Last night's viewing: All in the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry, Channel 4; True Love, BBC1

 

"Do you cry a more vintage kind of tears at Glyndebourne?" Grayson Perry asked in the first of his lovely series All in the Best Possible Taste. He was in a Northern club at the time, having just watched a particularly tear-jerking performance by a local singer, and the answer his question was inviting was "No".

That's been an assumption all the way through his exploration of Britain's taste tribes – no taste can confidently lay claim to superiority, only to a comforting sense of identity. He explicitly reiterated this credo at the end of last night's episode, when he addressed an assembly of those he'd met in the course of filming: "There is no such thing as good and bad taste," he declared.

What was odd, though, was that this was the first episode in which you could just see a tremor of taste deference in Perry. His character – open, funny, generous – has been a big part of the success of these programmes. It's impossible to think of another Turner Prize winner who could fit so disarmingly into so many different social spaces, particularly given that he arrived with avowedly anthropological intent, to probe and analyse their definition of what is finest in life. You genuinely felt that he wasn't judging anyone. But in last night's episode, I think his own aspirations showed.

It happened when he was being shown a bedroom in Frampton Court, an 18th-century house owned by the Clifford family. Perry clearly loved it: "The curtains are slightly frayed," he said in slightly dazed tones, "the windows are made with old glass with bubbles in it. Everything is perfect." By which he meant that nothing had the vulgar perfection of the brand-new and shop-bought. That, he concluded, was one core feature of upper-class style: the patina of inheritance that transforms every scratch and tear. That sofa isn't tattered and past its best, as it certainly would be regarded in a middle-class home. It's handed down.

He shook off this momentary frisson of cultural cringe pretty quickly. For one thing, he acknowledged that such an inheritance could be oppressive. The heir to Berkeley Castle, for instance, lives happily down the road in a house that would have fitted perfectly into last week's episode on middle-class taste. And when there isn't enough money to maintain the facade, genteel distress can take on a biting edge. The occupants of another grand pile lived, in some of its quarters at least, as if they were in a bleak kind of social housing. There was a lot of lino and Formica: a great deal of function and not much in the way of softening form. The master of the house, we learned, had to go into the local leisure centre for a hot bath because it cost too much to fire up the boiler first thing in the morning.

The tapestries that resulted from these excursions were perhaps the most pointed of all those he's made. One showed a toff at bay, dragged down by the dogs of Tax and Changing Taste as his parvenu usurper couple looked on, echoing Gainsborough's Mr and Mrs Andrews in their pose. The other depicted his Hogarthian figure dead on the pavement after totalling his Ferrari, a scene that made you long for a recommission in which Perry might address himself to the taste of footballers and oligarchs, the new aristocrats of money. If you didn't see the series it's what catch-up television was made for.

Now that we've reached the third episode of True Love, I think it's safe to declare that Dominic Savage's experiment in improvised drama has conspicuously failed. Last night's drama, in which Billie Piper's teacher fell in love with one of the schoolgirls she taught, was borderline incredible. The words have been drably insufficient, the imagery and soundtrack wildly excessive. Next time he should just write it.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea