A comic vocation

05 May 2017

BBC/Patrick Smith

Easily bored: in Horizon: ADHD and me with Rory Bremner (BBC2, Tuesday of last week), the presenter investigated whether he had the condition

Easily bored: in Horizon: ADHD and me with Rory Bremner (BBC2, Tuesday of last week), the presenter investigated whether he had the condition

DOES your mind spin off in all directions at once? Do you jump from one thing to the next because you are easily bored? This is the self-diagnosis that provided the subject matter for Horizon: ADHD and me with Rory Bremner (BBC2, Tuesday of last week).

For some time now, the political impersonator Rory Bremner has wondered whether he suffers from attention deficit hyperactive dis­order (ADHD), and made this film of his journey to find out all that is cur­rently understood about the con­dition; and to obtain the best pro­fessional diagnosis about whether he does, in fact, have it.

Bremner is well aware of the pit­falls that surround comedians when they try to do something serious, and he could not resist employing the odd funny voice as he sought information. He found that he did, in fact, suffer from ADHD; and doing one of his stand-up routines on Ritalin did suppress some of the panic and make him feel calmer.

But one expert thinks that there was an evolutionary advantage in some of the population’s acting as the community’s risk-takers, if only in the sense of discovering which waters are dan­gerously shark-in­fested, so that they might be avoided. Bremner concluded that being soci­ety’s shark-bait might, after all, be a worthwhile vocation.

The Church played her part in last week’s Versailles (BBC2, Satur­day). The Bishop castigated Louis XIV for his adultery; the Queen brought in a popular preacher from Paris to reinforce the message in a sermon before the whole court; and Rome was so scan­dalised that it ap­­peared to be in­­structing monas­teries to refuse to provision the King’s army. All this made the Sun King more determined to continue his life of dissolution.

It is cheering, somehow, to know that our predecessors’ expression of moral outrage had as much effect as our own: that is, none.

It is a curious creation, this sumptuous drama. Historical exacti­tude on material levels — cos­tumes, props, architecture — is allied to laughably inaccurate dia­logue. The drama is best approached as a knowing costume-romp, sharing in the enjoyment un­­doubtedly derived by the cast and production team in putting together an extravagant feast of sex and violence in Ye Olden Days.

Which is exactly (without the sex and gore) my reaction to Doctor Who (BBC1, Saturdays). For some unfathomable reason, many con­sider this to be a profound meta­physical exploration of the moral world as revealed by science fiction. It seems to me more like an in­­dulgence on the part of the genera­tion who cowered behind their parents’ sofas scared out of their wits by the original episodes: the generation that is now in charge of commissioning and scheduling TV dramas.

By shifting the time to later in the evening, they think that they have invested the brand with a serious­ness worthy of adults. Oh no, they haven’t.

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