fri 18/01/2019

BBC Four

The Dead Room, BBC Four review - ghosts at the microphone

Fired by the spirit of the MR James ghost stories which used to be a Christmas staple on the BBC, Mark Gatiss conceived this amusing bonne bouche as both a seasonal chiller and a nod to the ghost of broadcasting past. In passing, he also managed to...

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The Sound of Movie Musicals with Neil Brand, BBC Four review - genius of song and dance

The movie musical: money making or true art – or both? This was a programme to sing along to, in the company of Judy Garland and Gene Kelly, Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard. In this second instalment of Neil Brand’s brilliant three-part history, he...

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Barbra Streisand: Becoming an Icon 1942-1984, BBC Four review - the way she was

Perhaps belatedly prompted by the release of Barbra Streisand’s new album Walls, the worst-selling disc in her 55 years with Columbia Records, this documentary was an uncritical celebration of Babs’s brilliant career from her first stage appearances...

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Our Classical Century, BBC Four review - enthusiasm and delight

Jerusalem! This fact-studded story of 20th century British music told us that the nation's unofficial national anthem, Hubert Parry’s setting of William Blake’s poem, originated in 1916 as a commission from the “Fight for Right” movement. Officials...

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WW1: The Last Tommies, BBC Four review - Great War stories

“Why should I go out and kill somebody I never knew? There was no reason at all in it in my way of thinking.” Britain’s very last Tommy was Harry Patch, born in 1898, conscripted in 1916 and still alive on his 111th birthday in 2009. He was one of...

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Barneys, Books and Bust Ups, BBC Four review - the Booker Prize at 50

You had to keep your eyes skinned. Was that Iris Murdoch or AS Byatt, Kingsley Amis or John Banville, Margaret Atwood or Val McDermid – maybe, even, Joanna Lumley? Tables as far as the eye can see, dressed with white tablecloths and crowded with...

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Classic Albums: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black, BBC Four review - suffering turned into song

Formats are second nature to TV: the BBC and Eagle Rock’s Classic Albums will run and run. Like all formats, there’s always the risk that the medium becomes the message, and content suffers under the weight of form. But Classic Albums at least...

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Murder in Soho: Who Killed Freddie Mills?, BBC Four review - cold case solved?

They don’t make boxers like Freddie Mills any more. A granite lump of grinning charisma, he had a brow and jawline straight from a kids’ cartoon and, despite his humble origins and thuggish contours, a charmingly well-to-do voice. Mills was light...

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Hidden, Series Finale, BBC Four review - a whydunnit, not a whodunnit

Some contend that this Snowdonia-set mystery was a Scandi hommage too far, a mere recycler of gloom-shrouded riffs familiar from the likes of The Bridge or The Killing. Well yes, there was that element to it, but if you stuck with it it grew into...

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Duran Duran: There's Something You Should Know / A Night In, BBC Four, review - chaps on film

Forty years on. You could have got attractive odds on Duran Duran still being here when, on a yacht carving the seas off Antigua, a cream-suited Simon Le Bon mimed “Rio” astride an unapologetically phallic bowsprit. “A ripple in a stagnant pool,”...

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Hidden, BBC Four review - a death in Snowdonia

Nordic shmordic. Why travel to Scandinavia to get your dark, disturbing mysteries when you can find them in Wales? You even get subtitles for an extra frisson of otherness.Hidden (or Craith in Welsh) stems from the same BBC Cymru Wales/S4C...

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Africa: A Journey Into Music, BBC Four review - too little, too late?

BBC Four is the TV music equivalent of those oldsters music mags like Q and Mojo. Have there been five, or is it six, documentaries about Queen on the channel? You can sense the commissioners feeling with this new series they have now done...

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