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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
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
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

    Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

    £90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

    Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

    £100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

    Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee