News

David Rose obituary

Producer of Z Cars for BBC Television who later became the driving force behind Channel 4’s Film on Four movie output

When Channel 4 was launched in 1982, its brief was to be distinctive and innovative. As a senior commissioning editor and then head of drama until 1990, David Rose, who has died aged 92, took up that challenge for the movies produced under the banner of Film on Four, with many successes including Neil Jordan’s Angel (1982) and Mona Lisa (1986), David Leland’s Wish You Were Here (1987) and Mike Leigh’s High Hopes (1988).

Two decades earlier, Rose had been breaking new ground at BBC Television, as the first official producer of its police series Z Cars, and he went on to invigorate regional drama for the corporation. Among the writers whose talents he nurtured were Alan Plater, David Rudkin and Alan Bleasdale – and David Hare was astonished and delighted by his boldness.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

A Very British Coup box set review: ‘a startlingly prescient, first-class governmental drama’

Ray McAnally is superb as the former steelworker-turned-prime minister Harry Perkins, who counters the dirty tricks of a threatened establishment with wit and heaps of political nous

It is the near future. After a wave of public revulsion at the excesses of corrupt bankers, the Labour party has enjoyed a landslide victory under a far-left leader. He’s got a mandate to revitalise the British economy on a more equitable basis and ditch the UK’s nuclear deterrent. His rise to power surprises and horrifies the establishment, as well as the Us, who assumed he was the usual “bungling incompetent” under whose leadership previous attempts at British socialism had run aground. They tried every dirty trick on him, particularly media vilification. The Times, says the Pm in his victory speech, called him a “simple-minded fool”. He duly takes the opportunity to thank the mass of “simple-minded fools” who just voted him into office.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

The Forgotten: Richard Lester's "Juggernaut" (1974)

  • MUBI
Inspired by the Richard Lester retrospective at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, August 7-13.When the great Omar Sharif died recently, the BBC's coverage of the sad event included clips from Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago, of course, and then cut to Richard Lester's Juggernaut just as the voice-over commented on the declining quality of Sharif's later films, causing me to splutter into my cocoa and pen angry letters to Auntie Beeb in my mind, for Juggernaut is a fantastic example of seventies British cinema. It's what I remember seventies Britain being like. The Christmas scene in Ken Russell's Tommy has the same effect on me, but that's because I was a kid in the seventies.Brown and orange color schemes, older men with long hair, and grim political discussions that went over my head but seemed to portend explosive doom: that was the United Kingdom in Ad 1974. In Juggernaut,
See full article at MUBI »

‘The Ribald Tales of Canterbury / Tasty’ Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

The Ribald Tales Of Canterbury

(dir: Bud Lee, 1985)

We’ve all been there at some point. A long journey with nothing to do. All of a sudden, someone comes up with the idea of sharing stories and laughs to help pass the time. Yeah, maybe not everyone has been there, but I had to set the scene somehow right? The first film on this double feature release from Vinegar Syndrome follows the journey of a group of noblemen and women headed by the Hostess Hyapatia Lee (Let’s Get Physical) en route to Canterbury. She proposes a wager with her fellow travellers. Each places the grand sum of 20 pence in to a small pouch and whoever can recall the best erotic tale on their journey wins all. It’s certainly a novel way to pass the time! The stories range from a humble knight having a surprising (in the best
See full article at Blogomatic3000 »

Letter: Bridget Turner’s role in Get Lost!

Related: Bridget Turner obituary

I’d like to add to Michael Coveney’s recollections of Bridget Turner. She gave a fine performance as a radical English teacher, Judy Threadgold, opposite Alun Armstrong’s woodwork teacher in Alan Plater’s Get Lost! This was an ITV series in four parts, shown in 1981. When Armstrong proved to be unavailable for a sequel, Plater took its theme of people going missing as the basis for The Beiderbecke Affair, the first of three series with a different cast.

Continue reading...
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Lee Hall: Spielberg, Scargill and me

On the 30th anniversary of the miners' strike, Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall talks about Thatcher's death, being fired from War Horse – and finding the lead for his Elton John musical

I'm watching Billy Elliot the Musical in a state of shock. Forget the movie – this is incendiary drama, militant to its core. Not only does it open with Labour MP Herbert Morrison's paean to the newly nationalised mines and common ownership ("Now I want you men of the pits to come through ... The great experiment of socialism in a democracy depends on you"), it also pre-empts the passing of Margaret Thatcher with a feelgood singalong: "We all sing together in one breath/ Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher/ We all celebrate today/ 'Cause it's one day closer to your death."

The astonishing thing is that the musical, with tunes provided by the not notably radical Elton John, has been a worldwide success,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Six novelists on their favourite second artform

  • The Guardian - TV News
Writers often worry about the dangers of outside influence, but what about the non-literary inspirations they are far more comfortable admitting to? Andrew O'Hagan talks to six novelists about their passion for a second artform

The divine counsels decided, once upon a time, that influence is bad and that too much agency is the enemy of invention. Harold Bloom can't be blamed for that: he certainly pointed to the danse macabre of influence and anxiety, but to him the association was perfectly creative. Elsewhere, writers have always been blamed for being too much like other writers, or too much like themselves, and even now, in the crisis of late postmodernism, we find it hard to believe that writers might live happily in a state of influence and cross-reference. Yet anybody who knows anything about writers knows that they love their sweet influences.

What I've noticed, though, is that the influences
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Six novelists on their favourite second artform

  • The Guardian - Film News
Writers often worry about the dangers of outside influence, but what about the non-literary inspirations they are far more comfortable admitting to? Andrew O'Hagan talks to six novelists about their passion for a second artform

The divine counsels decided, once upon a time, that influence is bad and that too much agency is the enemy of invention. Harold Bloom can't be blamed for that: he certainly pointed to the danse macabre of influence and anxiety, but to him the association was perfectly creative. Elsewhere, writers have always been blamed for being too much like other writers, or too much like themselves, and even now, in the crisis of late postmodernism, we find it hard to believe that writers might live happily in a state of influence and cross-reference. Yet anybody who knows anything about writers knows that they love their sweet influences.

What I've noticed, though, is that the influences
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

How Margaret Thatcher left her mark on British culture

From Meryl Streep's Iron Lady to Spitting Image and the Spice Girls, Observer writers and critics pick the films, books, art, music and TV that show Thatcher's lasting influence

Art, chosen by Laura Cumming

Treatment Room (1983)

In Richard Hamilton's installation, Thatcher administered her own harsh medicine from a video above the operating table with the viewer as helpless patient: a case of kill or cure.

Taking Stock (1984)

Hans Haacke portrayed Thatcher enthroned, nose in the air like a gun-dog, surrounded by images of Queen Victoria, the Saatchi brothers and, ominously, Pandora. Caused national furore.

In the Sleep of Reason (1982)

Mark Wallinger edited Thatcher's 1982 Falklands speech from blink to blink, fading to black in between, emphasising her solipsistic tendency to close her eyes when speaking as if nobody else existed.

The Battle of Orgreave (2001)

Jeremy Deller's restaged the worst conflict of the miners' strike from multiple viewpoints, uniting
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

How Margaret Thatcher left her mark on British culture

  • The Guardian - TV News
From Meryl Streep's Iron Lady to Spitting Image and the Spice Girls, Observer writers and critics pick the films, books, art, music and TV that show Thatcher's lasting influence

Art, chosen by Laura Cumming

Treatment Room (1983)

In Richard Hamilton's installation, Thatcher administered her own harsh medicine from a video above the operating table with the viewer as helpless patient: a case of kill or cure.

Taking Stock (1984)

Hans Haacke portrayed Thatcher enthroned, nose in the air like a gun-dog, surrounded by images of Queen Victoria, the Saatchi brothers and, ominously, Pandora. Caused national furore.

In the Sleep of Reason (1982)

Mark Wallinger edited Thatcher's 1982 Falklands speech from blink to blink, fading to black in between, emphasising her solipsistic tendency to close her eyes when speaking as if nobody else existed.

The Battle of Orgreave (2001)

Jeremy Deller's restaged the worst conflict of the miners' strike from multiple viewpoints, uniting
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Rewind TV: Secret State; Dara O Briain's Science Club; Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature; Imagine – review

Political thriller Secret State was stripped of ideology and a plot, while Dara O Briain had a decent stab at making science sexy

Secret State C4|4oD

Dara O Briain's Science Club BBC2 | iPlayer

Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature BBC1 | iPlayer

Imagine BBC1 | iPlayer

In an age when politics lacks any great thrills, it appears harder to make a great political thriller. The last one that comes readily to mind was Paul Abbott's State of Play, which was way back in 2003, during Tony Blair's eventful second term as prime minister. But since then the air has seeped out of the Westminster bubble and not even the prospect of global economic collapse has succeeded in reflating public interest or screenwriters' conspiratorial imagination. The Killing and Borgen suggest the Danes know how to breathe life into coalition politics but so far it's an art for which British TV
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Rewind TV: Secret State; Dara O Briain's Science Club; Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature; Imagine – review

Political thriller Secret State was stripped of ideology and a plot, while Dara O Briain had a decent stab at making science sexy

Secret State C4|4oD

Dara O Briain's Science Club BBC2 | iPlayer

Richard Hammond's Miracles of Nature BBC1 | iPlayer

Imagine BBC1 | iPlayer

In an age when politics lacks any great thrills, it appears harder to make a great political thriller. The last one that comes readily to mind was Paul Abbott's State of Play, which was way back in 2003, during Tony Blair's eventful second term as prime minister. But since then the air has seeped out of the Westminster bubble and not even the prospect of global economic collapse has succeeded in reflating public interest or screenwriters' conspiratorial imagination. The Killing and Borgen suggest the Danes know how to breathe life into coalition politics but so far it's an art for which British TV
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Tony Scott and the image of northern England

The brothers-in-film have been brilliant and Tony Scott will be sadly missed. He and Sir Ridley have also been part of a fascinating process: the creation of an unreal world beloved of London - and therefore of the UK's decision-makers

The careers of Tony Scott and his brother Sir Ridley are exemplars of how the talent of the north of England will out, in their case from Grangefield grammar at Stockton (whose alumni also include the novelist and Booker Prizewinner Pat Barker) and West Hartlepool college of art.

Both places are still part of the local education system although in different forms, as might be expected after more than half a century, Grangefield as a comprehensive technology college and West Hartlepool as part of Cleveland college of art and design. They continue a grand tradition which played a major part in an area requiring artistic and design talent for its
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

James Grout obituary

Stage and screen actor best known for his role as Chief Superintendent Strange in Inspector Morse

James Grout, who has died aged 84, was a supporting actor of authority and distinction best known on television for playing Inspector Morse's boss, Chief Superintendent Strange, as well as a gallery of prominent characters in other much-loved series. He was the flustered party whip in Yes Minister; a blunt-speaking judge, Ollie Oliphant, in John Mortimer's Rumpole of the Bailey; and an affluent, slightly dodgy businessman, Mr McAllister, in Alan Plater's The Beiderbecke Affair.

Tall and increasingly rotund as he grew older, Grout had an immensely wide-ranging career on stage, radio and television for more than 50 years. He was renowned for having a great voice, noted by the critic Harold Hobson in 1950 when, as a graduating Rada student, Grout recited from Don Marquis's The Dark Hours – words, said Hobson, that "seemed
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

[Interview] ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ Writer Simon Beaufoy Talks Adaptation Process, ‘The Hunger Games’ & More

Winning an Oscar is a life-changing event, even as we all acknowledge how silly it all seems. When Simon Beaufoy, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire discusses his craft, one tends to listen. I was afforded such an opportunity recently, as Simon sat down with myself and a few other journalists to discuss his latest film, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, his directorial past and future ambitions, the daunting task of adapting Catching Fire, the second book in The Hunger Games series, and his next possible project with director Slumdog and 127 Hours helmer Danny Boyle. The following is a transcript of interview questions asked by myself and other journalists at a recent roundtable session with the writer.

So this project, you adapted from the book, and the book is written in a very unconventional style.

It’s an epistolary novel, like Dracula.

A lot of people look at a
See full article at The Film Stage »

This week's cultural highlights: The Recruiting Officer and Picasso

Our critics' picks of this week's openings, plus your last chance to see and what to book now

• Which cultural events are in your diary this week? Tell us in the comments below

Opening this week

Theatre

• Reasons to be Cheerful

Raucous, rude and really rather joyful, the Graeae theatre company's musical – set in 1979 as Thatcher comes to power, and inspired by the music of Ian Dury – is terrific fun. It's good to have it back. New Wolsey, Ipswich (01473 295 900), until 18 February, then touring.

• The Recruiting Officer

Josie Rourke's first show as the Donmar's new artistic director is a revival of an early 18th-century comedy. Mackenzie Crook, Mark Gatiss and Nancy Carroll are part of a strong cast. All eyes will be watching. Donmar, London WC2 (0844 871 7624), until 14 April.

Film

A Dangerous Method (dir. David Cronenberg)

Freud, Jung and their patient-acquaintance Sabina Spielrein ignite psychological problems. On general release.

Dance

Blanca Li
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

The Trials and Triumphs of Les Dawson by Louis Barfe – review

A new life of Les Dawson celebrates a great British comic talent too often overlooked

It's May 1967, in the days when Britain really had talent. Hughie Green is hosting yet another of his Opportunity Knocks. And here, at last, comes fame, banging on the door of a tubby, pudding-faced Manchester comedian. What – first gag – would he pick for his Desert Island Disc? "I toyed with the idea of playing Ravel's 'Pavane pour une infante defunte' but I couldn't remember if it's a tune or Latin prescription for piles. Mind you, I've always been musical… Mother used to sit me on her knee and I'd whisper, 'Mummy, Mummy, sing me a lullaby do,' and she'd say: 'Certainly my angel, my wee bundle of happiness, hold my beer while I fetch me banjo.'" Collapse of stout national TV audience. Les Dawson is on his way.

That single big break matters hugely.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Six to watch: TV soldiers

With Eddie Redmayne's performance in Birdsong dividing viewers, we take a look at the dramas featuring some of TV's finest soldiers

The BBC is having something of a happy new year when it comes to Sunday-night drama, with Call the Midwife providing bumper ratings, and Sherlock giving drama fans a welcome January filip. This weekend sees the final part of the corporation's two-part dramatisation of Sebastian Faulks's first world war drama Birdsong, adapted by the screenwriter of the moment, Abi Morgan. Viewers – and critics – have been split in their reactions to it: some praising the drama's long, painterly shots and sparse dialogue; others criticising the slow pace and Eddie Redmayne's central performance.

Whichever side of the divide you fall, there's little arguing that the scale and waste of the first world war is still laid bare for the viewer. Perhaps that's why many of the six TV
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Whatever the size, your TV is still just a TV

I was looking forward to seeing Juggernaut on TCM not too long ago when I saw it show up on the classics channel’s schedule. Even in this cable/download/Netflix age of constant program recycling, the movie rarely shows up on TV, maybe because it had been such an instant and complete flop when released theatrically in 1974. Still, this UK-produced film has always been one of my pet favorites, a flick I have long felt died an undeserved death, and I was psyched at the chance to see it again.

In synopsis, I admit the movie doesn’t sound like much. Or perhaps I should say it sounds way too familiar. A nutcase has put seven bombs on an ocean liner and threatens to sink the ship unless he’s given a ransom of £500,000. The ship is far from land, no other vessels are close enough to render assistance,
See full article at SoundOnSight »

Alastair Reid obituary

Director of television drama, including the ground-breaking Tales of the City and Traffik

Alastair Reid, who has died aged 72, was one of Britain's finest directors of television drama. In 1989 he directed all six episodes of Simon Moore's epic drug drama Traffik for Channel 4, which won him both a Bafta and an International Emmy. The Oscar-winning film Traffic (2000) was based on the mini-series; the consensus among critics today is that Alastair's Traffik is the more successful of the two productions.

In 1991 he directed the five-part Selling Hitler, adapted by Howard Schuman from Robert Harris's book, with Barry Humphries as Rupert Murdoch and Alan Bennett as Hugh Trevor-Roper. Then came Tales of the City (1993), an adaptation by Richard Kramer of Armistead Maupin's novel set in the San Francisco of the 1970s, and the only instance to date of an American drama series being entirely funded by a British broadcaster – Channel 4.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »
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