Stockard Channing

Has it been a phenomenal summer of sport on the telly or what? First came all that European soccer, then the tennis, now the Olympic Games. Unbelievable!

All of which explains how Jen and I have finally managed to make massive inroads into our West Wing box-set. We're about half-way through season four at the moment, and we're totally hooked. I mean totally.

If you've never watched The West Wing, you really should. What makes the series so special is that every one of the main characters is both extremely likeable and extremely intelligent. You don't get that very much on the telly. And there are some fantastic jokes too. I'm not kidding, Jen and I have been literally laughing out loud at least once per episode.

One thing about The West Wing has been troubling me, though. The character of the First Lady is played by a very fine actress named Stockard Channing. Yes, that's right, Stockard Channing:

Channing

Stockard Channing (L) and Martin Sheen (R) as Mrs and President Bartlet respectively.

I know: where have you heard the name Stockard Channing before? It's been doing my head in.

I Googled her, obviously, and discovered that, in addition to playing First Lady Abbey Bartlet in The West Wing, Stockard Channing is perhaps best known for her role as Betty Rizzo in the film Grease. Which didn't particularly help, as I don't think I've ever seen Grease. Thanks for nothing, Google.

Then, after several days' frustration, it finally dawned on me why I recognised the name. Honestly, you're going to kick yourself…

Stockard Channing is the name of a motorway service station on the M5 just south of Bristol. I stopped there once for a comfort break and a coffee and blueberry muffin.

Holy crap. The poor, poor woman. She must have been teased mercilessly at school. What sort of person names their child after a motorway service station? (Apart from Charlton Heston's dad, I mean.)

Jen and I are pretty devastated that we're already half-way through The West Wing. So much so that we're starting to get a bit jittery about which landmark US TV series we're going to watch next. We already polished off The Sopranos during the last World Cup. We tried the first couple of episodes of The Wire, but couldn't understand a word anyone was saying. Which has left us in something of a quandary. The front-runner at the moment is the highly acclaimed Game of Cards. What do you reckon?

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