Review

Great Moments in Aviation (Sat BBC2), a shipboard romance by Jeanette Winterson, began by taking on fabular cargo. Nothing was missing from the inventory - the valedictory family banquet, the picturesque flambeaux, a white horse, blessings and predictions, dreams of flight, even a bloody elephant, doing its pachydermic bit to increase the sense of wonder. How the spirits sank at the prospect of this voyage, and they didn't perk up much when you heard what was lined up for the ship's amateur dramatics. On Winterson Lines you don't get Ayckbourn or Agatha Christie, you get Massinger's The Temptation.

Jonathan Pryce and Rakie Ayola meet cutely in their cabin, thrown together by a booking error. It is the premise for a screwball comedy, but it is soon clear that screwball is not one of the shots in Winterson's repertoire - she is too busy arranging brightly-coloured balls into pretty patterns. Pryce plays Duncan Stewart, a forger who may also have forged himself, while Ayola plays Gabriel Angel ("tighten that gag, nurse. I can still hear the moans"), a young girl who dreams of learning to fly, like her beloved grandfather. In the next cabin are Doctor Angela Bead and her companion Gwendoline Quim ("tighter, goddamn it, tighter!"), two returning missionaries. John Hurt prowls around as nemesis, in the shape of an art historian who has unfinished business with Duncan: matters of murder and the forgery of a Titian. There is much talk of truth and flight, art and life, and enough gravid symbolism to sink a battle-cruiser.

But while flight is the sustaining theme, the film never soars. The characterisation is Cluedo with pretensions, and the dialogue suspends the actors in that ungainly, undignified dangle which you associate with stage flying, the wires robbing them of all powers of independent movement. There are a couple of moments when characters manage to get their feet to the floor, when some sense of real weight returns to the story - as in a radiant scene when the two missionaries cautiously declare their mutual love after 32 years of decorous containment (beautifully acted by Vanessa Redgrave and Dorothy Tutin). But, for the most part, these people are simply Winterson's puppets, jerked around by the symbolic demands of the plot.

Beeban Kidron's direction appears to be a kind of surrender, dutifully sup- plying visual equivalents for Winterson's sterile symmetries but despairing of any greater vivacity. It would have been impossible, anyway, such is the pomp of the story's advancement - everything unrolls at the same stately pace, a religious procession bearing the reliquaries of Winterson's prose. It's as though the author thinks every word is infinitely precious. She's right, though perhaps not in the way she imagines.

The physicist Niels Bohr once snapped at Einstein: "You are not thinking. You are merely being logical". The same charge could be levelled against Enoch Powell, the subject of Odd Man Out (Sat BBC2), an engrossing profile by Michael Cockerell. Old age has transformed Powell into Blakey from On The Buses, but a Blakey possessed of fearsome clarity of mind and economy of expression. "I was not satisfactory," Powell said flatly, explaining what had gone wrong with his first love affair. His conversation throughout was uncannily grammatical, issuing as a string of philosophical premises or textbook sentences.

Cockerell had wonderful material with which to evoke the icy blaze of his life, including a photograph of Enoch in the bath, eyes staring wildly, and an interview with Mrs Thatcher in which she recalled Enoch's physical charisma in Cabinet. So that's where she got the eyeballs from, you realised.

The mystery of how such a fastidious intellect could bring itself to dabble in the gutter of racial hatred remained unsolved, but you were given clues. This was a tragedy of intellectual vanity, it seems, the story of a man who could not change his mind because he simply couldn't bring himself to believe that such an exquisite machine might have malfunctioned in the first place.

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee