CRIES & WHISPERS

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The Independent Culture
4 A A GILL, the TV critic of the Sunday Times, surpassed himself last weekend. And "himself" is the operative word. In a column that filled two pages and covered just two programmes, he used the first person singular 40 times. He also used his own name twice, and appeared in the headline, making a total of 43 self- references, or 21.5 per programme.

Gill is not the first critic to believe that he is more interesting than his subject. But he may be the first to confess to an urge to commit a sexual offence against a fictional character. Discussing Anne Elliot, the heroine of Persuasion, he wrote: "I wanted to slap her silly face, or stick my hand up her skirt." A blameless figure, played with great skill and delicacy by Amanda Root - what had she done to deserve this?

Criticising critics can easily backfire. Brian Sewell of the Evening Standard was just another reactionary art critic until a posse of gallery big-wigs wrote to his paper to complain about him, whereupon he won a British Press Award - the judges being of the belief that all controversy was a good thing - and recycled his columns as a book, gleefully entitled The Reviews That Caused the Rumpus.

Some senior people in television are, if anything, angrier about I I Gall than anyone was about Sewell, but have refrained from saying so for fear of creating another martyr. So it falls to us fellow hacks to keep an eye on him. If this makes us look self-righteous, so be it. Gill is covering an important subject for a big-selling newspaper in a manner that insults both the medium and the reader.

4 A CRACKING new single came out on Monday: "Guaglione", by Perez "Prez" Prado. If the name doesn't ring a bell, the tune would - it's from the current Guinness ad, the one in which a bendy man does a funny dance. Even if you're not bendy, the music is hard to sit still to - a fizzing concoction of the kind nightclubs used to serve when they were still known as dancehalls. It's not aesthetically correct to like music from ads, but they've brought us many good songs, from "Jeans On" to "Boom Boom". And they have done a lot better than telly proper, which favours drivel like "The Chicken Song" and Mr Blobby.

4 THE Radio Times got egg on its face recently when a spin-off book, The Radio Times Film & Video Guide, was caught plagiarising a rival, Halliwell's. It was, however, not alone. This week's TV Times has a review of Crossing Delancey (BBC1, tonight) which begins: "In an unex- pectedly enjoyable way, this mellow romantic comedy addresses one of the great social issues of our day - the dilemma of how the thirtyish, attractive, successful, intelligent and unmarried female finds a mate she can be happy with." Turning to Variety Movie Guide (1992), I find this: "In an unexpectedly enjoyable way, this mellow romantic comedy addresses one of the great societal issues of our day - the dilemma of how the 30- ish, attractive, successful, intelligent and unmarried female finds a mate she can be happy with." Well, it could be a coincidence . . .

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