The Weekend's Television: The South Bank Show, Sun, ITV1
Gandhi, Sat, BBC2
Lunch Monkeys, Sun, BBC3

Time to get animated

Here’s a story no Hollywood executive would ever buy. A once great company, a company that built its empire on an mischievous mouse, falls on hard times. In its day, it has been the market leader in winsomeness, the brand name alone enough to draw audiences to its new films. But then the company begins to lose its nerve.

Its executives determine to stay well within the boundaries of its previous successes, unaware that over time those boundaries will shrink around them until innovation becomes impossible. At which point, a saviour arrives on the horizon, destined to re-ignite the fire of anthropomorphism that fuelled the company’s universal reach, and its profits. Is it a bear or a puppy or a lovable rabbit? No, it’s an Anglepoise lamp.

A desk lamp isn’t an obvious kind of hero. It doesn’t have eyes for one thing, or legs, or any of the other physical-contact points that would help an audience generate a sense of empathy. But an animator of genius can put a spark of life into virtually any object on the planet, and when John Lasseter made a short computer-generated film about a lamp called Luxo, as a kind of calling card for Pixar, he demonstrated that the new technique wasn’t just a matter of convincingly bouncing light off physical surfaces, but that it could also convey character. Luxo was a light that bounced because it was over-excited. And at the time it wasn’t clear that he was going to save Disney at all, since Lasseter had been effectively booted out of the company for nagging senior executives about the possibilities of computer-generated imagery.

As The South Bank Show’s film about Disney/Pixar showed, though, you can kick an animator out of Disney but you can’t necessarily take the Disney out of the animator. “Walt used to say, ‘For every laugh there should be a tear’,” said Lasseter, explaining how fundamental the old lessons, about the importance of story and the importance of emotion, were to him. These days Lasseter runs Disney, and the enormous success of the computer-generated films he made for Pixar has allowed him to bankroll a return to the classic hand-drawn animation that built the company.

He was presented here as a kind of exemplary anti-suit – dressed in an Hawaiian shirt and preaching a gospel of creative daring – but he’s clearly enough of a businessman to ensure that the Disney theme parks all got a mention and a pack shot, justifying the advertorial by suggesting that a stint as a tour guide on the Jungle Ride taught him all he needed to know about comic timing. I wasn’t entirely convinced about that myself, but since he’s given us Toy Story, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and Up, I reckon he’s owed some latitude when it comes to telling stories.

Mishal Husain’s series Gandhi this week delivered us Gandhi the military recruiter, a short spell trying to drum up fresh troops to send to the Western Front featuring as one of the less well-known incidents of the great pacifist’s life. Apparently, Gandhi felt dreadful about it at the time and he wasn’t very good at the job – delivering only around a 100 men for the war effort – but itdemonstrated that he wasn’t entirely without a sense of realpolitik.

There were no other obvious breaches with his stated adherence to non-violence but this account of the slow and erratic path to independence did argue that he might not have succeeded without the useful violence of others. Indeed, it presented General Dyer – the Butcher of Amritsar – as an unwitting architect of British withdrawal, since public outrage at the massacre of civilians in the Jallianwala Bagh resulted in a surge of support for Gandhi at a difficult time in his campaign.

Husain retraced the course of Gandhi’s salt march – an act of civil disobedience as knowingly imbued with seat-edge tension as any Disney danger sequence – in the company of a man whose father had served Gandhi as private secretary. In his adoration of Gandhi, and the rapt attention of a class of young girls hearing stories of the Mahatma’s life, you could see how a man – prone to human failures and mistakes – might slowly evolve into something more than human, once everyone who actually knew him had gone.

I tried to think of Gandhi while watching Lunch Monkeys,a squalid office sitcom that occasionally makes you think of marching on Television Centre and setting fire to the BBC3 offices. Lord, it’s depressing, one of those comedies that relies for its laughs (and it’s audience, for that matter) on a collection of implausibly dim-witted people. If you find incontinence, phantom shitters and armpit-farts the acme of wit, you’re in for a treat. But if you prefer a comedy not to have plastic protagonists and offer real human insights, I suggest you rent a copy of Toy Story instead.

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
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.

    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
    The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

    The ZX Spectrum is back

    The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
    Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

    Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

    The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

    Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

    If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
    The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

    The quirks of work perks

    From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
    Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

    Is bridge becoming hip?

    The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
    Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

    The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

    Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
    The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

    The rise of Lego Clubs

    How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
    5 best running glasses

    On your marks: 5 best running glasses

    Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
    Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

    Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
    Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

    Please save my husband

    As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada