Chris Packham’s Natural Selection: designed to be intelligent

For an hour on Thursday evening it felt as if I’d been transported by time machine back to 1984 or thereabouts, and that I was watching the freshly-launched Channel 4. But no, it was 2015 and I was watching Chris Packham’s Natural Selection on BBC4, a one-off chatshow in which Chris Packham of Springwatch fame hosted a discussion in … Continue reading Chris Packham’s Natural Selection: designed to be intelligent

The Birthday Tree

There was a cherry tree in the front garden of the house in Cheshire where I grew up.  Every year in spring, when the delicate white blossom would appear suddenly, as if snow had fallen overnight, I would sense that brighter, longer days were on the way. It later succumbed to poisoning from a poorly sealed-off gas mains. Later, … Continue reading The Birthday Tree

In The Shadow Of Kafka: the prophet of Prague

To mark the anniversary of the publication one hundred years ago of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Radio 3 offered a week of varied and interesting programmes, collectively entitled In The Shadow Of Kafka which examined the legacy of the novella, with contemporary writers and dramatists exploring Kafka’s life and work. The season opened with In the Shadow of Kafka: Prophet … Continue reading In The Shadow Of Kafka: the prophet of Prague

Bill Brand: glimpses of the past that have relevance still

Through the long, hot summer of 1976, for eleven weeks, I was gripped by Bill Brand, a TV series written by left-wing playwright Trevor Griffiths and broadcast on ITV in prime-time. Regarded at the time as a brilliant example of how radical ideas could be presented in popular television drama, as the years went by I often … Continue reading Bill Brand: glimpses of the past that have relevance still

One Man Breaking Bad

How to explain the phenomenon of Breaking Bad? I pondered this as we waited for One Man Breaking Bad to begin last night in a sold-out, packed Liverpool Philharmonic. The fact that Miles Allen, a Los Angeles-based actor and comedian could fill the place with his 80-minute précis of five seasons of a series never shown on UK television is quite something. Asking … Continue reading One Man Breaking Bad

Wolf Hall: These bloody days have broken my heart

Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in ‘Wolf Hall’ ‘Simply brilliant TV’ was how the Independent quite rightly lavished praise on the BBC adaptation of the first two volumes of Hilary Mantel’s as yet unfinished Wolf Hall trilogy.  The series – directed by Peter Kosminsky from a superb script by Peter Straughan – was exceptional television, as far removed from routine … Continue reading Wolf Hall: These bloody days have broken my heart