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Spectator Play: Audio and video for what we’ve reviewed this week

5 April 2013

If you succumbed to Downton fever, then the BBC’s latest period-drama, The Village, might have attracted your attention. But if it was Downton Revisited that you were after, you might have been sorely disappointed, says James Delingpole in his Television column.

Set in 1914 Derbyshire, The Village is everything that Downton is not: ‘taut, spare, grown-up, accomplished, dark, strange and poetic, according to the critics’, and according to James, both clichéd and clunky. Here’s a clip from the first episode:

Classical quartets seem to be all the rage in Hollywood at the moment, as this week’s Cinema review – Clarissa Tan on ‘A Late Quartet’ – illustrates.

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The film is, as Clarissa points out, built around Beethoven’s ‘String Quartet No.14 in C sharp minor’, a seven-movement work designed to be played without a break. Here’s the original version of the piece from the film, performed by The Brentano String Quartet.

Over on BBC Radio 4, David Hendy has been presenting a new series that, in Kate Chisholm’s opinion, looks set to be as much of a classic as Neil MacGregor’s revolutionary A History of the World in 100 Objects. Hendy takes the listener through the story of sound, from the age of the cave people to the modern day, exploring places as varied as the Siberian plains and painted caves in Burgundy. Here’s Hendy telling the story of an eight-week long medieval street party in Somerset.

Next to London’s Electric Ballroom, where Radhika Kapila’s Culture Note comes from a gig by Abel Tesfaye – aka ‘The Weeknd’. His ‘mesmerising’ and ‘incomparable’ voice is, she suggests, perhaps ‘appreciated even more in the quiet of your own company’. You can listen to his first album ‘Trilogy’ on Spotify here:

And from one musical genre to another; this week’s opera review by the fantastic Michael Tanner covers both the bewildering ‘Kafka Fragments’, and the Royal Opera House’s production of Verdi’s Nabucco, – an ‘enormously enjoyable’ performance, in which the singing is far superior to the production. Here’s an alternative recording of Nabucco, performed by the Berlin Opera.

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  • Eddie

    Nail on the head: overseas sales are what Downtown was and is all about. Ditto for most costume drama.
    Even the BBC, it its obession with ethnic and vibrant tings, knows full well that what foreigners want to see from the UK is Agatha Christie-style stuff, or Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. They don’t want multiculti poverty-wallowing.

    So glad the BBC is green with envy (Brideshead was an ITV show too). They turned down Downtown, apparently, which is even better (never watched it myself – the bulk of the audience for costume drama is female – it’s fantasy escapism for sad secretaries from Sevenoaks). Just as they turned down the excellent Life on Mars for feminist reasons – it was ‘too blokey’ (according to Lorraine Heggarty, man-sacking over-promoted femihead of BBC1 in the 90s). Eventually, it got made.

    The BBC should realise it should stop being politically correct and start making decent programmes which is what its remit is. Why are there no regular theatre plays on BBC2? Why no challenging drama? Why does every lead character in a cop series have to be either female or black too?
    My advice: join a postal DVD club. I joined one 3 years ago and have watched loads of excellent TV series via that – incl the wholeof Dad’s Army, the wonderful It Ain’t Half Hot Mum
    Banned for racial reasons these days of course (which is silly).
    At the moment, I am watching Pie in the Sky (nice gentle drama) and Brideshead on DVD.

    I can’t be bothered to watch The Village – I hate that northern poverty-wallowing. I am just waiting to see how the writer manages to get black and Asian people into those story arcs! (But fear not, he will – it’s the BBC!). Plenty of focus on women and suffragettes to come, of course (yawn…)

    see more00

  • Donafugata

    How can anyone take “Downmarket Abbey”, it’s utter drivel? No wonder school children are confused and full of anachronistic nonsense when Downton has his lordship helping the butler “come to terms with his homosexuality”.

    I didn’t see “The Village”, I never watch BBC1.
    In fact, 90% of TV is unwatchable with things like “Celebrity British birth-off” and “There’s one baked every minute”, too much reality, for my taste.

    BBC4 still does some very good historical and biographical documentaries but I fear it may go the way of BBC2, all cooking and pub games.

    One never imagines ever wanting to curse a sweetie like David Attenborough but it was he who introduced the dreaded snooker to BBC2, now it is all sport and cooking.

    • Makroon

      I am inclined to agree with you about Downton, nevertheless, it gave innocent pleasure to millions, both here and overseas.

      The interesting aspect, apparently totally missed by our esteemed reviewer, is that the BBC has developed a veritable obsession with Downton. They are deeply miffed by the success of Downton – don’t these upstart ITV people realise that only the BBC is allowed to make preposterously camped-up period dramas !!?!

      The BBC presented ‘Parade’s End’ as “Downton for grown-ups” – that one sank without trace, now we have ‘the Village’ – “the realistic version of Downton”.

      How very pathetic.

      Get over yourselves BBC !

      • Donafugata

        Not only the BBC, newspapers are full of it.

        I keep reading about Lady Mary and didn’t recognise her photo as belonging to the Queen’s family.

        Then I discovered that she is a character from the dreaded Downton, even the Telegraph seems to be deluded into thinking that she is real.

    • Hookeslaw

      You are right about the BBC being rubbish.
      I did not see The Village – but I can guess it was about misery from start to finish.

      The BBC’s idea of a happy nights viewing is to show you life in a prison. The man who pixelates for the BBC must make a fortune. Comedy quiz shows and the odious Nights at the Apollo are a boon for the man who does the beeps.

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