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Sandraseahorse

The Channel 4 Book Group show

After vowing I would never watch another edition of this show after viewing the car crash of the first, I did tune in for the second - or at least the first five and last ten minutes of it.

About 85 comments were put on the Channel 4 website about  this programme and approximately 90 per cent were highly critical.  The programme's editor then posted that the remarks had been taken on board and we were asked to watch the next programme.  As the editor had been courteous enough to respond to the comments, I felt it was only fair to give it another go.

It was the same format as before; the first item was an interview with a celeb with a new book to plug (in this case Alan Davies), then a filmed interview with an author whose sales had been  boosted by being an R&J book club choice (this time William Boyd) and then a light-hearted item about a quirky new book.  However, these three items were much shorter than before to allow far more time for the book discussion at the end.

The book was "Blacklands" by Belinda Bauer; a thriller about a 12-year-old boy who writes to a paedophile serial killer in prison in an attempt to find out where the killer buried the body of the boy's uncle. The first half of the book is told through the eyes of the boy; the second half from the killer's viewpoint.

Jo Brand loathed the book and said it presented paedophilia as an entertainment when it wasn't.  The others enjoyed it as a gripping but harrowing thriller.  There were some interesting points made by the group about the psychology of the boy and his grandmother, whom the boy was desperate to please.  It was clear that the group had given the book some thought.

I admit I enjoyed the discussion and it certainly gave the flavour of the book.  What I felt didn't work was the celeb bit at the beginning; it all got very luvvy with the others telling Alan Davies how the first thing they did was look up in the index whether they were mentioned in his book.

IMO unless the panel are prepared to tell a celeb to his or her face that they didn't like the book, then this undermines their objectivity when they come to discuss the nominated book at the end of the show.

Also, I feel that having two comedians on, Jo Brand and Dave Spikey, they feel the need to  compete with jokes and will often make flippant remarks which only undermine the seriousness of what they have said before.

For example, it was quite clear that Jo Brand felt strongly that the "Blacklands" subject matter was exploitative and shouldn't be used for entertainment.  Yet she then went on to make a flippant remark about how she "made the mistake of reading it as a bed time book to my kids."  So she doesn't think paedophilia is a suitable subject for a thriller but she's prepared to make a joke about a book on the topic.

I've tried to be fair to the show.  I might watch it again but only for the last 10 minutes.
Mikeharvey

Having just wandered down into town and looked as always at the bookshops,  I notice that all the books scheduled to be discussed on The Book Club seem to have some sort of a tie-in with Smiths  and Waterstones. There's a big display of the titles in both places.  Why do I find this depressing?  Who was reponsible for choosing the books.  Would it be better, I wonder, if the club members were not 'celebrities'?  How about older books that had not just appeared, or were about to appear, in paperback?  
Can anyone tell me what the young man, with the hair, on the extreme left is famous for?
MikeAlx

The Book Club is the latest vehicle of TV Producer Amanda Ross (sister-in-law to Jonathan & Paul Ross), who brought us Richard & Judy's book club.

The reason Waterstones have this floor to ceiling is that when R&J's book club first aired, they found they never had enough stock for the books that were being featured - so they phoned the TV company and asked them if in future they could tip them off in advance. And that is what has happened ever since. Of course the publishers also pay the shops for the privilege of prominent positioning. Aren't market forces a wonderful thing?
TheRejectAmidHair

What a sad state of affairs all round.
Sandraseahorse

Quote:
Can anyone tell me what the young man, with the hair, on the extreme left is famous for?


Mike, I think you mean Gok Wan.  He is a stylist who presents "How To Look Good Naked."  He revealed his (lack of) intellectual credentials by choosing as his specialist subject when he appeared on "Celebrity Mastermind" A SINGLE play, Jonathan Harvey's "Beautiful Thing."  I've no objections to someone picking the work of Jonathan Harvey as a subject but if they can't be bothered to study more than one of his plays, then they can't be much of a fan, so why chose that topic?

Gok is the celeb who appears most at sea in the discussions and his claim in the first programme that he "is only just learning how to read" doesn't seem like a joke now.

I'm trying not to be too dismissive of the show because if it were to be axed from television, the chances are that it wouldn't be replaced by a series like "Civilisation" or "The Ascent of Man" but by another celeb infested lifestyles programme.
TheRejectAmidHair

Sandraseahorse wrote:
I'm trying not to be too dismissive of the show because if it were to be axed from television, the chances are that it wouldn't be replaced by a series like "Civilisation" or "The Ascent of Man" but by another celeb infested lifestyles programme.


I don't really see what difference that would make. Let them make celeb lifestyle programmes by all means - I don't see it would be any worse than the sort of horse manure I've been reading about on this thread.
MikeAlx

The thing I don't understand is, why is there an audience for intellectual quiz shows like University Challenge, Only Connect and Mastermind, but apparently none for something like the late lamented Bookmark?
county_lady

MikeAlx wrote:
The thing I don't understand is, why is there an audience for intellectual quiz shows like University Challenge, Only Connect and Mastermind, but apparently none for something like the late lamented Bookmark?


That's a real puzzle. We love those and would also enjoy a Bookmark programme. Crying or Very sad
Evie

People like a quiz, they don't like stuff about litratcher, 'sborin', innit?

People read for pleasure, but don't see the need to intellectualise it.  Society in Britain is increasingly anti-intellectual.
miranda

Society in Britain has always been anti-intellectual.  That's been a complaint of intellectuals for centuries.
Evie

It has got worse within my lifetime, hence 'increasingly'.  The decline of the BBC is symptomatic of this.  Yes, there has always been an anti-intellectualism, but there has, in the past, also been a level of respect for intellectuals - that doesn't exist any more.  

'Intellectual' seems to have become synonymous with 'snob'.  It's profoundly depressing.  And those of us with university degrees need to keep standing up for intellectual standards to be maintained and encouraged.  (Hopefully those without university degrees would do the same, but graduates have little excuse.)
TheRejectAmidHair

miranda wrote:
Society in Britain has always been anti-intellectual.  That's been a complaint of intellectuals for centuries.


I think you're possibly right there, Miranda, but the difference is that the intellectuals still had a voice that could be heard in the mainstream. Now, it has been sidelined out of existence.
miranda

That's a very sweeping statement, Himadri.
TheRejectAmidHair

Yes, I know. But I can guarantee that a programme like this would not have been broadcast in the 60s or 70s. No self-respecting broadcaster would even have considered such a thing. I personally feel completely marginalised from the mainstream: the only thing I watch on television these days is football.

I could go on to give many, many examples of the sort of thing I mean, but I'd better go and have some dinner now.
Chibiabos83

And typically, when genuinely thought-provoking shows are broadcast, they're scheduled against each other! Tonight at 9 I can't decide between Amanda Holden's Fantasy Lives on ITV1 and I Believe in UFOs: Danny Dyer on BBC3. I suppose at least if I record one I can watch it over and over again.
miranda

Ok, the following link is to a list of programmes shown in Britain in the 1970s:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1970s_British_television_series


The 1980s:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1980s_British_television_series

The 1950s:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:1960s_British_television_series

Don't look to me like the level of intellectual television has changed that much.  

The only thing that is different now is the obsession with celebrity.  But that is a recent fashion and it will change, sooner or later.
Evie

This is from the 1970s list:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_Tower

I don't remember it (and was too old by then to be watching children's TV), but I don't see anything about books today, let alone a weekly programme devoted to a single book.  Mind you, it ended up being presented by Timmy Mallett, I see, so let's not get carried away...!!!  But not even Jackanory today.  (Don't know why I say 'not even', Jackanory was spectacularly good.)

But lots of those things listed - and the very variety of things listed - are far better than what is on offer today; and there is a notable absence of programmes with telephone votes.

Where are the decent sitcoms today?  There are several in those lists.  Look at what has happened to Horizon - and even to Gardener's World - both programmes survive, but as a shadow of their former selves.

There has not been a drama of the quality of The Jewel in the Crown since...well. probably since The Jewel in the Crown!  Lots of great drama in there, with a good deal of variety just within the dramas listed (Beiderbecke Tapes, Edge of Darkness, Boys from the Blackstuff, etc); there is very little decent drama on TV today, unless it's made by the Americans.

Arena, Bookmark, Play for Today, Face the Music, etc...the equivalents just don't exist any more.

And what today can possibly compete with Highway?!?   Wink   Dear old Harry Secombe.
miranda

Maybe so... but there was so On the Buses, Mind Your Language, The Black and White Minstrel Show .... none of which we have now, thankfully.

I just think we should take our rose-tinted glasses off and stop acting like Chicken Little.

Unless of course, you just like to moan....
Evie

No, I don't just like to moan, I just miss the quality of programmes I used to enjoy, and particularly in terms of literary programmes.  Yes, there was of course a lot of dross then too (and On the Buses is still being repeated on ITV3), but the links you gave have just reminded me of *how* much good stuff there was.  Even the content of some of the programmes that have survived has become more lightweight.

Why is there nothing about books on TV these days?  Why are people like John Carey and Tom Paulin reviled when they appear on Newsnight Review (which itself no longer exists, as far as I can see - the new Review Show was about Barack Obama's influence on culture - not a discussion of what is happening in the arts in terms of discussion of specific plays, books, art exhibitions, etc - it had its problems, certainly, and especially once Mark Lawson left, but even that level of arts discussion has been abandoned).

I am no Chicken Little (or Chicken Licken as she was in my day) - just expressing concerns.  We either just let things happen, or we take a stand - literature is about challenging us to think and question and see deeper into the world around us, and if reading doesn't make us do that, then I don't see the point of it.
TheRejectAmidHair

Miranda, I think we've trod this ground many times before, and I don't know that I'm up to recycling it all over again. But briefly - yes, there was certainly rubbish them as well, but there did use to be documentaries that were more than a sequence of soundbites; there did used to be drama where they didn't cut away every few seconds or so, for fear of losing the audence; there did use to be serious discussion programmes; chat shows broadcast at peak viewing hours weren't embarrassed to have as guests serious writers, classical musicians, scientists and academics; classic plays (the Greeks, Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekhov, Strindberg, etc.) were shown regularly; no-one even thought of inviting celebrities to sit on the panel of Question Time; the idea of inviting celebrities rather than writers and critics and academics to talk about books on a book programme would have been considered silly; films by major film-makers such as Bergman, Renoir, Ray, Bresson, Bunuel, etc. were shown regularly; etc. etc.

miranda wrote:
I just think we should take our rose-tinted glasses off and stop acting like Chicken Little.

Unless of course, you just like to moan....


I find comments such as this insulting on a personal level, and not conducive to polite conversation.
Evie

I just came back to say that I also find the personal comments not very constructive in terms of the discussion - why not debate the points rather than accuse people of 'just moaning'?  I assume I was meant to feel insulted (which, like Himadri, I did - I assume he didn't mean the 'not' early in that sentence!), but that doesn't matter much - it's the lack of interest in discussing things that is more frustrating.  This is a discussion board, after all - we are not 'moaning' for the sake of it, but want to discuss these issues with other readers.
MikeAlx

Jackanory has been revived on CBBC - there's a toddler's version on CBeebies called Jackanory Junior.

The only encouraging move in a Reithian direction I've seen lately is the moderate improvement of Horizon, after years of dumbing down (though it's still way off being as good as something like James Burke's Connections, Carl Sagan's Cosmos, or the Horizons and QEDs of old).

I suppose the fragmentation of the media is probably also a factor here. It was always mostly trashy entertainment on ITV, and a fair bit of trash on BBC1, but BBC2 and Channel 4 used to have good serious programmes. Now that's supposedly displaced to BBC4 and its ilk, but a lot seems to have vanished completely. I find increasingly that I have to turn to radio or podcasts to find anything of value.
TheRejectAmidHair

MikeAlx wrote:
It was always mostly trashy entertainment on ITV...


And even ITV, I remember, broadcast Mozart operas from Glyndebourne; Laurence Olivier's National theatre production of Long Day's Journey Into Night; Three Sisters, Antony & Cleopatra , Macbeth and Othello in Trevor Nunn's productions from the RSC; Jonathan Miller's production of The Merchant of venice; etc. Yes, ITV. How times have changed...
Evie

The revived Jackanory I saw was poor, though!  At least if it has become a regular fixture, that is something - I know they revived it temporarily, but hadn't seen any evidence of it lately.  I haven't seen the junior version, so I hope that's good too.
Evie

Miranda, the whole point of discussion is that people put forward their points of view...what else can I do?  Just pretend I agree with you, or that it doesn't matter to me if people see things differently?  I don't expect you to change your mind - why do you expect me to change mine, just because you think, in this instance, that I am wearing rose-tinted spectacles?  There is no content in a statement like that.  Arguing is fine, that is what we are here for - but just bandying personal comments is pointless.

Argue the points, but don't just resort to insults - and certainly don't resort to pretending that your insults are jokes, I am not going to swallow that one again.  It's so easy to post something, and then say it was just a joke, and it's the other person's 'fault' for taking it seriously - debate gets nowhere if people don't engage with what is actually being said.  

When did Himadri insult you?
miranda

Whatever Evie, obviously you know better than I do what I mean....


I think I've had enough.  I'm leaving the board.  There are other book boards out there where maybe I won't get wound up or insulted by people I don't really care about and whose opinions I don't really care about.  

Sorry to everyone else.
TheRejectAmidHair

Bye bye.
Evie

Again - who has insulted you?

I hope you will change your mind, but if you don't, I hope you find something more to your liking.  I may be misremembering, but I thought you had a degree in philosophy, and would therefore be used to a much higher level of debate than this, so it surprises me slightly that you somehow feel got at.
Evie

I would just like to point out that my previous post (ie two posts back) was in response to very rude post that has been removed - it isn't just me directing a post at Miranda out of thin air!  I am only saying this because I am bound to be cast as the villain again, but I was responding to some particular points.

Anyway - let's carry on discussing why this TV show about books, which is the only one on free-to-air TV as far as I can see, is so poor and what can or should be done about it.
Sandraseahorse

Oh, dear.

I came back from a pleasant evening out listening to a lecture on "Cosi Fan Tutte" which was full of the informed, witty opinion  we don't seem to get on TV these days, to find that my thread had sparked a row.

The point I was trying to make was that in response to complaints the producer had made some changes to the programme, which IMHO were an improvement.  The show is not brilliant but it is marginally better.


May I endorse Evie's comment:
Quote:
Anyway - let's carry on discussing why this TV show about books, which is the only one on free-to-air TV as far as I can see, is so poor and what can or should be done about it.
Evie

Glad the lecture was good, Sandra!

I would actually love to see more lectures on television.  I know they are out of fashion these days, apart from the Christmas science lectures, but surely now that we have all these channels there is room amid all the endless repeats of repeats for something as relatively cheap as a lecture on literature or art or music or whatever...
TheRejectAmidHair

Sandraseahorse wrote:
I came back from a pleasant evening out listening to a lecture on "Cosi Fan Tutte" which was full of the informed, witty opinion  we don't seem to get on TV these days ...


Cosi Fan Tutte is one of my favourites works - in any medium. We (i.e. the whole family) went to see the Glyndebourne touring production last year, and we have  DVD of it that we watch often.

Now, wouldn't it be good to have on television a lecture such as the one you went to?
Caro

I don't recall ever seeing a lecture on television in any era, but maybe we never had them on NZ television.  They wouldn't suit my viewing style which is to wander in and out of the room at will and watch a little bit of something and then come back to the computer or the kettle.  I can hear the television from there so am able to listen.  But I never did watch very thoroughly - I am not a very visual person and watching television without knitting, reading or doing a puzzle seems rather time-wasting to me.  So half of it always passes me by.  

If I want to watch anything properly I have to go to the movies where there are no distractions and I am sat in a seat and have to behave.

Also I would want to ask questions at a lecture and you can't do that to the television much yet.  Some things are just better live.

Cheers, Caro.
Evie

A television equivalent of A Good Read would also work better than the C4 show appears to (I have not seen it) - what this show seems to suffer from is simply not giving enough time to the discussion, and reducing it to virtual soundbites from a group of celebrities.  There is nothing wrong with having Jo Brand, Gok Wan and others discussing books (well, perhaps we need more evidence that Gok Wan actually reads, but in principle...!) - it just needs to be a proper discussion, not just a series of reactions.  A Good Read discusses three books in half an hour, so still very much discussion rather than analysis, with three panellists (including one very excellent permanent host - it doesn't work as well when she is substituted for a less effective presenter).  

Get Melvyn Bragg to chair a weekly discussion of three books with two other readers, drawn from various walks of life, as A Good Read does (actors, journalists, writers, TV presenters, politicians, etc).

But there is also a need for a return to a Bookmark style of programme - 50 minutes on one author, or one book.  Once a month.  

Bring back Bookworm, with Griff Rhys Jones, for family viewing.

There - two weekly half-hour programmes, one monthly longer programme - is it too much to ask?  Fairly cheap to produce too.  Get PD James to sort it out!
TheRejectAmidHair

Yes, if lectures are broadcast on television, it is obviously a disadvantage that one can’t ask questions afterwards. But on the other hand, it would reach a far larger audience. I often notice advertised lectures and debates on cultural matters – literary, political, philosophical, etc. There are, for instance, regular lectures on various matters at the British Museum, and at the London Review of Books bookshop – and these normally get sold out. If this sort of thing were on television, yes, the audience will be small by television standards, but there will be an audience; and it is reasonable, I think, to expect a public service broadcaster to focus, at least sometimes, on quality rather than on viewing figures.

It may legitimately be said, of course, that lectures and discussions are really material for radio rather than for television. And yes, it has to be said that the standards of Radio 3 and of Radio 4 are still pretty high – stratospherically high compared to television! But nonetheless, there are some areas where we may benefit from seeing as well as hearing. In programmes on science and mathematics, for instance, we could certainly benefit from diagrams, or from suitable computer-generated graphics, to help illustrate complex ideas. Also, television really should be an ideal medium for art history, and for art criticism. I don’t mean programmes such as that awful one Waldemar Januszczak did on Manet recently – I mean a programme that actually analyses works of art, and where we can see what is being analysed. Such programmes shouldn’t be very expensive to make either.

Another kid of programme television would be ideal for is film criticism. I don’t mean a lot of people giving opinions on the latest blockbusters – I mean actual analysis. I remember years ago, Channel 4 had a short series of programmes in which scenes from certain films were analysed in terms of such matters as lighting, editing, composition, etc. In one programme, Lindsay Anderson sat with a group of film students, and together, they analysed some scenes from John Ford’s film My Darling Clementine. In another programme. someone from the BFI (I’m sorry – I can’t remember his name) analysed with some students some sequences from Satyajit Ray’s film Apur Sansar.

There are so many other types of programmes that could be made. I remember an early South Bank Show programme where we saw actors from the RSC rehearsing Shakespeare, and talk about (and demonstrate) the art of Shakespearean acting. I remember masterclasses on acting given by Janet Suzman, Brian Cox, and Michael Caine (he spoke about film acting, and it was fascinating). It’s not prohibitive cost that prevents programmes such as this from appearing on our schedules – programmes such as this are actually very cheap to make: it is, rather, a dogged anti-intellectualism that has become so all-pervasive that we hardly notice it any more. The latest book programme, if it really is as bad as it seems from the descriptions here (and I see no reason to doubt these descriptions), is merely yet another tediously predictable manifestation of this.
Hector

It is a shame that the arts are not well catered for on the terrestrial channels although I do agree that we have a tendency to look back on halcyon days which never quite were. However, even taking that into account, things are pretty woeful and certainly worse.

I had the grave misfortune to catch the last ten mins of Sunday's Book programme on 4 and it was indescribably bad. I occasionaly watch the Mariella Frostrup programme on Sky Arts and whilst that does have a tendency to move towards celebrity book choices, the standard of celebrity is, shall we say, much more thoughtful and informed. I don't meen to sound too critical but to hear what Peter Kaye's mate thinks about a book is just not what book discussions should be about.

E/V - I echo your comments about Newsnight Review. A programme which used to be must see but now only something I watch if I am in on a Friday evening. I might watch the odd iplayer segment if there is something that particularly interests me but nothing more than that. I do still enjoy the main Newsnight programme though.

I note it has been mentioned above but the diamond amongst the rough has to be BBC 4. Although dependent a lot on repeats it really does have some excellent arts programmes. Sadly, nothing which fills the aching void of book discussion. This board certainly does help fill that gap though!

Regards

Hector
MikeAlx

Didn't see the Manet programme, but Waldemar's series on Baroque art was pretty good IMO. At least he knows what he's talking about!

Those Michael Caine acting masterclasses were really interesting. I also remember there used to be music ones, especially Paul Tortelier's cello masterclass. But considering they can't even screen Young Musician properly anymore...
Evie

I thought the Baroque one was rubbish - very superficial, and all snazzy camera angles (often up Waldemar's nose, or lingering on his very strange shorts-and-sandal combo, rather than on the art and architecture) and slangy mode of expression for the sake of being hip.  Shame, because he *does* know what he is talking about, he just thinks he has to pretend to be one of the lads.

Still, preferable to Sister Wendy or Tim 'wish I were a Blue Peter presenter' Marlow!

BBC4 is indeed a beacon of hope - there are some marvellous things there - Simon Russell Beale's series on church music is one of the best things there has been on telly in ages, they should use him more.  And a wonderful half-hour programme about the Lewis chessmen, where you hardly saw hide nor hair of a presenter, the focus was on the objects with the voices off camera.  Not that I object to seeing the presenters, it's just the emphasis (take note, Waldemar Janusczak!) on object that I like.

But still very little about books!  They recently did those dramatisations of author's lives (Enid Blyton, etc), but we need more, BBC, more!

There are some good films that meditate on books - Wit, where Emma Thompson is dying of cancer, uses John Donne's 'Death be not proud' to great effect, and The Hours, about Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway through three generations, is excellent.

There are other discussion format programmes - Question Time, all those political magazine programmes (Andrew Marr, even Breakfast), the discussion formula does work well on television (and reaches a wider audience than radio), that amazing interview with Orson Welles for Arena (what about interviews with AS Byatt, Ian McEwan, David Lodge, JK Rowling, Sarah Waters, etc - about their writing, not about their lifestyles!).
Evie

PS - Young Musician is another symptom of the decline in quality - it used to be fabulous, and is now not worth watching.

And those Paul Tortelier masterclasses...wow.  They were what got me playing the cello, I was 11 when they were broadcast, and mesmerised by him and by the sounds a cello could make.

Kenneth Clark did a series on Rembrandt.  Four or five episodes on one artist!  Unthinkable now.  Whatever you think about K.Clark, the idea of an expert giving a series of programmes on one writer, one painter, one composer is hugely appealing.  He just stood there and presented - like the great Huw Wheldon in that wonderful Royal Heritage series - no camera shots of nose hair or battered sandals to distract from the subject matter.
MikeAlx

A while back I was looking at writer interviews on youtube. There were some great in-depth ones from Arena and the South Bank Show. I don't think there's anything like that on TV these days. Somewhere on VHS I have an old Late Show on Roland Barthes - now how often do you get a whole programme about a critic or philosopher these days?

Yes, we could have done with less of Waldemar in his tourist shorts, but I found it a good introduction to a subject I knew little about, and we did get to see some wonderful paintings and architecture. I think it suffered from trying to cram too much into too few programmes.
Evie

This is why I don't accept the rose-tinted spectacles thing - there *were* better programmes in the past, of a kind that simply don't exist any more, and haven't been replaced (let alone with anything better - they have just gone!).  I know because I watched them!
Hector

Slightly on a side topic, has anyone been listening to the 100 objects series on Radio 4? Only heard the five from last week and have mixed feelings to be honest. Clearly a lot of time and thought has gone into it but I come away feeling like there could be more.

It is probably becuse I don't think any item has captured me yet although there are another 90 odd to go. I reckon am a little to hasty.

Regards

Hector
iwishiwas

Just found this today http://savidgereads.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/not-the-tv-book-group/ Some of you good people may be interested.
Apple

Does anone watch Sky Arts they do some quite good programmes?!

As usual I have come late to this discussion, I spotted it and thought I'd take a look as I haven't actually seen the programme in question and thought I'd see if it was worth watching and see what people's reaction to it was.

I was also going to post a reply to Miranda's comment until I read on and saw the fallout which occured but I just want to say, (I'm not having a go in any way shape or form at anyone and I am not blaming anyone or anything) but my immediate reaction to her "or do you just like moaning" comment was laughter, I took it as a joke - just as I took Evie's earlier "litracher s'borin innit" comment as a joke, I gathered that posts have since been deleted as some seem a little disjointed.

But to me the only truely offensive post was by Himadri, I was shocked at his downright nasty and uncalled for comment of Bye Bye! that was seriously below the belt and coming after his last pop at Miranda on another thread, it seems to me he wanted her to go, which isn't in the spirit of the board.
Evie

Perhaps if you had seen Miranda's post, which has been deleted, Himadri's post would not have seemed so shocking.

But let's move on - I thought we had!

I don't have Sky Arts, but have occasionally seen the Mariella Frostrup programme on one of the Sky channels that is available on Freeview.  Sky Arts does seem to have some interesting things - I see the schedules in the Radio Times!
TheRejectAmidHair

Apple wrote:
But to me the only truely offensive post was by Himadri, I was shocked at his downright nasty and uncalled for comment of Bye Bye! that was seriously below the belt and coming after his last pop at Miranda on another thread, it seems to me he wanted her to go, which isn't in the spirit of the board.


Apple, I do not want to go through all this again.

I have not had a pop at Miranda on any previous thread. I have not made any personal comment about anyone on any thread. If you think otherwise, please point out to me (preferrably by PM, because we don't want to bore others with this nonsense) exactly where I have "had a pop at Miranda", as you put it. If you can't do this, then I'd be grateful if you could retract the accusation you made against me. I resent being accused of things I have never done.

I do not want to discuss the behaviour of someone who is no longer on this board, but when someone tells me to my face that I am a person she doesn't care for, and that I am a person whose opinions she doesn't care for, then "Bye bye" seems restrained under the circumstances. I don't need to take this sort of rudeness from anyone.

If you have problems with the way I have behaved, please take it up with me by PM. But please, let us have no more of it on this thread.
Mikeharvey

I just accidentally deleted my response to the above conversation. Part of it was a lament for the decline of 'Radio Times'. Do any readers remember what it used to be like? A literate, entertaining guide to radio and TV with an array of marvellous illustrations by well-known illustrators. The covers were often memorable, especially the Christmas and Easter editions with pictures by people like Edward Ardizzone, Eric Fraser, Lynton Lamb and others. If you want to know hat the quality was like have a look at a book called 'The Art of Radio Times'.  
And who remembers 'The Listener' published by the BBC?  
I wonder is there a market for a serious periodical about TV.  The BFI once started one called 'Contrast' but is lasted only a few issues.
Apple

It is not my fault I only saw this thread this morning, and came late to it, I was meerly adding my opinion to the thread as I saw it, and offering a perspective with fresh eyes on the situation.  After all Himadri you offered your opinion and Evie has offered hers, so as part of the democracy surely I am just as entitled to post mine!

I apologise for my "your pop at Miranda" remarks as that was equally below the belt as yours but as I am just catching up I have only recently read the thread that I was referring to, and it popped into my mind as I wrote, but I accept I should not have used it in my comments but I am prepared to discuss it with you off the board if you wish.

As you say we have all moved on now, but I would like to say that as I said on my previous post I was going to reply to Miranda's post but thought better of it after I saw the fallout, I have changed my mind as I think what I was going to post is valid considering what has happened.




This is what I was going post:
Miranda Wrote:
Quote:
Unless of course, you just like to moan....


Laughing

Of course we all like to moan Miranda...it cleanses the soul!!  Wink
Apple

Mike Wrote:
Quote:
I just accidentally deleted my response to the above conversation. Part of it was a lament for the decline of 'Radio Times'. Do any readers remember what it used to be like? A literate, entertaining guide to radio and TV with an array of marvellous illustrations by well-known illustrators. The covers were often memorable, especially the Christmas and Easter editions with pictures by people like Edward Ardizzone, Eric Fraser, Lynton Lamb and others. If you want to know hat the quality was like have a look at a book called 'The Art of Radio Times'.  


I used to love the Radio Times christmas covers when I was a kid, it was the only time my mum and dad bought one and I always used to love looking throught them at the illustrations!  I don't buy it now, as its so much more expensive than the other TV guides and isn't that much different.
Evie

OK - but we had moved on - let's move on again!

Mike, I too remember how good the RT used to be, and especially those covers.  I still buy it, as it remains the best listings magazine around, and the only one that is any use for radio listings, but the articles in it are not great.
TheRejectAmidHair

Thanks for that, Apple. You are, of course, welcome to PM me on any matter relating to the board.

I remember the old Radio Times, Mike, though not in as much detail as you do. I remember in the early 80s, BBC broadcast a quite superb production of Ibsen’s play Little Eyolf (starring Diana Rigg and Antony Hopkins), and Radio Times carried an interview with the translator Michael Meyer. I remember that particularly as it was that particular broadcast (and that interview with Michael Meyer) that aroused my initial interest in Ibsen.

I suppose this is why I feel so strongly about all this. So much of my own education on so many matters came through television, that I do find it tremendously sad that children now are being deprived of this sort of thing.

I do accept Hector’s point about BBC4, which has made a number of very fine products. It’s a shame that it is effectively a ghetto, but I suppose that’s inevitable given the fragmentation in broadcasting. The problem is that I have got out of the habit of watching television these days, and even when there is a programme I quite fancy watching, I end up missing it. But I did enjoy a programme on BBC4 just before Christmas on the Breugel painting The Arrival at Bethlehem, and it would certainly be unfair of me not to mention this.
Evie

That was quite a good series, about the Christmas paintings - the Van Eyck one was excellent (the Botticelli one less so).  The other was on a Gauguin painting.  Good expert input, strong focus on the paintings (both visually and in terms of spoken content), informative and interesting.

I do wish they would repeat some of the things on BBC2, at least until everyone has switched over to digital reception - I know lots of people still don't have digital receivers (I keep trying to persuade my parents to get a digibox, but they are reluctant - I realise now that I should have bought them one for Christmas!).
Sandraseahorse

If anyone is interested, the book being discussed on the next Channel 4 Book Group show is Sarah Dunant's"Sacred Hearts", which is about nuns in Renaissance times in a convent near Ferrara.

I see from Vita's blog that Sarah Dunant produces mixed emotions but it might be worth a go.

One thing I learnt from the "Cosi Fan Tutte" talk was that in Mozart's times to refer to a girl as being from Ferrara was an 18thC way of calling her an "Essex Girl" - but I'm not sure that that applies to 16thC nuns.
Sandraseahorse

I don't know if anyone is still watching this but I saw the third show and it has vastly improved.

Gok Wan was missing from the panel this week for reasons which were not explained - I don't know if he read the comments about him on the Channel 4 website - and the discussion was much better without him.

The celeb this week was Emilia Fox, who didn't seem to have a book to plug.  She simply talked about the books she read while growing up and what she is currently reading and she was charming and enthusiastic.

The quirky book item was about unusual pub names, which I'll admit I found extremely interesting.

The usual feature on a writer whose sales have been boosted by being a book club choice was Kate Mosse's "Labyrinth".  I'll admit I'm not a fan of the book, which I thought was over-rated and over-hyped, but I enjoyed looking at the shots of her library and of Carcassonne.

I was fascinated by the interview with Sarah Dunant, where she walked around the convent in Ferrara which was the setting for her book "Sacred Hearts."  I've been to Ferrara but not to that convent.

The discussion on the book was lively and generally enthusiastic, except for Jo Brand, who kept saying she couldn't see the point of nuns (perhaps she was just trying to inject some controversy into the discussion?).


Dare I confess I actually enjoyed the show this week?
Mikeharvey

I forgot to watch it this week.  I was engrossed by rewatching 'The Jewel In The Crown' on DVD.
MikeAlx

I saw it - pretty much by accident - and thought it seemed improved compared to reports I'd heard of previous shows. However, it was too brief and the discussion mostly quite superficial. I would have liked a bit more depth and substance to the discussion about Sarah Dunant's book.

The section with Kate Mosse seemed a bit self-congratulatory (for the show) and rather pointless. Didn't tell me much about the author or her books, anyway.
Chibiabos83

I might give it a go. I'm very keen on Emilia Fox for various reasons.
storrrm

Along the same lines of the decline of quality tv, what a crying shame it is that The South Bank Show is no more. I watched the last SBS awards on Sunday and it was a sad occasion with everyone lamenting its passing. As Melvyn Bragg remarked, the cost of making it was only a minute fraction of the cost of making the X Factor.....pity the SBS didn't have a public telephone voting system, maybe they would have kept it!
Freyda

Chibiabos83 wrote:
I might give it a go. I'm very keen on Emilia Fox for various reasons.


Is  one reason because she's a pathologist? Wink
Chibiabos83

I'm struggling to think of anything I've actually seen her in on TV, in fact. My real reason for liking her is that I occasionally read of her musicality. She's a cellist and I have an idea that her musical tastes are considered and interesting. She's exactly the kind of person I'd like to know personally. And she's cute and has an English degree and I like her parents.
Evie

I used to live near her parents, but only met Joanna David once in the street - never saw Edward.

I like her too - including her role in the utterly ludicrous Silent Witness - she and Tom Ward (gorgeous!) are what keep me watching such tosh.
Evie

PS - she was fabulous in the glorious Shooting the Past.  What has happened to Stephen Poliakoff?

Sandra, I am very glad the programme is improving!  Another blog I visit said that the book still only received 10 minutes of discussion, but that is twice as much as in the first episode, by all accounts, and the same time is given to each book on A Good Read on R4.  You can say quite a lot in 10 minutes - but you can also say very little!  It does sound as though the discussion is still pretty superficial, as Mike reports.
Chibiabos83

Oh, Shooting the Past! Of course! She was utterly wonderful in that, but so was everyone involved. Poliakoff's been glimpsed most recently in cinemas - he directed a film, Glorious 39, which came out late last year. Great cast, not great reviews. One to look out for on telly.

The guest on Channel 4's programme next week is John Thomson. On the plus side, A Good Read is back next Tuesday...wait for it...with Sue!
Evie

I have set series record on my PVR for A Good Read, and, since I yet again forgot to listen to The Write Stuff, have set that on series record too - have not used my PVR for radio (except for the Choral Evensong that featured Verity), so am quite excited!  I know I can get them on iPlayer, but often forget until it's too late.
Chibiabos83

Yesterday's Write Stuff was less good than the first one, primarily because the author of the week was Irvine Welsh, which occasioned some of the worst Scottish accents I've ever heard. Fortunately the wonderful Christopher Brookmyre was on the panel, which compensated.
Evie

I would like to apologise publicly to Sandra for continuing to pull this thread off topic!

And also to highlight the fact that I have moved this to a new area - I thought it was too overtly bookish to be in the Chat section.

I might even watch the next episode of the C4 programme, then I would have something relevant to contribute to the thread!  Embarassed
MikeAlx

I'd completely forgotten she was in Shooting the Past. Timothy Spall and Lindsay Duncan rather stole the show, as I recall - Even Billie Whitelaw was rather in their shadow. What a brilliant series that was.
Chibiabos83

Perhaps Gok Wan was absent from last week's book programme because he was recording Desert Island Discs, where he is tomorrow's guest.

This is by way of saying that on Private Passions tomorrow, Radio 3 at 12 noon, the guest is Penelope Wilton. I think I heard it the first time it was broadcast. She chooses some wonderful music and, if I recall correctly, is an altogether delightful guest. That's what you'd expect, anyway. It may appeal to some of you. I'll certainly listen again to it, but not live as I will be trying somehow to meet Monday's 3,000-word essay deadline...
Sandraseahorse

Quote:
I would like to apologise publicly to Sandra for continuing to pull this thread off topic!


No need.  I'm fascinated about how you once lived near Emilia's parents.  Edward Fox and Joanna David have a place in Dorset near my mother and Emilia married in the local church (sadly she's now separated ).

Regarding tonight's Channel 4 book club, I'm not over optimistic with John Thomson on the panel - a "comedian" famous for wearing plastic naked buttocks to a national award ceremony.
MikeAlx

I think he's more a comic actor that comedian, if he's the one I'm thinking of (the one who was in Cold Feet with James Nesbitt?). He does seem to have a somewhat "laddish" persona though.
Evie

Sandra - in the very late 1980s, I lived in Maida Vale/Paddington - Little Venice, as it's slightly pretentiously known! - in one of those lovely mansion blocks; JD and EF lived further up the street.

Wasnt Emilia married to Jared Harris, son of Richard?  It is sad that they have separated - I read about that.  He is currently one of the best things in the American TV drama Mad Men - and he sounds very much like his father!
mike js

Emilia Fox - ooh, I say.

I finally caught a bit of this programme, yesterday. Martine McCutcheon was there to talk a bit about her novel. It's a celebrity author thing, but she seemed fairly straightforward about her motives, and that originally she wanted to write something to give herself an acting part.

I guess it is a celebrity presenter thing too. To be honest I was half switched-off when I watched it, so if there was any depth there I wouldn't have noticed. But at least it's an attempt, and some useful opinions I hope. And losing Richard Madeley has to be a step forward. Shame about Go whasname, but he wasn't on this one (or my mind has blanked it).

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