The Secret History Of Civilization Channel 4, Thu 14 Oct i» ,-
Up Pompeii: Pan gets his goat in Pornography
As is often the case With documen- taries touching upon matters sexual, one can respond to Pornography; The Secret History Of Civilization on a number of levels.
One can solemnly ponder its central premise — that there is no such thing as pornography, only laws that separate it from other communication. One can take a scholarly interest in the situation that (symbolically, at least) precipitated this diVision -- the clash between the lurid household porn of Pompeii and the stringent Victorian mores of the archaeologists who discovered it.
Or one can snigger With childish glee at the prospect of imposineg bearded academics uttering naughty words. Thus Channel 4 have the perfect
Hollywood Greats BBCI, lvlon I Nov, 10.40pm.
As a new era dawns and cinema moves into a century of fresh possibilities, there is no Sign that film- lovers look back in embarrassment at the olden days. Indeed, as a series of documentaries on the legends of Hollywood's golden age shows, fondness for the black and white superstars is still as strong.
And who epitomises that time better than Cary Grant, the first StleQCI of Hollywood Greats? The Grant persona was suave, sophisticated and sexy, yet With an air of dark menace which was explorted brilliantly by Alfred Hitchcock and shamefully by the rumour- mongers in later years.
Born into a working-class life in Bristol, Archie Leach was up against it from the start; at the age of six, his mother was committed into an asylum by his dashing dad, for no other apparent reason than his desire to play the field. Archie was traumatised by this and, as kids do, he blamed himself.
Self-sufficient by the age of fourteen, he set out on a theatrical and then film career. From there he soon became a leading man, was involved in bisexuality rum0urs, got married four times (finally to Dyan Cannon, the only one to furnish him With offspring but who fed him to the media) and dabbled with acid. None of this Will be particularly revelatory to fans of the Grant legend but it still makes rampantly addictive viewing. Although
product: an engrossrng sOCial study that also appeals to the dirty raincoated voyeur lurking Within us all.
The first episode dwelt upon the Pompeii approach to interior design (which leaves Ikea looking distinctly lacking, though it did pre-empt other aspects of Swedish culture). The archaeologists who found the ruins were forced to reappraise their concept of ClaSSicaI Civrlrzation as, well, eminently ClVlllZE’d. They were particularly disturbed by a graphically detailed statue of the god Pan getting friendly With a goat.
Being Victorians, however, their first impulse was not to advance the cause of human knowledge, but to defend the values of the ruling classes at all costs. Rather than share their findings, they panicked and locked away all the risque business in secret rooms to defend the innocence of women, children and the working classes (naturally, clever male academics were allowed a peek). Astonishingly, written permission is still regurred to see the material.
Thus we invented privacy, a concept the Romans never entertained, separating sexual knowledge from other kinds. Thus we created pornography, allowrng eccentric bluestocking ladies With Enid Blyton hair to Witter on excitany ab0ut masturlmtion, and fuzzy old chaps to meander around churches peering at rude gargoyles and saying things like ’And here’s another interesting anus.’ Everybocly’s happy, especially since the next few episodes get really rude. (Annabel Slater)
movre director Peter 'I Knew All The Stars, You Know’ Bogdanovrch really should quit it With the half-assed impersonations.
Forthcoming attractions include Robert Mitchum (the boxcar bum who moved Julian Cope to name a song after him), Bette Davis (the first actress to challenge the studio system and who moved Kim Carnes to name a song after her peepers) and Katherine Hepburn (the hard-nosed daughter of a Suffragette who may or may not have moved an all-girl band to name themselves after her).
And don’t let the fact that Ian McShane is the narrator put you off — his v0ice contains more gravitas than his acting ever had. (Brian Donaldson)
Cannon fodder: Cary Grant
TV & RADIO
RADIO PREVIEW Centurions: Arthur Miller
Radio 3, Sun 24 Oct, 4.15pm.
Can anyone challenge Arthur Miller as the world's most famous liVing playwright? After all, he has succeeded in being famous for more reasons than Just his marriage to Marilyn Monroe, gorng down in history for penning one quality play after another.
The Pulitzer Prize Winner may now be in his 80s but his output is still immensely popular, UK audiences in particular have lapped up his later works such as The Last Yankee and Broken Glass. Yet, it is the early unfunny plays which Will be his legacy.
The Crucible, broadcast here, remains a pertinent political and sOCral tract despite its setting of Salem and their Witch trials in the 17th century. Initially an indictment of the McCarthy anti- Communist paranora of the 50s, the play proved a Surprisingly big hit With audiences in China and Poland. Whether they went a bundle on All My Sons or Death OfA Salesman is another matter. (Brian Donaldson)
PREVIEW Rough Cut BBCZ, starts Sun 24 Oct, noon.
'Oh no, not another bloody movre magazrne show,’ Will undoubtedly be the cry. But, Rough Cut aims to make a few different waves among the raft of filmic programmes in recent times.
The major one is With its choice of presenter, Jayne Middlemiss is the first major female talking head of such a show since Mariella Frostrup kept insomniacs alert in the mid-90s With The Movie Show. Since then all we have had have been a parade of male egos, spouting their august opinions. This show is targeted at the young, slightly hungover Saturday clubber Who wants something fast if not too furious of a Sunday.
'For me Jonathan Ross is the king of films,’ states the Northumberland lass of one of her direct competitors. 'But the pOint of Rough Cut is that we go out and about, all round the UK finding out what real audiences think of the latest releases.’ (Brian Donaldson)
Miller time: Centurions
Leather forecaster: Jayne Middlemiss
REVIEW Real Women BBCI,Tue I9 Oc '-~ »
0n the pull: Real Women
'In these days of super-gripping EastEnders plots and face-slapping Ally McBea/s,
Real Women hardly cuts the rice. The gaggle of soap stars return to the screen in a second series of a sort of Heartbreak Brooks/de.
There’s even a good-looking dyke akin to a grown up Beth Orton. But where is the token black woman? Like in the women’s magazine the show’s career bird edits, it’s all been said and done before. There's no reason why female issues can't be said and done again, but bringing something new or even dramatic to light would be nice.
The stars themselves provrde the pull. Our insatiable desire for celebrities means we sit and watch these programmes of fluff even if they don’t fully engage the mind. Still, it’s an entertaining hour, and at the end it's actually qurte movrng, thanks to a last minute goal from Rodney Trotter's wife. (Ally Hardy)
21 Oct—4 Nov I999 THE “ST 121