"I WANT to broaden things out, not narrow them down." So the
artist, in Hockney (BBC2, Saturday), explained the reason
behind the reverse perspective with which he experiments: replacing
the Western classical vanishing-point, where everything recedes to
a single infinity, and depicting instead a world where everything
expands, the further it is from the observer.
I was struck, in this feature-length exploration of the artist's
life and work, how this least religious of painters leads us on a
journey of encounter with the way we perceive and relate to the
visible world which is profoundly incarnational.
This was wonderful TV, drawing on a tapestry of archive film;
family movies; reminiscences from fellow artists, friends, and
sitters; and contributions from Hockey himself. The restless
commitment to his art adds up to a remarkable life's work - the
whole infused with that opposite of the expectation of an
angst-ridden artist: his stuff is witty, he nearly always smiles,
and he makes us happy with colour and the deceptive simplicity of
line and form.
He has an unusual commitment to his family: its central
importance in his life is the very opposite of the romantic
artists' determination to be seen as isolated. Despite his
eccentricities, he is, in some important sense, like one of us,
happy to carry with him his roots and background; for Hockney, one
close friend said, "Los Angeles was another Bradford."
This intimate film had for me one weakness: not enough attention
was paid to the recent years of return to Yorkshire, the setting up
home in Bridlington, and the remarkable flowering of glorious
landscape, depicting the Wolds with extraordinary light and
Even the bistros are closing. Quelle catastrophe!
France with Robert Peston (BBC2, last Friday) was an
extrordinary programme. Ostensibly an analysis of our neighbour's
economic woes, it was more obviously a love letter to all things
Gallic; but, most of all, a bravura performance of sheer weirdness
by the BBC's economic editor. It was as though crossing the Channel
liberated him from restraint, his words elongated and exaggerated,
gestures more expansive and frantic than any Frenchman would allow
The basic thesis was that the generous benefits in France, the
huge infrastructure projects, the subsidies in all areas of life,
the stifling bureaucracy and insistence on doing everything
according to proper custom, have brought it to the verge of
bankruptcy. As so often in such cases, it was far stronger on the
analysis of the problem than any solution.
A bistro that certainly ought to close was central to last
Monday's episode of House of Fools (BBC4), Vic Reeves's
and Bob Mortimer's parody of a '70s sitcom. This has now entered a
realm of stratospheric lunacy, slapdash in its determination to use
material (frequently disgusting) beyond surrealism or absurdity,
and post-modernist in its relish of the actual mechanics of studio
comedy. Reeves's promotional video for Julie's Bistro was
eventually redeemed by the appearance of our heroes riding a giant
underpants-eating moth. Just don't ask.