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14 items from 2016

Clive James: ‘Mickey Rooney hammed it up rotten as Puck’

17 September 2016 12:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Young male actors should still take note of how Rooney observed the pentameter in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Once again, I have finished reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It gets more marvellous every time. I will read it again if I can. What I certainly won’t be doing is going out to see it, although it is sometimes hard to follow in the text. The two main girls, Hermia and Helena, are often hard to pick apart, a task that gets trickier when, magicked by the forest, they swap their affections for those two rather dreary blokes. Although one of the girls is specified as being as tall as the other is small, in the text that doesn’t show up.

But one of the privileges of being increasingly vague, surely, is to skip the detail and spend more time admiring the essential. Shakespeare makes it clear »

- Clive James

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Clive James: ‘People have come to talk about my book. Sadly, not all of them have read it’

10 September 2016 12:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

I long ago learned what to do – you give a precis of your book’s best bits

If predictions are correct about verse being a dying art, those of us who persist in writing it would probably be wise to forget altogether about getting published, and just send our latest poem to each other as an email. Each of us would have a list of names, not all of them fools. It would be a low-profile solution, however, and not many poets would get as famous as Seamus Heaney, who, in Bellaghy, is about to have a whole memorial building opened in his honour, with a coffee bar. Richly deserved, too. And on a suitable scale: he was a giant.

Related: Clive James: adventures in box sets, from The West Wing to Weeds

Related: Clive James: 'I won't get to Barry Humphries' new show, but I can tell »

- Clive James

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Nocturnal Animals review – Tom Ford returns with wildly gripping revenge tale

2 September 2016 3:49 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal star in this superb second feature from the fashion designer turned film director – a pitch-black thriller to make you queasy with tension and regret

There’s a double-shot of horror and Nabokovian despair in this outrageously gripping and absorbing meta mystery-thriller from director Tom Ford, adapted by him from the 1993 novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright. It’s a movie with a double-stranded narrative – a story about a fictional story which runs alongside – and it pulls off the considerable trick of making you care about both equally, something I think The French Lieutenant’s Woman never truly managed. Clive James once wrote that talk about “levels of reality” never properly acknowledges that one of these levels is really real. That probably holds true. But in Nocturnal Animals, these levels are equally powerful, and have an intriguingly queasy and potent interrelation.

Ford has surely raised »

- Peter Bradshaw

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Critic-proof TV: from Mrs Brown's Boys to The Big Bang Theory

25 August 2016 12:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Trashed by reviewers, Mrs Brown’s Boys has still been voted best sitcom of the 21st century by its many fans. We look at six other badly reviewed TV behemoths

Related: Mrs Brown's Boys voted best sitcom of 21st century

One Sunday in 1975, actor Ross Ellis opened his Observer to see what the critics made of Poldark, the new BBC costume drama in which he was starring. At the end of the review of the week’s telly, Clive James wrote: “And, oh yes – there is Poldark, which I notice is an anagram for Old Krap. I rest my case.”

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- Stuart Jeffries

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Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook by Clive James – review

14 August 2016 11:30 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

The veteran critic’s exploration of the recent golden age of Us TV drama is an invigorating blend of wit and insight

Everyone who has written television criticism since the 1970s, including this reviewer, has done so in the long shadow of Clive James. Writing his TV review for this newspaper from 1972 to 1982, he effectively turned a column into a genre, and did so with a wit and a learning unlikely to be equalled.

There’s an impulse to speak in the reflective language of the obituarist with James simply because, by his own reckoning and that of his doctors, he has been poised at life’s final credits for several years. Yet his various terminal ailments have not hindered his output either as a poet or a critic.

To a degree of head-nodding that made my neck ache, I found myself agreeing with James's judgments

Related: Clive James: »

- Andrew Anthony

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Autism should not equal unattractive | Letters

9 August 2016 12:39 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Clive James tells us that “any male hetero viewer [would] think twice about angling for a lift” from Saga Norén (the character in The Bridge) because she has what he terms “a case of near autistic something-or-other” (Weekend, 6 August). On the next page Carrie Mathison, the character in Homeland, is described as bipolar and beautiful. So there we have it: one condition (autistic spectrum disorder) makes a character unattractive, the other (bipolar disorder) does not.

As someone diagnosed with Asperger syndrome I am only too aware that autism is still treated with mockery and contempt. This is the last acceptable form of prejudice. I am disappointed, however, that Clive James, an author I have admired for most of my life, should display this form of prejudice so casually.

Colin Armstrong


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- Letters

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Clive James: adventures in box sets, from The West Wing to Weeds

6 August 2016 1:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Clive James loves to read, but nothing beats a box set binge. He salutes his greatest passions

It seems an age ago now, and it was. Between 1972 and 1982, I wrote a weekly column about television, and by the end of my stint I preened myself as being fairly clued up on the subject. I signed off with a confident prediction that the droll sarcasm of the desk sergeant Phil Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) in Hill Street Blues was about as clever as American television would ever get. For a couple of decades it looked as if I might be right – and then the cable channels, arising out of nowhere, suddenly outflanked the networks, which, in their turn, were obliged to raise their game.

Since my polite but insidious form of leukaemia was diagnosed in early 2010, it has been more often dormant than not. Early on, a programme of chemo sent it »

- Clive James

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Clive James: I've been reliving my years as a TV critic, though this time with adverts

23 July 2016 12:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

I forget what product this advert sells, and I have seen it about 100 times. Did you hear that, creatives? I have seen your dumb creation over and over, and I still don’t remember what product you’re selling

In my granddaughter’s Phoenix comic, there is a story with a recurring feature called The Well Of Infinite Gravy. The invisible well is a time tunnel that does double service as a brain scrambler. You fall into it now and come out again some time ago, with your brains on backwards. Or at any rate I do.

This week, I had a bad Infinite Gravy experience when I not only forgot a hospital appointment – something I take pride in not doing – but I spent several evenings compulsively reliving my years as a TV critic. The infinite gravy twist was that I found myself making notes about commercials that get their »

- Clive James

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BBC to make Les Misérables for TV with War and Peace team

21 July 2016 6:53 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Producer Harvey Weinstein and screenwriter Andrew Davies on board for adaptation based on novel rather than hit musical

The BBC is to make a six-part adaptation of Les Misérables with the team behind War and Peace, including producer Harvey Weinstein and screenwriter Andrew Davies.

The new six-hour drama will be based on the 19th century classic novel by Victor Hugo, rather than the award-winning musical, and will air on BBC1.

Related: Andrew Davies: my Les Misérables will be nothing like 'shoddy farrago' musical

Related: Clive James: how did the BBC’s War And Peace measure up?

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- John Plunkett

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Clive James: ‘Bob Geldof dropped the F-bomb in his show about Yeats’

15 April 2016 10:00 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

He was the perfect sonic fit

Trigger warning: this essay contains heteronormative material. As a sick man whose internal clock is so out of whack that it ticks in no other direction except towards silence, I am often up late in search of junk TV shows and bad movies that will lull me to sleep. In that condition I am grateful even for Steven Seagal movies, some of which could lull a charging herd of wildebeest. But there is a danger, when clicking among the scrapyard channels, that I will be suddenly confronted with those ephebic 118 twins who run around, pause, pose and run around again.

Full of benevolence in my declining hours, I want to see nobody done out of a job, but I have to say that I had been expecting these two to be gone by now. Instead, they are still there. Only last night, while Steven Seagal »

- Clive James

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Run, Dermot! Run while you still can! Dermot O'Leary returns to X Factor

29 March 2016 3:04 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Simon Cowell has published a cheery, if creepy, press release heralding the presenter’s comeback. But O’Leary would do well to stay away

“Dermot’s back! Hooray! And so is his dancing! Welcome home, Dermot.”

That’s a quote by Simon Cowell, heralding Dermot O’Leary’s return to The X Factor. Because, yes, Dermot O’Leary is returning to The X Factor. He didn’t host last year and, in his absence, the show became a weird ham-fisted parody of itself. Watching the last series of The X Factor was like watching the sort of horrific Lithuanian variety show that Clive James would disbelievingly introduce in 1982, where everyone’s drunk and perpetually on the verge of tears. It was like watching the end of civilisation itself.

Related: Dermot O’Leary to return to The X Factor after a year away

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- Stuart Heritage

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Clive James: I got used to Hollywood, but never got used to the teeth

18 March 2016 10:59 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Americans want their teeth to prove that eternal youth is a social obligation

This winter I’ve hardly stirred out of doors. I can’t walk far and it takes me two minutes to get out of a taxi. But this week I had a dental appointment. I went to it, wondering why: for someone in my condition, keeping a date with the dentist is a testimony to one’s faith in doctors. You have to bet that the stuff the doctors do will give you enough extra time to show off the stuff that the dentist does. What do you want for the 10 minutes you’ve got left, a smile like George Clooney’s? Trigger warning: there will be teethist remarks in this essay.

I’m lucky with my dentist. He plays good jazz records in the background and his hygienist, when she’s got my mouth jacked open, »

- Clive James

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Clive James: ‘Leslie Nielsen made a gun of his fingers and shot me. I shot back’

19 February 2016 10:00 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

In my career as a television interviewer, Nielsen was up there with William Shatner as the funniest man I ever met

I’ve been reading The Tempest again. I suppose that if Shakespeare were writing it now, he would have to call it The Extreme Weather Event, but in those days the language was in better shape. No poetry has ever been more beautiful than Prospero’s “Our revels now are ended” speech, which is likely to ring bells for any old man getting set to quit the world. Caliban, however, sounds so like an internet troll that he could easily be updated into a modern version.

It’s not necessarily a doomed task. Back in 1956, Forbidden Planet, one of the first big-budget sci-fi movies, drew on the characters of The Tempest to thicken the plot. I saw it several times in a row, and not just because Anne Francis »

- Clive James

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Clive James: ‘Jeremy Corbyn is a student at heart’

29 January 2016 10:00 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Students seem to be convinced that if they talk long enough, they can save the world for justice. I was one of them once, and perhaps I was nicer then

For his plan to retain Trident submarines but subtract the nuclear warheads from them, Jeremy Corbyn has been mocked, but perhaps should be praised. His scheme would fit a pattern in which Britain has aircraft carriers but no aircraft to go on them; and it would be another step towards keeping guns but banning bullets, thus to rule out war as a national policy. I admire the way his principles are uninhibited by reason. I also like his beard, which reminds me of one of the beards I grew at various times in my life when I wished to prove I was still a student, even though the years had passed. Corbyn is a student at heart. I was part »

- Clive James

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14 items from 2016, Inc. takes no responsibility for the content or accuracy of the above news articles, Tweets, or blog posts. This content is published for the entertainment of our users only. The news articles, Tweets, and blog posts do not represent IMDb's opinions nor can we guarantee that the reporting therein is completely factual. Please visit the source responsible for the item in question to report any concerns you may have regarding content or accuracy.

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