TV Reviews

Friday 1 August 2014

TV: The StopRelaxing Brigade is back to haunt us all

Newsnight (BBC2), Arkle (TG4), Panorama : Savile (BBC1)

Declan Lynch

Published 09/06/2014|02:30

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Illustration: Jim Cogan

Kirstie Allsop, the  presenter of “Location, Location, Location” and various terrifying programmes about how lovely it is to make things yourself rather than just buying them in a shop, said the wrong thing last week.

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Most weeks now, somebody says the wrong thing, and  Kirstie’s contribution was her advice to a hypothetical daughter:“Don’tgo to university. Start work straight after school. Stay at home, save up your deposit... then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.”

Called on to Newsnight to explain herself, she declared to Jeremy Paxman that Nature is not a feminist. Though in truth, on the subject of the “body clock”, Nature provides all of us with an impossible choice.

Clearly Nature intended that we have our children young, in our twenties at the latest, because that is when we have the most energy. But many of us much  prefer to spend that energy drinking and dancing in nite clubs and rolling joints until dawn on the sleeve of a John Martyn album, for obvious reasons.

So whatever about Nature’s view on feminism, Nature is unkind on the whole to men and women who are tending to have children in their thirties and forties and who are expected to live without sleep at a time of their lives when they’re really starting to need it.

They didn’t get into this on Newsnight, but then they don’t really understand where Kirstie is coming from. As I explained last year, Kirstie can’t really be confined to one narrow area such as feminism, she is getting on with the whole Stop Relaxing agenda.

As we know, the Stop Relaxing folk are the sort who are never happy when they see others in a tranquil state — perhaps watching football on TV, or just doing whatever they  want to do, rather than something that the Stop Relaxing person thinks they should  be doing.

Due to stereotypical attitudes, it is wrongly assumed that Stop Relaxing is a movement largely composed of women who are opposed to the ways of men.

Kirstie gives the lie to this, and is an exemplar of its full meaning, because she is a woman but her targets are mainly other women. Those programmes in which she makes her own stuff — knitting her own carpets, making chandeliers out of old bottles of beer — rather than just  paying someone else to do it, are the key indicators.

Few women could watch those programmes without being crucified with guilt and shame, without hearing a voice from within, at first just a  whisper, building eventually to a tormenting cacophony....Stop Relaxing....Stop Relaxing....Stop Relaxing!!!

 

****

 

They will say that Kirstie is of a simpler time, perhaps a better time when people just got on with it without reading books or over-thinking things in general. There was a really excellent documentary about Arkle and what the great steeplechaser meant to Ireland in the 1960s, which allowed you to believe for a few minutes that the world was indeed simpler then, and better.

Most likely though it was just Arkle and his trainer Tom Dreaper and his owner Anne, Duchess of Westminster, who were better.

 

****

 

Also making his way in the world at that time was one Jimmy Savile, a man of apparently infinite twistedness. “Panorama” is still doing features on him, the latest of which told me two things I wasn’t fully aware of, the fact that he was effectively put in charge of Broadmoor, the top security psychiatric hospital, and that he was so well regarded in the higher echelons of  Official England, he was known to spend Christmas with Margaret Thatcher.

Of his many dark obsessions, apparently one of the most powerful was his fanatical determination to be given a knighthood, for Jimmy the pit-boy to be dubbed Sir Jimmy. In pursuit of this, spending Christmas with the Prime  Minister, talking about all the great work he was doing in Broadmoor,  must have been a real delight. I think that this is now beyond the remit of the “Panorama” reporter, and into the arena of the novelist, the playwright, the film-maker, anyone with a vision that is large enough to tell us how a person like Jimmy Savile and a person like Margaret Thatcher can end up having Christmas dinner together, in Chequers.

How’s about that then?

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