Tuesday, 30 June 2009

TV Matters and Culture Coming Out of the Closet

A blog post over at The Kenyon Review on the power of television in bringing literature to the people, picking up on the sales hike for poets featured on the Beeb's recent poetry season. Myself, I've been fairly astonished at the number of friends and acquaintances, unlikely suspects many, who've tuned into, and actually (whisper it, now) enjoyed, the season. Could it be that Britain is secretly home to many thousands of people whose interests actually extend beyond Kerry Katona's lipo?

The season was, on the whole, stylishly executed. A few misfires, sure – the Donne programme had rather a little too much of Fiona Shaw, and an Eliot documentary, sanitised as it was, managed to make one of the most self-contradictory and complex figures in twentieth-century literature seem quite squarely dull – but some expert negotiation of the difficulties of balancing accessibility with intelligence elsewhere.

I hope the season's success will prompt the BBC to start regularly developing more of the programming that once marked them out as a gold standard of arts broadcasting in the world, rather than be simply regarded as an exception, a curio.

Let's have contemporary writers and other artists talking about the tradition. Let's have contemporary writers and other artists talking about the now, while we're at it. Can someone rescue Monitor from the archives and press play? Can someone develop a Monitor fit for the twenty-first century?

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