Review

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
You would have thought, wouldn't you, that an advert for a hearing aid might carry subtitles? Failing that, the presenter might enunciate very clearly. But the cheerful man punting hearing aids during Monday afternoon's Collector's Lot (Channel 4) rattled away in a very casual fashion, his strategy appearing to be that the devices were the sort of fun lifestyle accessory you wouldn't want to be without. I'm not sure who Channel 4 are aiming their new afternoon bric-a-brac programme at, but the advertisers aren't in much doubt about who is going to watch it - people with time on their hands, even if their hands aren't as flexible as they once were. In between the two halves of the first programme you were offered Special Needs bathroom products (a walk-in bathtub for arthritis sufferers), automatic garage doors, hearing aids and a Shirley Bassey record collection. The programme itself - with that nice Sue Cook presenting (a substitute daughter who will visit more often than the real one) and its little items on the restoration of doll's houses and Gillian Clarke's passion for quilting - only confirmed the sense of sweet, domesticated insulation. "Well at least we know they're keeping cosy at Number 11," said Cook, after the item on quilts. I tried for a moment to think what it would be like to be warmed by the knowledge that Kenneth Clarke is keeping warm at night, but imagination failed me.

As daytime programming goes, Collector's Lot is actually quite sophisticated, involving location filming and a different private interior every day as the studio base. A much less strenuous way of cheaply filling the daytime schedules is simply to invent another game-show, the current growth area being leisure-based formats in which a modest pill of instruction is sugared with a sprinkle of B-list celebrities and unthreatening larkiness. The BBC has gone strong on this genre since dismembering its morning schedules and All Over the Shop (BBC1) is the newest addition to the roster, warming up the home-makers for the debatable pleasures of Kilroy and Can't Cook, Won't Cook (the antiques buffs get their turn later with with Going for a Song, presented by the immaculately restored Michael Parkinson). As the title suggests All Over the Shop is about consumer savvy, from blind- testing of different olive oils to discriminating between fake Persian rugs and the real thing. As these things go, it isn't bad (it was intriguing to find, for example, that the price of a pre-recorded video in 1979 was a staggering pounds 50, a nice demonstration of technology's ability to plummet in price even faster than the value of the pound), but it also drives a Sainsbury's pantechnicon through the BBC's one-time fastidiousness about naming products. It was something of a relief to find that it is not an independent production, given the astonishing opportunity for payola that it represents.

Omnibus's film about Nureyev (BBC1) has received some criticism in these pages for its "incomplete" account of the dancer's life. Given that it was quite explicitly about the dancer's death, the incompleteness was hardly surprising. I would guess that it helped if you watched from some position other than an adoring kow-tow, in which case the film's elegiac visual style - a wash of slow fades and choreographed, formal location shots - might actually have a chance to work on you. Not knowing very much about Nureyev and caring even less (just regard this as a disability on my part - there is no point in writing indignantly, any more than there would be in trying to persuade a colour-blind man that he really should like Rothko), I found it both persuasive about his charisma and moving in its account of his passion for dance. The entire film built to the first night of his production of La Bayadere, a ballet that he effectively made into his Liebestod, and even if romantic excess isn't your thing, it was easy to feel the prick of tears at his appearance on stage, frail and hollowed. Just to stand there was a heroic triumph of appearance over physical reality - much like the long career that led up to that moment.

Comments