While everyone in the media is iumping onto the French Revolution iamboree, Channel 4 is going further than most by broadcasting their entire 14 July schedule lrom Paris, highlighting the importance of the events of 1789 for the rest at the world with the largest celebration at the Revolution by any TV station outside France.
The lead-up to all this begins on Friday 1, when the riders set all in pursuit of the coveted yellow jersey ot the Tour de France. Channel 4 follows the race with halt-an-hour’s coverage dailylor the next 23 days.
A subtitled drama series, ‘Nights of the Revolution’ starts on Sunday 9, in a somewhat tardy shot at bringing viewers up to date on exactly what it is these people across the Channel are making such a noise about. The first episode is set a lew days belore the Revolution, going on to coverthe tall at
the Bastille, the Reign ot Terror and the King’s execution. “Nights at the Revolution’ is based on the writings ol the 18th century chronicler Nicholas Restit (played by Michel Aumont, above) who slept by day and collected tales of Paris lowlite by night.
Then, the' night before things really hit the peak in Paris, Helena and Ian Kennedy host ‘A Living Legacy', six programmes in which historians debate the relevance of ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternite’ to the modern world. It’s the last chance to take a deep and reasoned look at things belore the overkill ol the next day, when from 9.30am until 3am the next morning Melvyn Bragg, Laetitia de Warren and Olivier Todd present a whirl of activities from the Elysee Garden Party to music from Alrican superstar Salil Keita, with guests, needless to say, by the douzaine.
And then there are the lilms, which provide a look at that important segment of French history from myriad angles, from 1935’s ‘A Tale at Two Cities’ to 1982’s ‘Danton’.
The British have always been accused at being ignorant of European culture and history, but by the time the champagne corks have been swept up from the streets around the Champs Elysee, we will know the story at the French Revolution as intimately as we do that ol Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Clearances - er, we do, don’t we? (Alastair Mabbott)
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‘David Bellamy Takes a Tour’
That famous French unrest re-enacted by inhabitants of lower Normandy. whose ancestors took part in the original uprising.
I Revolutionary Witness: The Patriot (BBC!) 10. 10— 10.30pm. The first offour dramatic monologues written around characters on the fringes ofthe action in
L 1789. Simon (‘allow plays an entrepreneur who made a good deal of money front the building of the Bastille.
ITums(BB(‘l) ltl.55—l l .ZSpm. ()verthe next six weeks Jimmy Perry (co-writer of Dad 's Army and Hi De Hi) resurrectsthe world of the music hall with archive footage and guests like Bud Flanagan.
I Native Land (C4) time to be confirmed. Anthropologist Nigel Barley takes a look at Iinglish culture much the way one would with an even ntore strange and
' exotic land. and makes art attempt to
define the quintessential ‘Iingtishness‘. Why didn't he just try asking around a few Leith pubs ifthat‘s what he wanted to know? I Somewhere to Run (Scottish)
8.30— ltlpm. Drama based around teenagers running away to London. Followed (no surprise here) by a discussion tomorrow night at l l.-15pm.
I Murder Ordained (BB(‘I )9.3o—l l.(l5pm. A true story turned into a made-for-TV two-parter (concluded tomorrow at the same titne). Set in Kansas between 1982 and IUXS. it follows a Lutheran preacher who falls in love with one of his parishioners. Later the minister's wife and the parishioner's husband are found dead. Keith ('arradine snoops around.
I Psycho ll (Scottish) ltl.35pm— l2.~15am. Surprisingly passable sequel. but they should have hung up the steak knives instead ofemharking on a third.
I Art, Faith and Vision ((‘4) time lobe confirmed. (‘an art continue to ﬂourish in an age without faith? In a personal series. Peter Levi solicits the views of modern British artists and puts in hisown tuppenceworth.
I Slap Shot (Scottish ) 9- ltlpm.
Ill.35—l 1.45pm. Not one of Paul Newman‘s finest moments. a violent comedy which seems rather unpleasant deep down.
I Question Time ( BBCI) ll.(l5pm—l2.ll5am. Taking place in. .. yes. you guessed it. Paris. and absolutely Robin Day's last stand.
I Ireland’s Opportunity ( BB(‘2)8. l(L-9pm. This film concerns the French landings in Ireland in 17%. 7. and the Irish uprising two years later which killed more than the French Revolution.
I The Night at the Living Dead (Scottish) ll.5t)pm— l .3tlam. It‘s been called "The best filtn ever made in Pittsburgh’. and George Romero‘s I968 ﬂick is generally regarded as the daddy of all gruesome zombie flicks. For better or worse.
‘The leaders of the French Revolution showed that they understood what theatre and revolution have in common: both involve things done in public: they cannot be private affairs. Both take place at privileged moments when people come together to make a common cause. to celebrate. to take control ofthcirown destinies.‘
So says Professor of Drama at London Univerity. David Bedford. introducinga series of four plays designed to mark the impending bi-centenary of the French
Revolution. Bedford's programme
Drama ofthe Revolution (Radio 3. 1 July. It). 10pm) considers four chosen works and also looks at the ways in which the Revolution has been presented by such stage luminaries as Theatre Du Soleil. Jean Genet. Beaumarchais and Anouilh.
Plays which will be broadcast in full include the Beaumarchais comedy ()ne Mad Day or The Marriage of Figaro (Radio 3. 4 July. 7.30pm) and Danton 's Dear/t by the infant prodigy Georg Buchner (Radio 3. 7 July. 7.30pm). The former. says Bedford. ‘contains almost no reference to politics or to political ideas. Where it triumphs however is in creating the images ofa shallow. dissolute. untrustworthy aristocrat and his superhuman servant. The realism of Beaumarchais‘ depiction and the specific location of the action in contemporary France haunted the French aristocratic class all the way into exile and the guillotine. the latter. meanwhile. remains one of the finest historical dratnas in European theatre. taking as its subject not only the central character and his late but also an entire spectrum of Parisian life in the throes of the greatest upheaval in its history. ()ther plays to be broadcast in this season are Poor Bans ( l l July) and MararﬁSadt’ ( l-l Jttly ).
()n the same tack. Radio Four‘s adaptation of Dickens‘ novel ofthe revolution A Tale Of Two (‘ilit's reaches the second episode in its seven part run this week. (‘harles Darnay is on trial at the Old Bailey. accused of treason. The case against him looks black. to the distressof Lucie Manette and her father. whom Darney had befriended on their journey from France. five years earlier. Sydney ('arton. acting as Darney‘s lawyer. meets the people who are to have such an enormous effect on his life for the first titne. (‘harles Dance and John Duttine. playing (‘arton and Darnay respectively. join the cast for the first time and also appearing will be Maurice Denham. Charlotte Attenborough and Richard Pasco.
Revolutionary fervour is also much in evidence outside of the BBC's Drama department. The BB("s Documentary department. for instance. will be havinga crack with Vive Le Revolution (Radio 4. 5 July. 11.02am) asking the question of whether the revolution now amounts to anything more than a glorified fete. Two hundred years is a long time in politics. but the politicians (Mitterand especially) still choose to refer to the Revolution in their speeches. So how does its meaning differ for the Left and the Right? Ian Noble.a Paris resident for over a decade. takes to the streets to see what remains ofthe revolutionary locations — and the ideals. Starting at the Bastille. he talksto politicians. historians. members ofthe legal and architectural professions and to the ordinary citizens (remember them?) Meeting immigrants and aristocrats he tries to find out what is left ofLiberte. Egalite and Fraternite in France today.
Meanwhile. back in good old Blighty. a major new series will be looking at what British films tell us about our society. life-style and culture. Brirram'a- 'l'ht'I-‘t'lm (Radio4. 1 July. 10.30am) isaneight-part examination into the struggle between The Lion — representing reason and orthodoxy — and The Unicorn — standing for imagination and mythic fantasy in British life and art.
As presenter Christopher Freyling puts it ‘The Lion and the Unicorn appear to have been standing guard on either side of British popular cinema for the last half-century.‘ Episode one in the series looks at the two key strands in British cinema of the l93tls. the documentary movement led by John Grierson and the films featuring music hall stars like Gracie Fields and George Formby. What do these films tell us about Britain at this time and what it meant to ‘be British"? (Allan
3D The List 30 June — 13 July 1989