'Antique Betjeman Roadshow' and Other Odd Tributes ; Miles Kington

By Hensher, Philip | The Independent (London, England), August 23, 2006 | Go to article overview
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'Antique Betjeman Roadshow' and Other Odd Tributes ; Miles Kington

Hensher, Philip, The Independent (London, England)

There are more than a thousand television and radio programmes on John Betjeman scheduled in the next seven days, so to help you, I am bringing you a selection of the best.


Sir John Betjeman never played golf - there is a memorable shot of him in Metro-land swinging at a ball and totally missing it - but his beloved Cornwall is full of good golf courses, as indeed are his beloved Home Counties, and in this evocative hour some of our top sports commentators speculate on how much he would have liked the game if he had liked it.

"Down the fairway, past the marker,

Flies the Penfold No 3, Driven by my fair Rhiannon, From the forward Ladies tee...


(UK Dance Channel, weekend) Sir John Betjeman had no time for ballroom dancing, but his beloved East Anglia was full of dance halls, as indeed was the Australian city of Sydney which he so loved, and in this enthralling documentary we trace the progress of the architectural evolution of the palais de danse, a form of building which Betjeman would undoubtedly have loved if he hadn't been so hung up on churches and railway stations.

THE LAUREATE YEARS (Radio 3, last night)

What did the Queen think of Sir John's poetry? This programme does not tell us.

JOHNBETJEMAN: THE SKIER (Sports Channel, next week)

It is not known if Sir John was much of a skier, but for many years the British winter holidaymaker would have streamed through his beloved Victoria and Waterloo stations en route to the pleasure slopes of France and Switzerland.

This programme lovingly recreates pre-war skiing conditions in Sir John Betjeman's honour.

"Down the slope comes my Rhiannon,

Swishing as she passes me' She is fleet and I am hopeless,

Flat on my back at Chamonix' Butlater, when the dusk has fallen,

And we all have had our tea, I will then approach Rhiannon

In the glow of aprs-ski.

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