One of the few professional stand-up comics I’ve met who wasn’t bitter, twisted, malign, graceless, grumpy, chippy, egomaniacal and slightly to the left of Stalin is Mark Billingham.
The Song of Lunch (BBC2) was a rum old go. Christopher Reid’s poem, about a publisher half-hoping to rekindle a past love affair over an Italian meal, was read out by Alan Rickman, who acted the publisher and recreated the lines on film.
Him and Her (BBC 3) is the BBC’s notion of a really edgy sitcom.
Torn with grief, Melvyn Bragg has produced a condolence book for the South Bank Show (born 1978, died of neglect, 2010).
Just as Alec Guinness resented being seen as Obi-Wan Kenobi for the rest of his life, Ian Richardson might have resented Francis Urquhart, the Machiavelli of Michael Dobbs’ House of Cards trilogy, whose catchphrase gives this book its title.
Like virtually everyone middle-aged and middle-class in this country, I am a beneficiary of the cult of Civilisation — Kenneth Clark’s ‘personal view’, stretching in 13 episodes from the Vikings to Van Gogh, which was broadcast on BBC2 in 1969 and on BBC1 two years later, as well as appearing as a sumptuously illustrated, best-selling book.
The Family (Channel 4, Wednesday); Merlin (BBC 1)