Culture

Culture

The good, the bad and the ugly in books, exhibitions, cinema, TV, dance, music, podcasts and theatre.

James Delingpole

Still the best thing on TV: Apple TV+’s Slow Horses reviewed

Television

Slow Horses is the best thing on television. And it’s now so successful and popular it can afford to launch series three with a sequence worthy of James Bond: Istanbul location budget; spectacular chase sequences involving cars and speedboats with some thrillingly dangerous manoeuvres round a huge container vessel; a beautiful, immaculately dressed female agent

The death of TV

Television

A while ago, a therapist advised me to go out less and stay in and watch TV more. Having avoided the world of block-streaming until then, I took her advice and immediately found great pleasure in my new pastime. There was so much to watch, and it was all so absorbing and pleasantly addictive. The

Riveting and heart-wrenching: BBC1’s Time reviewed

Television

‘Only with women’ is a phrase used by more cynical TV types for a show that takes something that’s been done before with men, but by changing the gender of the characters can pose as ground-breaking. It sprang to mind this week when both of BBC1’s big new dramas unblushingly took the only-with-women approach; the

Shocking: Channel 4’s Partygate reviewed

Television

If there were special awards for Most Subtlety in a Television Drama, Tuesday’s Partygate would be unlikely to win one. You could also argue that, in contrast to most of its characters, it didn’t really bring much to the party. And yet, in a rare challenge to the law of diminishing returns, the more it

A Picasso doc that – amazingly – focuses on how great he was

Television

Earlier this year, the Guardian took a break from arguing that ‘cancel culture’ is a right-wing myth to ask the question, ‘Should we cancel Picasso?’ He is, after all, ‘the ultimate example of problematic white guys clogging up the artistic canon’. Given the programme’s title – and the BBC’s increasing loss of nerve – you

James Delingpole

Why I’m addicted to Australian MasterChef

Television

Why is Australian MasterChef so much better than the English version? You’d think, with a population less than a third of ours, the smaller talent pool would make the Antipodean edition look like thin gruel. But a bit like with the cricket and the rugby, size clearly isn’t everything. UK MasterChef now resembles one of

James Delingpole

Enthralling: BBC4’s Colosseum reviewed

Television

In the year 2023, the Neo-Roman Empire was at the height of its powers. A potentially restive populace was kept in check using a time-honoured technique known as ‘Bread and Circuses’. The ‘Circuses’ part consisted of a remarkable piece of technology in which spectacles could be beamed directly into the homes of the citizenry, filling

James Delingpole

A welcome antidote to UK crime drama: Netflix’s Kohrra reviewed

Television

It has been quite some time since I’ve been able to bear watching UK crime drama. All right, I do cheat occasionally with series like the one featuring the delightfully grumpy, chain-smoking Cormoran Strike, but on the whole I can’t stand the mix of predictability and implausibility: all the goodies will be female and/or ethnic;

James Delingpole

University Challenge deserves Amol Rajan

Television

I wish I could say that Bamber Gascoigne would be turning in his grave at what has happened to University Challenge. But unfortunately, I understand from people who knew the Eton, Cambridge, Yale and Grenadier Guards historian, playwright, critic, polymath millionaire and scion of the upper classes that he chose to compensate for his privilege

James Delingpole

Ugly, mechanical, soulless: Apple TV+’s Hijack reviewed

Television

Idris Elba would have made a perfect James Bond. Not the James Bond that we knew and loved when he was played by wry, capable Sean Connery or playful, tongue-in-cheek Roger Moore. But he definitely ought to have been a shoo-in for the horror show that the Bond franchise has become: dour, humourless, pumped up,

Time to take your meds, Kanye

Television

No one does agonising quite like Mobeen Azhar. In several BBC documentaries now, he’s set his face to pensive, gone off on an earnest quest to investigate a touchy subject and reached his conclusions only after the most extravagant of brow-furrowing. There is, however, a perhaps unexpected twist: the resulting programmes are rather good, creating

James Delingpole

Netflix has struck gold: Tour de France: Unchained reviewed

Television

I’m ideologically opposed to bicycles for all the obvious reasons: they don’t have lovely big nostrils which you can blow across gently or stroke inside to feel the soft, delicate skin; they can’t jump hedges; and the kit you’re expected to wear on them is quite hideous – not a smart, black, 18th-century-looking coat but