ARTS / Cries & Whispers

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The Independent Culture
TO BAFTA, a shortlist; a subdued affair after last year's hoo-ha over GBH and Prime Suspect. Nothing as intriguing as vote-rigging, alas - just the usual desire to please all of the big people all of the time ('Of course I voted for you, Verity').

I'd hate to be a judge in Best Light Entertainment Performance, choosing between Richard Wilson, Pat Routledge, and Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. For the fabulous Absolutely Fabulous, these two should have entered jointly as 'Darling' and seen off all competition. The adage 'Bafta is dafta' is still borne out in drama, where the confusion between a serial and a series means Love Hurts squaring up (in serials) against Prime Suspect II. A 'soap' category is clearly required: with the broadest mind in the world, Ken Barlow's traumatic dalliances are no match for Richard Johnson wild with all regret over the lost love of his life in Anglo-Saxon Attitudes.

BBC1's tremendous Between the Lines, which I thought was a serial, has ended up in series, facing the mighty Morse. Another mystery - how Channel 4's exquisitely awful Camomile Lawn made the serial shortlist, when BBC2's superb Old Devils didn't - is soon cleared up: they only get one entry per category per channel, and BBC2 put in Goodbye Cruel World. Members of Bafta can vote four programmes in, but no one talked of the Devils. This means that if the three best drama series in a year are on BBC2, any old cobblers from Carlton could still pip two of them to a prize. Hello, Cruel World.

TWO WEEKS ago I quoted the Daily Telegraph's startling claim that nothing had happened in art since 1917, and invited readers to refute it by naming the greatest work of the period. It's been raining postcards ever since. They range from Bridget Riley ('powerful images that suit our monochrome, linear- minded society' - Ian Wells, Preston) to Leon Kossoff's Here Comes the Diesel (Simon Poe, Batley, no reason given).

There were persuasive votes for Giacometti ('heir to Cezanne and the last great draughtsman' - Gerald Woods, Eastbourne), Chagall's Fall of the Angel ('sums up the century' - David Wheeler, Spalding), Dali's Christ of St John of the Cross (ditto - Deborah Casson of Port Erin), and Sir Alfred Munnings, for calling 'for sanity and clarity in art' in a speech at the RA (J I Chesters, Mold). The most votes went to Matisse, because he brings joy; second was Coventry Cathedral. The oddest suggestion came from D Large of Newcastle: the career of George Best, who 'deconstructed the game of football and brought art every week to a field where it is rarely seen'. I'm not quite convinced, D, but the champagne is yours.

SO THE Town & Country Club has been saved. Or has it? The hall, widely rated the best in London, is to stay open for live music. But the management is still being booted out - the lease has gone to Vince Power, who sounds like a Martin Amis hero but in fact runs a chain of London venues. He's going to change the T & C's name - to the Forum - but that needn't worry us. The Hammersmith Odeon is still the Hammersmith Odeon even though it's the Hammersmith Apollo.

Mr Power provokes mixed feelings. His venues are good - I've never enjoyed a gig so much as Roy Orbison's at the Mean Fiddler in 1987. But nobody should dominate a market as he now does: just look at Rupert Murdoch. I trust the T & C gang will find another hall and keep him on his toes. Meanwhile, the Forum can act as a controlled experiment: it will tell us which is the more important, a place or the people who run it.