mon 20/05/2019

BBC Four

Looking for Rembrandt, BBC Four review - painter's biog is a mini-masterpiece

This final episode of BBC Four's Looking for Rembrandt, exploring the life and work of the Netherlands’ greatest painter, was a mini-masterpiece in itself. We rejoined the story in the mid-1650s, when Rembrandt found that his days of popular acclaim...

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Rock Island Line: The Song That Made Britain Rock, BBC Four review - the early dawn of Britpop

If you were a fan of “Rock Island Line” when it became a pop hit, you’d have to be at least in your mid-70s now. In 1956, Paul McCartney heard Lonnie Donegan perform it live in Liverpool, and Paul’s rising 77. How many below that age know it is moot...

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The Beatles: Made on Merseyside, BBC Four review - when the Fab Four were five

Documentaries about the 20th century’s most fabled quartet keep coming. There’s no special call for The Beatles: Made on Merseyside (BBC Four), which looked at the group’s Liverpool beginnings, though at a stretch it could be argued that in the 50th...

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Showbands, BBC Four review - an Irish cultural phenomenon explained

Ask most people what a showband is and they’ll give you a blank look. But ask any Irish person (or those born in the Irish diaspora) who is north of 50 and they will probably look misty-eyed. For between the late 1950s and 1980s showbands were a...

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Safe Harbour, Series Finale, BBC Four review - too much message, not enough drama

Picture this. You’re sailing in the Timor Sea with family and friends on your luxurious yacht, hoiking the occasional plump fish out of the ocean to provide a ready meal washed down with Aussie plonk, when you suddenly chance across a decrepit,...

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Don McCullin: Looking for England, BBC Four review - a hard look at home

A picture is worth more than a thousand words, never more so than with the photographs of Don McCullin. The octogenarian photographer’s black-and-white imagery made the Sunday Times colour supplement the talk of international media in the 1970s....

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Black Lake, Series 2 Finale, BBC Four review - Swedish chiller fails to thrill

A bunch of young-ish people stuck in a rambling house in the middle of nowhere, a hatchet-faced senior citizen guarding a hoard of murky secrets, assorted missing persons, a derelict sanatorium, lots of creepy noises and no telephones… hang on, isn’...

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The Dead Room, BBC Four review - ghosts at the microphone

Fired by the spirit of the MR James ghost stories which used to be a Christmas staple on the BBC, Mark Gatiss conceived this amusing bonne bouche as both a seasonal chiller and a nod to the ghost of broadcasting past. In passing, he also managed to...

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The Sound of Movie Musicals with Neil Brand, BBC Four review - genius of song and dance

The movie musical: money making or true art – or both? This was a programme to sing along to, in the company of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard. In this second instalment of Neil Brand’s brilliant three-part history, he...

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Barbra Streisand: Becoming an Icon 1942-1984, BBC Four review - the way she was

Perhaps belatedly prompted by the release of Barbra Streisand’s new album Walls, the worst-selling disc in her 55 years with Columbia Records, this documentary was an uncritical celebration of Babs’s brilliant career from her first stage appearances...

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Our Classical Century, BBC Four review - enthusiasm and delight

Jerusalem! This fact-studded story of 20th century British music told us that the nation's unofficial national anthem, Hubert Parry’s setting of William Blake’s poem, originated in 1916 as a commission from the “Fight for Right” movement. Officials...

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WW1: The Last Tommies, BBC Four review - Great War stories

“Why should I go out and kill somebody I never knew? There was no reason at all in it in my way of thinking.” Britain’s very last Tommy was Harry Patch, born in 1898, conscripted in 1916 and still alive on his 111th birthday in 2009. He was one of...

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