Last Night's Television - Horizon, BBC2; Imagine...BBC1; Storyville: Hi Society – The Wonderful World of Nicky Haslam, BBC4

After the ball is over

For the socialite and interior designer Nicky Haslam a surprising number of things turn out to be fun. Having a stalker, for instance: "So chic," he said brightly in
Storyville: Hi Society – the Wonderful World of Nicky Haslam. "We should all have one." Or spending three years of his childhood paralysed with polio ("It was rather fun"). Or the hazards of pre-Wolfenden homosexuality ("It was illegal still so that made it much more fun"). He's also got a very long list of things that he thinks are common, including swans, pronouncing the last t in "trait", scented candles, wheat intolerance, loving your parents and queuing at Annabel's. Fortunately, he probably doesn't have to do a lot of the latter because Nicky is to the London scene what the silver lady is on a Rolls-Royce. He attends up to five parties a night to exchange air kisses and squeals of delighted recognition before moving on, ceaselessly driving on through the crowd to where the flash of the paparazzi cameras is brightest.

I'm not quite sure whether Nicky himself is fun. Lots of people were jostling to insist that he was in and he'd drawn a loyal full house of friends to his performance of Cole Porter songs, the subRex Harrison delivery rapidly making it obvious that it couldn't have been love of music that had filled the room. It seems only charitable to assume he is, but then he'd have to be to compensate for the relentless vapid world in which he moves, making the wives of Russian oligarchs feel as if they have taste and tending to the utterly mysterious celebrity of Paris Hilton. You can tell all you really need to know about Nicky's aesthetic judgement not from his interiors – a kind of pebble dashing of knick-knacks, swagging and expensive antiques – but from his reverence for Paris. He talked of "that wonderful glow she has, that pearlescent halo around her face... she sheds a glitter that sometimes settles on one and one basks in it". Paris Hilton, a human disco ball, scattering the light of celebrity so that spangles fall across Nicky, too.

I was just beginning to wonder whether I could bare to spend any more time with Nicky when Hannah Rothschild's film somehow deepened, visiting Nicky's last great love – a designer called Paolo Moschino –to discover that the party thing was less going out than running away. Nicky, incidentally, doesn't make any attempt to hide this. "I just happen to be incapable of not having it," he said of his party habit. But Paolo had understood that meeting 200 friends a night isn't remotely like talking to one friend for half-an-hour, and left Nicky for the odd quiet night in. Haslam clearly still minds very much about this and nearly cried talking about it, which let you see that all the flippancy and superficial style isn't all that is there. Probably just as shallow to think that misery makes you deep, as to believe that celebrity makes you worthwhile, but at least we'd encountered something he couldn't defuse as "fun".

Curiously, Alan Yentob, party animal, made a couple of appearances in Hi Society, drifting across the scene at one of the events Nicky was attending. But he was back at work in the first of a new series of Imagine..., profiling the artist Anish Kapoor, something of a gift for television in that he talks fluently and openly about his work, and that the work itself "presents well", as estate agents say. The same qualities that make it so popular in galleries – its clarity and simplicity of means – make it register well on screen. It is a curiously democratic kind of luxury he offers: the city of Chicago ended up paying $23m for the work that Kapoor calls Cloud Gate but which everyone else refers to as the Bean, but even the politicians seem to feel it was worth it. He also offered a rather good formulation of the moment at which an artist knows that he has broken through, recalling the impact of his exhibition at the 1990 Venice Biennale. "Up to then, I think I'd felt it was me trying to tell people what I was doing. From that moment on, it was people telling me what I was doing."

I really shouldn't watch Horizon anymore. It just makes my blood pressure go up, and if there has been a recent medical breakthrough on the hypertension front, Horizon will be the last place you're likely to learn about it. "How Long Is a Piece of String?" was presented by the comedian Alan Davies, not because he knows anything about the subject but specifically because he doesn't. It contained six minutes of interesting material on relatively recent discoveries about the involvement of quantum mechanics in biological processes but didn't have time to properly explore them, having wasted unconscionable amounts of time beforehand on crowd-pleasing guff. Nobody minds a sugar-coating, but shouldn't there be some- thing for the sugar to coat?



Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape