A masterful Arena, exploring cool jazz – but rather than taking the normal route of talking heads, here the music tells the story, with occasional narration, on-screen quotes from the musicians, clips from all sorts of places, even a brief Allen Ginsberg reading. There’s also wonderful original incidental music by George Taylor. Worth watching, even if you think you don’t like jazz.
Posts Tagged ‘BBC4’
“It is the eye and the heart that are the surest guides”
It seems Heathcotes have a thing for travel guides. I’ve been known to eulogise, and namesake-but-no-relation David Heathcote presents this series taking old travel guides as a starting point for a journey, in this programme the Shell travel guides from the 30s to the 70s.
The idea of Shell touring guides was dreamt up by John Betjeman, as he needed the money from such a project to get married. He hired enthusiastic amateurs, often friends, to write, design, photograph and edit the decidedly anachronistic guides. They were told to give “your view, of a place now” – now being a time when touring moved from train to car, and hidden gems of natural beauty were widely accessible for the first time. This is the dilemma prevalent in the guides – a fear of the car, knowing that the unspoilt experiences could be destroyed just by mentioning them. Heathcote revisits places from two of the guides, and finds some spoilt, notably Padstow, but resigns himself that that’s all part of progress, for better or worse.
“We shape our technologies, then they shape us.”
After enjoying the repeats of Michael Smith’s Citizen Smith series, he’s been commissioned on another journey round the UK, this time focussing on cars, motoring and driving.
Previous BBC4 seasons on buses, trains, public transport have provided much nostalgia for the typical BBC4 viewer, even sojourns into motorways have lit up the eyes of the Guardianista with bright-eyed 50s infrastructure optimism, but this new thematic strand is about ‘the joy of motoring’. I can’t drive (like Michael Smith), and the only passing interest in cars is Top Gear. Smith reroutes the discussion to more familiar territory:- the growth of cities, the tension between freedom and conformism that cars bring, and the non-places of service stations.
It’s hard to determine quite what this programme is: not quite the tone poems of Keiller, nor the playful but rigorous intellectualism of Meades, maybe radio with pictures. They seem a bit half-formed, and that’s a good thing. Issues and feelings around things like cars are complex, and are dilemmas, with no clear answer. Smith has a trove of poetic one-liners, and his entertaining chats are with people that wouldn’t normally be on TV these days.
This is the first episode of another brilliant comedy to make its merry way from Radio 4 to TV. It’s one I loved on the radio, and it makes the transition to telly incredibly well. Plenty of awkward, embarrassed silences and random but plausible strangeness.
You might recognise Tim Key and Tom Basden (or rather, their voices) from Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better on Radio 4 last year. Together with Lloyd Woolf and Stefan Golaszewsk, they are the Cowards.
Brooker takes a week off from putting the boot into TV inanity to interview five top TV writers—the writers of shows like Doctor Who, Shameless, Hustle, The IT Crowd and Peep Show—about writing. How they got into it, how they get going in the morning, how they come up with characters and names and so on.
Brooker’s respectful—even humble—with the writers and, in turn, they’re frank and disarmingly modest about the process: about the endless cups of tea and the fear and the drudgery of the first draft but also about the elation of seeing the finished product and the compulsion to write.
It’s really inspiring TV and, for anyone who’s ever attempted to write anything (and that’s, like, everyone now, right?), it’s really encouraging and of genuine practical use. I know for certain that professors of creative writing everywhere will be pirating this wholesale so they can put the video on and nip out for a smoke without feeling guilty. Absolutely superb TV.