Magazine article The Spectator

Faking It

Magazine article The Spectator

Faking It

Article excerpt

The most important TV news this week, of course, is that the Big Brother cameras caught one of the housemates having a furtive Jodrell. I didn't see it myself, but according to my friend Caspar, it was 'Ray, the slightly boring, slightly unpleasant, though also mildly charming at times Irish fella'. He told the lads he was going to 'knock one out' and they all assumed he meant he'd gone to the loo. Cut to Ray on the bog, completely covered by a duvet, the left side of it twitching with 'metronomic regularity'. Just thought you ought to know.

This is already far more TV than I'd intended to give you this week. In fact, having only just returned from Corsica (The Spectator hack destination de l'annee, clearly) I'd planned to review nothing at all and just ramble on solipsistically like I used to do in the good old days. But then my father-in-law rang and said there had been this rather interesting George Orwell documentary that I really ought to do.

And he was right. George Orwell - A Life In Pictures (BBC2, last Saturday) was one of those exceedingly rare programmes that makes your heart leap as you realise: 'My God! So watching TV isn't a 100 per cent guaranteed total waste of life after all.' Playing on the fact that there is not a single extant recording or moving picture of Orwell, it had the brilliant idea of faking the lot. So, we had washed-out colour cine footage of Orwell and his wife larking about self-consciously with their pet goat; a jerky Imperial propaganda film celebrating Twenties Burma in which Orwell the colonial policeman exchanged pleasantries with beaming natives; a newsreel of Orwell in the Spanish Civil War brewing up tea in the trenches in the hills above Barcelona; clips of Orwell chain-smoking his way through an interview on Face To Face. None of it was made up, though, in the sense that every word spoken by Orwell he had actually said or written in real life.

Sometimes it got a bit too much. Once you got used to the idea that it wasn't George Orwell, just a very plausible Chris Langham, you started looking for flaws. That goat scene, for example. The tics, the mugging, the stiltedness were that little bit overdone - more like a Harry Enfield parody of a Thirties movie than the genuine article. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.