Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Saturday 30 July 2022

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie 4pm GREAT! Classic Movies

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a 1968 British drama film directed by Ronald Neame and starring Maggie Smith in the title role. The film was adapted from the novel of the same name by Muriel Spark, who also wrote the screenplay. Set in Edinburgh in the 1930s, the film tells the story of a teacher at an all-girls school who takes a group of her students under her wing and teaches them about life, love, and art. Miss Brodie is an unconventional teacher who encourages her girls to think for themselves and follow their dreams. However, her methods are not always well-received by the school’s staff (her positive views on free love and Fascism aren’t universally welcomed!) and she eventually finds herself facing dismissal. Despite its controversial subject matter, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a critical and commercial success, winning several awards, including an Academy Award for Maggie Smith’s performance.

Kate Bush at the BBC 8pm BBC2

A compilation of the performances at the BBC studios between 1978 and 1994.

The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill 9pm BBC2

Kate Bush was always destined for success. As a child, she studied dance and drama, and she began writing songs at the age of 11. When she was 16, she caught the attention of Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour, who helped her sign a record deal. Her debut single, “Wuthering Heights,” was an instant hit, reaching the top of the UK charts. Since then, Bush has released 17 albums and sold more than 30 million records worldwide. She is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and influential musicians of her generation. In recent years, Bush has been credited with inspiring a new generation of musicians, including Lorde and Florence Welch.

Kate has connected with a new generation with her song “Running up that hill” taking on a new meaning in recent years, thanks to the Netflix show Stranger Things. For many viewers, the song is now inextricably linked to the show and its emotional scenes. The 1985 hit is featured when Eleven, played by Millie Bobby Brown, runs up a hill to escape from the menacing Demogorgon.

After four decades in the business, Kate Bush remains as fresh and relevant as ever. Running up that hill, indeed.

Kate Bush at the BBC 1979 10pm BBC2

A Christmas Special from 1979. Kate performs Them Heavy People, Madrigal, December and Man with the Child in His Eyes, and duets with guest star Peter Gabriel.

Sunday 31 July 2022

Desert Island Discs: Clare Smyth, chef 11:15am BBC RADIO 4

Clare Smyth, three Michelin-starred chef, shares the soundtrack of her life with Lauren Laverne.

War and Justice: The Case of Marine A 9pm Channel 4

In September 2011, Alexander Blackman was serving as a Marine in Afghanistan when he fatally shot an injured Taliban fighter. Blackman was arrested and charged with murder. On 6 December 2013, Blackman was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of ten years and dismissed with disgrace from the Royal Marines. On 22 May 2014, the Courts Martial Appeal Court reduced his minimum term to eight years.

The case caused a sensation in the UK, with many people arguing that Blackman had been made a scapegoat for the failures of the war in Afghanistan. On 15 March 2017, the conviction was reduced to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. He was released from prison due to time served. The case of Marine A highlights the complex nature of war and justice. In times of conflict, the laws that govern soldiers are often unclear. Did Blackman actually break the Geneva Convention? And if so, does that mean he deserves to be sent to prison for life? These are difficult questions, without easy answers. What is clear is that war is brutal, and the line between right and wrong can often be blurred. What is the truth behind this controversial event? This documentary examines the issues.

Monday 1 August 2022

Devils Advocate: The Mostly True Story of Giovanni Di Stefano 7pm Sky Documentaries

To the outside world, Giovanni Di Stefano seemed like a man who had it all. A successful lawyer with a jet-set lifestyle, he counted some of the world’s most notorious criminals amongst his clients. His client list included Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milošević, and Pablo Escobar. He was also a shrewd businessman, with a portfolio of investments that included a professional football team and a women’s magazine. However, beneath the glossy exterior, Di Stefano was hiding a dark secret. For years, he had been embroiled in a series of shady deals and fraudulent schemes, and his business empire was built on a foundation of lies and deception. He has been convicted four times in Ireland and the United Kingdom of fraud and related criminal offences, serving a total of eight and a half years for convictions between 1975 and the late 1980s. He was described by a judge as “one of life’s great swindlers”.His most recent conviction was in March 2013 when he was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment after being found guilty or pleading guilty to 27 charges including deception, fraud, and money laundering between 2001 and 2011 related to “tricking people into thinking he was a bona fide legal professional” Despite his downfall, Di Stefano continues to maintain his innocence, insisting that he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice. Whether you believe his version of events or not, there is no denying that he is one of the most fascinating – and controversial – characters around. The Devil’s Advocate is a fascinating documentary that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief.

Tuesday 2 August 2022

The Long History of ArgumentFrom Socrates to Social Media: Synthesis (3/3) 9:00am BBC RADIO 4

Rory Stewart explores the strange human phenomenon of arguing and why it matters so deeply to our lives in a new series on BBC Radio 4.

Argument became the way in which we answered the deepest questions of philosophy, established scientific rules, and made legal decisions. It was the foundation of our democracies and the way in which we chose the policies for our state.

Rory grew up believing that the way to reach the truth was through argument. He was trained to argue in school, briefly taught classical rhetoric and he became a member of parliament. But the experience of being a politician also showed him how dangerous arguments can be, and how bad arguments can threaten our democracies, provoke division and hide the truth.

In this episode, Rory explores why our democracy and humanity may depend on rediscovering how to argue well.

Vicky Pattison: Alcohol, Dad and Me 10pm Channel 4

Vicky Pattison is best known for her role on the MTV reality show Geordie Shore, where she was often seen partying hard and drinking heavily. However, in this documentary Alcohol, Dad and Me, Pattison opens up about her difficult relationship with alcohol and how it has affected her life. Pattison describes how she first started drinking heavily in her teens as a way to cope with her turbulent home life. Drinking quickly became a part of her identity, and she continued to drink even after she found success on Geordie Shore. However, Pattison eventually realized that her drinking was out of control and that it was damaging her health and relationships. With the help of her father, she was able to get sober and turn her life around. Today, Pattison is an outspoken advocate for sobriety and is working to help others who are struggling with addiction. Alcohol, Dad and Me is an honest and inspirational account that offers insight into the destructive power of addiction. It’s a powerful story of overcoming adversity and an inspirational example of what it takes to turn your life around.

The Stolen MaMaharajah 11pm BBC4

Documentary about the last Maharajah of Punjab, Duleep Singh, who was wrenched from his mother’s arms as a child in the 1840s and put into the care of an official of the British Empire. Growing up in a colonial enclave in India, the boy king abandoned his Sikh religion and signed away his ancient kingdom to the British – decisions he would come to bitterly regret. He moved as a teenager to Britain, where Queen Victoria became his godmother. The Maharajah Duleep Singh lived most of his adult life here as a supremely wealthy English country gentleman, part of the British social elite. But, in time, his relationship with Britain turned sour.

Wednesday 3 August 2022

WWII: Free Mussolini 7pm PBS America

On September 8, 1943, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was overthrown by his own Grand Council. The following day, he was arrested by Italian authorities and taken into custody. He was held under close guard in a remote mountain hotel. However, his captors soon lost control of the situation, and Mussolini ended up in the hands of German soldiers. Hitler was determined to free his ally and dispatched a team of elite soldiers to spirit him away. The operation (“Operation Oak”) was a success and Mussolini was placed in charge of a puppet government in northern Italy. For the next twenty-two months, Mussolini presided over a regime that was largely dependent on German support. In the spring of 1945, with Allied troops closing in on his stronghold, Mussolini attempted to escape to Switzerland. But he was captured by Italian partisans and executed before he could reach safety. The fall of Mussolini marked the end of fascist rule in Italy and dealt a major blow to the Nazi war effort. This documentary tells the story.

Thursday 4 August 2022

Code 404 9pm Sky Showcase

A British detective killed in action is brought back to life using experimental Artificial Intelligence. In the future, will crime be solved by a combination of human detectives and AI? Don’t expect many intellectual insights around that from this programme but it romps along with some laughs along the way – it has been described as Robocop meets Hot Fuzz.

The Rise and Fall of John Leslie 11.05pm Channel 5

Documentary charting the career of one of Britain’s most famous TV presenters, who found himself at the centre of a media storm that began with a simple slip of the tongue.

Friday 5 August 2022

Screenshot: The Harder They Come at 50 7.15pm BBC RADIO 4

Ellen E Jones and Mark Kermode revisit Jamaican cult classic The Harder They Come on its 50th anniversary, speaking to of one its stars Carl Bradshaw and to fan Don Letts.

The Harder They Come was a sensation, but it took a while for its vibrations to be heard around the world. In 1972, the premiere in Kingston brought the area to a complete standstill. Outside of Jamaica, the film helped introduce reggae music to millions, thanks to its Jimmy Cliff-driven soundtrack.

Exploring the film’s continuing legacy, Ellen hears from one of its stars, Carl Bradshaw, and the film’s publicist Barbara Blake-Hannah, for whom the movie was so life-changing that she left the UK and moved to Jamaica where she later became a Member of Parliament. Mark speaks to DJ, broadcaster, musician, and filmmaker Don Letts, whose film Dancehall Queen is a homage to The Harder They Come. Mark also talks to music supervisor Ed Bailie who worked closely with Steve McQueen on his Small Axe films, including Lovers Rock which also owes a great debt to this cult classic.

Ellen and Mark also look at what The Harder They Come did, or did not do, for the Jamaican film industry, and the films that followed it – including Rockers, Countryman, and Babylon.

Dunkirk 8.30pm BBC2

Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Commonwealth and Empire, and France are surrounded by the German Army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

See the Counter Culture review here.

And on Netflix…

The Sandman Series 1 from 5 August 2022

The Sandman is a new Netflix original series that has been getting a lot of buzz lately. The show is based on the Neil Gaiman graphic novel of the same name. If you’re not familiar with the Sandman comics from DC or the novel, they follow the story of Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, who is captured and held prisoner for 70 years. When he finally escapes, he sets out on a quest to find his lost kingdom and reclaim his throne.

The Sandman is a visually stunning show that features some truly breathtaking animation. The comics are highly acclaimed and are considered to be some of the best ever written. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do with the material on the small screen. It will be a visually stunning and emotionally powerful series that fans of the comics will love. If you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman’s work or just looking for a new show to binge-watch, then The Sandman is definitely worth checking out.

Selections by Pat Harrington


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