Thursday, 21 February 2008

Being Human

Just a quick rant.

I watched Being Human last night by accident and loved it. Dark, and with the perfect mix of domesticity and monsters and a large dash of slacker comedy sensibility. It felt like a pilot, and I was looking forward to the next episode.

But, I read today that it was a 'one-off drama', and that the pretty mediocre Phoo Action (aiming at the yoof market) from last week is the one from this batch that got the commission.

If this is correct, there is no justice......

Ah.... right...... as you were then.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Report from the front line

I went to see Women of Troy last night, and it was an interesting experience for lots of reasons.

1. I got a cheap last minute seat in the front row - Yay -the third time that has happened, so I think disorganisation is a virtue when National Theatre tickets are involved.

2. Being in the front row I got hit by the big blast at the end of the play, and covered in dust/ash. Once I finished spitting out the bits, I thought that was a bit of a result for the notion of theatre as an involving experience.

3. I could see Hecuba's snot get stuck to the stage and pull away in a great big string - certainly an authentic experience.

4. I remained uninvolved, despite the great acting, good view, great set, and a great play with enormous, tragic themes.

The last point has been worrying me all day. Apart from the fabulous slow-mo dancing sequences, which I found tremendously moving, my main feeling was of wonderment that I didn't feel anything despite the god-awful things that were being acted out.

Is it because I know that this all ends very badly and didn't want the emotional investment I wondered, but in that case why do I still get suckered into Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet etc? It isn't that the play was a dud either - I have been thinking about the play for the rest of today as well, usually the sign of a good-un, and I know that it was excellent and I enjoyed it, but at an intellectual level, rather than an emotional one.

I *like* emotional engagement though, and I want it back, even though I'm sure it means my hidden depths are shallow.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Is there Life in Gene?

Ashes to Ashes started last week, and I couldn't decide whether to look forward to it or not.

Gene Hunt was clearly a great invention, and it was inevitable and highly desirable that he would be brought back. The risk was that without John Simm the intensity would vanish from the experience, and instead we would be left with lightweight clowning and nostalgia.

I have to say that I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. Bringing a woman in for the eighties was absolutely spot on, giving an opportunity to highlight gender politics, but she did seem a bit shrill and frenetic against the relaxed joshing of the established gang in that first episode. Maybe that was the point though.

I joined the Met Police as a manager of civilian staff in the eighties, and I would say that casual sexism was still a very big issue, right up to when I left in the early nineties. In terms of authenticity though, what were they doing giving a DI short skirts and off the shoulder numbers showing her bra strap without her causing a riot? Of course we were all wearing sexy clothes outside of work, but in the eighties women were still fighting to be taken seriously in senior roles and were having to dress and behave like men. Even as a newcomer, she would have found her job impossible with those clothes. A2A is set in 1981, but in 1986 when I joined, suits were the order of the day for any woman hoping to be taken seriously, and I was given a ticking off during my first few weeks for wearing a (very smart) trouser suit; 'Women in trousers are not acceptable in a serious work environment as they are too revealing', so I think they missed a trick there.

It has already been interesting in highlighting how far we haven't moved, particularly in being unwilling to give a woman the benefit of the doubt. In the chat forums I have popped into it has been instructive to see how many woman have been grumbling about Keeley Hawes who plays the new female DI. I don't buy the argument that we are so far post-feminist that sisterly support is outdated. When women are being criticised by other women in terms that they wouldn't dream of using for men, I get really depressed.

Apart from that though, I think that there are some very interesting points to be made, so I hope they don't spend too long faffing about in an empty nostalgia fest, or gazing adoringly at Gene Hunt.

Having said all that, who can remain po-faced about gender politics for too long when Gene Hunt appears round the corner in his Audi Quattro? Certainly not me - I was hanging on every one of the Guvner's nuggets of wisdom within minutes this week despite all my misgivings. And there is the problem in a nutshell.

Ah well, I will just have to try harder next week.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Hello Motto

I hear that Britain is to have a motto to bring us together, pull as a team etc, something to symbolise what we have in common.* Seriously naff idea somehow, and surely the whole point of Britishness is that we are curmudgeonly old buggers who seriously resent doing anything so decidedly corporate. Judging by the sniggers from the Radio 4 news this evening, I'm not the only one with that view.

If we have to have a motto, my best suggestion so far is 'Never knowingly over-keen', but I am sure the better class of blog and tomorrow's papers will have much better ideas.

Update: My son's attempt is 'Britain: America's bitch'. I'm not sure what that says about the youth (or Britain) of today.

* Although I suspect that it has more to do with selling Britishness abroad.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

You had to be there....

Went to see Cyrano de Bergerac this week in rep at The Haymarket, Basingstoke, and thoroughly enjoyed it as usual, even though the theatre was really only half full. What is it about theatre that makes it such an intensely enjoyable experience? To see the same thing on screen, large or small might be nice, but not the same.

Stand up is similar, in that you can always double the effect on the audience actually present, so that what is quite enjoyable on the dvd, becomes gut-wrenchingly funny live. Why is that?