Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

TV WATCH; out on a Limb, Art Doesn't Need to Imitate Real Life

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

TV WATCH; out on a Limb, Art Doesn't Need to Imitate Real Life

Article excerpt


TV WATCH 3 Minute Wonder: the Place Prize Channel 4 VICTOR LEWIS-SMITH WHILE I've long considered Top Gear to be televisual proctorrhoea (a morbid, anal discharge, since you ask), this is no time to start criticising Richard Hammond's driving skills. Unlike his fellow speedophile Jeremy Clarkson, a man who has spent his entire career concentrating on his presentational schtick when he should have been concentrating on his gear stick, Hammond has regularly boasted of ignoring speed limits, and has deliberately smashed up vehicles in a bid to entertain viewers.

Back in 2003, he even rammed a Toyota pickup truck into a chestnut tree outside a Somerset church, then drove off without reporting the damage, leaving the BBC to issue a grovelling apology to Churchill parish council after the incident was broadcast. And he's courted disaster for decades by driving while talking directly into a camera fixed into the side window, instead of looking straight ahead (I wonder if Mr Hammond had adopted the same Top Gear posture immediately before he did to his brains what Mellors did to Lady Chatterley?).

Although actually, when it comes to drivers who deserve to die, that accolade must surely go to the legendary white supremacist stuntman Ku Klux Klaneval from Alabama, who used to attempt to jump over 15 black men.

In a steamroller.

Of course, the real reason most of us watch high-speed motor racing is in hope of seeing a crash, followed by the sight of the Running Burning Men sprinting around the track to the distant accompaniment of the approaching emergency services.

By the same token, we watch diving competitions in expectation of some unlucky swimmer smacking his head against the board and bellyflopping into the water, and ballet on the off-chance that some elegant Russian superstar will fall flat on her arse while attempting a tricky triple fouette.

Having never mastered the art of joinedup dancing, I confess that the Terpsichorean language is all Greek to me, but that didn't stop me tuning into last night's 3 Minute Wonder, which this week is devoted to the work of young choreographers competing for the Place Prize.

Because even though the finer points of this "unique insight into the diversity of contemporary dance" might be lost on me, I reckoned there was at least a decent chance of seeing a highly trained dancer toppling over like a drunk in mid-pirouette, followed by a satisfyingly meaty smack to add injury to insult.

As it turned out, the central dancer in Lucy Suggate's competition piece (A Day Out) was completely legless, but not in the way I'd expected. James O' Shea is a double amputee, but the choreographer had turned his physical limitations into an advantage by constructing a dance that contrasted the miracle of birth with video footage of a seaside trip to Scarborough. …

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