Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Count Arthur Strong Week 2

I tried.  I kept the faith and tuned in for week two.  I lasted eight minutes, telling myself something funny would happen soon, it had to.  It didn't.  I couldn't bear it.  I turned over and won't be back.  It hurts too much to see this fiasco.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

First Night of the Proms 2013


I'd been looking forward to the Proms for some weeks and was not disappointed.  Sakari Oramo, new conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, got off to a flying start.  As always, we began with a new commission, Julian Anderson's four-minute 'Harmony'.  I feel slightly sorry for these guys: nobody got a ticket to hear them and if the piece is at all challenging, you'd really rather hear it more than once.  Certainly, I would like to hear 'Harmony' again.

Then it was Britten's four sea interludes from Peter Grimes.  Marvellous - sensitive, sensuous, profoundly melodic.  Orama seems to have an affinity for bleak, watery landscapes - then again, he's Finnish.  The highlight of the evening, though, was Stephen Gough (above) playing two variations of Paganini's caprice (known to my generation as the theme from The South Bank Show).  The first, Rachmaninov's, is pretty well known, especially that sumptuous segue towards the end, Lutoslawski's, which followed, less so.  Personally, I would have opted to do them the other way round.  Lutoslawski has charm but only lasts nine minutes and has nothing like the scope of Rachmaninov.  Watching Gough was a treat in itself.  His fingers flittered over the keys in a sort of speeded-up ballet.  Mesmerising.

I had been looking forward to the big finish, Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony from 1909.  That's because I had never heard it.  Never again - pompous, overblown and incredibly, insufferably long.  I'm afraid to say I gave up.

This year the Proms are devoting a colossal amount of time to Wagner, who would have been 200, had he lived.  Not for me - I have no interest in a musical version of Lord of the Rings, albeit with a better script.  I shall be looking out forb the Britten (a stripling of only 100) and something exotic, to complement the weather.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Count Athur Strong moves to TV

I first glimpsed Steve Delaney's decrepit vaudevillian back in the 80s.  More recently I became addicted to his surreal adventures on Radio 4.  Now Count Arthur has blundered his way onto BBC2.  Delaney himself, or rather Delaney as Arthur, survives remarkably unscathed.  The same cannot be said of everything else.  The familiar sidekicks have been dumped, which is perhaps understandable as they pretty much were only funny voices.  But Arthur has been inexplicably uprooted from Doncaster and dumped somewhere in London amid sidekicks who are not even funny voices.

The magnificent and subversive Graham Duff, who had a significant hand in the radio show, has been dumped for an alarmingly supine Graham Linehan, who for the first of the series reheated some very stale tropes of farce.  Rory Kinnear, as the anal son of Arthur's onetime comedy partner, was a beacon amid the car crashes, but Rory Kinnear is brilliant - he's supposed to be the new Doctor Who, for Pete's sake.

The foot-spa McGuffin came nowhere near equalling Father Jack's pet brick, and is a measure of how far Linehan has lowered himself for this gig.

Did I laugh?  Of course I did - it's Count Arthur Strong.  Will I watch next week?  Yes, for the reason aforementioned.  Did I love it?  No, sorry.