thu 04/06/2020

BBC Four

Country Music by Ken Burns, BBC Four review - grand history of fiddlers on the hoof

Ken Burns is the closest American television has to David Attenborough. They may swim in different seas, but they both have an old-school commitment to an ethos that will be missed when it’s gone – the idea that television is a place to communicate...

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Greg Davies: Looking for Kes, BBC Four review - touching insights into the story of Barnsley boy Billy Casper

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Ken Loach’s film Kes, and the 51st of A Kestrel for a Knave, the Barry Hines novel it was based on. The story of Barnsley boy Billy Casper who finds an escape from his painful home life and brutal schooling by...

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Arena: Everything is Connected - George Eliot's Life, BBC Four review - innovative film brings the Victorian novelist into the present

Gillian Wearing’s Arena documentary Everything is Connected (BBC Four) is a quietly innovative biography of an author whose works still resonate with their readers and the country within which she wrote. Wearing and George Eliot are a sympathetic...

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Rich Hall's Red Menace, BBC Four review - laconic comic referees the Free World versus Communism

Who won the Cold War? Nobody, according to comedian Rich Hall in this 90-minute film for BBC Four. His theory is that after the symbolic fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago, Russia and America merely “flipped ideologies”. The US government now...

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Get Rich Or Try Dying: Music’s Mega Legacies, BBC Four review – inside the RIP business

Half a billion dollars is what the top five most lucrative estates of deceased musicians earned last year. The figure represents the cunning work of a few people to turn “legacy” into its own immortal industry. To watch a program on this theme is to...

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The Troubles: A Secret History, BBC Four, finale review - peace at last, but at what price?

This terrifying but gripping BBC Four series about Northern Ireland’s savage sectarian war reached its conclusion with a meticulously detailed account of how hostilities were eventually brought to a close by the Good Friday Agreement, which came...

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Spiral, Series 7, BBC Four review - hard-hitting return of our favourite French cop show

And welcome back to our favourite French cop show – perhaps our favourite cop show from anywhere, in fact – which has raced into its seventh series (on BBC Four) with some typically grimy storylines about death and lowlife in a very de-romanticised...

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Studio 17: The Lost Reggae Tapes, BBC Four review - a perfectly paced tale of world-shaking basslines and human frailty

If there was ever a documentary that needed you to have good speakers on your TV setup – or good headphones if you're watching on computer or tablet – this is it. It maybe goes without saying that reggae needs good bass reproduction to appreciate,...

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Spotlight on The Troubles: A Secret History, BBC Four review - Ulster's bitter sectarian war revisited

“The Troubles” is a polite euphemism for the ferocious storm of sectarian violence and political chaos which convulsed Northern Ireland for 30 years, before being brought to a close by 1998’s Good Friday Agreement. Irish journalist Darragh MacIntyre...

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Cindy Sherman: #untitled, BBC Four review - portrait of an enigma

Cindy Sherman predicted the selfie, so goes the claim. From our current standpoint, it is all too easy to analyse her many hundreds of photographic self-portraits made since the late 1970s as cultural forebears of the digital medium. What this BBC...

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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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