thu 30/03/2017

ancient Rome

Sunday Book: Philip Hook - Rogues' Gallery

The art dealers of today must be thanking their lucky stars that Philip Hook’s remarkable history of their trade stops where it does. For while it serves as an eminently useful if rather specialised reference book, it’s a history pushed along by a...

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Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur, the remake of the remake, is an epic misfire starring no one you’ve ever heard of apart from, inevitably, Morgan Freeman. What in heaven, you may ponder if accidentally trapped at a screening, were the producers thinking? Their rationale is...

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Mary Beard's Ultimate Rome: Empire without Limit, BBC Two

The world of antiquity, from Greece to Rome, is both so familiar and so unknown. So it was more than welcome when the immensely knowledgable Professor Mary Beard – the role of the academic, she announced, is to make everything less simple –...

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Sicily: Culture and Conquest, British Museum

This exhibition – the UK's first major exploration of the history of Sicily – highlights two astonishing epochs in the cultural history of the island, with a small bridging section in between. Spanning 4,000 years and bringing together over 200...

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Risen

It’s unbelievable how hard it is to retell the greatest story ever told. And yet dramatists still feel the urge. The BBC had a big Easter binge a few years ago with the Ulster actor James Nesbitt playing a sort of Prodius Pilate. Now here’s a film...

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Ben Hur, Tricycle Theatre

Hollywood took 365 speaking parts, 50,000 extras and 2,500 horses to tell this epic tale in 1959; here at the Tricycle, it’s a cast of four and some enterprising puppet work. Playwright Patrick Barlow, following up global hit The 39 Steps, has...

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The Celts: Blood, Iron, and Sacrifice, BBC Two

Not a ray of sunshine illuminated the landscapes that were explored in this stormy programme, the first of a three-part history of the Celts. It aimed not only to show the latest investigations into the Bronze and Iron Age tribes who inhabited...

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Building the Ancient City: Athens, BBC Two

Heaven, or a lot of pagan gods at least, may know what was in the air 2500 years ago. Bettany Hughes has just finished her trilogy of philosophers from that millennium, and now we have Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill taking us genially around...

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The Rape of Lucretia, Glyndebourne

Britten’s first chamber opera is very much a Glyndebourne piece; its world premiere in the old festival theatre in July 1946 was also the festival’s inaugural post-war production. It brought into being the English Opera Group, and led soon...

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Modigliani, Estorick Collection

Modigliani’s short life was a template for countless aspiring artists who, in the period after his death in 1920, were only too willing to believe that a garret in Montmartre and a liking for absinthe held the secret to creative brilliance. While...

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Sex and the Church, BBC Two

I’ve got no idea what the opposite of dumbing down might be. Swatting up? Whatever it is, it’s surely going to set the tone for the next couple of Friday nights on BBC Two, where Sex and the Church is as erudite a piece of television as we’re going...

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Saints and Sinners: Britain's Millennium of Monasteries, BBC Four

When in Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies Thomas Cromwell exclaims in exasperation,  “to each monk, one bed; to each bed, one monk. Is that so hard for them?” he sums up the state of moral decay into which the monasteries had apparently...

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