sat 13/02/2016

England

Cats v Dogs, BBC Two

This slightly ludicrous programme is really a chance to see a charming range of dogs and cats, based on an assumption that by comparing cats and dogs we humans can decide which species is best. But best for what? As pets, domestic companions,...

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When Bowie Came to Beckenham

This extract from Mary Finnigan’s book Psychedelic Suburbia describes events leading up to the creation of the Beckenham Arts Lab, during the early period after David moved into her flat in Foxgrove Road, Beckenham in April 1969. The book was...

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Best (and Worst) of 2015: Television

It's hard to disagree with Matthew Wright, in his brisk analysis of the shortcomings of British crime drama (see below). He notes how flashes of inspiration are smothered by skimpy budgets and the timidity of commissioning editors. The disastrous...

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Harry Price: Ghost Hunter, ITV / Homeland, Series 5 Finale

Earlier this year, Sky Living showed The Enfield Haunting, a tale of eerie events in a 1970s council house. One of its stars was Timothy Spall, playing a paranormal researcher. Maybe he had a premonition that his son Rafe would carry on the family's...

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Downton Abbey – The Finale, ITV

On Monday ITV showed BAFTA Celebrates Downton Abbey, in which a massed gathering of cast and crew plus a few celebrity guests toasted Downton's five-year stampede to global acclaim. Its creator Julian Fellowes waddled onstage and told an anecdote...

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DVD: Visions of Change, Vol 1

There was a time when the BBC provided a creative context – free of the anxiety-fuelled micro-management that characterises commissioning today – that gave a great deal of space to original and experimental film-making. While the pioneering work of...

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The Last Kingdom, Series Finale, BBC Two

Though Alfred the Great was renowned for educational and social reforms as much as for whupping the Danes on the battlefield, I'd never pictured him the way David Dawson has been playing him in The Last Kingdom. Pallid and sickly-looking, and...

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CD: Kate Rusby - The Frost Is All Over

Kate’s no stranger to the Christmas collection – Sweet Bells from 2008, and While Mortals Sleep from 2011 both focused on South Yorkshire-inspired carols and seasonal songs, and the Kate Rusby at Christmas DVD from 2014, filmed at Harrogate Hall,...

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DVD: Murder in the Cathedral

The real achievement of this remarkable DVD release from the BFI is the fact that it brings the name of George Hoellering back to our attention as a director. His 1951 adaption of TS Eliot’s verse play Murder in the Cathedral has been virtually...

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High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas Rowlandson, The Queen’s Gallery

“High Spirits” is a multi-layered title: the caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827) was himself a heavy gambler and a heavy drinker, continually using up his material assets in such pursuits. His high spirits extended to the Georgian society he...

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Henry V, RSC, Barbican Theatre

Pro patria mori. Now there’s the test for Henry V - perform it on Remembrance Day. The “band of brothers” shtick relies on an idea of patriotism from an age when there was no need to define something so heartfelt, and an idea that kings and...

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Dominic Sandbrook: Let Us Entertain You, BBC Two

Critic and popular historian Dominic Sandbook understands the power of the soundbite, so he supplied one of his own to sum up his new series: "We do still make one thing better than anybody else – we make stories."This is a companion piece to...

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