As we are all facing a lot of time on our hands, Off The Ball have pulled together the TV, book and film recommendations that are keeping us entertained during lockdown!
Send us on your recommendations, and we'll pull them together into a list of what our listeners and viewers are enjoying to while away the time - for now, here is what Team OTB are taking in:
Netflix: The Vietnam War
Ken Burns' opus on the Vietnam War is available on Netflix and is a masterpiece. Even by his lofty standards, it is hard to see this being bettered. The breadth of contributors from the American, Vietcong and South Vietnamese perspectives, the depth of historical research and the incredible music to knit it all together make it a must-watch.
It is elevated all the more by the first-hand telephone records of JFK, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, seeing the quagmire develop in real time. It is likely one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.
Amazon Prime: Gomorra - La Serie
The drama about the Neapolitan Camorra is a gritty look at how the mob operate in Naples, and is available on Amazon Prime. I am only just into this, but have been assured by people whose opinion I trust that it is superb. It is quite different to something like The Sopranos in that the setting is extremely grey-scale and dark; the proper underworld of Italy. It has been gripping so far and would highly recommend to anyone interested in the Mafia.
Gomorra is available on NOW TV.
Book: Civilisation by Niall Ferguson
Really interesting and in-depth look at why Western civilisation raced ahead after Chinese dominance until the 1500s. It is an interesting insight as to why warring nation-states in Europe from the 1600s onwards helped surge countries ahead in their quests for trade, and particularly illuminating on the piratical British privateers that were encouraged by the Crown to visit mayhem upon Spanish enclaves.
Ferguson focuses on six 'apps' that helped establish Western dominance: political and economic competition; science; property rights; medicine; the consumer society; and the work ethic. A really interesting take on why societies developed the way that they did.
In the wonderful Gazza in Italy, author Daniel Storey delves deep into Paul Gascoigne and his fascinating, tumultuous three years in Serie A during the 1990s.
It was a control experiment with a player of incredible natural ability who played by instinct in a league that prided itself on consummate professionalism and stubborn structure... Paul Gascoigne’s time with Lazio was always going to be wild.
There is a line towards the end of Gazza in Italy that perfectly encapsulates the book’s subject and it goes like this: “Captivation is sexier than consistency”. This man was a ‘moments’ player. He was a ‘moments’ person, in fact.
The foreword is by James Richardson - it is only 131 pages, but goes into Gazza's experience in Rome with Lazio in great detail.
Yes, it is 1000-odd pages but it is essentially a collection of his newspaper dispatches from war zones across the world.