Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Saturday April 30  2022

Spartacus [1960] ITV4 4.15pm

The plot is straightforward. The slave Spartacus survives brutal training as a gladiator and leads a violent revolt against the decadent Roman Republic, as the ambitious Crassus seeks to gain power by crushing the uprising.

We love Spartacus partly because of the history behind the film. Trumbo became the first blacklisted writer to use his own name when he wrote the screenplay for the film. It’s a film that examines the spirit of revolt against injustice. Trumbo, who was persecuted for his Communist Party membership and views, might be making some digs at the House of Un-American Activities Committee in the movie! At the end, when the Romans finally defeat the rebellion, the captured slaves refuse to identify Spartacus. As a result, all are crucified.

Miles Davis: Birth Of The Cool BBC2 10pm

“Miles Davis: Horn player, bandleader, innovator.  Elegant, intellectual, vain. Callous, conflicted, controversial. Magnificent, mercurial. Genius. The very embodiment of cool. The man with a sound so beautiful it could break your heart.

The central theme of Miles Davis’s life was his restless determination to break boundaries and live life on his own terms. It made him a star—it also made him incredibly difficult to live with, for the people who loved him most.  Again and again, in music and in life, Miles broke with convention—and when he thought his work came to represent a new convention, he changed it again. Miles’s bold disregard for tradition, his clarity of vision, his relentless drive, and constant thirst for new experiences made him an inspiring collaborator to fellow musicians and a cultural icon to generations of listeners. It made him an innovator in music—from bebop to “cool jazz,” modern quintets, orchestral music, jazz fusion, rock ‘n’ roll, and even hip-hop.   

Featuring never-before-seen archival footage, studio outtakes, and rare photos, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool tells the story of a truly singular talent and unpacks the man behind the horn.”

Sunday May 1 2022

Prisoner C33 BBC4 9pm

Oscar Wilde is confined in Reading Gaol. His younger self appears, and the two men wrestle with the humiliation of Wilde’s fall from celebrity to convict because he loved a man. At Reading, Wilde was reduced from a highly-acclaimed writer and wit down to a code.

He had cell number C33. He later used this as a pseudonym under which the Ballad of Reading Gaol was first published as well as signing letter ‘Prisoner C33’. 

The Importance of Being Oscar BBC4 10.10pm

A star-studded account of Oscar Wilde’s glittering and controversial career before his trial for homosexual crimes and tragic fall from grace.

Monday May 2 2022 

Belgrano. Part One BBC RADIO 4 2.15pm

Forty years on from the Falklands War the BBC revisit the true story of Clive Ponting, a top civil servant, who leaked documents about the sinking of the Argentinian Cruiser, General Belgrano. Ponting was put on trial but sensationally acquitted by the jury despite his breach of the Official Secrets Act.

The drama examines what drove Ponting to turn his back on Whitehall and why he walked free from court despite the judge directing the jury to convict him. The writer, Richard Monks, drew on Government Papers, newspaper reports, interviews and court transcripts as well as Ponting’s own account for the drama.

The Long View of the Future: The Harms of Social Media BBC RADIO 4 9pm

Jonathan Freedland explores historical parallels to the concerns around social media today, including the press in the 19th century and the rise of the motor car in the early 1900s.

Tuesday May 3 2022

Belgrano. Part Two BBC RADIO 4 2.15pm

The drama continues.

Novels that Shaped our World: The Class Ceiling BBC4 9pm

This episode deals with class in all its shapes and sizes, from all sides of the class divide, in the UK, USA and India.

Wednesday May 4 2022

The 1951 Festival of Britain BBC4 11pm 

Documentary telling the story of the 1951 Festival of Britain, which in a period of austerity showed how to carve out a bright new future through design and ingenuity.

Kicking Off: The Rise and Fall of the Football League BBC2 930pm

Thursday May 5 2022

The Kubrick Test BBC RADIO 4 14:15

The story of a young actor’s encounter with legendary film-maker Stanley Kubrick, with Henry Goodman playing the cinematic genius and Kerry Shale as himself.

Friday May 6 2022

Billie: In Search of Billie Holliday BBC4 9.30pm

Documentary showcasing American legend Billie Holiday, capturing her depths and complexity through the voices of those who knew her best.

The Girl on the Motorcycle [1968] GREAT! movies classic 1.25AM

A married woman leaves her husband and zooms off on her motorcycle to see her lover. Very 60s.Marianne Faithfull on a Harley-Davidson – what’s not to love!  

Selections by Henry Falconer and Patrick Harrington


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