tue 07/07/2020

BBC Four

Being Beethoven, BBC Four review – from grubby kid to grumpy genius

Documentaries like this one make me sentimental for a time, until about 25 years ago, when classical music was a more or less weekly presence on terrestrial TV. Now fast disappearing from view altogether, on mainstream media and in school...

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Storyville: Welcome to Chechnya, BBC Four review - trauma, tension and resistance

David France’s revelatory film may have been subtitled “The Gay Purge”, but from the start it was clear this wasn’t just another documentary from Russia charting the increasing pressure faced by that country’s queer community. Since “propaganda” of...

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The Hidden Wilds of the Motorway, BBC Four review - mysteries and marvels of the M25

The nightmarishness of the M25 motorway is well known, especially if you get stuck on the Heathrow section on a wet Sunday night, but as she perambulated around the motorway’s circumference for this idiosyncratic BBC Four documentary, naturalist...

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New Music Lockdown 12: Glastonbury Festival Special

This morning at 9.00 AM would be when Worthy Farm opened its gates to the hedonistic hordes. The weather is scorchio and Glastonbury 50 would have been such a party. Instead, that will all be Glastonbury 2021. So right now, those who love their...

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Tutankhamun in Colour, BBC Four review - amazing enhanced images bring fabled Pharaoh to life

Tut in colour, and he is! The new painstaking technique of colourising vintage black and white photographs and film was touchingly exploited in this documentary for BBC Four to narrate the most thrilling and best-known archaeological discovery ever...

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Unprecedented, BBC Four review - perspectives on the pandemic

This short series of new dramas (on BBC Four) by a group of leading playwrights was commissioned by Headlong and Century Films, a week before the virus lockdown was announced on 23 March, and represents an artistic first response to a situation...

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'If they had been any closer my face would have misted up': filming 'Men at the Barre'

“That’s Marcelino Sambé, he’s wonderful,” said the artistic administrator of the Royal Ballet as I followed her down one of the many corridors that weave throughout the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. “He’s a newly promoted Principal, a very...

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Arena: The Changin' Times of Ike White, BBC Four review - musical mystery becomes personal

The most obvious comparison for The Changin’ Times of Ike White (BBC Four) is 2012’s Searching for Sugar Man, with its story of a potential star having vanished into thin air at the brink of fame and fortune. The documentary began in the usual way...

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Wise Children, BBC online review – beautifully bizarre

Reviewing theatre now means reviewing film. Knowing that Emma Rice’s Old Vic 2018 production of Wise Children, her typically rambunctious version of Angela Carter’s last novel, published in 1991, has been recorded by The Space immediately raises...

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The Art Mysteries, BBC Four review - secrets and symbols of Van Gogh's famous self-portrait

Presenter Waldemar Januszczak suffers from something very like Robert Peston Syndrome, which makes him bellow at the camera and distort words as if they’re chewing gum he’s peeling off the sole of his shoe. Nonetheless he has a knack for finding...

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Royal History's Biggest Fibs with Lucy Worsley, BBC Four review - is this version more valid than anyone else's?

Perhaps somebody at BBC Four has had a quiet word with Lucy Worsley, because in this first of a new three-part series she did hardly did any of her usual irritating dressing up. There had to be a bit, though. She appeared briefly as a monk carrying...

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Classic Albums: Tears for Fears, Songs From The Big Chair, BBC Four review - anatomy of an anthem

Roland Orzabal, co-founder and lead guitarist of Tears for Fears, laughs to himself often during this documentary — the latest in the BBC’s often-excellent, always-forensic Classic Albums series. “I agree, I agree, it sounds great,” says Orzabal. He...

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