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Douglas Fergus
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #40: 04.10.11 at 11:08 »
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on 30.09.11 at 16:56, Douglas Fergus wrote:
If you didn't catch last night's Billy Connolly's Route 66, check it out on BBC i-Player.
The scenes filmed at the rodeo of the 5-year olds riding sheep are absolutely hilarious.
Only in America........

Er, sorry.......it was broadcast on ITV Embarassed
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Kevin Cryan
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #41: 07.10.11 at 09:17 »
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This week The Telegraphs strapline writer says that "Clive James reviews Kevin McCloud's Grand Designs (Channel 4) and Dragons' Den (BBC Two)" but fails draw  readers' attention to the really interesting things to say about Teenage Kicks: the Search for Sophistication (BBC Four), a film about how those of who are "turning into old-timers" once were,  and more especially about the luxury items we hankered after, thinking that they were what made us sophisticated.
 
Quote:

On BBC Four there was an especially good show called Teenage Kicks: the Search for Sophistication, produced by Lucy Kenwright, who has an eye for a mad visual moment and an ear for a sane person who might comment well. Her stable of commentators built up a picture of just how big a commitment a young man had to make to his hair when he wished to grease it without having washed it. The males remembered their own smell of sweat, although not as well as the females remembered it. Brut was a good name, evoking, as it did, a warthog wreaking its will.  
 
But being female, even then, was a hard gig, as it always is. The brilliant journalist Zoe Williams did a short piece to camera that was almost an aria, so closely did it focus her despair at having been unable to cope with the requirements of her role. “I was just so uncool for so long,” she wailed, and Verdi could have set the rest to music, ending with a plunging theme as the victim dived nose-first from the castle wall into the courtyard.

 
Kevin Cryan
 
PS. This programme no longer available to watch again
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #42: 14.10.11 at 09:32 »
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At the very heart of this week's column is a well-timed  reminder of what of what it is that makes The World at War (currently getting another re-run on Yesterday) a classic which even  the voice-over of  Laurence Olivier (" giving false line-readings all the way") cannot spoil.
 
Kevin Cryan
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #43: 21.10.11 at 09:33 »
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This week Clive screwed up more courage than I could muster to watch Comic Strip’s The Hunt for Tony Blair (Channel 4) before deciding that around the "shaky fulcrum …  gave Jennifer Saunders the chance to enact scenes from Sunset Boulevard …deserts of unfunniness stretched far away". It's just possible that he watched because he did not see, or refused to be put off by, all the trailers which Channel 4 put out before the arrival of the main event. There was nothing funny in those either.  
 
The Hunt for Tony Blair was probably one the worst thing he had to watch in the last seven days. It's not altogether clear whether or not he was watching The House of Eliott (ITV3) – the re-run of the third series ended last evening  - but its  presence on the small or not-so-small screens gives him the opportunity of reminding viewers like myself why it is we hopelessly hooked all over again.
 
Quote:

What an excellent series it still is, with two young stars vying for the camera, as in The Professionals, although without the pursed lips and the absurd big hair. When the show was new I liked both these women – the wavelets of Stella Gonet’s hair were practically audible as they collapsed on the white beach of her forehead – but I can’t deny now that my favourite was the fine-featured brunette Louise Lombard, largely because she guested on one of my End of the Year shows and the audience loved her crisp verve. She should have had a huge career here at home. Instead she chose to go to America, where they dyed her blonde and gave her a gun to hold while she disappeared into the echoing wastes of CSI-land.

 
Read on....
 
Kevin Cryan
 

The House of Eliott Wikipedia
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #44: 28.10.11 at 17:22 »
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It’s reassuring to read that Clive found Ronan Bennett’s three–part thriller Hidden (BBC1) as difficult to fathom as I did.
 
Quote:

There are suggestions that everything is connected to everything else, but one grows increasingly less certain that anything is connected even to a wall socket.
 
 

 
However his having more or less given up on trying to what was going on means that he's got time and space can say a lot of interesting things about tv acting, Robert Glenister’s in particular.
 
Quote:

But what the personable, sympathetic Glenister – quondam hero of the genuinely complex thriller Life on Mars, beside which this one is just a kit of parts spilled on the floor – must really guard himself against is a tendency to act with his mouth open, like Brian Cox.  
 
The penalty for acting with the mouth open is that the public will deduce that the actor is posing, and may even have prepared in front of a mirror. You can imagine the mirror fogging up as the actor practises a key line about how the hidden forces on high tracked down the beautiful girl after he had taken her to a safe house through the riots in the streets. “I… don’t know.”

 

 
Read on.....
 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #45: 04.11.11 at 10:21 »
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In this week's batch of reviews he finds lots of nice things to say about  Frozen Planet (Sir David Attenborough's latest series for BBC One) and admits that Australian friends were right to recommend their home-grown drama series The Slap, now showing on BBC4.
 
He also allows that BBC One's The Impressions Show is  great deal better than he'd thought it would be.
 
Quote:

This current show could have been a bad formula, with nothing to appreciate except the fidelity of the mimics’ inflections and gestures, all cribbed from the original after deep study. But someone has ensured that the standard of writing is quite high: rather higher, in fact, than almost any other comedy show on the air at the moment. So there is wit to fall back on.

 
In his comments on the latest showing of the Agony & Ecstasy (BBC Four) devoted to the Wayne Eagling production of The Nutcracker, he shows why repeats are not necessarly bad things.
 
Quote:

The programme is infinitely rewatchable because there is something eternal and magnificent about Eagling’s restrained anger as, day after day during rehearsal, the basket full of characters is lowered to the stage but the balloon that is supposed to be holding it aloft fails to appear….
 

 
Read on...
 
Kevin Cryan
 
 www.clivejames.com
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #46: 11.11.11 at 17:54 »
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Here is this week's column which, for various reasons, I've not had time to read fully.  
 
Actually, I should own up and say I have read just enough to know that what he finds annoying about Symphony (BBC Four) I have found so annoying that I've tempted more than to to hit the off button on my remote.  
 
Quote:
in the first instalment of the big series you were lucky to hear half a minute of music before Mark Elder or Simon Russell Beale and sometimes both started gassing again.


 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #47: 18.11.11 at 16:20 »
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This week Clive finds reasons to be cheerful about what he been watching on the box of late.
 
Quote:

Having been unwell lately, I naturally hope that television, which I see a lot of, can make me feel better. Often it does. For the afflicted, a lot of tender loving care shows up on the screen. It is hard not to suspect that Britain’s Fattest Man is being looked after with some impatience among his platoon of carers, but on the whole you can turn on the box and comfort yourself with a mass of evidence that the human race has a soul after all.  
 
Nominally concerned with the arts, The Culture Show usually gets them in sideways while talking about something else. Last week’s edition, Art for Heroes (BBC Two), showed us the pictures that sufferers from post traumatic stress disorder paint while they’re getting better, or not. PTSD, as they call it, is a serious business and the suffering is likely to last, but the chance to paint a reaction to what is going on in your own head has been found to be beneficial. What’s going on, of course, is turmoil.
 
 


 
Read on......
 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #48: 25.11.11 at 11:58 »
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I'm too busy at the moment to read this week's offering .  
 
Kevin Cryan
 
I appear to be experience some difficulty with the link. If it does not right itself by the late afternoon, I'll have a go at getting it fixed.
 
KC
« Last Edit: 25.11.11 at 12:13 by Kevin Cryan » IP logged
Douglas Fergus
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #49: 25.11.11 at 16:04 »
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Link seems to be working Kevin.
 
Good article this week; I can endorse "George Martin: Living in the Material World."
Still available to watch on BBC i-Player.
I always thought George's solo output was by far the best of the Beatles' post split; the quality of the material on All Things Must Pass shows what was left off the band's albums presumably at the behest of Lennon and McCartney.
CJ seems to like him anyway.
 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #50: 28.11.11 at 09:27 »
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(Actually, I wouldn't mind seeing a Martin Scorsese documentary about George Martin.)
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #51: 02.12.11 at 10:18 »
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I, like Clive, watched The Cassandra Crossing ( Film 4) this week. I cannot say for certain if I'd been scheduled for an eye operation –as Clive had been – I could have brought myself to watch it. Mind you, it is such an compellingly awful film that just thinking about it probably takes the mind off other things that that might be preying on it.
 
Quote:

There are episodes of badness in the movie – almost any scene involving Richard Harris and his pursed lips, for example – which should be enough to keep today’s young critics making the same mistake I did: they will think that because the thing is decaying, it will eventually disappear. But a big movie with lots of names in it – even if one of the names is OJ Simpson, not yet guilty of anything except a questionable choice of material – is hard to stop. It just goes rattling on forever towards the Cassandra Crossing, powered by the very thing that its tedious script looks dedicated to eliminating: the unexpected. And here, finally, as the train’s dummy carriages crash into the gorge, is my point.  


Read on...  
 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #52: 02.12.11 at 14:27 »
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on 02.12.11 at 10:18, Kevin Cryan wrote:
I, like Clive, watched The Cassandra Crossing ( Film 4) this week. I cannot say for certain if I'd been scheduled for an eye operation –as Clive had been – I could have brought myself to watch it. Mind you, it is such an compellingly awful film that just thinking about it probably takes the mind off other things that that might be preying on it.
 
Read on...  
 
Kevin Cryan

 
I somehow managed to mess up in creating the link to Clive's column. Sorry.
 
Here by way of compensation is the part -mentioned by Clive - in which the "train’s dummy carriages crash into the gorge".
 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #53: 16.12.11 at 09:26 »
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Clive's column will be In tomorrow's print edition of The Telegraph:
 
Quote:
Clive James on... Strongmen, Strictly Come Dancing and other highlights
 
Clive James looks back at the TV highlights from 2011, including Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One, Rich Hall's Continental Drifters on BBC Four, Bobby Fischer: Genius and Madman on BBC Four, The Great British Property Scandal on Channel 4 and 100 Years of the Palladium on BBC Two.
 

 
or it's here today
 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #54: 23.12.11 at 09:29 »
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In his latest bulletin Clive tackles, among other things, the tricky question of how it is Scandinavian crime programmes could “be so dull and still make you watch”
 
Quote:

The conundrum first came to light last year, when Wallander got going. Three different actors including our own Kenneth Branagh played him at various times, but with due respect for Branagh’s eminence, it must be said that he doesn’t have what it takes to be that boring. Obviously he had prepared for the role by sleeping for a few nights on a bed of nails, but he still came up looking far too sprightly.
 

 
Read on...  
 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #55: 23.12.11 at 11:54 »
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Thanks are overdue to Kevin for keeping us informed, nay reminded, of Clive's ongoing published works, and providing links to the online versions. I expect few MVs are regular Telegraph readers, and we might easily overlook this weekly column which also serves as a barometer of Clive's fluctuating health. Please keep it up, Kevin.
 
As for Clive, we should all be reading his A Point Of View collection, despite its dodgy cover art (was he ever in the same room as that Neumann condenser microphone?) The postscripts alone are well worth the purchase price, even if the essays themselves remain familiar. We wish him good luck in maintaining the energy he needs to complete his current writing projects.
 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #56: 30.12.11 at 13:50 »
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In this week’s column Clive mulls over a number of questions, not the least of which is whether the omnipresent Professor Brian Cox’s trick of speech is legitimate or not.
 
Quote:

“How can the same think be in different places?” It’s a regional think and therefore quite legitimate, but it always leaves me wonderink whether people who talk like that can hear themselves. Still, I imagine they’re wonderink the same think about me.


 
And then there is the question of when it may be legitmate – nay, advisable – to present as documentary something that is filmed under controlled conditions.
 
Quote:

Brian Cox has not so far run into the problem currently faced by Sir David Attenborough, where the production team cuts a corner and the front man has to take the rap. It was the week before Christmas, and all through the house people were talking about how, in the latest chapter of Frozen Planet (BBC One) those little polar bears were being looked after by their mother under the snow. And so they were, but the burrow wasn’t in the Arctic, it was in a Dutch zoo. Attenborough’s voice-over narrative just about allowed you to believe that he had not been as conniving as his production staff, but it was a close one. And it would have been so easy to say: “Meanwhile, in a Dutch zoo, a mother polar bear called Margarete is giving us a picture that would be impossible to obtain in the wild without great danger to our cameraman, Mick Bloggs.”  
Sometimes you simply have to employ sleight of hand, or someone will get eaten. As Attenborough explained later when he got busy extricating himself from the hole his staff had dug for him, if you tried that trick in the wild the mother bear would kill either the cub or the cameraman.


 
And then of course there is the crucial question of Holly Valance’s looks  
Quote:

As an ugly old person I shouldn’t preach on behalf of the beautiful young, but I can preach on behalf of Australia, and say that the answer to the question “Do they all look like that where she comes from?” is before your eyes in Home and Away, the imported Aussie show in which the screen is full of youngsters who, even in the midst of doing dope, look as if they stepped off Mount Olympus.


 
And finally therere is tha most puzzling of all  big questions, the one about Barry Manilow and his face.
 
Quote:

So determined is he to stay the same as ever that he has done weird things with his face, which makes you wonder where it will fly to when the fastenings finally snap.


 
Full text here
 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #57: 06.01.12 at 17:11 »
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A lifetime spent studying the fictional detective informs most of what gets unto this week’s offering . It’s worth reading carefully in full.  
 
Many of the things he has being saying recently about crime fiction can be usefully viewed as footnotes to the emarkable  essay he publisedf in  the New Yorker on the sunject of crime fiction of a few years ago, Blood on the Borders. Check it out, as they say nowadays.  
 
Kevin Cryan
 

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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #58: 13.01.12 at 20:26 »
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In this week’s piece Clive passes on some advice on how not to make a fool of oneself as a contestant on Mastermind (BBC One)  
 
Quote:

In Mastermind you must choose a narrow subject or you run the risk of making a chump of yourself. Thus “Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory” is a good subject but “The British Navy at the time of Trafalgar” is a very dangerous one. With too wide a subject, you can sit there racking up no points while you drown in self-loathing, the word “Pass” escaping repeatedly from your lips like a despairing bubble.

 
Having watched A Renaissance Education (BBC Four), he comes to the same conclusion as most of us who watched it must have.
 
Quote:

Since Shakespeare was one of the system’s products it could scarcely have been a dead loss but you can’t help thinking we live in more civilised times after all.

 
His viewing of The Grammar School: a Secret History (BBC Four) and Mad and Bad: 60 Years of Science on TV (BBC Four) brings him face to face with some  thoughts about the two Davids, Attenborough and Bellamy. who for a good part of the 6o years covered by Mad and Bad were - or appeared to many to be - almost all that there was of science on television.
 
Quote:

There can be no doubt that Attenborough is a saint but what we need now is a special channel for programmes he is not in, so those of us marked for death can get a rest from those unchanging features.

 
The absence of even a mention of David Bellamy during Mad and Bad prompts this question.  
 
Quote:

Had he said the wrong thing about global warming, or was there some other reason for his having been erased from history like a member of the Politburo in a Soviet official photograph? Of this much one may be sure; if there is a section in a science programme about whacko presenters, and Bellamy is not in it, then something strange is going on.
 
 
This week’s piece in full
 
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Re: Clive James, television critic
« Reply #59: 20.01.12 at 16:17 »
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In the course of this week’s column Clive explains why he thinks Endeavour (ITV1) “was a complete success right up to the moment when the plot collapsed into the usual tangle”, what it is about Sherlock (BBC One) that drives him up the wall and why his theory that Scandinavian drama plays well with us because we need to be soothed has had to be revised after watching the Danish political drama Borgen (BBC Four)  
 
Quote:

There is nothing boring about Borgen as long as the camera stays close to the heroine, Birgitte Nyborg, a potential prime minister who incarnates liberalism, tolerance, and, indeed, sheer fun. Clearly her success will bring great tension to her family life but if anyone can sort things out, she can. The actress, Sidse Babett Knudsen, is so winning that it’s practically no contest.
 
Birgitte’s male opponents are nowhere, barging about in vain search of an answer to her sense of nuance. Unlike The Killing or Wallander, Borgen has no dead bodies that need explaining: the only corpse got that way from too much sex, which doesn’t sound like a bad way to go. But the intricacies of the exposition, and above all the range of emotion shown by Birgitte as she copes with the realities that tempt her to compromise, are so tightly argued by the narrative style that the result is the viewing equivalent of unputdownable. I saw the first four episodes twice each.

 
He’s come away from this week’s viewing with renewed respect for the House of Commons, Roy Jenkins and Michael Portillo. Who said that television was losing its power to shape some of our thinking? Not me, m’lud.
 
Kevin Cryan
 
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