port to walking the streets and scaling the steep steps. A Titanic exhibition attracts many cruisers, as well as a dockside museum and assorted pubs.

Following a lazy afternoon of sunbathing (legs like lobsters after falling asleep), we’re off again as a band plays us off from the dockside. 

The Caribbean Princess carves through the waves like a knife through butter, though many of the passengers I see hardly notice. Complex gizmos on the bridge ensure the ride is as smooth as possible. 

After a tour of the nerve centre courtesy of the Second Officer (and Paul Bettany lookalike) Stuart, I couldn’t get over the fact this town-sized ship was guided by a joystick more in common with a PlayStation. 

The Caribbean bridge. Photo: Roger Crow

As Princess is an American company synonymous with 1970s sitcom favourite The Love Boat, there’s little wonder ’Caribbean’ is like a large Californian hotel, complete with fine dining, transatlantic Scottish singer/pianist and menus in dollars. 

The experience was so immersive, this “floatel” could have been carving a path down from LA to the Mexican Riviera, like sister ship Ruby Princess which I’d enjoyed in January 2016. 

Though I’d done Dublin before, it was good to retrace old haunts even if the rain was a bit of a washout. 

Obviously you can book shore excursions and make the most of the few hours you have in any port, but a hop on/hop off bus can be just as rewarding; Princess offered a discount with one company, around 10 Euros for a day’s touring. 

Having boarded the previous Saturday in Southampton, I was keen to see if a tour of the British Isles would be as entertaining as my LA-Mexico adventure. 

The lure of a relatively local trip where I didn’t spend two days travelling and longer getting over jetlag was too good to resist. 

By Sunday, after arriving in Guernsey via tender, I enjoyed a walking tour. As a first time visitor it was a welcome surprise, whether watching yachts leaving port or getting lost in the town, it was a great way to kill a few hours.

The Caribbean Princess arrives in Guernsey. Photos: Roger Crow

Of course when all your food on board is free, it’s tempting to avoid eating anything on land. 

Horizon Court isn’t just one of those humdrum ’all you can eat’ restaurants. The food is so good you may never want to go anywhere else, though the mix of free dining and fee dining ensures there’s plenty of variety.  

And given the facilities on board, there’s little wonder I found myself gravitating back to the ship long before departure. It’s not just the great food (the hot dogs and pizza are especially good), but the calibre of movies and shows. 

Whether you watch in your room, the excellent theatre or on a large outdoor screen for Movies Under the Stars, the wealth of recent films will keep you entertained. 

I saw one staged production on this voyage, the aptly named Bravo, a high end medley of classic show tunes, opera and even a couple of Bond tracks. (Any show which features Skyfall is all right by me). 

Unlike Magic To Do, another slick Princess production featuring a narrative filled with Stephen Schwartz songs, this didn’t bother trying to link them. Just hit after hit, to the delight of gathered viewers. 

But what of the accommodation you may wonder? 

Well, my inside cabin may have had no view, but mirrors on the main walls gave the illusion of infinite depth. The bathroom was also spacious enough to shower and hang washing should you want to, while the beds ensured a peaceful night’s sleep. I’ve often thought good ship designers use Tardis-style technology for bathrooms and this was no exception. 

As we sailed from Dublin to Liverpool, my last leg, it was inevitably poignant. I’d been on board just three days but the diversion had been as rewarding as a week-long trip. 

As I left the Caribbean Princess in a rain-lashed Liverpool and my soaked lobster legs carried me to the train station, I knew that one day I’d have to try the entire voyage, taking in the rest of the ports including Glasgow, Orkney and Normandy as well. 

I hope that Jim and his wife give the cruising lark a try sometime, but for now my “excess baggage” (care of Horizon Court) meant another gym was called for. 
Travel Facts: In the spring and summer of 2017 Caribbean Princess will be back in the UK to sail the British Isles again. 

Sample itinerary: Sunday June 18, 2017 – 12 nights

Southampton | Guernsey (St Peter’s Port) | Cobh | Dublin | Liverpool | Belfast

| Glasgow (Greenock) | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) |Invergordon | Edinburgh | Paris/Normandy (Le Havre). 

Prices start from £1,499pp (based on two people sharing an inside stateroom).

:: With thanks to Princess Cruises for help with this blog post. 

Event: Place Des Anges – Hull

“It’s going to be amazing,” beams an associate. I try and share their enthusiasm but as they have been working on Place Des Anges, one of the biggest things to hit Hull since the ice age, I find it hard to share the enthusiasm. 
“It” is actually one of those unquantifiable things, like fog or Christmas. It’s an accumulation of high wire spectacle, parade, light show, gig, November 5, Christmas, Mardi Gras and New Year all rolled into one. 

It starts with what looks like a refugee from the Ashes to Ashes video high on a rooftop overlooking Hull’s answer to Nelson’s Column, the William Wilberforce statue. 

As a red flare illuminates him and the twilight, it already looks like the greatest David Bowie video never made. 

As feathers cascade down to the stunned viewers below, other ’Angels’ start to make their way across the city on wires. Doesn’t sound that thrilling but the sight is spectacular. 

A pounding Akira-style soundtrack fills the night air. I wouldn’t have been too surprised if a giant Tetsuo had appeared, mutated arm and all, but instead, after the aerial gymnastics of feuding, feather-strewn Angels, we get a giant inflatable cherub as feather cannons fill the skies around it. 

It’s easily the greatest sight Hull has seen, and that includes Rod Stewart’s epic gig a few miles away a few weeks earlier. 

Ten thousand onlookers marvel at the vision, and even if the avant grade nature of the show is literally over many peoples’ heads, the sight of kids making snow angels in piles of feathers and adults throwing heaps of them onto one another brings a smile to the face. 

“Think you’re too old to play in the street? Think again” screamed the tag line. It hits the nail on the head perfectly. 

The City of Culture starts on January 1, 2017 and if this curtain-raiser is anything to go by, residents and visitors are in for a Hull of a time.