This series is a huge disappointment, and it seems to suffer from a
lack of identity: the show seems unable to decide whether it is
targeted at an audience that is seriously interested in British film,
or whether it is targeted at the audience for the BBC's other 'talking
heads'/clip show programmes, who may have only a marginal interest in
The series has many problems: the episodes are poorly-structured, and
would really benefit from the application of a more chronological
structure. Although there are some good interviews with the likes of
Michael Caine and Richard Attenborough, each show seems padded out with
irrelevant comments from television 'personalities' and comedians such
as Richard Bacon and Al Murray. Mostly, these seem to have been
presented in a similar way to the aforementioned clip shows, in which
it seems the producers sit these 'celebrities' in front of a few clips
and then ask them to comment on what they have seen on screen. Mostly,
this results in comments which are, at best, trite; and generally, the
comments simply describe what is already apparent to the viewers who
have just watched the same clip/s. This level of discussion is also
brought out in the poorly-scripted 'jokey' narration by Jessica Hynes.
The show could really benefit from dispensing with the interviews with
these 'celebrities', and it would also benefit strongly from an on
screen narrator who has some authority within the subject--somebody
like Chris Frayling, for example. Whilst there are some academic
commentators, their comments are few and far between.
I can imagine that the show has pleased neither those who have a
serious interest in British cinema, nor those whose interest in the
topic is only passing: it's too jokey and not critical enough for those
who have a serious interest in the topic, and I would imagine that the
show loses most of its casual viewers whenever it tries to get a little
more serious, dealing with, say, the films of Powell and Pressburger.
All in all, this series was a great opportunity to celebrate the
diversity and development of British film culture, but thanks to the
decisions made by the production team the series seems like a 'dumbed
down' guide to British film (a 'Dummy's Guide to British Cinema'). It's
a huge disappointment.
10 of 12 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?