Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment (3 – 9 December 2022)

Highlights this week include The Soviet Union 100th Anniversary 1922, Napoleon and Kinky Boots.

Saturday 3 December 2022

Classic Albums: American Pie BBC2 10.10pm

Don McLean takes listeners and viewers behind the making of 1971’s “American Pie” album

Sunday 4 December 2022

Kinky Boots (2006) 10.30pm Channel 5

After his father’s demise, Charlie Price (Joel Edgerton) inherits the family business, a shoe factory in Northampton, England. He is not interested in shoes, and the factory is in such dire financial straits that he must lay off 15 employees. However a fortuitous encounter with a transvestite cabaret singer (Chiwetel Ejiofor) inspires Charlie to save the factory from closure by producing erotic footwear, much to the chagrin of the workers.

Unsung Heroines: Danielle De Nise On the Lost World of Female Composers 10.50pm BBC4

Danielle de Niese explores the lives and works of five female composers – from the Middle Ages to the late 20th century – who were famous in their lifetimes, but whose work was then forgotten.

Western classical music has traditionally been seen as a procession of male geniuses, but the truth is that women have always composed. Hildegard of Bingen, Francesca Caccini, Clara Schumann, Florence Price and Elizabeth Maconchy – all these women battled to fulfil their ambitions and overcome the obstacles that society placed in their way. They then disappeared into obscurity, and only some have found recognition again.

Monday 5 December 2022

The Soviet Union 100th Anniversary 1922 (1/3) 8.40pm PBS America

The Soviet Union was formed on 30 December 1922 after five years of civil war. Stalin’s iron fist and his Great Purge gave him unopposed murderous rule over the country, while heroically defeating Hitler’s onslaught on Kursk and Stalingrad between 1941-43 effectively won WWII for the allies, and helped mark out his geopolitical world and power until his death in 1953.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

The Soviet Union 100th Anniversary 1922 (2/3) 8.35pm PBS America

With the pace of the 1950’s Cold War increasing, alongside the the space race and the Berlin Wall, the decision to join forces with Cuba and build missile sites there brings the world to the brink of disaster. While the Cuban Missile Crisis is averted and a peace settlement reached, not long after JFK is assassinated in 1963 by Lee Harvey Oswald, a US Marine veteran who had defected to the Soviet Union in 1959

Back to Basquiat 9.15pm Sky Arts

The life and work of New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat were marked by a long quest for identity, by his Haitian and Puerto Rican family origins, and by his pivotal trip to Africa. Portraying this major painter of the twentieth century, who died in 1988 at the age of 27, is also a way of evoking the place of black American artists in the conservative America of the Reagan years.

Wednesday 7 December 2022

Napoleon (1/3) 7.35pm PBS America

The first programme in this three-part series charts Napoleon’s extraordinary rise from Corsican obscurity, chronicling the military victories in Italy that made him a hero to the French and convinced him he was destined for greatness. Also revealed is young Napoleon’s love for a woman of extravagant tastes and habits who initially rejected his passionate affection: the legendary Josephine de Beauharnais. The programme features sites important to Napoleon’s early life, including Corsica, where this son of a provincial aristocrat was raised as one of eight children; Brienne in northern France where he spent five years at boarding school; and the Italian Alps, where he fought the Austrians with a skill that no one expected, and where his quest for power began. Numerous paintings as well as dramatic re-creations of Napoleon’s historic battles combine to bring the story of his life to the screen.

The Soviet Union 100th Anniversary 1922 (3/3) 8.45pm PBS America

With the escalation of nuclear missiles globally, Brezhnev invades Czechoslovakia in 1968, as the proxy East vs West war in Vietnam continues. Following the catastrophic invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, a new era begins with Mikhail Gorbachev, as his bold statements quickly lead to a withdrawal from Afghanistan, and by 1989, the collapse of communism. That same year the symbolic Berlin Wall falls, with the end of the Soviet Union formally declared in August 1991.

Spike Milligan: The Unseen Archive Sky Arts 9pm

Documentary featuring never before aired film, interviews and scripts from inimitable comedian and poet Spike Milligan.

Dodi: Last Days Of A Playboy 9pm Channel 5

Dodi: Last Days Of A Playboy aims to go “beyond the image of a pampered playboy portrayed by the media, to reveal how an isolated, lonely boy had to deal with his parents’ divorce at a young age, built a career in Hollywood and ended up dating the most famous woman in the world.”

Thursday 8 December 2022

Napoleon (2/3) 7.10pm PBS America

Charts his transformation from a political leader to Emperor and global statesman.

Friday 9 December 2022

Napoleon (3/3) 7.15pm PBS America

Deals with his defeat at Waterloo and exile.

Selections by Pat Harrington

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