Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Sunday 28 November 2021

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire celebrity special ITV 8 pm

My fascination in watching this will be to see Alexander Armstrong (who is the co-host of Pointless) gets in answering 15 questions to win £1 million for charity. How will he fare when the tables are turned? Will he do better than Sports Presenter Gaby Roslin?

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser Sky Arts 8 pm

Delve into the journey of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland through its origins and reinventions over the last 157 years. See our review here.

American Rust Sky Atlantic 9 pm

I’m following the post-industrial decline of what is known as the ‘rust belt’ in America.

The Rust Belt is a colloquial term used to describe the geographic region stretching from New York through the Midwest that was once dominated by the coal industry, steel production, and manufacturing.

This drama is set in a former steel town in Pennsylvania and is seen through the eyes of a local sheriff. I’m guessing somewhere in western Pennsylvania as that’s where the once-mighty steel mills, coke plans, and machine shops mainly were.

Channel 4 11 pm The Vanishing

Three Lighthouse keepers on a remote rock in the outer Hebrides discover a corpse and a locked chest. Perhaps foolishly they decide to open the casket.

Olympic pride American prejudice 11 pm PBS America

Discover the untold story of 18 African Americans who defied US racism to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Tuesday 30 November 2021

Who Do You Think You Are? BBC One at 9 pm

This is the seventh of seven programs in the current series and features Ed Balls the former Labour MP, advisor to Gordon Brown, and ‘Strictly’ dancing favourite. On his mum’s side, he finds a deep connection with agricultural labourer Christopher Green who went on trial at Norwich Castle after standing up to defend his livelihood and community (by way of arson!). Did he have a real choice given the power imbalance between farmers and labourers? An interesting discussion from the programme here:

National Geographic 9 pm The Hot Zone: Anthrax

Just weeks after 9/11 the US is rocked by another terrorist act as letters containing anthrax are sent to journalists and politicians. The first fatal letter killed a National Enquirer editor. FBI agent Matthew Ryker tries to convince his superiors the country is under attack again.

Thursday, December 2 2021

Cancelled 10 pm Channel 4

Sacked blacklisted ostracised or no-platformed, I’ve suffered some of those so I will be interested to see this look at Cancel culture and how it’s affecting our lives. When I spoke about how ‘No Platform’ would slowly expand many on the ‘Left’ were skeptical and smug. Now they are the new victims.

Picked by Patrick Harrington

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Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Monday, 22 November 2021

Sky Showcase 9 pm Royal Bastards. The rise of the Tudors in three docudramas this being the first.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Channel 5 10 pm Doomsday Volcano: The Next Pompeii explores the history and science behind a supervolcano hidden several miles beneath Yellowstone National Park in the US and assesses the possible dangers. Just when you thought climate change was all you had to worry about!

BBC4 10:30 pm The Mayflower Pilgrims: Behind the myth is a documentary exploring the Pilgrims’ journey west across the Atlantic in the 17th century. Celebrated each year at Thanksgiving, the event has become shrouded in myth.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

PBS America 6:45 pm The Pilgrims. More programming scheduled around Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims’ narrative has been shrouded in myth, embedded in the US in Thanksgiving Day feasts, football, and parades. Who were the men and women who constituted this multifarious band of English Protestants? The Pilgrims chronicles the deep history, origins, and critical first decade of the first permanent English colony in New England.

Also on Thursday on Sky Documentaries at 9 pm is Wirecard: A €1 Billion Lie lifts the lid on the scandal surrounding financial payment firm Wirecard.

Looking ahead a little further from the 1st to the 31st of December 2021 Scottish Ballet will perform The Nutcracker at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre so why not let them and Tchaikovsky’s score transport you to a land of dreams?

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Culture Vulture: our guide to the week’s entertainment

Saturday, 13 November 2021

More ABBA mania this week from 8 pm on BBC Two starting with ABBA, continuing with The Joy of ABBA and finishing off with ABBA in Switzerland.

Sunday 14th of November

Antiques Roadshow, BBC Two 8:30 pm A special episode filmed at a military cemetery and presenting a selection of emotive and poignant items from the end of World War I.

Vice, BBC Two 10 pm A biographical drama chronicling the remarkable rise to power of Dick Cheney which chronicles his transformation from a Yale dropout and alcoholic in the sixties to the evil warmonger who influenced politics under George W Bush as the 46th vice president of the United States. Christian Bale does a remarkable job playing Cheney.

They Shall Not Grow Old, BBC Four 9 pm Peter Jackson brings to life the story of World War I by transforming century-old footage.

Art of WWII, BBC4 A culture show special exploring the often overlooked history of Britain’s wartime Art Renaissance

As a big Bowie fine I’ll be watching both Discovering David Bowie at 11:00 pm and Beside Bowie (about guitarist Mick Ronson) at 11:30 pm on Sky Arts.

Thursday 18th of November

Social Care: the true cost, ITV 10:45 pm Reporter Fiona Foster looks at whether the government plans to reform social care can address the challenges facing the sector or if the system needs a complete overhaul.

Friday 19th of November 2021

The Wild Gardener, BBC Two 8:30 pm

I’m looking forward to watching the first part of two of the wild Gardner in which Colin Stafford-Johnson returns home to Ireland on a personal quest to transform’s his old childhood garden into a haven for native plants and animals and shows how gardeners really can make a difference to our environment.

A wealth of treats for Country fans starting at 9 pm on BBC Four with Kenny Rogers: cards on the table. Then at 10:00 pm, it’s followed by the Country Music Awards and at 11 pm the innovative country legend Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band perform a special concert recorded for the Old Grey Whistle test in 1977. At 11:40 Arena looks at Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl in which the singer-songwriter looks back at her long and eventful life.

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Cover Versions: Metallica – Whiskey In The Jar  

COVER VERSIONS.  Some you love & some you hate.  Many of us could probably name plenty of cover versions that have completely ruined a great, if not iconic, song.  But this isn’t about songs that have been ruined – although that might be the subject for one or two Counter Culture reviews sometime in the near future!  On the contrary, this is about a cover version that, in my honest and humble opinion, is better than the original.  

To my mind, one of the best cover versions ever has got to be Metallica’s reworking of the Thin Lizzy classic, Whiskey In The Jar.  And one of the best live performances of it is this from the House of Vans, in London from 18th November 2016.  

Metallica performing in 2017. Picture from: Kreepin Deth, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Before we start to look at Metallica’s masterful version of this classic, it’ll probably be useful to provide a little background information about the song itself.  As some folks may know, Whiskey In The Jar is a traditional Irish song, thought to have been written in the 17th century.  The song itself is set in the southern mountains of Ireland – there are specific mentions of the Cork & Kerry mountains – and tells the tale of a highwayman who is betrayed by his wife or lover.  

The Dubliners, an Irish folk band, were probably the first group to really make the song popular.  Indeed, they included it on at least two albums – More of the Hard Stuff & Live at the Albert Hall– during the 1960s.   

Whiskey In The Jar has been covered by everyone from The Seekers to Bryan Adams.  However, the first version I ever heard was by the Dublin-based rock band Thin Lizzy who really brought it to prominence to my generation when their record company – Decca– released it in November 1972  

I have a very eclectic taste in music – and art in general – but have been into heavy metal & rock since my early teens.  My memory’s not as sharp as it was, but I’ve a vague notion that I’d seen Lizzy performingWhiskey In The Jar on TV.  I presume that this would’ve been on Top Of The Popswhich in those days was essential viewing for anyone interested in music.

Like most people, I was instantly hooked on the song – especially by the crisp & intricate introduction played by Belfast-born lead guitarist, Eric Bell.  Hopefully, this clip from 1973 will illustrate his musical prowess.

(Bell was one-third of Lizzy.  The other two were Brian Downey on drums & probably the most famous of all, Phil Lynott, who was the main songwriter, lead vocalist, and bassist.)  

Years later Bell showed that he’d lost none of his skill when he appeared with Gary Moore– a songwriter & former guitarist with Thin Lizzy.  Billed as Gary Moore and Friends: One Night in Dublin – A Tribute to Phil Lynott one of the highlights included Bell playing on this version of Whiskey In The Jar. 

Now that we’ve got what amounts to the history of Whiskey In The Jar out of the way, it’s time to examine what makes Metallica’sversion just so perfect.  

Metallica was formed in 1981 by main songwriter, vocalist & rhythm guitarist James Hetfield& drummer Lars Ulrich.  Both featured on Whiskey In The Jar alongside along lead guitarist Kirk Hammett& bassist Jason Newsted.  (Newsted was replaced by Robert Trujillo in 2003 & other former members include Cliff Burton, Ron McGovney & Dave Mustaine of Megadeth fame.)  

Whiskey In The Jar was actually the 21st single released by Metallica and featured on their 1998 covers album Garage Inc. The idea behind the album was to feature songs by artists that have influenced the band.  In addition to Thin Lizzy, it features covers of tracks from the likes of Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult & Lynyrd Skynyrd.  

So what makes Metallica’s version of Whiskey In The Jar just so perfect?  

For me it’s the way that they’ve taken a classic track, put their distinctive stamp on it, and made it even better than it was before.  For those into heavy music, there’s no getting away from the fact that Lizzy is most usually associated with Whiskey In The Jar – and rightly so.  However, there’s no mistaking that this version has Metallica written all over it.  

Earlier I mentioned that the introduction to Thin Lizzy’s Whiskey In The Jar had me & many others instantly hooked.  The same could be said of Metallica’sversion – although both versions are completely different!  Indeed, Metallica did away completely with Lizzy’s‘crisp & intricate’ intro & dive straight into the song itself.  

Despite the lack of a distinctive – almost iconic – intro, as soon as I heard Metallica open the song with a thumping ‘dun, dun, dun’ I was captivated.  I’ve absolutely loved their version from the very first time I heard it.  Every time I hear it, I find myself both headbanging – although, due to old age, it’s more of a slightly vigorous nod these days – and wishing that I could play any sort of instrument.  (Singing would be an extra bonus, but I gave up on that one years ago.)  

One of the things I love about Metallica’s version is that it’s just so powerful.  I’m wondering if that’s simply because they’re a much heavier band than Lizzywere – or is there something else to it?  To me, the combined & unrelenting beat created by Robert Trujillo on bass & Lars Ulrich on drums gives it the edge.  I also think James Hetfield has an earthier – maybe even more passionate – voice than Phil Lynott had.  Hetfield’s voice is very distinctive & is well suited to the song.  

Another thing I really like about the Metallica version can be seen at the gig that was mentioned earlier –  Here, I absolutely love Hetfield’s guitar solo (starting at around 2.55) which is completely different from the Lizzy original & his later interaction with the crowd who are clapping and chanting along with him.  

For me, therefore, Metallica have made Whiskey In The Jar their own and their version is simply by far the better version.  

Reviewed by John Field   

O  CHECK OUT the lyrics to Whiskey In The Jar here. 

O  COUNTER CULTURE would really be interested to hear the views of our readers relating to the Thin Lizzy v. Metallica versions of Whiskey In The Jar.  We’d also be interested to know what you think about cover versions in general.  Are there any that improve on the original – and are there any that absolutely butcher the original?  

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Culture Vulture: Our Guide to the week’s entertainment

5-21 November 2021

Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Summerhall Cinema

Short films are a great art form in their own right. This is the chance to see a range.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

There’s quite a bit of ABBA on Channel 5. It starts with ABBA: Then and Now In Their Own Words at 9:10. This is a celebration of the band with interviews archive footage and music telling the story of the Swedish superstars. Contributors include singers Neil Sedaka and Barbara Dickson. After that, there is ABBA live in concert and ABBA the movie. All this coincides with the release of a new album (Abba Voyage – their first studio album in 40 years) and planned virtual shows which are sure to delight fans. Benny and Bjorn even offered to write a Eurovision Song contest entry for Britain – but only if someone like Dua Lippa can be signed up to sing it!

Monday, 8 November 2021

Dexter: New Blood, Sky Atlantic 10:05 pm

Many years following his supposed death we that anti-hero Dexter Morgan is living a quiet life. Dexter was last seen disposing of his dead sister and faking his own death once his crimes became known. Dexter was lumberjacking in Oregon and now works in the garden and bait in a small town in upstate New York. He’s even dating the local police chief. But how far can he keep his ‘Dark Passenger’ in check?

Tuesday, 9 November 2021

Chi-Owi Nwanoku on Samuel Coleridge Taylor, Sky Arts, 10:15 pm

I know only a few facts about Coleridge-Taylor. That he was a composer/conductor. That his mother was English and his father was from Sierra Leone. That he was born in Lond and that he wrote three cantatas on the epic poem Song of Hiawatha by American Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This programme will be an opportunity for me to discover more.

From 11-14 November 2012

The Radical Book Fair at the Assembly Roxy

This four-day event is themed around ‘Futures Worth Fighting For’. Magpies are said to steal shiny things. I will be channeling the Magpie and looking for interesting ideas and books amongst the ‘self-indulgent, liberal, Woke nonsense’. Who knows, if I keep an open mind some of that might even be interesting or entertaining!

From 12 November 2021 on Amazon Prime Video

Lioness: the Nicola Adams story is available from Friday the 12th of November on Amazon Prime Video. Nicola won fame when she became the first woman ever to be crowned Olympic flyweight boxing champion at the London games in 2012. She won Gold again. During her professional career, she also claimed the WBO championship. Nicola who came from adverse beginnings and had many obstacles to overcome is an inspiring figure. She’s smart too. When she was asked what people should take from her story she said: “I’m hoping they’ll be inspired and have the courage to pursue their dreams and do whatever they want in life and I hope they realise that you’re only on the planet for a short space of time.” Truly a British Lioness!

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Brief reflections on the politics of Dune


You can listen to this article here

I read the six-book series Dune as a teenager. Dune has re-entered popular culture and consciousness thanks to Denis Villeneuve’s blockbuster adaptation (now in cinemas).

I think Denis Villeneuve’s Dune does a great job adapting the first half (or maybe two-thirds) of Frank Herbert’s original novel. It avoids two big potential mistakes: 1. To sugercoat its more complex and unsettling themes and 2. to try to compress the narrative into a more bitesize chunk. It’s a long film and there’s more to come.

The politics of Dune are complex and claims are made by both Left and Right

I knew that when it was first published it was seen as a countercultural parable warning against ecological devastation and autocratic rule. It can be seen that way but it also has darker themes. Paul Atreides, the main protagonist, is the product of a eugenics program. He is bred to have precognitive abilities that allow him to exert power over others. His Fremen army is the product of natural selection with the harsh desert environment of the planet Arrakis allowing only the best adapted and strongest to survive. Paul is not a hero. He has or develops a multi-millennia plan for renewal which accepts the sacrifice of billions. Herbert himself saw the series as a critique of authoritarianism demonstrating for his readers that “superheroes are disastrous for humankind.” Once Paul realises what he has done, what he has become, and how he has become detached from his humanity he plots to end his own despotic command over humankind’s fate.

Herbert himself said: “I am showing you the superhero syndrome and your own participation in it.”
Herbert liner notes quoted in Touponce, William F. (1988). “Herbert’s Reputation”, p. 24.

Dune can be read (wrongly in my view) as a Messianic white saviour leading the universe forward. Writing in Counter-Currents Trevor Lynch says: “Herbert has quite compelling reasons for his belief that liberal democracy will not take mankind to the stars and that mankind can only spread across the galaxy by returning to archaic social forms like hereditary monarchy, feudalism, and initiatic spiritual orders”.

It’s certainly true that Dune heavily features archaic social forms rather than democratic or collective structures. Yet the Fremen rely on each other and have tribal rather than feudal features. Additionally, as Ong points out:

“Herbert’s series looks openly at authoritarianism and not only the burdens placed on those who are subjected to dictatorships, but also the inhumanity it demands of those in power. It remains critical of the forces that seek out charismatic powerful figures to solve all our problems. It demonstrates the dangers found in the “big man” syndrome of politics or messianic ideals of religion.”

Some on the alt-Right offer interpretations of Dune to highlight aspects they favour. Yet Dune is not so straightforward. Ethnic influences are diverse in Dune. As Helena Ong points out:

“The series draws heavily from religious themes and Middle Eastern culture. The nomadic Fremen characters, who play a central role in the series, are not only dark-skinned, but they also use a language that has close similarities to Arabic. Herbert not only uses thinly-veiled references to the Arabic language, but also Sufism mysticism and history of the Arab world, including the Berbers of North Africa and Sunni Muslims. He drew from many sources, such as 14th-century Arab historian Ibn Khaldun and Lesley Blanch‘s travel biographies of the Middle East.

Villeneuve has spoken of the “beautiful idea” of Paul finding comfort and wisdom in another culture and having the curiousity to explore it. (IMDB On the Scene).

Perhaps that’s why Trevor Lynch (in a largely thought-provoking article) descends into a discussion of the ethnic make up of the latest Dune film.

Dune can appeal to both Left and Right in different ways. It’s a complex narrative.

It’s no wonder then that Dune is contested ground between Left and Right. As Joshua Pearson points out in Tribune:

“Some have decried Dune as an exemplar of the most toxic tropes lurking in science fiction, calling the novel an orientalist fever dream, a pean to eugenics, and a seductive monument to fascist aesthetics; others look at the same text and see an excoriation of hero-worship, a cautionary tale of revolutionary dreams betrayed, and a warning about Indigenous sovereignty subverted by a charismatic charlatan.”

It’s also clear that some of the alt-Right interpretations may be closer to Herbert’s views than many of us would like to admit.

Like all good Science Fiction though it deals with a possible or imagined future it really makes you think about now.

As Kenn Orphan wrote:

“When Westerners (see: Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Brits, Australians) see Dune this fall, I wonder if any of them will have any idea that Arrakis is a perfect symbol for Afghanistan (or even Iraq, or Bolivia, etc.). Or that the much coveted and fought over “spice” is code for opium (or oil, or lithium, or whatever the Empire and its imperial houses demand or wish to control). Or that the imperial bad guys in the film, complete with their noble houses, obscene material wealth and military might, are symbolic of their own governments, corporate powers and armed forces?”

I certainly did.

By Pat Harrington

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Culture Vulture: Our Guide to the week’s entertainment

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Spitting Image Halloween Special 9:30 pm ITV
Some familiar faces here amongst the ghosts and ghouls.

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Discovering Film horror special, 11 pm Sky Arts
If you’re entering into the Halloween spirit why not view film critics, including Bonnie Greer, come together to dissect their favourite horror films from The Omen and The Exorcist to Frankenstein?

Chrissie Hynde sings Dylan 4 am Sky Arts
Set the recorder as Chrissie Hynde, of The Pretenders, sings songs from Bob Dylan.

Monday, 1 November 2021

The Barber of Seville, 9pm Sky Arts

As part of my attempts to improve my poor knowledge of classical music, I will be watching this comedy opera by Gioachino Rossini.

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

50 years of the Booker prize, 11:30 pm BBC Four looks at the history and controversies surrounding the literary prize.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

The Fear of God 12 am BBC Four continues the Halloween theme with an examination of 25 years of The Exorcist. Mark Kermode explores the extraordinary history of The Exorcist film with the stars and its creators. If you can’t wait and have access to BBC Iplayer it is on the great list of Haloween suggestions here:

Now out at cinemas Quant (12A), Directed by Sadie Frost looks at the extraordinary life and legacy of iconic British fashion designer Mary Quant. Though forever famous for inventing the mini skirt she was so much more besides.

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Culture Vulture: Our Guide to the week’s entertainment

Sunday 24th of October 2021

Wetherspoons: how do they do it? Channel 5, 8 pm I admit to using Spoons regularly for food and drink. Mainly because it is incredibly cheap. This programme looks at how it achieves this.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, BBC2. 10 pm A welcome return for this sardonic take on the news from Frankie and his guests.
King Arthur, Sky Arts, 9 pm. Performance of is a semi-opera in five acts with music by Henry Purcell and a libretto by John Dryden. If you are expecting tales of Camelot you will be disappointed. The plot is based on the battles between King Arthur’s Britons and the Saxons. It includes Cupid and Venus plus references to the Germanic gods of the Saxons, Woden, Thor, and Freya. The tale centres on Arthur’s endeavours to recover his fiancée, the blind Cornish Princess Emmeline, who has been abducted by his arch-enemy, the Saxon King Oswald of Kent.

Tuesday 26th of October 2021

Who Was Frida Kahlo? Sky Arts 12 pm. Just who was this artist? This seeks to answer that question with a journey through her key works. Using letters Kahlo wrote to guide us, this reveals her deepest emotions and unlocks the secrets and symbolism contained within her art. It highlights the source of her feverish creativity, her resilience, and her lust for life, politics, men and women.
Sky Arts Book Club, Oliver and Elizabeth Day host as members of the Idle readers bookclub from Manchester meet Ian Rankin. Plus, Delia Owens talks via Zoom from America.
Barry Humphries on the music Hitler Banned, Sky Arts, 10 pm. Comedian Barry Humphries examines the innovative and powerful music and art of the post-world war one Weimar Republic. The film details how Barry first became acquainted with these works which were so hated by the Nazis and takes him to Vienna to find out more about the artists who had to flee and start new lives elsewhere.

Black Klansman, Film4, 10 pm Spike Lee’s dark comedy with John David Washington and Adam Driver. Can a black detective infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan?

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Utopia in search of the dream, BBC4, 12 am. Can utopian visions for living ever reconcile the tension between the group and the individual? Richard Clay travels to America, where he encounters experimental communities, searching for greater meaning in life. Richard visits a former Shaker village in New Hampshire and immerses himself for a day at the Twin Oaks eco-commune in Virginia, where residents share everything, even clothes. He looks back at the grand urban plans for the masses of the 20th-century utopian ideologies, from the New Deal housing projects of downtown Chicago to the concrete sprawl of a Soviet-era housing estate in Vilnius, Lithuania. He also meets utopian architects with a continuing faith that humanity’s lot can be improved by better design. Interviewees include architect Norman Foster and designer Shoji Sadao.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Billy Graham, PBS America, 6:30 pm. Explores the life of one of the most influential religious leaders of the 20th century. Billy Graham built media empire and preached to millions worldwide.

And finally a plug for Dune which is on cinema screens now:

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Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

Filmed at the V&A, London in July 2021 | Running Time 80 mins

I’ve seldom been hit by so many ideas in such a short space of time. This left me with so many thoughts and things I wanted to follow-up. It’s not just that there are so many ideas in the original two books but also the ways in which Alice has been interpreted since. Andi Oliver and V&A Curator Kate Bailey give us a guided tour through this highly theatrical and pretty comprehensive exhibition. We’re shown how Alice inspired creativity n fashion, film, photography and on the stage. So many artists have been inspired to create works that adapt the books by Carroll (the psuedonym for the author Charles L. Dodgson) or allude significantly to their language, themes, or characters.

The exhibition is ambitious. Take film for example. The V&A collaborated with The Australian Centre for the Moving Image – who mounted their own Wonderland exhibit a couple of years ago – to focus on Alice in film. The original ACMI exhibition featured more that 40 arthouse and blockbuster films, yet the V&A are presented even more.

I was surprised that there wasn’t more mention of music. The Alice books have served as the source for countless compositions both in the classical and pop traditions. I’m no expert on classical music but on pop know a little more. Even as I went into the film I was humming White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane and I am the Walrus by the Beatles. Both are illustrations of how the counterculture of the 60’s embraced Alice. I would have liked to have seen that explored more. Perhaps it was in the exhibition and didn’t feature so prominently in the film.

There is something for everyone here. I loved the Mad Hatter outfits and learning about the ‘real’ Alice for whom the stories were originally created and later written down. I loved the enthusiasm of Andi Oliver who was clearly a big fan of the rebel Alice who wasn’t afraid to question authority or the basis for rules.

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

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Culture Vulture: Our Guide to the week’s entertainment

Saturday 9 October 2021

Paris Police 1900, BBC4 9pm

Turmoil in Paris as rumours spread about the release of Dreyfus

Polystyrene: I Am a Cliche, Sky Arts 9pm
Celeste Bell looks at the legacy of her mother – X-Ray Spex founder Polystyrene.

Sunday 10 October 2021
Sylvia Plath: Inside the Bell Jar, BBC4 9pm
Deasl with the semi-autobiographical novel about a young woman’s struggle in 1950s America. The novel was published shortly before Sylvia’s death in 1963.

Monday 11 October 2021
Paul Merson, Football, Gambling and Me, BBC1 9pm
Being addicted to gambling is a terrible thing. It can lead to ruin yet our society views gambling as more acceptable than other forms of addiction. Paul Merson once played for Arsenal and England. During that time he was struggling with his demons and squandering his wages. Here he tries to understand why.
Dispatches, Clapped Out: Is the NHS broken?
Our NHS holds a special place in the hearts of Britons. Yet few would argue that it can be a creaking system.

Tuesday 12 October 2021
Who Do You Think You Are?, BBC1 9pm
A welcome return. The first episode looks at the background of Josh Widdecombe. It’s an entertaining and educational series. You never know quite what will turn up in the family backgrounds (some may haver regretted featuring on the programme!) and there is a lot of human interest in the stories from the past. You also learn a lot of history along the way, looking through the prism of one family.
Googlebox, C4 10.20pm
It’s always facinating to watch the diverse armchair critics reating to and commenting on some of the TV programmes of the week. This week it’s Strictly, The Mating Game, Family Fortunes, Extreme Food Phobics. I’ve not watched any of those but another two I have. I’m looking forward to seeing what they say about Squid Game wihich I found interesting but extremely violent. Likewise the Hairy Bikers Go North which I really enjoy.
Hansa Studios: By the Wall 1976-90, Sky Arts 11pm
So many stars have recorded at this iconic Berlin studio which used to overlook the Wall and has hosted many well-known acts including David Bowie, Iggy Pop, U2 and Brian Eno.

Wednesday 13 October 2021
Inside Holloway: Rebels and Murderers, Channel 5, 10pm
Although we hear about the prisoners – including Myra Hindley and Rosemary West; Maxine Carr, partner of Soham murderer Ian Huntley and Tracey Connelly (mother of Baby P) – it’s not really about them. This is social history as Holloway has been linked to key moments. The Suffragette movement, the creation of the Republic of Ireland, the British Fascist movement in the wake of WW2, and the abolition of the death penalty all feature in the story of Holloway.

Thursday 14 October 2021
The Hairy Bikers Go North, BBC2, 8pm
I’m a big fan of Si King and Dave Myers (collectively known as the Hairy Bikers because, well, they are hairy and they are Bikers). They’ve gone back to their roots and are showcasing the small businesses and entrepreneurs of the North who are doing wonderful things for our country. More power to their elbow!

Friday 15 October 2021
Propaganda: The Art of Selling Lies, PBS America, 5.20pm
If you don’t want to be manipulated it’s useful to understand the techniques that those in power or who desire power might seek to use on you.

Selected by Pat Harrington

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