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TV review: Proms Encore, The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, and How To Break Into The Elite

09 August 2019

BBC/Rumpus Media Ltd

In The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan (BBC2, Sunday), the comedian explored Mongolia

In The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan (BBC2, Sunday), the comedian explored Mongolia

WHAT did the vicar say to the organ­ist? Not the usual playing hymns too fast, too high, or delibe­rately scheduling the wrong tune: this was on an altogether different plane. As, indeed, were the inter­locutors: the organist was the Titu­laire des orgues of Notre-Dame de Paris, Olivier Latry, and the clergy­man was the Revd Richard Coles.

Proms Encore (BBC2, Saturday) is a short magazine programme put together as a shameless puff for the BBC’s great summer music festival, aimed at people with little pre-exist­­ing commitment to classical music, and finding, in the most part, popu­­list hooks to whet their interest.
This wasted a potentially fascinat­ing exchange: Fr Coles and M. Latry could have had a really illuminating conversation about the intersection and cross-fertilisation of pop, tradi­­tional, and liturgical music. And the question? Fr Coles cheekily asked M. Latry to change the stops while he played (extremely well) the open­­ing bars of Bach’s D-minor toccata. The actual recital that they were advert­ising took place on Sunday at 11 a.m. — brilliantly chosen as the time at which the entire audience for the concert would be otherwise en­­gaged.

I found a surprising amount of religion in The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan (BBC2, Sun­­day). The genial comedian was ex­­ploring Mongolia, where the over­­throw of communism has enabled a flourishing of nationalism (ex­­pressed in the colossal statue of Genghis Khan), and a range of faiths.

A female shaman attempted to heal his lazy eye, and he lay flat on his back in Buddhism’s supposed energy centre of the world to con­nect with the earth’s power. Deep in the desert of the world’s most sparsely-populated country, he at­­tended a dance where young people living hundreds of miles apart are supposed to find romance. “How did you find out about your girlfriend?” he asked. Every member of your youth group will have guessed the universal answer: “Facebook.”

Exposing a barren land at the heart of our own nation, How To Break Into The Elite (BBC2, Mon­­day of last week), revealed the gulf between our fond aspirations to level-playing-field meritocratic op­­port­unity and the bitter reality. Amol Rajan, who made the break­through himself, showed what little chance young people from working-class backgrounds had, however bril­liantly they achieve at university, of landing the kind of jobs which middle-class and professional off­spring slid into naturally.

Case after case showed that em­­­ployers were more interested in main­­taining an unwritten code of manners, accent, and self-confidence than seeking out genuine talent. However hard they tried, Amaan, Elvis, and Dominique were consist­ently passed over. Each rejection was an indict­ment of privilege-ridden Eng­­­land. Did we manage any better in the Church, I wondered (snug in my middle-class security).

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