Bitter Lake, Adam Curtis’ aesthetically sublime and politically incisive new documentary, was commissioned for BBC’s iPlayer because it is presumably, as Russia Today writes, “too dangerous for television.” After consuming the film by way of a 21st-century samizdat, I can tell you that the propaganda arm of the Kremlin is correct on one score: Bitter Lake is politically dangerous for Western states, especially the US and UK. But it’s also an affront to Russia, and virtually every other state that has attempted to force strategic advantage in Saudia Arabia and Afghanistan. And it is, literally, too dangerous for television: Curtis was given access to years of footage of Afghanistan from the BBC archives. That includes every shot they refused to air on TV. … Read More
The rights to most of the BBC shows currently streaming on Netflix are currently set to expire at the end of the month, and while there’s still plenty of time to renew them, the news has already sparked mild panic in some stateside Anglophiles. (Before you really freak out: Sherlock is safe, thanks to its affiliation with PBS, and Downton Abbey airs on ITV.) Since any excuse to plug quality British programming is a good one, here’s some suggested viewing for the next 18 days. Attempt to watch it all at your own risk. … Read More
Dear readers, the holidays are here! Perhaps your family is squabbling, or your friends are worrying about where to go and whom to kiss when the ball drops, and the youngest folks in your life are playing with their toys and…you can’t take it anymore. You just want to spend some quality time with people who really get you.
People with British accents, bad or good. People in elaborate costumes. People who reappear in multiple-episode arcs. People, dear readers, who are the characters in sentimentality and scheme-saturated British television.
Well, we’ve got your back. So don your favorite wearable blanket, pour yourself a glass of something delicious, and check out these streaming British (or British-ish) period drama mini-series that are available right now.
(Note: we’re linking you to paid services but plenty of these can be watched with a clever Google search or two. Shh!) … Read More
Ten years ago tonight, the BBC premiered a four-part miniseries, North & South (not to be confused with the Patrick Swayze-starring civil war drama of the same name), adapted from Elizabeth Gaskell’s 19th-century novel of cross-class romance in the industrial North of England. The BBC didn’t harbor huge expectations for the series, coming as it did in the midst of a glorious decade of nonstop adaptations of major works by Austen, Brontë, and Dickens. But then, a few weeks later, the fourth installment of North & South ended with a tender, long-awaited kiss (now known to viewers as “The Kiss”). Immediately, so many people flooded the BBC’s online message boards that they crashed and shut down. It’s been enshrined in fangirl lore as “the infamous night that period drama fans broke (a small part of) the BBC (dot com).” … Read More