April 21st, 2005


Around the TV set in ...

I've really enjoyed Dan Cruickshank's Around the World in 80 Treasures on BBC2 over the past few weeks. As a traveller, his trademark panama hat make him appear rather Ustinov-esque, but his mannerisms are more British: more George Smiley than Hercule Poirot (though that isn't right, either: he's far too energetic, and probably too young, to be George Smiley).

In contrast, Dr Simon Thurley's Building Britain last Saturday was interesting but not compelling. As an architectural history, it was skin deep, and had moments of reactionaryism. But it was interesting to hear the discussion about Church evolution and re-use, where they were torn down and rebuilt in the Reformation on the continent, and alarming to hear that the BBC intended to play The Archers back-to-back in the event of a nuclear strike. As Ruth Archer would say, "Ooh Nooo!"

And we've seen the last of Bremner, Bird and Fortune for a while too. All is not lost TV-wise, of course. There's still Doctor Who, and a new series of everyone's favourite property porn, Grand Designs. I wonder whether a 900-year-old Type 40 time machine, one rather careless owner, is cheaper than a cardboard box in the south-east these days?

Goodbye Hitler

By coincidence, it was the eve of the anniversary of the beginning of the battle for Berlin when kharin and I went to see Downfall. Recently, Slavoj Zizek wrote in the London Review of Books: "you can make Goodbye Lenin!, but Goodbye Hitler! is unthinkable." In the most literal sense, however, that is exactly what Oliver Hirschbiegel has done. But comedy it isn't; it's two and a half hours of brilliant but harrowing fact-based drama, depicting a view of the last few weeks of the Third Reich from within Hitler's bunker.

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