Last Night's Viewing: White Heat, BBC2
Sex and Sensibility: The Allure of Art Nouveau, BBC4


The return of Mad Men this week should have left White Heat badly exposed, although the scale (if not the ambition) of the two dramas is so unequal as to make comparison almost meaningless. For a start, Mad Men has advanced a mere six years in more than 50 hours of television, a luxurious pace that has been able to absorb social change incrementally, while White Heat has so far encompassed 14 particularly tumultuous years in just four hours – a sort of Reduced Shakespeare Company approach to British post-war history – feminism, race relations, Irish nationalism, gay liberation and the implosion of the left (abridged).

Within such constraints, Paula Milne has done a remarkably good job, and you feel at least that she has lived the decades she's dramatising. Despite the occasional anachronistic detail (that premature Who song, for example, in the opening episode) it feels right, unlike The Hour, which felt more like educated guesswork.

The props department dressed the street scenes in last night's 1979 episode with bulging rubbish sacks, budget-friendly shorthand for the Winter of Discontent, while the trusty cutaways to television news chronicled the arrival of Margaret Thatcher. Trust-fund Tribune journalist Jack (Sam Claflin's hair morphing into Steve Coogan's) was attempting to get selected in an unwinnable seat in the Cotswolds (is there a winnable seat for Labour in the Cotswolds?), Jay was getting "queer-bashed" on Hampstead Heath, Victor was being hassled so much under the sus laws that he obligingly assumed the position at the mere sight of policemen, and proto-yuppie newlyweds Alan and Lily were having impromptu sex while viewing a house. "Won't be long," Lily shouted to the estate agent downstairs. Alan had his back to us so it wasn't possible to see how he took this slur.

Enough to be getting on with, you might think, especially as Charlotte was trying to square her feminism with the advent of the first woman prime minister. But, no, Orla, the saintly Irish woman, was bringing home an Afghan refugee in what felt like an attempt to shoehorn in issues with contemporary resonance. But mainly this fourth episode, titled "The Personal Is Political", proved that obnoxious Jack really wasn't able to translate the political into the personal, but since we already knew that anyway, it didn't really take us anywhere new. In a week when Don Draper returned to intrigue us, this particular comparison wasn't pretty.

One man who found out the hard way that the personal is political was Oscar Wilde, whose imprisonment for gross indecency in 1895 shattered the British avant-garde for at least a generation. As Stephen Smith explained in the second of Sex and Sensibility: the Allure of Art Nouveau, the disgrace-by-association of Aubrey Beardsley, the outrageous – and outrageously gifted – illustrator of Wilde's Salome, left English Art Nouveau in the hands of the retail trade.

While the Liberty department store was selling Art Nouveau to the middle classes, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his overlooked wife and fellow Scottish artist, Margaret MacDonald, were busy influencing Gustav Klimt, and not vice versa as you might have assumed. It was patriotically pleasing to see Great Britain leading the way, although Smith – a presenter in the determinedly straight-faced Jonathan Meades mould (how you sometimes yearn for Melvyn Bragg's boyish grin) – decided he needed to inject some novelty into what otherwise would be a succession of interviews with curators. He presented a modern-day aesthete with a bunch of sunflowers, and in cross-examining Beardsley's biographer, Matthew Sturgis, in a barber's chair, the implication was that that a suitably anxious-looking Sturgis was going to be given Beardsley's weird choirboy-meets-Nosferatu fringe. The narrative didn't really need such gimmicks, as Smith otherwise managed to make his 1890s feel somehow more urgent than the 1970s of White Heat.

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Arts and Entertainment
Kate Bush: 'I'm going to miss everyone so much'
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Arts and Entertainment
Pulling the strings: Spira Mirabilis

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neville's Island at Duke of York's theatre
musicReview: The production has been cleverly cast with a quartet of comic performers best known for the work on television
Arts and Entertainment
Banksy's 'The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum' in Bristol

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?