Television

You'd have the Chancellor poking his head cautiously round a Treasury Office door before going into raptures over what had been done with his trade figures. "I can hardly recognise them - you've just been so clever! Oh ... I love the Ecu stencilling!"

It can't be very long before the makeover format reaches the Nine O'Clock News (BBC1) - "Good evening ," Michael Buerk will say. "We persuaded Gordon Brown to let the IMF freshen up Britain's tired economic policies. Tonight you can see the results." Then you'd have the revelation sequence, with the Chancellor poking his head cautiously round a Treasury Office door before going into raptures over what had been done with his balance- of-trade figures. "I can hardly recognise them - you've just been so clever! Oh ... I love the Ecu stencilling!" By then the imperial triumph of this device would be complete - no stretch of the schedules free from its promise of fairy transformation. The fantasy was prompted by the moments of unveiling in A Date with an Artist (BBC2), scenes which were unnervingly like the concluding scenes of Changing Rooms in their combination of nervy expectation and strenuous pleasure. What was being unveiled in this case, though, was a serious work of art, because the series' conceit is to bring together contemporary artists with - well, who exactly? Not quite celebrities (though the first programme included Rebecca Stephens, who would surely qualify for the title) and certainly not eager patrons. The programme itself describes the other halves as "people they hoped would inspire a new piece of work" which suggests that the artists make the choice themselves, inspired by some tickle of admiration. But then why would Andrew Gifford, a landscape painter, have selected the public relations man for Middlesbrough Football Club (unless he wanted a player and had to settle for the nearest available substitute)? Perhaps the best term is guinea-pigs - these are people chosen for their certified indifference to modern art, so that when the time comes for them to see what has been made, their exclamations can be dependably ascribed to a newly acquired understanding.

It isn't entirely convincing - partly because the film concentrates more on the "getting to know you" bit of the process than the actual creation of the art (which means you arrive at the moment of revelation with a jolt). In the case of Cornelia Parker and Rebecca Stephens this consisted of quite a lot of embarrassed laughter, as they negotiated round each other's prejudices ("You're completely mad Cornelia," said Stephens as the artist scraped up dust kittens from the Whispering Gallery of St Paul's, and the hockey-sticks endearment carried a tremor of unease. It might actually be true.) When Stephens exclaimed at the finished product - a photograph of a feather from her down jacket paired with a photograph of dust from St Paul's - it was impossible to tell whether her reaction was simple politeness or a true conversion to conceptual art. Whatever you think of the device, though, these films are beautifully made; Teresa Griffiths' segment on Parker was full of subtle poetry in its structure and cutting and Kate Misrahi's piece about Andrew Gifford showed evidence of a fine opportunistic eye.

Alan Partridge (BBC2) would leap at the chance to take part in Date With An Artist - and when you think about it, it would make a wonderful showcase for his character - from the tendency to blurt out saloon-bar prejudice as if it was hard-won sagacity to his excruciatingly cack-handed attempts at ingratiation. "So ... what's Da Big Oidea," he said in last night's episode, hoping to win over two RTE executives who had travelled to the Linton Travel Lodge to discuss a new chat show. They were less than impressed by his small talk - "It was just the potatoes that were affected," he said loftily about the Irish Famine. "At the end of the day you do pay the price for being a fussy eater." The jokes are very funny, and often laid down with a refreshing trust in the audience's patience and powers of observation, but the heart of this brilliant series is Steve Coogan's performance, which, whatever the script is doing, always resists the temptations of simple caricature. There are many sequences where the comedy rests entirely on his ability to balance between pathos and contempt - as in the hand-over sequences at the end of his radio show. "Old! I'm 43 you cheeky git!" he yelped after one exchange, and an entirely persuasive terror cracked the sugar-coating of disc-jockey banter. At such moments it's situation tragedy.

Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

    £16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

    £9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

    Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn