Watched BBC4 Hidden Lives stand last night and saw the Michael Sheen Kenneth Williams bio/film play “Fantabulosa” which was excellent and quite moving. Putting aside any arguments on how you portray a solitary private man the film was engaging and thought provoking. When I lived in Holborn I lived a few houses way from where Williams was born, and the mood of that part of North London around St Pancras where he spent most of his life was captured really well. It had a nice look of 70’s and 80’s too.
Fantabulosa was followed by an interesting repeat of an Arena film on William’s friend the playwright Joe Orton. Now here’s the thing is it just me or is Joe Orton work not funny? The film had long (5 mins plus clips of his 3-4 plays) and I didn’t laugh once not even a smile. Now I know sometimes lines that get a big laugh in the collective experience of the theatre fall flat on screen (see all of “the History Boys” film) but this seemed very thin gruel. I am prepared to take into account that the content and form were ground breaking at the time but a good joke surely should last 40 years. It seemed like the sort writing you might get in the first draft of ITV sitcom or worse 2 pints of cocking lager. On the whole I think Joe Orton life is far more interesting than his plays. (My only caveat here is I should see one of his works live before fully making up my mind)
Kimono my Plaice
Also on last night was Nigella Express. There is always a lot of talk about Nigella but you can’t doubt that she is very good at making food programmes with the minimal twaddle and gimmicks. Her basic skill (rarer than it should be) is to present tasty and attractive food you can imagine cooking yourself. She might over play the busy lifestyle angle abit (one imagines she has a cleaner) but I fear she’s on a hiding to nothing with the press being firstly a women, secondly an attractive one at that, lastly coming from a seemingly privileged background. The fact that she writes really well and is enthusiastic about what she writes about seems to count for nothing. I do however think the programmes tend to veer into the “cheesecake” side of things too much for an intelligent woman but if all food programmes were as straightforward as this we’d have a lot less to complain about.
Ps. Although opinions vary