The Culture Show, BBC2

by | Jan 5, 2008 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

It tears open the ignorant breast of primetime television to expose the vibrant, beating heart of culture to a wider audience.

What to say if you didn’t like it

A thick, corrosive tar blighting the lungs of BBC schedules with its selfish, indulgent agenda designed to serve the elite few and exile the many.

What was good about it?

• The enlightening feature on artist David Hockney, in which he illuminated the secret of his inspiration with an anecdote about how he had seen great beauty in a road full of puddles and he drove home to paint the vista while it remained in his memory.

• The plight of the Macclesfield Psalter, a little book of psalms written in the 14th century and beautifully illustrated, often with mischievous pictures, that will be exported to the Getty Museum in California unless the money can be raised to keep it in this country.

• David Hockney distinguishing the difference between classical paintings and the relatively modern technique of photography using Velasquez’s Pope as the template, of which Hockney claimed a photo “couldn’t get the layers.”.

• There was plenty of striking imagery: the examples of animation, David Hockney’s art, the views from the peak of the Divis Mountain outside Belfast, that will soon be open again the public.

What was bad about it?

• Architect Will Allsopp, who has designed an arts centre in West Bromwich, was described in the narrative as “highly rated.”, which is Mediaspeak for: “You haven’t heard of him, so you’ll have to trust our subjective view..”

• The remarks of the residents of West Bromwich often seemed ignorant of the artistic vision of Allsopp. Those against bemoaned the cost, or its perceived ugliness, while even those in favour stated that it merely “put West Bromwich on the map.”, or that “it’s

got people talking.”.

• The theme throughout the show seemed to be more about traditional artistic methods coming under threat from contemporary technology (rather than the art itself) which many commentators deemed to be soulless such as the increase in CGI over drawing in animated films, photos over painting in the Hockney piece, and the Macclesfield Psalter’s removal from it’s home in Britain to California.

• The article on the five books on the Whitbread Prize shortlist didn’t actually give much information on the books other than a brief synopsis.

• The lack of a human angle in many of the pieces made them uninteresting. It was difficult to care about the opening up of the Divis Mountain without a coherent human narrative.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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