Tag Archives: TV

Pompidou: Matt Lucas’s silent comedy comes to BBC2

Matt Lucas and Alex MacQueen in Pompidou
Matt Lucas and Alex MacQueen in Pompidou
Matt Lucas is a bit of a comedy hero, from his hilarious cameos on Shooting Stars, to the taste- and boundary-pushing Little Britain, to the trenchant way he knocks down the idiots who try to step to him on social media. I may not like everything Lucas does, but he is one of the most original, and bravest, voices in TV comedy. Unafraid to go against fashion as ever, his new project is a “visual comedy” TV series, Pompidou, which debuts on BBC2 on Sunday 1 March.

Lucas has co-written the series with Julian Dutton, and he plays the title character: “an elderly oddball aristocrat who has fallen on hard times”. Alex MacQueen plays his long-suffering butler, Hove. And they have a canine companion, too: the elegant Marion, an Afghan hound.

New silent comedy on our screens is always a cause for joy and anticipation – so we’re very keen to see how this one pans out. There are six 30-minute episodes to come, and in each of them, we are promised, Pompidou and Hove face a new, bizarre, challenge.
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Sunday night is watch-a-silent-film-that-isn’t-The-Artist-night

The Artist (2011)
The Artist (2011)

The Silent London social media accounts are here to help, so on Thursday evening, I passed on the news that The Artist is screening on BBC2 on Sunday night.

Immediately some people reacted with horror. I quite liked The Artist. OK, up to a point. But some people really didn’t!

Lucie Dutton came up with this neat suggestion

Which gave me an idea.

How about it guys? I’m assuming you’ve seen The Artist, you don’t want to see it, or you can set the tape for it*. So why not nominate Sunday night silent movie night. Stick on a film, and tell me what you’re watching here in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtag #silentfilmthatsnottheartist. It’s the perfect excuse to enjoy a silent, and chat to your friends at the same time. And isn’t that half the point of these modern silents? To revive our passion for the real deal?

Not sure what I will be watching, but it may well be something British, or first-world-war-ish. How about you? Are you in?

*Program your hard-disk recorder, natch

BBC’s Sound of Cinema season – September 2013

silentcinema

This week, I was lucky enough to attend the launch of Sound of Cinema, a new cross-channel season from the BBC exploring film music in all its variety. The centrepiece of the season, arriving in September, is a three-part documentary on BBC4 by silent film composer Neil Brand called The Big Score. I’ve had a sneak preview of the series and it’s seriously fascinating stuff, with Brand tracing the development of film music from the silent era onwards, explaining exactly how classic scores work their magic on the viewing public and interviewing movie composers and big-name directors. Vangelis discusses the creation of his classic score for the most famous slow-motion sequence of them all in Chariots of Fire; Martin Scorsese talks us through his use of Jumpin’ Jack Flash in Mean Streets. In the first episode, Brand talks to silent film accompanist Bernie Anderson at Loew’s Theatre in Jersey City – and has a go on the magnificent in-house organ there.

Other elements in the season include stars discussing their favourite film music moments on BBC Radio 6; a documentary about the relationship between hip-hop and cinema on BBC Radio 1; Bobby Friction exploring Bollywood music on the BBC Asian Network; and a BBC Radio 2 documentary made by Mark Kermode called Soundtrack of my Life, which promises to be very entertaining. There’s absolutely masses planned on BBC Radio 3, including Sound of Cinema downloads by Brand and a a week of programmes hosted by Matthew Sweet. You can read more here (PDF). Radio1 film critic Rhianna Dhillon talked to me about the intriguing possibility of getting some pop acts to have a stab at scoring a film – perhaps they will get a taste for it and we’ll find some new names added to the list of regular silent film composers!

Because, yes, this all sounds a bit “talkie” for Silent London, but I’m sharing this with you because this series promises “a deep understanding of what music does for film”. It’s a subject that silent cinema fans discuss animatedly after every screening – we’re in the now unusual position of watching the same film again and again with different scores, which can make a huge difference to the experience. Perhaps, after dipping into this season. we’ll have an insight into the influences, theories and ideas rushing through the film accompanist’s mind at the next screening we attend.

The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon on BBC4

A quick mention for a chance to see some early films on TV. BBC4 is repeating the three-part series The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon and it is a very welcome return. The Mitchell and Kenyon hoard was discovered in the cellar of a disused shop in Blackburn in 1994 and contains many beautiful films of Northern England in the Edwardian era. When the programmes were first shown in 2005, Guardian TV critic Nancy Banks-Smith called them “Lowry come to life”.

The films were advertised to the public at the time as an chance to “see yourselves as others see you”, but now they are a precious opportunity to see ourselves as we once were. The collection has recently been added to the Unesco World Heritage list and is even being used by scientists at Imperial College London to study “handedness” – the researchers are scanning the films by computer to measure how many of the people waving at the camera in the films are using their left or right hands. For the rest of us, they offer a nostalgic, often bittersweet, glimpse at a time gone by.

If you want to learn more, visit the BFI Mitchell and Kenyon page or read this essay by Ian Jack.

The Lost World of Mitchell and Kenyon screens on BBC4 at 10pm and begins on Tuesday 19th July.

With thanks to Peter Walsh.