Only two days left. Watch it. Quick! (Thanks Matt)
It’s about maths. It’s on the telly. It must be on Watchification.
If there’s a better record than Ai No Corrida I don’t know what it is. And if there’s a more interesting, more varied, more tuneful and groovier musical career than that of Quincy Jones then it’s not been made into a BBC4 documentary. From jazz at the Apollo to producing the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, via Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones is responsible for a huge swathe of the culture that’s popular. This is Part One. This is Part Two.
Clever comedians. That’s who you need presenting your television programmes. That whole generation of clever alternative comedians from the 80s turn out to be the perfect people to do telly. They can talk well to camera, they can do a laugh and some pathos and they can compress a lot of meaning into the spaces between the impressive camera work. Alexei Sayle goes back to Liverpool for this series and does a really good job. He discovers things, explains things and even seems to learn things. You get all the Liverpool cliches: Beatles, dockers, footie, riots, shell-suits but he manages to turn the cliches back into interesting truths. This is top telly.
Palestrina sounds like planets. To me anyway. When I think of moving in space it’s never to 2001-type Strauss or Ligeti. Nor to the sucking, clanging sound effects of most scientifically illiterate movies. The grace, the slowness of space sounds, to me, like Palestrina. (It’s probably to do with some BBC2 astronomy programme from the 70s.) Anyway. This edition of Simon Russell Beale’s series on sacred music tells the story of Palestrina’s life, and the way his polyphony evolved in response to the architecture and attitudes of the church. It’s lovely telly. Proper ‘gather the family round BBC2′ stuff. Even if it’s on BBC4. Explaining music always seems to work well on TV, there should be more of it. (And it’s a co-production with the Open University, like Coast, there should be more of that too.)
One of the lovely things about the iPlayer is the access you get to all of the BBC’s regional programmes. It may mean nothing to you, but I grew quite misty-eyed watching the good people of the Midlands opinionating almost as though they were as good as Southerners or something. (I’M JOKING! I’M MAKING A POINT ABOUT SOUTHERNISM!) It’s well worth having a browse around the iPlayer menu to look for shows you don’t get in your region.
I was struggling to know what to say about this. Then I saw that David Hepworth had said it all for me. Have a look at Mr Hepworth’s words, and have a look at the programme. Only telly could do this.
I can imagine Watchification turning into a bit of a BBC4 niche, so it’s with great pleasure that we present a programme from that home of the mainstream – BBC 1. Though admittedly it’s The Sky At Night, a monthly programme that struggles to get on before midnight. What a lovely piece of telly though, and, despite all the CG gubbins, the most effective bits are still with two astronomers in Patrick Moore’s garden explaining orbits with the aided of painted footballs. This edition discusses British plans to head to the moon, slightly late, in the same way, we didn’t bother with the World Cup for the first few years. It’s also worth noting that there’s a ton of interesting stuff and archive here.
It’s easy to forget what an abstract activity sport is. Why, exactly, are people doing this or that thing? Why are they kicking that? Jumping that? Walking that particular way? But we don’t notice the oddness because we see it all the time. And then something like curling comes along and we’re confronted with the strangeness again. So we gaze and question and wonder, and then, in the case of curling, we’re drawn in by the beauty, the physics, the geometry, the shouting and the human endeavour. I bet you watch it all. Just in case you’re not completely au fait with the rules there’s a great site here that’ll explains everything, with animated examples.