The definition of Success

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.

Bob Dylan

Favourite Social Media Accounts

Jasonmudlark on Instagram – a leading mudlark on the banks of the River Thames 

I met Jason Sandy through Instagram and organised a speaking event featuring him at the Worshipful Company of Cutlers in January 2020 just before the Plague hit, an evening centred on the finds of him and a couple of fellow mudlarks, Nick Stevens and Monika Buttling-Smith. This led to the kind donation of a collection of hundreds of knives, dating back to the 13th century, recovered from the river by Graeme duHeaume, a leading Thames mudlark in the 70s and former Head of Technical Services at the Natural History Museum. Jason and Nick have just released a book called ‘Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London’s Lost Treasures’ published by Bloomsbury/Shire.

Percypissing on Instagram – a wee dog helps capture the life of the city (Manchester)

I came across Edward Barton, Percy’s owner, through a mutual friend, street photographer extraordinaire Alan Burles. Edward is also an outstanding street photographer, using his living (& beloved) prop, white Highland Terrier Percy, to render everyday (and night) scenes in Manchester absurd. Alan has a new book out entitled ‘Gee, my life’s a funny thing‘.

Georgie Boy on TikTok – a monkey who opens packages and tests out the contents

Georgie is smarter than many people I come across and reminds us that we are just bald apes. His obvious intelligence also helps highlight why we should respect animals.

The Casting Game No. 228

Matthew Broderick

AS

Rami Malek in ‘The Little Things’

Coincidence No. 541 – J’accuse

Raquel Welch & Ringo Starr in ‘The Magic Christian’ (1969)

When I look at Facebook this morning the first thing I see is a post from the past (2015) on its anniversary. It was a reminder that today’s the day (13th January in 1898) that Émile Zola accused the French government/establishment of anti-semitism in the letter J’Accuse. Yesterday was the day (in 2015) the French government sent armed troops in to guard Jewish schools. I also published a second post on the subject that same day 5 years ago (the Charlie Hebdo shooting had been the previous week on 7th January 2015): Today’s the day (in 1898) Émile Zola published the letter J’Accuse in a French newspaper. He was convicted of libel. Then took refuge in London. #jesuischarlie

I am watching the 1969 British film The Magic Christian this evening. It contains a Who’s Who of the 60s of swinging London including Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr, John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Spike Milligan, Christopher Lee, Roman Polanski and Raquel Welch. Raquel plays a bikinied Amazon (echoes of her fur bikini in One Million Years BC, 1966) in a scene parodying the slave galley scene in Spartacus). Among the first words out of her mouth are “J’accuse!”.

Priestess of the Whip (Raquel Welch):

In, out.
[Groaning]

In, out!
[Groaning continues]

In, out. In…

During my reign as Priestess of the Whip, I’ve never seen such unmitigated sloth.

Passenger: My god! What’s going on here?

Priestess of the Whip:

J’accuse!

How dare this intrusion? Who are these people?

Youngman Grand (Ringo Starr): Oh, these are me mates.

Priestess of the Whip: Out! Out!

[Groans]

Passenger: Oh, I say! Do that again.

Priestess of the Whip: Out! Out! Out of my galley!

I was watching the film because tomorrow night Entertainment Attorney and Executive Producer Vinca Jarrett, who I met last year in Duluth, Minnesota when I was doing a speech on diversity in TV entitled Not The Usual Suspects, is putting on an online film discussion group which I’m really looking forward to. These kinds of online communal activity, like Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties, at their best are one of the silver linings of Covid Lockdown, generating a genuine sense of shared experience and contact. 

While I was at it I made an edit to the Magic Christian entry on Wikipedia, noting the fleeting appearance of John & Yoko in the movie. My first ever article published on Wikipedia was the one on User-Generated Content. And here we are some two decades later with WordPress and its over-refined self-publishing service with these difficult to manipulate Blocks and generally over-boiled interface. In two days’ time it is the 20th anniversary of Wikipedia – launched 15th January 2001. The scale, accuracy and relative lack of conflict around this pooling of the world’s knowledge online is a testimony to what people can do together for no money. In contrast to the theme explored by The Magic Christian, which is that everyone has their price.

Front page of the newspaper ‘L’Aurore’ Jeudi 13 Janvier 1898

What I learnt from Michael Apted

Director Michael Apted on the set of ‘Enough’ (2002) [ (c) Columbia. – courtesy of the Everett Collection]

It was sad to hear of the passing of Michael Apted on Saturday. His ‘Up’ series is one of the great achievements of documentary film and could never be replicated in the industry and the world as it is now. This is what I learnt from him when we crossed paths in Rome two years ago.

Michael Apted on the set of Thunderheart (1992) with Sam Shepard & Val Kilmer

Bowie revelation

 

Listening to lots of David Bowie music over his birthday weekend (Friday was his birthday, 8th January) I had a bit of a revelation. One of my favourite LPs of all time – The Talking Heads’ Remain in the Light – I suspect was very heavily influenced by Bowie’s Lodger. I remember the release of Lodger, his third Berlin album, well, him explaining on some BBC radio show the background to the world sounds drawn from Turkey, Africa and other diverse places. Lodger was released in May 1979 (one of the great years for music) and Remain in the Light in October of the following year. The connection should have been obvious because both were produced by Brian Eno and he has proven himself one of the creative greats of our times.

Eno’s impact on Bowie’s work on Lodger and the other two Berlin records is very well captured in David Bowie: Verbatim, the archive programme made by my friend Des Shaw at Zinc in January 2016, which was repeated last night to mark the 5th anniversary of Bowie’s passing in that month – you can listen to it here

The Casting Game No. 227

Glenn Close (in ‘Hillbilly Elegy’)

AS

Robin Williams (in ‘Mrs Doubtfire’)

 

 

Best of 2020

Work in Progress

The boldest film of the year – Lovers Rock

Film:

Lovers Rock

Queen & Slim

Nomadland

Le Corbeau, Vertigo

Last year: Joker, Mid90s

Foreign-Language Film:

?

Last year: Parasite

Documentary:

Crip Camp

Dick Johnson is Dead

Last year: Rolling Thunder Review

Male Lead:

Tom Hanks – News of the World

Ralph Fiennes – The Dig

Last year: Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)

Female Lead:

Frances McDormand – Nomadland

Jodie Turner-Smith – Queen & Slim

Last year: Elizabeth Debicki (Virginia, Vita & Virginia)

Male Support:

?

Last year: Robert De Niro as Murray Franklin in Joker

Female Support:

Helena Zengel – News of the World

Glenn Close – Hillbilly Elegy

Last year: Kaitlyn Dever as Amy in Booksmart

Director:

Steve McQueen – Lovers Rock

Last year: Todd Phillips (Joker), Jonah Hill (Mid 90s)

Writer:

?

Last year: Jonah Hill (Mid 90s)

Editing:

?

Last year: ?

Cinematography:

Dariusz Wolski – News of the World

Hoyte van Hoytema – Tenet

Last year: Roger Deakins – 1917

Film Music:

Lovers Rock

Last year: Rolling Thunder Review

Single/Song:

Long Tailed Winter Bird – Paul McCartney

Reborn a Queen – Naughty Alice

Kunta Kinte Dub – The Revolutionaries

Last year: Lately – Celeste

Album:

McCartney III – Paul McCartney

Letter to You – Bruce Springsteen

Last year: Ghosteen – Nick Cave

Gig:

Sarah Jane Morris – Ronnie Scott’s

ROE – The Waiting Room

A Bowie Celebration – Empire, Shepherd’s Bush

Last year: Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets (Roundhouse)

Play:

0

Last year: A Taste of Honey (Trafalgar Studios)

Art Exhibition:

London Calling (Museum of London) – the only one I got to this year 😦

A Surge of Power by Marc Quinn going up on the base of the deposed Colston statue, Bristol

Boy & Bear – Brandon Hill, Bristol (thanks to Dylan on my birthday)

Last year: Van Gogh in Britain (Tate B)

Book:

Now We Shall Be Entirely Free – Andrew Miller

The Plague – Albert Camus

Summer – Ali Smith

Last year: A Woman of No Importance – Sonia Purnell; The Quiet American

TV:

Lovers Rock (BBC)

The Queen’s Gambit (Netflix)

The Crown – S4 (Amazon)

The Romantics and Us (BBC2)

The Bridge S1

Last year: After Life (Netflix)

Podcast:

Heavyweight

Adam Buxton

The Happiness Lab

Last Year: 13 Minutes to the Moon

Sport:

Spurs 2 – Arsenal 1 (11.7.20)

Dance:

Mam (Sadlers Wells)

Last Year: The Red Shoes (Sadlers Wells)

Event:

Statue of Edward Colston being chucked in Bristol harbour

The Winter Solstice at Newgrange, Ireland

Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties

Dearly departed:

  • Andy Taylor (with whom I worked at Little Dot and Channel 4)
  • Albert Uderzo
  • Jimmy Cobb
  • Alan Parker
  • Terry Jones
  • Carl Reiner
  • Kirk Douglas
  • Sean Connery
  • John Hume
  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg
  • Terence Conran
  • JJ Williams
  • Nobby Stiles
  • Nicholas Parsons
  • Tim Brooke Taylor


The only film I saw in the cinema after Lockdown

Best of 2019 and links to earlier Bests Of

Winter Solstice at Newgrange

In this era of video streaming here is a particularly brilliant (literally) application – sharing the Winter Solstice at the Newgrange passage tomb in Co. Meath, Ireland. I first went there in the early 80s when there was no visitor centre or formality and the nearby tombs of Knowth and Dowth were largely overgrown. Now it is (very deservedly) a World Heritage Site and this morning’s live broadcast via YouTube was brought to the world by Brú na Bóinne / World Heritage Ireland and Oifig na nOibreacha Poiblí / the Irish Office of Public Works (OPW). Starting as the sun rose over the horizon behind the loop of the River Boyne we were enabled through live streaming to witness the entrance of the sunlight into the passage of this neolithic tomb and watch its advance down the passage to illuminate this house of spirits and mark the rebirth of the sun after the darkest days of winter. Particularly resonant of course this year.

The live commentary by two authoritative and warm Irish experts explained that this area is an”inland island” being separated by a huge loop of the river. The whole area is rich in neolithic remains and traces. They showed some aerial photos from 2018, enabled by that other important new camera technology, drones, revealing crop marks and patterns in the countryside in drought showing the presence of huge perfectly circular constructions (a henge) on a grand scale, unknown until that driest of summers.

The ability to share in real time sights which are not otherwise accessible to the world at large is one of the fundamental benefits of streaming video.

08:48 Just before the sun emerged over the horizon
08:55 view from the ‘light box’, the aperture into the tomb
09:00 the line of fog marks the River Boyne
09:03 the light in the tomb from above on the sandy passage floor
09:05 the sunlight enters the passage into the tomb
09:06 the passage starts to be illuminated
09:07
09:12
09:16
09:16
09:17
09:20
09:31

Wishing Simple Pleasures Part 4 readers and the world at large light after the darkness and Simple Pleasures galore in 2021.

Andy Taylor – Little Dot Studios

Some cherished memories of an exceptional man who played a big part in my career, first at Channel 4, then at Little Dot Studios. Above all he was a mensch (the highest any of us can aspire to).

2019
2019 before the TV BAFTAs
2016 on a panel together at Royal Television Society, Andy as Little Dot, me as Channel 4
19th May 2019
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