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Up close and personal: parliament caught looking gorgeous on camera

Inside the Commons offered a glimpse behind the scenes at Westminster, but will it have deepened public understanding and softened hostility towards politicians? I doubt it

TV reporter Michael Cockerell has been making lovingly crafted films about politics and politicians for more than 30 years and very good at it he is too, but Cockerell must move with the times and so must MPs. Their trade is viewed with disdain veering towards hatred among large swaths of the electorate with the result that Tuesday night’s Inside the Commons on BBC2 was notably defensive about the place.

Not hard to see why. The confident mid-Victorians rebuilt the burned-out medieval Palace of Westminster as a palace and it still looks like one, albeit one that needs a lot of maintenance, as elderly buildings and people do. It took just 29 minutes of the hour-long programme – the first of four – before someone ( Charles Kennedy
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Inside the Commons review: ‘Cockerell records it all with a mischievous eye’

From the ridiculous prime minister’s questions to the jeers and hear hears: a cheeky peek into the heart of our democracy

Michael Cockerell is in da house. The lower one, making Inside the Commons (BBC2). Right inside, actually filming in the chamber, during PMQs. I know there are television cameras there already, but they are unmanned and fixed, and they show only what the Commons wants to show of itself. Michael is pointing his where he likes, and not everyone’s happy about it, to the extent that he actually becomes the subject of a Q.

“Will you find a safe place for this camera crew so he can film without getting in our way?” asks a furious-looking Bill Wiggins MP (Con). The Speaker quite rightly sees no issues with either safety or obstruction and Cockerell is allowed to continue filming.

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See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Tuesday’s best TV

  • The Guardian - TV News
Michael Cockerell takes us for a tour of the Commons, ITV says a fond farewell to Deirdre and Anne Kirkbride, and the naughty kids of the Bridge AP gear up for their exams. Plus: Manchester United try to save face in the Fa Cup

“Unprecedented access!” Michael Cockerell’s mix of political brass tacks and crumbling-building docusoap delivers on that promise, with cameras permitted to rove round the House of Commons tearooms, offices and even the floor of the chamber. Our heroes in tonight’s opener are child-abuse campaigner Sarah Champion and Robert Rogers, the clerk of the house, for whom a leaky roof represents a looming need for modernisation across the board. The climax is PMQs, which seems even more of a waste of time when viewed from the inside. Jack Seale

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In praise of … Michael Cockerell | Hugh Muir

He’s a filmmaker whose potent mix of guile and charm delivers crucial insights into the politicians of the day, no matter how accustomed they are to the camera

If we are to encourage or admonish those in power, it is important we have some idea what they are up to. Light is shone by the press corps and by the transmission of proceedings from parliament itself. But every so often, we get a glimpse behind the curtain.

More often than not, that is provided by the filmmaker Michael Cockerell. He filmed his first intimate political portrait, of Willie Whitelaw, in 1989, and in the years since he has produced agenda-setting work adding colour and texture to figures such as Edward Heath, Kenneth Clarke, Barbara Castle, Michael Howard, Boris Johnson, Tony Blair and Alan Clark. His subjects are accustomed to cameras and the limelight,, yet inevitably they surrender an unscripted disclosure,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Inside the Commons – review: a peek behind Westminster’s crumbling facade

Michael Cockerell’s documentary about the ‘mother of all parliaments’ gets up close with the great and good of British politics – and it isn’t pretty

There is precious little in Michael Cockerell’s documentary about the House of Commons to encourage Russell Brand, should he watch it, to cast his vote after all.

Cockerell portrays a “mother of all parliaments” in which MPs vote against their instincts to avoid ending up in their whips’ black books, and where Tory MPs use a precious opportunity at Prime Minister’s Questions to ask a question emailed to them by Conservative high command.

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Rewind TV: The Great British Bake Off Easter Masterclass; Our Girl; Keeping Britain Alive: The NHS in a Day; Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise

Whoever thought the magic ingredient in Bake Off would turn out to be Mel and Sue?

The Great British Bake Off Easter Masterclass (BBC2) | iPlayer

Our Girl (BBC1) | iPlayer

Keeping Britain Alive: The NHS in a Day (BBC2) | iPlayer

Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise (BBC2) | iPlayer

I think the wheels might finally be starting to come off the nostalgia bus. The Great British Bake Off Easter Masterclass must have seemed such a good idea back in August, when the sun still lived somewhere in the sky and there was, oh we crazy human fools, such a gentle assumptive hope of spring. The problem at macro level is that the BBC can't see a dying horse without dearly wanting to flog its aching, wrinkled withers while somehow at the same time, in a hugely misguided case of category error, trying to milk it. Worse: the Beeb will first send out overbubbly
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Catch-up TV guide: from 30 Rock to Noise - A Human History

30 Rock | Gogglebox | Boris Johnson: The Irresistable Rise | By The Way, In Conversation With Jeff Garlin | It's Kevin | Noise: A Human History

TV: 30 Rock

Tina Fey's brilliant sitcom has departed from Us screens, never to return. Boo. Fortunately, due to delayed UK transmission times, we've still got a season and a bit to watch. Comedy Central viewers can catch new episodes at Wednesdays, 11pm, with episodes appearing on iTunes shortly after.

iTunes

TV: Gogglebox

In a bold TV-On-tv concept, Channel 4 have entered the living rooms of some of the nation's most opinionated television viewers. Taking a Royle Family-style set-up, aptly narrated by Caroline Aherne, the series exposes what Britain really thinks about what is on the box. Arguments and brilliant facial expressions abound as families and flatmates critique current TV from the comfort of their own sofas, which is loads more fun than it sounds. Catch the first three episodes on 4oD now.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise; Wodehouse In Exile – TV review

Can this man really be mayor of London? And potentially a future … you know?

Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise on iPlayer

Wodehouse In Exile on iPlayer

A flaxen haired five-year-old boy floats down a stream in a small inflatable boat. He seems ill equipped for the task; the boat isn't pumped up properly and the boy doesn't have a paddle, just a stick to steer with. It looks hopeless, like he doesn't know what he's doing. Uh oh, rapids ahead, surely he'll topple and go under, that'll be the end of the voyage. Here he goes, big wobble, whoa … oh, he came through somehow, grinning even, he's enjoying it. And again, even more troubled waters survived, and again, until it seems that somehow this clown will, against all odds, complete his journey, arrive at the pool of plenty.

This nice clip of family home video, which comes at the
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Boris Johnson documentary: are his media-keen family a potential liability?

The mayor of London's family are revealing on Johnson's desire to be prime minister in Michael Cockerell's new documentary

Admirers of Boris Johnson frequently pay tribute to – and his detractors just as often lament – the fact that, when it comes to the current mayor of London, the usual rules of politics do not seem to apply. So probably only Johnson could have agreed to give an interview on The Andrew Marr Show to promote a documentary with which he had co-operated, and then end up both fluffing the interview and trashing the film, Boris Johnson: The Irrepressible Rise, which is screened tonight at 9pm on BBC2.

It is also hard to imagine another politician who, after becoming the subject of a one-hour profile, would be trumped within 24 hours by his sister fronting a doc of her own: How to Be a Lady: an Elegant History presented by Rachel Johnson (BBC4, 9pm,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

TV highlights 25/03/2013

  • The Guardian - TV News
Live Snooker | Bloody Tales | The Truth About Junior Doctors: Channel 4 Dispatches | Boris Johnson: The Irresistible Rise | Broadchurch | Wodehouse In Exile | Plebs

Live Snooker

7.30am, British Eurosport

Long gone are the Pot Black days when snooker confined itself to the smoky backroom circuit of the UK. Today, its appeal has spread to the far east. The China Open, a fixture since 2005, is the penultimate ranking tournament of the season, held at the Beijing University Students' Gymnasium over the coming week. Day one features matches in the wildcard and first rounds, including Graeme Dott, who won the title in 2007, versus Chinese player Marco Fu. David Stubbs

Bloody Tales

8pm, National Geographic

A new series of the gory history programme returns as historian Dr Suzannah Lipscomb and journalist Joe Crowley investigate notorious executions. It's the kind of history that attracts adolescent boys, with the gruesome details aided by reconstructions. The executions
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Boris Johnson reveals David Cameron rivalry in new BBC documentary

Boris Johnson has signed up for a BBC documentary about his life and political career.

The London mayor has given behind-the-scenes access to renowned documentary maker Michael Cockerell for a BBC Two film.

The film sees Johnson discussing his rivalry with prime minister David Cameron, reports The Sun.

Johnson says that their rivalry stems from their Eton schooldays, when he was Cameron's senior by two years.

A source close to the film's production describes it as "revealing" and "candid".

It will also include an interview with Johnson's mother Charlotte Johnson Wahl and home footage of him as a youngster.

The source added: "It's a complete profile of the most popular and interesting politician in Britain."

Michael Cockerell has previously made similar profiles of politicians including Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and David Cameron.

The film will air on March 25 on BBC Two.

Boris Johnson's best moments - Photo gallery:
See full article at Digital Spy - TV news »

Catch-up TV Guide: From The Bridge to Sounds Of The 70s

TV: The Bridge

Another successful Euro import for BBC4, this stylistically cold but warmly received Scandinavian crime drama draws to a close this week. Fortunately, latecomers can binge on the whole thing via iPlayer's series catch-up service.

BBC iPlayer

Audio: The Moth

Similar in tone to This American Life, but always performed live, The Moth continues to showcase some of the strongest longform storytelling around. Recent episodes include comedian Lizz Winstead recounting an embarrassing incident in a Moroccan spa and the tale of a rebellious eight-year-old's role in the Iranian revolution.

Online

TV: Classic Doctor Who

Netflix are quietly amassing an extensive library of classic Who, with over 50 episodes available. At present they're only up to the Patrick Troughton years, but Pertwee, Baker, Baker and the rest are expected soon.

Netflix

TV: Spaced

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright have finally reunited to film The World's End, the concluding
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Tonight's TV highlights: Midsomer Murders | Vacation, Vacation, Vacation | Superscrimpers: Waste Not Want Not | The Secret World Of Whitehall | Fringe | Chop Suey

  • The Guardian - TV News
Midsomer Murders | Vacation, Vacation, Vacation | Superscrimpers: Waste Not Want Not | The Secret World Of Whitehall | Fringe | Chop Suey

Midsomer Murders

8pm, ITV1

Edward Fox puts in a nice turn as one of an eccentric, elderly old couple with a mansion house full of old newspapers and murky secrets, but elsewhere this is typical Midsomer. Now joined by his wife, Barnaby continues to cultivate a Morse-lite relationship with DC Jones as they take another raft of murders in their stride. Meanwhile, the middle England fantasy appeal of the show is exacerbated by sideswipes at the social services, via one strawman caricature, and the excesses of the 1960s counterculture. Ethnic diversity abounds, however – seven minutes in, Barnaby mentions a local sushi bar. PC gone mad. David Stubbs

Vacation, Vacation, Vacation

8pm, Channel 4

With the bottom currently missing from the property market, Phil and Kirstie turn travel agents to keep their children in handmade shoes.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

TV review: Midsomer Murders | Secrets of Whitehall | The Truth about Lions

ITV's Midsomer Murders welcomes (though not by all the Causton locals) a new Dci, and a mysterious relocation

Some things are changing in Midsomer Murders (ITV1). Causton, which used to be situated somewhere near Oxford, has been mysteriously relocated to Windsor, and after 12 years and more than 220 murders, Dci Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) has retired. So, last night many Causton locals gave a decidedly lukewarm welcome to the new Dci, Tom's cousin, John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) – presumably more out of loyalty to the ancien regime than disgust that their police regard nepotism as a prime consideration for promotion. Much remains the same though.

It's possible the Causton police recruited another Barnaby out of misplaced concern that viewers would be confused by a lead character with a different name. More likely is that it was done as a favour to the screenwriters. Whatever heavy medication you need to take to watch this tosh,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Tonight's TV highlights: Great British Food Revival | Leaving Amish Paradise | Jamie's Dream School | The Secret World Of Whitehall | Kidult: Marathon Boy | The Office: An American Workplace

  • The Guardian - TV News
Great British Food Revival | Leaving Amish Paradise | Jamie's Dream School | The Secret World Of Whitehall | Kidult: Marathon Boy | The Office: An American Workplace

Great British Food Revival

8pm, BBC2

We have heritage industry, even heritage rock music – small wonder we are now also developing a taste for heritage food. In a nutshell, we're talking about old food: the local breeds and the unpopular varieties that prevent food becoming a series of identically sized brown and green things flown in from other countries. It doesn't need much imagination to think Clarissa Dixon Wright on pork might be a lot of fun ("Breed pigs! Eat them!"), but Gregg Wallace's visit to what amounts to a Scottish potato database is something to blow your mind like no potato ever has. John Robinson

Leaving Amish Paradise

9pm, BBC2

In 2009, Andrew Tait's Trouble In Amish Paradise explored the usually opaque world of the Amish,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Joanna Lumley's Nile and How to Win the TV Debate | TV review

Waiters, porters, camels - no citizen of the Nile could resist Joanna Lumley, says Nancy Banks-Smith

Joanna Lumley's Nile (ITV1) – this will come as a surprise to the Nile – was like travelling with a charming and well-bred friend. She leaned towards every waiter, porter and pedlar and, in the voice that breathed o'er Eden, asked softly: "What is your name?" The answer was almost invariably Mohammed, but it smoothed the waves wonderfully – or it would have done if we had been on a boat. Apparently, travelling on water takes too long. Much of the time we were on a train or a camel. The camel was called Charlie Brown, either from a preference for peanuts or just because he was a good man. Joanna honed her charm ruthlessly on this defenceless animal: "Hello, darling! Come, sweetheart!" Charlie Brown, knocked for six, nibbled her ear and followed her on soft,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

How to Win the TV Debate | Young, Autistic and Stagestruck | Golsmiths: But Is It Art? | The Pacific | Watch this

How to Win the TV Debate | Young, Autistic and Stagestruck | Golsmiths: But Is It Art? | The Pacific

How to Win the TV Debate; Tonight: David Cameron

7pm, BBC2; 8pm, ITV1

With the first of the TV election debates set for Thursday, there's still time to hype up what may yet turn out to be an over-scripted disappointment. For the BBC, that means Michael Cockerell looking at what it's like to take part in such debates in a film shown last month on BBC4. Over on ITV, Tonight's spin is to profile the three leaders over successive nights: Cameron, Clegg, then Brown.

Young, Autistic & Stagestruck

8pm, Channel 4

Following nine children and teens as they attempt to put on a variety show, this new series goes some way to help in our understanding of what autism is while capturing the drama that goes into putting on a show. In this first episode we meet 12-year-old Ben,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

The Great Offices of State | Wallander | Paul Merton Looks At Alfred Hitchcock | Enid | Wonders of the Solar System and more | Watch this

  • The Guardian - TV News
The Great Offices of State | Wallander | Paul Merton Looks At Alfred Hitchcock | Enid | Wonders of the Solar System and more

Saturday 27 March

The Great Offices Of State

7.30pm, BBC2

Tonight's episode wanders the hilariously grand corridors of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office where Michael Cockerell meets the present incumbent, David Miliband, and several of his predecessors. The most illuminating interviews, however, are with the civil servants who work there in (usually) opaque silence. Cockerell concentrates on the Fco's role in the modern era, from the 1956 Suez debacle onwards. Ripping yarns, brilliantly told.

Wallander

9pm, BBC4

While it's not as slick as the Kenneth Branagh version, there's still much to recommend Swedish TV's take on Henning Mankell's plod; supposing, of course, that you don't mind your 'tecs pitched somewhere between philosophical and outright glum. A new series of 13 adventures begins with Wallander having bought a house by the sea, an ambition
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

The Great Offices of State | Lizzie and Sarah | Wonders of the Solar System | Jersey Shore and more | Watch this at the weekend

  • The Guardian - TV News
The Great Offices of State | Lizzie and Sarah | Wonders of the Solar System | Jersey Shore and more

Saturday 20 March

The Great Offices Of State

7.30pm, BBC2

In the first of a short series first shown on BBC4, political journalist Michael Cockerell gets behind the forbidding exteriors of ministerial departments, talking to ex-ministers and usually taciturn mandarins alike. He begins with the Home Office, regarded as a "political graveyard", as the likes of David Blunkett and Jacqui Smith, who both resigned under clouds, would ruefully attest.

Henry Moore: Carving A Reputation

8pm, BBC4

Henry Moore's rare achievement was in having his sculptures inhabit enough public places to make them accessible to all. This profile emphasises how remarkable that achievement was. The son of a West Yorkshire miner, Moore knew what he wanted to do after seeing the artistic possibilities of a rock on a countryside walk aged 10. Here, Moore's
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Scams, Claims and Compensation Games | The Great Offices of State | Bellamy's People | Hung | Watch this

Scams, Claims and Compensation Games | The Great Offices of State | Bellamy's People | Hung

Scams, Claims and Compensation Games

9pm, Channel 4

An examination of the compensation culture as fought out between claims lawyers and local councils, who are soaked every year for millions in what can seem like spurious cases in which you might think the plaintiffs had only themselves to blame. Among grievances shown here are a man who cut himself shaving and a boy who stubbed his toe in a school playground. Pursuing these claims to the brink of court is a high-stakes game, however, and comes down to a test of nerve.

The Great Offices of State

9pm, BBC4

Concluding instalment of Michael Cockerell's survey of the trio of perches atop the greasy pole. Tonight, he ventures into the building that has attracted the most attention of late, little of it favourable: Hm Treasury. As is invariably the case with Cockerell,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »
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